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In token of which duty, if he please,

My hand is ready, may it do him ease.

Pet. Why, there's a wench!-Come on, and kiss me, Kate.

Luc. Well, go thy ways, old lad, for thou shalt ha't.

Pet. Come, Kate, we'll to bed :

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We three are married, but you two are sped.

Hor. Now go thy ways, thou hast tam'd a curst shrew.
Luc. 'Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tam'd so.2


"His horse hipped," &c. &c.-If Ben Jonson had poured forth this profusion of horse-dealer's knowledge (a little overdone, it must be confessed, even for farce), it would have been charged against him as ostentation.

2"'Tis a wonder, by your leave, she will be tam'd so."-He means to intimate that he does not think her tamed after all. A woman, by the way, like Katharine, could never have uttered those beautiful words about "a fountain troubled," &c. But this is the constant exception to Shakspeare's otherwise perfect nature. He makes all his characters, unless they are downright fools, talk as well as himself.


(See "Imagination and Fancy," p. 195.)

THE greatest portion of Ben Jonson's comic writing is in prose; but the reader is here presented with a striking specimen in verse,-indeed, the best scene of his best production.

Ben Jonson's famous humour is as pampered, jovial, and dictatorial as he was in his own person. He always gives one the idea of a man sitting at the head of a table and a coterie. He carves up a subject as he would a dish; talks all the while to show off both the dish and himself; and woe betide. difference of opinion, or his "favourite aversion,” envy. He was not an envious man himself, provided you allowed him his claims. He praised his contemporaries all round, chiefly in return for praises. He had too much hearty blood in his veins to withhold eulogy where it was not denied him; but he was somewhat too willing to cancel it on offence. He complains that he had given heaps

of praises undeserved; tells Drayton that it had been doubted whether he was a friend to anybody (owing, doubtless, partly to this caprice): and in the collection of epigrams printed under his own care, there are three consecutive copies of verse, two of them addressed to Lord Salisbury in the highest style of panegyric, and the third to the writer's muse, consisting of a recantation, apparently of the same panegyric, and worth repeating here for its scorn and spleen :



Away, and leave me, thou thing most abhorr'd,
That hast betray'd me to a worthless lord;
Made me commit most fièrce idolatry

To a great image through thy luxury.

Be thy next master's more unlucky Muse,

And, as thou'ast mine, his hours and youth abuse.
Get him the time's long grudge, the court's ill will,
And, reconcil'd, keep him suspected still.

Make him lose all his friends; and, which is worse,
Almost all ways to any better course.

(This is melancholy.)

With me thou leav'st an happier Muse than thee,
And which thou brought'st me, welcome Poverty.
She shall instruct my after thoughts to write
Things manly, and not smelling parasite.
But I repent me :-stay. Whoe'er is rais'd
For worth he has not, he is tax'd, not prais'd.

This is ingenious and true; but from a lord so

"worthless," it hardly became the poet to withdraw the alms of his panegyric. He should have left posterity to do him justice; or have reposed on the magnanimity of a silent disdain. Lord Salisbury was the famous Robert Cecil, son of Burleigh. Ben Jonson had probably found his panegyric treated with neglect, perhaps contempt; and it was bold in him to return it; but it was proclaiming his own gratuitous flattery.

It has been objected to Ben Jonson's humours, and with truth, that they are too exclusive of other qualities; that the characters are too much absorbed in the peculiarity, so as to become personifications of an abstraction. They have also, I think, an amount of turbulence which hurts their entire reality; gives them an air of conscious falsehood and pretension, as if they were rather acting the thing than being it. But this, as before intimated, arose from the character of the author, and his own wilful and flustered temperament. If they are not thoroughly what they might be, or such as Shakspeare would have made them, they are admirable Jonsonian presentations, and overflowing with wit, fancy, and scholarship.


SCENE. A Room in VOLPONE'S House.

Enter VOLPONE and Mosca.

Volp. Good morning to the day; and next, my gold !—

Open the shrine, that I may see my saint.

[Mosca withdraws the curtain, and discovers piles of gold, plate, jewels, &c.]

Hail the world's soul, and mine! more glad than is

The teeming earth to see the long'd-for sun
Peep through the horns of the celestial Ram,
Am I, to view thy splendour darkening his ;
That lying here, amongst my other hoards,
Shew'st like a flame by night, or like the day
Struck out of chaos, when all darkness fled
Unto the centre. O thou son of Sol,
But brighter than thy father, let me kiss,
With adoration, thee, and every relick
Of sacred treasure in this blessed room.
Well did wise poets, by thy glorious name,

Title that age which they would have the best;
Thou being the best of things, and far transcending

All style of joy, in children, parents, friends,

Or any other waking dream on earth.

Thy looks when they to Venus did ascribe,

They should have given her twenty thousand Cupids;
Such are thy beauties and our loves! Dear saint,
Riches, the dumb god, that giv'st all men tongues,
Thou canst do nought, and yet mak'st men do all things;
The price of souls; even hell, with thee to boot,
Is made worth heaven. Thou art virtue, fame,
Honour, and all things else. Who can get thee,
He shall be noble, valiant, honest, wise-

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