Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

“ The just indignation the author took at the vulgar censure of his play, begat this following Ode to himself:

Come, leave the loathed stage,

And the more loathsome age;
Where pride and impudence (in fashion knit)

Usurp the chair of wit !
Inditing and arraigning every day

Something they call a play.
Let their fastidious, vaine

Commission of braine
Run on, and rage, sweat, censure, and condemn;
They were not made for thee,-less thou for them.

“ Say that thou ponr'st them wlieat,

And they will acorns eat ; 'T were simple fury, still, thyself to waste

On such as have no taste ! To offer them a surfet of

pure bread, Whose appetites are dead! No, give them graines their fill,

Husks, draff, to drink and swill. If they love lees, and leave the lusty wine, Envy them not their palate with the swine.

“ No doubt some mouldy tale

Like PERICLES *, and stale
As the shrieve's crusts, and nasty as his fish-

*

Scraps, out of every dish
Thrown forth, and rak't into the common-tub,

May keep up the play-club:
There sweepings do as well
As the best order'd meale.

* This play, Langbaine says, is written by Shakspeare.

For who the relish of these guests will fit,
Needs set them but the almes-basket of wit.

“ And much good do't you

then, Brave plush and velvet men Can feed on orts, and safe in your stage clothes,

Dare quit, upon your oathes, The stagers, and the stage-wrights too (your peers),

Of larding your large ears
With their foul comic socks,

Wrought upon twenty blocks :
Which, if they're torn, and turn'd, and patch'd enough,
The gamesters share your guilt, and you their stuff.

“ Leave things so prostitute,

And take the Alcæick lute,
Or thine own Horace, or Anacreon's lyre ;

Warm thee by Pindar's fire;
And, tho' thy nerves be shrunk, and blood be cold,

Ere years have made thee old,
Strike that disdainful heat

Throughout, to their defeat ;
As curious fools, and envious of thy strain,
May, blushing, swear no palsy’s in thy brain *.

“ But when they hear thee sing

The glories of thy King,
His zeal to God, and his just awe o'er men;

They may blood-shaken then,
Feel such a flesh-quake to possess their powers,
As they shall cry

like

ours, In sound of peace, or wars, No harp ere hit the stars,

* He had the palsy at that time.

In tuning forth the acts of his sweet raign,
And raising Charles his chariot 'bove his wain."

This Magisterial Ode, as Langbaine calls it, was answered by Owen Feltham, author of the admirable “ Resolves," who has written with great satiric acerbity the retort courteous. His character of this poet should be attended to:

« An Answer to the Ode, Come leave the loathed

Stage, &c."

« Come leave this sawcy way

Of baiting those that pay
Dear for the sight of your declining wit:

'Tis known it is not fit
That a sale poet, just contempt once thrown,

Should

cry up thus his own.
I wonder by what dower,

Or patent, you had power
From all to rape a judgment. Let’t suffice,
Had you been modest, y'ad been granted wise.

'Tis known you can do well,

And that you do excell
As a translator ; but when things require

A genius, and fire,
Not kindled heretofore by other pains,

As oft y'ave wanted brains
And art to strike the white,

As you have leveli'd right:
Yet if men vouch not things apocryphal,
You bellow, rave, and spatter round your gall.

[ocr errors]

Jug, Pierce, Peek, Fly*, and all

Your jests so nominal,
Are things so far beneath an able brain,

As they do throw a stain
Thro' all th' unlikely plot, and do displease

As deep as PERICLES.
Where yet there is not laid

Before a chamber-maid
Discourse so weigh'd t, as might have serv'd of old
For schools, when they of love and valour told.

Why rage, then? when the show

Should judgment be, and knowledge, there are plush who scorn to drudge

For stages, yet can judge
Not only poets looser lines, but wits,

And all their perquisits ;
A gift as rich as high

Is noble poese:
Yet, tho' in sport it be for Kings to play,
'Tis next mechanicks' when it works for pay.

- Alcæus lute had done,

Nor loose Anacreon
E'er taught so bold assuming of the bays

When they deserv'd no praise.
To rail men into approbation

Is new to your's alone :
And

prospers not: for know,
Fame is as coy, as you

* The names of several of Jonson's Dramatis Personæ. t“ New Inn," Act iii. Scene 2.- Act iv. Scene 4.

This break was purposely designed by the poet, to expose that singular one in Ben's third stanza.

Can be disdainful; and who dares to prove
A rape on her shall gather scorn, -not love.

« Leave then this humour vain,

And this more humorous strain,
Where self-conceit, and choler of the blood,

Eclipse what else is good :
Then, if you please those raptures high to touch,

Whereof you boast so much :
And but forbear your crown

Till the world puts it on:
No doubt, from all you may amazement draw,
Since braver theme no Phæbus ever saw.”

To console dejected Ben for this just reprimand, Randolph, one of the adopted poetical sons of Jonson, addressed him with all that warmth of grateful affection which a man of genius should have felt on the occasion.

An Answer to Mr. Ben Jonson's Ode, to persuade him not

to leave the stage.

I.
“ Ben, do not leave the stage

Cause 'tis a loathsome age ;
For pride and impudence will grow too bold,

When they shall hear it told
They frighted thee : Stand high, as is thy cause;

Their hiss is thy applause:
More just were thy disdain,

Had they approved thy vein :
So thou for them, and they for thee were born;
They to incense, and thou as much to scorn.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »