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printed from manuscripts which had served a double purpose. It is at present not unusual for cheap publishers to print announcements of their works on sheets already printed with other (but useless) matter. Something of this kind is a Palimpsest. Cicero's long-lost treatise, De Republica, was discovered by Cardinal Mai, librarian of the Vatican, on a Palimpsest. The monks having no taste for Cicero's speculations, and thinking a commentary of Augustin on the Psalms far more valuable, wrote the latter on the page occupied by the former, after having done what they could to obliterate the letters. however, was not entire; and so the banished work re-appeared to the The obliteration, keen eyes of modern criticism. This perspicacity Tischendorf aided by the resources of chemistry, and was thus enabled to restore the sacred word, all but blotted out by ignorant and venal transcribers. The learning, labour, patience, and dexterity required for these operations are something almost superhuman, and proportional should be the support and favour accorded to scholars whose lives are devoted to the dry and unremunerative, yet very important studies of textual criticism. The documents presented in this volume are eight. 1. Palimpsest fragments of the New Testament.
fragments of the Book of Numbers. 3. Palimpsest fragments of Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, and Judges. 4. Palimpsest frag2. Palimpsest ments of the Second Book of Samuel and the First Book of Kings. 5. Palimpsest fragments of the Prophecies of Isaiah. 6. Venetian fragments of a Palimpsest Evangelistary, with specimens of the Evangelistary of the Barberini Palimpsest. 7. A fragment of the manuscript Frederico-Augustan, containing parts of Isaiah and Jeremiah. 8. Fragments of Psalms, written on paper, preserved in the British Museum The value of the volume will, from this statement of its contents, appear at once to the biblical scholar. Already, indeed, these, with his other collections, have been turned to good account by their editor in the critical editions of the Septuagint and New Testament, by which he has laid the lovers of these studies under great obligations. We cannot, indeed, deny that there are points on which exception might be taken or explanation asked, but our present object will be answered if this notice shall make more generally known the meritorious labours of the first biblical critic in the world, and in any way lend him aid to carry to completion the series of volumes thus commenced. The execution of the work is admirable; nor must it remain unsaid that the possibility, in a mercantile point of view, of issuing a work of the kind, honourably attests the value attached in Germany to critical studies. Would that in this particular England were not so far in the rear!
The Articles in this Number have swollen so much beyond our intended limits, as to have obliged us to omit notices of many good books in the present Epilogue.
APRIL 1, 1857.
ART. I. (1.) The Works of Ben Jonson, in nine volumes, with Notes, critical and explanatory, and a Biographical Memoir. By WILLIAM GIFFORD.
(2.) Poetical Works of Ben Jonson. Edited by ROBERT BELL. 1856.
WHO knows not rare Ben Jonson,' and his epitaph, so laconic, yet so laudatory?-Ben Jonson, the joyous reveller at the Mermaid and the Apollo, to whom Fletcher, Randolph, Herrick, offered their gayest anacreontics, and whose 'wit-combats' with Shakespere Fuller has celebrated? There is scarcely a writer in the whole range of our literature better known to popular fame than he, and yet by how few is he read! Although the phrase, our two great dramatic poets, Shakespere and Jonson,' is so common that it might be stereotyped, very little is known of the marked difference between them. The case is, the finest works of Jonson are unknown to the general reader, for who among them has read his Epigrams, his Forest, his Underwoods, and how very few his beautiful Masques? We therefore thank Mr. Bell for his little volume, which brings Jonson the poet before the public.
A long literary career was Ben Jonson's, stretching out over forty years. He was contemporary of Greene and Marlowe, and of Killigrew and Davenant, the link between the two schoolshow widely different!-of our dramatic literature; he was the friend of men who had rejoiced in the destruction of the Armada, and of those who hailed the Restoration. A chequered career too, was his, illustrating, in many curious traits, the literary life of his day. We will glance at it, in connexion with his writings, and thus endeavour to bring Ben Jonson and his works pleasantly before our readers.
The little that can be ascertained of the birth and parentage of Ben Jonson is derived from his own account, as given to Drummond. From this we find that his grandfather was a native of Scotland, who, removing to Carlisle during the reign of Henry VIII., was subsequently taken into that King's service. In the Privy Purse Expenses,' from 1529 to 1532, we find several entries of payments to one 'John Johnson, Master of the King's barge,' for serving the King's highness,' and also for the rent of a house at Westminster, where the henxmen (pages) lye.' It is very probable that this Johnson was the grandfather of the poet. His son, we learn from the same authority, possessed a considerable estate, but that he not only forfeited it, but suffered a long imprisonment, in the reign of Mary, for his attachment to Protestantism, and on the accession of Elizabeth he became a preacher- a grave minister of the Gospel,' according to Antony. à Wood-a phrase which seems rather to indicate him as a devoted pastor and teacher, than as a mere clerk in orders.' He probably married rather late in life, as the poet seems to have been his only child; but this child he was not permitted to behold, for he died a short time before the birth of the unconscious orphan.
It was in 1573 that Benjamin Jonson was born, in Westminster, and there seems to have been some allusion to the mournful circumstances of his birth in the name—at this period a very uncommon one-that was given him; it seems to tell alike the grief of the surviving parent, and the joy she felt in her new-born child. Very little, however, is known of the mother; and from the solitary allusion Ben Jonson has made to her, she would seem to have been more remarkable for a fierce and indomitable spirit, than for the exercise of the gentler virtues. Fuller traces her, while Jonson was yet a little child, to 'Hartshorn-lane, near Charing-cross, where she married a bricklayer for her second husband.' The name of this second husband cannot be ascertained-the claim of Thomas Fowler, whom Malone and Gifford assign to her, having been disproved by the fact that he survived his third wife, who died in 1590, while Jonson's mother was undoubtedly living in 1604-5. The more important fact, however, that he treated his step-son with fatherly kindness, is, we think, well established.
The first instruction young Jonson received was, we are told, at a school at St. Martin's-in-the-fields-doubtless the free school there and from thence he was sent to that at Westminster. Gifford, determined to assimilate the customs of the sixteenth century to those of the nineteenth, has lamented over the degradation of a clergyman's widow marrying a bricklayer, and has told
Sent to Westminster School-goes to Flanders.
287 us about some friend who, pitying the poor orphan, sent him at his own expense to Westminster School. Now, had that learned critic only condescended to have looked over the records in Strype, he would have found that the clergy in the days of Elizabeth occupied a far inferior station then, and that it was from among the small farmers and inferior tradesmen that their ranks were chiefly recruited; and have learnt, too, that although, in the nineteenth century, admission to Westminster School may require both money and interest, at this time it was, according to the intention of its foundress, 'a free grammar school.' It was expressly to afford an eleemosynary education to the youth of Westminster that Elizabeth founded Westminster School, and the bricklayer's step-son was as eligible as any one else. As the illustrious Camden was second master at the time when young Jonson was sent, and as he appears among his earliest friends, it is not unlikely that Camden might have been a friend of the family, and discovering the superior abilities of the young boy, might probably suggest his being sent thither. This is, however, but conjectural. That young Jonson amply profited by the advantages he thus secured, and always retained feelings of most grateful attachment to his master, are well-known facts.
How long Jonson remained at Westminster School, or whether it was originally intended that he should be sent to college, cannot be ascertained; but that he was not sent to Cambridge, but was taken from his studies to learn his step-father's calling, as he himself told Drummond, is proved both by the utter absence of any allusion to his college life in all his writings, and the omission of his name in the University Register. Among the numerous conjectures of Jonson's biographers as to the age at which he quitted Westminster School, it seems rather curious that the fact, that if he worked as a bricklayer he must have been an apprentice, never occurred to them. There seems little doubt, therefore, that, at fourteen, the reluctant young scholar, who probably hoped to have gone to college, was taken from his cherished studies, and bound to his step-father to learn the craft, art, and mystery of a bricklayer.' We have an interesting picture given us, in a few words, by Fuller, where he tells us the future dramatist helped in the structure of Lincoln's Inn, and, having a trowel in his hand, had a book in his pocket.' But most distasteful was this drudgery; he could not endure the occupation,' as he told Drummond. The haughty spirit chafed at the mean employment; the daring, adventurous youth, not yet eighteen, thirsted for a more stirring life than the indentures of the apprentice would allow; so, like many another ''prentice tall' of those days, he left his trade for the gentlemanly profession of arms,
and flung aside the trowel to trail a pike in the Low Countries.
It is very unlikely, we think, that this was with the consent of his step-father or his mother. The character of the volunteers employed in Flanders was very low; their pay was not good, their privations were often great; and, on their return, sick or maimed, their only resource was the pass-equally the right of the wandering beggar-and the precarious benevolence of the passer-by. Indeed, to go as a man-at-arms in the days of Elizabeth, was the climax of the hard fate generally prophesied to the scapegrace of the family.
Young Jonson, however, went. As large reinforcements were sent to Ostend-then garrisoned by English troops-in 1591, Gifford supposes this was the date of his enlistment, and Ostend probably his destination. His stay was short, apparently only one campaign; but his impulsive courage displayed itself by his killing an enemy in single combat, and carrying off his spoils in the sight of the two armies, as he told Drummond, exultingly, almost thirty years after. Whatever might be the cause of his returning so soon, disgust of his profession had no share in it. He seems to have ever looked back on his campaign in Flanders with pride and pleasure, always declaring he loved the profession of arms; and many years after, in his epigram addressed To True Soldiers,' he says
'I swear by your true friend, my Muse, I love,
It was probably about the close of 1591 that Jonson returned to England. He was now utterly without means of subsistence. Whether his father-in-law was still living is uncertain; but those biographers who seem to think that disgust of his trade alone prevented Jonson from resuming the trowel, are all forgetful that his indentures having been broken, he really could not return to his calling. If, as was most probably the case, he ran away, then the hard labour and hard fare of Bridewell-name of fear to the refractory apprentice of those days-were in terrorem before him; and well may we believe that that fiery spirit would endure every privation rather than risk the chance of such a punishment. In truth, the young soldier was now, in the eye of the law, a masterless man,' with no employment, without means of subsistence, forming one of that large class whose increasing numbers, during Elizabeth's reign, had so frequently awakened the anxieties of her ministers, and against whom so many stringent laws had of