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cause it offered the surest means of livelihood; his real care was for poetry and scholarship. Hence, while exhibited as constantly wrangling with his fellow actors and writers, there is a conspicuous side to his life to be interpreted by the fellowship which he enjoyed with Shakespeare, Bacon, Ralegh, Selden, Beaumont, Fleteber, Carew, Donne, and other noble minds. Sir Walter Ralegh had formed a club of some of these men at the Mermaid Tavern, and thither Jonson went and sparred with his intellectual rivals.*

During the remainder of his life Jonson was honoring himself by his large praise of these great men, for surely nothing so marks the generous great man as his capacity to recognize and his readiness to honor greatness in his contempora

With the notable intellectual companionship came also intercourse with the men and women who added to their court life the distinction of recognizing the nobility of mind. Few characteristics of the Elizabethan age impress us more than the high tide of intellect which flowed over otherwise low and marshy ground. Never were the noble by birth more akin to the noble by mind, and the patronage of the court became

So at least Gifford woulil persuade us who are easily persualed. That there were meetings of the wits at the Mermaid, we know both from Jonson and from Beaumont in their well-known epistles; that Ralegh formed a club there is the desirable fact which is waiting to be established.

an honorable thing to patron and patronized. The very sports of the nobility took on an intellectual character, and the records which have come down to us in Nichols's Progresses, and other books contemporary with that, of the pageants and masques which adorned the houses of royalty aud nobility during the reigns both of Elizabeth and of James I. disclose an order of life which makes the tableaux, fancy balls, and masquerades of our day seem thin and spare enough. We have produced the gorgeousness and pageant upon the melodramatic stage and in the spectacle, but it has been almost entirely sensuous and wholly apart from our own participation except as spectators. In that age the stage was barren of scenery and all that goes now to make up stage effect; but the masque and the entertainment gave occasion for the work of the greatest architects and the pen of the chief poets, while the actors in the masque were the lords and ladies of the court. Bacon concealed in the masques which he wrote the purpose of a statesman and scholar; and Ben Jonson, who was the most eminent poet so engaged, made his masques to carry the idealization of life through the means of that elaborate machinery of divinities and spirits which the plan of the masque placed at his service.

His first masque was prepared for the city of London, to be presented upon the reception of King James. He was Dekker's associate, and Jonson's portion alone, about two fifths of the whole, is printed in Gifford's edition of his works. Immediately afterward he wrote a vigorous Panegyre on the Happy Entrance of James our Sovereign to his first high session of Parliament in this Kingdom, the 19th of March, 1603, and after this he was specially befriended by the king. Other pageants followed in which Jonson had the sole literary part, - one at Althorpe for the Queen and Prince Henry when they rested there on their way from Scotland; another Entertainment when the royal family was entertained by Sir William Cornwallis. He was now high in favor, and he rewrote his Sejanus, which kept the stage long after.

His good fortune was interrupted, however, by a very uncourtierlike proceeding. In company with Chapman and Marston he wrote a comedy, Eastward Hoe, which was produced about 1604 or 1605, and gave offence to the king, who was very much alive to anything which seemed to reflect upon the Scotch. A passage which may have irritated him was this:

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"1 Gent. Farewell, farewell; we will not know you for shaming of you. I ken the man weel; hee's one of my thirty prend knights.

"2 Gent. Now this is hee that stole his kuighthood o' the grande day for foure pounde giving to a page; all the monie in's purse, I wot wel.” – Act IV. Sc. i.

“It is easy to imagine,” says Cunningham, “what would have been the effect of this on the stage, if a little mimicry of King James and his Scotch pronunciation was thrown into it, as was evidentiy the intention of the writer.” It may have been James's partiality for Jonson that left him out of the order for arrest, but the poet voluntarily accompanied his colleagues, Chapman and Marston, to prison, and shared their punishment. He had indeed, it is said, nothing to do with the objectionable passage ; but he was an impetuous, courageous man, who had no mind to shelter himself behind his unlucky comrades. Interest was used to bring the three out of prison ; a new edition of the play was issued with the allusions to the Scotch expunged, and the unlucky authors were pardoned out, whole too, in spite of the rumor that their noses and ears were to be split. The story is told that on their liberation Jonson gave a supper, at which Selden, Camden, and others were present. Jonson's mother was present, vigorous old lady who had the grit of her son. She drank to him at the supper, and showed a paper containing a deadly powder which she had meant to mix in his draught and hers, if the sentence of mutilation had been inflicted. They were rough days for authors, for shortly after Jonson was again imprisoned with Chapman for some reflections occurring upon some one in a joint play of theirs. The circumstances are not clear, but they gave rise to a noble letter from Jonson


to the Earl of Salisbury, to whom and to Suffolk he applied for influence in procuring a discharge.

In 1605 there were many noble foreigners in the country, and the Queen called upon Jonson for a masque in which she and her maids should take part. The Masque of Blackness was the result, and other masques followed : Hymenai, at the marriage of Essex and Lady Frances Suffolk; The Hue and Cry after Cupid, as Gifford aptly names it, at Viscount Hadington's marriage; The Masque of Queens, by the Queen with her Ladies, at Whitehall; Prince Henry's Barriers ; Oberon; and others. Now also came his eminent dramas: Volpone, the Fox, in 1605; Epicene, or the Silent Woman, in 1609; The Alchemist, in 1610; and Catiline, in 1611. He was on the Continent again and at Paris, in charge of the graceless son of Sir Walter Ralegh, in 1613. Bartholomew Fair appeared in 1614, and The Deril's an Ass in 1616.

The great body of his best work may be set down, then, as written in the first fifteen years of the century; and it was during this time, also, that he was engaged upon study and work which found expression in other forms. He was incontestably the greatest scholar among modern poets, and was recognized as a scholar in an age of scholars. He had translated Horace and Aristotle's Poetics, and prepared a vast body of notes to accompany the work. Selden, the learned anti

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