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Whereupon I sent presently into Tuttle street for the King's most excellent Mole-catcher, to relieve me and hunt them. But he, when he came and viewed the place, and had well marked the earth turned up, took a handfull, smelt it, and said, "Master, it is not in my power to destroy this vermin; the King, or some good man of a Noble Nature must help you. This kind of Mole is called a WANT, which will destroy you and your family, if you prevent not the working of it in time. And therefore God keep you and send you health."
The interpretation both of the Fable and dream is, that I waking do find WANT the worst and most working vermin in a house; and therefore my most noble Lord, and next the King my best Patron, I am necessitated to tell it you. I am not so impudent to borrow any sum of your Lordship, for I have no faculty to pay; but my needs are such, and so urging, as I do beg what your bounty can give me, in the name of Good Letters, and the bond of an ever grateful and acknowledging servant
To your honor
WESTMINSTER 20mo Decbris, 1631.
Meanwhile he worked as he could; but how much he was withdrawn from public notice appears from a passage in a letter from Mr. Pory to Sir Thomas Puckering, September 20, 1632:
Ben Jonson, who I thought had been dead, has written a play against the next term, called the Magnetic Lady." In the spring of 1633 he was able to serve his patron the Earl of Newcastle with Love's Welcome at Welbeck, when that nobleman entertained King Charles; and perhaps it
was owing to this that the king so far took Jonson again under his protection as to secure for him the renewal of his salary by the city.
There was one final flashing up of his genius. The Sad Shepherd, a pastoral drama, was left a fragment at his death, but it was a return to sweeter poetry and the sign of a mellow Gifford says of it that "it may not only be safely opposed to the most perfect of his early works, but to any similar performance in any age or country." Other works remain in a fragmentary or incomplete condition, including the curious and underestimated Discoveries.
His death came August 6, 1637, and he was buried on the 9th in Westminster Abbey. Possibly for economy in fee or in space, the coffin was placed in an upright position, beneath the square stone which marks the spot. One would fain have found an opportunity for the tired old man to lie at full length. His friends raised a subscription for a monument; but meanwhile, Aubrey tells us, Jack Young, or, more particularly but less appropriately, Sir John Young of Great Milton, Oxfordshire, passing through the Abbey, gave one of the workmen eighteen pence to cut upon the stone the words, "O RARE BEN JONSON." Eighteen pence most profitably spent! The greater contribution was never used, for the Rebellion intervened, broke up plans, and the money was returned to the subscribers.
Six months after his death, an affectionate memorial was raised to him in the publication of a volume by Dr. Bryan Duppa, Bishop of Winchester, entitled Jonsonus Virbius: or, the Memory of Ben Jonson revived by the Friends of the Muses, a collection of memorial verses by Falkland, Earl of Dorset, Beaumont, Howell, Ford, Cleveland, and others, both in English and in Latin. John Cleveland's eulogy may stand here at the end of this sketch and as entrance to the Poems.
TO THE MEMORY OF BEN JONSON.
The Muses' fairest light in no dark time;
Which none can pass; the most proportioned wit,
Here lies Ben Jonson! Every age will look