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TO KING JAMES.
KING UPON THE HAPPY FALSE RUMOR OF HIS DEATH, THE TWO
AND TWENTIETH DAY OF MARCH, 1607. 31 That we thy loss might know, and thou our love,
Great heaven did well to give ill fame free wing; Which though it did but panic terror prove,
And far beneath least pause of such a king; Yet give thy jealous subjects leave to doubt,
Who this thy 'scape from rumor gratulate,
Do beg thy care unto thy after-state.
TO CENSORIOUS COURTLING. Courtling, I rather thou shouldst utterly Dispraise my work, than praise it frostily: When I am read thou feign'st a weak applause, As if thou wert my friend, but lack’dst a cause. This but thy judgment fools: the other way Would both thy folly and thy spite betray.
LIII. TO OLD-END GATHERER. Long-gathering Old-end, I did fear thee wise, When having pilled 2 a book which no man buys, Thou wert content the author's name to lose : But when, in place, thou didst the patron's
31 The false report was that his majesty had been assas sinated while he was out hunting near Woking in Surrey. The rumor was so circumstantial in its details, even to the poisoned knife with which the regicide was said to have been committed, that it obtained immediate credence, and produced universal consternation. -- B.
22 That is, pillage.
choose, It was as if thou printed hadst an oath, To give the world assurance thou wert both; And that, as puritans at baptism do, Thou art the father and the witness too. For, but thyself, where, out of motley, 's he 83 Could save that line to dedicate to thee ?
Cheveril cries out, my verses libels are;
TO FRANCIS BEAUMONT. 84 How I do love thee, Beaumont, and thy muse, That unto me dost such religion use!
83 That is, except yourself, who but a fool, &c. B.
34 This short poem is an answer to a letter which Beaumont, then in the country with Fletcher, sent to Jonson, together with two unfinished comedies. . .... The passage to which the text more immediately applies is the following:
“Fate once again
How I do fear myself, that am not worth
Poor Poet-ape, that would be thought our chief,
Whose works are e'en the frippery of wit,
we, the robbed, leave rage and pity it. At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
Buy the reversion of old plays; now grown To a little wealth, and credit in the scene,
He takes up all, makes each man's wit his own: And, told of this, he slights it. Tut, such crimes
The sluggish gaping auditor devours; He marks not whose 'twas first: and after times
May judge it to be his, as well as ours. Fool! as if half eyes will not know a fleece From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole ,
85 If any poet of eminence is to be sought for to fit these lises, which may be doubtel, the abusive taunts of Dekker, when he rings the changes on Jonson the Bricklayer, might offer some justification for supposing this to be a retaliatory epigram.
ON BAWDS AND USURERS.
LVII. If, as their ends, their fruits were so the same, Bawdry and usury were one kind of game.
TO GROOM IDIOT. Idiot, last night I prayed thee but forbear To read my verses; now I must to hear: For offering with thy smiles my wit to grace, Thy ignorance still laughs in the wrong place. And so my sharpness thou no less disjoints, Than thou didst late my sense, losing my points. So have I seen at Christmas sports one lost And hoodwinked, for a man embrace a post.
Spies, you are lights in state, but of base stuff, Who, when you've burned yourselves down to
the snuff, Stink and are thrown away. End fair enough.
TO WILLIAM LORD MOUNTEAGLE. Lo, what my country should have done (have
raised An obelisk, or column to thy name, Or, if she would but modestly have praised
Thy fact, in brass or marble writ the same) I, that am glad of thy great chance, here do! And, proud my work shall outlast common
86 The nobleman who received the mysterious letter which led to the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. - B.
Durst think it great, and worthy wonder too,
But thine, for which I do’t, so much exceeds! My country's parents I have many known; But saver of my country thee alone.
TO FOOL, OR KNAVE.
LXII. TO FINE LADY WOULD-BE. Fine Madame Would-be, wherefore should you
fear, That love to make so well, a child to bear ? The world reputes you barren; but I know Your ’pothecary, and his drug says no. Is it the pain affrights ? that's soon forgot. Or your complexion's loss? you have a pot That can restore that. Will it hurt your fea
ture? To make amends, you're thought a wholesome
creature. What should the cause be ? Oh, you live at
court, And there's both loss of time and loss of sport In a great belly. Write then on thy womb, “Of the not born, yet buried, here's the tomb."
LXUI. TO ROBERT, EARL OF SALISBURY. Who can consider thy right courses run, With what thy virtue on the times hath won,