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Shall read a piece of Virgil, Tacitus,
Livy, or of some better book to us,
Of which we'll speak our minds, amidst our meat; And I'll profess no verses to repeat.
To this if aught appear, which I not know of,
That will the pastry, not my paper, show of.
Digestive cheese, and fruit there sure will be;
But that which most doth take my muse and
Is a pure cup of rich Canary wine,
Which is the Mermaid's " now, but shall be mine:
Of which had Horace or Anacreon tasted,
Their lives, as do their lines, till now had lasted.
Tobacco, nectar, or the Thespian spring,
Are all but Luther's beer, to this I sing.
Of this we will sup free, but moderately,
And we will have no Pooly' or Parrot by;
Nor shall our cups make any guilty men;
But at our parting, we will be, as when
We innocently met. No simple word
That shall be uttered at our mirthful board,
Shall make us sad next morning; or affright
The liberty that we'll enjoy to-night.
CII. TO WILLIAM, EARL OF PEMBROKE."
I do but name thee, Pembroke, and I find
It is an epigram on all mankind;
77 The tavern in Bread-street. This passage Gifford traces to Horace's invitation to Virgil, but refers the plan of the whole to a little poem of Martial, Lib. X. Epig. 48.
78 To whom the book of Epigrams is dedicated. See ante, p. 3.
Against the bad, but of, and to be 79 good:
Both which are asked, to have thee understood.
Nor could the age have missed thee in this strife
Of vice and virtue, wherein all great life
Almost is exercised; and scarce one knows
To which, yet, of the sides himself he owes.80
They follow virtue for reward to-day;
To-morrow vice, if she give better pay;
And are so good, and bad, just at a price,
As nothing else discerns the virtue' or vice.
But thou, whose noblesse keeps one stature still,
And one true posture, though besieged with ill
Of what ambition, faction, pride can raise ;
Whose life, e'en they that envy it, must praise;
That art so reverenced, as thy coming in,
But in the view, doth interrupt their sin;
Thou must draw more: and they that hope to see
The commonwealth still safe, must study thee.
How well, fair crown of your fair sex, might he That but the twilight of your sprite did see,
79 So the folio; but the obvious correction is
"Against the bad, but of and to the good."
80 Owns, belongs. - B.
81 Daughter of the Earl of Leicester, a younger brother to Sir Philip Sidney, and wife of Sir Robert Wroth, of Durance, in Middlesex, who is reported by Jonson to have been jealous of her. She acquired some literary reputation by a pastoral romance in imitation of The Arcadia, called Urania, published in 1621. A couple of samples of her verse are preserved by Mr. Dyce in his Specimens of British Poetesses. They will
And noted for what flesh such souls were framed,
Know you to be a Sidney, though unnamed!
And, being named, how little doth that name
Need any muse's praise to give it fame!
Which is, itself, the impress of the great,
And glory of them all, but to repeat!
Forgive me then, if mine but say you are
A Sidney: but in that extend as far
As loudest praisers, who perhaps would find
For every part a character assigned.
My praise is plain, and wheresoe'er professed,
Becomes none more than you, who need it least.
CIV. TO SUSAN, COUNTESS OF MONTGOMERY.8 Were they that named you, prophets? Did they
Even in the dew of grace, what you would be? Or did our times require it, to behold
A new Susanna, equal to that old?
Or, because some scarce think that story true,
To make those faithful, did the Fates send you?
And to your scene lent no less dignity
Of birth, of match, of form, of chastity;
scarcely tempt the reader to look for any more. To this lady Jonson paid a still higher compliment in the dedication of The Alchemist.
82 Granddaughter of William, Lord Burleigh, and wife of Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery, brother of Lord Pembroke. She was the author of a pious essay called Eusebia. Her name appears amongst the performers in several of Jonson's masques at court.-B.
Or, more than born for the comparison
Of former age, or glory of our one,
Were you advanced, past those times, to be
The light and mark unto posterity?
Judge they that can: here I have raised to show,
A picture, which the world for yours must know,
And like it too, if they look equally;
If not, 'tis fit for you some should envỳ.
Madam, had all antiquity been lost,
All history sealed up, and fables crossed,
That we had left us, nor by time, nor place
Least mention of a nymph, a muse, a grace,
But even their names were to be made anew,
Who could not but create them all, from you
He, that but saw you wear the wheaten hat,
Would call you more than Ceres, if not that;
And, dressed in shepherd's tire, who would not
You were the bright Enone, Flora, or May?
If dancing, all would cry th' Idalian Queen
Were leading forth the Graces on the green;
And, armed to the chase, so bare her bow
Diana' alone, so hit, and hunted so.
There's none so dull that for your style would ask,
That saw you put on Pallas' plumèd casque;
Or, keeping your due state, that would not cry,
There Juno sate, and yet no peacock by:
83 See Epigram ciii. p. 58.
So you are Nature's index, and restore,
I' yourself, all treasure lost of th' age before.
CVI. TO SIR EDWARD HERBERT. 84
If men get name for some one virtue, then
What man art thou that art so many men,
All-virtuous Herbert! on whose every part
Truth might spend all her voice, Fame all her art?
Whether thy learning they would take, or wit,
Or valor, or thy judgment seasoning it,
Thy standing upright to thyself, thy ends
Like straight, thy piety to God, and friends;
Their latter praise would still the greatest be,
And yet they, all together, less than thee.
CVII. TO CAPTAIN HUNGRY.85
Do what you come for, captain, with your news,
That's, sit and eat; do not my ears abuse.
I oft look on false coin to know't from true;
Not that I love it more than I will you.
Tell the gross
Dutch those grosser tales of yours,
How great you were with their two emperors;
84 Afterward Lord Herbert of Cherbury, whose entertaining autobiography illustrates well Jonson's line:
"What man art thou that art so many men."
85 In this epigram we have the type of a class of marauders by whom the country became infested early in the reign of James I., the ferocious, gasconading, and dissolute soldiers of fortune who were disbanded at the sudden close of the long war between England and Spain, and, casting themselves upon the community, lived, as they could, by frauds and impudent lies. See also Epigram xii. p. 9. B.