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COMMENDATORY VERSES ON FORD.
To my Honour'd Friend, Master JOHN FORD, on his
If that thou think'st these lines thy worth can raise,
Nor can I think thy judgment is so ill
To seek for bays from such a barren quill.
* GEORGE DONNE.] Mr. Weber felicitates the poet on the success of this drama, which had the good fortune, he says, to be recommended to the public by "the celebrated Dr. Donne"! That any one, who pretended to the slightest acquaintance with the writers of Ford's time, should be so incomprehensibly ignorant of their style and manner as to attribute this feeble doggerel to John Donne, the dean of St. Paul's-but I dare not trust myself with the subject.
At the moment when this unfortunate blunderer supposes Dr. Donne anxious to ply his barren quill and stick his name here, purely " to shew his love," that great man was fallen into a dangerous sickness, (which eventually carried him off,) and was pressing forward with the zeal of a martyr, and the purity of a saint, to the crown that was set before him.
GEORGE Donne seems to have been a constant attendant at the theatres. He was apparently a kind-hearted, friendly man, who had his little modicum of praise ready upon all occasions. He has verses to Jonson, Massinger, and others.
To his worthy Friend the Author (of The Lover's Melancholy) Master JOHN FORD.
I WRITE not to thy play: I'll not begin
To throw a censure upon what hath been
By th' best approved: it can nor fear, nor want
Nor seek I fame for thee, when thine own pen
Though long conceal'd; that poet-apes may fear
To the Author (of the Lover's Melancholy) Master JOHN FORD.
BLACK choler, reason's overflowing spring,
Where thirsty lovers drink, or any thing,
Passion, the restless current of dull plaints
Affords their thoughts, who deem lost beauties saints;
In a copy of verses prefixed to Massinger's Emperor of the East, Singleton calls himself "the friend and kinsman" of that poet. I know nothing more of him. It will be time enough to speak of his immediate follower, Hum. Howorth, when I know what he means. It must be admitted, that Mr. Weber has placed Dr. Donne at the head of a most illustrious quartetto.
Here their best lectures read, collect, and see
Highly enlighten'd by thy muse's rage;
Yet all so couch'd that they adorn'd the stage.
Of the Lover's Melancholy.
'Tis not the language, nor the fore-placed rhymes
To my Friend the Author (of 'Tis Pity she's a Whore.)
WITH admiration I beheld this Whore,
Adorn'd with beauty, such as might restore.
(If ever being, as thy muse hath famed)
*Macklin, with a degree of learning which quite perplexes Mr. Malone, has daringly (but happily) ventured to put these profound symbols into English characters, and subscribe the quatrain Philos. Mr. Malone thinks he must have had the assistance of some learned friend.
And help'd to put her dressings on. Secure
Gloriously fair, even in her infamy.
To my Friend Mr. JOHN FORD, (on his Love's Sacrifice.)
To read this tragedy, and thy own be next.
To my own Friend, Master JOHN FORD, on his justifiable Poem of Perkin Warbeck, this Ode.
THEY Who do know me, know that I,
Unskill'd to flatter,
Dare speak this piece, in words, in matter,
A work, without the danger of a lie.
* A relative, perhaps, of Mr. Robert Ellice, one of the three respected friends' to whom our poet inscribed the Lover's Melancholy.'
Voluminously ignorant, &c.] Antony Wood has adopted and justified this characteristic designation of Prynne. He may as well be called " voluminous Prynne," he says, "as Tostatus Abulensis was, two hundred years before him, called voluminous Tostatus,” &c.
Believe me, friend, the name of this and thee,
Books may want faith, or merit glory;
When the arts doat, then some sick poet may
Hope that his pen,
In new-stain'd paper, can find men
To roar, "He is the Wit;" his noise doth sway:
But such an age cannot be known; for all
Ere that time be,
Must prove such truth, mortality:
So, friend, thy honour stands too fix'd to fall.
To his worthy Friend, Master JOHN FORD, upon his Perkin Warbeck.
LET men, who are writ poets, lay a claim
* GEORGE DONNE.] Here again credit is given to Ford for the praises of such a celebrated pen as Dr. Donne's; who, as the commentator is not afraid to assert, was the steady friend of the the poet, and peculiarly attached to him."
Between Jonson and Donne, indeed, there was a warm and lasting attachment; their studies lay much in the same way at one period of their lives. Ben, like himself, was a profound scholar, and deeply versed in his favourite pursuit, a knowledge of the early Fathers of the Church. But it is more than probable that Ford was not even known to him by name. It is one of the most venial of Mr. Weber's oscitancies to be ignorant that Dr. Donne had, at the time this was written, been two years in his grave.