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ON THE BEST OF ENGLISH POETS,
So seems a star to shoot; when from our sight
Falls the deceit, not from its loss of light;
We want use of a soul, who merely know
What to our passion, or our sense we owe:
By such a hollow glass, our cozen'd eye
Concludes alike, all dead, whom it sees die.
Nature is knowledge here, but unrefin'd,
Both differing, as the body from the mind;
Laurel and cypress else, had grown together,
And wither'd without memory to either:
Thus undistinguish'd, might in every part
The sons of earth vie with the sons of art.
Whose glory hath fill’d up the book of fame!
Where in fair capitals, free, uncontrollid,
Jonson, a work of honour lives enrollid:
Creates that book a work; adds this far more,
'Tis finish'd what imperfect was before.
The Muses, first in Greece begot, in Rome
Brought forth, our best of poets hath call’d home,
Nurst, taught, and planted here; that Thames now sings
The Delphian altars, and the sacred springs.
By influence of this sovereign, like the spheres,
Moved each by other, the most low in years)
Consented in their harmony; though some
Malignantly aspected, overcome
With popular opinion, aim'd at name
More than desert: yet in despight of shame
Even they, though foil'd by his contempt of wrongs,
Made music to the harshness of their songs.
Drawn to the life of every eye and limb,
He (in his truth of art, and that in him)
Lives yet, and will, whilst letters can be read;
The loss is ours; now hope of life is dead.
Great men, and worthy of report, must fall
Into their earth, and sleeping there sleep all:
Since he, whose pen
in every strain did use
To drop a verse, and every verse a muse,
Is vow'd to heaven; as having with fair glory,
Sung thanks of honour, or some nobler story.
The court, the university, the heat
Of theatres, with what can else beget
Belief, and admiration, clearly prove
Our PoEt first in merit, as in love :
Yet if he do not at his full appear,
Survey him in his Works, and know him there.
'It does not appear that Ford bad any personal friendship with Jonson ; though he might perhaps have known and been known to him; since Ben bad, as he says, from his first entrance into life, cultivated an acquaintance with the most celebrated professors of the law. As far, however, as respects their dramatic career, they have nothing in common; for Jonson had, in some measure, withdrawn from the stage many years before Ford's first published piece appeared on it. Jonson produced but one play (the Staple of News) during the long period of fourteen years, (from 1616 to 1630 ;) nor would be, perhaps, have returned to the theatre, had not disease and its concomitant, want, compelled his 'faint and faltering tongue,' as he pathetically says, to have recourse to it, for the means of an immediate though temporary relief. It is evident, bowever, that our poet entertained a great degree of kindness and respect for Jonson ; with whose friends he seems to have been chiefly conversant.
Burton, Robert, i. 58.
but-bolt, ii. 479.
ABSURD! i. 268.
Acteon, ii. 161.
affects, i. 386.
affronted, ii. 105.
Agelastus, i. 20.
alcatote, ii. 212.
Anatomy of Melancholy, i. 58.
antick, i. 441.
lapwing, ii. 490.
liked, i. 173.
livery, i. 322.
look, you, i. 228.
luxury, i. 203.
lycanthropia, i. 72.
Macklin (the player,) ii. 2.
mad, whelp, ii. 209.