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BENJAMIN Jonson, (or Johnson,) a poet, who, gives a particular examination of his "Silent Wo. during life, attained a distinguished character, was man," as a model of perfection. He afterwards the posthumous son of a clergyman in Westminster, however, seems to make large deductions from this where he was born in 1574, about a month after his commendation. “You seldom (says Dryden) find father's decease. His family was originally from him making love in any of his scenes, or endeavor. Scotland, whence his grandfather removed to Car- ing to move the passions; his genius was too sullen lisle, in the reign of Henry VIII.
and saturnine to do it gracefully. Humor was his Benjamin received his education under the learned proper sphere; and in that he delighted most u Camden, at Westminster school ; and had made represent mechanics." Besides his comedies, Jonson extraordinary progress in his studies, when his mo-composed two tragedies, Sejanus and Catiline, both ther, who had married a bricklayer for her second formed upon ancient models, and full of transhusband, took him away to work under his step-lations; and neither of them successful. His dra. father. From this humble employment he escaped, matic compositions, however, do not come within by enlisting as a soldier in the army, then serving in the scope of the present publication. the Netherlands against the Spaniards. An exploit In 1616, he published a folio volume of his works, which he here performed, of killing an enemy in which procured for him a grant from his majesty of single combat, gave him room to boast ever after of the salary of poet-laureate for life, though he did not a degree of courage which has not often been found take possession of the post till three years after. in alliance with poetical distinction.
With high intellectual endowments, he had many On his return, Jonson entered himself at St. unamiable traits in his character, having a high de John's College, Cambridge, which he was shortly gree of pride and self-conceit, with a disposition to obliged to quit from the scanty state of his finances. abuse and disparage every one who incurred his Ile then turned his thoughts to the stage, and jealousy or displeasure. Jonson was reduced applied for employment at the theatres; but his to necessitous circumstances in the latter part of talents, as an actor, could only procure for him his life, though he obtained from Charles I. an adadmission at an obscure playhouse in the suburbs.vance of his salary as laureate. He died in 1637, at Here he had the misfortune to kill a fellow-actor the age of 63, being at that time considered as at the in a duel, for which he was thrown into prison. head of English poetry. He was interred in WestThe state of mind to which he was here brought, minster Abbey, where an inscription was placed over gave the advantage to a Popish priest in converting his grave, familiarly expressive of the reputation him to the Catholic faith, under which religion he he had acquired among his countrymen: it was, continued for twelve years.
“O rare Ben Jonson." Six months after his death, After his liberation from prison, he married, and a collection of poems to his honor, by a number applied in earnest to writing for the stage, in which of the most eminent writers and scholars in the nahe appears to have already made several attempts. tion, was published, with the title of "Jonsonius His comedy of “Every Man in his Humor," the Virbius ; or the memory of Ben Jonson, revived by first of his acknowledged pieces, was performed with the Friends of the Muses.” applause in 1596; and henceforth he continued to Although, as a general poet, Jonson for the most furnish a play yearly, till his time was occupied by part merits the character of harsh, frigid, and tedious; the composition of the masques and other enter there are, however, some strains in which he appears tainments, by which the accession of James was with singular elegance, and may be placed in comcelebrated. Dryden, in his Essay on Dramatic petition with some of the most favored writers of Poetry, speaks of him as the “most learned and that class. judicious writer which any theatre ever had," and
TO WILLIAM CAMDEN.
2. I have been gathering wolves' hairs,
The mad-dogs' foam, and the adders' ears;
The spurgings of a dead-man's eyes,
And all since the evening-star did rise.
3. I, last night, lay all alone
O'the ground, to hear the mandrake groan;
And, as I had done, the cock did crow.
From private grots, and public pits,
And frighted a sexton out of his wits.
5. Under a cradle I did creep,
By day; and, when the child was asleep,
Still to be neat, still to be drest,
Yes, I have brought (to help our vows)
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
tinction, was born at London, in 1618. His father, from Oxford, in December, 1657.
ABRAHAM COWLEY, a poet of considerable dis-virtue of a degree which he obtained, by mandamus who was a grocer by trade, died before his birth; but his mother, through the interest of her friends, to France, and resumed his station as an agent in procured his admission into Westminster school, the royal cause, the hopes of which now began to
He has represented himself as revive. The Restoration reinstated him, with other
correct classical scholar. He early the Mastership of the Savoy, but was unsuccessful
In 1636 he was elected a scholar of Trinity col- and the Earl of St. Alban's, he obtained a lease of
of the Duke of Bugth
rid.llege vula ho inity col- and the the interes the cavaliers. At
werde) ed 8 acad. Situs
por l.2: la
was present in several of the king's journeys and the banks of the Thames; but this place not agree-
When the events of the war obliged the queen- too late in the fields among his laborers. Dr.
WOS rated as a physician, a character he umed by
dium of secret intelligence. Soon after his arrival, as the first poel in England for Milton
1656, having no longer any affairs to transact by declaring, that Pronounced his eulo
In And although a large portion of Cowleys cele