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AN ELEGY UPON THE

DEATH OF BEN JONSON,

THE MOST EXCELLENT OF ENGLISH POETS.

WHAT doth officious fancy here prepare?—
Be't rather this rich kingdom's charge and care
To find a virgin quarry, whence no hand
E'er wrought a tomb on vulgar dust to stand,
And thence bring for this work materials fit:
Great JONSON needs no architect of wit;
Who forc'd from art, receiv'd from nature more
Than doth survive him, or e'er liv'd before.

And, poets, with what veil soe'er you hide, Your aim, 'twill not be thought your grief, but pride,

Which, that your cypress never growth might want, Did it near his eternal laurel plant.

Heaven at the death of princes, by the birth Of some new star, seems to instruct the earth, How it resents our human fate. Then why Didst thou, wit's most triumphant monarch, die Without thy comet? Did the sky despair To teem a fire, bright as thy glories were? Or is it by its age, unfruitful grown, And can produce no light, but what is known, A common mourner, when a prince's fall Invites a star t' attend the funeral? But those prodigious sights only create, Talk for the vulgar: Heaven, before thy fate, That thou thyself might'st thy own dirges hear, Made the sad stage close mourner for a year;

The stage, which (as by an instinct divine,
Instructed,) seeing its own fate in thine,
And knowing how it ow'd its life to thee,
Prepared itself thy sepulchre to be;
And had continued so, but that thy wit,
Which as the soul, first animated it,
Still hovers here below, and ne'er shall die,
Till time be buried in eternity.

But you! whose comic labours on the stage, Against the envy of a froward age

Hold combat! how will now your vessels sail, The seas so broken and the winds so frail,

Such rocks, such shallows threat'ning everywhere, And Jonson dead, whose art your course might

steer?

Look up! where Seneca and Sophocles, Quick Plautus and sharp Aristophanes, Enlighten yon bright orb! doth not your eye, Among them, one far larger fire, descry,

At which their lights grow pale? 'tis JONSON, there

He shines your Star, who was your Pilot here. W. HABINGTON.

• William Habington, the son of Thomas Habington of Hendlip in Worcestershire by Mary Parker, sister to the lord Mounteagle to whom the mysterious letter was sent by which the Gunpowder plot was discovered, was born at his father's seat on the 5th November 1605. He was educated in the religion of his father at Paris and St. Omer's. He married Lucy, daughter of lord Powis, the Castara of his muse, and died on the 30th November, 1654. The poems of Habington, though aspiring to none of the higher classes of poetry, are tolerably musical in their numbers, and indicate a purity of morals and gentleness of manners in their author: they must have been at one period popular, since they passed through three impressions between 1635 and 1640. Indeed, his merits have been rewarded with unusual liberality, his comedy found a place in Dodsley's Collection of old Plays; his life of Edward the 4th was admitted

UPON BEN JONSON,

THE MOST EXCELLENT OF COMIC POETS.

MIRROR of poets! mirror of our age!
Which her whole face beholding on thy stage,
Pleas'd and displeas'd with her own faults endures,
A remedy, like those whom music cures.
Thou not alone those various inclinations,
Which nature gives to ages, sexes, nations,
Hast traced with thy all-resembling pen,
But all that custom hath impos'd on men,
Or ill-got habits, which distort them so,
That scarce the brother can the brother know,
Is represented to the wondering eyes,
Of all that see or read thy Comedies.
Whoever in those glasses looks may find,
The spots return'd, or graces of his mind;
And by the help of so divine an art,
At leisure view, and dress his nobler part.
Narcissus cozen'd by that flattering well,
Which nothing could but of his beauty tell,
Had here, discovering the deform'd estate
Of his fond mind, preserv'd himself with hate.
But virtue too, as well as vice, is clad
In flesh and blood so well, that Plato had
Beheld what his high fancy once embraced,
Virtue with colours, speech, and motion graced.
The sundry postures of thy copious muse,
Who would express, a thousand tongues must use:

into bishop Kennet's compleat history of England, and the volume of poems before spoken of has been lately reprinted.

GILCHRIST.

Whose fate's no less peculiar than thy art;
For as thou couldst all characters impart,
So none can render thine, who still escapes,
Like Proteus in variety of shapes,

Who was nor this nor that, but all we find,
And all we can imagine in mankind.

E. WALLER,'

UPON THE POET OF HIS TIME,

BENJAMIN JONSON,

HIS HONOURED FRIEND AND FATHER.

AND is thy glass run out? is that oil spent,
Which light to such tough sinewy labours lent?
Well, BEN, I now perceive that all the Nine,
Though they their utmost forces should combine,
Cannot prevail 'gainst Night's three daughters, -
but,

One still will spin, one wind, the other cut.
Yet in despight of spindle, clue, and knife,
Thou, in thy strenuous lines, hast got a life,
Which, like thy bay, shall flourish every age,
While sock or buskin move upon the stage.

JAMES HOWELL.*

• Edmund Waller born in 1605, died of a dropsy, the 1st October, 1687. GILCHRIST.

James Howell, the author of "Familiar Epistles" is so well known that it seems scarcely necessary to say more than that he was born at Abernant, in Carnarvonshire, educated at Jesus College Oxford, and died in November 1666, and was buried in the Temple Church. GILCHRIST.

AN OFFERTORY AT THE TOMB

OF THE FAMOUS POET

BEN JONSON.

IF souls departed lately hence do know
How we perform the duties that we owe
Their reliqués, will it not grieve thy spirit
To see our dull devotion? thy merit
Profaned by disproportion'd rites? thy herse
Rudely defiled with our unpolish'd verse?-
Necessity's our best excuse: 'tis in

Our understanding, not our will, we sin;
'Gainst which 'tis now in vain to labour, we
Did nothing know, but what was taught by thee.
The routed soldiers when their captains fall
Forget all order, that men cannot call

It properly a battle that they fight;
Nor we (thou being dead) be said to write.
'Tis noise we utter, nothing can be sung
By those distinctly that have lost their tongue;
And therefore whatsoe'er the subject be,
All verses now become thy ELEGY:
For, when a lifeless poem shall be read,
Th' afflicted reader sighs, BEN JONSON's dead.
This is thy glory, that no pen can raise
A lasting trophy in thy honour'd praise;
Since fate (it seems) would have it so exprest,
Each muse should end with thine, who was the
best:

And but her flights were stronger, and so high,
That time's rude hand cannot reach her glory,

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