Nonfiction > G. Gregory Smith, ed. > Elizabethan Critical Essays
G. Gregory Smith, ed.  Elizabethan Critical Essays.  1904.
Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
II. The Returne from Parnassus
[The following extract is taken from the Second Part of the Returne from Parnassus, performed in St. John’s College, Cambridge, in 1601. Two editions appeared in 1606 (London: G. Eld for John Wright). Copies of these are preserved in the Malone Collection in the Bodleian Library. The three ‘Parnassus’ comedies have been edited by the Rev. W. D. Macray (The Pilgrimage to Parnassus with the Two Parts of the Return from Parnassus. Oxford. At the Clarendon Press. 1886). The passage is the second scene of the first Act.]

Iud[icio].  What, Ingenioso, carrying a Vinegar bottle about thee, like a great schole-boy giuing the world a bloudy nose?
Ing[enioso].  Faith, Iudicio, if I carry the vineger bottle, it’s great reason I should confer it vpon the bald pated world: and againe, if my kitchen want the vtensilies of viands, it’s great reason other men should haue the sauce of vineger; and for the bloudy nose, Iudicio, I may chance indeed giue the world a bloudy nose, but it shall hardly giue me a crakt crowne, though it giues other Poets French crownes.
Iud.  I would wish thee, Ingenioso, to sheath thy pen, for thou canst not be successefull in the fray, considering thy enemies haue the aduantage of the ground.
Ing.  Or rather, Iudicio, they haue the grounds with aduantage, and the French crownes with a pox; and I would they had them with a plague too: but hang them, swadds, the basest corner in my thoughts is too gallant a roome to lodge them in. But say, Iudicio, what newes in your presse? did you keepe any late corrections vpon any tardy pamphlets?
Iud.  Veterem iubes renouare dolorem. Ingenioso, what ere befalls thee, keepe thee from the trade of the corrector of the presse.
Ing.  Mary, so I will, I warrant thee; if pouerty presse not too much, Ile correct no presse but the presse of the people.
Iud.  Would it not grieue any good spirits to sit a whole moneth nitting out a lousie beggarly Pamphlet, and like a needy Phisitian to stand whole yeares, tossing and tumbling the filth that falleth from so many draughty inuentions as daily swarme in our printing house?
Ing.  Come, I thinke, we shall haue you put finger in the eye, and cry, O friends, no friends. Say man, what new paper hobby horses, what rattle bables are come out in your late May morrice daunce?
Iud.  Slymy rimes as thick as flies in the sunne: I thinke there be neuer an ale-house in England, not any so base a maypole on a country greene, but sets forth some poets petternels or demilances to the paper warres in Paules Church-yard.
Ing.  And well too may the issue of a strong hop learne to hop all ouer England, when as better wittes sit like lame coblers in their studies. Such barmy heads wil alwaies be working, when as sad vineger wittes sit souring at the bottome of a barrell: plaine Meteors, bred of the exhalation of Tobacco and the vapors of a moyst pot, that soure vp into the open ayre, when as sounder wit keepes belowe.
Iud.  Considering the furies of the times, I could better endure to see those young Can quaffing hucksters shoot of their pellets so they would keepe them from these English flores-poetarum; but now the world is come to that passe, that there starts vp euery day an old goose that sits hatching vp those eggs which haue ben filcht from the nest[s] of Crowes and Kestrells. Here is a booke, Ing: why, to condemne it to cl[o]a[ca], the vsuall Tiburne of all misliuing papers, were too faire a death for so foule an offender.
Ing.  What’s the name of it, I pray thee, Iud.?
Iud.  Looke, its here—Beluedere.
Ing.  What! a bel-wether in Paules Church-yeard, so cald because it keeps a bleating, or because it hath the tinckling bel of so many Poets about the neck of it? What is the rest of the title?
Iud.  The garden of the Muses.
Ing.  ‘What have we here? The Poett garish
    Gayly bedeckt like forehorse of the Parish.’
    What followes?
Iud.  Quem referent musae, viuet dum robora tellus,
    Dum caelum stellas, dum vehit amnis aquas.
[Ing.]  Who blurres fayer paper with foule bastard rimes
  Shall liue full many an age in latter times;
  Who makes a ballet for an ale-house doore
  Shall liue in future times for euer more.
  Then Antony, thy muse shall live so long
  As drafty ballats to [the paile] are song.
  But what’s his deuise? Parnassus with the sunne and the lawrel. I wonder this owle dares looke on the sunne, and I maruaile this gose flies not: the laurell? his deuise might haue bene better a foole going into the market place to be seene, with this motto, scribimus indocti, or a poore beggar gleaning of eares in the end of haruest, with this word, sua cuique gloria.
Iud.  Turne ouer the leafe, Ing:, and thou shalt see the paynes of this worthy gentleman: Sentences gathered out of all kind of Poetts, referred to certaine methodicall heads, profitable for the vse of these times, to rime vpon any occasion at a little warning. Read the names.
Ing.  So I will, if thou wilt helpe me to censure them.
Edmund Spencer.  Michaell Drayton.
Henry Constable.  Iohn Dauis.
Thomas Lodge.  Iohn Marston.
Samuel Daniell.  Kit: Marlowe.
Thomas Watson.
    Good men and true, stand togither: heare your censure.
    What’s thy iudgement of Spencer?
Iud.  A sweeter Swan then euer song in Poe,
  A shriller Nightingale then euer blest
  The prouder groues of selfe admiring Rome!
  Blith was each vally, and each sheapeard proud,
  While he did chaunt his rurall minstralsie;
  Attentiue was full many a dainty eare;
  Nay, hearers hong vpon his melting tong,
  While sweetly of his Faiery Queene he song,
  While to the waters fall he tun’d [he]r fame,
  And in each barke engrau’d Elizaes name.
  And yet, for all this, vnregarding soile
  Vnlac’t the line of his desired life,
  Denying mayntenance for his deare releife;
  Carelesse [e]re to preuent his exequy,
  Scarce deigning to shut vp his dying eye.
Ing.  Pity it is that gentler witts should breed,
  Where thick skin chuffes laugh at a schollers need.
  But softly may our honours ashes rest,
  That lie by mery Chaucers noble chest.
  But I pray thee proceed breefly in thy censure, that I may be proud of my selfe; as in the first, so in the last, my censure may iumpe with thine. Henry Constable, Samuel Daniell, Thomas Lodg, Thomas Watson.
Iud.  Sweete Constable doth take the wondring eare,
  And layes it vp in willing prisonment:
  Sweete hony dropping Daniell doth wage
  Warre with the proudest big Italian,
  That melts his heart in sugred sonneting;
  Onely let him more sparingly make vse
  Of others wit, and vse his owne the more,
  That well may scorne base imitation.
  For Lodge and Watson, men of some desert,
  Yet subiect to a Critticks marginall;
  Lodge for his oare in euery paper boate,
  He that turnes ouer Galen euery day,
  To sit and simper Euphues legacy.
Ing.  Michael Drayton.
[Iud.]  Draytons sweete muse is like a sanguine dy,
    Able to rauish the rash gazers eye.
    How euer, he wants one true note of a Poet of our times, and that is this, hee cannot swagger it well in a Tauerne nor dominere in a hot house.
[Ind.]  Iohn Dauis.
[Iud.]  Acute Iohn Dauis, I affect thy rymes,
  That ierck in hidden charmes these looser times;
  Thy plainer verse, thy vnaffected vaine,
  Is grac’t with a faire and sooping trayne.
Ing.  Locke and Hudson.
Iud.  Locke and Hudson, sleepe, you quiet shauers, among the shauings of the presse, and let your bookes lye in some old nookes amongst old bootes and shooes, so you may auoide my censure.
Ing.  Why then clap a lock on their feete, and turne them to commons.
        Iohn Marston.
Iud.  What, Monsier Kynsader, lifting vp your legge and pissing against the world! put vp man, put vp for shame!
  Me thinks he is a Ruffian in his stile,
  Withouten bands or garters ornament;
  He quaffes a cup of Frenchmans Helicon,
  Then royster doyster in his oylie tearmes,
  Cutts, thrusts, and foines at whomesoeuer he meets,
  And strewes about Ram-ally meditations.
  Tut, what cares he for modest close coucht termes,
  Cleanly to gird our looser libertines.
  Giue him plaine naked words stript from their shirts,
  That might beseeme plaine dealing Aretine.
  I, there is one that backes a paper steed
  And manageth a pen-knife gallantly,
  Strikes his poinado at a buttons breadth,
  Brings the great battering ram of tearmes to towns,
  And, at first volly of his Cannon shot,
  Batters the walles of the old fustie world.
Ing.  Christopher Marlowe.
Iud.  Marlowe was happy in his buskind muse,
  Alas! vnhappy in his life and end.
  Pitty it is that wit so ill should dwell,
  Wit lent from heauen, but vices sent from hell,
Ing.  Our Theater hath lost, Pluto hath got,
  A Tragick penman for a driery plot.
        Beniamin Iohnson.
Iud.  The wittiest fellow of a Bricklayer in England.
Ing.  A meere Empyrick, one that getts what he hath by obseruation, and makes onely nature priuy to what he indites; so slow an Inuentor that he were better betake himselfe to his old trade of Bricklaying; a bould whorson, as confident now in making a booke as he was in times past in laying of a brick.
        William Shakespeare.
Iud.  Who loues [not] Adons loue or Lucre[ce] rape?
  His sweeter verse contaynes hart [th]robbing li[n]e,
  Could but a grauer subiect him content,
  Without loues foolish lazy languishment.
Ing.  Churchyard.
  Hath not Shor’s wife, although a light skirts she,
  Giuen him a chast long lasting memory?
Iud.  No, all light pamphlets once, I, finden shall
  A Churchyard and a graue to bury all.
Inge.  Thomas Nash.
  I, heare is a fellow, Iudicio, that carryed the deadly stockado in his pen, whose muse was armed with a gagtooth and his pen possest with Hercules furies.
Iud.  Let all his faultes sleepe with his mournfull chest,
  And then for euer with his ashes rest!
  His style was wittie, though he had some gal;
  Something he might haue mended, so may all.
  Yet this I say, that for a mother witt,
  Few men haue euer seene the like of it.
Ing.  Reades the rest.
Iud.  As for these, they haue some of them beene the old hedgstakes of the presse, and some of them are at this instant the botts and glanders of the printing house. Fellowes that stande only vpon tearmes to serue the tearme with their blotted papers, write as men go to stoole, for needes; and, when they write, they write as a b[o]are pisses—now and then drop a pamphlet.
Ing.  Durum telum necessitas. Good fayth they do as I do—exchange words for mony. I haue some traffique this day with Danter, about a little booke which I haue made; the name of it is a Catalogue of Cambrige Cuckolds: but this Beluedere, this methodicall asse, hath made me almost forget my time. Ile now to Paules Churchyard; meete me an houre hence, at the signe of the Pegasus in Cheapside, and Ile moyst thy temples with a cuppe of Claret, as hard as the world goes.
Ex. IUDICIO.    

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