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his encounter with the Prince of Wales;—their own bodies are to be dashed together, and not merely the horses:
Harry to Harry shall, not horse to horse:
so closely does he intend that their combat shall hug.
IMOGEN IN BED.
(Jachimo, dared by Imogen's husband to make trial of her fidelity, hides in her chamber in order to bring away pretended proofs against it.)
Imo. (reading in bed) Who's there? my woman Helen?
Lady. Please you, madam.
Imo. What hour is it?
Lady. Almost midnight, madam.
Imo. I have read three hours then mine eyes are weak: Fold down the leaf where I have left:-to bed:
Take not away the taper; leave it burning;
And if thou canst awake by four o' the clock,
To your protection I commend me, Gods!
[Sleeps. JACHIMO, from the trunk. Jach. The crickets sing, and man's o'er-labour'd sense Repairs itself by rest: our Tarquin thus
Did softly press the rushes, ere he waken'd
The chastity he wounded.-Cytherea,
How bravely thou com'st thy bed! fresh lily,
How dearly they do't-'Tis her breathing that
O sleep, thou ape of Death, lie dull upon her!
[Takes off her bracelet.
As slippery, as the Gordian knot was hard!
To the trunk again, and shut the spring of it.
Swift, swift, you dragons of the night, that dawning
One, two, three,—Time, time!
[Goes into the trunk. The scene closes.
BORN, 1574,-DIED, 1637.
IF Ben Jonson had not tried to do half what he did, he would have had a greater fame. His will and ambition hurt him, as they always hurt genius when set in front of it. Lasting reputation of power is only to be obtained by power itself; and this, in poetry, is the result not so much, if at all, of the love of the power, as of the power of love,—the love of truth and beauty,-great and potent things they, not the love of self, which is generally a very little thing. The "supposed rugged old bard," notwithstanding his huffing and arrogance, had elegance, feeling, imagination, great fancy; but by straining to make them all greater than they were, bringing in the ancients to help him, and aiming to include the lowest farce (perhaps by way of outdoing the universality of Shakspeare), he became as gross in his pretensions, as drink had made him in person. His jealous irritability and assumption
tired out the gentlest and most generous of his contemporaries-men who otherwise really liked him (and he them),-Decker for one; and he has ended in appearing to posterity rather the usurper than the owner of a true renown. He made such a fuss with his learning, that he is now suspected to have had nothing else. Hazlitt himself cannot give him credit for comic genius, so grave and all-in-all does his pedantry appear to that critic,-an erroneous judgment, as it seems to me,-who cannot help thinking, that what altogether made Ben what he was projected his ultra-jovial person rather towards comedy than tragedy; and as a proof of this, his tragedies are all borrowed, but his comedies his own. Twelfth Night and other plays of Shakspeare preceded and surpassed him in his boasted "humour;" but his Alchemist, and especially his Volpone, seem to me at the head of all severer English comedy. The latter is a masterpiece of plot and treatment. Ben's fancy, a power tending also rather to the comic than tragic, was in far greater measure than his imagination; and their strongest united efforts, as in the Witches' Meeting, and the luxurious anticipations of Sir Epicure Mammon, produce a smiling as well as a serious admiration. The three happiest of all his short effusions (two of which are in this volume) are the epitaph on Lady Pembroke, the address to Cynthia (both of which are serious indeed, but not tragic), and the