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And surely, had I but your stable seen
Before, I think my wish absolved had been ;
For never saw I yet the Muses dwell,
Nor any of their household, half so well.
So well! as when I saw the floor and room
I looked for Hercules to be the groom;
And cried, Away with the Cæsarian bread!
At these immortal mangers Virgil fed.90




I am to dine, friend, where I must be weighed
For a just wager, and that wager paid
If I do lose it; and, without a tale,

A merchant's wife is regent of the scale;

Who, when she heard the match, concluded


An ill commodity! 't must make good weight.
So that, upon the point, my corporal fear
Is, she will play Dame Justice too severe,
And hold me to it close; to stand upright
Within the balance, and not want a mite;
But rather with advantage to be found
Full twenty stone, of which I lack two pound; 92

90 Alluding to the circumstance of Virgil having been employed in the stables of Augustus, and having his customary allowance of bread doubled for the judgment he gave of a colt the emperor had just bought.

91 See ante, p. 231.


92 The wager, says Whalley, seems to have been that the poet weighed twenty stone; but finding that he wanted two pounds of that weight, he artfully turns the circumstance into

That's six in silver; now within the socket
Stinketh my credit, if into the pocket

It do not come: one piece I have in store,
Lend me, dear Arthur, for a week, five more,

And you shall make me good, in weight and fashion,

And then to be returned; or protestation
To go out after:-till when take this letter
For your security. I can no better.

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Would God, my Burges, I could think
Thoughts worthy of thy gift, this ink;
Then would I promise here to give

a reason for borrowing from his friend five pounds in silver. With this amount in his pocket, in addition to one piece he had already, he would be able to turn the scale, six pounds in silver being equal, upon Jonson's calculation, to two pounds in weight. B. I doubt whether we understand the nature of this wager, which was probably a mere jest. If the sense be as Whalley states it, there is as little of art as of honesty in it.-G.

93 Burges was probably the deputy-paymaster of the household. He had made Jonson a present of some ink, and this little production, which wants neither spirit nor a proper self-confidence, enclosed perhaps the return for it. Master Burges might have sent the wine at the same time. Jonson, who lived much about the court while his health permitted him to come abroad, seems to have made friends of most of those who held official situations there, and to have been supplied with stationery, and perhaps many other petty articles. The following is transcribed from the blank leaf of a volume of miscellaneous poetry, formerly in the possession of Dr.

Verse that should thee and me outlive.

But since the wine hath steeped my brain,
I only can the paper stain;

Yet with a dye that fears no moth,
But, scarlet-like, outlasts the cloth.


You won not verses, madam, you won me,
When you would play so nobly, and so free,
A book to a few lines! But it was fit
You won them too; your odds did merit it.
So have you gained a servant and a muse:
The first of which I fear you will refuse;
And you may justly, being a tardy, cold,
Unprofitable chattel, fat and old,

Laden with belly, and doth hardly approach

John Hoadley, son of the Bishop of Winchester. He has written over it, "A Relique of Ben Jonson."

To my worthy and deserving Brother


As the Token of my Love

And the perpetuating of our Friendship,
I send this small, but hearty Testimony;
And with Charge that it remayne wth him,
Till I at much expense of time and taper
With 'Chequer-ink, upon his gift, my paper,
Shall pour forth many a line, drop many a letter

To make these good, and what comes after, better.

94 From the opening lines, and the subsequent allusion to the poet's weight, it might be inferred that this Lady Covell was the "merchant's wife" who acted as "regent of the scales" in the wager which forms the subject of the epistle to Mr. Squib (see ante, p. 247). But no such name occurs amongst the contemporaneous dignitaries of the city. - B.

His friends, but to break chairs, or crack a


His weight is twenty stone within two pound;
And that's made up as doth the purse abound.
Marry, the muse is one can tread the air,
And stroke the water, nimble, chaste, and fair.
Sleep in a virgin's bosom without fear,
Run all the rounds in a soft lady's ear,
Widow or wife, without the jealousy
Of either suitor, or a servant by.

Such, if her manners like you, I do send;
And can for other graces her commend,
To make you merry on the dressing-stool
A mornings, and at afternoons to fool
Away ill company, and help in rhyme
Your Joan to pass her melancholy time.
By this, although you fancy not the man,
Accept his muse; and tell, I know you can,
How many verses, madam, are your due!
I can lose none in tendering these to you.
I gain in having leave to keep my day,
And should grow rich, had I much more to pay.


Father John Burges,

Necessity urges

My woful cry

To Sir Robert Pye; 95

95 Sir Robert Pye was auditor to the Exchequer in 1618, and in that capacity it was his duty to pay to Jonson his in

And that he will venture
To send my debenture.
Tell him his Ben

Knew the time, when
He loved the Muses,
Though now he refuses
To take apprehension
Of a year's pension,
And more is behind;
Put him in mind
Christmas is near;
And neither good cheer,
Mirth, fooling, nor wit,
Nor any least fit

Of gambol or sport,
Will come at the court;
If there be no money,
No plover, or coney
Will come to the table,
Or wine to enable

The muse, or the poet,

The parish will know it;

Nor any quick warming-pan help him to bed, If the 'Chequer be empty, so will be his head.


Thou, friend, wilt hear all censures; unto thee All mouths are open, and all stomachs free:

come as laureate. It is curious enough that a descendant of the auditor, Henry James Pye, afterwards wore the laurel, and became the recipient of the income. - B.

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