The Poetaster

Ben Jonson
The Poetaster

The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Poetaster, by Ben Jonson #8 in
our series by Ben Jonson
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the
copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing
this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project
Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit the
header without written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the
eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is
important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how
the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make a
donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of
Title: The Poetaster Or, His Arraignment
Author: Ben Jonson
Release Date: February, 2004 [EBook #5166] [Yes, we are more than
one year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on May 27,
Edition: 10

Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

This Project Gutenberg Etext Prepared Down Under In Australia by:
Amy E Zelmer Sue Asscher
With assistance from their Californian
co-conspirator Robert Prince


THE greatest of English dramatists except Shakespeare, the first
literary dictator and poet-laureate, a writer of verse, prose, satire, and
criticism who most potently of all the men of his time affected the
subsequent course of English letters: such was Ben Jonson, and as such
his strong personality assumes an interest to us almost unparalleled, at
least in his age.
Ben Jonson came of the stock that was centuries after to give to the
world Thomas Carlyle; for Jonson's grandfather was of Annandale,
over the Solway, whence he migrated to England. Jonson's father lost
his estate under Queen Mary, "having been cast into prison and
forfeited." He entered the church, but died a month before his
illustrious son was born, leaving his widow and child in poverty.
Jonson's birthplace was Westminster, and the time of his birth early in
1573. He was thus nearly ten years Shakespeare's junior, and less well
off, if a trifle better born. But Jonson did not profit even by this slight
advantage. His mother married beneath her, a wright or bricklayer, and
Jonson was for a time apprenticed to the trade. As a youth he attracted
the attention of the famous antiquary, William Camden, then usher at
Westminster School, and there the poet laid the solid foundations of his
classical learning. Jonson always held Camden in veneration,

acknowledging that to him he owed,
"All that I am in arts, all that I know:"
and dedicating his first dramatic success, "Every Man in His Humour,"
to him. It is doubtful whether Jonson ever went to either university,
though Fuller says that he was "statutably admitted into St. John's
College, Cambridge." He tells us that he took no degree, but was later
"Master of Arts in both the universities, by their favour, not his study."
When a mere youth Jonson enlisted as a soldier trailing his pike in
Flanders in the protracted wars of William the Silent against the
Spanish. Jonson was a large and raw-boned lad; he became by his own
account in time exceedingly bulky. In chat with his friend William
Drummond of Hawthornden, Jonson told how "in his service in the
Low Countries he had, in the face of both the camps, killed an enemy,
and taken 'opima spolia' from him;" and how "since his coming to
England, being appealed to the fields, he had killed his adversary which
had hurt him in the arm and whose sword was ten inches longer than
his." Jonson's reach may have made up for the lack of his sword;
certainly his prowess lost nothing in the telling. Obviously Jonson was
brave, combative, and not averse to talking of himself and his doings.
In 1592, Jonson returned from abroad penniless. Soon after he married,
almost as early and quite as imprudently as Shakespeare. He told
Drummond curtly that "his wife was a shrew, yet honest"; for some
years he lived apart from her in the household of Lord Albany. Yet two
touching epitaphs among Jonson's 'Epigrams', "On my first daughter,"
and "On my first son," attest the warmth of the poet's family affections.
The daughter died in infancy, the son of the plague; another son grew
up to manhood little credit to his father whom he survived. We know
nothing beyond this of Jonson's domestic life.
How soon Jonson drifted
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 64
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.