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Pot. I know mine own breath from All-Hallows,
Or else it were time to kiss the gallows.
Pard. Nay, sirs, here may ye see
The great toe of the Trinity:
Who to this toe any money voweth,
And once may roll it in his mouth,
All his life after I undertake
He shall never be vex'd with the tooth-ache.
Pot. I pray you turn that relic about;
Either the Trinity had the gout,
Or else, because it is three toes in one,
God made it as much as three toes alone.
Pard. Well, let that pass, and look upon
Here is a relic that doth not miss
To help the least as well as the most:
This is a buttock-bone of Pentecost.
Here is a box full of humble-bees,
That stung Eve as she sat on her knees
Tasting the fruit to her forbidden :
Who kisseth the bees within this hidden,
Shall have as much pardon of right,
As for any relic he kiss'd this night.
Good friends, I have yet here in this glass,
Which on the drink at the wedding was
Of Adam and Eve undoubtedly:
If ye honour this relic devoutly,
Although ye thirst no whit the less,
Yet shall ye drink the more, doubtless.
After which drinking, ye shall be as meet
To stand on your head as on your feet.” The same sort of significant irony runs through the Apothe. cary's knavish enumeration of miraculous cures in his possession :
" For this medicine helpeth one and other,
And bringeth them in case that they need no other.
Here is a syra pus de Byzansis,-
A httle thing is enough of this;
For even the weight of one scrippal
Shall make you as strong as a cripple.
These be the things that break all strife
Between man's sickness and his life.
From all pain these shall you deliver,
And set you even at rest for ever.
Here is a medicine no more like the same,
Which commonly is called thus by name.
Not one thing here particularly,
But worketh universally;
For it doth me as much good when I sell it,
As all the buyers that take it or smell it.
If any reward may entreat ye,
I beseech your mastership be good to me,
And ye shall have a box of marmalade,
So fine that you may dig it with a spade.”
After these quaint but pointed examples of it, Swift's boast with respect to the invention of irony,
" Which I was born to introduce,
Refin’d it first, and shew'd its use,
can be allowed to be true only in part.
The controversy between them being undecided, the Apothecary, to clench his pretensions “as a liar of the first magnitude," by a coup-de-grace, says to the Pedlar, “ You are an honest man;" but this home-thrust is somehow ingeniously parried. The Apothecary and Pardoner fall to their narrative vein again; and the latter tells a story of fetching a young woman from the lower world, from which I shall only give one specimen more as an instance of ludicrous and fantastic exaggeration. By the help of a passport from Lucifer, "given in the furnace of our palace,' he obtains a safe conduct from one of the subordinate imps to his master's presence :
« This devil and I walked arm in arm
So far, till he had brought me thither,
Where all the devils of hell together
Stood in array in such apparel,
As for that day there meetly fell.
Their horns well gilt, their claws full clean,
Their tails well kempt, and, as I ween,
With sothery butter their bodies anointed;
I never saw devils so well appointed.
The master-devil sat in his jacket,
And all the souls were playing at racket.
None other rackets they had in hand,
Save every soul a good fire-brand;
Wherewith they play'd so prettily,
That Lucifer laughed merrily.
And all the residue of the fiends
Did laugh thereat full well, like friends.
But of my friend I saw no whit,
Nor durst not ask for her as yet.
Anon all this rout was brought in silence,
And I by an usher brought to presence
Of Lucifer; then low, as well I could,
I kneeled, which he so well allow'd
That thus he beck’d, and by St. Antony
He smiled on me well-favour'dly,
Bending his brows as broad as barn-doors;
Shaking his ears as rugged as burrs;
Rolling his eyes as round as two bushels;
Flashing the fire out of his nostrils;
Gnashing his teeth so vain-gloriously,
That methought time to fall to flattery,
Wherewith I told, as I shall tell ;
Oh pleasant picture ! O prince of hell!" &c.
The piece concludes with some good wholesome advice from the Pedlar, who here, as well as in the poem of the · Excursion,' performs the part of Old Morality ; but he does not seem, as in the latter case, to be acquainted with the “ mighty stream of Tendency.” He is more full of “wise saws” than “modern instances ;" as prosing, but less paradoxical !
“But where ye doubt, the truth not knowing,
Believing the best, good may be growing.
In judging the best, no harm at the least;
In judging the worst, no good at the best.
But best in these things, it seemeth to me,
To make no judgment upon ye;
But as the church does judge or take them,
So do ye receive or forsake them.
And so be you sure you cannot err,
But may be a fruitful follower."
Nothing can be clearer than this.
The Return from Parnassus' was “first publicly acted,” as the title-page imports, “ by the students in St. John's College, Cambridge." It is a very singular, a very ingenious, and, as I think, a very interesting performance. It contains criticisms on contemporary authors, strictures on living manners, and the earliest denunciation (I know of) of the miseries and unprofit.
ableness of a scholar's life. The only part I object to in our author's criticism is his abuse of Marston; and that, not because he says what is severe, but because he says what is not true of him. Anger may sharpen our insight into men's defects; but nothing should make us blind to their excellences. The whole passage is, however, so curious in itself (like the “Edinburgh Review' lately published for the year 1755) that I cannot forbear quoting a great part of it. We find in the list of candidates for praise many a name
“That like a trumpet makes the spirits dance;"
there are others that have long since sunk to the bottom of the stream of time, and no Humane Society of Antiquarians and Critics is ever likely to fish them up again.
" Judicio. Read the names.
Ingenioso. So I will, if thou wilt help me to censure them.
and one Churchyard, Michael Drayton, (who is consigned to an untimely grave.] Good men and true, stand together, hear your censure: what's thy judg. ment of Spenser ?
Jud. A sweeter swan than ever sung in Po;
A shriller nightingale than ever blest
The prouder groves of self-admiring Rome,
Blithe was each valley, and each shepherd proud,
While he did chaunt his rural minstrelsy.
Attentive was full many a dainty ear:
Nay, hearers hung upon his melting tongue,
While sweetly of his Faery Queen he sung,
While to the water's fall he tun'd her fame,
And in each bark engravd Eliza's name.
And yet for all, this unregarding soil
Unlaced the line of his desired life,
Denying maintenance for his dear relief;
Careless even to prevent his exequy,
Scarce deigning to shut up his dying eye.
Ing. Pity it is that gentler wits should breed,
Where thick-skinned chuffs laugh at a scholar's need.
But softly may our honour'd ashes rest,
That lie by merry Chaucer's noble chest.
But I pray thee proceed briefly in thy censure, that I may be proud of myself, as in the first, so in the last, my censure may jump with thine. Henry Constable, Samuel Daniel, Thomas Lodge, Thomas Watson.
Jud. Sweet Constable doth take the wondering ear,
And lays it up in willing prisonment:
Sweet honey-dropping Daniel doth wage
War with the proudest big Italian,
That melts his heart in sugar'd sonnetting.
Only let him more sparingly make use
Of others' wit, and use his own the more,
That well may scorn base imitation.
For Lodge and Watson, men of some desert,
Yet subject to a critic's marginal :
Lodge for his oar in every paper boat,
He that turns over Galen every day,
To sit and simper Euphues' legacy.
Ing. Michael Drayton.
Jud. Drayton's sweet Muse is like a sanguine dye, Able to ravish the rash gazer's eye.
Ing. However, he wants one true note of a poet of our times; and that is this, he cannot swagger in a tavern, nor domineer in a pot-house. John Davis
Jud. Acute John Davis, I affect thy rhymes,
That jerk in hidden charms these looser times:
Thy plainer verse, thy unaffected vein,
Is graced with a fair and sweeping train.
Ing. John Marston
Jud. What, Monsieur Kinsayder, put up, man, put up for shame.
Methinks he is a ruffian in his style,
Withouten bands or garters' ornament.
He quaffs a cup of Frenchman's helicon,
Then royster doyster in his oily terms
Cuts, thrusts, and foins at whomsoe'er he meets,
And strews about Ram-alley meditations.
Tut, what cares he for modest close-couch'd terms,
Cleanly to gird our looser libertines ?
Give him plain naked words stript from their shirts,
That might beseem plain-dealing Aretine.
Ing. Christopher Marlowe
Jud. Marlowe was happy in his buskin'd Muse :
Alas! unhappy in his life and end.
Pity it is that wit so ill should dwell,
Wit lent from heaven, but vices sent from hell.
Ing. Our theatre hath lost, Pluto hath got
A tragic penman for a dreary plot.
Jud. The wittiest fellow of a bricklayer in England.