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lady, to whom he was on the point of being married, the day having been fixed, so shattered his nerves, and depressed his spirits, that he abandoned not only bis home, but his country, and travelled abroad for several years. To his passionate remembrance of this lady, we are indebted for some of his most delicate and beautiful poems. It has been said by a living critic of great ability, but a dear lover of a startling assertion, that poets and painters owe their genius to original poverty of spirit and weakness of constitution. This is not true; but it is much nearer the truth than the world will readily admit: it is a key to the mystery of precocious talent, and the nothingness of head boys, Prince Henries, King Edwards, and in a degree to the poetry of Drummond. After some years spent in travel, he returned home; and, in 1630, married * Margaret Logan, a grand-daughter of Sir Robert Logan, by whom he had several children. He seems afterwards to have rarely left home; and if, indeed, a voyage were necessary, he was not likely, holding it, as he says in a letter to one of his friends, to be “ a part of Noah's judgment, and no small misery, that us islanders cannot take a view of God's fair and spacious earth, without crossing the stormy, braking, and deceitful seas." From the same letter we collect, that he delighted in chess above all other games ; and he is said to have been fond of, and well skilled in, music,
Although he rarely visited England, he was known here, and in correspondence both with Drayton and Ben Jonson. The tradition runs, as we have before observed, that the latter had so high a respect for his ability, and so earnestly desired to see him, that he set off, as it were, on an intellectual pilgrimage, and walked to Hawthornden. There is something delightful in this story, which, if true, would do honour to both men. It sheds a lustre round genius, like the halo of religion. But we question if there be not something of the “ high fantastical," in talking, as Mr. Godwin does, of the passion that “ soothed his uneasy steps, and beguiled the weariness of the way.” That Jonson walked, is certain : that he walked, because he preferred walking, there can be no doubt; he was never in better circumstances throughout his whole life than at that particular time; he gave Taylor, the water-poet, whom he met accidentally at Edinburgh, “ a piece of gold of two and
• The life prefixed to the later edition, says in 1620; but this is evidently an error. The folio, published in the life-time, and with the approbation of his son, says, he loved her for some resemblance to his first mistress, and married after he was forty-five years of age. It could not, therefore, have been before 1630.
twenty shillings value to drink his health in England," as that grateful man has left on record. This looks very little like necessity; for, though Jonson had the very soul of liberality,“ two and twenty shillings" were, in those times, a largess out of all reason from a man that walked on foot to save expenses; which, by the bye, to any but a downright pauper, walking on foot will not do. The fact we believe to be, that Jonson, who was naturally a powerful and robust man, with a constitutional predisposition to scorbutic diseases, who had been, in early life, subject to privation, and accustomed to great bodily fatigue, and was now distinguished, as he himself notices, by a mountain belly and a rocky face,” felt not only great intellectual enjoyment, but increase of health and strength, from bodily exertion, and the bracing freshness of the country; and he intended, in his excursion, to unite all these, and afterwards, as Drummond mentions, “ to write his foot pilgrimage, and to call it a Discovery."
So much for his “ uneasy steps," and the “ weariness of the way.” Now, for a word or two on the “passion” that
beguiled” him. That Jonson went to Scotland solely, as the tale would lead us to believe, or principally, out of respect and reverence for Drummond, we think extremely questionable; that he went to see Drummond at all, we have never seen proved, or proof offered :
:-no one, indeed, seems to have questioned, what, in plain truth, we know no other authority for believing, but that it is so stated in the life prefixed to the folio edition of Drummond's works, published more than sixty years after the death of both parties. Jonson, be it remembered, had many friends in Scotland : it is on record that he had ; and it is impossible but that the greatest genius then living should have: he was many months in Scotland; and it was to be expected, that during his long sojourn there, he would become personally acquainted with Drummond; but Hawthornden looks little like the shrine to which he bent his steps, when we know it was the very last place he visited in Scotland, and that he remained there but two or three weeks altogether. The very address, which accompanied the song sent by Jonson to Drummond, immediately on his return, affectionate as it is, breathes too much of respect, to lead us to believe in any long standing acquaintance, even if its language were less conclusive.
" To the honouring respect
Mr. William Drummond,
I, Benjamin Jonson,
Written this imperfect song." Another circumstance strongly confirmative of this conjecture is, as we believe, that there is no poem addressed to Drummond, or commendatory of his genius, nor a single letter from either party, of an earlier date than this visit. As to Jonson's enthusiastic admiration of Drummond's genius, perhaps, the reader will take Jonson's own words, in a criticism given to, and recorded by Drummond himself. “His opinion of my verses," says Drummond, after quoting Jonson's opinion of others, was “ that they were all good, especially the Epitaph on Prince Henry, save that they smelled too much of the schools, and were not after the fancy of the times: for a child, says he, may write after the fashion of the Greek and Latin verse in running; yet that he wished, for pleasing the king, that piece of Forth Feasting had been his own." Truly, if this be admiration enough for a pilgrimage, and by such a man as Jonson, there is much less enthusiasm wanting on such occasions than we have heretofore imagined. The highest commendation is, that his verses are good ; much less he could not say to a kind host, with whom he was happy and delighted; and yet this he qualifies, and only desires to be the author of a solitary poem ; and why of that ?—" for pleasing the king." It is, indeed, a very elegant poem, and likely to please the king,” being written expressly in compliment to his majesty, on his visit to Scotland.
In political principles, Drummond was "right royal ;” and he is said to have been so "overwhelmed with extreme grief and anguish” at the beheading of Charles the First, that it carried him to his grave in the December following. But neither his habits nor disposition stimulated him to action; he wrote, but did not fight in favour of royalty. But it must not be forgotten for Drummond's honour, that, although passionately, as well from personal feeling as principle, attached to the king, he saw clearly the errors of his government; that, though confident and fixed in his own opinions, he was tolerant towards others; and, when we remember how little the right of the liberty of the press, and of conscience, was then understood, even by theorists, and that Jeremy Taylor, in his Liberty of Prophecying, is believed to have been the first that advocated the latter, in 1647, we think, the following extract, from what Drummond calls an Apologetical letter, written some years
earlier, and, probably, on occasion of Laud's persecution of Prynne, Bastwick, and others, will do honour to his memory, and excuse its length.
• What a noise hath been raised in this country by prosecuting a piece of writing, supposed to be derogatory to the honour of the king's majesty! Whatever advice hath been given for putting of libellers to the extremity of law, I would say (with all humble respect to grave statesmen) that, in a matter of calumny and reproach with subjects, a prince can do nothing more fitting his own fame and reputation, than to slight and contemn them, as belonging nothing to him; and that it were better to neglect, than be too curious in searching after the authors.
“ Writings, we scorn and make none account of, themselves vanish and turn into nought. If we chafe and fret, it would appear, that we have been therein touched, and vively see in them our own faults and misdemeanors taxed and laid open.
“ If these papers for the king's honour were not to be seen and read, or if they derogate to the fame of the nobles, why were they not suppressed and hidden? But is this the way to suppress and hide them ?-To imprison, arraign, banish, execute the persons near
om they are found? Or is it not rather to turn them a piece of the Story of the Time, to make such a noise about them, and by seeking to avoid the smoke to fall into the fire ? What we would most evite and shun, to be the authors to bring upon our own heads?
“ What gained Queen Elizabeth the twenty-three of her reign, by cutting off the hands of Stubbs and Page, on the scaffold, for writing that book against her marriage with the Duke of Anjou, save that out of horror of that new and unpractised punishment, the people acknowledged her to be the right and not uncertain daughter of King Henry the Eighth, and she began to be feared, where before she was beloved of her subjects ?-Whom a people fear they hate, and whom they hate they wish taken away.
“ No prince, how great soever, can abolish pens, nor will memorials of ages be extinguished by present power; the posterity rendering to every one his due honour and blame.
“ Sometimes it is great wisdom in a prince not to reject and disdain them who freely tell him his duty, and open to him his misdemeanours to the Commonwealth, and the surmises and umbrages of his people and council for the amending disorders and bettering the
form of his government. As if a man should tell King Charles, that there is none in all his kingdom here can reckon himself Lord of his own goods amongst so many taxes and taillages, so much pilling and polling. So that substance is daily plucked and pilled from honest men to be lashed out amongst unthrifts, that as Thucydides writes of the great plague in his time at Athens, men, seeing no hopes of safety, spent all they had in one night. So the uncertainty of enjoying and holding what they have for the present, draws the thrifty and unthrifty to one end; for no man being sure of lands, less of moneys, every man is turned in a desperate carelessness of his estate.
“ A prince should be advertised that the hatred and distates of men's present estates and fortunes setteth them on work, and maketh them exceeding earnest to seek novations; for, finding themselves plunged in the misery of a beggarly estate, as many do believe, it turneth them not base, nor keepeth them under, but raiseth in them a mad desire to change their fortune; and this hath been the ensign of malcontents, to attempt and enterprize dangerous matters; for it hath often been found, that nothing hath sooner armed a people than poverty; and poverty hath never so often been brought upon a nation by the unfruitfulness of the earth, by disasters of seas, and other human accidents, as by the avarice of the officers and favourites of princes; who are brought foolishly to believe, that by tearing off the skins of the flock, they shall turn the shepherd rich.
“Ye will then say, the case of princes is pitiful if writers of infamous libels be not rigorously punished; without all question, the law is just and necessary against them. But, in some cases, good princes never follow the rigour and extremity of punishment set down by their laws; no, not against the naughtiest subjects, and, especially, when the case concerneth their own particulars. There is much to be considered in the convoy of such libels: if they contain truths, there is small wrong in such papers, as to call Mary Magdalen a sinner, Matthew a publican, Thomas a misbeliever, Paul a persecutor, Peter a denyer of his master, and the rest fugitives from him, and these are to be slighted and past over: if they contain mixed truth and apparences they may be neglected ; if they admit no interpretation but true and flat railing, then is a prince's patience to be tried, and the libel to be scorned. If they propound novelty and causes of sedition upon apparent grounds, they are to be answered, and by good reason to be overthrown.
**They who set their prince on work to follow and pursue such an idle piece of paper, if they had fair judges and powerful enemies near the court, may themselves be brought within compass of that same punishment which they would have laid upon others; as Perillus was brought to take an essay of his own brazen bull: for po better are they which relate, divulgate, and are occasioners to have infamous libels