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Why so dull and mute, young sinner?
Prythee, why so mute ?
Saying nothing do't ?
Quit, quit for shame! this will not move,
This cannot take her ;
Nothing can make her.
Suckling was the first writer (in English) of those critical Sessions, or gatherings together of the poets for the adjustment of their claims to superiority, which gave rise to similar pleasantries on the part of Rochester, Sheffield and others. Sir John's Sessions of the Poets seems to have been poured forth at a sitting, as heartily as his bottle. It has all the negligence, but at the same time spirit, of a first impulsive sketch ; and perhaps it might have been hurt by correction ; though such a verse as the second in the fifth stanza
Prepard with Canary wine”
could hardly have been intended to remain. The whole poem is here given almost verbatim.
A SESSION OF THE POETS.
A session was held the other day,
And therefore the wits of the town came thither,
There was Selden, and he sat close by the chair ;
Sands with Townsend, for they kept no order,
There was Lucan's translator too, and he
The first that broke silence was good old Ben,
And bid them remember how he had purgid the stage
Apollo stopt him there, and bid him not go on;
But those that were there, thought it not fit
Tom Carew* was next, but he had a fault
And all that were present there did agree
Will Davenant, asham'd of a foolish mischance
And surely the company would have beer. content
• Who was this?
* Pronounced Carey.
But in all their records, either in verse or prose,
To Will Bartlet sure all the wits meant well,
Suddenly taking his place again,
Toby Matthews (plague on him, how came he there ?)
For had not her “ Character furnish'd you out
In haste from the court two or three came in,
This made a dispute ; for 'twas plain to be seen
For if he cou'd do it, 'twould plainly appear
During these troubles in the court was hid
Murray was summond; but 'twas urg'd, that he
Hales, set by himself, most gravely did smile
But he was of late so gone with divinity,
At length who but an Alderman did appear,
He openly declar'd, that the best sign
At this all the wits were in such amaze,
Only the small Poets cheer'd up again
I“A Session of the Poets.”—Of the “poets” here mentioned, Selden is the famous jurist; Sands (or Sandys) the translator of Ovid; Digby, Sir Kenelm ; Chillingworth, the controversialist
“Lucan's translator,” May; Jack Vaughan, Sir John, afterwards Chief Justice of the Common Pleas; Porter, Endymion, an accomplished courtier and loyalist; Toby Matthews, a busy. body about town, author of a “ Character” of Lady Carlisle, of whom he was a great admirer; Wat Montague, Walter of the Manchester family, author of a poem called the “ Sheppard's Paradise,” who became a Roman Catholic, and had an abbey given him in France, whence he is called “ Monsieur;" Little Sid, Sidney Godolphin, one of the many great men of the age, who were diminutive in person ; Hales, the “ ever-memorable" of Eton; Falkland, Lord Falkland, the romantic victim of the civil wars.
Ben Jonson, Waller, Carew, and Davenant, need no explanation. Who the others were I cannot say.
2 “For his were calld Works, where others were but Plays."-An actual boast of Jonson's. “ Works” they certainly were,—the result of the greatest labor and pains. Shakspeare's plays were emanations. But the classic Ben thought no title for his books comparable to one that was a translation of the Latin word opera. The New Inn, subsequently mentioned, is the name of one of his comedies.
3“ A cup-bearer's place."-Carew held this office at court. 4“ How his · Snow' would sell.”-A poem, I presume, so called.
5“ There was difference, he said, betwixt fooling and wit.”—This seems hardly respectful towards the Queen from the son of his Majesty's Comptroller of the Household. But perhaps Henrietta Maria was sometimes forced to give letters, which she was not unwilling to see regarded accordingly. Still the tone of the rejection, notwithstanding what is said of the wish to gratify her, seems hardly such as would have been liked by a woman of her temper. Had she ever called Suckling a fool ? and so provoked him to show the difference between a real wit like himself, and some of the pretenders in her Majesty's train ?
He forfeits his “crown,”
Aan on the word crown.