C. H. Herford, Percy Simpson, and Evelyn Simpson (eds), Ben Jonson, Vol. 11: Commentary; Jonson's Literary Record; Supplementary Notes; Index

Contents
Find Location in text

Main Text

XIX. JOHN SELDEN

See Jonson's poem to him in Und. xiv. There are pleasant glimpses of their relations in Selden's works. In the preface to the Titles of Honor, 1614, sig. d, he claims to have cleared up errors:

1'As in diuers like that of Crowns and Diadems, which all haue 2hitherto taught to haue been mongst Royall Notes most anciently in 3Europe. I presume I haue sufficiently manifested the contrarie, and 4answered their vrged Autorities, producing also one out of Euripides 5his Orestes, seeming stranger [read stronger] against my part then 6anie other: which, when I was to vse, and hauing not at hand the 7Scholiast (out of whom I hoped some aid) I went, for this purpose, 8to see it in the well-furnisht Librarie of my beloued friend that 9singular Poet M. Ben: Ionson, whose speciall Worth in Literature, 10accurat Iudgment, and Performance, known only to that Few which pg 38411are truly able to know him, hath had from me, euer since I began 12to learn, an increasing admiration. Hauing examin'd it with him, 13I resolud vpon my first Opinion, and found, as I ghesse, a New but 14more proper Interpretation of the Place. …

In the second edition, 1631, pp. 402 foll., he discusses the custom of giving laurel to poets, and ends (p. 412):

'And thus haue I, by no vnseasonable digression, performed a promise to you my beloued Ben. Ionson. Your curious learning and iudgement may correct where I haue erred, and adde where my notes and memory haue left me short. You are

  • omnia Carmina doctus
  • et calles Mythwn plasmata & Historiam.
And so you both fully know what concernes it, and your singular excellencie in the Art most eminently deserues it.'

In B.F. v. v. 99, 100 Jonson makes Rabbi Busy quote the text of Diateronomy about the male putting on the apparel of the female; Jonson discussed it with Selden. In the 'Epistolae Variae' in Wilkins's edition of the Opera Omnia, 1725, tom, ii, cols. 1690–6, is 'A Letter of Mr. John Selden, copied from the original in the hands of Matthew Hale, Esq; at Alderly in Gloucestershire', addressed 'From the Inner Temple this 28th of Feb. 1615':—

'To my honoured and truly worthy Friend, Mr. Ben. Johnson.

1'Thus ambitious am I of your love, but of your judgment too. 2I have most willingly collected what you wished, my notes touching 3the literal sense and historical of the holy text usually brought 4against the counterfeiting of sexes by apparell. To omit variety of 5translations, the text itself is thus out of the original word for word: 6A man's armour shall not be upon a woman, and a man shall not put 7on a woman's garment. In Deut. xxii. 5. so it is, and not as the vulgar 8hath it, that a woman shall not wear a man's garment, nor a man a woman's.'

The letter ends, 'Whatever this is, which I have collected, I consecrate to your love, and end with hope of your instructing judgment'.

Finally there was the help Jonson gave Selden when The Historie of Tythes was published in 1618; the book caused an uproar in Church circles, and strong representations were made to the King about it. James ordered Selden to come before him at Theobalds, bringing a copy of the book.

1'Me tunc aulæ alienissimum, & paucissimis illic de facie notum, 2incomitatum Theobaldas ire noluere Viri, Doctissimi, Summi, mihique pg 3853Amicissimi & Morum Scriptorúmque meorum etiam Testes assidui, 4Edwardus Heywardus à Reiffham in agro Norfolciensi, Armiger, cujus 5suavissimo, & semper sibi (quod in amicitia caput est) simili, con-6tubernio fermè Quinquagenario, in Templo Interiore, fruitus sum, et 7Benjaminus Jonsonius Poetarum ille facilè princeps. Illùc igitur 8curru simùl pergimus, medio Decembri aut circitèr, ubi cum Regem 9quidem ob Scriptum illud de Decimis, satis infensum esse audivis- 10sem, procuravit Jonsonius, illustri heroi, Georgio tunc Buckinghamiæ 11Marchioni (postea Duci) summo Angliæ Admirallo, regio favore 12præpollenti, in pretio habitus, ut ille me amicius coram Rege sisteret, 13eúmque in causam meam placaret. Atque id sanè renitentibus in- 14terim Episcopis illis, à Marchione præstitum est.' (Ioannis Seldeni 15Vindiciæ Secundùm integritatem Existimationis suæ, 1653, pp. 17–18.)

logo-footer Copyright © 2018. All rights reserved.
Access is brought to you by Log out