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

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XLI. NICHOLAS ROWE

JOhnson was certainly a very good Scholar, and in that had the advantage of Shakespear; tho' at the same time I believe it must be allow'd, that what Nature gave the latter, was more than a Ballance for what Books had given the former; and the Judgment of a Great Man upon this occasion was, I think, very just and proper. In a Conversation between Sir John Suckling, Sir William D'Avenant, Endymion Porter, Mr. Hales of Eaton, and Ben Johnson; Sir John Suckling, who was a profess'd Admirer of Shakespear, had undertaken his Defence against Ben Johnson with some warmth; Mr. Hales, who had sat still for some time, hearing Ben frequently reproaching him with the want of Learning and Ignorance of the Antients, told him at last, That if Mr. Shakespear had not read the Antients, he had likewise not stollen any Thing from 'em; (a Fault the other made no Conscience of) and that if he would produce any one Topick finely treated by any of them, he would undertake to shew something upon the same Subject at least as well written by Shakespear.

From The Works of Mr. William Shakespear, 1709, i, pp. xiii, xiv.

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