1738 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

Anonymous, "On the Sign of Ben Jonson" London Evening Post (2 November 1738).



SIR,
Going thro' Little-Britain t'other Day with a Friend of mine, he pull'd me by the Sleeve, and bid me observe the Sign of BEN JOHNSON'S HEAD, which he said was very masterly done: In short, it rais'd our Curiosity so far as to enter the House, where, upon Enquiry, we found that Mr. William Johnson, late a Distiller near Fetter-lane in Holbourn, liv'd there: My Friend immediately grew Poetical on the Occasion, and wrote the following Lines, which you are desir'd to insert the first Opportunity.

Dear BEN, auspicious by thy Head!
May all, who ever thought or read,
Here bow before thy Shrine:
All who to Bacchus, Ceres, owe
The greatest Blessings which they know,
Here, here in Concert join.

Who can behold thy well-touch'd Face,
Hung in this learned Cobweb Place,
But must be quite inspir'd,
And me, thy Surname's-Sake, befriend!
On thee my only Hopes depend,
And with those Hopes I'm fir'd.

Thou can'st not flatter — I am true—
By just and honest Means pursue
A salutary End:
The Law's severe; Time full of Care!
Do thou, with a resistless Air,
Bid all Men be my Friend.