1799 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

William Seward, in Biographiana (1799) 2:411-12.



The leading feature of the character of this great comic writer was perhaps never better delineated than in the following latter from Mr. [James] Howell:

"SIR,

I was invited yesterday to a solemn supper by B. J. where you were deeply remembered. There was good company, excellent cheese, choice wines, and jovial welcome. One thing intervened which almost spoiled the relish of the rest, that B. began to engross all the discourse; to vapour extremely of himself; and by vilifying others to magnify his own Muse. T. Ca. buzzed me in the ear, that though Ben had barrelled up a great deal of knowledge, yet it seems he had not read the ethics, which, amongst other precepts of morality, forbid self-commendation, declaring it to be an ill-favoured solecism in good manners."