1740 ca. ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Raleigh

William Oldys, in Bliss, Athenae Oxonienses (1815) 2:612n.



Oldys has preserved an anecdote of young Raleigh in his MS. additions to Langbaine. He was, it seems, a gay spark, who could not brook Ben's [Jonson] rigorous treatment, but, perceiving one foible in his disposition, made use of that to throw off the yoke of his government. And this was an unlucky habit Ben had contracted, through his love of jovial company, of being overtaken with liquor, which Sir Walter did of all vices most abominate, and hath most exclaimed against. One day, when Ben had taken a plentiful dose, and was fallen into a sound sleep, young Raleigh got a great basket, and a couple of men, who laid Ben in it, and then with a pole carried him between their shoulders to Sir Walter, telling him their young master had sent home his tutor. This, says Oldys, I had from a MS. memorandum book, written in the time of the civil wars by Mr. Oldisworth, who was secretary, I think, to Philip earl of Pembroke. Yet in the year 1614, when Sir Walter published his History of the World, there was a good understanding between him and Ben Johnson; for the verses which explain the grave frontispiece before that History were written by Johnson, and are reprinted in his Underwoods.