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Where you will walk invisible to mankind,
Talk with all birds and beasts in their own language,
When you have penetrated hills like air,
Dived to the bottom of the sea like lead,
And risse again like cork, walk'd in the fire,
An 'twere a salamander, pass'd through all
The winding orbs, like an Intelligence,
Up to the empyreum, when you have made
The world your gallery, can dispatch a business
In some three minutes, with the antipodes,
And in five more, negotiate the globe over;
You must be poor still.
Mere. By my place I know it.
Johp. Where would you wish to be now, or what
Without the Fortunate Purse to bear your charges,
Or Wishing Hat ? I will but touch your temples,
The corners of your eyes, and tinct the tip,
The very tip o' your nose, with this collyrium,
And you shall see in the air all the ideas,
Spirits, and atoms, flies, that buz about
and that way, and are rather admirable, Than any way intelligible.
Mere. O, come, tinct me,
Tinct me; I long; save this great belly, I long !
But shall I only see?
Johp. See, and command
As they were all your varlets, or your footboys :
But first you must declare, (your Greatness must,
For that is now your style,) what you would see,
Mere. Is that my style ? my Greatness, then,
Would see king Zoroastres.
Johp. Why, you shall ;
Or any one beside. Think whom you please ;
Your thousand, your ten thousand, to a million :
All's one to me, if you could name a myriad.
Mere. I have named him.
Johp. You've reason.
Mere. Ay, I have reason;
Because he's said to be the father of conjurors,
And a cunning man in the stars.
Johp. Ay, that's it troubles us
A little for the present: for, at this time,
He is confuting a French almanack,
But he will straight have done, have you but patience;
Or think but any other in mean time,
Any hard name.
Mere. Then Hermes Trismegistus.
Johp. O, ó aprouéy.otos! why, you shall see him, A fine hard name. Or him, or whom you will, As I said to you afore. Or what do you
think Of Howleglass, instead of him ?
Mere. No, him I have a mind to.
Johp. O, but Ulen-spiegle,
Were such a name !*—but you shall have your longing.
What luck is this, he should be busy too !
He is weighing water but to fill three hour-glasses,
And mark the day in penn'orths like a cheese,
And he has done. 'Tis strange you should name him
Of all the rest! there being Jamblicus,
Or Porphyry, or Proclus, any name
That is not busy.
Mere. Let me see Pythagoras.
Mere. Or Plato.
Johp. Plato is framing some ideas,
Are now bespoken, at a groat a dozen,
Three gross at least : and for Pythagoras,
He has rashly run himself on an employment,
Of keeping asses from a field of beans;
O, but Ulen-spiegle
Were such a name.] See vol. iv. p. 58.
And cannot be stay'd off.
Mere. Then, Archimedes.
Johp. Yes, Archimedes !
Mere. Ay, or Æsop.
Hold your first man, a good man, Archimedes,
And worthy to be seen; but he is now
Inventing a rare mouse-trap with owl's wings
And a cat's-foot, to catch the mice alone :
And Æsop, he is filing a fox-tongue,
For a new fable he has made of court :
But you shall see them all, stay but your time,
And ask in season; things ask'd out of season
A man denies himself. At such a time
As Christmas, when disguising is on foot,
To ask of the inventions, and the men,
The wits and the ingines that move those orbs !
Methinks you should inquire now after Skelton,
Or master Skogan.
Mere. Skogan! what was he?
Johp. O, a fine gentleman, and master of arts,
Of Henry the fourth's time, that made disguises
For the king's sons, and writ in ballad-royal
Meré. But wrote he like a gentleman ?
Johp. In rhyme, fine tinkling rhyme, and flowing
With now and then some sense! and he was paid for’t,
Regarded and rewarded; which few poets
Mere. And why?
Johp. 'Cause every dabbler In rhyme is thought the same :—but you shall see him. Hold up your nose. [Anoints his eyes and temples.
Mere. I had rather see a Brachman, Or a Gymnosophist yet.
Johp. You shall see him, sir,
Is worth them both : and with him domine Skelton,
The worshipful poet laureat to king Harry,
And Tityre tu of those times. Advance, quick Skogan,
And quicker Skelton, shew your crafty heads,
Before this heir of arts, this lord of learning,
This master of all knowledge in reversion!
Enter SKOGAN and SKELTON, in like habits as
they lived." Skog. Seemeth we are call’d of a moral intent, If the words that are spoken as well now be meant.
Johp. That, master Skogan, I dare you ensure.
Skog. Then, son, our acquaintance is like to endure.
Mere. A pretty game! like Crambo; master
Give me thy hand : thou art very lean, methinks,
5 Enter Skogan and Skelton in like habits as they lived,] i. e. in the dress they wore while they were alive. This puts an end to the grave difficulties and graver doubts of M. Mason, Steevens, and Malone, as to the exclamation of Hamlet,
“My father, in like habit as he lived," meaning, in the clothes which he usually wore. The idea of Steevens, that a ghost who once puts on armour, can never exchange it afterwards for any thing more light and comfortable, is very good.
In the lines which follow, Jonson imitates the language of Skogan and Skelton. The former (Henry Skogan) lived in the time of Henry IV., and, as Stowe says, sent a ballad to the young prince (Shakspeare's Hal) and his brothers, “while they were at supper in the Vintry, amongst the merchants.” This is the ballad-royal of which our poet speaks: it was not very well timed, it must be allowed ; and if we may judge from the opening stanza, moral as it is, it was not much better tuned :
“My noble sonnes and eke my Lords deare,
I your father called unworthily,
Send unto you this ballad following here,
Written with mine owne hand full rudely." I have no knowledge of his “ disguises.” If moral Skogan (for this was his usual appellation) wrote any things of this nature, they were probably religious pieces, Mysteries and Moralities.
Is't living by thy wits ?
Skog. If it had been that,
My worshipful son, thou hadst ne'er been so fat.
Johp. He tells you true, sir. Here's a gentleman,
My pair of crafty clerks, of that high caract,
As hardly hath the age produced his like.
Who not content with the wit of his own times,
Is curious to know yours, and what hath been.
Mere. Or is, or shall be.
Johp. Note his latitude.
Skel. O, vir amplissimus,
Ut scholis dicimus,
Johp. The question-issimus
Is, should he ask a sight now, for his life;
I mean a person, he would have restored
To memory of these times, for a play-fellow,
Whether you would present him with an Hermes,
Or with an Howleglass?
Skel. An Howleglass
To come to pass
On his father's ass;
There never was,
By day, nor night,
With feathers upright
In his horned cap,
And crooked shape,
Much like an ape,
With owl on fist,
And glass at his wrist.
Skog. Except the four knaves entertain'd for the
guards Of the kings and the queens that triumph in the
cards. Johp. Ay, that were a sight and a half, I confess, To see 'em come skipping in, all at a mess !