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De Shakespeare Nostrat — Augustus in Hat

From Ben Jonson’s Timber: or, Discoveries Made Upon Men and Matter: as They have flow’d out of his daily Reading, or had their refluxe to his peculiar Notion of the Times. c.1630

Ben Jonson, 1572-1637, by A. van Blyenberch
Ben Jonson, 1572-1637, by A. van Blyenberch

“I remember the players have often mentioned it as an honor to Shakespeare, that in his writing, whatsoever he penned, he never blotted out a line. My answer hath been, —Would he had blotted a thousand, which they thought a malevolent speech. I had not told posterity this but for their ignorance, who chose that circumstance to commend their friend by wherein he most faulted; and to justify mine own candor, for I loved the man, and do honor his memory on this side idolatry as much as anyHe was, indeed, honest, and of an open and free nature; had an excellent fancy, brave notions, and gentle expressions, wherein he flowed with that facility that sometime it was necessary he should be stopped. —Sufflaminandus erat, (He should have been clogged) as Augustus said of Haterius. His wit was in his own power; would the rule of it had been so too.

But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned

Many times he fell into those things, could not escape laughter, as when he said in the person of Caesar, one speaking to him: —Caesar, thou dost me wrong. He replied: —Caesar did never wrong but with just cause”; and such like, which were ridiculous. But he redeemed his vices with his virtues. There was ever more in him to be praised than to be pardoned.”


Also see To the memory of my beloved, The AUTHOR Mr. William Shakespeare: And what he hath left us. From the First Folio. 1623.