Page images

As I remember, some years since there was a very abusive satire in verse brought to our king : and as the passages were reading before him he often said, that if there were no more men in England, the rogue should hang for it: at last, being come to the conclusion, which was (after all his railing)

Now God preserve the king, the queen, the peers,
And grant the author long may wear bis ears ;

this pleased his majesty so well that he broke into a laughter, and said, By my soul so thou shalt for me ; thou art a bitter, but thou art a witty knave.

When you write to Monmouthshire, I pray, send my respects to my tutor, master Moor Fortune, and my service to sir Charles Williams : and according to that relation which is betwixt us at Oxford,

I rest

Your constant son to serve you, Oct. 8, 1621.

J. H.


To my honoured Friend and Father Mr. B. Johnson,

Father Ben,

Being lately in France, and returning in a coach from Paris to Rouen, I lighted upon the society of a knowing gentleman, who related to me a choice story,

which peradventure you may make use of in your way.

Some hundred and odd years since, there was in France one captain Coucy, a gallant gentleman of ancient extraction, and keeper of Coucy Castle, which is yet standing, and in good repair. He fell in love with a young gentlewoman, and courted her for his wife: there was reciprocal love between them, but her parents understanding of it, by way of prevention, they shuffled up a forced match 'twixt her and one monsieur Fayel, who was

a great heir. Captain Coucy hereupon quitted France in great discontent, and went to the wars in Hungary against the Turk, where he received a mortal wound, not far from Buda. Being carried to his fodging, he languished some days ; but a little before his death he spoke to an ancient servant of his, that he had many proofs of his fidelity and truth, but now he had a great business to intrust him with, which he conjured him by all means to do; which was, that after his death he should get his body to be opened, and then to take his heart out of his breast, and put it in an earthen pot to be baked to powder; then to put the powder into a handsome box, with that bracelet of hair he had worn long about his left wrist, which was a lock of mademoiselle Fayel's bair, and put it among the powder, together with a

[ocr errors]

little note he had written with his own blood to her; and after he had given him the rites of burial, to make all the speed he could to France, and deliver the said box to mademoiselle Fayel. The old servant did as his master had commanded him, and so went to France; and coming one day to monsieur Fayel's house, he suddenly met him with one of his servants, and examined him, because he knew he was captain Coucy's servant; and finding him timorous, and faultering in his speech, he searched him and found the said box in his pocket, with the note which expressed what was therein: he dismissed the bearer, with menaces that he should come no more near his house. Monsieur Fayel going in, sent for his cook, and delivered him the powder, charging him to make a little well-relished dish of it, without losing a jot of it, for it was a very costly thing; and commanded him to bring it in himself, after the last course at supper. The cook bringing in the dish accordingly, monsieur Fayel commanded all to avoid the room; and began a serious discourse with his wife; however, since he had married her he observed she was always melancholy, and feared she was inclining to a consumption, therefore he had provided her a very precious cordial, which he was well assured would cure her: thereupon he made her eat up the whole dish; and afterwards much im


portuning him to know what it was, be told her at last, she had eaten Coucy's heart, and so drew the box out of his pocket, and shewed her the note, and the bracelet. In a sudden exultation of joy, she with a far-fetched sigh, said, This is a precious cordial indeed ; and so licked the dish, saying, It is so precious that 'tis pity to put ever any meat upon it. So she went to bed, and in the morning she was found stone dead*.

This gentleman told me that this sad story is painted in Coucy Castle, and remains fresh to this day.

In my opinion, which veils to yours, this is choice and rich stuff for you to put upon your loom, and make a curious web of.

I thank for the last regalo you gave me at your musæum, and for the good company. I heard you censured lately at court, that you have lighted two fold upon sir Inigo, and that you write with a porcupine's quill dipt in too much gall. Excuse me


* This is true story, and happened about the year 1180. It is related by Fauchet at large, from an old authentic French Chronicle; and he then adds, Ainsi finirent les amours du Chastelain du Couci et de la dame de Faiel.--Regnard de Couci was famous for his chansons and chivalry, though still more for his unfortunate love, which, in the old French Romances, became proverbial. This affecting story gave rise to an old metrical English Romance, entitled “The Knight of Courtesy," and was woven in tapestry in Coucy Castle in France.

that I am so free with you ; it is because I am, in no common way of friendship,

Yours, Westminster, May 3, 1635.

J. H.

To Dr. Duppa, L. B. of Chichester, his Highness's

Tutor at St. James's.

My Lord,


It is a well-becoming and very worthy work you are about, not to suffer Mr. Ben Jonson to go silently to his grave, or rot so suddenly: being newly come to town, and understanding that your Jonsonus Verbius was in the press, upon the solicitation of sir Thomas Hawkins, I suddenly fell. upon the ensuing decastich, which, if your lordship please, may have room among the rest.

Upon my honoured Friend and Father, Mr. Ben Jonson,

And is thy glass run out, is that oil spent
Which light to such strong sinewy labours lent?
Well, Ben, I now perceive that all the nine,
Tho' they their utmost forces should combine,
Cannot prevail 'gainst Night's three Daughters, but
One still must spin, one wind, the other cut.

« PreviousContinue »