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Of whome he did great Constantine begett,
Who afterward was emperour of Rome;
To which whiles absent he his mind did sett,
Octavius here lept into his roome,
And it usurped by unrighteous doome:
But he his title justifide by might,
Slaying Traherne, and having overcome
The Romane legion in dreadfull fight:
So settled he his kingdome, and confirmd his right:
But, wanting yssew male, his daughter deare
He gave in wedlocke to Maximian,
And him with her made of his kingdome heyre,
Who soone by meanes thereof the empire wan,
Till murdred by the freends of Gratian.
Then gan the Hunnes and Picts invade this land,
During the raigne of Maximinian;
Who dying left none heire them to withstand:
But that they overran all parts with easy hand.
The weary Britons, whose war-hable youth
Was by Maximian lately ledd away,
With wretched miseryes and woefull ruth
Were to those pagans made an open pray,
And daily spectacle of sad decay:
Whome Romane warres, which now fowr hundred yeares
And more had wasted could no whit dismay;
Til, by consent of Commons and of Peares,
They crownd the second Constantine with ioyous teares.
Who having oft in batteill vanquished
Those spoylefull Picts, and swarming Easterlings,
Long time in peace his realme established,
Yet oft annoyd with sondry bordragings
Of neighbour Scots and forrein scatterlings,
With which the world did in those dayes abound.
Which to outbarre, with painefull pyonings
From sea to sea he heapt a mighty mound,
Which from Alcluid to Panwelt did that border bownd.
Three sonnes he dying left, all under age,
By meanes whereof their uncle Vortigere
Usurpt the crowne during their pupillage;
Which th' infants tutors gathering to feare,
Them closely into Armorick did beare:
For dread of whom, and for those Picts annoyes,
He sent to Germany straunge aid to reare;
From whence eftsoones arrived here three hoyes
Of Saxons, whom he for his safëty imployes.
Two brethren were their capitayns, which hight
Hengist and Horsus, well approv'd in warre,
And both of them men of renowmed might;
Who making vantage of their civile jarre,
And of those forreyners which came from farre,
Grew great, and got large portions of land,
That in the realme ere long they stronger arre
Then they which sought at first their helping hand,
And Vortiger enforst the kingdome to aband.
But, by the helpe of Vortimere his sonne,
He is againe unto his rule restord;
And Hengist, seeming sad for that was donne,
Received is to grace and new accord,
Through his faire daughters face and flattring word.
Soone after which, three hundred lords he slew
Of British blood, all sitting at his bord;
Whose dolefull moniments who list to rew,
Th' eternall marks of treason may at Stonheng vew.
By this the sonnes of Constantine, which fled,
Ambrose and Uther, did ripe yeares attayne,
And, here arriving, strongly challenged
The crowne which Vortiger did long detayne:
Who, flying from his guilt, by them was slayne;
And Hengist eke soone brought to shamefull death.
Thenceforth Aurelius peaceably did rayne,
Till that through poyson stopped was his breath;
So now entombed lies at Stoneheng by the heath.
After him Uther, which Pendragon hight,
Succeeding - There abruptly it did end,
Without full point, or other cesure right;
As if the rest some wicked hand did rend,
Or th' author selfe could not at least attend
To finish it: that so untimely breach
The prince himselfe halfe seemed to offend;
Yet secret pleasure did offence empeach,
And wonder of antiquity long stopt his speach.
At last, quite ravisht with delight to heare
The royall ofspring of his native land,
Cryde out; “Deare countrey! O how dearely deare
Ought thy remembraunce and perpetuall band
Be to thy foster child, that from thy hand
Did commun breath and nouriture receave!
How brutish is it not to understand
How much to her we owe, that all us gave;
That gave unto us all whatever good we have!"
“It is a small disparagement to Ben Jonson, to say that he stands second only to so wonderful a man as Shakspeare. And we think that, on the whole, he must be held in the Drama) to occupy the second place. The Palm should always be given to originality, and amongst the contemporaries of Shakspeare Jonson was the most original."
“Jonson stood alone. His course lay aside that of Shakspeare, not in his track. He took his way on a far lower level, it is true, yet on a way he had himself discovered. He borrowed help, indeed, not infrequently from his friends the ancients and illuminated his subjects with their thoughts; but so far as regards the style or constitution of his plays, Jonson was decidedly original. He owed as little to his contemporaries as to the English poets who preceded him, as Shakspear himself.”
Barry Cornwall in his “Memoir of the Life
and Writings of B. J."