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Ben Jonson, dramatist, poet, and actor
Benjamin Jonson (c. 11 June 1572 – 6 August 1637) was an English Renaissance dramatist, poet and actor. A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays, particularly Volpone, The Alchemist, and Bartholomew Fair, which are considered his best, and his lyric poems. A man of vast reading and a seemingly insatiable appetite for controversy, Jonson had an unparalleled breadth of influence on Jacobean and Caroline playwrights and poets.
Although he was born in Westminster, London, Jonson claimed his family was of Scottish Border country descent, and this claim may have been supported by the fact that his coat of arms bears three spindles or rhombi, a device shared by a Borders family, the Johnstones of Annandale. His father died a month before Ben's birth, and his mother remarried two years later, to a master bricklayer. Jonson attended school in St. Martin's Lane, and was later sent to Westminster School, where one of his teachers was William Camden. Jonson remained friendly with Camden, whose broad scholarship evidently influenced his own style, until the latter's death in 1623. On leaving, Jonson was once thought to have gone on to the University of Cambridge; Jonson himself said that he did not go to university, but was put to a trade immediately: a legend recorded by Fuller indicates that he worked on a garden wall in Lincoln's Inn. He soon had enough of the trade, probably bricklaying, and spent some time in the Low Countries as a volunteer with the regiments of Francis Vere. In conversations with the poet William Drummond, subsequently published as the Hawthornden Manuscripts, Jonson reports that while in the Netherlands he killed an opponent in single combat and stripped him of his weapons.
Ben Jonson married, some time before 1594, a woman he described to Drummond as "a shrew, yet honest." His wife has not been definitively identified, but she is sometimes identified as the Ann Lewis who married a Benjamin Jonson at St Magnus-the-Martyr, near London Bridge. The registers of St. Martin's Church state that his eldest daughter Mary died in November, 1593, when she was only six months old. His eldest son Benjamin died of the plague ten years later (Jonson's epitaph to him On My First Sonne was written shortly after), and a second Benjamin died in 1635. For five years somewhere in this period, Jonson lived separately from his wife, enjoying instead the hospitality of Lord Aubigny.
By the summer of 1597, Jonson had a fixed engagement in the Admiral's Men, then performing under Philip Henslowe's management at The Rose. John Aubrey reports, on uncertain authority, that Jonson was not successful as an actor; whatever his skills as an actor, he was evidently more valuable to the company as a writer.
By this time, Jonson had begun to write original plays for the Lord Admiral's Men; in 1598, he was mentioned by Francis Meres in his Palladis Tamia as one of "the best for tragedy." None of his early tragedies survive, however. An undated comedy, The Case is Altered, may be his earliest surviving play.
In 1597, a play co-written with Thomas Nashe entitled The Isle of Dogs was suppressed after causing great offence. Arrest warrants for Jonson and Nashe were subsequently issued by Elizabeth's so-called interrogator, Richard Topcliffe. Jonson was jailed in Marshalsea Prison and famously charged with "Leude and mutynous behavior", while Nashe managed to escape to Great Yarmouth. A year later, Jonson was again briefly imprisoned, this time in Newgate Prison, for killing another man, an actor Gabriel Spenser, in a duel on 22 September 1598 in Hogsden Fields, (today part of Hoxton). Tried on a charge of manslaughter, Jonson pleaded guilty but was subsequently released by benefit of clergy, a legal ploy through which he gained leniency by reciting a brief bible verse in Latin, forfeiting his 'goods and chattels' and being branded on his left thumb.
In 1598, Jonson produced his first great success, Every Man in his Humour, capitalising on the vogue for humour plays that had been begun by George Chapman with An Humorous Day's Mirth. William Shakespeare was among the first cast. This play was followed the next year by Every Man Out of His Humour, a pedantic attempt to imitate Aristophanes. It is not known whether this was a success on stage, but when published, it proved popular and went through several editions.
Jonson's other work for the theater in the last years of Elizabeth I's reign was unsurprisingly marked by fighting and controversy. Cynthia's Revels was produced by the Children of the Chapel Royal at Blackfriars Theatre in 1600. It satirized both John Marston, who Jonson believed had accused him of lustfulness, probably in Histrio-Mastix, and Thomas Dekker, against whom Jonson's animus is not known. Jonson attacked the same two poets again in 1601's Poetaster. Dekker responded with Satiromastix, subtitled "the untrussing of the humorous p
Lord William Russell
William Russell, Lord Russell (29 September 1639 – 21 July 1683), was an English politician. He was a leading member of the Country Party, forerunners of the Whigs, who opposed the succession of James II during the reign of Charles II, ultimately resulting in his execution for treason.
Russell was the third son of William Russell, 5th Earl of Bedford later created Duke of Bedford, and Lady Anne Carr. His maternal grandfather was Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset. After the death of his elder brother Francis (1638--1679), he was known by the courtesy title Lord Russell.
He and Francis were at Cambridge University in 1654. They then travelled abroad, visiting Lyon and Geneva, and residing for a time at Augsburg. Russell's account is noted for its colorful depiction of their travels. The two made their way to Paris by 1658, and had returned to Woburn by December 1659.
At the Restoration in 1660, when Charles II took the throne, Russell was elected as a Member of Parliament for the borough of Tavistock, a seat traditionally held by a member of his family. For many years, Russell appears not to have been active in public affairs, but to have indulged in court intrigue, and is not recorded as speaking until 1674. In 1663 and 1664 he was engaged in two duels; he was wounded in the second one. In 1669, at age 30, he married Rachel (1636–1723), second daughter of Thomas Wriothesley, 4th Earl of Southampton, and widow of Lord Vaughan (c. 1639-1667), elder son of Richard Vaughan, 2nd Earl of Carbery. He thus became connected with Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, who had married Southampton's niece. They had a close and affectionate marriage. She corresponded with John Tillotson and other distinguished men, and a collection of her letters was published in 1773.
It was not until the formation of the country party (the fore-runner of the Whig party),, which opposed the policies of the Cabal (an inner group of advisers to the king) and Charles II's Franco-Catholic policies, that Russell began to take an active part in affairs. With a passionate hatred for and distrust of Catholics, and an intense love of political liberty, he opposed persecution of Protestant Dissenters. His first speech in Parliament appears to have been on 22 January 1674, when he inveighed against the Stop of the Exchequer, the attack on the Smyrna fleet, the corruption by French money of Charles' courtiers, and the ill-intended ministers of the king. He also supported the proceedings against the Duke of Buckingham. In 1675, Russell moved an address to the king for the removal from royal councils and impeachment of the Earl of Danby.
On 15 February 1677, in the debate on the 15 months' prorogation (being an extremely lengthy period between sessions of Parliament), he moved the dissolution of Parliament; and in March 1678 he seconded the address asking the king to declare war against France. The enmity of the country party towards James, the Duke of York, and towards Danby, and the party's desire for a dissolution and the disbanding of the army, were greater than the party's enmity towards Louis. The French king therefore found it easy to form a temporary alliance with Russell, Holles and the opposition leaders. They sought to cripple the king's power of hurting France and to compel him to seek Louis's friendship; that friendship, however, was to be given only on the condition that Louis support their goals. Russell entered into close communication with the Marquis de Ruvigny (Lady Russell's maternal cousin), who came over with money for distribution among members of parliament. By the testimony of Barillon, however, it is clear that Russell himself refused to take any French payments.
The alarms which culminated in the "discovery" in 1678 of the Popish Plot to murder King Charles II and replace him with James, his Roman Catholic brother, appear to have affected Russell more than his otherwise sober character would have led people to expect. Russell threw himself into the party which looked to Monmouth, the (illegitimate but recognized) son of Charles, as the representative of Protestant interests, a grave political blunder, though Russell afterwards was in confidential communication with Orange.
On 4 November 1678, Russell moved an address to the king to remove the Duke of York from his person and councils, including removal from the line of succession. Parliament's insistence on the impeachment of Danby led to it being progrpued on 30 December and dissolved in January. At the ensuing election, Russell was again elected to Parliament, this time as a representative for Bedfordshire, as well as for Hampshire (for which he chose not to sit). The success of the new Whig party in the elections of 1679 led to Danby being overthrown, and in April 1679 Russell became a member of the new Privy Council Ministry formed by Charles on the advice of Temple. Only six days after this, Russell moved for a committee to draw
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