The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1265 Monday, 1 August 2005
Date: Saturday, 30 Jul 2005 12:59:16 +0100
Subject: John Beaumont's Poem "To Mr B. J."
The poem by John Beaumont, "To Mr. B.J. [Ben Jonson]" is well-known for
containing the lines (modernized spelling) "And from all learning keep
these lines as clear/as Shakespeare's best are, which our heirs shall
hear/ how far sometimes a mortal man may go/by the dim light of
nature...." The whole poem is printed, among other places, in E.K.
Chambers' William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems, Volume II
(Oxford 1930), pp. 224-225. Just after these lines Beaumont then writes:
"...And as free,/as he, whose text was, god made all that is,/I mean to
speak: what do you think of his/state, who hath now the last that he
could make/ in white and Orange tawny on his back/ at Windsor?"
My question is whether this man has ever been identified satisfactorily.
Chambers (Ibid., p. 225) states that he does not know who this was,
although Beaumont might be describing a Garter installation at Windsor.
He also notes that "John, Lord Hay...had tawny liveries on an embassy to
France in 1616." Chambers dates the poem to about 1615. Beaumont died in
March 1616. Has there been any subsequent discussion of this identification?
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