chapter  13
16 Pages

Setbacks and Losses

The presentation of the Jonson masque was scheduled for the prime Twelfth Night position; on 6 January 1622 it took place amid the customary jostling for precedence of the French, Spanish and Venetian ambassadors. Jonson created a strange anti-masque of creatures called 'the Curious', through which he made indirect reference to an important issue of the day. Jonson seeks to demonstrate that when such characters pry inquisitively into what they do not understand, they inevitably work against harmony and order. They can only damage what others seek to defend. Jonson's testimony also provided some interesting personal details of the poet. He gave his age to the court as 'fifty years and upwards', a statement which tallies with his evidence in the Roe case of 1610 that he was then thirty-seven. Jonson's only regular source of income was the inadequate royal pension, and even that was not, in fact, regular, but erratically paid.