chapter  9
20 Pages

‘The Poet’

The total expenditure on Ben Jonson's 1612 masque, Love Restored, was allowed to come to no more than £280 8s 9d – less than a tenth of what had been spent in less straitened times. Jonson himself glanced humorously at this state of affairs with a reference in the masque to one 'pretty fine speech' by 'the Poet' – 'which if he never be paid for now, 'tis no matter'. Jonson was always determined to make his masques more than simply sparkling entertainments, brilliant to the eye but nothing to the mind. Jonson became convinced eventually that Salisbury was no more than an exploiter of others' abilities, that he 'never cared for any man longer he could make use of him' On one occasion when Jonson was dining with the Countess her husband came in and accused her of 'keeping table to poets', that is, offering hospitality to her inferiors.