How, best of Kings, do'st thou a scepter beare! How, best of Poets, do'st thou laurell weare! But two things, rare, the FATES had in their store, And gave thee both, to shew they could no more. For such a Poet, while thy dayes were greene, Thou wert, as chief of them are said t'have beene. And such a Prince thou art, wee daily see, As chiefe of those still promise they will bee. Whom should my Muse then flie to, but the best Of Kings for grace; of Poets for my test?
from Epigrammes ( 1616)
Jonson first collected his shorter poems in the 1616 folio of his Works, but many of them had been written years earlier. This one no doubt was written about the time of James's accession ( 1603). It would be a poor outlook for the poetry lover if James were indeed the 'best of poets,' and a poor outlook for cigarette manufacturers if the rest of us shared his views on tobacco.