SOME time during the summer or autumn of 1605 Jonson wrote Volpone or The Fox. The exact circumstances of his return to the comic stage are not known, but the dedication clearly indicates the mood in which he resumed pride of place among the poets of mirth and satire. The author who retired from comedy in 1601 returned in 1605 even prouder in spirit, but rather more cautious in his contempt of persons. While rebuking the licence and ignorance of the public stage he will not imitate those who “ to make a name with the multitude or to draw their beastly claps care not whose living faces they intrench with their petulant styles ”. But the amenities of the poets’ war, if left behind, are not forgotten. “ Petulant styles ” was a phrase with a history, looking back to the scornful farewell of the Apologetical Dialogue.