1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Ben Jonson

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 2:125.



Ben Jonson, poet-laureat to James I. and Charles I. was one of the greatest dramatic poets of his age. He was familiarly acquainted with the best ancient authors, from whom he has freely borrowed, and was the first that brought critical learning into vogue. He was as defective in tragedy, as he was excellent in comedy; and that excellence is confined to few of his works. In Shakspeare, we see the force of genius; in Jonson, the power of industry. He is frequently deficient in the harmony, and sometimes even in the measure, of his verses. What appears to be facility in his compositions is generally the effect of uncommon labour. Ob. 16 Aug. 1637, Aet. 63.