Ben Jonson

Richard Cattermole, in Sacred Poetry of the Seventeenth Century (1836) 2:79.

BENJAMIN (—or, as he was styled in the affectionate familiarity of his time, which succeeding ages have made venerable — BEN) JONSON, by a rare union of learning and genius, obtained for himself a kind of literary sovereignty among his contemporaries; and his name, as a dramatic author, has come down to posterity surrounded by a splendour second only to the unrivalled glory of Shakspeare. In his earlier years he had to struggle with severe difficulties, which, while they lasted, were the means of developing the robust independence of his character; and served, when surmounted, as foils to the brilliance of his subsequent triumphs. In the lyrics and lighter pieces of this poet there reigns a playfulness of fancy, chastened by solid sense, and dignified by touches of pure feeling, not the less interesting because contrasting strongly with the masculine labours of the intellect which gave birth to "The Fox," "The Alchymist," "Cataline," and "Sejanus." The subjoined pieces prove that Jonson's powers did not desert him, when, for a season — like all the poets of his time, — too briefly and too rarely, he exchanged the service of the profaner muse for that of religion.