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HISTORY OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.

BOOK II.

THE RENAISSANCE.

CHAPTER III.

Ben Jonson.

I. WHEN a new civilisation brings a new art to light, there are about a dozen men of talent who partly express the general idea, surrounding one or two men of genius who express it thoroughly.' Guillen de Castro, Perez de Montalvan, Tirzo de Molina, Ruiz de Alarcon, Agustin Moreto, surrounding Calderon and Lope de Vega ; Crayer, Van Oost, Rombouts, Van Thulden, Van Dyck, Honthorst, surrounding Rubens; Ford, Marlowe, Massinger, Webster, Beaumont, Fletcher, surrounding Shakspeare and Ben Jonson. The first constitute the chorus, the others are the leading men. They sing the same piece together, and at times the chorist is equal to the solo artist; but only at times. Thus, in the dramas which I have just referred to, the poet occasionally reaches the summit of his art, hits upon a complete character, a burst of sublime passion; VOL. II.

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