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SCENE 4. Before the Manor House.
Enter Sir Francis Acton, Sir Charles Mountford, Cranwell, Malby, and Susan.
Susan. Alas, that she should bear so hard
a fate! Pity it is repentance comes too late. Sir F. Is she so weak in body? Jen. O sir, I can assure you there's no
hope of life in her; for she will take no sust'nance: she hath plainly starv'd her
If, and now she is as lean as a lath. She ever looks for the good hour. Many gentlemen and gentlewomen of the country are come to comfort her.
SCENE 5. Mistress Frankford's Bed
Mistress Frankford in bed; enter Sir
Charles Mountford, Sir Francis Acton, Malby, and Susan.
Sir. F. Brother, and now my wife, I
think these troubles, Fall my head by justice of the
heavens, For being so strict to you in your ex
tremities; But we are now aton'd.13 I would my
sister Could with like happiness o'ercome her
griefs As we have ours. Susan. You tell us, Master Cranwell, won
drous things Touching the patience of that gentleman, With what strange virtue he demeans 14
his grief. Cran. I told you what I was a witness of; It was my fortune to lodge there that
night. Sir F. Oh, that same villain, Wendoll!
'T was his tongue That did corrupt her; she was of herself Chaste and devoted well. Is this the
house? Cran. Yes, sir; I take it, here your sister
lies. Sir F. My brother Frankford show'd too
mild a spirit In the revenge of such a loathed crime. Less than he did, no man of spirit could
had from their
Mal. How fare you, Mistress Frankford ? Mrs. F. Sick, sick, oh, sick! Give me
some air, I pray you ! Tell me, oh, tell me, where is Master
Frankford ? Will not he deign to see me ere I die? Mal. Yes, Mistress Frankford; divers
gentlemen, Your loving neighbors, with that just re
quest Have mov’d, and told him of your weak
estate: Who, though with much ado to get be
lief, Examining of the general circumstance, Seeing your sorrow and your penitence, And hearing therewithal the great de
sire You have to see him, ere you left the
world, He gave to us his faith to follow us,
And sure he will be here immediately. Mrs. F. You have half reviv'd me with
the pleasing news, Raise me a little higher in my bed. Blush I not, brother Acton? Blush I
not, Sir Charles? Can you not read my fault writ in my
cheek? Is not my crime there? Tell me, gentleSir C. Alas, good mistress, sickness hath
not left you Blood in your face enough to make you
Enter Jenkin and Cicely.
Jen. Oh, my mistress, my mistress! my
poor mistress! Cicely. Alas! that ever I was born; what
shall I do for my poor mistress? Sir C. Why, what of her? Jen. Oh, Lord, sir! she no sooner heard
that her brother and her friends had come to see how she did, but she, for very shame of her guilty conscience, fell into such a swoon, that we had much ado to get life into her.
Mrs. F. Then, sickness, like a friend, my
fault would hide.Is my husband come? My soul but tar
ries His arrive; then I am fit for heaven. Sir F. I came to chide you, but my words
of hate Are turn'd to pity and compassionate
grief. I came to rate 15
but my brawls, you see, Melt into tears, and I must weep by
thee.Here's Master Frankford now.
Frank. Good morrow, brother; morrow,
gentlemen! God, that hath laid his cross upon our
heads, Might (had He pleas'd) have made our
cause of meeting On a
more fair and more contented ground; But He that made us made us to this
woe. Mrs. F. And is he come? Methinks that
voice I know. Frank. How
you, woman? Mrs. F. Well, Master Frankford, well;
but shall be better, I hope within this hour. Will you
vouchsafe, Out of yotrlgrace and your humanity,
To take a spotted strumpet by the hand ? Frank. This hand once held my heart in
faster bonds, Than now 't is gripp'd by me.
don them That made us first break hold! Mrs. F.
Amen, amen! Out of my zeal to Heaven, whither I'm
now bound, I was so impudent to wish you here; And once
more beg your pardon. O good man, And father to my children, pardon me. Pardon, oh, pardon me: my fault so
heinous is, That if you in this world forgive it not, Heaven will not clear it in the world to
come. Faintness hath so usurp'd upon my
knees, That kneel I cannot; but on my heart's
My prostrate soul lies thrown down at
your feet, To beg your gracious pardon. Pardon,
oh, pardon me! Frank. As freely, from the low depth of
my soul, As my Redeemer hath forgiven His
death, I pardon thee. I will shed tears for
thee; pray with thee; And, in mere pity of thy weak estate,
I'll wish to die with thee. All.
So do we all. Nich.
So will not I; I'll sigh and sob, but, by my faith, not
die. Sir F. Oh, Master Frankford, all the
near alliance I lose by her, shall be supplied in thee. You are my brother by the nearest
way; Her kindred hath fall'n off, but yours
doth stay. Frank. Even as I hope for pardon, at
that day When the Great Judge of Heaven in
scarlet sits, So be thou pardon'd! Though thy rash
offence Divorc'd our bodies, thy repentant tear
Unite our souls. Sir C. Then comfort, Mistress Frank
ford! , You see your husband hath forgiven your
fall; Then rouse your spirits, and cheer your
fainting soul! Susan. How is it with you? Sir F.
How do you feel yourself! Mrs. F. Not of this world. Frank. I see you are not, and I weep to
My wife, the mother to my pretty babes! Both those lost names I do restore thee
back, And with this kiss I wed thee once again. Though thou art wounded in thy honor'd
name, And with that grief upon thy death-bed
liest, Honest in heart, upon my soul, thou
diest. Mrs. F. Pardon'd on earth, soul, thou in
heaven art free; Once more thy wife, dies thus embracing
18 Verity suggests, Once more (i. e. Kiss me once more); thy wife dies, etc.
Frank. New-married, and new-widow'd.-|
Oh! she's dead, And a cold grave must be her nuptial
bed. Sir C. Sir, be of good comfort, and your
heavy sorrow Part equally amongst us; storms divided Abate their force, and with less rage are
guided. Cran. Do, Master Frankford; he that
hath least part, Will find enough to drown one troubled
heart. Sir F. Peace with thee, Nan !-Brothers
and gentlemen, All we that can plead interest in her
grief, Bestow upon her body funeral tears! Brother, had you with threats and usage
bad Punish'd her sin, the grief of her of
fense Had not with such true sorrow touch'd
her heart. Frank. I see it had not; therefore, on her
grave Will I bestow this funeral epitaph, Which on her marble tomb shall be en
grav'd. In golden letters shall these words be
Unto this wine we do allude 20 our play, Which some will judge too trivial, some
too grave: You as our guests we entertain this day,
And bid you welcome to the best we have. Excuse us, then; good wine may be dis
grac'd, When every several mouth hath sundry
fill'd: 17 Here lies she whom her husband's kind
17 cut and filled in with gold. (N.)
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER
Francis Beaumont (1585-1616) came of understand certain social changes which had an old Leicestershire fainily, his father being been taking place. The drama of 1580-1600 a Justice of Common Pleas. He entered Ox- is marked by a very healthy tone; during ford in 1597, and the Middle Temple as a the next ten years an element of decadence law student in 1600. He may have been crept in, and, broadly speaking, the drama writing for the stage as early as 1605, and degenerated steadily until the closing of the was working in collaboration with theaters in 1642. Times had changed since Fletcher. He camot be traced on the stage the brave days of Queen Bess. As G. C. after 1612. He died a month before Shakes
Macaulay says (Camb. Hist. Engl. Lit., VI. peare, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. 121): "The genuinely national interest in
John Fletcher (1579–1625) was the son of the drama which especially characterized the a clergyman who rose to be Bishop of London. last fifteen years of Elizabeth had, to a From the time that he entered Cambridge great extent, passed away, and the taste of in 1591 we lose sight of him until he appears the court had become gradually more and in 1607 as a dramatist. He continued active more the prevailing influence. Now the as a playwright till his death of the plague, court of James was morally much less sound collaborating at first with Beaumont, after- than that of Elizabeth, Corruption, political ward with Shakespeare, Massinger, Field, and social, was rife, and as the drama in. and others. Tradition has it that Beaumont creasingly came to be the plaything of the and Fletcher lived together in terms of closest court it reflected with increasing faithfulness intimacy on the Bankside. In the share the moral tone of the court.) The immediate which each contributed to the work going effect was a stimulation to greater brilliance, under their names there has been great in- but at the expense of depth and a true interterest from their own day to ours, but only pretation of national life. “Closely consix or seven plays are now believed to be of nected with the want of moral earnestness their joint authorship.
was the demand for theatrical entertain
ments which did not make any serious ap. To Beaumont and Fletcher is usually as- peal to the intellect; and hence, on the one cribed the honor of introducing to the Eng. hand, the exaggerated love of pageantry, lish stage a new type of play, the tragi- which was gratified by the magnificence of comedy, or, as it has sometimes been loosely the masques presented at court, and, on the called, the romance. Philaster was staged other, the growing preference . . . for plots somewhere between 1608 and 1610. By that full of interesting events and surprising turns time Shakespeare had perfected romantic of fortune, rather than such as were de love-comedy, introduced by Lyly, chronicle- veloped naturally from situation and charhistory, and tragedy; Ben Jonson had intro- acters: the result being a comparative neg. duced the comedy of humors, Jonson and Mid- lect of character interest, and a disregard for dleton had established realistic comedy, and the principle of artistic unity) (Camb. Hist., the vogue of domestic drama was practically VI. 122). To be purveyors of entertainment
Realism, owing largely to Jonson's in- of this new sort for court audiences Beautluence, had been the prevailing force for a mont and Fletcher were by birth and breed. number of years, and the time was ripe for a ing well fitted. We get with them for the swing of the pendulum of popular taste back first time men of good family writing for the toward romanticism. Into the vexed ques- stage and it is not surprising that they tion of priority between Shakespeare and should have been leaders in a new court Beaumont and Fletcher, specifically between drama. the dates of production of Cymbeline and Philaster is so thoroughly typical an exPhilaster, it is not profitable here to venture. ample of Beaumont and Fletcher's tragiThe more generally accepted opinion is to the comedy that an analysis of it along the lines effect that the younger dramatists were the suggested by Professor Thorndike's study will innovators; certain it is that to them we serve to characterize the genre. The scene of owe the popularization and fixing of the the play is Sicily, but so far as realism of chief features of the new type.
setting is concerned it might be anywhere else In order to account for the wide differ- in the world; the locality of these plays is ence in spirit and manner between this tragi- perfectly immaterial the action always oecomedy and earlier work it is necessary to curs in a No-man's Land of romance. As
usual however, in Elizabethan drama, the her has never been refuted, but we are in difspeech and manner of the inhabitants even of ficulties once more when the king pronounces No-man's Land occasionally bear a strange his sentence of death on the lovers. At this resemblance to those of the citizens of a more critical juncture the mob constitutes itself a familiar city on the banks of the Thames; deus ex machina, and Philaster's quelling of the captain's oration to the mob might be the riot seems to establish him in favor. delivered by Simon Eyre to a band of shoe- Here Megra, who has almost been forgotten, maker apprentices, and it is with a right reiterates her charge, and Philaster is on the London swagger that the scene goes. The point of killing himself when Bellario makes plot, (probably invented, is highly ingenious, his confession. The skill with which this very complicated, and utterly improbable. dénouement is secured is undeniable, as is With a story of pure sentimental love is con also the artificiality of structure which trasted one of base sensual passion; from the makes it possible. No better example could conflict of the two sorts of love arise the be found of the use of surprise in tragicomplications, for upon the discovery of comedy, for the audience is as much astounded Megra's intrigue with Pharamond hangs her as are the persons of the play by Bellario's spiteful accusation regarding Arethusa and metamorphosis. Coleridge has called atthe supposed Bellario, the working out of tention to Shakespeare's preference for the which fills the rest of the play. The action expectation method ” of dénouement as conis developed by a series of striking situations, trasted with the “ surprise method.” Shakes. each of which is carefully planned to secure peare uses the former consistently; with him, the greatest degree of theatrical effectiveness, as, for instance, in the church scene in Much regardless of its probability or improbability> Ado About Nothing, no character assumes disThe play begins on a note of excitement in guise without informing the audience of the Philaster's almost hysterical defiance of fact and its purpose. The audience is therefore Pharamond, capped by an obviously feigned at all times more cognizant of the true situasubmission, followed by surprise tion than are the persons of the play — is sure Årethusa woos Philaster and the rivals are that the truth will be revealed in time to again brought into conflict. Between two avert a tragic conclusion, and the play is kept scenes of lust is laid the strongly contrasting, in the realm of comedy. The sole intention sentimental conversation of Arethusa and Bel. of Beaumont and Fletcher, on the contrary, lario. The fourth scene of act II is a good is to provide as sensational an ending as posillustration of a situation developed for its sible, and they delight in harrowing the feel, own sake. With its cleverly arranged exits ings of the audience till the last moment, and entrances, its working up to the unex- Where in Shakespeare the spectators think pected appearance of Megra on the balcony, of the characters, their emotions, and their and her sensational charge, it is most skil- behavior in the situation, in tragicomedy fully handled; but we should note that the their attention is directed to the event itself. revelation of the intrigue, out of which all The violent contrast of tragic and comic feel. possible effect is obtained, has no permanent ing involved in the surprise method is an interest of its own, and that the one point essential characteristic of tragicomedy> The in which the scene advances plot is in the gist of the complications in Philaster is exrousing of suspicion about Arethusa, which pressed in Philaster's reproach to Bellario could have been done far more simply. The
in the last scene: appeal of the third act is mainly through im
“ All these jealousies passioned rhetoric. Replete with sensation Had flown to nothing, if thou hadst discovered
What now we know. are the wood scenes of act IV, with turn and counterturn, surprising meetings and equally Such stressing of plot, or, more accurately, surprising exits, culminating in the amazing of situation, is practically certain to result L episodes where Philaster wounds Arethusa in a slurring of characterization. Anything and the sleeping Bellario. Probability would like psychological analysis or logical developsuggest that in the third scene Bellario, who ment of character is sacrificed to immediate could not very well help seeing that Are. theatrical effectiveness. The behavior of thusa's life was endangered, might easily have Philaster is a case in point. When viewed prevented bloodshed by revealing his identity, coolly he stands forth a cad of deepest dye. but in that event, of course, the play would His readiness to believe the worst of Arehave ended then and there; Bellario, there- thusa in the face of her own and Bellario's fore, keeps silence and meekly disappears at protestations of innocence shakes our confiPhilaster's command. The conduct of the dence in him, and when this egregious hero rest of the scene is highly ingenious as Bel- attempts to kill first his mistress and later lario takes on himself the crime of wound- a sleeping boy all semblance of consistency ing Arethusa, while Philaster, not to be out- and lifelikeness is destroyed. Most of the done in generosity, crawls out from under his characters are exaggerated or intensified on bush to confess his guilt. The union of some one side; they are too indubitably bad Philaster and Arethusa in act V seems to or too angelically good. Euphrasia's senticlear her honor, though the charge against mental devotion, Megra's lustfulness, Phara