« ZurückWeiter »
Finest Scenes, Lyrics, and other Beauties
OF THOSE TWO POETS,
HOW FIRST SELECTED FROM THE WHOLE OF THEIR WORKS,
To the Exclusion of whatever is Morally Ohjectionable :
OPINIONS OF DISTINGUISHED CRITICS,
NOTES, EXPLANATORY AND OTHERWISE,
A GENERAL INTRODUCTORY PREFACE,
HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
REMARKS ON BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER
JNCIDENTAL TO THIS SELECTION.
It is not customary, I believe, to write prefaces to books of selection. “ Beauties” are understood to speak for themselves ;
and the more they deserve the name, the less politic it may be considered to dilate on the merits of the writings from which they have been culled. A wit who was shown the collection of detached passages called the Beauties of Shakspeare, is reported to have said : “ Where are the other ning volumes ?”
There are such especial reasons, however, why a selection from the works of Beaumont and Fletcher is a thing not only warrantable but desirable (to say nothing of the difference of this volume from collections of inerely isolated thoughts and fancies), that it is proper I should enter into some explanations of them; and for this purpose I must begin with a glance at the lives of the two poets.
FRANCIS BEAUMONT, youngest son of a judge of the Common Pleas, is supposed to have been born about the year 1584, at the abbey of Grace-Dieu, in Leicestershire, which, at the dissolution of the monasteries, had become possessed by the judge's father, who was recorder of the county, and subsequently a judge himself. The poet was intended for the family profession, and, after studying awhile at Oxford, was entered of the Middle Temple; but on becoming acquainted with the stage, he probably felt that his vocation had been otherwise destined. The date of his first acquaintance with Fletcher is unknown; but it must of necessity have been when he was young; and the intimacy became so close, that the two friends are said not only to have lived in the same house (which was on the Surrey side of the Thames, near the Globe Theatre), but to have possessed everything in common. Beaumont however, if not Fletcher, married; and he had not parsed what is called the prime of life, when he died ; for, according to Ben Jonson, he had not completed his thirtieth year. But there is reason to believe otherwisc. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.
John FLETCHER, son of a Bishop of London who had acquired an unenviable celebrity as one of the troublers of the last moments of Mary Queen of Scots, was born at Rye, in Sussex, in the year 1579. He appears to have been educated at Cambridge, and to have led a life wholly theatrical. There is nothing to prove that he ever married; though, on the other hand, there is nothing to disprove that he was the " John Fletcher” whose marriage with “ Jonc Herring” in the year 1612 is on record in the Southwark books. Be this
continued to live and write in the parish of St. Saviour long after the death of the friend who had kept house with him; and he died there, and was buried in the church, in the year 1625. He himself had not lived to be old; for he was not forty-six. His death was occasioned by an accident. Requiring a new suit of clothes for a visit to which he had been invited in the country, he stopped in town to have it made, and the consequence was a seizure by the plague, which sent him on the journey from which "no traveller returns.”
as it may,
Nothing is known of the personal habits of these illustrions men except that they were intimate with other celebrated poets, Ben Jonson in particular; that Beaumont (and doubtless Fletcher) frequented the famous Mermaid Tavern, of which he has recorded the merits; that Fletcher, though dissatisfied with his plays when he saw them acted, hated to bespeak favour for them in prologues; and that neither Beaumont nor Fletcher entertained much respect for their critics in general. The very talk of the two friends is said to have been “ a comedy.” A certain aristocratical tone, as well as the ultra-loyal breeding which has been noticed in them, is, I think, discernible in their writings, though qualified occasionally as genius is sure to qualify it. Ben Jonson told Drummond that Beaumont thought too much of himself,