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Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V03, Page 598 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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BIBLIOGRAPHICAL APPENDIX The chief collected editions of the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher are: Comedies and Tragedies written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher Gentlemen, printed by Humphrey Moseley in folio in 1647 as containing plays " never printed before"; Fifty Comedies and Tragedies written, &c. (fol. 1679); Works . . . (II vols. 1843-1846), edited by Alexander Dyce, which superseded earlier editions by L. Theobald, G. Colman and H. Weber, and presented a modernized text; a second two-volume edition by Dyce in 1852; The Works of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher (15 vols. 1905, &c.)edited by Arnold Glover and A. R. Waller in the " Cambridge English Classics " from the text of the 2nd folio, and giving variant readings from all separate issues of the plays previous to that edition; and Works . . . (12 vols. 1904, &c.), under the general editorship of A. H. Bullen, the text of which is founded on Dyce but with many variant readings, the last volume containing memoirs and excursuses by the editor. The foundation of all critical work on Beaumont and Fletcher is to be found in Dyce. Discrimination between the work of the two dramatists and their collaborators has been the object of a series of studies for the establishment of metrical and other tests. Fletcher's verse is recognizable by the frequency of an extra syllable, often an accented one, at the end of a line, the use of stopped lines, and the frequency of trisyllabic feet. He thus obtained an adaptable instrument enabling him to dispense with prose even in comic scenes. The pioneer work in these matters was done by F. G. Fleay in a paper read before the New Shakspere Society in 1874 on " Metrical Tests as applied to Fletcher, Beaumont and Massinger." His theories were further developed in the article " Fletcher " in his Biog. Chron. of the Eng. Drama. Further investigations were published by R. Boyle in Englische Studien (vols. v.-x., Heilbronn, 1882-1887), and in the New Shakspere Society Transactions (188o-1886), by Benno Leonhardt in Anglia (Halle, vols. )ix. seq.), and by E.H.Oliphant in Englische Studien (vols. xiv. seq.). Mr Oliphant restores to Beaumont much which other critics had been inclined to deny him. On the sources of the plays see E. Koppel in Munchener Beitr¢ge zur roman. u. eng. Phil. (Erlangen and Leipzig, 1895). Consult further articles by A. H. Bullen and R. Boyle respectively on Fletcher and Massinger in the Dict. of Nat. Biog.; G. C. Macaulay, Francis Beaumont, a Critical Study (1883); and Dr A. W. Ward's chapter on " Beaumont and Fletcher " in vol. ii. of his Hist. of Eng. Dram. Lit. (new ed. 1899). A list of the plays attributed to Beaumont and Fletcher, with some details, is added, with the premiss that beyond the main lines of criticism laid 'down in Mr Swinburne's article above it is often difficult to dogmatize on authorship. Even in cases where the play was produced long after Beaumont had ceased to write for the stage there can be no certainty that we are not dealing with a piece which is an adaptation of an earlier play by a later hand. The Joint Works of Beaumont and Fletcher.—The Scornful Lady (acted c. 1609, pr. 1616) is a farcical comedy of domestic life, in which Oliphant finds traces of alteration by a third and perhaps afourth hand. Philaster or Love Lies a-Bleeding is assigned by Macaulay to Beaumont practically in its entirety, while Fleay attributes only three scenes to Fletcher. It was probably acted c. 1609, and was printed 162o; it was revised (1695) by Elkanah Settle and (1763) by the younger Colman, probably owing its long popularity to the touching character of Bellario. Beaumont's share also predominated in The Maid's Tragedy (acted c. 1609, pr. 1619), in A King and No King (acted at court December 26, 1611, and perhaps earlier, pr. 1619), while The Knight of the Burning Pestle (c. i6io, pr. 1613), burlesquing the heroic and romantic play of which Heywood's Four Prentices is an example, might perhaps be transferred entire to Beaumont's account. In Cupid's Revenge (acted at court January 1612, and perhaps at Whitefriars in 161o, pr. 1615), founded on Sidney's Arcadia, the two dramatists appear to have had a third collaborator in Massinger and perhaps a fourth in Nathaniel Field. The Coxcomb (acted c. 161o, and by the Children of the Queen's Revels in 1612, pr. 1647) seems to have undergone later revision by Massinger. Fletcher's collaboration with other dramatists had begun during his connexion with Beaumont, who apparently ceased to write for the stage two or three years before his death. Works Assigned to Beaumont's Sole Authorship.—The Woman Hater (pr. 1607, as " lately acted by the children of Paul's ") was assigned formerly to Fletcher. The Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn was presented at Whitehall on the 26th of February 1612, on the marriage of the Prince and Princess Palatine. Of Four Plays, or Moral Representations, in One (acted 16o8, pr. 1647), the Induction, with The Triumph of Honour and The Triumph of Love, both founded on tales from the Decameron, are by Beaumont. Works Assigned to Fletcher's Sole Authorship. The Faithful Shepherdess (pr. c. 1609) was ill received on its original production, but was revived in 1634. That Fletcher was the sole author is practically unquestioned, though Ben Jonson in Drummond's Conversations is made to assert that " Beaumont and Fletcher ten years since hath written The Faithful Shepherdess." It was translated into Latin verse by Sir R. Fanshawe in 1658, and Milton's Comus owes not a little to it. In Four Plays in One, the two last, The Triumph of Death and The Triumph of Time, are Fletcher's. In the indifferent comedy of The Captain (acted 1612-1613, revived 1626, pr. 1647) there is no definite evidence of any other hand than Fletcher's, though the collaboration of peaumont, Massinger and Rowley has been advanced. Other Fletcher plays are: Wit without Money (acted 1614, pr. 1639) ; the two romantic tragedies of Bonduca (in which Caradach or Caractacus is the chief figure rather than Bonduca or Boadicea) and Valentinian, both dating from c. 1616 and printed in the first folio; The Loyal Subject (acted 1618, revived at court 1633, pr. 1647) ; The Mad Lover (acted before March 1619, pr. 1647), which borrows something from the story of Mundus and Paulina in Josephus (bk. xviii.) ; The Humorous Lieutenant (1619, pr. 1647) ; Woman Pleased (c. 162o, pr. 1647) ; The Woman's Prize or The Tamer Tam'd (produced probably between 16io and 1613, acted 1633 at Blackfriars and at court, pr. 1647), a kind of sequel to The Taming of the Shrew; The Chances (uncertain date, pr. 1647), taken from La Sennora Cornelia of Cervantes, and repeatedly revived after the Restoration and in the 18th century; Monsieur Thomas (acted perhaps as early as 1609, pr. 1639) ; The Island Princess (c. 1621, pr. 1647) ; The Pilgrim and The Wild Goose-Chase (pr. 1652), the second of which was adapted in prose by Farquhar, both acted at court in 1621, and possibly then not new pieces; A Wife for a Month (acted 1624, pr. 1647) ; Rule a Wife and Have a Wife (lic. 1624, pr. 1640). The Pilgrim received additions from Dryden. and was adapted by Vanbrugh. Fletcher in Collaboration with other Dramatists.—External evidence of Fletcher's connexion with Massinger is given by Sir Aston Cokaine, who in an epitaph on Fletcher and Massinger wrote: " Playes they did write together, were great friends," and elsewhere claimed for Massinger a share in the plays printed in the 1647 folio. James Shirley and William Rowley have their part in the works that used to be included in the Beaumont and Fletcher canon; and to a letter from Field, Daborne and Massinger, asking for 5 for their joint necessities from Henslowe about the end of 1615, there is a postscript suggesting the deduction of the sum from the " mony remaynes for the play of Mr Fletcher and ours." The problem is complicated when the existing versions of the play are posterior to Fletcher's lifetime, that is, revisions by Massinger or another of pieces which were even originally of double authorship. In this way Beaumont's work may be concealed under successive revisions, and it would be rash to assert that none of the late plays contains anything of his. Mr R. Boyle joins the name of Cyril Tourneur to those of Fletcher and Massinger in connexion with The Honest Man's Fortune (acted 1613, pr. 1647), which Fleay identifies with " the play of Mr Fletcher's and ours." The Knight of Malta (acted 1618-1619, pr. 1647) is in its existing form a revision by Fletcher, Massinger, and possibly Field, of an earlier play which Oliphant thinks was probably written by Beaumont about 16o8. The same remarks (with the exclusion of Field's name) apply to Thierry and Theodoret (acted c. 1617, pr. 1621), perhaps a satire on contemporary manners at the French court, though Beaumont's share in either must be regarded as problematical. Fletcher and Massinger's great tragedy of Sir John van Olden Barnaveldt (acted 1619) was first printed in Bullen's Old Plays (vol. ii., 1883). They followed it up with The Custom of BEAUMONT-BEAUREGARD the Country (acted 1619, pr. 1647), based on an English translation (1619) of Los Trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda; The Double Marriage (c. 1620, pr. 1647) ; The Little French Lawyer (c. 162o, pr. 1647), the plot of which can be traced indirectly to a novellino by Massuccio Salernitano; The Laws of Candy (c. 1618, pr. 1647), of disputed authorship; The False One (c. 162o, pr. 1647), dealing with the subject of Caesar and Cleopatra; The Spanish Curate (acted 1622, pr. 1647), repeatedly revived after the Restoration, was derived from Leonard Digges's translation (1622) of a Spanish novel, Gerardo, the Unfortunate Spaniard; The Prophetess (1622, pr. 1647), afterwards made into an opera by Bettertcn to Purcell's music; The Sea-Voyage (1622, pr. 1647); The Elder Brother (perhaps originally written by Fletcher c. 1614; revised and acted 1635, pr. 1647); Beggar's Bush (acted at court 1622, probably then not new, pr. 1647) ; and The Noble Gentleman (1625-1626, pr. 1647). Fletcher only had a small share in Wit at Several Weapons—" if he but writ an act or two," says an epilogue on its revival (1623 or 1626),–and the play is probably a revision by Rowley and Middleton of an early Beaumont and Fletcher play. A Very Woman (1634, pr. 1655) is a revision by Massinger of The Woman's Plot ascribed to Fletcher and acted at court in 1621. Field worked with Fletcher and Massinger on the lost play of the Jeweller of Amsterdam (1619), as on the Faithful Friends (1613–1614) and The Queen of Corinth (c. 1618, pr. 1647). The Lover's Progress (acted 1634, pr. 1647) is probably a revision by Massinger of the Fletcher play licensed in 1623 as The Wandering Lovers, and is perhaps identical with Cleander, licensed in 1634. Love's Cure or The Martial Maid (1623 or 1625) is thought by Mr Fleay to be a revision by Massinger of a Beaumont and Fletcher play produced as early as 1607–1608. W. Rowley joined Fletcher in The Maid in the Mill (1623, pr. 1647), and had a share with Massinger in the revision of The Fair Maid of the Inn (licensed 1626, pr. 1647), based on La illustre Fregona of Cervantes. Nice Valour (acted 1625-1626, pr. 1647) seems to have been altered by Middleton from an earlier play; The Widow, printed in 1652 as by Jonson, Fletcher and Middleton, must be ascribed almost exclusively to Middleton. The Night Walker (1633) is a revision by Shirley of a Fletcher play. Fletcher and Jonson in Collaboration.—The history of The Bloody Brother or Rollo, Duke of Normandy, printed in 1637 as by " B. J. F.," is matter of varied speculation. Mr Oliphant thinks the basis of the play to be an early work (c. 1604) of Beaumont, on which is super-imposed a revision (1616) by Fletcher, Jonson and Middleton, and a subsequent revision (1636–1637) by Massinger. The general view is that the main portion of the play is referable to Jonson and Fletcher. Jonson apparently had a share in Fletcher's Love's Pilgrimage (pr. 1647), which seems to have been revised by Massinger in 1635. Fletcher and Shakespeare.—The Two Noble Kinsmen was printed in 1634 as by Mr John Fletcher and Mr William Shakespeare. If its first representation was in 1625 it was in the year of Fletcher's death. It was included in the second folio of Beaumont and Fletcher's comedies and tragedies. If Shakespeare and Fletcher worked in concert it was probably in 1612–1613, and the existing play probably represents a revision by Massinger in 1625. Henry VIII. (played at the Globe in 1613) is usually ascribed mainly to Fletcher and Massinger, and the conditions of its production were probably similar. Fletcher and Shakespeare are together credited at Stationers' Hall with the lost play of Cardenio, destroyed by Warburton's cook. (M. BR.)

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