Lapas attēli

terms of his colloquial powers; and the prologue written for a revival of his comedy of The Chances may be quoted, as proving the general reputation which he held for this talent immediately after his demise :

"My promise will find credit with the most,
When they know ingenious Fletcher made it, he
Being in himself a perfect comedy:

And some sit here, I doubt not, dare aver
Living he made that house a theatre

Which he pleased to frequent."

As Fletcher and Beaumont were superior to almost all the dramatic poets of the time in point of extraction, so they seem to have been exempted from the great degree of indigence under which most of them laboured. Beaumont was of a still more illustrious family than his friend; his elder brother was raised to the dig nity of a baronet, and there is every reason to suppose that he enjoyed competence, if not affluence, during the too brief period of his life. Fletcher's family had been raised by their own exertions, but it is more than probable that he was not left destitute by his father. His uncle, Dr Giles Fletcher, by his diplomatic talents, obtained considerable influence; and his two sons, Giles and Phineas, seem to have enjoyed com

petent ecclesiastical preferments. That our poct was not reduced to the same painful expedients as some of his fellow-poets, appears from his not joining with Massinger, Field, and Daborne, in the petition to Henslowe, printed on a former page; and in the verses to Sir William Skipwith,' prefixed to The Faithful Shepherdess, he expressly declares that the publication was not

" to make it serve to feed

At my need."

In their political principles both poets were evidently royalists; and it must not be laid to their charge, that they frequently asserted and inculcated the divine right and inviolability of kings, as that was the almost universal doctrine of the times, particularly of those persons who were attached to the theatres. This servility is, however, less apparent in those plays which Fletcher composed after the death of Beau

An epitaph upon this gentleman occurs in the poems of Sir John Beaumont, in which he is described as possessing the most amiable qualities of person and of mind.

A strong proof of this is the fact of all the king's players professing themselves royalists, and those who were not superannuated actually engaging in the cause, with the single excep tion of Swanston, who became a presbyterian tradesman.

mont,3 than in their joint productions; and in his tragedy of The Double Marriage, he boldly exemplified the punishment due to a monarch whose tyranny has become insupportable, and the rights of an oppressed people, in direct opposition to the doctrines so strongly inculcated in The Maid's Tragedy, and some others of the early pieces to which he contributed.

Of the religious opinions of Beaumont we have no evidence besides occasional effusions put into the mouths of the characters of his dramas; but, as the poems of his elder brother abound with piety, a favourable reflection is cast upon the tenets of our poet. Fletcher has left us a valuable proof of his religious and moral creed in his verses upon An Honest Man's Fortune, in which he combats the absurdities of astrology, and the fanatical doctrines of predestination and worthlessness of good works, with the zeal of a divine, and the indignation of a satirist. His trust in a superior providence, and his conviction that rectitude of principles and actions

3 Beaumont's family seems to have been particularly engaged in the interests of the Duke of Buckingham. In the poems of his brother, Sir John, there are no less than ten poems addressed to that favourite, one on the death of his son, and one to his elder brother, Viscount Purbeck.

See vol. XI. p. 253.

cannot fail to meet with their due reward, he expresses in the following nervous and manly


"He is my star, in him all truth I find,
All influence, all fate! and when my mind
Is furnished with his fullness, my poor story
Shall out-live all their age, and all their glory!
The hand of danger cannot fall amiss,

When I know what, and in whose power it is:
Nor want, the curse of man, shall make me groan;
A holy hermit is a mind alone.

Doth not experience teach us, all we can,
To work ourselves into a glorious man?
Affliction, when I know it is but this,

A deep allay, whereby man tougher is
To bear the hammer, and, the deeper still,

We still arise more image of his will;

Sickness, an humorous cloud 'twixt us and light,

And death at longest, but another night!
Man is his own star, and that soul that can
Be honest, is the only perfect man."

Fletcher seizes almost every opportunity which presents itself to him, in the course of his plays, to satirise the fanatics of the day. He may, perhaps, be accused of being too severe upon them in some instances, and of being sometimes betrayed into gross licentiousness, and, perhaps, into occasional prophaneness, when he wishes to raise the laugh against them; but it must be recollected that the dramatic poets of the time, as well as the players, were loaded with the

grossest abuse, and vilified with the most scandalous epithets by the puritans, as well in their writings as from their pulpits and tubs. They were declared the arch-limbs of Beelzebub, the instruments of the devil, the advocates of all manner of iniquity, and the direct enemies of religion, having enlisted under the banners of Antichrist. They, as well as the spectators who attended the representation of their productions, in their opinion, renounced their inheritance of the kingdom of Heaven, unless, like Stephen Gosson, and one or two other dramatists, they abjured the unprofitable and wicked art of playmaking, and joined the cry of eternal perdition against their former fellow-poets. Instances of sudden and terrible judgments against playwrights and frequenters of plays, were studiously searched for among the fathers, and blazoned about with preposterous triumph. In short, the innocent amusements of the people, such as plays, country-festivities, morris-dancing, and masquings, were attacked much more violently than their grossest vices. No wonder, then, that the dramatic writers retaliated upon the fanatics; but, instead of having recourse to abuse,

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