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cludes, that Fletcher wrote for the stage as early as 1596, when he was only twenty years of age. If these entries really refer to our poet, which is by no means certain,3 as his name is not affixed to any of the plays enumerated by Henslowe, his earliest performances, in which, according to the custom of the time, he probably joined some of the dramatic poets of the day, are to all appearance irretrievably lost. It is equally uncertain at what period his friendship and copartnership commenced with Beaumont, of whose birth and parentage we now come to give an account.

Francis Beaumont was descended from the very ancient and honourable family of the Beaumonts of Grace-dieu, in Leicestershire. * His

Fleatcher, and the have promised me payment, xx. s."-Shakspeare, ed. 1803, vol. III. p. 380.

3' Perhaps these entries refer to Laurence Fletcher the comedian, who appears at the head of the license granted to the king's servants, 19th May, 1603, and who died in the year


In "Two Bookes of Epigrammes and Epitaphs," &c. by Thomas Bancroft, London, 1639, 4. the following address "To Grace-dieu" occurs:

"Grace-dieu, that under Charnwood stand'st alone,

As a grand relick of religion,

I reverence thine old but fruitful worth,

That lately brought such noble Beaumonts forth,

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father, Francis, was appointed one of the judges of the Common Pleas, the 25th of January, 1593, and died at Grace-dieu, the 22d of April, 1598. By his wife, Ann Pierpoint, daughter of Sir George Pierpoint of Holme, he left three sons. The eldest, Henry, was knighted, April 23, 1603, and died in the year 1605. Sir John Beaumont, the second son, who was born in 1582, and who survived our author thirteen years, was a poet of very considerable talents,

Whose brave heroic muses might aspire,

To match the anthems of the heavenly quire;
The mountains crown'd with rocky fortresses,
And shelt'ring woods secure thy happiness,
That highly-favour'd art (tho' lowly placed)
Of heaven, and with free nature's bounty graced :
Herein grow happier, and that bliss of thine,
Nor pride o'ertop, nor envy undermine."

5 Drayton, in his Epistle " To my dearly loved Friend, Henry Reynolds, Esq. of Poets and Poesy," thus celebrates Sir John Beaumont, and his brother Francis, together with William Browne, the author of Britannia's Pastorals:

"Then the two Beaumonts and my Browne arose,
My dear companions, whom I freely chose
My bosom friends; and in their several ways,
Rightly born poets, and in these last days
Men of much note, and no less nobler parts,
Such as have freely told to me their hearts,
As I have mine to them."-

I must here acknowledge the obligations, for which, as the biographer of Beaumont, I am indebted to Mr Nichols's claborate and erudite History of Leicestershire.

of which he has left us a distinguished proof in his poem on Bosworthfield, remarkable for the spirit of the poetry and the easy flow of the versification. The dramatic poet, Francis Beaumont, was the youngest son, and was born at Grace-dieu, in the year 1586. In the beginning of Lent-term, 1596, he was admitted, at the same time with his two elder brothers, gentleman commoner of Broadgate-hall, now Pembroke college, at that period much resorted to for the study of the civil and common law. After lea

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• Great confusion has been occasioned among the biographers of our poet, by the circumstance, that there were at least three Francis Beaumonts alive in 1615. Both Wood and Oldys confound the dramatic writer with his namesake, the master of the Charter house, of the family of the Beaumonts of Cole-Orton, who was educated at Cambridge, was also poet, and died in 1624. He prefixed an epistle to Speight's edition of Chaucer, printed in 1598, containing an apology for the licentious passages which occur in that poet's writings. Oldys, supposing this epistle to have been the production of the dramatic writer, concludes, that the age at which the lat ter is said to have died must be founded on erroneous information, as it was not likely that a judgment from a boy of thirteen should be preferred by the judicious editor of Chaucer. Wood is led by a similar mistake to ascribe the education of our poet to Cambridge. Another Francis Beaumont was the son of Sir John Beaumont, and nephew to the dramatic writer. He afterwards became a jesuit, and prefixed a copy of verses to the poems of his father, printed in 1629. Mr Nichols informs us, that there was a Francis Beaumont of Peter-house, Cambridge, and another of St John's, but professes himself ignorant of their dates.

ving the university, he studied for some years in the Inner-Temple; but the vivacity of his ima gination, and the bent of his genius toward dra matic poetry, seems to have alienated his mind from any intense application to the law. His acquirements in classical learning, and the other sciences fashionable at the time, are, however, acknowledged to have been very considerable.

In the year 1602, when he was only sixteen years of age, he published the fable of Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, in the paraphrastic style of the Italian poets of the seventeenth cen tury. If he had exhibited no further speci mens of his genius after this juvenile attempt, he would never have been ranked among the illustrious poets of his country. Fortunately, he attached himself to the stage, and became the intimate of Ben Jonson and Fletcher. At the age of nineteen, he addressed a copy of verses to the former, on his comedy of The Fox, first produced in the year 1605, replete with the soundest criticism, and evidencing a familiar acquaintance with the models of the ancient drama; thus justifying the high opinion which was entertained by his contemporaries of his superior judgment, particularly by Jonson, who is

said to have submitted the plots of his dramatic performances to his young friend. His intimacy with Fletcher led to a still closer connection, which continued without interruption till the early death of Beaumont. It is not improbable that Fletcher, at first, like Ben Jonson, took advantage of the judgment of Beaumont, to submit his performances to his correction, and that they were gradually led, by a congeniality of mind, to compose dramas in conjunction.

As the greater proportion of the dramatic poets of the reigns of Elizabeth and James were in needy circumstances, and, in a great measure, depended on the exertion of their minds for their daily bread, they were naturally led to form copartnerships of talent for the sake of expedition, and to supply the eager demand of the London audiences, who had, but a short time before, become partial to the rational entertainment afforded by the stage, and who were proportionably attached to it, and eager for a continual supply of theatrical novelties. The papers of Henslowe, the proprietor of the Rose theatre, prove, that a great number of dramas was produced at one only of the numerous playhouses then existing, between the years 1597

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