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Printed by James Ballantyne and Company,
FOR F. C. AND J. RIVINGTON; LONGMAN, HURST, REES, ORME, AND Co.;
JOHN BALLANTYNE AND CO.; AND DOIG AND STIRLING; EDINBURGH.
Ir is a subject of universal regret, that, by the negligence and want of literary curiosity of our ancestors, we are left almost entirely in the dark respecting the private history of the most eminent authors of the seventeenth century. Any account of their lives, which can, at the present period, be prefixed to their works, appears meagre of incidents, and defective in the most material and interesting parts. This is particularly the case with regard to Beaumont and Fletcher, to whom, in the scale of the dramatic poets of that age, the second place has generally been awarded. As it becomes the peculiar duty of an editor to collect every thing which is known respecting his author, he is led continually to regret, that, with the exception of a few anecdotes, perhaps not even sufficiently au
thorised, the whole of his narrative consists of an enumeration of their literary compositions.
Both Beaumont and Fletcher had the advantage of being honourably descended, and, consequently, of receiving an excellent education; and they had both relatives who distinguished themselves in literature. It is scarcely possible to give a separate account of the life of each, and accordingly a chronological arrangement has been adopted in the following pages, which commences and concludes with Fletcher, who was born ten years before his friend Beaumont, and survived him an equal number of years.
Dr Richard Fletcher, Bishop of London, the father of our poet, was a man of considerable eminence. His influence at the court of Queen Elizabeth procured him a very rapid succession of ecclesiastical preferments. He was born in Kent, and educated at Cambridge, either in Bennet or Corpus Christi college, and admitted at that university about the year 1561. He took the degree of Master of Arts at Oxford, in 1572, having previously obtained the same degree at Cambridge. The 15th of November, 1583, he was appointed Dean of Peterborough, and, in that capacity, attended at the execution of Mary Queen of Scots, at Fotheringay-castle,