Great pair of authors, whom one equal star Begot so like in genius, that you are In fame, as well as writings, both so knit That no man knows where to divide your wit --Jasper Mayne, from the preface to the 1647 Beaumont and Fletcher folio (1)
A conspicuous characteristic of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher's work is the apparent seamlessness of the collaboration. If, as alleged, the two writers "lived together on the Banke side, not far from the Play-house, both batchelors; lay together ... had one wench in the house between them, which they did so admire; the same cloathes and cloake ... betweene them," (2) they had every opportunity to work closely together. Recent studies have shown that they probably were joined in collaboration not only by other playwrights, but also by composer and lutenist Robert Johnson, who wrote several original songs for the plays, music that provides motives for characters' actions. (3) As we will see, this original music for Beaumont and for Fletcher is one of the important factors in helping to reveal distinctions between the playwrights.
While for centuries Beaumont and Fletcher have been treated as virtually inseparable, in the twentieth century there have been attempts to identify individual shares of the collaboration. Along these lines, Fletcher is believed to provide most of the scenes calling for music; he is also mistakenly called the dominant "song writer," a verbal construction almost ironically negating the contribution of Johnson. Edmund H. Fellowes, for example, observes, "It is ... fairly certain that Fletcher wrote the greater number of the songs here reprinted." (4) R. W. Ingram says of Fletcher, "Most of the musical passages are found either in those plays by him alone or in scenes from the collaborative plays generally allowed to be his. In fact, Fletcher may be said to be the musical intelligence behind the collection as a whole." (5) Although Edwin S. Lindsey does not say that Fletcher is the dominant user of music, he implies as much, by writing one article about music in Beaumont's The Knight of the Burning Pestle and writing another in which he describes "Fletcher's" wider use of music, quoting numerous songs from several plays. (6) However, two of the songs Lindsey treats as prime examples of Fletcher's artistry are in sections now believed to have been written by Beaumont, "Cast our Caps and cares away" from Beggars' Bush, and "Come hither you that love, and heare me sing" from The Captain. What we now recognize as possible false attribution may have been at the center of Lindsey's argument, as well as at the center of the tradition, exemplified by Ingram, of seeing Fletcher as the primary lyricist for the plays' songs.
In this paper, I will review previous attribution studies and examine Beaumont's and Fletcher's overall use of music and musical imagery with emphasis on Beggars' Bush, followed by an examination of misogynistic locutions and inset masques. Throughout, the focus is the thirteen joint plays: Cupid's Revenge, A King and No King, The Noble Gentlemen, Beggars' Bush, The Captain, Love's Pilgrimage, The Coxcomb, Love's Cure, The Maid's Tragedy, The Woman Hater, The Scornful Lady, Philaster, and The Tragedy of Thierry and Theodoret, with additional evidence from two works by Beaumont alone, The Knight of the Burning Pestle and The Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn, as well as two by Fletcher, Valentinian and The Faithful Shepherdess.
My separation of Beaumont from Fletcher in relation to music, misogyny, and masques is a new, text-based contribution to the centuries-old attribution discussion. The methodology of previous attribution studies draws on biographical, linguistic, stylistic, thematic, textual, and sentimental evidence. The variety of methodologies and the regrettable dearth of hard facts leave the findings open to further investigation. Charles Mills Gayley remarks, "The uncertainty regarding the respective shares of the two authors ... commenced even during the life of Fletcher who survived his friend by nine years, and it has continued in some fashion down to the present time." (7) This "uncertainty" has not been dispelled today. Philip J. Finkelpearl says that he is somewhat "skeptical of the significance of any effort to unravel the separate strands." (8) While I share his skepticism, I believe worthwhile efforts can be made in certain areas.
Attribution critics do not neatly divide into camps, and many offer an opinion about only one of the authors. Richard Flecknoe stated in 1664 that Fletcher "was the first who introduc't that witty obscenity in his Playes, which like poison infused in pleasant liquor is alwayes the more dangerous the more delightful." (9) Twentieth-century critics add little to Flecknoe: they consistently praise Beaumont's virtue and damn Fletcher's lasciviousness. For example, Gayley writes that Beaumont "portrays with special tenderness the maiden of pure heart" in contrast to Fletcher's contributing "sections of plot that are carnal, trivial, or unnatural," (10) and E. H. C. Oliphant compliments Beaumont's depiction of "maidenhood in the full charm of its innocence, and sweetness, and purity" in contrast to Fletcher's "hare-brained virgins and lascivious ladies." (11) There is a consistent trend to see the two authors as "Saint Beaumont" and "Sinner Fletcher."
The attribution landscape changed radically with Cyrus Hoy's landmark study, published in Studies in Bibliography in supplements between 1956 and 1962. (12) Hoy attributes to Fletcher "the Fletcherian ye": "If one is to judge from The Knight of the Burning Pestle and The Woman Hater ... ye is a form which Beaumont almost never employed." (13) However, this allegedly distinctive feature (as well as others he examines) does not always hold, because, according to Hoy and others, when Beaumont was the final editor of the collaborative plays, his changes blurred linguistic evidence. So how does Hoy distinguish the two playwrights? He examines a variety of linguistic forms fine-tuned to each play, combined with historical comments and references to other plays as touchstones. He sometimes also turns to metrical considerations, and sometimes to subject matter. His method is eclectic, and self-admittedly imperfect: "To distinguish, on the basis of linguistic evidence, the respective shares of the Beaumont-Fletcher collaborations is not always easy or possible." (14) Hoy's critics include Jeffrey Masten. (15) In spite of this criticism, Hoy's work is widely accepted as the best available on the topic. For example, Fredson Bowers organized his scholarly edition of the complete canon around Hoy's divisions, and Suzanne Gossett states, "Throughout [my book] Hoy's findings may be regarded as followed." (16)
Upon first reading Hoy's work, I began a "what if" exercise of examining the plays line-by-line in terms of music and musical imagery, as well as misogynistic locutions and masque elements, all using Hoy's divisions. At the time, I was unaware of attribution studies previous to Hoy, as well as the degree to which Hoy may have been influenced by them. (17) Independent of attribution studies, I also explored the function of seven specific songs from Beaumont and/or Fletcher's plays by carefully analyzing available early music in relation to close readings of the dramatic texts, within the contexts of Renaissance ideologies ranging from the musical theory of affections to debates about women to alchemy. (18) Onto this later analysis I overlaid Hoy's attribution divisions--but only after completing my own study of the songs. In summary, my findings both reinforce the saint Beaumont/sinner Fletcher dichotomy, and identify a marked division in how songs function: they either change action or heighten action already in place, by Beaumont and Fletcher respectively. While I am admittedly vulnerable to a possible charge of circular reasoning, it is of note both that my findings about the importance of the songs in the plays were not originally based on attribution studies and that Hoy pays no particular attention to music, misogyny, or masque. While acknowledging the imperfection of Hoy's work--although certainly more thorough than previous attribution studies--this paper, from here forward, is based on Hoy's divisions. (19)
BEAUMONT'S AND FLETCHER'S DISTINCTIVE USE OF MUSIC
Contrary to a common critical misconception, in the collaborative plays there is no appreciable difference in the amount of music included in scenes written by each author. Beaumont and Fletcher individually contribute songs to four plays in the canon of collaboration, listed below. They also each wrote sections calling for stage music in five plays. (20) References to music and metaphorical use of music are also evenly distributed: Beaumont refers to music in nine plays for a total of forty-three times, and Fletcher in eight, for a total of forty-seven times.
Consideration of this evidence makes one question how Fletcher gained the reputation as the primary contributor of music. Perhaps earlier critics considered the total Beaumont-Fletcher canon, to which Fletcher contributed far more plays than Beaumont, but regrettably they do not explain what they took into account. Beaumont wrote two dramas by himself, The Knight of the Burning Pestle and The Masque of the Inner Temple and Gray's Inn; both are heavily musical …