The Works of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher - Vol. 3

The Works of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher - Vol. 3

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The Works of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher - Vol. 3

The Works of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher - Vol. 3

Read FREE!

Excerpt

The Faithful Shepherdess is ascribed to John Fletcher alone on the title-pages of all the early editions, nor has the attribution, supported as it is by the dedicatory and commendatory verses, including those from Beaumont, ever been seriously challenged. Jonson in his conversations with Drummond, probably in Jan. 1619, remarked that “Flesherand Beaumont, ten years since, hath written the Faithfull Shipheardesse, a Tragicomedie, well done” (ed. Gifford, ix. 386); but the use of the singular verb shows that the two friends had already been fused into one complex literary personality, and that no weight can be allowed to the apparent assertion that the play in question was a joint work. Mr. Fleay, indeed, after quoting from the Conversations, continues : “There is not a trace of external evidence that Beaumont had a hand in the writing beyond Jonson’s statement, and yet, again, the internal evidence of the metre so strongly confirms it that I have no doubt on the matter. Beaumont’s dislike to have his name published as a playwright is quite enough to explain its absence in the title and its presence in these verses.” In reply to an inquiry, Mr. Fleay has kindly informed me that he now withdraws this view and acquiesces in Fletcher’s authorship. I ought to add that for my own part, whether on internal or externa] evidence, I do not see how the play can be ascribed to any one but Fletcher.

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