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Now the distant woods awaken,
Where the gusty wind is calling;
Take the lane !
Rafters on the lattice pressing;
From the cloud,
Osten yet mine ear is listening
With this truth
Window, door and eaves are dripping;
Village news, or song, or reading,
Let it pour,
Peace within that household ever;
Love's sweet rule each breast controlling;
Let them roll-
All their faded hues reviving;
Grove and glade
By the churchyard ever weeping;
Seem to say
Fast a wayside group collecting;
Boy and man Each predicting all he can.
Hark the ring of happy voices;
Wagon from the school appearing ;
Gee, and haw,
Slowly eventide advances;
Fanny, the repast preparing,
At the gate?-
Is he stranger worn with travel,
Refuge from the torrent seeking ?Timid looks the doubt unravel, Looks all eloquently speaking !
Happy guest, With a welcome so confest!
Earnest he apologizes,
From the mill in haste returning, (Ah, forgive young love's disguises, Though it rains, his heart is burning ;)
He will stay Just a moment on his way.
Round the ready board all seated,
Now the fragrant tea is pouring, And the grateful grace repeated, Him, all-bountiful, adoring,
From whose hand Showering plenty cheers the land.
Now the motley barnyard nation,
Cackling, lowing, neighing, squealing,
Forth for home the dairy maiden
Bears away her milky treasure, Ah, too ponderously laden, Ned “ will take the pail with pleasure
Through the rain,”Loving Edward-gentle Jane.
Slowly spread the shades of even;
Night, on raven wing descended, Shuts the mighty doors of heaven; And, the landscape's glory ended,
Ends the Lay, Happy, rural Rainy Day.
BEAUMONT AND FLETCHER."
! " POETRY,” says Shirley in his intro to feed the fancies of our readers with duction to the folio edition of Beaumont some delicious quotations from their and Fletcher, printed in 1647, “poetry is works. the child of nature, which, regulated and Beaumont and Fletcher belong to that made beautiful by art, presenteth the band of the elder English dramatists who most harmonious of all compositions; received their inspiration from Shakamong which (if we rightly consider) speare, the true creator of the English the dramatical is the most absolute, in drama. Their plays were produced wholly regard of those transcendent abilities in the reign of James 1., from 1607 to which should wait upon the composer; 1625. Their first drama was written who must have more than the instruction about four years before Shakspeare's of libraries, (which of itself is but a cold last. Bat little of their private history contemplative knowledge, there being is known, except that they were both required in him a soul miraculously gentlemen by birth and education, beknowing and conversing with all man- longed to families anusually prolific in kind, enabling him to express not only poets, were bighly esteemed by their the phlegm and folly of thick-skinned contemporaries, and through life were men, but the strength and maturity of the remarkably constant friends. Beaumons wise, the air and insinuations of the was born in 1586, entered college at the court, the discipline and resolution of the age of ten, and, like a large number of soldier, the virtues and passions of every English poets and dramatists, went noble condition-nay, the counsels and through the form of studying law. His characters of the greatest princes.” All powers of composition were early devel. these he tben insists are " demonstrative oped. When only sixteen he published and met” in his beloved authors,“ whom a translation in rhyme of Ovid's fable of but to mention is to throw a cloud upon Salmacis and Hermaproditus. At the all former pames, and benight posterity.” age of nineteen be had acquired among The vast admiration thus expressed by a such men as Jonson, the reputation of brother dramatist of these celebrated in sound judgment and poetie power, and tellectual kinsmen, has been repeatedly was an esteemed member of the club of echoed. In their own age they enjoyed wits and poets who met at the Mermaid. a wide reputation, and during the reign In 1606 or 1607 his literary confedeof Charles II. were twice as popular as racy with Fletcher appears to have comShakspeare himself. Time, however, menced. He died in 1615, at the age of has been slowly and silently dimming twenty-nine. Fletcher was born in the their fame. As their dramas gradually year 1576, the son of one of Queen Eliza dropped from the list of acting plays, beth's bishops. There is no positive they did not readily pass from the stage evidence of his appearance as an authog into the library, though they have ever before he had arrived at the age of thirty. occupied a prominent place among the It is probable that up to that period his elder dramatists, and are part and parcel private fortune supplied his wants. Ar of English literature. The highest praise this time his intimacy with Beaumont of the dramatic poet, that of being en commenced. It is singular that to this dowed with souls miraculously know- co-partnership Fletcher, the elder of the ing and conversing with all mankind,” two by ten years, brought the mercurial of this they were deservedly shorn ; it is, spirit and creative fancy, Beaumont the indeed, relatively true only of Shak. regulating judgment and solid underspeare; but to the great body of English standing. Their friendship was unbroreaders, especially in this country, their ken. Before Reaumont's marriage, “they merits as poets of fancy and sentiment lived together,” says Aubrey, “on the are but imperfectly known. In the pres. Bankside, not far from the play house, ent article we propose attempting an ana both lachelors; had one in their lysis of their powers, to set forth their house, which they did so admire, the characteristic faults and excellences, and same clothes, cloak, &c., between them."
* The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher. With an Introduction by George Darley. London : Moxon. 2 vols. 8vo.
Fletcher survived Beaumont ten years. our remarks, therefore, though we may He died of the plague in August, 1625, use their names together, our readers in his forty-ninth year. It has been con will please to consider that “ Beaumont jectured that during the last ten years of and Fletcher” means little more than his life, he wrote three plays annually, a Fletcher. Most critics now drop Beausign that his powers of production were mont-considering the plays, to use a stimulated and overtaxed by his necessi. line of poor Sir Aston Cockayne's dogties.
gerel, to be, in the main, The number of plays printed in the collection of Beaumont and Fletcher's
“ Sweet issues of sweet Fletcher's brain!" works, is fifty-two. There is little evi Mr. Darley, however, whose introducdence that Beaumont had a share in more tion to Moxon's edition is of much merit, than nine of them, though some critics lays considerable stress on Beaumont's have increased the number to seventeen. aid to Fletcher, and gives him credit for There cannot be much doubt that Fletch- a deeper and graver enthusiasm than his er not only wrote the remaining thirty- lively and prolific partner possessed; and five, but that he had altogether the lar- intimates his opinion that three of the gest share in the joint plays. Beaumont plays known to be by the firm, are worth is spoken of by a conteneporary, as “ the all the rest in the collection put together. sober spunge ” of the firm, retrenching
The faults and impurities of Beaumont and rubbing out the exuberances of and Fletcher are the first qualities which Fletcher's volatile fancy. The three most strike the reader of their works. Many celebrated, if not the three best, dramas in of these are doubtless to be attributed to the whole collection, “ The Maid's Tra- the circumstances under which they gedy,” “ Philaster,” “and King and No wrote. Their dramatic career was comKing,” are, to be sure, among the plays mensurate with the reign of James I., the in which Beaumont is known to have meanest, weakest, most effeminate, most been concerned, and doubtless his coöpe- ridiculous, the most despised and the most ration was of importance; but still Fletch- despicable of English sovereigns. Their er's own dramas, allowing for their object was to become the fashionable greater rapidity and carelessness of exe- dramatists of the day; and this object cution, have essentially the same charac- they pursued at any sacrifice of morals, teristics of mind and manner. Fletcher dignity and decorum. They are the undoubtedly supplied the capital of the most indecent in expression, and the most firm, and Beaumont probably the direct- licentious in principle, of all the elder ing judgment. Their portraits bear out dramatists; and seem to stand half way the common_tradition respecting their between the age of Elizabeth and that of characters. The countenance of Fletch. Charles II. În their comedies they aler is that of some “bot amorist,” eager, ready indicate the approach of the school sanguine, fanciful and sensual, but in the of Wycherly and Congreve. They have, Caded splendor of the eyes, giving evi- however, much of the raciness and sweetdence of energies overwrought and pas ness of the old dramatic spirit, and were sions unchecked. That of Beaumont, essentially poets as well as wits. The though intelligent, somewhat heavy prominent defect of their genius and perand prim, sure signs, we suppose, of his sonal character was levity. As their judgment. We bave no means of judg. aim was popularity, their plays were ing of his powers singly, except from a constructed more with regard to theatrifew miscellaneous poems. These indi- cal effectiveness than dramatic propriety; cate no marked poetic capacity. The and they consulted their audiences rather celebrated address to Melancholy, which than their consciences, in the contrivance usually passes under his name, is sung of incident and delineation of character. by the passionate lord in one of Fletch. They were careless of moral principle, in-. er's worst plays, “ The Nice Valor” different to the natural relations of things, produced, it is supposed, at least three and threw off their dramas with a singuyears after Beaumont's death. Even if Jar absence of seriousness and depth of we take the conjecture of Seward that purpose. They wrote with the stage, this play was Beaumont's, though for the actors and the audiences constantly this there is no evidence, its immense in their view, and if they fulfilled the inferiority to the joint plays, and to al. external conditions of their art, they most all of those written by Fletcher seemed reckless of its higher laws and alone, would only make the superior ge more worthy ambitions. They, of course, kids of the latter more apparent In drank in the inspiring air of their time
the time of Shakspeare, Jonson, Massin In fact, it was not their object to outger, Decker, Webster and Ford-and their rage the delicacy of their age, but simply writings are not without sentiments and to be on a line with its corruption. Shakcharacters of an ideal and heroic cast, speare and Jonson, who commenced but they more resolutely pandered than the their career in Elizabeth's severer time, others to the depravity of the age. There are comparatively pure in expression as was a marked degeneracy of manners, well as principle. Though they repreespecially among the higher classes, in the sented libertinism, they did not delineate reign of James I., as compared with the it with the evident glee with which our reign of Elizabeth. The impurities of authors went to the task. They possessed our authors' muse are a good index of moral sense, the sense by which the poet the extent of this corruption. “ It is accommodates the creations of his imagiquite a mistake,” says Mr. Darley,“ to nation to the natural relations of things, imagine Sybaritism did not commence in and of this sense Beaumont and Fletcher England till the reign of Charles the Sec- knew but little, and that little they did ond, when it was rather at its climax: he not hesitate to disregard when it stood in simply rebuilt its temple, on a basis in- the way of a bright jest or a diverting indeed almost as broad as the whole land, cident. brought together again the scattered flock The romantic or Shakspearean drama, of Thammuz, and with them for minis- as an artistical representation of human ters, himself well-suited for High Priest, life, reached relative perfection only in made proselytes of almost the whole peo- Shakspeare. Its success depends on the ple, prone enough to conversion. But skill with which its seemingly discordant even under James the First and his pious materials are harmonized, and it required son, it was more than a poetical fiction the consummate judgment and plastic that Comus kept an itinerant court in this imagination of its great master to fulfill isle, had full as many secret partisans of its conditions. Beaumont and Fletcher, his principles as John Calvin, and found who followed in Shakspeare's luminous but few Lady Alices and Lord Bracklys track, who repeatedly imitated, and often among the May-bushes and myrtle- copied, his style, characters and sentigroves to discountenance him either by ments, had not sufficient depth, solidity their precepts or ex examples.
and strength of mind, or force and refine• Nothing but wandering frailties,
ment of imagination, to succeed in the Wild as the wind, and blind as death and
same difficult path. It is evident that it ignorance,
demands a rare combination of the greatInhabit there.'”
est and most various powers to be com
pletely successful in the romantic drama. Indeed the peculiar sauciness with its form, while it seems to afford opporwhich Beaumont and Fletcher invade tunities for boundless license, in admitsanctuaries, sacred to silence, and the ting at once the highest and meanest senmarvelous nonchalance with which they timents and characters, in reality requires pour out the language of libertinism and in the dramatist the utmost tolerance and vulgarity, indicate a most remarkable ab- harmony of nature, and the nicest balance sence of decency in their auditors. No of faculties. It especially requires Imaone should condemn the Puritans for gination, in the highest sense of the their pious hatred of stage plays until he word—an imagination which both shapes reads the dramas of Beaumont and Fletch- and fuses, which not only can create the er, and conceives of them as being per- individual parts of a drama, both serious formed before a miscellaneous audience and comic, but so interfuse them, and in London. That they were not consid. produce such a harmony in the general ered especially indecent in their own day effect, that the parts shall constitute in * is evidenced by the lines in which Love their combination a perfect whole, or lace commends their example to other rather seem to be natural growths from playwrights, even less observant of the one central principle of vitality. Now proprieties of language:
Beaumont and Fletcher by no means ful“View here a loose thought said with such fill these conditions. They often create
admirable parts, but they fail in exhibita grace, Minerva might have spoke in Venus' face;
ing them in their relation to each other. So well disguised, thai 'twas conceived by Their plays teem with the most flagitious
excesses against nature and decorum, and But Cupid had Diana's linen on."
are all characterized by ineompleteness