« FöregåendeFortsätt »
to Shelley's 'Ariel to Miranda' for an echo to these lyrics, still sweeter than their melody, and to his ‘Music, when soft voices die' for a fellow to 'Weep no more.'
There is the same buoyant grace in Fletcher's songs, and something more. In that age of songs, many a playwright could produce a lyric or two of the stamp which seems to have been wellnigh lost since ; but songs seem to flow by nature from Fletcher's pen in every style and on every occasion, and to be always right and beautiful. If he wants a drinking-song, he can rise to ‘God Lyæus, ever young,' or can produce, what on a much lower level is hardly less perfect, the ‘Drink to-day and drown all sorrow' of the Bloody Brother. The wonderful verses on Melancholy, which suggested Il Penseroso and are hardly surpassed by it, come as easily to his call as the mad laughing-song of the same play. 'Sad songs,' like that quoted from The Queen of Corinth ; dirges, like the 'Come you, whose loves are dead' of The Knight of the Burning Pestle, or the ‘Lay a garland on my hearse'; invocations, prayers to Cupid, hymns to Pan,-each has its own charm, and Fletcher is as ready with his Beggars' or Broom-man's songs, or even with a dramatic battle-lyric like the tumultuous
Arm, arm, arm, arm !' of The Mad Lover. Some of the best of these occur, indeed, in plays of which Beaumont was the joint author ; but a comparison of those lyrics which undeniably belong to each poet alone is perhaps enough to convince us that Fletcher was the author of 'Lay a garland on my hearse, if not also of
Come you, whose loves are dead.' Probably however he has touched his highest point in the song from Valentinian, ‘Hear, ye ladies that despise.' Here the reader will observe (what applies also to another fine song from the same play, ‘Now the lusty spring is seen ') that the rhythm exactly corresponds in the two stanzas without at all interfering with the spontaneous effect of the whole.
Fletcher was the sole author of The Faithful Shepherdess, the forerunner of Milton's Comus ; and we may safely assume that no one of the extracts which follow is a joint production of the two poets. But this is not the case with their dramatic works. So complete was their poetical union that it is impossible, in the absence of external evidence, to say with any certainty what part of those plays which belong to both is due to each, or even to describe their separate characteristics. An old tradition contrasted the judgment' of the younger poet, who was Jonson's intimate friend, with the fancy and facility of the elder. That
Fletcher possessed the latter qualities is certain ; but we have no reason to attribute to Beaumont any of the deficiencies which the 'faint praise' of judgment' might seem to imply.
The opening song of The Two Noble Kinsmen has been included in this selection, although it is difficult to attribute it to any one but Shakespeare. On the other hand, ‘Take, oh take those lips away,' the first stanza of which occurs in Measure for Measure, has been excluded.
A. C. BRADLEY.
LINES ON THE TOMBS IN WESTMINSTER
Mortality, behold and fear! What a change of flesh is here ! | Think how many royal bones
Sleep within this heap of stones ;
FROM `THE MAID'S TRAGEDY.'
[By Beaumont and Fletcher.]
Of the dismal yew ;
Say, I died true.
From my hour of birth.
Lightly, gentle earth!
Here be grapes whose lusty blood
THE RIVER GOD TO AMORET.
I am this fountain's god. Below