1764 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Fletcher

David Erskine Baker, in Companion to the Play-House (1764) 2:Sig. B.



It is however generally allowed that Fletcher's peculiar Talent was Wit, and Beaumont's, tho' much the younger Man, Judgment. — Nay, so extraordinary was the latter Proper in Mr. Beaumont, that it is recorded of the great Ben Jonson, who seems moreover to have had a sufficient Degree of Self Opinion of his own Abilities, that he constantly, so long as this Gentleman lived, submitted his own Writings to his Censure, and, as it is thought, availed himself of his Judgment at least in the correcting, if not even in the contriving all his Plots.

It is probable therefore that the forming the Plots and contriving the Conduct of the Fable, the writing of the more serious and pathetic Parts, and lopping the redundant Branches of Fletcher's Wit, whose Luxuriance, we are told, frequently stood in Need of Castigation, might be in general Beaumont's Portion in the Work, while Fletcher, whose Conversation with the Beau Mond (which indeed both of them from their Births and Stations in Life had been ever accustomed to) added to the volatile and lively Turn he possessed, render'd him perfectly Master of Dialogue and polite Language, might execute the Designs formed by the other, and raise the Superstructure of those lively and spirited Scenes which Beaumont has only laid the Foundations of; and in this he was so successful, that tho' his Wit and Raillery were extremely keen and poignant, yet they were at the same Time so perfectly genteel, that they used rather to please than disgust the very Persons on whom they seem'd to reflect.