1623
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Wife for a Moneth.

Comedies and Tragedies written by Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher Gentlemen. Never printed before, and now published by the Authors originall Copies.

John Fletcher


In the second act John Fletcher incorporates the Masque of Cupid from canto twelve of the third book of the Faerie Queene. The play was published in 1647.

Gerard Langbaine: "This Play is in my poor Judgment well worth reviving, and with the alternation of a judicious Pen, would be an excellent Dramma. The Character and Story of Alphonso, and his Brother Frederick's Carriage to him, much resembles the History of Sancho the Eighth, King of Leon. I leave the Reader to the perusal of his Story in Mariana, and Louis de Mayerne Turquet" Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 216.

Thomas Warton: "A Masque of Cupid is there introduced, in which Cupid appears at the head of his servants or attendants, Fancy, Desire, Delight, Hope, Fear, Distrust, Jealousy, Care, Ire, Poverty, Despair. These are the Personages that attend Cupid in Spenser's Masque. Particularly Cupid says, 'Then clap high | My coloured wings.' So Spenser had represented him, 'And clapt on high his coloured winges twaine'" Observations (1762) 2:94n.

George Saintsbury: "A Wife for a Month sounds comic, but is not a little alloyed with tragedy; and despite the pathos of its central situation, is marred by some of Fletcher's ugliest characters — the characters which Shakespere in Pandarus and the nurse in Romeo and Juliet took care to touch with the lightest finger" History of Elizabethan Literature (1887; 1909) 263-64.

Nancy Cotton Pearse: "In Spenser, this masque precedes the appearance of Amoret, the virgin wife stolen from her husband on her wedding night and kept in torment by the lustful villain Busirane because she well not give in to his evil demands. So Fletcher's masque heralds the torments of the lustful Frederick, who, in a manner of speaking, steals her from her husband on her wedding night" John Fletcher's Chastity Plays (1973) 222.

David Rush Miller: John Fletcher "not only reduced the number of masquers from thirty to twelve, he also rearranged the order of appearance of the allegorical figures and added four new ones (Delight, Distrust, Jealousie, and Despaire) in order to represent the stages of both Frederick's and Valerio's frustrated love" "John Fletcher: 'A Wife for a Moneth,'" Costerus NS 35 (1983) 14-15.



A MASKE.
CUPID DESCENDS, THE GRACES SITTING BY HIM, CUPID BEING BOUND THE GRACES UNBIND HIM; HE SPEAKS.

CUPID.
Unbinde me, my delight, this night is mine,
Now let me looke upon what Stars here shine,
Let me behold the beauties, then clap high
My cullor'd wings, proud of my Deity;
I am satisfied, binde me agen, and fast,
My angry Bow will make too great a waste
Of beauty else, now call my Maskers in,
Call with a Song, and let the sports begin;
Call all my servants the effects of love,
And to a measure let them nobly move.
Come you servants of proud love,
Come away:
Fairely, nobly, gently move,
Too long, too long you make us stay;
Fancy, Desire, Delight, Hope, Feare,
Distrust and Jealousie, be you too here;
Consuming Care, and raging Ire,
And Poverty in poore attire,
March fairely in, and last Despaire;
Now full Musick strike the Aire.

ENTER THE MASKERS, FANCY, DESIRE, DELIGHT, HOPE, FEARE, DISTRUST, JEALOUSIE, CARE, IRE, DESPAIRE; THEY DANCE, AFTER WHICH CUPID SPEAKES.

CUPID.
Away, I have done, the day begins to light,
Lovers, you know your fate, good night, good night.

CUPID AND THE GRACES ASCEND IN THE CHARIOT.

[p. 54]