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and admitted a gentleman commoner of Broadgate's-ball, (now Pembroke college) Oxford, the beginning of Lent term, 1596. After three years study here, during which he seems to have attached himself most to the poetical classics, he became a member of one of the inns of court, but soon quitted that situation, and returned to Leicestershire, where he married Elizabeth daughter of John Fortescue, esq.
In 1626, king Charles conferred on him the dignity of a baronet, which sir John survived only two years, dying in the winter of 1628. He is said by Anthony Wood to have been buried at Grace-Dieu, but this is a mistake for Belton, as the priory church was not then existing. The cause of his death is obscurely hinted at in the following lines by Drayton :
“ Thy care for that, which was not worth thy breath,
Which shall add weight and measure to their sin.” What these lines imply it is not easy to conjecture. Sir John died at the age of forty-six, almost in the prime of life, and his poetical attempts were the amusement of his
young days, which he had relinquished for more serious studies.
He had seven sons and four daughters. Of his sons, the most noticeable were, John, his successor, the editor of his father's poems, and himself a minor poet; Francis, the author of some verses ou his father's poems, who became afterwards a Jesuit; Gervase, who died at seven years old, and was lamented by his father in some very pathetic verses, in the late edition of the English poets; and Thomas, the third baronet. Sir John, who succeeded his father, is recorded as a man of prodigious bodily strength. He was killed in 1644 at the siege of Gloucester, and dying unmarried, was succeeded in title by his brother Thoinas, who, like him, was plundered by the republicans.
Besides his works, in the “ English poets,” Wood ascribes to our author a poem in eight books, entitled “The Crown of Thorns ;” and a work under this title is alluded to in Hawkins's commendatory verses, but it has escaped the researches of the poetical collectors.
His other poems were published in 1629, under the title of “ Bosworth-field, with a taste of the variety of other poems, left by sir John Beaumont, baronet, deceased; set forth by his sonne, sir John Beaumont, baronet, and dedicated to the king's most excellent majestie.” They are prefixed, not only by this loyal dedication to the king, but by commendatory verses by Thomas Hawkins ; the author's sons John and Francis; George Fortescue, the brother of his lady; Ben Jonson, Drayton, &c.
Bosworth Field is the most considerable of this collection, and certainly contains many original specimens of the heroic style, not exceeded by any of his contemporaries, and the imagery is frequently just and striking. The lines describing the death of the tyrant may be submitted with confidence to the admirers of Shakspeare. Among his lesser poems, a few sparklings of invention may now and then be discovered, and his translations are in general spirited and correct. His verses on the true form of English poetry, addressed to king James I. entitle him to a place among the most judicious critics of his time, and the chaste complexion of the whole shews that to genius he added virtue and delicacy.'
BEAUMONT (FRANCIS), third son of Francis, the judge, was born at Grace-Dieu, in Leicestershire, 1586; and in the beginning of Lent term 1596, was admitted (with his two brothers Henry and John) a gentleman commoner of Broadgate's-ball, now Pembroke-college, Oxford. Anthony Wood, who refers his edacation to Cambridge, ' mistakes him for his cousin Francis, master of the Charterhouse, who died in 1624. It is remarkable, that there were four Francis Beaumonts of this family, all living in 1615, and of these at least three were poetical; the master of the Charter-house, the dramatic writer, and Francis Beaumont, a Jesuit.
Our poet studied for some time in the Inner Temple, and his “ Mask of the Inner Temple and Gray’s-inn," was acted and printed in 1612-13, when he was in his twenty-sixth year. His application to the law was probably not very intense, nor indeed is it possible to conceive that be could have been preparing for the practice of the bar, and producing his poems and plays within the limits of a lite not exceeding thirty years." "He appears to have devoted him
į English Poets, 21 vols. 1810.-Nichols's Hist. of Leicestershire.
self to the dramatic muse from a very early period; but at what time he conimenced a partnership with Fletcher, who was ten years older, is not known. The date of their first play is 1607, when Beaumont was in his twenty-first year; and it was probably acted some time before. He brought, however, into this firm a genius uncommonly fertile and commanding. In all the editions of their plays, and in every notice of their joint productions, notwithstanding Fletcher's seniority, the name of Beaumont always stands first.
Their connection, from similarity of taste and studies, was very intimate, and it would appear, at one time, very economical. Aubrey informs us, that " There was a wonderful cousimility of fancy between Mr. Francis Beaumont and Mr. John Fletcher, which caused that dearness of friendship between them. I have heard Dr. John Earl, since bishop of Sarum, say, who knew them, that his (Beaumont's) main business was to correct the super-overflowings of Mr. Fletcher's wit. They lived together on the Bankside, not far from the play-house, both bachelors; had one bench in the house between them, which they did so admire; the same cloaths, cloak, &c. between them.” With respect to the specific share he had in the plays which have been published as the joint production of Beaumont and Fletcher, the reader may find much information, and perhaps all that can now be ascertained on this subject, in the preliminary matter of the edition published in 1778, 10 vols. 8vo, or more briefly in a note in Mr. Malone's life of Dryden, vol. II. p. 100—101. Sir Egerton Brydges, whose judgment is of sterling value in matters of literary antiquity, suspects that great injustice has been generally done to Beaumont, by the supposition of Langbaine and others that his merit was principally confined to lopping the redundancies of Fletcher. He acquits, however, the editors of the Biographia Dramatica of this blame. They say, “ It is probable that the forming of 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 luxuriances, we are told frequently, stood in need of castigation, might be, in general, Beaumont's portion of the work. adds Mr. Brydges, “is to afford him very high praise,” and the authorities of sir John Birkenhead, Jasper Mayne, sir George Lisle, and others, amount to strong proof that
- This," he was considered by his contemporaries in a superior light, (and by none more than by Jonson), and that this estimation of his talents was common in the life-time of his colleague, who, from candour or friendship, appears to have acquiesced in every respect paid to the memory of Beaumont.
How his life was spent, his works show. The production of so many plays, and the interest he took in their success, were sufficient to occupy his mind during his short span, which cannot be supposed to have been diversified by any other events than those that are incident to candi. dates for theatrical fame and profit. Although his ambition was confined to one object, his life probably abounded in those little varieties of hope and fear, perplexity and satisfaction, jealousy and rivalship, friendship and caprice, which are to be experienced within the walls of a theatre, and compose the history of a dramatic writer.
He appears a satirist on women in some of his poems, but he was more influenced by wit than disappointment, and probably only versified the common-place raillery of the times. He married Ursula, daughter and co-heir of Henry Isley of Sundridge in Kent, by whom he had two daughters. One of these, Frances, was living at a great age in Leicestershire, in 1700, and at that time enjoyed a pension of 100l. a-year from the duke of Ormond, in whose family she had resided for some time as a domestic. She had once in her possession several poems of her father's writing, which were lost at sea during her voyage from Ireland. Mr. Beaumont died early in March, 1615-16, and was buried on the 9th, at the entrance of St. Benedict's chapel near the earl of Middlesex's monument, in the collegiate church of St. Peter, Westminster, without any inscription.
The first edition of his poems appeared in 1640, 4to, and the second in 1653, but neither so correct as could be wished. The editor of both was the bookseller, Laurence Blaiklock, whom Anthony Wood characterises as a “ Presbyterian bookbinder near Temple-bar, afterwards an informer to the committee of sequestration at Haberdashers' and Goldsmiths' hall, and a beggar defunct in prison.” Whoever he was, he put together what he could find in circulation, without much discernment or inquiry, and has mixed with Beaumont's several pieces that belong to other authors. The only poem printed in Beaumont's life-time
“ Salmacis and Hermaphroditus” from Ovid, which he published in 1602, when he was only sixteen years of age, a circumstance not necessary to prove it the production of a very young man.
His original poems give him very superior claims to a place in our collections. Although we find some of the metaphysical conceits so common in his day, particularly in the elegy on lady Markham, he is in general more free from them than his contemporaries. His sentiments are elegant and refined, and his versification is unusually harmonious. Where have we more lively imagery, or in such profusion, as in the sonnet “ Like a ring without a finger?” His amatory poems are sprightly and original, and some of his lyrics rise to the impassioned spirit of Shakspeare and Milton. Sir E. Brydges is of opinion that the third song in the play of “ Nice Valour” afforded the first hint of the Il Penseroso.
BEAUMONT (JOSEPH), D. D. master of Peter-house, Cambridge, and king's professor of divinity, was a descendant of the ancient family of Beaumont in Leicestershire. His father, who died in 1653, had been a woollen manufacturer at Hadleigh in Suffolk, where our author, his eldest son, was born March 13, 1615. His father, who discovered in him a turn for letters, placed him at the grammar school of his native place, where he made uncommon proficiency in classical learning, and in his sixteenth year was removed to Peterhouse in Cambridge, and distinguished himself, not more by his literary acquirements than by his pious and orderly deportment, acquiring the high esteem of Dr. Cosins, then master of that college, and afterwards bishop of Durham. After taking his degree of A. B. he was elected fellow, and afterwards tutor and moderator. In 1643, as he adhered loyally to his sovereign, he was obliged to leave the university, then in possession of the usurping powers, and being ejected from his fellowship, he retired to Hadleigh, where he associated with some other persons of his own sentiments, chiefly his former pupils and the sons of his friend and patron bishop Wren; and here he appears to have amused himself in writing his “ Psyche,” which was begun in April 1647, finished before the end of March 1648, and published the same year; an allegorical poem, displaying the “Intercourse between Christ and the Soul,"
| English Poets, 21 vols. 1810.- Nichols's Hist. of Leicestershire.