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of Honour, two acknowledged productions of his pen, and it was later to be reflected, in some sense, in the creation of Calianax, in The Maid's Tragedy, and of Bessus, in King and No King. In The Knight of the Burning Pestle it found its amplest expression. Manifestly the regular, and hence somewhat formal, structure of Beaumont's verse was more appropiate for the mock-heroic than was Fletcher's semi-colloquial metre, and if there were no other grounds for crediting Beaumont with the present play, this would be significant. Macaulay says:
The true burlesque or mock heroic, a perfectly legitimate weapon of the satirist when used to make absurdity more laughable, and not to bring noble and serious things to the level of a vulgar taste, uses naturally the grand as distinguished from the familiar style of expression ; accordingly Fletcher, the master of the latter style, is the last person from whom we should expect the burlesque, which delights in sonorous lines and flowing periods. ... We find hardly a touch of it in any of the work which we have attributed to Fletcher alone, while of that which was produced during the lifetime of the younger poet it is always a noticeable featurel.
In coming to my conclusion upon the authorship of The Knight of the Burning Pestle, I have been fully conscious of the insecurity, on the one hand, of the results of a fixed mechanical test as applied to the infinitely flexible and various nature of literary expression, and, on the other, of the insecurity of a private judgment in such a matter, except as it is grounded on a positive scientific basis. But I can heartily espouse Oliphant's opinion of the mutually confirmatory value of these two sorts of criticism when properly associated. He says:
With regard to these plays, I cannot trust any division of them ... that has no better warrant than the proof afforded by the verse-tests; but I do think such tests give on the whole good confirmation of the correctness of views based on knowledge of the general style of the various dramatists'. · Francis Beaumont, p. 60. • The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher. Englische Studien, Band XIV, p.54.
It is because of a faith in the approximate reliability of the conjoined methods that, with little hesitation, I ascribe the whole of The Knight of the Burning Pestle to Beaumont, with the exception of the three specified scenes which are devoted to the love-episodes. These I attribute to Fletcher.
D. ANALOGUES AND ATTRIBUTED SOURCES. In its conception, The Knight of the Burning Pestle is in a marked and peculiar sense original. Its place among the dramas of its age is unique and unapproached. In its function as a burlesque, it is the only complete embodiment of a new dramatic type, and, from its very nature, is independent of the leading theatrical and literary tendencies of its day, to all of which, indeed, it in some degree runs counter. Unlike the typical plays of its own authors, of Shakespeare, or of the other romanticists, it does not lift into finished dramatic expression some theme borrowed from heroic or popular legend; on the contrary, though its burlesque is by no means inclusive of the whole of romantic lore, its appropriations from the literature familiar to the times are made, not because of their dramatic adaptability, but for the sake of exposing their inherent absurdities to open view. Unlike a typical play of Ben Jonson, the stalwart defender of tradition and law against a flood of innovation, it is in no sense the expression of a dramatic theory, nor is it a labored, arbitrary judgment upon the literary and social standards which it disavows; on the contrary, its designedly loose, hit-ormiss construction, though resultant in a new form and a type all its own, is, in so far, an abnegation of form in the Jonsonian sense, while its satire is implicit in its material, not imposed by an eccentric
and biased censor from without. Most of all, it is unlike the innumerable stage-productions of a meaner order, designed to attract the uncultured London middle-class with flattering displays of the deeds of their eminent representatives, or to please their childish fancy with some pompous but absurd extravaganza; on the contrary, it depicts these untutored, but egotistical tradesmen, and their theatrical tastes, not for the sake of honoring them, but of exposing them to a salutary ridicule and reproof. In a word, its spirit is essentially the spirit of burlesque and the mock-heroic, and, as such, it is irreverent of tradition, of its literary material, and of its public.
Since the play is a satire on a whole class of society and a whole species of literature, its constituent episodes are typically reflective; they are, therefore, drawn merely from the general nature of its objects, and cannot be traced to specific and assignable origins. The search for its sources, then, in the ordinary sense of that word, would seem to be futile from the outset. All that can be attempted with security is to adduce such parallelisms from the romances of chivalry and elsewhere as may serve to illustrate the satirical pertinence of the plot, always with the fact in mind that the various episodes in the play are coincident with similar themes in the romances rather than, in any certain sense, derivative from them. This study will also involve the examination of certain attributions of sources for the play which have been more or less emphathically made ever since its first appearance.
1. The Romances of Chivalry and Don Quixote.
It is an assertion which is frequently encountered, and which, so far as I know, has never been con
tradicted, that Beaumont drew his idea for The Knight of the Burning Pestle, and much of his material, directly from Don Quixote. Now, of course, the community v in spirit between the play and Cervantes' great burlesque is so apparent that he who runs may read. The objects of their satire are the same; their methods of developing a humorous situation -through bringing into ludicrous juxtaposition the commonplace realities of life and the high-flying idealisms of knight-errantry—are the same; and, moreover, a few of the incidents are remarkably alike. But these similarities are the natural outcome of allied purposes in the two works; they do not of themselves argue any interdependence whatever. To prove that Beau-> mont fashioned his play upon the novel would) involve the necessity of proving that he could not ; have drawn the hint for his episodes from the rol mances of chivalry themselves quite as easily as from Don Quixote, and that his burlesque conception could not have been original Moreover, it would be necessary to show that he was acquainted with the Spanish language, for in 1610, the date of the play's composition, he could have read the novel only in the original, since the first English translation was not printed until 1612. Let us examine these difficulties standing in the way of the assumption that Don Quixote is the source of our play.
The large indebtedness of Beaumont and Fetcher to Spanish literature is undeniable. According to Miss O. L. Hatcher?, the latest investigator to publish a treatment on the dramatists' sources, of the thirtyfour plays whose sources are already known, either entirely or in part, seventeen draw upon Spanish material.' Within this number, however, the author
* John Fletcher, A Study in Dramatic Method, 1905, p. 47.
includes The Knight of the Burning Pestle. Setting aside this ascription for the moment, the remaining sixteen plays can be shown to have been derived from Spanish works which were, at the time of the play's composition, existent in English or French translations'. They cannot, therefore, be adduced as evidence that Beaumont and Fletcher knew Spanish.
It remains to examine the possibility of their having known the Spanish original of Don Quixote. A pointed, though of course not conclusive, evidence that they did not know this original is the statement of Burre, the first publisher of The Knight of the Burning Pestle :
Perhaps it will be thought to bee of the race of Don Quixote : we both may confidently swear, it is his elder aboue a yeere ; and
therefore may (by vertue of his birth-right) challenge the wall of him. As I have elsewhere shown, Burre alludes to Shelton's English translation of Don Quixote, which appeared in 1612, and to the fact that our play was written in 1611 or 1610. Manifestly the publisher was not aware of the authors' possessing any knowledge of Spanish, and he emphatically denies any dependence of the play upon Don Quixote. Of course, Burre may not have been fully informed as to the dramatists' linguistic attainments, and his denial of the alleged source cannot be taken as proof; but in the absence of any positive evidence to support the opposite contention, its significance must be recognized. There is absolutely nothing to show that Beaumont and Fletcher knew Spanish, and in discussions of the matter the burden of proof rests upon those who assert that they did know it; moreover, those who make this assertion must meet the difficulty of disproving the presumptive evidence that the
1 Dr. Rudolph Schevill of Yale University has kindly informed me of this fact.