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THE FAITHFUL SHEPHERDESS

Authorship And Date.The Faithful Shepherdess is ascribed to John Fletcher alone on the title-pages of all the early editions, nor has the attribution, supported as it is by the dedicatory and commendatory verses, including those from Beaumont, ever been seriously challenged. Jonson in his conversations with Drummond, probably in Jan. 1619, remarked that "Flesherand Beaumont, ten years since/bath written the Faithfull Shipheardesse, a TragicomedieAwell done" (ed. Gifford, ix. 386); but the use of the singular verb shows that the two friends had already been fused into one complex literary personality, and that no weight can be allowed to the apparent assertion that the play in question was a joint work. Mr. Fleay, indeed, after quoting from the Conversations, continues: "There is not a trace of external evidence that Beaumont had a hand in the writing beyond Jonson's statement, and yet, again, the internal evidence of the metre so strongly confirms it that I have no doubt on the matter. Beaumont's dislike to have his name published as a playwright is quite enough to explain its absence in the title and its presence in these verses." In reply to an inquiry, Mr. Fleay has kindly informed me that he now withdraws this view and acquiesces in Fletcher's authorship. I ought to add that for my own part, whether on internal or external evidence, I do not see how the play can be ascribed to any one but Fletcher.

The date is a more difficult question. The play is mentioned together with Philaster by John Davies of Hereford in his Scourge of Folly, Epigram 206 (see vol. i. p. 117). This was entered on the Stationers' Register on Oct. 10, 1610. Moreover, Sir William Scipwith, dedicatory verses to whom are prefixed to the first edition, died on May 3 that year. Unfortunately, not only is the earliest quarto undated, but no entry of it has been found in the books of the Stationers' Company. Mr. Fleay points out that the names of the publishers, Bonian and Walley, occur together in the Register from Dec. 22, 1608, to Sept. 1, 1609, but the partnership certainly lasted till 1610, for they printed a sermon preached at Paul's Cross by T. Myriell on Jan. 14 that year. It is impossible to say more than that the play was in print by the spring of 1610. There is, therefore, no reason to suppose that the original performance took place before the winter of 1609-10. The plague having diminished towards the end of November, there is no difficulty about this date, even granting that the theatres were as often closed on that account as Mr. Fleay believes. It must be remembered, however, that Prof. Thorndike in his study of the Influence of Beaumont and Fletcher on Shakspere (Worcester, Mass., 1901, p. 14), has shown good reasons for holding that Mr. Fleay greatly exaggerates the extent to which dramatic performances were interrupted by the plague in the early years of the seventeenth century. The exact dates of publication and production must, therefore, alike remain vague. Mr. Fleay's suggestion of before July 1608 for the latter seems to me a little early, and is in no way necessitated by the available evidence, but beyond a hypothetical 1609 it is difficult to go."

Text.—The undated first quarto is necessarily the basis of the text . This is the less to be regretted in that it presents on the whole very sound readings, and was evidently issued with the author's authority if not actually under his supervision. The only difficulty arises through different copies presenting a number of variant readings, but it will soon be perceived that this is only due to certain copies containing one or more uncorrected sheets. Thus it will be seen from the collations that in several places the Dyce and Bodleian copies agree in an obviously erroneous reading which is corrected in the British Museum copy. Since it is clearly only a question of proof-reading, it has not been thought necessary to record all these often minute variations. It should be said that it is unusual to find a copy of the first quarto in which the preliminary matter is perfect. The correct collation of this is [A]* ""-, that is six leaves, whose contents are as follows: I, blank (?), wanting in all copies seen; 2, title-page, verso blank; 3, commendatory verses by Field on recto, by Beaumont on verso; 4, verses by Jonson on recto, by Chapman on verso; 5, dedicatory verses to Aston on recto, to Scipwith on verso; 6, verses to Townesend on recto, and preface 'To the Reader' on verso. The text begins on Bl and ends on Li verso; L2, presumably blank, being again wanting.

Every edition seems to have been regularly printed from its immediate predecessor. Copies of the second quarto, which appeared in 1629, also vary among themselves in certain readings, though less conspicuously than those of the first quarto. The most striking instance occurs at the very beginning of the play. In I. i. 8 the first quarto reads simply 'and games,' thus leaving the line short by two syllables. This the compositor of the second quarto copied, but while the sheets were being printed off the defect was noticed and the word 'merry' inserted before 'games.' The third quarto, published in 1634, was printed from an uncorrected copy of the second, but the defect was again noticed, and this time the word 'jolly' was supplied, and it was this reading which was copied in subsequent editions. These appeared in 1656 and 1665, and the play was included in the second folio in 1679.

Argument.—After a bucolic festival the Priest of Pan pronounces a benediction on the assembled shepherds and shepherdesses, who join in a hymn to the god. When the ceremony is over the assembly breaks up, and Perigot takes the opportunity of pressing his love-suit to Amoret. Convinced of lys honest purpose, she agrees to meet him in the woods that night. Next Amarillis declares her love to Perigot. He, whose affection is fixed elsewhere, pities but cannot return her passion. Amarillis, finding her love thus repulsed, vows vengeance, and determines to cross his love for Amoret by the help of the Sullen Shepherd, a melancholy and lascivious swain, who enters opportunely. He protests his love to her, who is under no misapprehension as to its nature, and she agrees to yield to his desire on condition of his breaking the love between Perigot and Amoret, a task he willingly undertakes. Lastly enters Cloe, lamenting the want of a lover. Thenot, devoured by his passion for the unapproachable Clorin, rejects her advances. With Daphnis, in spite of his coy modesty, she has somewhat better success, and he promises to meet her that night in the woods, there to exchange chaste embraces. Little satisfied with this tryst, she eagerly accedes to the petition of Alexis, who now enters with a fervent suit, and agrees with him upon a similar assignation. The day closes with a beautiful evening song by the Priest.

Meanwhile the cloistral Clorin has been vowing virginity at the tomb of her dead lover, which is situated in a remote portion of the wood, and near which she has built herself a solitary bower. Her meditations are disturbed by the entrance of a Satyr, who at first dismays her by his uncouth, brutish appearance, but soon manifests a gentle and amiable disposition. This apparent transformation Clorin naively attributes to her supernatural power as an unstained virgin. The Satyr becomes a slave to her beauty, offers her the fruits he is carrying to his master, Pan, and his master's mistress, Syrinx, and promises to bring her more. We next find her sorting the herbs and simples she has been gathering in the woods. Suddenly Thenot enters, and declares to her the devouring passion which binds him to her so long as she continues faithful to the memory of her former lover. The angry surprise with which she first meets his declaration soon changes to a tone of pity as she realizes his hopeless plight

It is now night, and the various couples begin to assemble in the forest. Amarillis and the Sullen Shepherd plot how to disturb the love of Perigot and Amoret. Following her directions, the Sullen Shepherd lets her down into a magic well, from which, after uttering a spell, he draws her forth again in the shape of Amoret. She gives him a charm, wherewith to undo the spell and restore her once again to her own shape if necessary, and sets off to find Perigot. Meanwhile Amoret, in search of her lover, meets the Sullen Shepherd, who puts her on a false track. While he is wondering why be did not take advantage of her unprotected state, he is interrupted by the entrance of Cloe and Alexis. Cloe has already met Daphnis, but, eager for the company of a less bashful lover, has sent him off to wait for her in another part of the forest. The Sullen Shepherd, his desires now aflame and indifferent with whom he gratifies them, determines to seize Cloe, and, Alexis objecting, wounds him with his spear. At this moment the Satyr enters, at whose appearance Cloe and the Sullen Shepherd fly in opposite directions. The Satyr, finding Alexis wounded, carries him off to Clorin to be healed. Cloe re-enters, lamenting equally the loss of Alexis and his would-be murderer. As a last hope she goes off to meet Daphnis again. As soon as she is gone the Sullen Shepherd reappears but retires at the approach of Perigot and Amarillis in the shape of Amoret. They lie down, and Amarillis seeks to lure the shepherd to her embraces. At first he does not understand, supposing that she is merely trying his faith, but when at last she makes her meaning plain, he rises, and forswearing love for ever, seeks to fall upon his spear. First, however, she shall die. She flies from the wrath which follows at her heels. The Sullen Shepherd comes forward, and uttering the required charm, breaks the spell. Amarillis now reappears in her own shape and makes the baffled Perigot believe that the girl he was pursuing turned down a side path and so escaped him in the dark. Accepting his apologies she departs, while Perigot promptly meets the real Amoret, whom without more ado he wounds with his spear and leaves for dead on the ground. The Sullen Shepherd, to make things quite safe, throws the wounded nymph into the well and goes his way. From the fountain, however, rises the God of the River, bearing in his arms Amoret, whom he restores and heals. He seeks her love, begging her to come and share his watery realm, but learning that she already loves a young shepherd, he wishes her joy and descends again.

Meanwhile Perigot, in the act of killing himself, is prevented by Amarillis, who explains how Amoret is innocent of the designs attributed to her, and how it was she herself who tempted him in the disguise of her rival. To prove which, she offers to re-transform herself into Amoret's likeness. While he is waiting the real Amoret enters, and in spite of his former cruelty tries to regain his love. He, supposing her to be the deceitful Amarillis in disguise, rails in answer against women, and ends by seeking again to kill her with his spear. He then flies in alarm at the sight of the Satyr, who enters, and finding Amoret wounded, bears her too off to Clorin's bower. Meanwhile Amarillis, having previously, much to her surprise, met Amoret alive and well, and directed her on her fateful way to Perigot, now falls in with the Sullen Shepherd, who demands the fulfilment of her promise. She taunts him with having failed in his part of the bargain, and bids him go and see where Perigot and Amoret are even now meeting in the wood hard by. He naturally replies that these are unreasonable excuses, since he knows Amoret to be dead, and endeavours to seize her by force. She eludes him, and the two begin a race through the forest.

By this time both Alexis and Amoret have been brought by the Satyr to the bower where Clorin is now tending their wounds. To her enters Thenot, who can find no solace for his unreasonable passion. Clorin has, however, resolved to cure him by pretending to yield to his suit, which she now, therefore, makes a show of doing. After in a final anguish imploring her even yet to remain constant to the dead, he is at last convinced of her infidelity, and departs, having lost his last remnant of faith in woman. Amoret's wound refusing to heal, Clorin now suspects the neighbourhood of impurity, and sends the Satyr to find it out. He soon discovers Daphnis and Cloe hid within the embraces of a hollow tree. Tested by a holy taper the youth is pronounced clear, but Cloe, who fails to stand the ordeal, is committed to the custody of the Satyr. Meanwhile the Priest and an old shepherd have been seeking to rouse the swains and nymphs to the labours of a new day, but finding every cottage deserted, have gone in search of the truants. Thenot, who represents that he has passed the night in performance of a vow, knows no news of them. Daphnis, however, reports how Amoret and Alexis are lying wounded at Clorin's bower. Amarillis enters at this point, and seeks protection from the Sullen Shepherd, who follows eager and unrepentant. The Priest hales them all off to Clorin. To her, too, Perigot resorts, finding that the blood-stain on his hand refuses to wash off. He is naturally surprised at finding Amoret there alive and well, but explanation and reconciliation ensue. The Priest then approaches, and being found pure by the ordeal of the taper, is allowed to lay the case of the transgressors before the wise shepherdess. Clorin pronounces sentence of banishment on the culprits, but Amarillis being found repentant, is pardoned, while the Sullen Shepherd departs into exile. Then with a song the couples depart, leaving Clorin and her attendant Satyr alone by the forest bower.

Source.—No source in the proper sense of the word has yet been found for The Faithful Shepherdess, nor is it at all likely that any will be discovered in the future. While belonging to a literary tradition whose chief masterpieces were undoubtedly familiar to the author, Fletcher's pastoral shows almost complete independence with regard to the details of incident and construction, fayce's statement " that if the pastoral dramas of Tasso and Guarini had never been written, we should never have possessed The Faithful Shepherdess," will certainly find no contradiction among those competent to form an opinion on the matter; but this means nothing more than that Fletcher's play belongs to a literary form which the success of the Aminta and Pastor Fido rendered fashionable, and it may be added that the English play shows every bit as much originality as its Italian predecessors. Mr. Fleay is undoubtedly correct in calling it "a rival rather than an imitation of Tasso's Aminta and Guarini's Pastor Fido." These plays Fletcher is pretty sure to have known either in the original or in a French translation (of which several appeared before he began writing), and there is no reason to suppose that he ever devoted his attention to such poor stuff as Fraunce's translation of Tasso (1591), or the ' Dymocke' translation of Guarini (1602). He took, however, little from either play in the way of language or incident. A few parallels of no particular importance were first pointed out by Seward. These, like the reminiscences of Theocritus and Vergil, are no more than pastoral commonplaces. On the whole the language is based on that of Spenser in the Shepherd's Calendar, and served as a model for that of Milton in Comus. Almost every critic who has touched on the subject has detected in Cloe a reminiscence of Corisca, but the instance is decidedly unfortunate, for there is nothing in the cynical courtesan of Guarini to suggest Fletcher's revolting study of diseased passion. It is easy to indicate points of resemblance between The Faithful Shepherdess and various Italian dramas, but the significance of such parallels is more than doubtful. The title, in which Fletcher challenged comparison with Guarini, is practically that of Contarini's Fida Ninfa, of which he may or may not have known. The absurd character of Thenot was anticipated in Argenti's play Lo Sfortunato, the benevolent Satyr in Epicuro's Mirzia, which, like The Faithful Shepherdess, also introduces a supernatural agent, the magic well suggests the enchanted lake of Beccari's Sacrifizio, while a river-god, of course, speaks the prologue to the Pastor Fido. But, in the main, having decided to write a pastoral play, Fletcher worked out his design independently. He stole nobody's plot, for his own play has none. It is impossible to read The Faithful Shepherdess without being struck by the almost entire want of dramatic effect, for the situation at the end is for all purposes exactly what it was at the beginning. On the other hand, any one who takes the trouble to analyze the play scene by scene cannot help being struck by the astounding ingenuity with which the web of intrigue is woven and opportunity afforded for striking scenes and situations. The Faithful Shepherdess stands apart in this from all its predecessors. The aim of pastoralists had invariably been the construction of a plot of definite sentimental interest, whereas Fletcher cared for nothing but a scenic framework to be filled in with poetic embroidery of marvellous beauty. And in this he had Milton for a disciple.

History.—On its original production The Faithful Shepherdess proved a failure, as is evident from the preface and verses prefixed to the original quarto. Its subsequent fortunes are recorded by Dyce. "Several years after the decease of Fletcher, this long-neglected pastoral was exhibited at Court. Its revival is thus noticed in the MSS. of Sir Henry Herbert: 'On Monday night, the sixth of January [1633-4] and the Twelfe Night was presented at Denmark-house, before the King and Queene, Fletcher's pastorall called The Faithfull Shepheardesse, in the clothes the Queene had given Taylor [«'. e.

Joseph Taylor, of King Charles' company] the year before of her own pastorall 1. e. Montagu's Shepherds' Paradise, acted by the Queene and her ladies on 8 Jan. 1632-3]. The scenes were fitted to the pastorall, and made, by Mr. Inigo Jones, in the great chamber, 1633.'—Malone's Shakespeare (by Boswell), iii. 234. Gerrard, the gossiping correspondent of Lord Strafford, has a passage to the same effect in a letter dated Jan. 9, 1633: 'I never knew a duller Christmas than we had at Court this year, but one Play all the time at Whitehall, and no dancing at all. The Queen had some little Infirmity, a Bile, or some such Thing, which made her keep in, only on Twelfth-night she feasted the King at Somerset-house, and presented him with a Play, newly studied, long since printed, The Faithful Shepherdess, which the King's Players acted in the Robes she and her Ladies acted their Pastoral in the last year.'—The Earl of Strafford/s Letters and Dispatches, i. 177. 'Instead of a Prologue, there was a Song in Dialogue, sung between a Priest and a Nymph, which was writ by Sir William D'Avenant; and an Epilogue was spoken by the Lady Mary Mordant, which the Reader may read in Covent-Garden Drollery, p. 86.'—Langbaine's Account of Eng. Dram. Poets, p. 208. In consequence, we may presume, of the favour which it had experienced at Court, The Faithful Shepherdess was again brought out at a regular theatre [' Query with the scenes ?'—Fleay]; from the third quarto we learn that soon after its revival before the King and Queen, it was acted 'divers times with great applause at the Private House in Black-Friars.' It may be added that the play was

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