ter" of Beaumont and Fletcher belongs to the same type of romantic drama as "The Tempest"—the type of play which belongs to Comedy by virtue of its happy ending, but contains incidents and passages in an all but tragic tone. Less convincing in characterization than Shakespeare, Beaumont and Fletcher yet amaze us by the brilliant effectiveness of individual scenes, and sprinkle their pages with speeches of poetry of great charm.
The dramas of the Elizabethan period printed in The Harvard Classics serve to give a taste of the quality of this literature at its highest, but cannot, of course, show the surprising amount of it, or indicate the extreme literary-historical interest of its rise and development. Seldom in the history of the world has the spirit of a period found so adequate an expression in literature as the Elizabethan spirit did in the drama; seldom can we see so completely manifested the growth, maturity, and decline of a literary form. But beyond these historical considerations, we are drawn to the reading of Shakespeare and his contemporaries by the attraction of their profound and sympathetic knowledge of mankind and its possibilities for suffering and joy, for sin and nobility, by the entertainment afforded by their dramatic skill in the presentation of their stories, and by the superb poetry that they lavished so profusely on their lines.
- H. C., xlvii, 667ff.