Ben Jonson and Minor Dramatists.—The best plays of Ben Jonson, Chapman, Beaumont and Fletcher, Middleton, Massinger, Webster, and Tourneur may be found in Masterpieces of the English Drama edited by Schellinq (American Book Company). Selections from all the minor dramatists mentioned may be found in Williams’s Specimens. The teacher will need to exercise care in assigning readings. Most of the minor dramatists are better suited to advanced students.
Read Jonson’s The Alchemist or the selection in Williams’s Specimens. A sufficient selection from Philaster may be found in Vol. II. of The Oxford Treasury, in Morley, and in Williams’s Specimens.
What points of difference between Shakespeare and Jonson do you notice? What is his object in The Alchemist? Why is its plot called unusually fine? Wherein does Jonson show a decline in the drama?
Who were Beaumont and Fletcher? What movement in the drama do they illustrate? What are the characteristics of some other minor dramatists? What are the chief reasons why the minor dramatists fail to equal Shakespeare? When and why did this period of the drama close?
[Footnote 1: For additional mention of Elizabethan novelists, see p. 317.]
[Footnote 2: For references to selections from all these prose writers, see p. 215.]
[Footnote 3: Of Youth and Age.]
[Footnote 4: Thomas Heywood’s Matin Song.]
[Footnote 5: Suggestions for additional study of Elizabethan lyrics are given on p. 215.]
[Footnote 6: riding.]
[Footnote 7: An Hymne in Honour of Beautie.]
[Footnote 8: Faerie Queene, Book III., Canto 4.]
[Footnote 9: Ibid., Book I., Canto 3.]
[Footnote 10: Smith’s York Plays.]
[Footnote 11: C.W. Wallace’s The Evolution of the English Drama up to Shakespeare.]
[Footnote 12: Wallace, op. cit., p.37.]
[Footnote 13: What We Know of the Elizabethan Stage.]
[Footnote 14: Performances were often given at night in private theaters. From the records in a lawsuit over the second Blackfriars Theater, we learn that there were in 1608 only three private theaters in London,—Blackfriars, Whitefriars, and a St. Paul’s Cathedral playhouse, in which boys acted.]
[Footnote 15: This drawing of the Swan Theater, London, was probably made near the end of the sixteenth century by van Buchell, a Dutchman, from a description by his friend, J. de Witt. The drawing, found at the University of Utrecht, although perhaps not accurate in details, is valuable as a rough contemporary record of an impression communicated to a draftsman by one who had seen an Elizabethan play.]