24o BYGONE SUSSEX.
Fletcher and Francis Beaumont. Not only was there a "wonderful consimility of phansy" between them, but they lived together on the Bankside in Southwark, and had all things in common. Critics still exercise their ingenuity in discriminating the respective shares of the twin-authors in the plays that bear their joint names. Massinger, Rowley, Shirley, had also, it is believed, some part in these remarkable dramas. " The Two Noble Kinsmen," when printed in 1634, bore on its title page the names of Fletcher and Shakespeare, and " Henry VIII." is believed to have many evidences of the handiwork of Fletcher and of Massinger. But where we are certain that Fletcher stands alone, his genius does not suffer. The lovely lyrics that are scattered through the plays, give him high rank, and the " Faithful Shepherdess " is not only interesting as the source and spring of much of Milton's inspiration in " Comus," but is also, surely the brightest, sweetest and best pastoral play in the English language.* In the great plague of 1625, Fletcher was invited by "a Knight of Norfolk or Suffolk," to pay a visit to
* On the extent to which the later poet was indebted to the earlier, I might refer to my essay "Fletcher's ' Faithful Shepherdess,' and Milton's ' Comus' compared " (Manchester Quarterly, 1882J.