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Page 131

CHAPTER VII
SEVENTEENTH CENTURY - PURITANS AND CAVALIERS I

speare could sustain himself, Beaumont and Fletcher often fail. Their characters are not always what their natural traits and circumstances would have made them.
Beaumont died in 1616, the year of Shakespeare's death. Seven years later, thirty-six of Shakespeare's plays were collected and published in a book which is known as the First Folio. Ben Jonson wrote the dedication, " To the memory of my beloved Master William Shakespeare, and what he hath left us." His poem is fairly flowing with love and appreciation and admiration for the man who would not observe the unities. It is full of such enthusiastic lines as,

Soul of the age !
The applause, delight, the wonder of our stage !
He was not of an age, but for all time.
While I confess thy writings to be such
As neither Man nor Muse can praise too much.

Ben Jonson was not given to singing indiscriminate praises, and these words speak volumes for the sturdy friendship between the two men who differed so honestly about what pertained to their art. Stories were told many years afterwards of the " wit-combats " which had taken place between the two ; of Jonson's solid, learned arguments and Shakespeare's inventive, quick-witted retorts. It would be worth a whole library full of ordinary books to have a verbatim report of only one of those merry meetings.
Closing of the theatres, 1642. Ben Jonson died in 1637, and only five years later the drama came to an abrupt end by the breaking out of the Civil War and the passing of a law closing the theatres. Perhaps

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