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poets, a very few excepted.' For this, however, he is said to have been indebted not so much to the actual vogue of his pieces as to his assiduity in soliciting tickets. It is to be wished that he had been equally assiduous in collecting facts about Shakespeare, if, as is somewhat doubtfully asserted, his father came from Stratford-on-Avon. He was born at Dublin in 1660, and is said to have been a servitor at Oxford and a student at the Middle Temple. This he forsook for the army, but his service cannot have been of long duration. His first play, The Loyal Brother (1682), was designed to compliment the Duke of York upon the failure of the Exclusion Bill.
He was not a very industrious writer, producing only ten plays down to 1726, and of these only two, The Fatal Marriage (1694) and Oroonoko (1696), had any considerable reputation even in his own day. Both, however, kept the stage until an advanced period of the nineteenth century. The diction of both pieces, though never rising into poetry, and interlarded with dull scenes intended to be comic, is by no means contemptible; the main strength, however, consists in the situations, which are really powerful, and in the writer's art in arousing an interest both in his innocent and his mixed characters. Respected as a relic of the past, a decorous church-goer with silver hair, Southern lived far into the eighteenth century, and came sufficiently under its influence to repent of his mingling of tragic and comic action in the same piece; which indeed he had reason to regret, not because he had done it, but because he had not done it better. Thomas Shadwell is remarkable as the leading Whig
votary of belles lettres after the death of Thomas Shadwell
Marvell, a distinction which secured him (1640-1692).
the laureateship upon the cashiering of Dryden. To call him poet would be a gross misapplication of the term, and Dryden's withering couplet might seem justified if he had nothing but his serious verse to rely upon :
With all his bulk, there's nothing lost in Og,
For every inch that is not fool is rogue.' His title to recollection, however, rests upon things as remote from poetry as possible—his coarsely indecent, but humorous comedies, wbich are undoubtedly of value as reflecting the manners of the time. Shadwell, in imitation of Ben Jonson, laid himself out to study 'humours,' so well defined by Ben himself :
We have seen the like in Dickens, who, possessing little delicacy of psychological observation, laid himself out to study obvious eccentricities of character, the more grotesque the better, and frequently made the entire man the incarnation of an attribute. This is certainly not very high art, but has recommendations for the stage which it lacks in the novel; it is easy to write, easy to act, and gives genuine entertainment to the crowd of spectators. Shadwell valued himself so much upon his performances in this way as to declare in his preface to The Virtuoso that he trusted never to have less than four new humours in any comedy. Shadwell's plays, though poorly written, might still be read for their humour, were it not for their obscenity; his chief merit, however, is to bring the society of his time nearer to us than any other writer. No other records such minute points of manners, or enables us to view the actual daily life of the age with so much clear
This is especially the case in his Epsom Wells (1675), Squire of Alsatia (1688), and Volunteers (1692). From Dryden's satire, which must have had a basis of truth, he would seem to have been just the boisterous corpulent bon vivant we might expect. If,' said Rochester, • Shadwell would burn all he writes and print all he says, he would have more wit and humour than anybody.' His friend, Dr. Nicholas Brady, vouches for the openness and friendliness of his temper; and further describes him as 'a complete gentleman.' But this was in a funeral sermon. The regard for Otway, imputed to him by Rochester, is creditable to him.
The violent death of Archbishop Abbot's gamekeeper would have passed unnoticed if the poor man had been shot by anybody but the archbishop himself; and Elkanah Settle (1648-1724) would have slipped away in the crowd of poetasters if Rochester had not taken it into his head to pit him against Dryden. In the sense in which the mysterious W. H. was the only begetter of Shakespeare's sonnets,' he may hence claim to be the parent of one of the most scathing pieces of invective in the language. Although, however, Doeg is undoubtedly Settle, Settle is not wholly Doeg. Miserable as his lampoons are, a line here and there is not destitute of piquancy; and if his Empress of Morocco (1673) has no literary pretensions, it is important in literary history for having so moved the wrath of Dryden, and in the history of the drama for having been issued with plates which contribute greatly to our knowledge of the internal arrangements of the Restoration Theatre. By a singular irony of fortune, his fate bears some analogy to that of his mighty antagonist. Settle lost caste by changing his politics at the wrong time, as Dryden his religion ; but while Dryden bore up against the storm of adversity, Settle sunk into obscurity,
and ultimately into the Charter House. Of his twenty plays none but The Empress of Morocco is now ever mentioned, unless an exception be made in favour of Ibrahim, the Illustrious Bassa (1676), noticeable, as Professor Ward remarks, for being founded upon one of the voluminous French romances of the day.
Some other playwrights would deserve extended notice in a history of the drama, but are only entitled to the barest mention in a general literary survey. Among these are Sir Robert Howard, Dryden's brother-in-law, and jointauthor with him of The Indian Queen, the most important of whose plays is The Committee (printed 1665), a satire on the Commonwealth, described by Sir Roger de Coverley as
a good old Church of England comedy :' John Wilson, Recorder of Londonderry, author of three comedies and a tragedy of more than average merit; Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery; Sir Charles Sedley, Major Thomas Porter, and John Lacy, all very mediocre as dramatists; Thomas D'Urfey, better known than any of the above, but not by his writings, which are below mediocrity. The ten plays of Edward Ravenscroft procured him no other reputation than that of a plagiarist. Some female dramatists will be mentioned in another place.
Before passing to the opulent comedy of the latter part of the century, two writers remain to be mentioned, one of whom stands alone in the drama of the period, while the other forms the transition to the comedy of Wycherley and Congreve. In describing George Villiers, second Duke of Buckingham, as one standing apart, we refer to the character of his solitary work, and not to his share in it; for, though passing solely under his name, there can be little doubt that it was the production of a junto of wits, of whom he was not the wittiest. Butler, Sprat, and Martin Clifford are named as his coadjutors. Bucking
ham, who must be credited with a keen sense of the ridi. cùtous, had already resolved to satirize rhyming heroic plays in the person of Sir Robert Howard, when the latter's retirement diverted the blow to Dryden, whom Butler, as we shall see, did not greatly relish, and against whose device of rhyme, Sprat, as we have seen, had committed himself by anticipation. The play chiefly selected for parody is The Conquest of Granada, which certainly invited it. Dryden appears as Bayes, in allusion to his laureateship; and, although his perpetual use of 'egad' seems derived from the usage by one of his dramatis personae rather than his own, we cannot doubt that his peculiarities of speech and gesture were mostly copied to the life. Within a week the town were unanimously laughing at what they had been unanimously applauding; and, scurrilous and ill-bred as the mockery of The Rehearsal was, it must be allowed to have been neither uncalled for nor unuseful. The machinery of the piece is sufficiently indicated by its title. Bayes entertains the dissembling Johnson and the unsympathetic Smith with a rehearsal of The Two Kings of Brentford, commenting meanwhile and explaining, vaunting beauties and extenuating miscarriages with a verve that still amuses, notwithstanding the far superior treatment of the same theme in Sheridan's Critic. Some of the scenes are highly farcical; and some of the passages are very fair hits at the bombast and other extravagances of the writers of heroic plays, for Dryden is by no means the sole object of satire:
* The blackest ink of fate was sure my lot,
The army's at the door, and in disguise