Sidor som bilder

As earth's gigantic brood by moments grow.

It was fabled of the giants that they grew fifteen ells a day.

So ere the Shunamite, &c.

See the second book of Kings, chap. iv.

Thus Ifrael finn'd, &c.

Firft of Samuel, ch. iv. v. 10.

Not Amalek can rout, &c.

Exodus, ch. xviii. v. 8.

Of all the Greeks, &c.

Ariftides was firnamed the Juft.

See bis Life, written by Plu



HIS is one of the best, as well as fevereft fatires, ever

Mr. Thomas Shadwell is the

hero of the piece, and introduced, as if pitched upon, by MacFlecknoe, to fucceed him in the throne of dullness; for Flecknoe was never poet-laureat, as has been ignorantly afferted in Cibber's Lives of the Poets.

Richard Mac-Flecknoe, Efq; from whom this poem derives its name, was an Irish priest, who had, according to his own declaration, laid aside the mechanic part of the priesthood. He was well known at court; yet, out of four plays which he wrote, could get only one of them acted, and that was damned. "He "has," fays Langbaine, "published fundry works, as he ftiles "them, to continue his name to pofterity, tho poffibly an ene"my has done that for him, which his own endeavors could never "have perfected: for, whatever may become of his own pieces, "his name will continue, whilft Mr. Dryden's fatire, called Mac"Flecknoe, fhall remain in vogue.”

At the revolution, when Dryden was deprived of the laurel, it was conferred upon Mr. Thomas Shadwell; and this election, together with the favor he enjoyed among the Whigs, occafioned our author's refentment. It does not appear, however, that he was fo very contemptible a genius as he is here represented to be. His plays, which were feventeen in number, were performed with applause in many places: they are not void either of wit or incident; and feveral of his characters have been much ad


He had taken opium for many years, whereby he was at laft carried fuddenly out of the world in 1692, and was buried at Chelfea. There is a monument erected to his memory in Westminster-Abbey.

From this poem Pope took the hint of his Dunciad.

Heywood and Shirley were but types of thee.

Thomas Heywood lived in the days of Queen Elizabeth, and was certainly a most voluminous writer: for he tells us in his dedication of the English Traveller, a tragi-comedy, that he has had an entire hand, or, at least, a main finger in two hundred and twenty dramatic pieces: of these there remain only twentyfive that are perfect. He was an actor as well as an author; and Winstanley, in his Lives of the Poets, fays, "He not only acted "himself almost every day, but also wrote a fsheet each day; "and that he might lose no time, many of his plays were compofed in the tavern."


Mr. James Shirley has left us thirty-eight dramatic pieces, one of which called the Gamefter, with amendments and corrections, was prefented at Drury-lane in 1757. He died foon after the restoration.

St. Andre's feet ne'er kept, &c.

A French dancing-mafter, at this time greatly admired.

Not ev'n the feet of thy own Pfyche's rhyme.

Pfyche, is an opera of Shadwell's, founded on the French of Moliere, and dedicated to the Duke of Monmouth. In his dedication he obferves, that tho some of his enemies may have plenty of wit, they have not money to fupply their own neceffitics. This is an oblique and illiberal reflection upon Dryden.

Where their vaft courts the mother-ftrumpets, &c.

A parody on these lines in Cowley's Davides, B. I.

"Where their vast courts, the mother-waters keep,
"And undisturb'd by moons, in filence fleep,

[ocr errors]

where unfledg'd tempests lie,

"And infant-winds their tender voices try."

Simkin juft reception finds.

Simkin is a character of a cobler in an interlude. Panton, who is mentioned foon after, was a famous punfter.

[blocks in formation]

For antient Decker, &c.

Thomas Decker, a dramatic poet of James the Ift's reign, who has left us twelve plays; in four of which he was affifted by Webfter, Rowley, and Ford. He contended with Ben Jonfon, to whom he was infinitely inferior, for the bayes, as Shadwell did with Dryden, but not with equal fuccefs.

But worlds of mifers, &c.

The mifer and the humorilts were two of Shadwell's comedies

whole Raymond families, and tribes of Bruce.

The firft of thefe is a character in the Humorifts; the fecond in the Virtuofo; both are drawn for men of wit and sense, but are rather infipid and difagreeable.

Much Heywood, Shirley, Ogilby there lay.

John Ogilby, Efq; was born at Edinburgh, and bred a dancingmaster. Having a fmattering of learning, and a knack at rhymes, he tranflated the Iliad, the Odyffey, the Eneid, and fop's fables, into English verfe, and published them with fculptures: he wrote befides two heroic poems, one called the Ephesian matron, the other, the Roman Slave: and an Epic poem, in twelve books, to the honor of Charles I. which was loft in the fire of London. He was mafter of the revels in Ireland, under Lord Strafford, and built a theatre in St. Werburgh-street, Dublin, which was ruined in the troubles of that kingdom. Being confirmed in his poft after the revolution, he erected another that cost him 2000 1. He was a bad poet, but master of vaft application, and died in his feventy-fixth year. His corpfe was interred in St. Bride's church, Fleet-ftreet.

And Herringman was captain of the band.

See our first vol.

Beyond love's kingdom, &c.

This is the name of that one play of Flecknoe's, which was acted, but miscarried in the reprefentation.

Let virtuofo's in five years be writ.

Shadwell's play of the Virtuofo, in which Sir Formal Trifle, a florid coxcomical orator, is a principal character, was first acted in 1676; and he tells the Duke of Newcastle, in the dedication, "that here he has endeavored at humor, wit, and fatire."

Let gentle George in triumph, &c.

Sir George Etheredge was a man of wit and pleasure; generous, affable, indolent, sprightly, and intemperate : he was re fident for fome time at Ratisbon, from James II. in whofe exile he fhared; and is faid to have broke his neck by a fall down stairs, as he was taking leave of some guests, being not rightly sober. His play of Sir Fopling Flutter is often acted, in which Dorimant and Mrs. Loveit, are principal characters: the former was drawn for Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, and Medley for the author himfelf, as was Sir Fopling for Sir George Hewit: who the lady was I don't know; and every character in the play was faid to be taken from fome living original. Cully and Cockwood are characters in his Love in a Tub.

But let no alien Sedley interpofe.

Sir Charles Sedley was fuppofed sometimes to affist Shadwell in writing. He was a man of great gallantry, end pleasant converfation; but extravagant and debauched: in great esteem with King Charles; yet one of the firft men to promote the revolution, which he faid he did out of gratitude. "King James," faid he, "out of his royal care, made my daughter a countess: in "return, I have done all in my power to raile his to a throne." King James had debauched his daughter, and created her countefs of Dorchefter. His works have been collected in two voJumes; among which are to be found eight plays. His verfification is easy, his fentiments tender, his turns delicate, and his stile pure.

Lord Rochefter, in his imitation of the tenth satire of the first book of Horace, has the following verfes in his commendation.

"Sedley has that prevailing gentle art,
"That can with a refiftlefs charm impart
"The looseft wishes to the chastest heart :
"Raife fuch a conflict, kindle fuch a fire,
"Betwixt declining virtue and defire;
"That the poor vanquifh'd maid diffolves away
"In dreams all night, in fighs and tears all day."

To lard with wit thy hungry Epfom profe.

Alluding to Shadwell's comedy, called Epfom Wells.

And does thy northern dedications fill.


Several of his pieces are dedicated to the writing Duke and Duchefs of Newcastle.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

By arrogating Fonfon's hoftile name.

Shadwell's friends fet him upon a rank with Ben Jonson, for character and wit; and he affected to talk of that poet as the original from whom he copied.

· prince Nicander's ftrain.

A character of a lover in the opera of Psyche

Nor let thy mountain-belly, &c.

Alluding to Shadwell's form, who was pretty lufty.

For Bruce and Longville, &c.

Two very heavy characters in Shadwell's Virtuofo, whom he calls gentlemen of wit and good sense.



To my honored friend Sir Robert Howard, &c.

IR Robert Howard, a younger fon of Thomas Earl of Berk

[ocr errors]

fhire, and brother Mr.
to Dryden's lady, ftudied, for fome

time in Magdalene-college. He fuffered many oppreffions on ac-
count of his loyalty, and was one of the few of King Charles the
IId's friends, whom that monarch did not forget. Perhaps he
had his prefent ends in it; for Sir Robert, who was a man of
parts, helped him to obtain money in parliament, wherein he
fate as burgefs, firft for Stockbridge, and afterwards for Castle-
Rifing in Norfolk. He was foon after the restoration, made a knight
of the Bath, and one of the auditors of the Exchequer, valued
at 3000 1. per ann. Notwithstanding that he was fupposed to be
a great favorer of the Catholics, he foon took the oaths to King
William, by whom he was made a privy-counfeller in the begin-
ning of the year 1689; and no man was a more open or invete-
rate enemy to the Nonjurors.

Several of his pieces, both in profe and verse, were published at different times; among which are the Duel of the Stags, a celebrated poem; the comedy of the Blind Lady; the Committee, or, the Faithful Irishman; the Great Favorite, or, the Duke of Lerma; the Indian Queen, a tragedy, written in conjunction.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »