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At this time the king's attachment to Miss Stewart (afterwards privately married to the Duke of Richmond, which marriage was publicly declared in Apr. 1667] was so public, that every person perceived, that if she was but possessed of art, she might become as absolute a mistress over his conduct as she was over his heart. This was a fine opportunity for those who had experience and ambition. The Duke of Buckingham formed the design of govern ing her in order to ingratiate himself with the king; God knows what a governor he would have been, and what a head he was possessed of, to guide another ; however, he was the properest man in the world to insinuate himself with Miss Stewart; she was childish in her behaviour, and laughed at every thing, and her taste for frivolous amusements, though unaffected, was only allowable in a girl about twelve or thirteen years old. A child, however, she was, in every other respect, except playing with a doll ; blind man's buff was her most favourite amusement ; she was building castles of cards, while the deepest play was going on in her apartments, where you saw her suerounded by eager courtiers, who handed her the cards, or young architects, who endeavoured to imitate her.
She had, however, a passion for music, and had some taste for singing. The Duke of Buckingham, who built the finest towers of cards imaginable, had an agreeable voice : she had no aversion to scandal ; he made songs, and invented old women's stories with which she was delighted; but his particular talent' consisted in turning into ridicule whatever was ridiculous in other people, and in taking them off, even in their presence, without their perceiving it. In short, he knew how to act all parts with so much grace and pleasantry, that it was difficult to do without him, when he had a mind to make himself agreeable ; and he made himself so necessary to Miss Stewart's amusement, that she sent all over the town to seek for him, when he did not attend the king to her apartments.
He was extremely handsome, and still thought himself much more so than he really was; although he had a great deal of discernment ; yet his vanity made hím mistake some civilities as intended for his person, which were only bestowed on his wit and drollery. PP. 141-2. Ed. 1846.
5. SAMUEL BUTLER, Author of Hudibras,in a collection of Characters chiefty written between 1667 and 1669, in Wales; but first printed by R. Thyer, in Genuine Remains, in 1759, has the following one, entitled
A Duke of Bucks. Is one that has studied the whole Body of Vice. His Parts are dispropopdonate to the whole, and like a Monster he has more of some, and less of others than he should have. He has pulled down all that Fabric that Nature raised in him, and built himself up again after a Model of his own. He has dam'd up all those Lights, that Nature made into the noblest Prospects of the World, and opened other little blind Loopholes backward by turning Day into Night, and Night into Day. His Appetite to his Pleasures is dis eased and crazy, like the Pica in a Woman, that longs to eat that, which was never made for Food, or a Girl in the Green-sickness, that eats Chalk and Mortar. Perpetual Surfeits of Pleasure have filled his Mind with bad and vicious Humours (as well as his Body with a Nursery of Diseases) which makes him affect new and extravagant Ways, as being sick and tired with the Old. Continual Wine, Women, and Music put false Values upon Things, which by Custom become habitual, and debauch his Understanding so that he retains no right Notion nor Sense of Things. And as the same Dose of the same Physic has no Operation on those, that are much used to it; so his Pleasures require a larger Proportion of Excess and Variety, to render him sensible of them. He rises, eats, and goes to Bed by the Julian Account, long after all others that go by the new Stile ; and keeps the same Hours with Owls and the Antipodes. He is a great Observer of the Tartars Customs, and never eats, till the great Cham having dined makes. Proclamation, that all the World may go to Dinner. He does not dwell in his House, but haunt[s] it, like an evil Špirit, that walks all Night to disturb the Family, and never appears by Day. He lives perpetually benighted, runs out of his Life, and loses his Time, as Men do their ways in the Dark; and as blind Men are led by their
Dogs, so is he governed by some mean Servant or other, that relates to his Pleasures. He is as inconstant as the Moon, which he lives under; and altho' he does nothing but advise with his Pillow 12 Other Characters of G. VILLIERS, Duke of Buckingham. all Day, he is as great a Stranger to himself, as he is to the rest of the World. His Mind entertains all Things very freely, that come and go; but, like Guests and Strangers they are not welcome, if they stay long-This lays him open to all Cheats, Quacks, and Impostors, who apply to every particular Humour while it lasts, and afterwards vanish. Thus with St. Paul, tho' in a different sense, he dies daily, and only lives in the Night. He deforms Nature, while he intends to adorn her, like Indians, that hang Jewels in their Lips and Noses. His Ears are perpetually drilled with a Fiddlestick. He endures Pleasures with less Patience, than other Men do their Pains. ii. 72-5.
6. Dryden published anonymously, on 17th November, 1681, the first part of Absalom and Achitophel (which went through five editions in two years) in which he gives the following character of Buckingham :
Such were the tools ; but a whole Hydra more
but all Mankinds Epitome.
He left not Faction, but of that was left.
How easie it is to call Rogue and Villain, and that wittily? But how hard to make a Man appear a Fool, a Blockhead, or a Knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms? To spare the grossness of the Names, and to do the thing yet more severely. This is the Mystery of that Noble Trade ; which yet no Master can teach to his Apprentice : He may give the Rules, but the Scholar is never the nearer in his practice. Neither is it true, that this fineness of Raillery is offensive. A witty Man is tickl'd while he is hurt in this manner ; and a Fool feels it not The occasion of an Offence may possibly be given, but he cannot take it. . I wish I cou'd apply it to my self, if the Reader wou'd be kind enough to think it belongs to me. The Character of Zimri in my Absalom, is, in my Opinion, worth the whole Poem : 'Tis not bloody, bút 'tis ridiculous enough. ` And he for whom it was intended, was too witty to resent it as an injury. If I had rail'd, I might have suffer'd for it justly: But I manag'd my own work more happily, perhaps more dextrously. I avoided the mention of great Crimes, and apply'd my self to the representing of Blind-sides, and little Extravagancies. To which, the wittier a Man is, he is generally, more obnoxious.
It succeeded as I wish'd ; the Jest went round, and he was laught at in his turn who began the Frolick Ø. lii.
ÎN the year 1708, was published in London,
Rofcius Anglicanus, or an Historical Review of the Stage, by John Downes. In a prefatory Address 'To the Reader, he
gives the following account of himself:The Editor of the ensuing Relation, being long Conversant with the Plays and Actors of the Original Company, under the Patent of Sir William Davenant, at his Theatre in Lincolns. Inn-Fields, Open'd there 1662. And as Book keeper and Prompter, continu'd so, till October 1706. He Writing out all the Parts in each Play; and Attending every Morning the Actors Rehearsals, and their Performances in Afternoons ; Emboldens him to affirm, he is not very Erronious in his Relation. But as to the Actors of Drury-Lane Company, under Mr. Thomas Killigrew, he having the Account from Mr. Charles Booth sometimes Book-keeper there; If he a little Deviates, as to the Successive Order, and exact time of their Plays Performances, He begs Pardon of the Reader, and Subscribes himself, His very Humble Servant. John Downes.
· He then proceeds to give an account of the two companies, their members, plays, &c., of which the following are some of the more essential portions :
In the Reign of King Charles the First, there were Six Play Houses allow'd in Town : The Black-Fryars Company, His Majesty's Servants; The Bull in St. John's-street; another in Salisbury Court; another call’d the Fortune ; another at the Globe ; and the Sixth at the Cock-Pit in Drury-Lane ; all which continu'd Acting till the beginning of the said Civil Wars. The scattered Remnant of several of these Houses, upon King Charles's Restoration, Fram'd a Company who Acted again at the Bull, and Built them a new House in Gibbon's Tennis Court in Clare-Market ; in which Two Places they continu'd Acting all 1660, 1661, 1662 and part of 1663. In this time they Built them a New Theatre in Drury Lane: Mr. Thomas Killigrew gaining a Patent from the King in order to Create them the King's Servants; and from that time, they call’d themselves his Majesty's Company of Comedians in Drury Lane. This Company being thus Compleat, they open'd the New Theatre in Drury-Lane, on Thursday in Easter Week, being the 8th, Day of April 1663. With The Humorous Lieutenant. *
Many others [1.e. Plays] were Acted by the Old Company at the Theatre Royal, from the time they begun, till the Patent descended to Mr. Charles Killigrew, which in 1682, he join'd it to Dr. Davenant's Patent, whose Company Acted then in Dorset Garden, which upon the Union, were Created the King's Company : After which, Mr. Hart Acted no more, having a Pension to the Day of his Death, from the United Company.
Next follows an Account of the Rise and Progression, of the Dukes Servants ; under the Patent of Sir William Davenant who upon the said Junction in 1682, remov'd to the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane, and Created the King's Company.
In the Year 1659, General Monk, Marching then his Army out of Scotland to London. Mr. Rhodes a Bookseller being Wardrobe-Keeper formerly (as I am inform’d) to King Charles the First's, Company of Comedians in Black-Friars ; getting a License from the then Governing State, fitted up a House then for Acting call’d the Cock Pit in Drury-Lane, and in a short time Compleated his Company. T.
In this Interim, Sir William Davenant gain'd a Patent from the King, and Created Mr. Betterton and all the rest of Rhodes's Company, the King's Servants; who were Sworn by my Lord Manchester then Lord Chamberlain, to Serve his Royal Highness the Duke of York, at the Theatre in Lincoln's-Inn Fields. I
His Company being now Compleat, Sir William in order to prepare Plays to Open his Theatre, it being then a Building in Lincoln's-Inn Fields, His Company Rehears'd the First and Second Part of “The Siege of Rhodes'; and “The Wits’ at Pothecaries-Hall: And in Spring 1662, Open’d his House with the said Plays, having new Scenes and Decorations, being the first that e're were Introduc'd in England. S .
These being all the Principal, which we call's Stock-Plays ; that were Acted from the Time they Open'd the Theatre in 1662, to the beginning of May 1665, at which time the Plague began to Rage: The Company ceas'd Acting; till the Chriftmass after the Fire in 1666.||
The new Theatre in Dorset-Garden being Finish’d, and our Company after Sir William's [Davenant] Death, being under the Rule and Dominion of his Widow the Lady Davenant, Mr Betterton, and Mr Harris, (Mr Charles Davenant her Son Acting for her) they remov’d from Lincolns-Inn-Fields thither. And on the Ninth Day of November 1671, they open’d their new Theatre with Sir Martin Marral.I.
All the preceding Plays, being the chief that were Alted in Dorset-Garden, from November 1671, to the Year 1682 ; at which time the Patentees of each Company United Patents, and by so Incorporating the Duke's Company were made the King's Company, and immediately remov'd to the Theatre Royal in Drury-Lane. ** + p. 37. I p. 19. § p. 20. Hp. 26.
** p. 39
Such is the history, by an eye-witness, of the London stage soon after the Restoration.
The then general state of society and town life is described in the third chapter of Lord Macaulay's History of England. At present we have only to deal with one particular fashion of dramatic composition. —the new, grandiloquent, bombastic, pseudo-heroic plays, introduced by D'Avenant, and having for their master-writer Dryden. It is impossible here to measure the extravagance of these plays: somewhat, however, may be gathered from the Illustrations to the present work.
Associated with this was the inordinate use of rhyming verse. Dryden in early life fought the battle of rhyme against Sir Robert Howard; only afterwards publicly to abandon it, in his Lines to the Earl of Roscommon, in 1680.
To ridicule these rhyming mouthing plays and with not a little personality—after the common custom of that time—to attack their authors, were the chief objects of Villiers and his coadjutors in writing The Rehearsal. Its merit however is as much in its conception as in its execution : in seeing that the popular rant was rant, and in determining to expose it: as in writing the studied nonsense of which this play is so largely composed. Hence, the importance of The Rehearfal in our national literature, is not so much from its intrinsic merits, most laughable as are some of the parodies; but from its marking—despite a partial failure to influence at the time—a bend in the stream of dramatic composition.
Two scholars, who have well studied this portion of our literary history, give the following accounts of this play.
EDMOND MALONE, in his Life of Dryden, thus writes: The great success which had attended Dryden's heroick plays, doubtless excited the jealousy of the rival candidates for fame. In this class, however, we cannot place Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, who was so far from exercising his pen in any performance of that kind, that he thought the loud applause which had been bestowed for some years on the rhyming tragedies produced