Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

by D'Avenant, Dryden, Stapylton, Howard, Killigrew, and others, much misplaced, and resolved to correct the publick tafte by holding them up to ridicule. With this view, in conjunction, it is said, with Martin Clifford, Master of the Charter House, Butler, Sprat, and others, he wrote the celebrated farch entitled THE REHEARSAL. Some of the contemporary writer: have stated, that it took up as much time as the Siege of Troy ; and with justice express their surprise, that such a combination of wits, and a period of ten years, should'have been requisite for a work, which apparently a less numerous band could have produced without such mighty throws. In the Key to this piece, published by a bookseller in 1704, we are told, that it was written, and ready for representation, before the middle of the year 1665, and that Sir Robert Howard, under the name of Bilboa, was then intended to have been the hero of the face. That some interlude of this kind might have been thus early intended, is not improbable, but assuredly the original hero was not Howard, but D'Avenant; not only on account of the name of Bilboa, which alludes to his military character, (for he was Lieutenant-General of the Ordnance under the Duke of New. castle, in the Civil Wars,) but from the circumstance of the patch that in the course of the drama he is obliged to wear on his nose ; which can relate to none but D'Avenant. Besides, he was a much more distinguished character, not only as Poet Laureate, but as superintendant of the Duke of York's Company of Come. dians, and the introducer of heroick plays on the English stage. The allusions to Sir Robert Howard's tragedies are so few and inconsiderable, that he never could have been the author's frin. cipal object. -As soon as it was resolved that Dryden should be the hero, an abundant use was made of his INDIAN EMPEROR and CONQUEST OF GRANADA; yet the author was unwilling to lose any of the strokes which were peculiarly levelled at D'Avenant, and thus the piece became a kind of patchwork.

This lively farce was first performed on the 7th of December, 1671, and was published in the following year.

Much of the success, doubtless, was owing to the mimickry employed, Dryden's dress, and manner, and usual expressions, were all minutely copied, and the Duke of Buckingham took incredible pains in teaching Lacy, the original performer of Bayes, to speak fome passages of that part, in these he probably imitated Dryden's mode of recitation, which was by no means excellent. *

A more recent editor, Mr. ROBERT BELL in his Life of Dryden prefixed to his Poetical Works, gives this account of the present play.

Davenant enjoys the credit of having introduced what were called heroic plays. Dryden established them. They were

* Critical and Mis. Prose Works of 7. Dryden, i. 94-100. Ed. 1800

called heroic because they were written in a language elevated above nature, and exhibit passion in a state of maniacal ecstasy. These pieces had now held poffeffion of the stage some nine or ten years, when the Duke of Buckingham undertook to expose their absurdities in The Rehearsal, produced in the winter of 1671. It is said that he was affifted in the design by Butler, Sprat, Clifford, and others. This is probable enough, from the structure of the ridicule, which resembles a piece of mosaic work. Davenant was originally meant for the hero, but his recent death seems to have led to the substitution of Dryden, who was on other accounts a more confpicuous mark for this sort of satire. Not

satisfied with parodying some of the most familiar passages in Dryden's plays, the Duke of Buckingham took considerable pains in teaching Lacy, who performed Bayes, to mimic his author in his manner of reciting them. Dryden was notoriously a bad reader, and had a hesitating and tedious delivery, which, skilfully imitated in lines of surpassing fury and extravagance, must have produced an irresistible effect upon the audience. The humour was enhanced by the dress, gesticulations, and byplay of the actor, which presented a close imitation of his original. Dryden bore this unwarrantable attack in silence ; being fully conscious, no doubt, that so far as it reflected upon his plays it was unanswerable. But he afterwards showed that he had a keen sense of the obligations the duke had laid him ander on this occasion, and he discharged them in full, with compound interest, in his Absalom and Achitophel.

The town was highly amused, although its taste was not in the least degree corrected, by The Rehearsal. Heroic plays con. tinued to flourish as long as Dryden continued to write them ; a drudgery which his necessities imposed upon him for several years afterwards. Milton died on the 8th of November, 1674. ot

Five editions of The Rehearsal appeared in the Author's life time. Of the second and third I cannot learn even the dates. There is a copy of the fourth, 1683, in the Bodleian. An examination of the fifth, 1687, would seem to show a general permanence of the text, but that, probably in each edition, there were here and there additions and alterations en bloc, instigated by the appearance of fresh heroic plays : fome of these additions increase, with the multiplying corruption of the times, in personality and moral offensiveness. For our literary history, the first edition is sufficient. That, the reader now has.

Annot. Ed. of Eng. Poets. 7. Dryden, i. 40–42. Ed. 1854

B

18

BIBLIOGRAPHY.—'THE REHEARSAL.' * Editions not seen. Editions having the Key'either before or after the

text. § having the Key'in footnotes.
(a) Issues in the author's lifetime.

I. As a separate publication.
1. 1672. London. I vol. 4to. Editio princeps: see title at p. 25.
2.
?

Second edition. 3.

Third edition. 4. *1683. London. i vol. 4to. Fourth edition. There is a copy in Bod

leian Library. 1687. London. I vol. 4to. Title as No. 1. The Fifth Edition with

Amendments and large Additions by the Author.' (b) Issues since the Author's death.

1. As a separate publication. 6. 1692. London. I vol. 4to. Title as No. 1. The Sixth Edition. 7. 1701. London.

1 vol. 4to. Title as No. 1. The Seventh Edition. 10. 1710. London.

I vol. 8vo. "The Rehearsal' ; a Comedy Written by

his Grace, GEORGE late Duke of BUCKINGHAM to expose some Plays then in vogue, and their Authors. With a Key and Remarks, necessary to Illustrate the most material passages of this piece, and to point out the authors and Writings here exposed. Never Printed with it before.

London Printed in the year 1710. 13. †1735. London. I vol. 8vo. “The Rehearsal'&c. The Thirteenth Edition. 15. 1755. London. I vol. 8vo. 'The Rehearsal' &c. The Fifteenth Edition. 16. 1768. London. I vol. 8vo 'The Rehearsal'&c. The Seventeenth Edition.

With the new occasional Prologue, written by
PAUL WHITEHEAD Esq. on opening Covenc

Garden Theatre, Sept the 14th 1767. 21. 2 Nov. 1868. London. I vol. 8vo. English Reprints. See title at page 1.

II. With other Works. 8. *1704. London. ? vols. 8vo. Works. First edition. 11. $1711-12. London. A Collection of the best English Plays. Chosen Io vols. 8vo. out of all the best Authors. Printed for the

Coinpany of Booksellers. "The Rehearsal' is

in Vol. II. 12. †1715 (1714). London. The Dramatick works of his Grace George

2 vols. 8vo. Villiers, Late Duke of Buckingham. With his Mis

cellaneous Poems, Essays and Letters. Adorn'd

with cuts. "The Rehearsal' is in Vol. 11. 14. $1754. Edinburgh. The genuine Works of his Grace George Villiers

I vol. izmo. Duke of Buckingham.. Compleat. pp. 159-247: 17. 1787. London.

Theatrical Magazine. •The Rehearsal.' A ? 1 vol. 8vo. Comedy as it is acted at the Theatres Royal in

Drury

Lane and Convent Garden. 18. 1797. London.

Beil's British Theatre. "The Rehearsal' is in 34 vols. 8vo. Vol. 29. 19. #1761-1808.

An edition of Villiers' Works: prepared by 2 vols. 8vo. Bishop Percy, but never published.

nearly all destroyed by fire in 1808. . See pp.

'The Rehearsal,' and its 'Key,' are in Vol. 1. 30. 11811. London.

The Modern British Drama. "The Rehearsal' 5 vols. 8vo. is in Vol. to ... This list is imperfecto

It was

THE

Here is no authoritative explanation of the allusions and parodies in the

present play. All that can be done is to summarize the successive attempts at its exposition.

1. Twenty years after its appearance, but in Dryden's life-time ; GERARD LANGBAINE gives this account of it, in his Eng. Dram. Poets. Oxenford. P. 546. Ed. 1691.

Rehearsal, a Comedy acted at the Theatre-Royal ; printed [4th Edit.) quarto Lond. 1683. This Play is ascribed to the Late Duke of Buckingham, and will ever be valued by Ingenious Men. There are some who pretend to furnish a Clavis to it; my Talent not lying to Politicks, I know no more of it, than that the Author lashes several Plays of Mr. Dryden; As Conquest of Granada, Tyrannick Love, Love in a Nunnery, and some passages of other Plays; as The Siege of Rhodes, Virgin Widow, Slighted Maid, Villain, English Monsieur, &c.

2. Dean LOCKIER in Spence's ANECDOTES, P. 63. Ed. 1820, remarks,

The Rehearsal (one of the best pieces of criticism that ever was) and Butler's inimitable poem of Hudibras, must be quite lost to the readers in a century more, if not soon well commended. Tonson has a good Key to the former, but refuses to print it, because he had been so much obliged to Dryden.

3. Only two Keys have ever been printed : it may be well to consider their respective histories, before we take them in connection with the text.

(a) In 1704, in the first edition of Villiers' works in 8vo, of which I cannot learn of any copy anywhere, appeared-S. Briscoe's Key, which has been very often reprinted; at first separate from the text in 1710, next with it as footnotes : see opposite page.

(b) June 12, 1761. Bp. T. PERCY entered into an agreement with Mess. Ton. son, to publish an

the Works of George Villiers, the ad ke of Buckingham, for which he received 52 guineas. J. Nichols Lit. Anec. 18th Cent. iii. 758. Ed. 1812.

On 15 Jan. 1764, Bp. Percy thus writes to Dr. Birch.

I ought to blush for having detained your books so long; but one work has been delayed through the expectation of enlarging the stock of materials. The Key to the Rehearsal' has long been printed off, all but the last sheet, which we still keep open to receive some additions that we take for granted will be picked up from a play of Edward Howard's, entitled 'Six Days Adventure, or the New Utopia, 4to 1671,' if we can once be so lucky as to light upon it. This is the only play of that age which I have not seen. Mr. Garrick unluckily has not got it in his collection, and Mr. Tonson has adver. tised a small premium for it, hitherto without success. It is only scarce because it is worthless; and therefore, if chance should throw it in your way, may I intreat the favour of you to procure me a sight of it?- ). B. Nichols. Ill. of Lit. Hist. vii. 572. Ed. 1848.

Twenty-eight years later ; Bp. Percy, thus writes to Horace Walpole, Earl of Orford, under date 11 Aug. 1792.

I have at length been able to collect for your Lordship the sheets of Lord Surrey and the Duke of Buckingham. They have been printed off about 25 years:

Since the death of Jacob Tonson, at whose instance they were undertaken, and who ought to have assigned them to other persons, they have been wholly discontinued. My fondness for these pursuits declining, I laid both those works aside, till I could offer them to some younger editor than myself, who could with more propriety resume them. I have now an ingenious nephew, of both my names, who is a fellow of St. John's College, in Oxford, and both able and desirous to complete them. To him I have given all the sheets so long since printed off, and whatever papers I had upon the subject.

Of the 'Duke of Buckingham' Tonson wished to have every thing collected which had ever been ascribed to him: but I believe I shall only recommend to my nephew to publish what is numbered vol. 1. in the sheets now offered to your Lordship. Between the ‘Rehearsal' and the ‘Key' were once printed the 'Chances' and the ‘Restoration': but the intermediate sheets have been cancelled and consigned to the trunk-makers. And the same fate

awaits the smaller pieces, collected into what is herewith numbered vol. 11. They are only submitted to your Lordship in confidence, and I believe you will think them scarcely deserving republication.-J. B. Nichols, Idem, viii. p. 289.

Mr. Nichols thus narrates the fate of this edition.

Dr. Percy had, soon after the year 1760, proceeded very far at the press with an admirable edition of Surrey's Poems,' and also with a good edition of the Works of Villiers Duke of Buckingham ; both which, from a variety of causes, remained many years unfinished in the warehouse of Mr. Tonson in the Savoy, but were resumed in 1795, and nearly brought to a conclusion ;

when the whole impression of both works was unfortunately consumed by the • fire in Red Lion Passage in 1808. Lit. Anec. 18th Cent. iii. 161. Ed. 1812.

Of this edition there is a copy in 2 Vols, complete so far as prepared but without a printed title page, in the British Musueum. [Press

Mark, C. 39. g.] The MS. title-page thus runs, An edition prepared by Bp. Percy, But never published. Nearly unique.' There is however under Press Mark, 643. e 10. a fragment of the first Volume containing the Rehearsal and its Key.

4. Prefaced to both these 'Keys' is an introduction. I give first Bp. Percy's, because though a century later in date, it describes that of 1704.

b. ADVERTISEMENT. THEO

HE former Key hath long been complained of as inaccurate and

defective ; and yet has commonly past for the work of the Duke of Buckingham. That it is the former, and cannot be the latter, a slight perusal must convince every Reader. The Duke could not be ignorant of his own meaning, nor doubtful about the aim of his own satire ; yet many passages in that work display both ignorance and doubt. That the Preface prefixed to it was written long after the death of our noble author, evidently appears from several passages : Thus the author quotes Collier's view of the stage, which was first published in 1698, whereas the Duke died in 1687. He also speaks of the Rehearsal as having flourished in print two and thirty years, which brings it down to the year 1704, when the first edition of the Key was printed.

We are not to wonder that an explanation of so popular a satire should be wanted at that time by the public, or that the booksellers should be desirous of profiting by its impatience. Accordingly in the 7th Edition of the Rehearsal printed in 1701 4to, the title-page promises “Some explanatory notes;' these upon examination appear to be only four slight marginal references, two of which are false, and a third superfluous. At length in the second volume of the Duke's works 8vo, the larger attempt appeared under the following title

A KEY TO THE REHEARSAL OR A CRITICAL VIEW OF THE AUTHORS AND Their Writings, that are exposed in that celebrated Play: Written by his Grace GEORGE late

Duke of Buckingham LONDON: Printed for S. Briscoe, 1704. Here by a little bookseller's craft in making a break after the word PLAY, the Key is represented as written by the Duke; when probably at first no more was meant than that the play was written by him. After all 'tis

pos. sible, that the key may have been supplied in part from some of the Duke's papers, and then the errors and defects are to be charged on those who put them together and made additions to them.

Erroneous and defective, as that attempt was, the public had little room to expect a better. It is near a century since the Rehearsal was first printed; and who at this distance of time could hope to recover any considerable mat. ters of explanation, that had escaped former inquirers 2. No such sanguine expectations had the present compiler. The deficiences of the former key led him sometimes to look into the plays referred to, but without any intention of attempting a new one. He soon found however that some obvious improvements might still be made ; and the success of his researches encouraged him to extend them; 'till at length he resolved by a professed pursuit, to compleat what he had begun by accidental snatches. To this he was encouraged by the free access, which Mr. Garrick in the politest manner gave him to his large collection of old plays ; by the compleatest ever made in these kingdoms. Here the editor found almost every dramatic piece in our

Continued at pages 26, 38, 36, 46, 48.

" but

« FöregåendeFortsätt »