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detestation for not granting a pension to a man who was well known to be disaffected to the government —was such a thing ever done?—if Dr. Johnson had written as much against the Tories, as Dryden has written against the Whigs, would he have received a pension from George the 3d?
Dryden wrote 27 plays—some of his Tragedies (particularly the early ones) are bad—not so much from a want of genius for the drama, as from his having complied with the bad taste of the times in which he lived—he wrote, and professed to write, merely to please the audience—yet All for Love, Don Sebastian and King Arthur must be allowed to have considerable merit—some of his Comedies are good, and the comic scenes in some of his Tragicomedies are excellent.
If Dryden had lived in later times, he would probably have written as good Tragedies as any of his contemporaries—he had not only genius but a thorough knowledge of the stage—his judgment was good, for he always preferred Shakspeare to any other dramatist—and that at a time when Shakspeare was not in fashion—if in his later Tragedies he did not entirely avoid his former faults, it may be attributed to this cause—that it is very difficult to reform bad and inveterate habits.
Dryden wrote about 40 Prologues and Epilogues, besides those to his own pieces—on the whole between 90 and 100—Quantity and Quality both taken into consideration, we have no writer who has any pretensions to be put on a level with Dryden in this species of composition—his Prologues had such reputation, that for some time a play was considered as less likely to be well received, if some of his verses did not introduce it—the price of a Prologue was two Guineas, 'till being asked to write one for Southerne, he demanded three; "not," said he, "young man "out of disrespect to you, but the Players have had "my goods too cheap." (Dr. Johnson.)
It appears that the King's Company sometimes performed at Oxford—Dryden wrote 8 Prologues or Epilogues addressed to that University—he concludes one of his Prologues with paying Oxford an elegant compliment at the expense of his own University—
"Oxford to him a dearer name shall be
"Than his own mother University.
"Thebes did his green, unknowing, youth engage;
"He chooses Athens in his riper age."
This was a wanton insult, as it does not appear that he had sustained any ill usage at Cambridge— if he had (as Dr. Johnson observes) he knew how to complain—Dr. Johnson adds—" He obtained, what"ever was the reason, no fellowship in the College; "why he was excluded cannot now be known, and "it is in vain to guess"—Dr. Johnson himself assigns a very sufficient reason, when he says "It "will be difficult to prove that Dryden ever made "any great advances in literature: as he distinguished "himself at Westminster under the tuition of Busby, "and resided afterwards at Trinity College in Cam"bridge, it is not to be supposed that his skill in the "ancient languages was deficient, compared with that "of common students; but his scholastick acquisi"tions seem not proportionate to his opportunities "and abilities. He mentions but few books, and those "such as lie in the beaten track of regular study; "from which if ever he departs he is in danger of "losing himself in unknown regions."
Reformed Wife—this is an indifferent C. by Burnaby—from the dedication it appears that it came out on a Wednesday in Lent—it is printed without the names of the performers to the D. P.—but Pinkethman no doubt acted Sir Solomon Empty, as that character says—" there's that dog, that sly rogue, "that arch son of a whore, that Pinkethman; there's "always more in that fellow's face, than his words" —Astrea, Sir Solomon's wife, pretends to dislike men; but in the 1st act she gives Capt. Freeman a purse, and makes an assignation with him—she calls herself Cselia—Freeman, not knowing Cselia to be Astrea, relates to Sir Solomon what had passed between him and Cselia—and even shows him a letter from her—the letter has no direction, but Sir Solomon knows the hand—Astrea is vext at finding what Freeman had done—but tells him to keep his assignation—she is frightened at the discovery, and resolves to reform—in the 5th act, Sir Solomon hides himself in the Garden room—Astrea and her woman, being aware that he is within hearing, form their conversation in such a manner as to make Sir Solomon believe the letter was written to Clarinda—when Freeman enters she affects not to know him—Clarinda owns that the letter was written to her—she marries Freeman, and Sir Solomon is convinced of his wife's virtue—Lady Dainty thinks it right for a lady of rank to be always in a delicate state of health—she affects to differ from the vulgar in every thing—Cleremont, in the 4th act,
advises her to throw away her physic, and to take him as a cure for her complaints—he carries her off in his arms, and marries her—Cibber in the Double Gallant has adopted a great deal of Lady Dainty's character verbatim—he makes Careless act in part as Cleremont does in this play.
Grove, or Love's Paradise. Amintor = Powell: Arcadius (Emperour of the East) = Mills: Parmenio (his favourite) = Cibber: Adrastus = Toms: Aurelia = Mrs. Rogers: Phylanthe (her friend) = Mrs. Temple: Sylvia (a Roman Lady) = Mrs. Oldfield: — this is an Opera by Oldmixon, who says that it was at first intended for a Pastoral, but the dignity of the characters in the last 3 acts raised it to the form of a Tragedy—Arcadius is a real person, but the whole of the piece is fiction—Eudosius the Prince of Thrace is living near the Gulph of Venice, under the name of Amintor—he had resigned the throne of Thrace to his brother Adrastus, and had privately married the Emperour's daughter Aurelia—the Emperour arrives in Italy and is reconciled to his daughter— Adrastus and Phylanthe are united—the language of this piece is not bad, the plot is romantic and contemptible.
Perjured Husband, or the Adventures of Venice. Count Bassino = Mills: Alonzo = Thomas: Pizalto (a noble Venetian) = Norris: Ludovico (a Frenchman) = Fairbank: Aurelia — Mrs. Oldfield : Placentia (wife to Bassino) = Mrs. Kent: Lady Pizalta = Mrs. Moore: Lucy (her woman) = Mrs. Lucas :—this T. was written by Mrs. Carroll, afterwards Mrs. Centlivre— the Tragic scenes are bad, the Comic ones are good —Bassino, the Perjured Husband, is in love with
VOL. II. O
Aurelia—she is betrothed to Alonzo, but in love with Bassino, not knowing him to be a married man—■ Placentia comes to Venice —Bassino promises to be constant to her in future; but drops a letter from which it appears that he means to marry Aurelia that night—Placentia, disguised as a man, stabs Aurelia —Bassino enters at the moment, and kills Placentia
—Alonzo fights with Bassino, and kills him In
the comic part Lady Pizalta falls in love with Ludovico—she sends him a letter by Lucy—they meet— she unmasks, and he falls in love with her—Pizalto, tho' an old man, wants to debauch Lucy—she swindles him out of 1000 pistoles, without granting the favour he had bargained for—Ludovico comes to Lady Pizalta's house disguised as Lucy—Pizalto lays hold of him, supposing him to be Lucy—Ludovico is discovered—Lucy pretends that she dressed him in her clothes, with a view of making him meet Pizalto instead of herself—she threatens Pizalto to discover all to her mistress—he is forced to acquiesce in the pretence which she has made.
July 9. Never acted, Courtship a-la-Mode. Sir John Winmore = Powell: Capt. Bellair = Wilks: Alderman Chollerick = Johnson: Willie (a Scotch servant) = Bullock: Sir Anthony Addle = Norris: Dick Addle (his son) = Pinkethman: Ned Chollerick (nephew to the Alderman) = Toms: Freelove = Mills: Decoy = Mrs. Powell: Flora and Melintha (daughters to Sir Anthony) = Mrs. Rogers and Mrs. Moor: Timandra = Mrs. Temple: Lucy = Mrs. Kent:—this is an indifferent Comedy—it was written by Crauford and given by him to Pinkethman—Alderman Chollerick wants to marry Melintha, and means Dick