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when I would have been glad of a little respite before the undertaking of a second task. The person, that passed betwixt us, knows this to be true; and Mr Lee himself, I am sure, will not disown it; So that I did not "seduce him to join with me," as the malicious authors of the Reflections are pleased to call it; but Mr Lee's loyalty is above so ridiculous a slander. I know very well, that the town did ignorantly call and take this to be my play; but I shall not arrogate to myself the merits of my friend. Two-thirds of it belonged to him; and to me only the first scene of the play; the whole fourth act, and the first half, or somewhat more, of the fifth. The pamphleteers, I know, do very boldly insinuate, that, "before the acting of it, I took the whole play to myself; but finding afterwards how ill success it had upon the stage, I threw as much of it as possibly I could upon my fellow." Now here are three damned lies crowded together into a very little room; first, that I assumed any part of it to myself, which I had not written; wherein I appeal, not only to my particular acquaintance, but to the whole company of actors, who will witness for me, that, in all the rehearsals, I never pretended to any one scene of Mr Lee's, but did him all imaginable right, in his title to the greater part of it. I hope I may, without vanity, affirm to the world, that I never stood in need of borrowing another man's reputation; and I have been as little guilty of the injustice, of laying claim to any thing which was not my own. Nay, I durst almost refer myself to some of the angry poets on the other side, whether I have not rather countenanced and assisted their beginnings, than hindered them from rising.* The two
Dryden and Shadwell had once been friends. In the pre* other falsities are, the " ill success of the play," and "my disowning it." The former is manifestly without foundation; for it succeeded beyond my very hopes, having been frequently acted, and never without a considerable audience; and then it is a thousand to one, that, having no ground to disown it, I did not disown it; but the universe to a nutshell that I did not disown it for want of success, when it succeeded so much beyond my expectation. But my malignant adversaries are the more excusable for this coarse method of breaking in upon truth and good manners, because it is the only way they have to gratify the genius and the interest of the faction together; and never so much pains taken neither, to so very, very little purpose. They decry the play, but in such a manner, that it has the effect of a recommendation. They call it " a dull entertainment;" and that is a dangerous word, I must confess, from one of the greatest masters in human
face to "The Humourists," acted, according to Mr Malone, in 1676, Shadwell thus mentions his great contemporary:
"And here I must make a little digression, and take liberty to dissent from my particular friend, for whom I have a very great respect, and whose writings I extremely admire; and, though I will not say, his is the best way of writing, yet, 1 ain sure his manner of writing is much the best that ever was. And I may say of him, as was said of a celebrated poet, Cui unquam poctaritm magis proprium Juit-subito ccstro incalescere? Quis ubi incutuit, fortius et fitlicius debacchatur f His verse is smoother and deeper, his thoughts more quick and surprising, his raptures more mettled and higher, and he has more of that in his writings, which Plato calls e.«p£OK* fta»!a» than any other heroic poet. And those who shall go about to imitate him, will be found to flutter and make a noise, but never to rise."
Such a compliment, from a rival dramatist, could only have been extracted by previous good offices and kindly countenance. Accordingly we find, that Dryden, in 1678-9, wrote a prologue to Shadwell's play, of " The True Widow."
nature, of that faculty. Now I can forgive them this reproach too, after all the rest; for this play does openly discover the original and root of the practices and principles, both of their party and cause; and they are so well acquainted with all the trains and mazes of rebellion, that there is nothing new to them in the whole history. Or what if it were a little insipid, there was no conjuring that I remember in "Pope Joan;" and the " Lancashire Witches" were without doubt the most insipid jades that ever flew upon a stage; and even these, by the favour of a party, made a shift to hold up their heads.* Now, if we have out-done these plays in their own dull way, their authors have some sort of
* " The Female Prelate, or Pope Joan," is a bombast, silly performance of Elkanah Settle; the catastrophe of which consists in the accouchement of the Pope in the streets of Rome. The aid necessary in the conclusion ot an English tragedy, (usually loudly called for, but never brought) is of a surgical nature; but here Lucina was the deity to be implored, and the midwife's assistance most requisite.
Shadwell's comedy of " The Lancashire Witches," was popular for many years after the Revolution, chiefly, because the papists were reflected upon in the character of Teague O'Divelly, an Irish Priest, the high-church clergy ridiculed under that ol Smcrk, and the whole Tory faction generally abused through the play. It is by no means one ot Shadwell's happiest efforts. The introduction of the witches celebrating their satanical sabbath on the stage, besides that the scene is very poorly and lamely written, is at variance with the author's sentiments, as delivered through Sir Edward Hartfort, "a worthy, hospitable, true English gentleman, of good understanding and honest principles," who ridicules the belief in witches at all. A different and totally inconsistent doctrine is thus to be collected from the action of the piece and the sentiments expressed by those, whose sentiments are alone marked a» worthy of being attended to. This obvious fault, with many others, is pointed out in a criticism on the " Lancashire Witches," published in the Spectator. The paper is said to have been written by Hughes, but considerably softened by Addison.
privilege to throw the first stone; but we shall rather chuse to yield the point of dulness, than contend for it, against so indisputable a claim.
But "matters of state (it seems) are canvassed on the stage, and things of the gravest concernment there managed;" and who were the aggressors, I beseech you, but a few factious, popular hirelings, that by tampering the theatres, and by poisoning the people, made a play-house more seditious than a conventicle; so that the loyal party crave only the same freedom of defending the government, which the other took beforehand of exposing and defaming it. There was no complaint of any disorders of the stage, in the bustle that was made (even to the forming of a party) to uphold a farce of theirs.* Upon the first day, the whole faction (in a manner) appeared; but after one sight of it, they sent their proxies of serving-men and porters, to clap in the right of their patrons; and it was impossible ever to have gotten off the nonsense of three hours for half-a-crown, but for the providence of so congruous an audience. Thus far, I presume,
• Half-a-crown was then the box price.
You visit our plays and merit the stocks,
Epilogue to " The Man's the Master."
The farce, alluded to, seems to have been "The Lancashire Witches." See Shadwell's account of the reception of that piece, from which it appears, that the charge of forming a party in the theatre was a subject of mutual reproach betwixt the dramatists of the contending parties,
the reckoning is even, for bad plays on both sides, and for plays written for a party. I shall say nothing of their poets' affection to the government; unless upon an absolute and an odious necessity. But to return to the pretended Parallel.
I have said enough already to convince any man of common sense, that there neither was, nor could be, any Parallel intended; and it will farther appear, from the nature of the subject; there being no relation betwixt Henry the Third and the Duke of Guise, except that of the king's marrying into the family of Lorraine. If a comparison had been designed, how easy had it been either to have found a story, or to have invented one, where the ties of nature had been nearer? If we consider their actions, or their persons, a much less proportion will be yet found betwixt them; and if we bate the popularity, perhaps none at all. If we consider them in reference to their parties, the one was manifestly the leader; the other, at the worst, is but misled. The designs of the one tended openly to usurpation; those of the other may yet be interpreted more fairly; and I hope, from the natural candour and probity of his temper, that it will come to a perfect submission and reconcilement at last. But that which perfectly detroys this pretended Parallel is, that our picture of the Duke of Guise is exactly according to the original in the history; his actions, his manners, nay, sometimes his very words, are so justly copied, that whoever has read him in Davila, sees him the same here. There is no going out of the way, no dash of a pen to make any by-feature resemble him to any other man; and indeed, excepting his ambition, there was not in France, or perhaps in any other country, any man of his age