1719 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

George Chapman

Giles Jacob, in Poetical Register: or the Lives and Characters of the English Dramatick Poets (1719) 35-37.



A Poet that flourish'd in the latter part of the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, and in the Reign of King James I. He was an Intimate of Ben. Johnson's, and was caress'd by the foremost Poetick Writers of that Age. He was extremely valu'd by all his Acquaintance; particularly by the Gentlemen of the Middle-Temple and Lincoln's-Inn, at whose Request he wrote a Masque on the Occasion of the Marriage between the Princess Elizabeth, only Daughter to King James I. and Frederick V. Count Palatine of the Rhine, afterwards King of Bohemia. His Dramatick Performances are;

I. All Fools; a Comedy presented at Black-fryars, 1605. This was accounted an excellent Play in those Days, and was acted before King James. It is built on Terence's Heautontimorumenos, or Self-Denyer.

II. Eastward Hoe; a Comedy, likewise acted in the Black-fryars, 1605. This Play was written by Mr. Chapman, Ben. Johnson, and Mr. Marston, who engag'd in a Triumvirate: And Mr. Tate, some time since, reviv'd it, under the Title of Cuckolds Haven.

III. The Gentleman Usher; a Comedy, printed in 1606. This Play merits very little Commendation, and 'tis very uncertain whether it was ever acted.

IV. Monsieur D'OLIVE; a Comedy, often acted with Success, at the Theatre in the Black-fryars, 1606.

V. The Conspiracy, and Tragedy of Charles, Duke of Biron, Marshal of France. Two Plays, 1608. acted in the Black-fryars, and Dedicated to Sir Thomas Walsingham. For the Story, see Davila's Hist. of France, Mezeray, and other French Chroniclers, in the Time of King Henry IV of France.

VI. May-Day; a witty Comedy, acted several times at the Black-fryars, 1611.

VII. The Widow's Tears; a Comedy, 1612; Plot from Petronius Arbiter. See also The Ephesian Matron.

VIII. Bussy d'AMBOIS his Revenge; a Tragedy, Dedicated to Sir Thomas Howard. This Play was not acted with that Applause, as most of the other Dramatick Works of this Poet.

IX. The Temple; a Masque, 1614. This was the Masque presented at Court before the King, at the Celebration of the Nuptials of Count Palatine of the Rhine, and the Princess Elizabeth; Mr. Inigo Jones ordering the Machines and Decoration of the Scenes.

X. Two Wise Men, and all the rest Fools; a Comedy, acted several times, 1619. The Prologue and Epilogue of this Play are write in Prose. Mr. Langbain, in his Remarks on this Play, takes notice, that it exceeds, in the number of Acts, any Play whatever, it extending to seven; which is contrary to the Rule of Horace.

Neve minor, neu sit quinto, productior actu
Fabula, quae posci vult & Spectata reponi.

XI. CAESAR and POMPEY; a Tragedy, 1631. Dedicated to the Earl of Middlesex. The Story is to be found in Suetonius's Life of Julius Caesar, Plutarch, Vell. Paterculus, Florus, Dion, Lucan, &c.

XII. Revenge for Honour; a Tragedy, 1654.

XIII. ALPHONSUS, Emporer of Germany; a Tragedy, acted with great Applause at the private House in Black-fryars, 1654. Plot from Chron. de Rebus Germanicii. See also Reynolds on the Passions, Wanley's Hist. of Man. Marianna de Reb. Hist. lib. 13. c. 10, &c.

XIV. Humorous Days Mirth; A Pleasant Comedy. This Play was acted by the Earl of Nottingham's Servants.

XV. Bussy d'AMBOIS; a Tragedy, presented at St. Paul's, in the Reign of King James I. and since at the Theatre Royal with good Applause. The Plot is taken from the French Chron. Hen. III. Thuanus, De Serres & Rossets Hist. Trag. de notre Temps. Hist. 17. p. 363.

XVI. The Blind Beggar of Alexandria; a Comedy, neither divided into Acts nor Scenes. This is said to be publish'd in 1598; and if so, it is the Author's first Play.

This Author laid down for a Rule, that a Moral ought to be the Foundation of a Play; Instruction being the chief Design of a Poet. And besides his Dramatic Works, he translated all Homer, viz. his Iliads, Odysses, and his Batracomyonmachia, or The Battle of the Frogs and Mice: And Hesiod, and Musaeus, which were esteem'd well done in the Infancy of Translation.