An actor and a Poet that liv'd in the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. By his own Account, he was the most voluminous Dramatick Writer we ever had in England; for in the Preface to one of his Comedies, he affirms, that he either had an entire Hand, or a very great Share in the Composure of above Two Hundred Plays. 'Tis said, that he not only acted himself almost every Day, but also wrote each Day a Sheet, a good part whereof was dispatch'd at the Tavern. And Mr. Langbain give his Plays the Title of Second Rate Performances; tho' the Writers of the Age wherein he liv'd will not allow it. Mr. Langbain sets up for a Vindicator of this Author, at the same time he condemns the famous Mr. Dryden, which is not Compliment to his Judgment. Out of the Two Hundred and Twenty Dramatick Pieces this Author says he has been concern'd in, there are but Five and Twenty entire Plays remaining; which as as follow.
I. ROBERT, Earl of Huntingdon's Downfall; an Historical Play, 1601, acted by the Earl of Nottingham's Servants.
II. ROBERT, Earl of Huntingdon's Death, or ROBIN HOOD of Merry Sherwood; with the Tragedy of Chaste MATILDA, 1601. The Plots of these two Plays are taken from Stow, Speed and Baker's Chronicles in the Reign of King Richard I.
III. The Golden Age, or The Lives of JUPITER and SATURN; an Historical Play, acted at the Red Bull, by the Queen's Majesty's Servants, 1611. This Play the Author stiles The Eldest Brother of Three Ages. For the Story see Galtruchius's Poetical Hist. Ross's Mystagoges Poeticus; Hollyoak, Littleton, and other Dictionaries.
IV. The Silver Age, 1613, including the Love of Jupiter to Alcmena, the Birth of Hercules, and the Rape of Proserpine concluded with the Arraignment of the Moon. See Plautus, Ovid's Metamorph. lib. 3. and other Poetical Histories.
V. The Brazen Age; an Historical Play, 1613. This Play contains the Death of the Centaur Nessus, the Tragedy of Meleager, and of Jason and Medea, the Death of Hercules, Vulcan's Net, &c. For the Stories see Ovid's Metamorph. lib. 4, 7, 8. 9.
VI. A Woman kill'd with Kindness; a Comedy, acted by the Queen's Servants with Applause, 1617.
VII. If you know not me, you know no Body; or The Troubles of Queen ELIZABETH, in Two Parts, 1623. The Plot taken from Cambden, Speed, and other English Chronicles in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth.
VIII. The Royal King, and Loyal Subject; a Tragi-Comedy, 1627. This Play was acted with Applause. It seems to be taken from Fletcher's Loyal Subject.
IX. The Fair Maid of the West, or A Girl with Gold; a Tragi-Comedy, 1631. This Play was acted before the King and Queen.
X. The Fair Maid of the West, or A Girl worth Gold. Part II. Acted likewise before the King and Queen, 1631. Dedicated to Thomas Hammond of Gray's-Inn, Esq. Both these Plays met with a generous Approbation in those Times.
XI. The Dutchess of Suffolk; an Historical Play, 1631. For the Plot see Fox's Martyrology, and Clark's Martyrology, p. 521, &c.
XII. The Iron Age; an Historical Play, 1632. This Play contains the Rape of Helen, the Siege of Try, the Combat between Hector and Ajax, Hector and Troilus slain by Achilles, Achilles slain by Paris, the Contention of Ajax and Ulysses for the Armour of Achilles, the Death of Ajax, &c.
XIII. The Iron Age. Part II. 1632. Dedicated to Thomas Manwaring, Esq. In this Play is included the Death of Penthesilea, Paris, Priam, and Hecuba, the burning of Troy, the Deaths of Agamemnon, Menelaus, Clytemnestra, Helena, Orestes, Aegisthus, Pylades, King Diomed, Pyrrhus, Cethus, Synon, Thersites. These Plays were acted with Applause. For the Plot consult Virgil, Homer, Lucian, Ovid, &c.
XIV. The English Traveller; a Tragi-Comedy, acted at the Cock-pit in Drury-lane, 1633. Dedicated to Sir Henry Appleton. Both the Plot and Language of Lyonel and Reginald are taken from Plautus's Mostellaria.
XV. A Maidenhead well lost; a Comedy, acted in Drury-lane, 1634.
XVI. The Four London Apprentices, with the Conquest of Jerusalem; an Historical Play, acted by the Queen's Servants, 1635. It is founded on the History of Godfrey of Bulloign. See Tasso, Fuller's History of the Holy War, &c.
XVII. A Challenge for Beauty; a Tragi-Comedy, acted by the King's Servants in the Black-fryars, 1636.
XVIII. The Fair Maid of the Exchange, with the merry Humours of the Cripple of Fenchurch; a Comedy, 1637.
XIX. The Wise Woman of Hogsden; a Comedy, acted with Applause, 1638.
XX. The Rape of LUCRECE; a Roman Tragedy, acted at the Red-Bull, 1638. Plot from Tit. Livius, Dec. 1. c. 58.
XXI. Love's Mistress, or The Queen's Mask; presented before their Majesties several Times, 1640. For the Plot see Apuleius's Golden Ass.
XXII. Fortune by Land and Sea; a Comedy, acted by the Queen's Servants, 1655. Mr. Rowley assisted in the composing of this Play.
XXIII. The Lancashire Witches; a Comedy, acted at the Globe by the King's Servants. Mr. Brome join'd with Mr. Heywood in writing this Comedy. This Story is related by the Author in his Hierarchy of Angels.
XXIV. EDWARD IV. an Historical Play, in Two Parts. For the Story see Hollingshed, Speed, Du Chesne, and other Chronicles.
This Author publish'd several other Pieces in Verse and Prose, as his Hierarchy of Angels above-mention'd, The Life and Troubles of Queen Elizabeth, The General History of Women, An Apology for Actors, &c.
In his Preface to The Fair Maid of the West, he pleads Modesty for not exposing his Plays to the publick view of the World, in a large Volume under the Title of Works, as others had done; which seem'd to be a tacit Arraignment of some of his Contemporaries for Ostentation, particularly Ben. Johnson, who, Mr. Langbain says, was the only Poet in those Days that gave his Plays the pompous Title of Works; And when an Intimate of Ben. Johnson's was ask'd why Ben's Plays should be call'd Works; he made this answer,
The Author's Friend, thus for the Author says,
Ben's Plays are Works, when others Works are Plays.
The usual Motto which this Author prefix'd to most of his Works, and which shew'd the chief Design of his Writing, was this from Horace;
Aut prodesse volunt, aut delectare Poetae.—