1691 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Middleton

Gerard Langbaine, in Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 370-75.



An Author of good Esteem in the Reign of King Charles the First. He was Contemporary with those Famous Poets Johnson, Fletcher, Massinger and Rowley, in whose Friendship he had a large Share; and tho' he came short of the two former in parts, yet like the Ivy by the Assistance of the Oak, (being joyn'd with them in several Plays) he clim'd up to some considerable height of Reputation. He joyn'd with Fletcher and Johnson, in a Play called The Widow, of which we have already spoken, p. 298. in the Account of Johnson; and certainly most Men will allow, That he that was thought fit to be receiv'd into a Triumvirate, by two such Great Men, was no common Poet. He club'd with Massinger and Rowley in Writing the Old Law, as before I have remarked already: See pag. 352. He was likewise assisted by Rowley in three Plays, of which we shall presently give an Account; and in those Plays which he writ alone, there are several Comedies; as Michaelmass-Term, Mayor of Quinborough, &c. which speak him a Dramatick Poet of the Second Rank. The first Play we are to begin with, is call'd

Any thing for a Quiet Life, a Comedy formerly acted at the Black-fryars, by his late Majesties Servants; printed 4to. Lond. 1662. This Play being One of those Manuscripts published by Kirkman, I suppose was in Esteem on the Stage, before the Breaking out of the Civil Wars.

Blurt Mr. Constable, or The Spaniard's Night-walk; a Comedy sundry times privately acted by the Children of Paul's, printed Lond. 1602. There is no Name affix'd to this Play, and several others, which are ascribed to our Author by Mr. Kirkman; as The Phoenix, Game at Chess, and The Family of Love; but knowing his Acquaintance with Plays to have been very considerable, I have plac'd them to their Reputed Author.

Changling, a Tragedy, acted with great applause, at the Private-House in Drury-Lane, and Salisbury-Court; printed 4to. Lond. 1653. in this Play our Author was assisted by Mr. Rowley. The Foundation of the Play may be found in Reynold's God's Revenge against Murther. See the Story of Alsemero, and Beatrice Joanna, Book 1. Hist. 4.

Chast Maid in Cheap-side, a pleasant conceited Comedy, often acted at the Swan on the Bank-side, by the Lady Elizabeth her Servants; printed 4to. Lond. 1620.

Fair Quarrel, a Comedy, printed 4to. Lond. 1622. and dedicated to the Nobly dispos'd, and Faithful-breasted Robert Grey Esq. one of the Grooms of his Highnesses Chamber. The Plot of Fitz-allen, Russel and Jane, is founded, as I suppose, on some Italian Novel, and may be read in English in the Complaisant Companion, octavo p. 280. That part of the Physitian tempting Jane, and then accusing her, is founded on a Novel of Cynthio Giraldi: See Dec. 4. Nov. 5. In this Play Mr. Rowley joyn'd with our Author.

Family of Love, a Comedy acted by the Children of his Majesties Revels; printed 4to. Lond. 1608. This Play is mentioned by Sir Thomas Bornwel, in The Lady of Pleasure, Act 1. Sc. 1.

Game at Chess; sundry times acted at the Globe on the Bank-side, printed 4to. Lond. 16—. This Play is consonant to the Title, where the Game is play'd between the Church of England, and that of Rome; Ignatius Loyola being Spectator, the former in the End, gaining the Victory.

Inner-Temple Masque, or Masque of Heroes; presented (as an Entertainment for many worthy Ladies) by Gentlemen of the same Ancient and Noble House, printed 4to. Lond. 1640. This Play was writ twenty Years before it was printed; and yet so well esteem'd by Mrs. Behn, that she has taken part of it into the City Heiress.

Mayor of Quinborough, a Comedy often acted with much applause, by his Majesties Servants, printed 4to. Lond. 1661. In this Play are several Dumb Shews, explained by Rainulph Monk of Chester, and the Author has chiefly followed his Polychronicon: See besides Stow, Speed, Du Chesne, &c. in the Reign of Vortiger.

Michaelmass-Term, a Comedy, printed in quarto, but where or when, I know not, thro' the imperfection of my Copy.

More Dissemblers besides Women, a Comedy printed 8vo. Lond. 1657.

No Wit, no Help, like a Woman's, a Comedy printed 8vo. Lond. 1657.

Phoenix, a Tragi-comedy, sundry times acted by the Children of Paul's, and presented before his Majesty; printed 4to. Lond. 1607.

Roaring Girl, a Comedy which I never saw.

Spanish Gypsie, a Tragi-comedy acted (with great applause) at the Private-House in Drury-Lane, and Salisbury-Court, written by our Author and Mr.  Rowley; printed 4to. Lond. 1661. The Story of Roderigo and Clara, has a near resemblance with (if it be not borrow'd from) a Spanish Novel, writ by Mignel de Cervantes, call'd The Force of Blood.

Trick to catch the Old One, a Comedy often in Action, both at Paul's, the Black-fryars, and before their Majesties; printed 4to. Lond. 1616. This is an Excellent Old Play.

Triumphs of Love and Antiquity, an Honourable Solemnity performed thro' the City, at the Confirmation and Establishment of the Right Honourable, Sir William Cockaine Kt. in the Office of His Majesties Lieutenant, the Lord Mayor of the Famous City of London: Taking beginning in the Morning at his Lordship's Going, and perfecting it self after his Return from Receiving the Oath of Mayoralty at Westminster, on the Morrow after Simon and Jude's Day, Octob. 29 1619. printed 4to. Lond. and dedicated to the Honour of him to whom the Noble Fraternity of Skinners, his Worthy Brothers have dedicated their Loves in Costly Triumphs, The Right Honourable Sir William Cockaine Knight, Lord Mayor of this Renowned City, and Lord General of his Military Forces. This Piece consists only of Speeches, addrest to his Lordship, at his Cavalcade thro' the City, and I think no ways deserv'd either the Title of a Masque, under which Species it has been hitherto rank'd; nor so pompous a Title, as the Author has prefix'd.

Women beware Women, a Tragedy, printed 8vo. Lond. 1657. This Play with two others, viz. More Dissemblers besides Women, and, No Wit like a Woman's, are all in one Volume. The Foundation of this Play, is borrow'd from a Romance called Hyppolito and Isabella, octavo. This Drama, if we give Credit to Mr. Richards, a Poet of that Age, was acted with extraordinary applause, as he says in his Verses on that Play:

I that have seen't, can say, having just cause,
Ne're Tragedy came off with more Applause.

World lost at Tennis, a Masque divers times presented to the Contentment of many Noble and Worthy Spectators, by the Princes Servants; printed 4to. Lond. 1620. and dedicated to the truly Noble Charles, Lord Howard, Baron of Effingham, and to his Virtuous and Worthy the Right Honourable Mary, Lady Effingham, Eldest Daughter of the truly Generous and Judicious Sir W. Cockain Knight, Ld. Mayor of the City of London, and Lord General of the Military Forces.

Your Five Gallants, a Comedy often in Action at the Black-fryars, and imprinted at London 4to. This Play has no Date, and I believe was One of the first that our Author publish'd.