1753 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Middleton

Anonymous, in Cibber-Shiels, Lives of the Poets of Great Britain and Ireland (1753) 1:352-54.



THOMAS MIDDLETON lived in the reign of King Charles I. he was cotemporary with Johnson, Fletcher, Massinger and Rowley, in whose friendship he is said to have shared, and though he fell much short of the two former, yet being joined with them in writing plays, he arrived at some reputation. He joined with Fletcher and Johnson in a play called The Widow, and the highest honour that is known of this poet, is, his being admitted to make a triumvirate with two such great men: he joined with Massinger and Rowley in writing the Old Law; he was likewise assisted by Rowley in writing three plays. We have not been able to find any particulars of this man's life, further than his friendship and connection already mentioned, owing to his obscurity, as he was never considered as a genius, concerning which the world thought themselves interested to preserve any particulars.

His dramatic works are,

1. The Five Gallants, acted at the Black Fryars.

2. Blur, Mr. Constable, or the Spaniard's Night Walk, a Comedy, acted by the Children of St. Paul's School, 1602.

3. The Phaenix, a Tragedy, acted by the Children of St. Paul's, and also before his Majesty, 1607; the story is taken from a Spanish Novel, called the Force of Love.

4. The Family of Love, a Comedy, acted by the children of his Majesty's Revels, 1608.

5. The Roaring Girl, or Moll Cutpurse, acted by the Prince's Players, 1611; part of this play was writ by Mr. Decker.

6. A Trick to catch the Old One, a Comedy acted both at St. Paul's and Black Fryars before their Majesties, with success, 1616.

7. The Triumphs of Love and Antiquity, a Masque, performed at the Confirmation of Sir William Cokain, General of his Majesty's Forces, and Lord Mayor of the city of London, 1619.

8. The Chaste Maid of Cheapside, a pleasant Comedy, acted by the Lady Elizabeth's servants, 1620.

9. The World toss'd at Tennis, a Masque, presented by the Prince's servants, 1620.

10. The Fair Quarrel, a Comedy, acted in the year 1622, Mr. Rowley assisted in the composing this Play.

11. The Inner Temple Masque, a Masque of Heroes, represented by the Gentlemen of the Inner-Temple, 1640.

12. The Changeling, a Tragedy, acted at a private house in Drury Lane, and Salisbury Court, with applause, 1653, Mr. Rowley joined in writing this play; for the plot see the story of Alsemero, and Beatrice Joanna in Reynolds's God's Revenge against Murder.

13. The Old Law, or a New Way to Please You, a Comedy, acted before the King and Queen in Salisbury Court, printed 1656. Massinger and Rowley assisted in this Play.

14. No Wit, No Help like a Woman's, a Comedy, acted in the year 1657.

15. Women, beware Women, a Tragedy, 1657. This Play is founded on a Romance called Hyppolito and Isabella.

16. More Dissemblers besides Women, a Comedy, acted 1657.

17. The Spanish Gypsies, a Comedy, acted with applause, both at the private house in Drury Lane, and Salisbury Court, 1660; in this Play he was assisted by Mr. Rowley. Part of it is borrowed from a Spanish Novel called the Force of Blood, written originally by Cervantes.

18. The Mayor of Queenborough, a Comedy, acted by his Majesty's servants, 1661. For the plot see the Reign of Vartigas, by Stow and Speed.

19. Any Thing for a Quiet Life, acted at the Globe on the Bank Side. This is a game between the Church of England, and that of Rome, wherein the former gains the victory.

20. Michaelmas Term, a Comedy; it is uncertain whether this play was ever acted.

21. A Mad World, my Masters, a Comedy, often acted at a private house in Salisbury Court with applause.