1691 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Rutter

Gerard Langbaine, in Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 430-33.



An Author that liv'd in the Reign of King Charles the First. He belong'd to the Earl of Dorset's Family; and attended on his Son, the Father of the present Earl. At the Command of the Right Honourable Edward Earl of Dorset, and Lord Chamberlain to the Queen, he undertook the Translation of the Cid, out of French: and Mr. Kirkman ascribes another Play to him besides; of both which I shall speak in their Order.

Cid, a Tragi-comedy acted before their Majesties at Court, and on the Cock-pit Stage in Drury-Lane, by the Servants to both their Majesties, and printed 8vo. Lond. 1637. This first Part is dedicated to Edward Earl of Dorset aforesaid, part of it being translated by the young Lord his Son, on whom our Author attended.

Cid, Part the second, printed 4to. Lond. 1640. and dedicated to the Lady Theophila Cook. This Part was undertaken by our Author, at his Majesties Command, who was pleas'd to think it worth the translating; and commanded it to be put into our Author's Hands. Both these Plays are usually bound together in octavo.

As to these Plays in the Original, they are much commended, tho' I never saw but the first Part in French. I shall not here transcribe the Author's own Sentiments of it; but leave it to those who understand the French to peruse the Examen of the Second Part; it being too long for this place. But what M. Boileau says of it, in his 9th Satyr, may be sufficient to shew the Sentiments of the publick in its Favour: His Words are these:

En vain contre le Cid un Ministre se ligue,
Tout Paris pour Climene a les yeux de Rodrigue.
L'Academie en Corps a beau le censurer,
Le Public revolte s'obstine a l'admirer.

To speak of the Translation in general, I think, if the Time be considered when it was undertaken, it may pass muster with candid Readers: The Author having at least so far improv'd it, as to bring several things in Action, which in the Original are delivered in Narration; an Excellency commended by Horace, in those Lines so well known to all Scholars.

Aut agitur res in Scenis aut Acta refertur:
Segnius irritant animos demissa per aurem;
Quam quae sunt oculis subjecta fidelibus, & quae
Ipse sibi tradit spectator—

It is true our Author has altered in the Original, some places; but not many. Two Scenes he has left out, as being Soliloquies, and things little pertinent to the Business: and give me leave to observe by the by, That the French are much addicted to bring in these Monologues, in their serious Plays. Some things likewise our Author has added, but scarce discernable: and where M. Corneille would give him leave, he says he has follow'd close both his Sense and Words; tho', as he has observed, many things are received Wit in one Tongue, which are not in another. As to the Play, 'tis founded on true History; and the Author has follow'd Roderic de Tolede, and Mariana. The Reader may consult other Historians, that have writ of the Affairs of Don Fernando, the First King of Castille.

Shepherds Holyday, a Pastoral Tragi-comedy, acted before their Majesties, at Whitehall, by the Queen's Servants; and printed 8vo. Lond. 1635. This Play is ascrib'd by Mr. Kirkman, to our Author; tho' only J.R. is affix'd to the Title-page. This Play is of the Nobler sort of Pastorals; and is writ in Blank Verse: At the End is a Pastoral Elegy, on the Death of the Lady Venetia Digby, in the Person of Sir Kenelm Digby, her Husband; and a Latin Epigram on her Tomb.

I know nothing else of our Authors Writing.