1691 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Samuel Sheppard

Gerard Langbaine, in Account of the English Dramatick Poets (1691) 471-72.



One who lived in the time of the late Unhappy Civil Wars; and whose Loyalty seems to have been far better than his Poetry. He writ in the time of the Prohibition of the Stage, two Pamphlets, which he stiles Comedies; but indeed are no longer than one single Act of a Play, that I have seen. His Comedies are stiled,

Committee-man curried; a Comedy, in two parts, represented to the View of all Men. A piece discovering the Corruption of Committee-men, and Excise-men; the unjust Sufferings of the Royal-party; the devilish Hypocrisy of some Roundheads; the Revolt for Gain of some Ministers. Not without pleasant Mirth and Variety; and printed 4to. Lond. 1647. This Title-page led me to great Expectations; but I soon found Horace's Observation true,

Parturient Montes, nascentur ridiculus Mus.

The Author indeed has shew'd his Reading, if not his Fancy: for there is scarce a piece of Sir John Suckling that he has not plundered. His Aglaura, Goblins, Brenoralt, all have pay'd tribute to our Excise-Poet: neither his Verses, nor Prose have escaped him. This with what he has borrow'd from Sir Robert Stapleton's Translation of Juvenal Sat. 1. and 3. make up the greatest part of the two Comedies. But however I am so far oblig'd by my Charity, and Respect, and good Intention, of asserting Loyalty, to set down his own Apology, in the Prologue to the Second part.

The Author prays you, for to think the Store
Of Wit is wasted by those went before:
and that the Fatness of the Soil being spent,
Men's Brains grow barren, you'd not raise the Rent.