This Gentleman was descended from a very good Family in the County of Norfolk. He was very much in favour with the Quality, particularly the late Earl of Dorset, who was his great Patron, and by his Lordship's Interest at Court at the Revolution, he succeeded Mr. Dryden as Poet-Laureat. His Talent was Comedy, and in his Plays there is a great variety of Characters. He well understood Humour, and could draw a Coxcomb in perfection; but he seem'd to be deficient in perfecting the character of a fine Gentleman. In most of his Plays he endeavour'd to imitate Ben Johnson. They are as follow:
I. The Royal Shepherdess; a Tragi-Comedy, acted by the Duke of York's Servants, 1669. This Play was acted with Applause. It is taken from a Comedy writ by Mr. Fountain, call'd, The Reward of Virtue.
II. The Sullen Lovers, or The Impertinents; a Comedy, acted at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1670. Dedicated to William Duke of Newcastle. The Author owns in his Preface, that he took a Hint in his Plot from Moliere's Les Facheux.
III. The Humourists; a Comedy, acted by the Duke of York's Servants, 1671. Dedicated to the Dutchess of Newcastle. Tho' I have very little regard for punning Wit, I cannot help saying, that the Humour of the Town occasion'd this Play many Enemies.
IV. The Miser; a Comedy, acted at the Theatre Royal, 1672. Dedicated to the Earl of Dorset and Middlesex. The Plot of this Play is taken from Moliere's L'Avare.
V. PSICHE; an Opera, presented at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1675. Dedicated to James Duke of Monmouth. Part of this Play is taken from the French Psiche, and Apuleius's Golden Ass.
VI. Epsom Wells; a Comedy, acted at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1676. Dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle. This is a very diverting Play.
VII. The Virtuoso; a Comedy, acted at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1676. Dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle. This Play contains great variety of Humour.
VIII. The Libertine; a Tragedy, acted by the Duke of York's Servants, 1676. Dedicated to the Duke of Newcastle. This Play was acted with great Applause, and is esteem'd one of the best of our Author's Performances.
IX. TIMON of Athens, or The Man-Hater; a Tragedy, acted at the Duke of York's Theatre, 1678. Dedicated to the Duke of Buckingham. The greatest part of this Tragedy is taken from Shakespear's Play of the same Name.
X. The True Widow; a Comedy, acted at the Duke's Theatre, 1679. Dedicated to Sir Charles Sidley. Mr. Langbain tells us, that the Characters and Humour in this Comedy are as well done as in any of that Age; but it did not meet with very good Success on the Stage.
XI. The Woman-Captain; a Comedy, acted at the Duke's Theatre, 1680. Dedicated to Henry Lord Ogle, Son to the Duke of Newcastle. This Play was acted with Applause.
XII. The Lancashire Witches, and Teague O Divelly, the Irish Priest; a Comedy, acted at the Duke's Theatre, 1682. This is a very entertaining Comedy, and Mr. Hewywood and Brome have both writ on the same Subject.
XIII. The 'Squire of Alsatia; a Comedy, acted by their Majesties Servants, 1688. Dedicated to the Earl of Dorset and Middlesex. This Play is founded on Terence's Adelphi, and was acted with very great Applause. Mr. Langbain tells us, that in this Play, and the Lancashire Witches there are several Reflections on the Clergy.
XIV. Bury-Fair; a Comedy, acted by his Majesty's Servants, 1689. Dedicated to Charles Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, then Lord Chamberlain of his Majesty's Houshold. Part of this Play is taken from the Duke of Newcastle's Triumphant Widow, and Moliere's Precieuses Ridicules.
XV. The Amorous Bigot, with the Second Part of Teague O Divelly; acted by their Majesty's Servants, 1690. Dedicated to the Duke of Shrewsbury.
XVI. The Scowrers; a Comedy, acted by their Majesties Servants, 1691. Dedicated to Queen Mary. This Play contains a great deal of low Humour. The Character of Eugenia seems to be a Copy of Harriot, in one of Sir George Etherege's Plays.
XVII. The Volunteers, or The Stock-Jobbers; a Comedy, 1693. Dedicated by the Author's Widow to the virtuous Queen Mary. Some Hints of this Play, in the Character of Sir Timothy Castril, seem to be taken from Fletcher's Little French Lawyer.
This Author likewise writ several other Pieces of Poetry, the chief of which are, his Congratulatory Poem on his Highness the Prince of Orange's Coming to England; another on Queen Mary; his Translation of the Tenth Satire of Juvenal, &c. Most of the Poetical World have heard of the great Difference between him and Mr. Dryden, which produced that sever Satire of Mac-Fleckno from the latter; to which Mr. Shadwell made a sort of Reply in the Preface to a Poem he published soon after. He died in the Year 1692, and lies buried in Westminster-Abbey, near the Remains of the famous Spenser. There is over him a white Marble Monument, with his Busto, and this Inscription:
Thomas Shadwell, Armiger, Antiqua stirpe in Comitatu Staffordiae Oriundus, Poeta Laureatus & Historiographus Regius. Obiit nono die Dec. Anno. Dom. 1692. Aetat. suae, 52.
H. M. P. C.
In perpetuam pietatis Memoriam
Johannes Shadwell, M. D. Thomae F.