1719 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Charles Gildon

Giles Jacob, in Poetical Register: or the Lives and Characters of the English Dramatick Poets (1719) 115-17.



This Gentleman (still living) was born at Gillingham near Shaftesbury, in the County of Dorset. His Parents and Family were all of the Romish Perswasion; but they could not convey their Zeal for that Religion to this Author. His Father was a Member of the Society of Gray's-Inn, and suffer'd very much with the Royal Party. His first Rudiments of Learning he had at the place of his Nativity; thence his Relations sent him to the English College of Secular Priests at Doway in Hainault, with design of making him a Priest; but after five Years Study there, he found his Inclinations lead him another way. At Nineteen he return'd to England, and as soon as he was of Age, and capable of enjoying all the Pleasures of Life, he came to London, where having spent the best Part of his Paternal Estate, at about Three and Twenty he married. During the Reign of King James, he employ'd himself in reading the Controversies of those Times; and he declares that it cost him about seven Years Study and Contest, before he could overcome the Prejudice of Education. His first Attempt at a Dramatick way, was not till after his Two and Thirtieth Year. And he tells us in his Essays, that Necessity (the general Inducement) was the first Motive of his venturing to be an Author. He has writ three Plays.

I. The Roman Bride's Revenge; a Tragedy, acted at the Theatre Royal, 1697. This Play was writ in a Month; and had the usual Success of hasty Productions, tho' the first and second Acts are well done; and the Catastrophe is beautiful; the Moral being to give us an Example in the Punishment of Martian, that no Consideration ought to make us delay the Service of our Country. Part of the Plot is taken from Camma of Galata.

II. PHAETON, or The Fatal Divorce; a Tragedy, acted at the Theatre Royal, 1698. Dedicated to Charles Montague, Esq. This Play is written in imitation of the Ancients, and it had better Success than the other. The Plot, and a great many of the Beauties, the Author owns in his Preface, he has taken from the Medea of Euripides.

III. Love's Victim, or The Queen of Wales; a Tragedy, acted at the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields.

He introduc'd the Play, call'd The Younger Brother, or The Amorous Jilt; written by Mrs. Behn, but not brought upon the Stage till after her Decease. He made very little Alteration in it. His Plays have not his Name to them; and his Faults lie generally in the Style, which is too near an Imitation of Mr. Lee's; tho' that Poet had Beauties enough to make amends for it.