1844 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas D'Urfey

Robert Chambers, in Cyclopaedia of English Literature (1844; 1850) 1:527-28.



Very different in character from these grave and ponderous authors were their contemporaries TOM D'URFEY and TOM BROWN, who entertained the public in the reign of William III. with occasional whimsical compositions both in prose and verse, which are now valued only as conveying some notion of the taste and manners of the time. D'Urfey's comedies, which possess much farcical humour, have long been considered too licentious for the stage. As a merry and facetious companion, his society was greatly courted, and he was a distinguished composer of jovial and party songs. To the 29th number of The Guardian, Steele mentions a collection of sonnets published under the title of Laugh and be Fat, or Pills to Purge Melancholy; at the same time censuring the world for ungratefully neglecting to reward the jocose labours of D'Urfey, "who was so large a contributor to this treatise, and to whose humorous productions so in any rural squires in the remotest part of this island are obliged for the dignity and state which corpulency gives them." In the 67th number of the same work, Addison humorously solicits the attendance of his readers at a play for D'Urfey's benefit. The produce seems to have relieved the necessities of the poet, who continued to give forth his drolleries till his death in 1723.