1699 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir William Davenant

Charles Gildon, in Lives and Characters of the English Dramatick Poets (1699) 32-34.



The Son of John D'avenant, Vintner of Oxford, in that very House that has now the Sign of the Crown near Carfax; a House much frequented by Shakespear in his frequent Journeys to Warwick-shire; whither for the Beautiful Mistress of the House, or the good Wine, I shall not determine. Our Author was Born there in the Year 1605. in February, and Christen'd on the 3d of March following, he was admitted a Member of Lincoln Colledge, 1621. the same Year that his Father was Mayor of that City: After some Smattering in Logick, he quitted those Studies for Poetry, which prov'd more advantagious to him than to any Modern Professor of that Art. From Lincoln-Colledge he went first into the Service of the Dutchess of Richmond, and afterwards to that of Foulk Lord Brook; after whose Death he apply'd himself to Writing of Plays. In the Year 1637. he succeeded Ben. Johnson as Poet Laureat; 1641 he was accused of endeavouring to Seduce the Army; Flying on a Proclamation, he was taken at Feversham in Kent, committed Prisoner to a Serjeant at Arms, was Bail'd, and fled for France; returning he was made General of the Ordinance, by the Marquess of New-Castle, he was Knighted by the King, 1643. Toward the end of the Civil Wars he retired again into France, and began his Gondibert, in the Year 1650. he was taken at Sea by an English Ship, carried Prisoner to the Isle of Weight; thence removed to the Tower, and had been tried for his Life, 1651. had not the Mediation of the Divine Milton prevented it, and got him his Liberty, as Prisoner at Large. His Patrons Endimion Porter, and Mr. Jermin (afterwards Lord St. Albans) got him as a Reward of his Poetry and Services, the Place of Commissioner of the Customs, and a Patent for a Company of Actors, who first set up in the same Tenniscourt in Little Lincolns-Inn-Fields, where they now Act: But finding the good Acting of the other Company won the Favour of the Town, he set up the Whim of Opera's. He was Laureat to Charles the I. & II. he dy'd the 7th of April, 1668. Aged 63, and is Buried among the Poets in Westminster-Abbey. His Works are Published Fol. 1673.

His Plays which follow in Order, were most of them Acted with Applause, and Printed in the Author's Life-time separately in 4to. and since together in Folio.

Albovin King of the Lombards, his Tragedy 4to. and fol. The Design is founded on History, and the whole Story related in Bandello's Histoires Tragiques, Tom. 4. Nov. 19. Paulus Diaconus de Gestis Longobardorum, lib. 2. c. 28. Greg. Episc. Turonensis Hist. Franconum, lib. 2. c. 28. Heylin's Cosmog. Part 1. Book 1. Page 57.

Britannia Triumphans, a Masque, 4to. written by him, and Inigo Jones the King's Surveyor.

Cruel Brother, a Tragedy 4to. and fol. Dedicated to the Right Honourable the Lord Weston, Lord High Treasurer of England.

The Distresses, a Tragi-Comedy, Printed in Fol. 1673.

Entertainment at Rutland House, Printed in fol. 1673. This was presented by way of Declamation, and Musick, after the manner of the Ancients: The Musick, Vocal and Instrumental was Compos'd by Dr. Coleman, Captain Cook, Mr. Lawes, and Mr. Hudson, all eminent at the time it was first represented.

The Fair Favourite, a Tragi-Comedy, first Printed in 4to. and since in fol. 1673.

The Just Italian, a Tragi-Comedy, first Printed in 4to. and since in fol. 1673. Dedicated at first Publishing to the Right Honourable Earl of Dorset, with Recommendatory Verses of Mr. Hopkins and Mr. Carew.

The Law against Lovers, a Tragi-Comedy, fol. 1673. Taken from two Plays of Shakespear, viz. Measure for Measure, and, Much ado about nothing; the Language much amended and polish'd by our Author.

Love and Honour, a Tragi-Comedy, 4to. and fol. Acted both at the Theatre in Little Lincolns-Inn-Fields, and in Dorset-Garden, with Applause.

The Man's the Master, a Comedy, 4to. and fol. often Acted with Applause. Plot from Scarron's Joddelet, ou Le Maistre Valet, &c.

The Platonick Lovers, a Tragi-Comedy, 8vo. and fol. first Printed in 8vo. with the Wits, another Play of this Authors.

The Play-House to be Lett, fol. The second Act consists of a French Farce Translated from Mollieres Sagnarelle: The third and fourth Acts contain the History of Sir Francis Drake, and the Cruelty of the Spaniands in Peru: The fifth Act relates the Actions of Caesar Anthony and Cleopatra; most of these Acted in Oliver's time, separately by stealth, and some of them Printed first in 4to.

The Siege, a Tragi-Comedy, fol. 1673.

The Siege of Rhodes, in two Parts, 4to. and fol. Dedicated to the Right Honourable the Earl of Clarendon, Lord High Chancellor of England, Acted with good Applause at the Theatre in Lincolns-Inn-Fields. For the true Story see Boissardi Icones & vitae Sultanorum Turcicorum in Vit. Solym. 2. Tho. Artus Continuation de la Histoire des Turc's, and our English History of the Turks, by Knolles.

News from Plymouth, a Comedy, fol. 1673. Acted formerly at the Globe.

The Temple of Love, a Masque, fol. 1673. This was in King Charles the Ist's time, presented at Court by his Queen, and divers of the Nobility, both Lords and Ladies, the Scenes and Habits were very magnificent and Glorious.

The Triumphs of the Prince d' Amour, a Masque, presented by his Highness, at his Palace in the Middle Temple, fol. 1673. Acted by the Members of that Honourable Society, as an Entertainment to the Prince Elector. The Author Compos'd it in three Days time; the Musick of the Songs set by Mr. Henry, and Mr. William Lawes.

The Wits, a Comedy, 8vo. 4to. and fol. first Acted at Black Fryers, and since at the Duke's Theatre, with Applause.