A Gentleman of a good Family in the County of Norfolk, was well received by the Noblemen of Wit, especially the present Earl of Dorset, the late Duke of Newcastle, &c. He was on the Revolution made Poet Laureat, which place he held till his Death, which happened about three or four Years since. His Comedies, at least some of them, shew him to understand Humour; and if he cou'd have drawn the Character of a Man of Wit, as well as that of a Coxcomb, there would have been nothing wanting to the Perfection of his Dramatick Fables. But to his Plays in their Order, being Seventeen in Number, (viz.)
The Amorous Bigotte, with the Second part of Teague O Divelly, a Comedy 4to. 1690. acted by their Majesties Servants; and dedicated to the Right Honourable Charles, then Earl, now Duke of Shrewsbury.
Bury Fair, a Comedy, 4to. 1689. acted by his Majesty's Servants; and dedicated to the Right Honourable Charles, Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, then Lord Chamberlain of his Majesty's Hoshold. Part of this Play taken from the Duke of Newcastle's Triumphant Widow, and part from Molliere's Precieuses Ridicules.
Epsom Wells, a Comedy, 4to. 1676. acted at the Duke's Theatre; and dedicated to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. 'Tis a pleasant Commendation of Mr. Langbain, (whose [Greek characters] Mr. Shadwell is) to bring Monsieur St. Euveremont's Praise of it who cannot speak a Word of English, and by Consequence none of the best Judges of the Goodness of our English Plays, which require a Mastery of our Tongue.
The Humourists, a Comedy, 4to. 1671. acted by his Royal Highness's Servants; and dedicated to the most Illustrious Margaret, Dutchess of Newcastle. This Play (tho' the Design of it was good) met with many Enemies at its first appearance on the Stage.
The Lancashire Witches, and Teague O Divelly, the Irish Priest; a Comedy, 4to. 1682. acted at the Duke's Theatre. Heywood and Brome have writ on the same Subject, but not so diverting.
The Libertine, a Comedy, 4to. 1676. acted by his Royal Highnesses Servants; and dedicated to his Grace the Duke of Newcastle. This is accounted one of his best Plays, and is diverting enough. Plot from Molliere's L'Athee Foudroye, & H. Atheisto Fulminato.
The Miser, a Comedy, 4to. 1672. acted by his Majesty's Servants, at the Theatre Royal; and dedicated to the Right Honourable Charles, Lord Buckhurst, now Earl of Dorset and Middlesex. Plot from Mollieres L'avaree.
Psyche, an Opera, 4to. 1675. acted at the Duke's Theatre, and dedicated to his Grace James, Duke of Monmouth. This being the first Play he writ in Rhime, met with divers Enemies. Our Author made use of the French Psyche, and of Apuleius's Asinus Aureus, which is also in English, 4to. 1639.
The Royal Shepherdess, a Tragi-Comedy. 4to. 1669. acted by his Highness the Duke of York's Servants. This Play is taken from The Reward of Vertue, writ by Mr. Fountain.
The Scowrers, a Comedy, 4to. 1691. acted by their Majesties Servants; and dedicated by his Widow, to the late Queen, of ever blessed Memory. I think in this Comedy there is a great deal of noisy Humour, and that not unpleasant. The Characters of Eugenia, and Clara are Copies of Sir George Etheridge, at least that of Eugenia is of Harriot, and so is Sir William Rant, a faint one of Dorimant, and Sir Frederic Frolick.
The Squire of Alsatia, a Comedy, 4to. 1688. acted by their Majesties Servants; and dedicated to the Earl of Dorset and Middlesex. This Play, which met with good Success, is founded on Terence's Adelphi.
The sullen Lovers; or, The Impertinents, a Comedy, 4to. 1670. and dedicated to his Grace William, Duke of Newcastle. Plot from Molliere's Les Facheaux.
Timon of Athens; or, The Man-hater, a Tragedy, 4to. 1678. acted at the Duke's Theatre, and dedicated to the late Duke of Buckingham. Most part of this Play is Shakespear's; nay, and the Criticks say, all of it that is good for any thing.
The True Widow, a Comedy, 4to. 1679. acted at the Duke's Theatre, and dedicated to Sir Charles Sidley. This Play has not appeared very often on the Stage, tho' Mr. Langbain commends the Characters and Humours to be as well drawn as any of this Age.
The Volunteers; or, The Stock-Jobbers, a Comedy, 4to. 1693. and dedicated by his Widow to the Queen. Sir Timothy Castrils growing Valiant on his Rencounter with Nickum, is very like the Little French Lawyer of Fletcher; only Sir Timothy preserves his Valour to the end of the Play; tho' we have not the Experiment whether the sight of his Blood would not have had the same Effect on him.
The Woman Captain, a Comedy, 4to. 1680. acted at the Duke's Theatre, by his Royal Highness's Servants; and dedicated to Henry, Lord Ogle, Son to the Duke of Newcastle.