1827 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Randolph

William Goodhugh, in The English Gentleman's Library Manual (1827) 230-31n.



In this play [The Muses Looking-glass] there is, I think, something truly original and ingenious; and if it has not in it too much humour, I should think it well adapted to the taste of modern times; for it consists, with less system than exists in many of our comic productions, entirely of scenes independent of each other, in each of which a virtue and a vice are exhibited; such as the extremes of courtesy, the extremes of fortitude, temperance, magnificence, truth, justice, &c. &c. &c. many of which are well written, and worked up with a considerable display of learning and art. The characters of Bird and Flowerdew two of the straight laced puritans of those times, are excellent, as is that of Roscius, who acts as Prolocutor. The piece is wound up by the "Mother of the virtues," Mediocrite, and ends in the conversion of Flowerdew and Bird, the latter of whom says in conclusion,

Hereafter I will visit comedies, and see them, often they are good exercises
To teach devotion now a milder temper; not that it shall lose any of its heat
Or purity, but henceforth shall be such
As shall burn bright, altho' no blaze so much.

It is a curious circumstance, that there is, dissimilar as in fact they are, to be traced in this play the ground plan upon which the Rehearsal might, for aught I know, have been erected. This is certainly the original model, in this country, of that mode of writing; though probably both Randolph and the Duke of Buckingham might have copied from the Athenian school, and have considered Roscius and Bays as a kind of Chorus. Be it so: Flowerdew and Bird, Johnson and Smith, are still perfectly English; and certainly, though their characters are different, their business on the stage is the same; and I do conceive, it was as easy for a man of genius to build the latter upon the former as to construct the Critic, and many other pieces of inferior merit, upon the Rehearsal.