1819 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Thomas Shadwell

William Hazlitt, in English Comic Writers (1819; 1909) 70.



Shadwell was a successful and voluminous dramatic writer of the same period. His Libertine (taken from the celebrated Spanish story) is full of spirit; but it is the spirit of licentiousness and impiety. At no time do there appear to have been such extreme speculations afloat on the subject of religion and morality, as there were shortly after the Reformation, and afterwards under the Stuarts, the differences being widened by political irritation; and the Puritans often over-acting one extreme out of grimace and hypocrisy, as the king's part did the other out of bravado.