Slike strani

he has highly complimented in the Verses addressed to Dr. Charleton in 1663, and in the Dedication of THE RIVAL LADIES, in the following year; a dedication which he says--he was emboldened to make, though he had not the honour of being personally known to his Lordship, in consequence of the kindness that he had always shewn to his writings, one of which, by his order, had been transmitted to him in Ireland. That nobleman appears to have been one of the first,who, in imitation of the French, introduced continued rhyme into English tragedies; for which Charles the Second, who took a confiderable interest in the business of the theatre, in consequence of his long residence in France was also a strenuous advocate. In compliance with the prevailing mode, THE INDIAN QUEEN, and THE INDIAN EMPEROR, were written in rhyme. Between that period, however, and the publication of his ESSAY, Dryden tells us, he "lay'd aside that practice till he had more leisure, because he found it troublesome and slow." "But I am no way (he adds,) altered from my opinion of it, at least with any reasons that have opposed it." In this interval of leisure, therefore, throwing aside the shackles which he had imposed upon himself, he probably wrote SECRET LOVE, OR THE MAIDEN QUEEN,' a comedy which was acted, it should seem, on the opening of the theatres by

7 THE MAIDEN QUEEN, and THE WILD GALLant, were entered in the Stationers' Books, Aug. 7, 1667; the



the King's Servants, in Drury-Lane; and revised his early unsuccessful performance, THE WILD GALLANT, which, on its revival, derived some support from the growing fame of the author. This, and all his other dramatick pieces, in which he alone was concerned, except three, were acted by the King's Company of Comedians, with whom he probably was induced to engage in consequence of their being successively under the direction and superintendance of Thomas, Henry, and Charles Killigrew, to the various branches of which family he appears to have been strongly attached.

[ocr errors]

Of THE MAIDEN QUEEN the King himself was the great patron, having, it should seem, suggested the plot, and rescued the piece from the

former, therefore, was probably acted early in the preceding winter, when also THE WILD GALLANT seems to have been revived.

The six plays acted by the Duke of York's Servants were, THE TEMPEST, SIR MARTIN MARALL, LIMBERHAM, OEDIPUS, TROILUS AND CRESSIDA, and THE SPANISH FRIAR. But two of these plays being written in conjunction with other poets, he probably thought they had as good a right as himself to determine to which theatre they should be given; and SIR MARTIN MARALL, being originally the Duke of Newcastle's play, that nobleman had a right to dictate at which of the two playhouses it should be represented. About the time that LIMBERHAM, OEDIPUS, and TROILUS AND CRESSIDA were produced, our author's contract with the King's Company seems to have ceased; and when THE SPANISH FRIAR was exhibited, it was certainly at an end.

severity of its enemies." At this period too he was highly indebted to the young Duchess of Monmouth, who had so warmly patronized his INDIAN EMPEROR, that one of his adversaries tells


[ocr errors]

She the whole court brought over to his side,

"And favour flow'd upon him like a tide :” 9

and notwithstanding his subsequent opposition to the Duke, her husband, she seems to have continued her kindness to him to a late period of his life.'

Not long after the recommencement of dramatick exhibitions in London, our author took a more secure method of obtaining emolument from his dramas, than the patronage of any individual, however elevated by rank or fortune, could afford; that of contracting with the King's Theatre for an annual stipend, on condition of furnishing a certain number of plays in each year. The emolument was agreed to be one share and a quarter, out of twelye shares and three quarters of a share, into which the theatrical stock was divided; which is stated by the players to have produced to him, communibus annis, between three and four hundred pounds a year. With respect to the number of plays stipulated to be written, there is a great variation of statement in this as in almost all traditional tales; nor would it have been easy to find out the truth, were it not for an authentick


See vol. ii. p. 214.

document by which it is ascertained. Dr. Johnson, misled probably by the Key to THE REHEARSAL, published a few years after Dryden's death, has said, that he contracted to produce four plays a year: Cibber, on the other hand, says, two: but the true number which he agreed to write, was-three;' as appears from a memorial yet extant, presented probably to the Lord Cham

2 APOLOGY, p. 161.

3 Our author seems to allude to this stipulation in the following lines of his Prologue to THE MOCK ASTROLOGER, which appears to have been represented in 1668 : As for the poet of the present night,


[ocr errors]

Though now he claims in you a husband's right,

"He will not hinder you of fresh delight.

"He, like a seaman, seldom will appear,
"And means to trouble you but thrice a year:
"That only time from your gallants he'll borrow;


Be kind to him to-day, and cuckold him to-morrow." The gallants here alluded to were his brother poets, the writing Monsieurs of the time, as he calls them in a former part of this prologue.

Gildon inaccurately states, (LAWS OF POETRY, 8vo. 1721, p. 38.) that " after the Restoration, when the two houses struggled for the favour of the town, the taking poets were secured to either house by a sort of retaining fee, which seldom or never amounted to more than forty shillings a week, nor was that of any long continuance." That sum would not have produced more than sixty pounds a year, the theatrical season being usually about thirty weeks.

Etherege, Lord Orrery, Otway, Shadwell, Ravens

berlain about the year 1678. The reasoning upon this contract has not been less vague than the account of the stipulations which it contained; for it

croft, Crowne, Settle, Behn, and Tate, were all attached to the Duke's House; some of them gratuitously, and some probably by contract. The Poets of the King's Theatre were, Dryden, Sir Robert Howard, Wycherley, James Howard, Lacy, D'Urfey, and Duffet.-Lee, from 1675 to 1678, received a pension from the King's Servants; from that time to 1682, he attached himself to their opponents. Edward Howard, Sir Charles Sidley, and Bankes, gave their plays sometimes to one theatre, and sometimes to the other.

4 The original of the following paper remained long in the hands of the Killigrew family, and is now in the possession of Isaac Reed, Esq. of Staple Inn, by whom it was obligingly communicated to me several years ago, to illustrate the History of the Stage. The superscription is lost but it was probably addressed to the Lord Chamberlain, Henry Bennet, Earl of Arlington, in the year 1678.

"WHEREAS upon Mr. Dryden's binding himself to write three playes a yeere, he the said Mr. Dryden was admitted and continued as a Sharer in the King's Playhouse for diverse years, and received for his share and a quarter, three or four hundred pounds, communibus annis*;

* In an indenture tripartite, dated 31 Dec. 1666, between Thomas Killigrew and Henry Killigrew, his son and heir, of the first part, Thomas Porter, Esq. of the second part, and Sir John Sayer and Dame Catharine his wife, of the third part, it is recited (inter alia)" that the profits arising by acting of plays, masques, &c. then performed by the company of actors called the King and Queen's players, were, by agreement, amongst themselves and Thomas Killigrew, divided into twelve shares and three quarters of a share,-and that Thomas Killi.

« PrejšnjaNaprej »