Page images
PDF
EPUB

THE

BIRD IN A CAGE.

BY

JAMES SHIRI.EY.

JAMES SHIRLEY was descended from the family of the Shirleys, " of Susser, or Wurwickshire. ile was born in the year 1594, in the parish of St Mary Wool-church, where Stocks-market formerly stood. His grammatical learning he acquired in Merchant-Taylors School, and from thence was removed to St John's College, Oxford; but in what condition he lived there, whether as servitor, batler, or commoner, Wood* says, he was not able to discover. At that time, Dr Laud, afterwards archbishop of Canterbury, presided in that seminary; and, having observed early marks of genius in young Shire ley, conceived a great regard for him, but is said to have prevented him from entering into holy orders, on account of a large mole, which disfigured his left cheek, and which he deemed a sufficient reason for refusing to permit him to be ordained. He afterwards left Oxford, and removed to Cathurine Hallot Cambridge, where Wood supposes he took his degrees in arts, and entering into holy orders, began his ministry in or near St Albans. It was not long before he began to entertain scruples ubout his religion, which ended in his embracing the tenets of the Roman Catholic church. On this change he quitled his living, and taught a grammar school at St Albans ; but this also growing irksome to him, he came to reside in the metropolis, lived in Gray's Inn, and commerced writer for the stage. In this profession he met with considerable success, and obtained sufficient advantages to enable him to live with credit and decency, until the breaking out of the civil wars, which occasioning the theatres to be shut up, he was compelled to leave Londox, and accepted an invitation from Il’illiam, then earl, afterwards duke of Newcastle, to take his fortune with him in the wars. I On the decline of the king's fortune, he retired obscurely to London, where, in 1647, he published the folio edition of Beaumont and Fletcher's works, and was some time maintained at the erpence of Thomas Stanley, Esg.ll He ofterwards returned to his former profession of teaching school, chiefly in White-Friars, and gained a decent subsistence from it until the king's return; but whether on that event he had any office or employment conferred on him to recompense his sufferings, Wood says he could not discover. At length, after a life of full seventy-two years, in which he had erperienced various fortunes, he, with his second wife, Frances, were driven from their house near Fleet-street, by the grent fire which happened in 1666, into the parish of St Giles in the fields, where, being overcome by the fright and the loss they had sustained, added to the infirmities of old age, they both died in one day, and were buried in one grare in St Giles's church-yard, on the 29th of October, 1606. Wood says, that Shirley assisted his patron, the duke of Newcastle, in composing of certain pluys, which the duke afterwards published; he also was consulted by Fletcher, after the death of his coadjutor Beaumont, and was besides a drudge for John Ogilvy, in writing annotations for that author's translations of Homer and Virgil. Dryden, s with great injustice, has classed him with Flecknoes, a writer too contemptible to de

[merged small][ocr errors]

serre the slightest mention. According to the fashion of the times, in which every poet of reputation took another as his poetical son, and as such patronised and supported his reputution ; Shirley was advpled by Chupman, in the same manner as Brome wus by Dekker, Field by Massinger, Randolph first, and afterwards Carturight, by Ben Jonson.

Shirley wrole several books for the instruction of youth in grammatical learning, many poems, and the following dramatic pieces :

1. The ll'edding, a comedy, acted at the Phænir, in Drury-Lane. 4to, 1629. 4to, 1633. 4to, 1660. 2. The Gruitful Servant, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 4to, 1633. 410, 1637.

3. The School of Compliments, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 110, 1631. 4to, 1637, and in 410, 1667, under the title of, Love Tricks, or the School of Compliments, as acted at the duke of York's theatre, Little Lincoln's- Inn-Fields.

4. Changes, or Love in a Maze, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Salisbury Court. 4to, 1632. 5. A Contention for Honour and Riches, a Masque. 410, 1633. 6. The Witty Fair One, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 4to. 1633. 7. The Triumph of Peace, a masque, presented by the Four Inns of Court, at the BanquetingHouse, Whitehall, Feb. 3, 1633. 4to. 1633. See Warton's History of Poetry, Vol. II. p. 400.

8. The Bird in a Cage, a comedy, acted at the Phanis, Drury Lane. 4to, 1633. 9 The Traitor, a tragedy, acted by his majesty's servants. 4to. 1635.

This play was revived and reprinted in 4to, 1692 : and P. Motteaur, in his Gentleman's Journal, says, Shirley only ushered it on the stuge, but that it was written by one Mr Rivers, a Jesuit, who wiote it, and died in Neugale." See also Gildon on it. Oldys MS. Notes on Langbaine. It was also rivired in 1718, at Lincoln's.Inn- Fields, and printed in 8vo the same year. To that edition, as well as the former in 1692, the name of Rivers is put as the author.

10. The Lady of Pleasure, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 4to, 1657. 11. The Young Admiral, a tragi-comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane.' 410, 1637. 12. Hide Parke, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 4to, 1637. 13. The Gamester, a comedy, acted at the Private House. Drury-Lane. 410. 1637. 14. The Example, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 410, 1637.

15. The Royal Master, a tragi-comedy, acted at the New Theatre in Dublin, and before the Lord Deputy of Ireland in the Castle. 410, 1638.

By the Dedication lo the Earl of kildure, it appears that the author was that year in Ireland. 18. The Duke's Mistress, a tragi-comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lune. 4to, 1033. 17. The Maid's Revenge, a tragedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 410, 1639. 18. Chabot, Admiral of France, a iragedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 4to, 1039. Chapman joined in writing this play. 19. "The Ball, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 410, 1639. Chapman also joined in writing this play. 20. Arcadia, a pastoral, acted at the Phænir, Drury-Tane. 4to, 1640. 21. The Opportunity, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lane. 4to, 1640. 22. Lore's Cruelty, a tragedy, acted at the Private House, Drury-Lune. 410, 1640. 23. St Putrick for Irclund, the first part. 4to, 1610. 24. The Constant Maid, a comedy. 410, 1640.

This was afterwards published under ihe title of Lore will find out the Iiy. By T. B. 416, 1002.

25. The Coronation, a comedy, netail at the Private Hlouse, Drury-Lane. 4to, 1640.

This play was printed with the name of John Fletcher, as the author, and as such it is included in the works of him and Beaumont; Shirley, however, claims it, in the catalogue printed at the end of The Cardinul, and says it was falsely ascribed to Fletcher.

26. The Humorous Courtier, a comedy, ucted at the Private Ilouse, Drury-Lane. 4to, 1640. 27. The Triumph of beauty, a masque. 8vo. 1616. 28. The Brothers, ü comedy, acted at the Private House in Blackfriars. sro, 1652. 29. The Sis!ors, a comedy, acted at the Private House, Blackfriars. 8vo, 1632. so. The Doubtful Heir, a tógr-comedy, acted at the Private House, Blackfriars. 800, 1652. 31. The Imposture, a tragi-comedy, acted at the Private House, Blackfriars. 87o, 1652. 32. The Curdinal, a tragedy, ucted at the Private House in Blackfriars. 8vo, 1652.

83. The Court Secret, u trugi-comedy, never ucted, but prepared for the scene ut Bluckfriars. 600, 163.

These last sir were printed in one volume.

54. Cupid and Deuih, a masque, presented before the ambassador of Portugal, on the 26th of March, 1633. 410, 1653. 410, 1659.

95. The Politiciun, a tragody, presented at Salisbury-Court. 110, 1655.

36. The Gentleman of Venice, a tragi-comedy, presented at a private house in Salisbury-Court. 410, 1655.

37. The Contention of Ajar and Ulysses for Achilles's Armour, a masque. 800, 1659.
38. Honoria and Mammon, a comedy. 8vo, 1659.
39. Andromanu, or the Merchant's Wife, a tragedy. 410, 1660.

Langbaine mentions only thirty-seven dramatic pieces by Shirley, but says there were others in MS. One of them was intitled, Rosanio, or Lore's Victory,* a comedy. Shirley appears to have left some children ; one of them, in Wood's time, was the butler of Furnival's inn in Holborn.

TO

MASTER WILLIAM PRINNE, †

UTTER-BARRISTER OF LINCOLN'S-INN.

SIR,

The fame of your candour and innocent love to learning, especially to that musical part of human knowledge, poetry, and, in particular, to that which concerns the stage and scene, (yourself, as I hear, having lately written a tragedy,) doth justly challenge from me this dedication. I had an early desire to congratulate your happy retirement; but no poem could tempt me with so fair a circumstance as this in the title, wherein I take some delight to think (not without imitation of yourself, who have ingeniously fancied such elegant and apposile names for your own compositions, as " Health's Sickdiess,” “ The Unloveliness of Love-Locks,” &c.) bow aptly I may present you at his time with “ The Bird in a Cage;" a comedy which wanteth, I must confess, much of that ornament which the stage and action lent it, for, it comprehending also another play or interlude, personated by ladies, I must refer to your imagination, the music, the songs, the dancing, and other varieties, which I know would have pleased you infinitely in the presentment. I was the rather inclined to make this oblation, that posterity might read you a patron to the Muses, and one that durst, in such a critical age, bind up ihe wounds which ignorance had printed upon wit and the professors. Proceed, inimitable Mecænas, and having such convenient leisure, and an indefatigable Pegasus, I mean your prose, (which scorneth the road of common sense, and despiseth any stile in his way,) travel still in the pursuit of new discoveries; which you may publish, it you please, in your next book of Digressions. If you do not happen presently to convert the organs, you may in tiine confute the steeple, and bring every parish to one bell.

This is all I have to say at this time; and my own occasions not permitting my personal attendance, I have entreated a gentleman to deliver this testimony of my service. Many faults have escaped the press, which your judgment will no sooner find than your mercy correct; by which you shall tcach others a charity to your own volumes, though they be all errata. If you continue where you are, you will every day enlarge your fame; and, beside the engagement of other poets to celetrale your Roman constancy, in pariicular oblige the tongue and pen of your devout honourer,

JAMES SHIRLEY.

* Mr Malone's attempt to ascertain the order of Shakespeare's plays, p. 331. + This is he who wrote Histrio-mastrix, the Players Scourge, or Actors Tragedy, printed in 1683. It is a large railing rhapsody, consisting chiefly of stupid quotations from the Fathers; from whence he endeavours to prove, that all who write, act, or frequent plays, are certainly damned. le particularly relected upon ihe king and queen for the countenance and encouragement they gave to plays, for which he was prosecuted in the Star-Chamber, and sentenced to stand twice in the pillory, lose an ear each time, pay 0000J., suffer perpetual imprisonment, and have his book burnt by the common langman.

Mr DopsicY. This very catraordinary man, whose severe punishment, and Roman constancy in submitting to it, had

[blocks in formation]

po small effect upon the minds of the people, and contributed more than is generally imagined to the disasters of the times, was born at Swanswick, near Bath, in Somersetsbire, in the year 1600. He was edacated in the last-mentioned city; entered of Uriel College in 1616, and took the degree of B.A. January 21, 1620. From thence he was removed to Lincoln's Inn, where he studied the common law, and became successively barrister, bencher, and reader, in that society. After the execution of his sentence, on account of Histrio-mastrix be printed other pieces which gave equal offence, which occasioned his being again prosecuted. In consequence of which, he was fined, branded, and imprisoned, and in each with equal or more severity than before. The place of his confinement was Mount Orguiel, in the island of Jersey, where he continued three years; at the end of that time, being chosen member for Newport, in Cornwall, he was released, and entered London in triumph; and be soon had an opportunity to revenge the severe treatment he had experienced from his inveterate foe, archbishop Laud' He sat in the Long Parliament, and was one of the secluded members who were imprisoned on account of their zeal for a peace with the king. From this time he was an avowed enemy of Oliver Cromwell, and was by him inprisoned in Dunster Castle, in Somersetshire. At the Restoration he became instrumental in recalling the king, and was rewarded with being appointed keeper of the records in the Tower, and a salary of 5001. per annum. He was soon after named one of the commissioners for appeals and regulating the excise, was elected member for Bath, and embroiled himself with the House of Commons, on which account be was obliged to make a submission. He died at his chambers in Lincoln's-Inn, October 24, 1669, and was buried under the chapel there,

court.

Orp. Madam Donella is newly returned to / Since free to all delights, thy mind shall be

Its own commander; every day shall strive Fulo. With the princess?

To bring thee in fresh rarities : time shall be Orp. She was but late retired into the coun- Delighted with thy pleasures, and stay with thec. try:

Eug. Indeed I shall think time has lost his What's the matter?

wings, Morel. Your lordships, I hope, bare heard the When I ain thus caged up. duke sent post for thein, as they say. There is Duke. Thou shalt give something in it.

To him fcathers when thou pleasest. Mantua Puid. What?

Shall pour her raptures on thee. Why have I Morel. Does not your lordship know? A crown, but to command what thou cau'st wish Fulo. Not I.

for, Morel. Your lordship’s wisdom and mine is My dear Eugenia? much about a scantling then; yet, for aught I Eug. A deer, it seems; hear, there be others of the court az ignorant as For, as you bad suspicion of my wildness, we.--Your honour's pardon, I beseech you; I You'll measure out my walk. must in all haste to the princess's lodging.

Duke. I am thy father, Orp. Farewell, signior,

Who, by exa:nple of the wisest kings, Your amorous lock' bas a hair out of order.

But build a place to lay my treasure in, Morel. Uın! what an oversight was this of my Safe from the robber, where I'll place a guard barber!

Eug. Do you suspect I shall break prison ? I must return now and have it corrected, dear Duke. To keep off violence, and soliciting, signior.

(E.rit. Which may disturb thy pleasures, until we Fult. Here's a courtier, that will not miss a Shall find out one to match thy birth and virtues; hair of his compliment when he is to appear be My dukedom is too puor that way. Maintain fore his mistress. Every morning does this fel- Thy father's soul : thou hast no blood to mix low put himself upon the rack, with putting on's with any beneath prince. Forget, as I shall, apparel; and manfully endures his tailor when Thy love was ever falling from thy greatness, he screws and wrests his body into the fashion of Into the arms of one carries but stile of honour. his doublet.- But that the court cannot subsist Eug. Sir, I am your daughter. without a fool, I should marvel what this fellow

Duke. Thou'st deserved my blessing: and thy does to follow it.

obedience Orp. There are more have much about his par- In this new crowns thy father. I see I need not cel of brains: the benefit of youth and good Urge what I am to move thee, and lay force : clothes procured their places, and ignorauce and Thy understanding does appear convinced, impudence have since maintained them.

Aud loving duty teaches thee to more Fulo. Two great helps, as the world goes.

Than the command.-PerenottoEnter Gentlemun-Ushers, DONDOLO, and

Eug. What narrow ground I tread! I know

he is GRUTTI.

Too passionate to be denied his will, Gentleman-Ush. Clear the presence, the duke And yet to yield will make me miserable; is entering.

'Tis my misfortune to be born so great. Enter DUKE, Eugenia, PERExOTTO. Allend

Each common man and woman can enjoy

The air, when the condition of a princess ants.

Makes me a prisoner: but I must obey, Eug. I ever was obedient

In hope it will not last.— I have a soul Duke. 'Tis for thy honour, which I know Is full of grateful duty, nor will suffer me Is to thyself a precious sound.---That building, Farther dispute your precept: you have power I late erected, then shall be thy palace.

To steer me as you please. Eug. Or my prison, sir, if I do rightly under- Duke. All the Graces stand.

Speak in my girl-each syllable doth carry Duke. That name

A volume of thy goodness: all my cares, Is too unworthy of it, my Eugenia.

So well rewarded, do convert to sweetness : Nor will it seein restraint to my loved daughter, I thank thy filial piety. Know, my girl,

'Your amorous lock.-i. e. One of the love-locks anciently worn. Pryone, to whom this play is satiri. cally dedicated, wrote a book against them. See Dr Warburton's note on Much ado about Nothing, A.6. S.I.

The fashion appears to bave been derived from France. In Green's Quip for an Upstart Courtier, 1592, it is said :-" Will you be Frenchefied with a love-locke down your shoulders ? wherein you may weare your mistres favour.” Love-locks are often mentioned or alluded to. See Ben Jonson's Epicane, A. 4. $. 6; The Return from Parnassus, A. 3. S. 2; and in other pieces.

« PreviousContinue »