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1. The Sullen Lovers, or the Impertinent, a Comedy; acted at the duke’s theatre, dedicated to William duke of Newcastle: the dedication is dated September 1st, 1668.

2. The Humorist, a Comedy; acted by his royal highest servants, dedicated to Margaret d.u.c.h.ess of Newcastle.

3. The Royal Shepherdess, a Tragi-Comedy; acted by the duke of York’s servants, printed at London 1669, in quarto. This play was originally written by Mr. Fountain of Devonshire, but altered throughout by Mr. Shadwell.

4. The Virtuoso, a Comedy; acted at the duke’s theatre, printed at London 1676, in quarto, dedicated to the duke of Newcastle.

Mr. Langbaine observes, that no body will deny this play its due applause; at least I know, says he, that the university of Oxford, who may be allowed competent judges of comedy, especially such characters as Sir Nicholas Gimcrack, and Sir Formal Trifle, applauded it. And as no man ever undertook to discover the frailties of such pretenders to this kind of knowledge before Mr. Shadwell, so none since Johnson’s time, ever drew so many different characters of humour, and with such success.

5. Pysche, a Tragedy; acted at the duke’s theatre, printed in London 1675 in 4to, and dedicated to the duke of Monmouth. In the preface he tell us, that this play was written in five weeks.

6. The Libertine, a Tragedy; acted by his royal highness’s servants, printed in London 1676, in quarto, and dedicated to the duke of Newcastle. In the preface Mr. Shadwell observes, that the story from which he took the hint of this play, is famous all over Spain, Italy, and France. It was first used in a Spanish play, the Spaniards having a tradition of such a vicious Spaniard, as is represented in this play; from them the Italian comedians took it; the French borrowed it from them, and four several plays have been made upon the story.

7. Epsom Wells, a comedy; acted at the duke’s theatre; printed at London 1676, in 4to, and dedicated to the duke of Newcastle. Mr. Langbaine says, that this is so diverting and so true a comedy, that even foreigners, who are not in general kind to the wit of our nation, have extremely commended it.

8. The History of Timon of Athens the Manhater; acted at the duke’s theatre, printed at London 1678, in 4to. In the dedication to George duke of Buckingham he observes, that this play was originally Shakespear’s, who never made, says he, more masterly strokes than in this; yet I can truly say, I have made it into a play.

9. The Miser, a Comedy; acted at the theatre royal, dedicated to the earl of Dorset. In the preface our author observes, he took the foundation of it from Moliere’s L’Avare.

10. A true Widow, a Comedy; acted at the duke’s theatre, printed in 1679, in 4to, dedicated to Sir Charles Sidley. The prologue was written by Mr. Dryden; for at this time they lived in friendship.

11. The Lancashire Witches, and Teague O Divelly, the Irish priest, a comedy; acted at the duke’s theatre, printed at London 1682. Our author has a long preface to this play, in which he vindicates his piece from the charge of reflecting upon the church, and the sacred order. He apologizes for the magical part, and observes, that he had no hopes of equaling Shakespear in his fancy, who created his Witches for the most part out of his imagination; in which faculty no man ever excelled led him, and therefore, says he, I resolve to take mine from authority.

12. The Woman Captain, a Comedy; acted by his royal highness’s servants.

13. The Squire of Alsatia, a Comedy; acted by his Majesty’s servants, printed at London 1688, in 4to. and dedicated to the earl of Dorset and Middles.e.x.

14. Bury-Fair, a Comedy; acted by his Majesty’s servants, printed at London 1689 in 4to. and dedicated to the earl of Dorset. In the dedication he observes, ‘That this play was written during eight months painful sickness, wherein all the several days in which he was able to write any part of a scene amounted not to one month, except some few, which were employed in indispensible business.’

15. Amorous Bigot, with the second part of Teague O Divelly, a Comedy, acted by their Majesties servants, printed 1690 in 4to. dedicated to Charles earl of Shrewsbury.

16. The Scowerers, a Comedy, acted by their Majesties servants, and printed in 4to. 1690.

17. The Volunteers, or the Stock-Jobbers, a Comedy, acted by their Majesties servants, dedicated to the Queen by Mrs. Anne Shadwell, our author’s widow.

In the epilogue the character of Mr. Shadwell, who was then dead, was given in the following lines.

Shadwell, the great support o’th’comic stage, Born to expose the follies of the age, To whip prevailing vices, and unite, Mirth with instruction, profit with delight; For large ideas, and a flowing pen, First of our times, and second but to Ben; Whose mighty genius, and discerning mind, Trac’d all the various humours of mankind; Dressing them up, with such successful care That ev’ry fop found his own picture there.

And blush’d for shame, at the surprising skill, Which made his lov’d resemblance look so ill.

Shadwell who all his lines from nature drew, Copy’d her out, and kept her still in view; Who never sunk in prose, nor soar’d in verse, So high as bombast, or so low as farce; Who ne’er was brib’d by t.i.tle or estate To fawn or flatter with the rich or great; To let a gilded vice or folly pa.s.s, But always lash’d the villain and the a.s.s.

[Footnote 1: General Dictionary. See the article Shadwell.]


The eldest son of Sir Robert Killegrew, Knt. chamberlain to the Queen, was born at the Manor of Hanworth, near Hampton-Court, in the month of May, 1605. He became a gentleman commoner in St. John’s College in Midsummer term 1622; where continuing about three years he travelled beyond seas, and after his return, was made governor of Pendennis castle, and of Falmouth haven in Cornwall, with command of the militia in the west part of that county. After this he was called to attend King Charles I. as one of his gentlemen ushers of his privy chamber; in which employment he continued till the breaking out of the great rebellion; and had the command given him of one of the two great troops of horse that guarded the King’s person, during the whole course of the war between his Majesty and his Parliament. Our author was in attendance upon the King when the court resided at Oxford, and was created doctor of the civil laws 1642;[1] and upon the ruin of the King’s affairs, he suffered for his attachment to him, and compounded with the republicans for his estate.

Upon the restoration of King Charles II. he was the first of his father’s servants that he took any notice of, and made him gentleman-usher of his privy chamber: the same place he enjoyed under the deceased King. Upon Charles IId’s marriage with Donna Catherina of Portugal, he was created his Majesty’s first vice chamberlain, in which honourable station he continued twenty-two years.

His dramatic works are,

1. Orinasdes, or Love and friendship, a tragi-comedy.

2. Pandora, or the Converts, a Comedy.

3. Siege of Urbin, a Tragi-Comedy.

4. Selindra, a Tragi-Comedy.

All these plays were printed together in folio, Oxon 1666. There is another play ascribed to our author, called the Imperial Tragedy, printed in 1699; the chief part was taken out of a Latin play, and much altered by him for his own diversion; tho’ upon the importunity of his friends, he was prevailed upon to publish it, but without his name. The plot is founded upon the history of Zeno, the 12th emperor of Constantinople after Constantine. Sir William Killegrew’s plays have been applauded by men very eminent in poetry, particularly Mr. Waller, who addresses a copy of verses to him upon his altering Pandora from a tragedy into a comedy, because not approved on the stage.

Sir William has also a little poem extant, which was set to music by Mr. Henry Lawes, a man in the highest reputation of any of his profession in his time. Mr. Wood says, that after our author had retired from court in his declining age, he wrote

The Artless Midnight Thoughts of a Gentleman at Court; who for many years built on sand, which every blast of cross fortune has defaced; but now he has laid new foundations, on the rock of his salvation, &c. London 1684. It is dedicated to King Charles II. and besides 233 thoughts in it, there are some small pieces of poetry.

Midnight and Daily thoughts in verse and prose, Lond. 1694, with commendatory verses before it, by H. Briket. He died 1693, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

[Footnote 1: Wood, Athen. Oxon. vol. 2.]


This gentleman was a younger son of Thomas earl of Berkshire, by Elizabeth his wife, one of the daughters and coheirs of William lord Burghley, and received his education at Magdalen-college, Oxford, under the tuition of Dr. E. Drope. During the civil wars, he suffered with the rest of his family, who maintained their loyalty to the unfortunate King Charles I. Upon the restoration, our author was made a knight, and was chosen one of the burgesses for Stockbridge in Hampshire, to serve in the Parliament which began at Westminster 8th of May 1661; he was quickly preferred to the place of auditor of the Exchequer, then worth some thousand pounds per annum, and was reckoned one of King Charles’s creatures, whom he advanced, on account of his faithful services in cajoling the Parliament for Money.

In the year 1679 he was chosen burgess for Castle-rising in Norfolk, to serve in that Parliament which began at Westminster on the 17th of October 1680. When the revolution was effected, and King William ascended the throne, he was elected burgess again for Castle-rising, to fit in the Parliament which began the 22d of January 1688, was made one of the privy council, about the 16th of February took the usual oaths, and commenced from that moment a violent persecutor of the Non-jurors, and disclaimed all manner of conversation and intercourse with any of that character. He is said to have been a man extremely positive, and a pretender to a more general understanding than he really possessed. His obstinacy and pride procured him many enemies, amongst whom the duke of Buckingham was the first; who intended to have exposed Sir Robert under the name of Bilboa in the Rehearsal; but the plague which then prevailed occasioned the theatres to be shut up, and the people of fashion to quit the town. In this interval he altered his resolution, and levelled his ridicule at a much greater name, under that of Bayes.

Thomas Shadwell the poet, tho’ a man of the same principles with Sir Robert, concerning the revolution and state matters, was yet so angry with the knight for his supercilious domineering manner of behaving, that he points him out under the name of Sir Positive At All, one of his characters in the comedy called the Sullen Lovers, or the Impertinents; and amongst the same persons is the lady Vain, a Courtezan, which the wits then understood to be the mistress of Sir Robert Howard, whom he afterwards thought proper to marry.

In February 1692, being then in the decline of life, he married one Mrs Dives, maid of honour to the Queen. The merit of this author seems to have been of a low rate, for very little is preserved concerning him, and none of his works are now read; nor is he ever mentioned, but when that circ.u.mstance of the duke of Buckingham’s intending to ridicule him, is talked of.

Had Sir Robert been a man of any parts, he had sufficient advantages from his birth and fortune to have made a figure, but the highest notice which he can claim in the republic of letters, is, that he was brother-in-law to Dryden.

His works are,

Poems, containing a panegyric on the King, and songs and sonnets, Lond. 1660, and a panegyric on general Monk.

His plays are six in number, viz.

1. The Blind Lady, a Comedy.

2. The Committee, or the Faithful Irishman, a Comedy, printed folio, London 1665. This comedy is often acted, and the success of it chiefly depends upon the part of Teague being well performed.

3. The Great Favourite, or the Duke of Lerma, a Tragi-Comedy, acted at the theatre-royal 1668. This play was criticised by Mr. Dryden.

4. The Indian Queen, a Tragedy.

5. Surprizal, a Tragi-comedy, acted at the theatre royal 1665.


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