« ElőzőTovább »
FORTUNE BY LAND AND SEA;
THOMAS HEYWOOD AND WILLIAM ROWLEY.
BARRON FIELD, ESQ.
“Rowley had a finer genius than Massinger."
FREDERICK SHO BERI, JUNIOR, PRINTER TO HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS PRINCE ALBERT,
51, RUPERT STREET, HAYMARKET, LONGON.
Although this play was “acted by the Queen's servants," it was not published till the year 1655, after the death of its authors, during the Protectorate of Cromwell, when plays could only be read, not acted. There is only that one edition, which is very badly printed, in quarto, with all the blank verse like prose, to save space. With the exception of the fourth scene of the third act, it is a very good drama, full of spirit and poetical justice. It would seem unnatural, now-adays, that an eldest son, for marrying a young lady with no fortune, should by his father be not only disinherited, but made, together with his wife, domestic servants to the father and younger brothers; but in Shakespeare's days such patriarchal tyranny could be practised with no check from public opinion. The land
* This gives us no clue to the date of its production, for there was a company of players so called, both in King James's and King Charles's times. The proclamation which is introduced in this play, running in the Queen's name, and not the King's, the piece may have been sketched by Heywood in Elizabeth's time.
was almost the only property: that generally went by heirship; and younger brothers, under pretence of having the run of the house, were virtually servants to the heir, unless they had the spirit to go abroad, as soldiers or sailors, or the wit to enter into one of the learned professions.
Of William Rowley little is known, and that little has been confused. There were two Rowleys, both actors and authors, belonging to the Prince of Wales's company, afterwards King Charles I. Mr. Haslewood, in the Censuria Literaria (vol. ix. p. 49), pointed out that the enumeration by Meres, in his Palladis Tamia, 1598, of " Maister Rowley," among " the best poets for comedy," related to Samuel, and not to William Rowley, as erroneously stated in the Biographia Dramatica. But so difficult is it to set right a confusion which once gets into these Dictionaries, that even the editor of the late reprint, for the Percy Society, of Rowley's " Search for Money" has partly fallen into the error. It is Samuel, and not William, whose name is mentioned so often in Henslowe's papers, by whom he was engaged as an actor before Queen Elizabeth's death. There is also a Thomas Rowley in the “ Plot of Tamar Cam," found among Alleyn's papers ; but he must have been a very inferior person, as he only plays a “Negar," with “the red-faced fellow," the last in the accompanying list of the actors. The earliest record of William Rowley I believe to be, as the head of the Duke of York's (as Charles then was) servants on the 9th of February, 1609 (1610), in Mr. Cunningham's Revels' Accounts, p. xlii. In 1613 we find him at the head
of the Prince's company, to which Samuel also belonged
Langbaine says that " William Rowley was not only beloved by those great men, Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Johnson, but likewise writ, with the former, The Birth of Merlin." This last fact is not now credited. The only evidence of it is, that the drama is attributed to Shakespeare and Rowley by its first publisher in 1662. This and Langbaine's testimony, in 1691, are not sufficient authority for treating our great poet as the author of any part of The Birth of Merlin, of which an analysis may be seen in Mr. Knight's Supplementary Volume.