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BY JOHN BANCROFT,
And published BY MR MOUNTFORT, 1693.
SPOKEN BY MRS BRACEGIRDLE.
This play is founded on the amours of Henry II. and the death of fair Rosamond. John Bancroft, the author, was a surgeon, and wrote another play called " Sertorius." He gave both the reputation and the profits of " Henry II" to Mountfort, the comedian; and probably made him no great compliment in the former particular, though, as the piece was well received, the latter might be of some consequence. Mountfort was an actor of great eminence. Cibber says, that he was the most affecting lover within his memory.
THUS you the sad catastrophe have seen,
If one must be your choice, which d'ye approve,
* The facetious Joe Haynes became a Catholic in the latter part of James the Second's reign. But after the Revolution, he read his recantation of the errors of Rome in a penitentiary prologue, which he delivered in a suit of mourning.
GALLANTS, a bashful poet bids me say,
But this the ladies may with patience brook;
His gloss is still upon him; though 'tis true
Thus he's equipp'd, both to be woo'd, and woo;
'Tis hard, he thinks, if neither part will do.
The old play, to which this prologue was prefixed upon its revival, was originally acted in 1634, three or four years after the appearance of Jonson's "Alchemist;" to which, therefore, it could not possibly afford any hint. Dryden, observing the resemblance between the plays, took the plagiarism for granted, because the style of "Albumazar" is certainly the most antiquated. This appearance of antiquity is, however, only a consequence of the vein of pedantry which runs through the whole piece. It was written by Tomkins, a scholar of Trinity College, and acted before King James VI. by the gentlemen of that house, 9th March, 1614. It is, upon the whole, a very excellent play; yet the author, whether consulting his own taste, or that of our British Solomon, before whom it was to be represented, has contrived to give it an air of such learned stiffness, that it much more resembles the translation of a play from Terence or Plautus, than an original English composition. By this pedantic affectation, the humour of the play is completely smothered; and although there are several very excellent comic situations in the action, yet neither the attempt to revive it in Dryden's time, nor those which followed in 1748 and 1773, met with any success. As Dryden had imputed, very rashly, however, and groundlessly, the guilt of plagiarism to Jonson, he made this supposed crime the introduction to a similar slur on Shadwell, who at that time seems to have been possessed of the laurel; a circumstance which ascertains the date of the prologue to be posterior to the Revolu
To say this comedy pleased long ago,