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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

V. The Restoration Drama

§ 12. The Duke of Newcastle

The duke of Newcastle, too, and his clever duchess had both long been dabblers in the drama. But, neither the tutorship of Ben Jonson, nor that of Shirley later, contrived to produce in either of the paur results deserving serious attention from the student of literature. Two comedies by the duke—The Humorous Lovers and The Triumphant Widow—were acted “after the restoration” and printed in 1673. Twenty-one plays by the duchess were published in a folio volume of 1662. They have been described as “fertile in invention and as tending to extravaganza and an excess of unrefined fun.” Thus, in the midst of a steady revival of the plays of the old drama, extending, in accordance with the gross taste of the court, to comedies of Middleton and Brome, the first years of the restoration passed by.

But comedy, on the revival of the stage, was not to be confined to the satire of contemporary allusion and a following of the humours of Jonson. In a striking passage of his Life of Dryden, Sir Walter Scott declares that the English audience of the restoration.

  • had not the patience for the regular comedy depending upon delicate turns of expression and nicer delineations of character. The Spanish comedy, with its bustle, machinery, disguise and complicated intrigue, was much more agreeable to their taste.