Home  »  Volume VIII: English THE AGE OF DRYDEN  »  § 7. Old Masterpieces Revived

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

V. The Restoration Drama

§ 7. Old Masterpieces Revived

The répertoire of the first years of the restoration exhibits an active revival of the masterpieces of the earlier drama. Between the opening of the new theatres and April, 1663, Pepys saw Othello, Henry IV, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jonson’s Silent Woman and Bartholomew Fayre, Fletcher’s Tamer Tamed, The Beggars Bush and Beaumont’s Knight of the Burning Pestle, Middleton’s Changeling, Shirley’s Cardinall, Massinger’s Bond-Man and several more. Hamlet was among the first plays revived, and it furnished one of Betterton’s most signal triumphs. A taste for the heroic in drama, a heritage from Fletcher and his imitators in the previous age, is noticeable in D’Avenant’s own Siege of Rhodes and, more especially, in his really fine tragi-comedy, Love and Honour. How this was to spring into full flower in the heroic plays of Dryden, Orrery and others, has been already shown in an earlier chapter. The beginnings of opera, also, may be postponed for the moment.