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Abstract

Every schoolboy once knew that the Restoration of the king meant the restoration of the theatre and it was often claimed that that very connection meant the degeneration of drama. Such simplified views point the way to a more complicated truth. From the first, Restoration drama, as we shall see, was essentially political drama, drawing on the circumstances and attitudes that had led to the theatre’s reopening for its peculiar matter and flavour. It was new and effective but like much political drama rather limited. Although it derived from earlier drama, its distinctive affiliation was with contemporary panegyric, political pamphleteering and propagandist display. From the beginning Charles’s return had called forth theatrical show on the grandest scale. The numerous official occasions provided an opportunity for lavish, ingratiating spectacles, presented before the king, mostly organised by the City of London and performed in the streets or important civic buildings. John Tatham’s The Royal Oak for the Lord Mayor’s Day 1660 had ‘twice as many Pageants and Speeches as have been formerly showen’, and the coronation triumphs in 1661 were reckoned greater than anything seen before in England or Rome.1 The tradition of street pageantry was an old one and incorporated emblematic imagery, verbal and visual, with a long ancestry of political service.

Keywords

English Literature Great Favourite Contemporary History English History Political Drama 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    John Tatham, The Royal Oake With Other various and delightfull Scenes presented on the Water and the Land (1660), sig. A1a.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    For the tradition of emblematic pageantry, G.R. Kernodle, From Art to Theatre: Form and Convention in the Renaissance (Chicago, 1944), pp. 58–76, 90–3Google Scholar
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  5. Frances A. Yates, Astraea: The Imperial Theme in the Sixteenth Century (1975), pp. 29–87, esp. p. 41.Google Scholar
  6. 3.
    John Ogilby, The Relation of His Majesty’s Entertainment (1661), p. 2 (the humbler first version).Google Scholar
  7. 4.
    For the contemporary importance of Claudian, James D. Garrison, Dryden and the Tradition of Panegyric (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1975), pp. 22–7, 63–82, 87–99.Google Scholar
  8. 5.
    Ogilby, The Relation of His Majestie’s Entertainment (1661), p. 2.Google Scholar
  9. 10.
    John Tatham, London’s Triumphs (1664), pp. 14–16.Google Scholar
  10. 11.
    Harold Love, ‘State Affairs on the Restoration Stage, 1660–1675’, Restoration and 18th Century Theatre Research, 19 (1975), 1–9.Google Scholar
  11. Most of the available information about the theatre of this period has been assembled in The London Stage 1660–1800 (11 vols, Carbondale, 1960–8), Part I, ed. William Van Lennep, with a Critical Introduction by Emmett L. Avery and Arthur H. Scouten (1965).Google Scholar
  12. Details of extant plays and performance dates (if any) derive from this work and, unless otherwise stated, from two other standard works, Alfred Harbage, Cavalier Drama (New York and London, 1936) andGoogle Scholar
  13. Allardyce Nicoll, A History of English Drama 1660–1900 (revised edn., 6 vols, vol. I, Restoration Drama 1660–1700 (Cambridge, 1952).Google Scholar
  14. 12.
    Allardyce Nicoll, ‘Political Plays of the Restoration’, MLR, XVI (1921), 224–42. Nicoll provides an extensive list of examples.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    John Tatham, The Rump: Or The Mirrour of the late Times. A New Comedy (1660), sig. A1a; Love, ‘State Affairs’, p. 1.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    [Anthony Sadler,] The Subjects Joy for the Kings Restoration, Cheerfully made known in A Sacred Masque: Gratefully made publique for His sacred Majesty (1660), sig. A2b.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    John Wilson, Andronicus Comnenius (1664), sig. A3a–b.Google Scholar
  18. 20.
    Cf. The Complete Works of St. Thomas More, vol. 4, ed. Edward, Surtz, S.J. and J.H. Hexter (New Haven and London, 1965), pp. 240–1.Google Scholar
  19. 22.
    Edward Howard, The Usurper (1668), p. 72, p. 65, p. 70.Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    John Tatham, London’s Triumphs (1664), pp. 7–8.Google Scholar
  21. 25.
    Stephen Orgel, The Illusion of Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1975), passim.Google Scholar
  22. 26.
    Glynne Wickham, ‘The Restoration Theatre’, English Drama to 1710, ed. Christopher Ricks (1971), pp. 370–4; and note 64 below.Google Scholar
  23. An important general study of changing ideas of kingship in Restoration drama is Susan Staves, Players’ Scepters: Fictions of Authority in the Restoration (Lincoln and London, 1979), Ch. 2, ‘Authority and Obligation in the State’, pp. 43–110, includes discussion of early Restoration tragedy.Google Scholar
  24. 27.
    Prologue to Nahum Tate’s The Loyal General (1680): the Stuart succession was then under its next major threat.Google Scholar
  25. 28.
    Sir Robert Howard, Four New Plays (1665), sig. a2a; Essays of John Dryden, I, 120.Google Scholar
  26. 31.
    Ibid., p. 124; Bruce King discusses philosophical scepticism in Dryden’s Major Plays (Edinburgh and London, 1966), pp. 7–19.Google Scholar
  27. 32.
    Citations refer to the edition of the play in The Works of John Dryden, vol. VIII, ed. John Harrington Smith, Dougald MacMillan, Vinton A. Dearing et al. (Berkeley and Los Angeles, 1962).Google Scholar
  28. 35.
    Emrys Jones, ‘Bosworth Eve’, Essays in Criticism, 25 (1975), 38–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 36.
    [John Caryll,] The English Princess, or, The Death of Richard the III (1667), p. [66], p. 11, p. 8, p. 26, p. 61, p. 64, p. 33.Google Scholar
  30. 37.
    Edward J. Dent, Foundations of English Opera: A Study of Musical Drama in England During the Seventeenth Century (Cambridge, 1928), pp. 41–77Google Scholar
  31. Stephen Orgel, ‘The Masque’, English Drama to 1710, ed. Christopher Ricks (1971), p. 366. Davenant had worked with Inigo Jones on the last true Caroline masque.Google Scholar
  32. 38.
    The Dramatic Works of Sir William Davenant, ed. James Maidment and W.H. Logan, vol. III (Edinburgh and London, 1873), pp. 257–8.Google Scholar
  33. 40.
    The Dramatic Works of John Dryden, With a Life of the Author by Sir Walter Scott, Bart., ed. George Saintsbury (8 vols, Edinburgh, 1882), IV, 124. For other usages of ‘restore’, pp. 71, 95, 104, 107, 162.Google Scholar
  34. 42.
    [Winifred Gardner,] Lady Burghclere, The Life of James First Duke of Ormonde 1610–1688 (2vols, 1912), vol. I, p. 363; vol.II, pp. 10–11, 144–59, 288;Google Scholar
  35. The Dramatic Works of Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, ed. W.S. Clark II (2 vols, Cambridge, Mass., 1937), vol. I, pp. 3–60 (citations from plays use this edition); DNB entry ‘Boyle, Roger’.Google Scholar
  36. 44.
    G. Wilson Knight, The Golden Labyrinth: A Study of British Drama (1962), p. 170.Google Scholar
  37. 46.
    J.H. Wilson, A Rake and His Times: George Villiers 2nd Duke of Buckingham (1954), pp. 58, 80–3, 86–92, 97–100, 106–9, 116–17Google Scholar
  38. 48.
    Alfred Harbage, ‘Elizabethan-Restoration Palimpsest’, MLR, XXXV (1940), 287–319, argues for Ford’s substantial authorship, pp. 297–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. H.J. Oliver, The Problem of John Ford (Melbourne, 1955), pp. 131–4, introduces the Shirleys as candidates for authorshipGoogle Scholar
  40. cf. H.J. Oliver, Sir Robert Howard (1626–1698): A Critical Biography (Durham, North Carolina, 1963), pp. 140–1.Google Scholar
  41. 49.
    Sir Robert Howard, Five New Plays (1692), p. 209.Google Scholar
  42. 61.
    Howard’s The Duell of the Stags: A Poem (1668) fabricated a Clarendonian scare to warn against the favourite’s resurgence and to promote Buckingham (sig. A2b, pp. 1–3, 7, 13)Google Scholar
  43. Charles E. Ward, ‘An Unpublished Letter to Sir Robert Howard; MLN, LX (1945), 119–21, testifies to the poem’s contemporary political reading.Google Scholar
  44. Robert D. Hume, The Development of English Drama in the Late Seventeenth Century (Oxford, 1976), pp. 260–2.Google Scholar
  45. 63.
    L.C. Knights, Drama and Society in the Age of Jonson (1937), p. 299Google Scholar
  46. ‘Restoration Comedy: The Reality and the Myth’ (1937), reprinted in Explorations (1963), pp. 132–3Google Scholar
  47. Raymond Williams, The Long Revolution (1961), pp. 252–4.Google Scholar
  48. 64.
    A.S. Bear, ‘Criticism and Social Change: The Case of Restoration Drama’, Komos II (1969), 23–31;Google Scholar
  49. Harold Love, ‘Bear’s Case Laid Open: Or, a Timely Warning to Literary Sociologists’, Komos II (1969), 72–80.Google Scholar

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© Nicholas Jose 1984

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  • Nicholas Jose

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