Thomas Shadwell

Thomas Shadwell

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Thomas Shadwell

Thomas Shadwell

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Excerpt

To produce some individualising description for each more or less notable man of letters is perhaps what Shadwell's great enemy, and in a sense destroyer, would have called a "Delilah of the imagination" to a critic. But the quest has its uses as well as its dangers; and in the case of our present author it is certainly useful. Thomas Shadwell deserves at least one superlative. He is the most flagrant example which proves the rule that no man is ever written down, except by himself. As far as the actual quarrel, or the actual comparison, between him and his antagonist Dryden is concerned, there is no doubt that he had immeasurably the worst of it, and was justly punished by his worsting in the first instance. But the after-penalty has been, perhaps, heavy beyond justice. No author that I can think of, who combined at once the popularity of Shadwell and his gifts, has so utterly faded out of all knowledge, except a rare and second-hand one, derived for the most part from unfriendly sources. he convinced good judges of his own time that, "hasty" as he was, he had more vis comica than any of his contemporaries. except Wycherley. His plays were exceedingly success.

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