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Robert Gould's attacks on the London stage, 1689 and 1709: the two versions of "The Playhouse: A Satyr".

Scholars have paid astonishingly little attention to Robert Gould's "The Playhouse: A Satyr," first published in a collection of his poems in 1689 and reissued in 1709 shortly after his death in a longer and significantly revised version. Montague Summers reprinted the 1709 text as an appendix to The Restoration Theatre in 1934, but neither version of the poem has been much consulted or cited by theatre historians. There are three obvious reasons for this. Gould was a brutally effective satirist, but not a good poet by twenty-first century standards; his fiercely moral views of drama and theatre have led to his being classified as an anti-theatrical propagandist; and his viciously negative accounts of such noted performers as Thomas Betterton and Elizabeth Barry have repelled and irritated virtually all readers. Why then should we resurrect these neglected verses? I would suggest that we have two good reasons for doing so. Their gritty invective is in fact representative of an important kind of satire popular in the later seventeenth century, satire of a sort that is now only starting to get critical attention. (1) Their principal value, however, lies less in their style or in their exemplification of a particular type of Restoration satire, than in the details of their content. I shall argue that "The Playhouse: A Satyr" is in fact an important primary source for students of English drama and theatre in the period ca. 1675-1710.

As a poem, as opposed to as a source of information on the theatre, "The Playhouse" belongs firmly to the tradition of satire as attack--and in particular, abusive attack. Surveying and trying to categorize Carolean satire, Robert D. Hume says "One gets a sense of satire as something nasty and savage, expressing ill-will and hostility." (2) He makes a clear distinction between this type of satire and Augustan satire which claims to be motivated by a desire to reform or morally improve its targets. The high-toned, magisterial view of satire offered by Dryden in his oft-quoted "Discourse" of 1692 is a world away from the vicious, personal, abusive poems written by the hundreds during the late seventeenth century. (3) As Hume observes, such poems seem "designed to hurt, to damage, and to demean." While Gould bemoans the fact that both plays and players have become degenerate, offering unfavorable comparisons with the glories of the past, he makes no attempt whatsoever to propose a remedy for the ills which he perceives. Gould certainly claims a moral basis for the hostilities which he expresses, but this is abusive and destructive satire, not corrective satire. If one is looking for context, one turns not to Dryden's "Discourse," or Pope, but rather Catullus' invectives, or to Skelton, Cleveland, and Oldham (and in a later period, to Churchill and "Peter Pindar").

"The Playhouse" contains highly specific, much neglected commentary on plays, playwrights, actors, and audience. Unlike most anti-theatrical writers, Gould was definitely a regular playgoer, thoroughly familiar with playhouse practice. He was also a produced (if unsuccessful) playwright. However hostile his assessments, his poem contains quite a lot of useful reception information, and insofar as the contents are factual rather than evaluative, they seem to be quite accurate. Gould may be pompous, priggish, and hateful, but he appears to know whereof he spoke. The only significant scholarship concerned with Gould's life and works is a rather mechanical life-and-works dissertation of two generations ago by E. H. Sloane. (4) Because "The Playhouse: A Satyr" was not separately published, it did not get an entry in Arnott and Robinson's English Theatrical Literature (1970), but it is actually a far richer source of contemporary dramatic and theatrical detail than many of the seventeenth-century items to be found there.

A brief account of Gould may be in order before I analyze his satire. His year of birth is conjecturally 1660 and he died in late 1708 or early 1709. He began his working life in the service of the Earl of Dorset and Middlesex, where he gained a certain amount of access to, and interest in, London literary life, though he had little formal education. He dedicated an early poem, "Presbytery Rough-Drawn" (published in 1683) (5) to the Earl of Abingdon and thereafter received both encouragement and financial aid from him. Having left the Dorset household, he appears to have served as a clerk to Abingdon for a time, and when he left London he went to Wiltshire and Oxfordshire where the Earl had properties and family connections who were of help to Gould. (6) While in the country, 1689-99, Gould wrote a number of poems dedicated to local figures of note, but his only contact with society came through nearby Bath. His play The Rival Sisters was performed at Drury Lane in 1695, perhaps through the influence of the Earl of Dorset who was Lord Chamberlain at the time, or more likely because the patent company at Drury Lane were in desperate need of new material to draw audiences, as they were now the second-class venue. His second play, Innocence Distressed, was never produced. The only modern anthology of Restoration verse which includes work by Gould is the 1969 Penguin collection edited by Harold Love. Gould survives now, if at all, as a specimen of the misogyny aimed at Aphra Behn: "For Punk and Poetess agree so Pat, / You cannot well be This, and not be That," (7) and as a sample of the kind of resentment and hostility directed towards such performers as Betterton and Barry.


In January 1689 Gould published a collection of poems called Poems Chiefly Consisting of Satyrs and Satyrical Epistles. In the prologue to the section devoted to satires he asks his audience "How am I then too blame, when all I write / Is honest rage, not prejudice or spite?" (134). Yet however honest the rage, the poems that follow, seem both hostile and spiteful. They range from attacks on individuals to the more generic "Satyr on Man" and "Satyr Against the Pride, Lust and Inconstancy, etc of Woman." "The Playhouse. A Satyr" decries the immorality of the theatre and all those associated with it. Sloane makes only brief reference to the first version of "The Playhouse," mentioning it in the context of Gould's later attempt to have his first play performed by the very people he had viciously satirized. The title page states that the poem was "Writ in The Playhouse the year 1685." A draft may indeed have been written at that time, but references to Behn's The Emperour of the Moon (March 1687) and Shadwell's The Squire of Alsatia (May 1688) prove that Gould added material to the poem and perhaps made other revisions as well. There are three extant manuscript versions of the poem. (8) These are largely the same and although there are many small differences between them and the printed work, these may be seen as adjustments rather than substantive alterations to either style or content. (9) The only possible exception to this occurs with
   For Oaths ye Bullies yet around 'em crow'd
   Are neither halle so Blasphemous nor Loud
   All sacred things they Laugh at and detest
   God not consider'd, or butt made a Jest;
   But they'll in earnest one day come to see,
   Heaven will not allwayes wink at their Impiety

lines which are replaced by "(But that's not much, for, the plain truth to tell, / They're without brains, why not without their Smell?)" (162), when printed. The change is a better fit with the surrounding lines and perhaps Gould also decided to remove these lines as the religious references might lead his audience to expect a more typical anti-theatrical diatribe than that which he was about to provide.

The dedication to the Earl of Dorset shows that Gould was originally unable to get "The Playhouse" published: "Deny'd the Press, forbid the Publick view, / This Trifle for a Refuge flies to you." The poem is a somewhat wandering diatribe, but oddities of structure and sequence aside, it has four quite distinct targets. These are (1) the audience; (2) the (im)morality of modern plays; (3) eighteenth-century playwrights, including a commentary on current conditions of playwriting; and (4) four of the principal United Company actors.

In its first published form, it can, on one level, be viewed as part of a longstanding tradition of anti-theatrical writing. The underlying premise of many such writings was that not only were plays immoral, displaying sin for entertainment, but that through the enjoyment of such material the audience also became contaminated. (10) After a general opening, Gould dedicates the first eleven pages of his poem to an outpouring of venom against those who attend the theatre. He is particularly sour about the prostitutes who infest the "Middle Gallery":
   Where reeking Punks like Summer Insects swarm,
   And stink like Pole-cats when they're hunted warm:
   Their very Scents cause Apoplectick Fits,
   And yet they're thought all Civet by the Cits.

   Here, every Night, they sit three hours for Sale,
   With dirty Night-rail, and a dirtier Tayl:
   If any Gudgeon bites, they have him sure,
   For nothing Angles Blockheads like a Whore.
   To keep their Masks on is their only way,
   For going barefac't wou'd but spoil their Play;

   Who e're does grapple with these Fire-ships,
   May tast the Mercury upon their Lips.

(162-63) (11)

Gould has if anything greater scorn for "Court-Ladies" who ascend to "this Bitch-Gallery"
                     ... muffi'd up in a disguise;
   And by pert carriage and their sharp replies,
   Set all the Men agog, who streight agree
   They must be Harlots of great Quality;
   So lead 'em off to give their Leachery vent,
   For 'tis presum'd they came for that intent.


Gould caustically advises "Citizens" to keep "your Wives from hence," commenting with wonder on the delight the cits take in The London Cuckolds, which "they all flock to see ... pleas'd with their own Infidelity" (167). This is interesting confirmation from the 1680s of the popularity of Ravenscroft's play (1681) with the very class it seems to satirize--and which continued to patronize the play annually until Garrick banished it from the stage in 1751.

Moving down from the whores' gallery "to the Boxes and the Pit" (where the gentry congregate), Gould reproves "painted Ladies" and "gay-Coxcombs" whose pretentious speaking of French and "borrow'd" wit offends him. The "Fops... seldom mind the Play," preferring to crack jokes and pick quarrels or engage in "Repartee with Orange-Betty" (170). Eminent courtesans (as opposed to plain whores) sit downstairs with the gentry: "In the Side-box Moll H--n you may see, / Or Coquet Moll, who is as lewd as she" (169). As Summers points out, Moll Hinton and Moll Howard were frequently lampooned during the late sixteen hundreds. (12) The fact that Gould kept the reference to these two courtesans in his revised version may suggest that their notoriety persisted for quite some time--or perhaps merely that he failed to edit out some obsolete references. The impression one gets is of movement, noise, inattention, and "throng." (13) As with the middle gallery, the principal business in pit and boxes, according to Gould, is dalliance rather than theatre. He states that if a coxcomb fails with the ladies in the boxes and pit he then "Steals up and courts the Fulsome Punks above" (168). There is no mention of the play at all at this point, nor any sense of waiting for the end of an act while an "act tune" was played by the musicians. This part of the audience, Gould charges, is concerned only with "vain Masquerade": "wisp'ring, into close consults they run, / To know where best to meet when Farce is done ... To bespeak Musick, Supper, Wine and Whore" (171).

Beyond commentary on the audience, this section of "The Playhouse" provides us with information about the socio-physical configuration of the theatre. Gould begins with the middle gallery and does not mention an upper one, though the name would imply that an "upper" gallery existed. When he speaks of the men who fail to attract the attention of the ladies of the pit and boxes, he says they turn their efforts to the "Punks above" (168), implying that the boxes were directly below the middle gallery; he differentiates between these boxes and the side-boxes where Moll Hinton and Moll Howard sit. According to reconstructions of the eighteenth-century playhouses, (14) the side boxes would provide their occupants with the best view of the rest of the house and also provide the best place from which to be seen by the greatest number of people. Gould's description of the theatre is confirmed by a letter written by a visitor to England in 1698 which describes the pit as

an Amphitheatre, fill'd with Benches without Backboards, and adorn'd and cover'd with green Cloth. Men of Quality, particularly the younger sort, some Ladies of Reputation and Vertue, and abundance of Damsels that hunt for Prey, sit all together in this Place, Higgledy-piggledy, chatter, toy, play, hear, hear not. Farther up, against the Wall, under the first Gallery, and just opposite to the Stage, rises up another Amphitheatre, which is taken up by Persons of the best Quality, among whom are generally very few Men. The Galleries, whereof there are only two Rows, are fill'd with none but ordinary People, particularly the Upper one. (15)

This description of the upper gallery holding only the lower classes, may provide a reason why Gould does not include it in his satire. Working-class people provided little fodder for a satire on the evils of the theatre; there is also the fact that Gould--painfully mocked as a country bumpkin--came from the working-class himself.

Before completing his comments on the audience, Gould briefly leaves the theatre to hold forth on the subject of doctors who "heap up an Estate by our Debauches" (165), or, in other words, are grown rich on the profits of cures for the venereal disease that has been spread by these theatre-goers who "Begin in Punk and end in Mr. Hobs" (a celebrated pox-doctor) (164). (16) He also comments mordantly on the survival rate of those taking these expensive cures:
   They'll have seven score a fluxing at a time;
   Of which, perhaps, by Heav'nly Providence,
   Seven may Recover, and creep faintly thence.


He ends this diatribe with a remark on how even the non-survivors continue to pollute the town, with smoke, when their halfrotten corpses are burned. Up to this point, Gould definitely belongs to the Puritan tradition in spirit, though the material of his attack is unusual in that it encompasses details of the audience and players. Later treatises such as those by Collier and Bedford, (17) deal with the supposed profanity of the actual plays, give minute detail on how these plays contravene the laws of God as laid down in the Bible, and show how sinful the players are in performing such works. However, actual theatrical, as opposed to textual, detail is completely lacking in almost all earlier and later tracts.

The last segment of the audience to be considered by Gould is "a Cabal of Criticks ... Discoursing of Dramatick Poesie" (172), though these are not given any particular location within the theatre. Gould singles out one critic, presumed by Sloane to be Thomas Rymer, for special mention;
   While one, the wittiest too of all the Gang,
   (By whom you'll guess how fit they're all to hang)
   Shall entertain you with this learn'd Harangue.

(172) (18)

Mocking critical reverence for "ancient Plays," Gould segues into sarcastic rapture over popular recent plays.
      They talk of ancient Plays, that they are such,
   So good, they cannot be admir'd too much:--
   I think not so.--But in our present days,
   I grant w' ave many worthy of that praise:
   The Cheats of Scapin, one, a noble thing;
   What a throng'd Audience does it always bring?

   The Emp'rour of the Moon, 'twill never tire;
   The same Fate has the fam'd Alsatian Squire.
   Ev'n Jevon's learned piece ha'nt more pretence
   Than these to Fancy, Language, and good Sense.
   And here, my Friends, I'd have it understood
   W' ave a nice Age, what pleases must be good:
   Again, for Instance, that clean piece of wit,
   The City Heiress, by chast Sappho writ,
   Where the lewd Widow comes, with brazen face,
   Just reeking from a Stallion's rank embrace,
   "I" acquaint the Audience with her flimy case.
   Where can you find a Scene deserves more praise,
   In Shakespear, Johnson, or in Fletcher's Plays?
   They were so modest they were always dull;
   For what is Desdemona but a Fool?


Thus Gould excoriates Otway's Cheats of Scapin (an afterpiece of 1677), Aphra Behn's The Emperour of the Moon (1686) and The City Heiress (1682), and Shadwell's The Squire of Alsatia (1688). In these plays and "A hundred others," says the grumpy satirist, the "design" "is t' entice, / Enervate goodness, and incourage Vice" (173). The plays, he says, are fit entertainment for the men and women who fill the theatre, and playwrights give them what they want.
   How much has Farce of late took on the Stage?
   But Farce suits best with the fantastick Age:
   If Farce made Poets which 'twill never do,
   Ev'n Hains and Ho--d might be Poet's too.
   In short, our Plays are now so loosely writ,
   They've neither Manners, Modesty, or Wit.
   How can those things to our Instruction lead
   Which are unchast to see, a Crime to read?


Joseph Haines was a notorious scapegrace actor and sometime rhymester, but why Gould should be hitting at who almost certainly must be Sir Robert Howard is hard to see: Howard had not staged a new play since 1668, and though The Committee (1662) remained popular into the eighteenth century, it is a cheerful city comedy, not a smutty one.

Unlike most anti-theatricalists, Gould is very insistent that he is not attacking plays or theatre in themselves.
   Yet I'd not have you think I'm so severe
   To damn all Plays; that wou'd absurd appear:
   I love what's excellent, hate what is ill,
   Let it be compos'd by whom it will.
   Though a Lord write, if bad, I cannot praise;
   Nor flatter Dr--dn, though he wear the Bays.
   Or court fair Sappho in her wanton fit,
   When she'd put luscious Bawdry off for Wit.


Gould is bitterly contemptuous of Dryden (19) and Behn (and no doubt envious of their success), but he is capable of critical discrimination between shabby commercial playwrights and those who reach altogether greater heights. Reviewing the quality and success of John Banks, Thomas Durfey, John Crowne, Edward Ravenscroft, Thomas Shadwell, and Elkanah Settle, he says he cannot
      ... pity B--ks in tatters, when I know
   'Twas his bad Poetry that cloath'd him so.
   Or commend Durf--y to indulge his Curse;
   Fond to write on, yet scribble worse and worse.
   Nor Cr--n for blaming Coxcombs, when I see
   Sir Courtly's not a nicer Fop than he.
   Or think that Ra--ft for wise can pass,
   When Mother Dobson says he is an Ass;
   That damn'd, ridiculous, insipid Farce!
   Or write a Panegyrick to the Fame
   Of Sh--dl, or of starving Set--'s name,
   Who have abus'd, unpardonable things,
   The best of Governments and best of Kings.


Gould's heat about Dame Dobson (1684) is odd: it is a cheerful, inoffensive, lightweight play (and it failed utterly). Resentment of the success of Crowne's Sir Courtly Nice (1685) makes better sense, though again it is by no means a sex-comedy. Tory hostility to the Whig playwrights Shadwell and Settle is no surprise.

Gould then turns to positive exemplars, offering balanced (and to the modern critical mind, quite defensible) evaluations of selected works by Otway, Lee, and Wycherley.
   But thee, my Otway, from the Grave I'll raise,
   And crown thy memory with lasting praise:
   Thy Orphan, nay thy Venice too shall stand,
   And live long as the Sea defends our Land.
   The Pontick King [Mithridates] and Alexander, Lee
   Shall, spite of madness, do the same for thee.
   But truth I love, and am oblig'd to tell
   Your other Tragick Plays are not so well,
   Not with that Judgment, that exactness writ,
   With less of Nature, Passion, Fancy, Wit:
   Yet this, ev'n in their praise, can't be deny'd,
   They are, a' most worth all our Plays beside:
   Excepting the Plain Dealer (nicely writ,
   And full of Satyr, Judgment, Truth and Wit:
   In all the Characters so just and true,
   It will be ever lov'd, and ever new!


Gould tactfully omits mention of The Country-Wife (1675) and Otway's equally raunchy comedies, and seems willing to overlook such perverted characters as the overtly lecherous Antonio in Venice Preserv'd (1682), but his praise of Wycherley's The PlainDealer (1676) is particularly interesting and reinforces Dryden's famous praise of it in his preface to The State of Innocence in 1677. Failure to name Wycherley (which is rather confusing) may be attributable to Gould's tendency to avoid actual spelt-out naming of living writers.

Gould has, at best, a mixed view of Dryden, but he manages to deliver a passably balanced verdict.
   And we must do the Laureat Justice too:
   For CEdipus (of which, Lee, half is thine,
   And there thy Genius does with Lustre shine)
   Does raise our Fear and Pity too as high
   As, almost, can be done in Tragedy.
   His all for love, and most correct of all,
   Of just and vast applause can never fail,
   Never; but when his Limberham I name,
   I hide my Head and almost blush with shame,
   To think the Author of both these the same:
   So bawdy it not only sham'd the Age,
   But worse, was ev'n too nauseous for the Stage

   For Plays shou'd as well profit, as delight.
   His Fancy has a wond'rous Ebb and Flow,
   Oft above Reason, and as oft below.
   His Plays in Rhime (which Fools and Women prize)
   May be call'd Supernatural Tragedies:

   Fly then the reading this vain Jingling stuff,
   Such fulsom Authors we can't loath enuff.


The admiration for the Dryden-Lee Oedipus (strange as it seems to the present-day critical sensibility) is early confirmation of a positive critical verdict known from eighteenth-century sources, as are the kind words for All for Love (1677). Contrariwise the moral horror at Dryden's The Kind Keeper, or Mr Limberham (1678), a sex farce, comes as no surprise. The scorn for Dryden's rhymed heroic plays (and the sneer at their popularity with women) is a valuable indication both of what kept them on the stage for a while and what soon removed them from the repertory.

Against this condemnation of the foremost living playwright of his day, Gould balances a glowing encomium for the greatest of earlier English playwrights.
   But, if in what's sublime you take delight,
   Lay Shakespear, Ben and Fletcher in your sight:
   Where Human Actions are with Life exprest,
   Vertue extoll'd, and Vice as much deprest.

   When e'r I Hamlet, or Othello read,
   My Hair starts up, and my Nerves shrink with dread:
   Pity and fear raise my concern still higher,
   Till, betwixt both, I'm ready to expire!
   When cursed Jago, cruelly, I see
   Work up the noble Moore to Jealousie,
   How cunningly the Villain weaves his sin,
   And how the other takes the Poison in;
   Or when I hear his God-like Romans rage,
   And by what just degrees he does asswage
   Their fiery temper, recollect their Thoughts,
   Make 'em both weep, make 'em both own their Fau'ts;
   When these and other such-like Scenes I scan,
   'Tis then, great Soul, I think thee more than Man!
   Homer was blind, yet cou'd all Nature see;
   Thou wer't unlearn'd, yet knew as much as He!


Given the ringing praise for Othello, we may wonder whether as of 1689 (or even earlier) Gould had advance notice of the violent attack Rymer was to mount against that play in his A Short View of Tragedy in 1692. (20) Since Othello was a repertory staple, we need suppose no connection, but the earlier comment (page 173) about Desdemona's being a fool may suggest awareness of and resistance to a negative assessment. Rymer dedicated his book to the Earl of Dorset, who was also patron of Gould's; the two men could certainly have met and clashed long before the appearance of A Short View.

Gould then proceeds to make an early and caustic comment about three of the most successful Restoration adaptations of Shakespeare:
   In Timon, Lear, The Tempest, we may find
   Vast Images of thy unbounded mind;
   These have been alter'd by our Poets now,
   And with success too, that we must allow;
   Third days they get when part of thee is shown,
   Which they but seldom do when all's their own.


Gould was clearly familiar with the originals (not easy to obtain, except in the very expensive Third and Fourth Folios). Shadwell had adapted Timon (1678) ; Nahum Tate rewrote King Lear (1680), and Dryden and Davenant's radical adaptation of The Tempest (1667) had been made into an opera in 1674, probably by Shadwell. All were extremely popular and long remained so.

Gould likewise has high praise for "Fletcher" and Jonson. He particularly praises Philaster, The Maid's Tragedy, and A King and No King in direct opposition to their being "damn'd by a pert, modern Wit" (178) (Thomas Rymer, in Tragedies of the Last Age, 1678)--a most interesting early challenge to a negative verdict that had intimidated even Dryden. Jonson he calls "most Judicious" and "most correct" (without naming any particular plays), in a virtual reprise of Dryden's critical contrast of Jonson and Shakespeare, but grants that
   Thou'd'st less of nature, though much more of Art:
   The Springs that move our Souls thou did'st not touch:
   But then thy Judgment, care and pains were such;
   We ne'r yet, nor e'r shall an Author see,
   That wrote so many perfect Plays as thee.


Gould directly challenges (without naming him) Dryden's claim in his "Defence of the Epilogue" to Part 2 of The Conquest of Granada (1672) that "our Courtiers speak more wit / In Conversation than these Poets writ" (179).

The writers Gould attacks are all contemporaries. His point is that he approves the theatre in principle; he is appalled by its current condition. His bitterness and satire are directed towards those who did succeed, those who were a part of the London literary world he so desperately wanted to join--and who had succeeded with farce and sex-comedy of a sort he held in contempt. Perhaps significantly, however, Gould reserves his most vicious and detailed comments for the audience and the players, not the playwrights, which is very much the reverse of most anti-theatrical practice. A possible explanation for this is that Gould had a grudging respect for those he was satirizing, as they had succeeded where he had failed, even though he views this as an injustice. He seems much more certain of his moral high ground when targeting the members of the audience and the players, both of whom were common butts of satire and moral outrage. He was, to be sure, an aspirant playwright, and he was quite clear on the vagaries of popularity and the hard times for writers created by the theatrical union of 1682. Plays are "a Banquet that will never cloy," and "Chast, Moral Writers, such as wisely tell / The happy, useful Art of living well" (179) may be justly proud of their work, but cannot count on lasting popularity or good treatment from the actors.
   Think ye vain scribling Tribe of Shirley's fate,
   You that write Plays, and you, too, that translate;
   Think how he lies in Duck-lane Shops forlorn,
   And ne'r so much as mention'd but with scorn.


The reader will remember Dryden's mocking reference to Heywood and Shirley as types of the dunce in Mac Flecknoe. Gould's one produced play was to be an adaptation of Shirley, a Caroline playwright still popular in the 1660s whose work had vanished from the repertory. Rather than attempt plays, Gould suggests, a writer might better "Lash the lewd Actors--but first stop your nose, / It is a stinking Theme." "They keep you poor" though "you have made them rich" (180). Back in the days of fierce competition between the King's Company and the Duke's Company, the actors "Wou'd cringe and fawn, and who so kind as they, / If you but promis'd they should have their Play?" But now they "make you dance attendance, Cap in hand."
   ... since Hart dy'd, and the two Houses join'd,
   What get ye? what' incouragement d'ye find?
   Yet still you write and sacrifice your ease;
   Your Plays too shall be acted, if they please.


Gould gives us here a first-hand account of what one might deduce from the Annals of English Drama: in the height of competition in the 1670s the companies were mounting fifteen to twenty (and occasionally more) new plays per annum, but after the union the total was often no more than four--mostly by established writers or playhouse insiders.

In the final part of the poem Gould says "Prepare we then to go behind the Scenes" and proposes to "take a turn among the copper Kings and Queens." Are these, he asks, "fit to be lov'd, to be embrac't? / Goats are more sweet, and Monkeys are more chast" (181). In a rather confusing passage concerning the false sexual allure of actresses, he alludes to the late Thomas Otway's ill-fated passion for Elizabeth Barry: "talking of their shifts I mourn, my Friend, / I mourn thy sad, unjust, disasterous end" (181). He then excoriates the actress (termed "Punk" and "Murderer"), not named but clearly Barry:
   How well do those deserve the general hiss,
   That will converse with such a thing as this?
   A ten times cast off Drab, in Venus Wars
   Who counts her Sins, may as well count the Stars:
   So insolent! it is by all allow'd
   There never was so base a thing, so proud:
   Yet Covetous, she'l prostitute with any,
   Rather than wave the getting of a penny.

   This is the train that sooths her swift to Vice,
   So she be fine, she cares not at what price;
   Though her lewd Body rot, and her good name
   Be all one blot of Infamy and shame.


This passage is quoted in the Barry entry in the Biographical Dictionary, but with its publication quite wrongly dated "about 1700." (21) The date is important because Barry's awareness of the attack at a much earlier date contributed to Gould's difficulties in getting The Rival Sisters staged.

Saying "Now for the Men" (who are "As vile, as vain, as vitious in their kind"), Gould lays into what is clearly meant to be a picture of Thomas Betterton, though no name is given.
   Here one who once was, as an Author notes,
   A Hawker, sold old Books, Gazets and Votes,
   Is grown prime Vizier now, a Man of parts,
   The very load-stone that attracts all Hearts,
   In's own conceit that is, for ne'r was Elf
   So very much Enamor'd of himself:
   But 'tis no matter, let him be so still,
   It gives us the more scope to think him ill.
   No Parts, no Learning, Sense, or Breeding, yet
   He sets up for th' only Judge of Wit.

   If all cou'd judge of Wit that think they can,
   The arrant'st Ass wou'd be the Wittiest Man.
   In what e'r Company he does engage,
   He is as formal as upon the Stage,
   Dotard! and thinks his stiff comportment there
   A Rule for his Behaviour every where.
   To this we'll add his Lucre, Lust and Pride,
   And Knav'ry, which, in vain, he strives to hide,
   For through the thin disguise the Canker'd heart is spy'd
   Let then his acting ne'r so much be priz'd,
   'Tis sure his converse is much more despis'd.


The Biographical Dictionary (2:86-87) quotes the quite different (and expanded) 1709 text of this passage, attributing it inaccurately to "c. 1700." The date is again significant: Gould is describing here not the aged Betterton at Lincoln's Inn Fields but Betterton at about age 50 in his prime with the United Company. However true or untrue this very hostile portrait, the expression of such views at least fifteen (and probably twenty) years before something like the attack on "The Three Ruling B's" in 1705 is important. One would hardly guess from this sour portrait that Betterton was widely worshipped as an actor and greatly respected as a critic and play doctor by a lot of playwrights.

Gould offers two additional portraits of male actors. Neither is named, but the first is plainly James Nokes (whose description is not quoted in his Biographical Dictionary entry), the second is Thomas Jevon.
   Another you may see, a Comick Spark,
   Aims to be Lacy, but ne'r hits the mark.
   Yet that he can make sport must be confest,
   But, Echo-like, he but repeats the Jest.
   To be well laught at is his whole delight,
   And, 'faith, in that we do the Coxcomb right:
   Though the Comedian makes the Audience roar,
   When off the Stage the Booby tickles more.
   When such are born, sure some soft Planet rules;
   He is too dull ev'n to converse with Fools.
   A third, a punning, drolling, Bant'ring Ass,
   Cocks up and fain wou'd for an Author pass.
   His Face for Farce nature at first design'd,
   And matcht it too with as Burlesque a mind,
   Made him pert, vain, a Maggot, vile, ill-bred,
   And gave him heels of Cork, and brains of lead.


Gould clearly loathed farce of all kinds, which perhaps made him pick on the United Company's principal low comedians, and no doubt accounts for his particular hostility to Jevon, the dancer-actor whose The Devil of a Wife (March 1686) was a highly successful fantasy farce.

The satire concludes with some general abuse, leading to the conclusion that the playhouse is "the sum total of all Infamy" and that "Unless these ills, then, we cou'd regulate, / It ought not to be suffer'd in the Statd" (185). How regulation and reform might be accomplished, Gould does not say. Whether he was aware that new scripts had to be licensed by the Master of the Revels is not clear, but quite possibly not. He blames the state of the theatre on the actors, who are, he says
   A pack of idle, pimping, spunging Slaves,
   A Miscellany of Rogues, Fools and Knaves;
   A Nest of Leachers, worse than Sodom bore,
   And justly merit to be punish't more....


As the New River supplies water to the town from Islington, so the theatre supplies vice to London--a conclusion that was not perhaps to recommend its author to the actors when he offered them a play.


At what point Gould decided to try his hand at playwriting we do not know. The Rival Sisters is a reworking of James Shirley's The Maides Revenge (staged by Queen Henrietta's Company in 1626, published in 1639). Sloane describes it as "a domestic tragedy pathetic in spirit." (22) Set in Portugal, it recounts a lurid tale of the family of Vilarezo, a nobleman, and is typical of the overblown and tortuously plotted tragedies of the 1690s. Vilarezo's eldest daughter, Catalina, is in love with her sister Berinthia's bethrothed, Antonio; she tries to seduce him but fails. Catalina concocts a poison to get rid of her sister, is discovered by her maid, whom she stabs, and then tries to frame Antonio for the murder, while informing her sister that he did sleep with her. In the final act, Catalina is overcome by remorse, writes a letter to her sister confessing all, and then commits suicide. Antonio is killed, by Vilarezo's son Sebastian, in a duel. Sebastian is betrothed to Antonio's sister, who runs mad and stabs herself. With her lover, sister and friend dead, Berinthia then kills herself. At the end of the play, only Vilarezo and his son remain. Thus overt expression of female sexuality is not only punished by death, but contaminates and destroys the men as well.

Gould could have offered this play to the United Company at any time in its history (1682-94). If he did so after the publication of the first version of "The Playhouse: A Satyr" we can hardly wonder at his failure to secure production. In an "Advertisement" preceding the 1709 version, he says that (at an unspecified date) he approached both Barry and Betterton, apologizing and offering to change anything they disliked from the earlier version, but was rebuffed in no uncertain terms by Barry:

All that this could obtain from the Mighty Actress was plainly to tell me, She was Not so good a Christian as to forgive; and, I really and readily believ'd Her: For as I had not myself, so I never heard of any other Person that Accus'd Her of Vertue.... As to the Man, I forgive him his mistake for Injuring me upon a Supposition, and expect from him an equal Generous Usage; what merit there is in that Place, belonging to Him only. (2)

I offer the speculation that the approach and apology were made sometime between 1689 and the departure of the senior actors from the United Company to Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1695--and that Gould's play was refused in no uncertain terms.

That he got the play staged at all is owing only to the actors' rebellion and the dire circumstances in which the remnants of the Patent Company found themselves--certainly not the venue of choice. Gould found the process mortifying even in the absence of Betterton and Barry. In his dedication to the printed edition of 1696 he states that

I ... found so much interruption and discouragement from some prejudic'd Gentlemen, who ought to have us'd me better, or, at least, had no reason to use me ill, that I repented that I had bestowed any time upon it.... In spite of 'em, my Lord, it was kindly receiv'd, and that too, at a time when the town was never thinner of Nobility and Gentry.

We may deduce that The Rival Sisters was performed late in the summer of 1695 by the rag-tag company that remained at Drury Lane--a time of year when theatres were often virtually empty. (23) Some trouble was taken with the production: three songs were set by Henry Purcell, and another by John Blow. But little respect was granted the playwright. Gould's own prologue and epilogue were discarded by the company and replaced by ones written by Thomas Durfey, who mocked the author as a country bumpkin who has no place in the theatre or even the city. Durfey begins by stating that the play is only being performed in the hopes of gaining a profit and then proceeds to satirize the author and the plot:
   But that 'twou'd baulk us in our Hopes today,
   I wou'd my self have try'd to spoil this Play,
   And damn our Country Scriblers first Essay;
   For letting Comick Characters pass free,
   That swarm, like Bees, there under every Tree,
   And plague his Brains to write a Tragedy.

(Prologue 2, 1-6)

The epilogue, "Spoke by Mr. Verbruggen, who enters Laughing," continues the denigration of the author:
   Ha! ha! ha!--The Jest is worth being known,
   Our Country Poet's just come Post to Town,
   To see the growth of his first darling Fruits,
   Stands peeping yonder in his dirty Boots.
   He beg'd me humbly to implore for Grace;
   But, I resolv'd t'augment his frightful case,
   Told him, I saw damn'd fortune in his Face,
   And that to save him now all hope was gone,
   Unless he pray'd himself--I'll fetch him on
                               [Goes out and immediately re-enters.
   'Sdeath! wou'd you think it? Fear o'th'damning Pit
   Has thrown the fearful Fool into a Fit!

(Epilogue 2, 1-11)

This sabotage of The Rival Sisters at the moment that it arrives on the stage is perhaps more understandable when Gould's own original prologue is taken into consideration. His prologue and epilogue were not printed with the play in 1696 and were not recorded by Danchin in his modern edition; (24) as the 1709 edition of Gould's Works does not include his two plays, the only record of the original prologue appears as one of the poems in this volume. Gould's own prologue is similar in its invective to "The Playhouse," (25) targeting a selection of his fellow, and more successful, playwriting colleagues. He makes scornful reference to the "Women of this Rhiming Age," saying that "If any vain, lewd, loose-writ thing you see, / You may be sure the Author is a She," which may be a jealous reference to Delariviere Manley's success with The Royal Mischief, first produced in the spring of 1696. He also lambastes those playwrights who have had the greatest commercial success, "Fools have had the best Third Days"--a probable reference to Shadwell, whose The Squire of Alsatia received Drury Lane's largest ever profits for a benefit performance. (26) The original epilogue appears to have been lost.

Considering his dismal experience with his first play, the wonder is that Gould ever attempted to write for the stage again, or thought that he would have any chance of getting another play performed. The overtly contemptuous reframing of his first play makes suspect his claims for its favorable reception. Gould's second play Innocence Distress'd; or, the Royal Penitents. A Tragedy was a salacious 'updating' of the Oedipus legend which attempted to play on the popularity of things Russian brought into fashion by the supposedly incognito presence of Czar Peter the Great in London for four months during 1698. The principal character of Innocence Distress'd is Theodorus, the Great Duke of Muscovy, who, through various twists of fate, marries the virtuous Adorissa not knowing that she is actually his daughter by his mother, the Duchess, who then poisons the newly-weds in an attempt to cover up her heinous crimes; they die, though not before they have consummated their marriage. This ludicrous work fared even worse than The Rival Sisters; it was never performed and not published until 1737, some twenty-nine years after Gould's death, in a collection compiled by his daughter. (27)

Gould's humiliating experience as a would-be playwright no doubt contributed to the bitterly negative additions and changes he made to "The Playhouse." The date of the revision is undeterminable, and changes might of course have been made piecemeal over ten or even twenty years. (28) One piece of internal evidence may point to a very late date for at least one passage. (29) Commenting on lack of financial remuneration received by playwrights in the earlier version, Gould said merely "Yet still you write and sacrifice your ease; / Your plays too shall be acted if they please" (180), but in the 1709 version this has been changed to
   And for no other Gain--but what they please;
   Expell'd the House, unless you give 'era way
   To bilk You of Two Thirds in ev'ry Play.

(Part 2, 312-14)

This appears to me to refer to something that happened in the season of 1708-09. The new union of January 1708 gave the rapacious manager Christopher Rich a stranglehold over the actors, which he made full use of by introducing very stringent conditions for actors' benefits as specified in the contract of 10 June 1708:

such actors whose salary do not amount to four pounds per week (in case such have benefit days) to leave (besides the said sum of forty pounds as aforesaid) in the hands of the s[ai]d treasurer one part in four of the clear profits of such benefit play, and such actors who have not above fifty shillings per week, a full third part of the clear profits ... to remain in the hands of the s[ai]d treasurer for the use and benefit of the s[ai]d patent and of the business in general. (30)

Instead of getting the clear profit above house charges, actors would be "taxed" by the patentees. I am not aware of any evidence to show that playwrights were similarly taxed, but it is hardly likely that they would escape similar treatment. If this were the case then Gould's reference to being bilked of two-thirds in every play would place the composition date for the second version of "The Playhouse" after 10 June 1708, probably within the six months before his death. Alternatively, this could just be a reference to the house charges levied by the management for authors' benefits, which could well have resulted in an author receiving only about a third of the gross on average. Exactly what Gould meant there is no way to tell; towards the end of his life he appears to have remained in Wiltshire or Oxfordshire, and how much, or little, contact he had with the London literary scene is not known.

Many of the changes in the 1709 version are essentially verbal and cosmetic. (31) The principal change is a division into three parts, the third of them comprising entirely new material. Many of the nastiest comments about the audience are softened. More people are directly named in full, and some individuals are added. Gould interpolates an ugly if not very timely passage about the Duchess of Cleveland in the audience section ("not a Drab appears in History, / So Shameless and Libidinous as Thee" [1.132-33]) and updates comments on fashions in clothes and hairstyles (mentioning Steinkirks, for example). Most of the comments on playwrights and plays are essentially unchanged, though he does toss in a compliment to Thomas Southerne ("the Credit of his Age") : Gould evidently approved of such pathetic tragicomedies as The Fatal Marriage (1694) and Oroonoko (1695). Lee's Mithridates (1678) is specified with admiration. Particularly interesting for its indication of rising reputation is a little passage on Etherege and Wycherley:
   The Name of Etheridge next renown'd we see
   For easy Stile, and Wit in Comedy,
   Tho' not so strong as that of Wycherley:
   His Play of Manly (ne'er to be out-writ)
   A Prodigy of Satyr, Sense and Wit!

(Part 2, 128-32)

Praise of Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Jonson is allowed to stand, but Gould adds an interesting and rather defensive apology as an answer to critics of these greats:
   Not but they had their Failings too;--but then
   They were such Faults as only spoke 'em Men;

   To the Judicious plainly it appears,
   Their Slips were more the Ages Fault than theirs:
   Scarce had they ever struck upon the Shelves,
   If not oblig'd to stoop beneath themselves:
   Where Fletcher's loose, 'twas Writ to serve the Stage;
   And Shakespear play'd with Words to please a Quibbling Age.

(Part 2, 249-57)

He is not responding specifically here either to Rymer or Collier, but he is clearly conscious of both moral and stylistic criticism in relation to Shakespeare and Fletcher.

Gould adds to his diatribes against Barry and Betterton, referring to them both by their own names and (sarcastically) by the names "Osmin" and "Zara," characters from Congreve's The Mourning Bride (1697), created and made famous by these two actors. Gould adds some abuse to his portrait of Betterton:
   He thinks all Praise beneath his just Deserts:
   Rich as a Jew, yet tho' so wealthy known,
   He rasps the Under-Actors to the Bone.
   Not Lewis [Louis XIV] more Tyrannically Rules,
   Than He among this Herd of Knaves and Fools.

(Part 2, 411-15)

The portraits of Nokes and Jevon are preserved (though the targets were long dead), and one of Cardell Goodman is added, though he had been off the stage for many years and died in 1697--but Gould could not resist jabbing at him as the kept stallion of the insatiable Duchess of Cleveland ("Goodman himself, an Infidel profess'd, / With plays reads Cl--d nightly to her rest"). There are some rather miscellaneous passing references added to Nell Gwyn, Mistress James (a minor King's company actress), Ned Bush, and Edward Alleyn--the last two from the time of Shakespeare.

The principal additions concerning performers, however, are devoted to some thirty-five lines of added abuse of Elizabeth Barry (340-65, 388-98). As for example:
   A ten times cast off Drab, a Hackny Whore,
   Who when Sh'has ply'd the Stews and tir'd a Score,
   Insatiate as a Charnell, yawns for more.
   Her ev'ry Act in the Vene'real Wars
   Who e'er wou'd count, as well may count the Stars.
   So Insolent! there never was a Dowd
   So very basely born so very Proud.

(Part 2, 350-56)

In Part Three Gould asks the shade of Joseph Haines to tell him "the Harlot's true Descent," and Jo obliges:
   Her Mother was a common Strumpet known,
   Her Father half the Rabble of the Town.
   Begot by Casual and Promiscuous Lust,
   She still retains the same Promiscuous Gust,
   For Birth, into a Suburb Cellar hurl'd,
   The Strumpet came up Stairs into the World.
   At Twelve she'd freely in Coition join,
   And far surpass'd the Honours of her Line.
   As her Conception was a Complication,
   So its Produce, alike, did serve the Nation;
   Till by a Black, Successive Course of Ills,
   She reach'd the Noble Post which now she fills;
   Where, Messalina like, she treads the Stage,
   And all Enjoys, but nothing can Asswage!

(Part 3, 213-26)

Mrs. Barry retired temporarily in June 1708 but returned to the stage full-time in 1709-10. Gould's abuse in this instance was not merely retrospective. He had no doubt long since despaired of success in the theatre, and he makes no attempt at fairness or diplomacy. As he observes in an added passage,
   No more I wou'd attempt the Tragick Strain,
   When (after all th' Expence of Time and Pain)
   One Female Player's Breath makes all my Labours vain.

(Part 3, 34-36)

The attack on Barry is personal and bitter beyond anything else in the poem. (32) Gould says in his "Advertisement":

I never heard of any other person that accus'd Her of Vertue. If She will have it that Her Characteris in the Second Part of this Poem, as aforesaid; let Her enjoy the Benefit and Satisfaction of her Conceptions: And take this along with Her, that 'tis to her own Unequal'd Pride and Inveteracy She owes the Addition of the Third Part of this Satyr,, which is Calculated for Her Meridian only: And I hope I have drawn Her in ev'ry Lineament so like, that even She her self will thank me for the Justice I have done her; and grant it Impossible that it shou'd be meant for any other Person. (2)

He was a bitterly disappointed man, but also a vindictive one.

The new third part is decidedly different from the rest of the poem. It is written in the form of a dream-vision in which Gould meets the ghost of the comic actor, Joseph Haines (an odd choice), while taking the waters at Dulwich. Gould uses this section principally to make an unfavorable comparison between the theatre of Betterton and Barry, and that of the great Shakespearean actor and philanthropist, Edward Allen. Part Three seems to serve not only as a coda to "The Playhouse" but also to Gould's entire body of work and his life itself. The central thrust is a lamentation about how much better everything was in the Elizabethan world and theatre compared to the degeneration of the present day.

There is little to enjoy in Gould's abusive and embittered poem, and the critic must make due allowance for his prejudices, but it is unquestionably a rich source for the theatre historian. Gould's attacks on individuals (however exaggerated or simply untrue) tell us something about resentments and hostilities of aspiring writers and also about misogynist views of successful (and promiscuous) women. The vivid picture of a noisy, talkative, sex-minded audience full of prostitutes and masked women is a genuine (if no doubt one-sided) addition to our very limited store of commentary on late seventeenth-century performance conditions. Most interesting of all, however, are the very specific comments on individual authors and particular plays. Biased as Gould unquestionably is, he was not simply an anti-theatrical puritan, and he represents a moralist viewpoint from within the world of Restoration theatregoers. One of the peculiarities of the poem is that Gould sought to publish it in the mid-1680s (presumably with his name attached) and actually did so in 1689. Such works were often issued anonymously if they were printed, and a great many of them were circulated in manuscript rather than published. Gould was an angry outsider, and he made a lot of trouble for himself by publicly denouncing powerful and well-connected people. However remote from present-day aesthetic preferences and political correctness, "The Playhouse" is a satire rich in theatrical detail and it is worth our attention both as a theatre history source and as an exemplar of the personal and moral abuse characteristic of a large number of the satires of its time.


The original prologue intended for The Rival Sisters, taken from the 1709 Works reads:
   Of Poets living poorly oft you tell,
   But you may wonder how they live so well:
   How many of you does there daily sit,
   Trick'd like my Ladies Monkey in the Pit
   That would be Poorer--if you liv'd by Wit?
   Not that the Poets have so vast a Store,
   But they might very well dispense with more--
   And yet they please--the Barrenness of Sense
   Is made out to 'em in their Impudence:
   No Trophies to the Meek, or Just they raise,
   But Fool and Knave they overwhelm with Praise:
   They feed on Flatt'ry, and it keeps 'em Strong;
   So Maggots get best Nutriment in Dung.
   These are the things our wretched Poets do,
   Yet most of you wou'd be thought Poets too.
   There hardly was an Age 'ere known before
   Vertue was less Use and Verses more.
   Nobles and Peasants, equally Possest,
   Write, and 'tis hard to tell which writes the best;
   For, when examin'd, we are sure to see
   But little Reason and much Ribaldrie.
   Nay ev'n Womnen of this Rhiming Age
   Are oft inspir'd with like Poetick Rage;
   If any vain, lewd, loose-writ thing you see,
   You may be sure the Author is a She.
   The Lawyer too does verify amain
   But falls by Starts to his own Trade again;
   For Knav'ry, their belov'd and fertile Crime,
   Is far more difficult to leave than Rhime:
   One of that Tribe, you can be just no more;
   They're thorow tainted, rotten to the Core.
   That Flutt'ring Spark that has lov'd Chloris long,
   As his last Hope, attacks her with a song;
   And with ten whining Verses charms her more
   Than with ten thousand whining words before:
   Songs will prevail whatever Planet rules,
   For that vain Sex is still most kind to Fools.
   Thus all the choicest Coxcombs you can call,
   Do but pretend to Wit by being Dull.
   Our Author, by this Rhiming Fiend possest,
   Does put in for a Fool among the rest:
   For Fools 'ere now, he says, have written Plays,
   Nay further--Fools have had the best Third Days:
   He therefore begs (and he'll desire no more)
   Shew him the Favour they had heretofore--
   He'd Fain be thought a Fool upon that Score.


Pennsylvania State University


(1) For an important new approach to such works, see Harold Love, English Clandestine Satire 1660-1702 (Oxford U. Press, 2004), especially chs. 3 and 4.

(2) Robert D. Hume, "'Satire' in the Reign of Charles II," MP 102 (2005): 332-71, quotation at 333.

(3) However lofty Dryden's intentions may have been, his satire was not necessarily perceived by others to have been purely for the purposes for correction. The anonymous The Laureat. Jack Squabb, His History in Little Drawn Down to his Evening, from His Early Dawn in Poems on Affairs of State, from the Time of Oliver Cromwell to the Abdication of K. James Second, 6th ed., vol. 1 (London, 1716), condemns Dryden's satire as
   Fell foul on all, thy friends among the rest
   Those who the oft'nest did thy wants supply,
   Abus'd, Traduc'd, without a reason why.


(4) Eugene Hulse Sloane, Robert Gould, Seventeenth-Century Satirist (U. of Pennsylvania Press, 1940).

(5) A 552-Line satire subtitled "In contemplation of the Late Rebellion" in which Gould establishes his political ethos as a supporter of the king, Charles II.

(6) Sloane, ch. 1.

(7) "The Poetess, a Satyr, Being a Reply to Silvia's Revenge," 44-45.

(8) One in the Robinson Manuscript Miscellany of the Brotherton Collection at Leeds, one in Nottingham University, and one in the British Library. These manuscripts are undated but Paul Hammond in "The Robinson Manuscript Miscellany of Restoration Verse in the Brotherton Collection, Leeds," Proceedings of the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society 18 (1982): 275-324 suggests that the replacement of "Jevon" with "Ho--d" (174) in the printed edition of 1689 indicates a date of 1688 or earlier as Jevon died in that year.

(9) For example, the Robinson manuscript has an extra two lines after line 2: "Leud plays they love yet Jilting dos allow / Of which thanks to our starrs we have enow" (167) which both the printed 1689 version and the British Library manuscript lack. These lines serve as further description of The London Cuckolds but their absence detracts nothing from either the tone or content of the work.

(10) See Jonas Barish, The Antitheatrical Prejudice (U. of California Press, 1981), Chapter 4, "Puritans and Proteans."

(11) A brief explanation of the some of the phrases contained in these passages may be in order here: the terms "pole-cat" and "fire-ship" were common slang for prostitutes, the latter being a reference to those infected with venereal disease; "civet" was a substance obtained from the glands of the civet cat and was used in the making of perfume; in keeping with the image of the prostitutes as disease ridden, the use of the term "mercury" refers to the usual treatment of syphilis with a compound of that metal.

(12) Summers, Restoration Theatre, p. 330. There is an earlier reference to Moll Howard in the poem "Signor Dildoe," published in 1678, which has been attributed to the Earl of Rochester though the attribution is now disputed. See The Works of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester, ed. Harold Love (Oxford U. Press, 1999). Moll Hinton is mentioned in an anonymous song in Poems on Affairs of State, from the Year 1640, to the Year 1704, 2nd ed., vol. 3 (London, 1716) in the context of passing on venereal disease to a Lord Newburgh. Both Moll Howard and Moll Hinton also appear in a number of court satires of the period. See John Harold Wilson Court Satires of the Restoration (Ohio State U. Press, 1976), 37, 47, 59, 65, 104, 155, 252. Here Howard is part of a list of Charles II's mistresses including Lady Southesk, Lady Suffolk, the Countess of Falmouth, and the Duchess of Cleveland.

(13) In the 1709 version Gould changed "here painted Ladies, there gay-Coxcombs throng" (167), to "Between the Acts they to the Boxes throng" (part I, 1.177), which may indicate that although noise was still a problem, that movement between the audience areas during the performance had decreased.

(14) For details of theatre construction see Richard Leacroft, The Development of the English Playhouse (Cornell U. Press, 1973), ch. 5.

(15) H. Misson's Memoirs and Obervations in His Travels over England, translated by J. Ozell (1719); quoted by Leacroft, 91-92.

(16) Raymond A. Anselment in The Realms of Apollo: Literature and Healing in Seventeenth-Century England (U. of Delaware Press, 1995), chapter 4, provides a detailed discussion of the social and moral implications for those suffering from syphilis, the pox. He points out that although medical opinion acknowledged that it could, and frequently was, contracted by innocent parties, that popular literature increasingly associated the "curse of venereal disease with the curse of Eve" (160). So that towards the end of the seventeenth-century misogynistic rants became intertwined with those decrying the evils of the disease.

(17) Jeremy Collier, A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness, of the English Stage (1698) and Arthur Bedford, The Evil and Danger of Stage Plays: Shewing their Natural Tendency to Destroy Religion, and introduce a General Corruption of Manners (1706).

(18) Sloane assumes that this "wittiest" critic is a personal hit at Thomas Rymer. Rymer was in his way a witty writer, but he has no reputation as a playgoer or a public wit. Despite Rymer's enthusiasm for "ancient Plays" touted by this critic I doubt the accuracy of Sloane's identification, but I have no other suggestion.

(19) Dryden had been a target of some of Gould's earlier verse; in The Laureat (1687) he portrays Dryden as a Cromwellian supporter and makes a number of accusations about his finances that are demonstrably untrue. James Anderson Winn points out in John Dryden and His World (Yale U. Press, 1987), 559, that Gould's verse appears to have been part of a vogue for anti-Dryden writings that followed the reprinting of the Heroique Stanzas in the 1680s.

(20) See The Critical Works of Thomas Rymer, ed. Curt A. Zimansky (Yale U. Press, 1956), 131-64.

(21) Philip H. Highfill,Jr., Kalman A. Burnim, and Edward A. Langhans, A Biographical Dictionary of Actors, Actresses, Musicians, Dancers, Managers & Other Stage Personnel in London, 1660-1800, 16 vols. (Southern Illinois U. Press, 1973-93), 1:320-21.

(22) Sloane, 99.

(23) The London Stage, 1660-1800, Part 1: 1660-1700, ed. William Van Lennep, Emmett L. Avery, and Arthur H. Scouten (Southern Illinois U. Press, 1965), 453, gives October 1695 as the latest probable date because the published play was advertised in the London Gazette of 7-11 November 1695.

(24) The Prologues and Epilogues of the Restoration, 1660-1700, 7 vols., ed. Pierre Danchin (Presses Universitaires de Nancy, 1981-88).

(25) See Appendix for the full text.

(26) John Downes, Roscius Anglicanus, ed. Judith Milhous and Robert D. Hume (London: The Society for Theatre Research, 1987), 86.

(27) Innocence Distress'd; or, the Royal Penitents. A Tragedy. Written by the late Mr. Gould. Published by Subscription of many of the greatest Nobility and Gentry (London: T. Longman, 1737).

(28) Professor William Kupersmith very kindly informs me that his predecessor Curt A. Zimansky, who did the Restoration minor poets section for the New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature (1971), left the following unpublished comment among his notes: "Gould revised his poems very carefully, and apparently had his works ready for the press at the time of his death.... Many variations will be found between the text of the early issues and that of the collected edition." My investigation (and that of Paul Hammond before me) certainly seems to bear out Zimansky's observation.

(29) Sloane says that the 1709 version "was probably written very late," but offers no evidence beyond the "discouraged and embittered" tone (39).

(30) Quoted from Percy Fitzgerald, A New History of the English Stage, 2 vols. (London: Tinsley, 1882) 2: 445. See Judith Milhous and Robert D. Hume, "The Silencing of Drury Lane in 1709," Theatre Journal 32 (1980): 427-47, for a full analysis of the circumstances.

(31) The Works of Mr Robert Gould: In Two Volumes. Consisting of those Poems [and] Satyrs Which Were Formerly Printed, and Corrected since by the Author; As also of the Many Mare which He Design'd for the Press. Publish'd from His Own Original Copies (London: W. Lewis, 1709).

(32) While individual and very personal satires on women were not unusual, see John Harold Wilson's Court Satires of the Restoration and Felicity A. Nussbaum's The Brink of All We Hate: English Satires on Women, 1660-1750 (U. Press of Kentucky, 1984), they targeted well-known women's morals and behavior but rarely, if ever, reached the depths of loathing that Gould expresses not only for Barry herself but also for her antecedents.
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Author:Martin, Susan M.; Gould's, Robert
Publication:Philological Quarterly
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jan 1, 2003
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