Reference > Cambridge History > The Age of Dryden > The Restoration Drama > Lacy
  Sir Charles Sedley Aphra Behn  

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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.

§ 21. Lacy.


With examples such as these among writers who pretended to gentle manners and birth, and with Dryden descending to the dramatic stews, it is not surprising to find lesser writers and stage hacks throwing decency to the winds and substituting sheer scurrility for wit, and brutality for force of passion. John Lacy (who died in 1681) is a familiar example of the popular actor turned playwright. Out of a couple of the comedies of Molière, butchered in the process, he compounded The Dumb Lady, or The Furrier made Physician, 1669, in Sawny the Scot, or The Taming of the Shrew, 1667, Grumio is raised to the chief part in that much abused comedy of Shakespeare; while, in Sir Hercules Buffoon, 1684, a more original effort, even the braggart and the fool, immemorial stock figures of comedy, suffer degradation. The best comedy of Lacy is The Old Troop (before 1665), in which he tells, with rude and broad native humour, experiences of his own when soldiering in the royalist army in civil war times, and, incidentally, maligns and abuses fallen puritanism. Even more popular in his day was Edward Ravenscroft, the author of a dozen plays extending over a career of nearly twenty-five years. Ravenscroft pillaged the previous drama at large and Molière in particular, taking his earliest comedy and greatest success, Mamamouchi, or the Citizen Turned Gentleman, 1671, from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Monsieur de Pourceaugnac. In his palmy days, Ravenscroft dared to measure his wit with Dryden. 71  But his one conspicuous quality was his success in boisterous farce. It was this and its scandalous satirical nature that secured to his London Cuckolds, first acted in 1682, an annual revival on the stage on lord mayor’s day for nearly a century. 72  His other plays, among them an alteration of Titus Andronicus, call for no mention here. 73    29

Note 71. See the original prologues to Mamamouchi, and The Careless Lovers, and, likewise, the prologues to Dryden’s Marriage-à-la-Mode and The Assignation. [ back ]
Note 72. See The Tatler, no. 8. [ back ]
Note 73. For a list of comedies by minor writers, printed within the first two decades following the restoration, see the bibliography to this chapter. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Sir Charles Sedley Aphra Behn  
 
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