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John Cook, the author of this play, is totally unknown. No contemporary writer hath taken the least notice of him, nor hath any biographer since given the slightest, account of his life. All that we are informed of is, that he wrote the following dramatick, performance. Langbaine *, and the writers since, ascribe the first title of it to the excellent performance of Thomas Green in the part of Bubble, whose universal repartee to all compliments is, Tu quoque. Green was both a writer and actor t, and with great probability I is supposed to have been a relation of Shakspeare's, and the person by whom he was introduced to the theatre. He was born at Stratford upon Avon, which is ascertained by the following lines $, spoken by him in one. of the old Comedies, in the character of a clown:
I pratled poesie in my nurse's arms,
And, born where late our swan of Avon sung, “ In Avon's streams we both of us have lav'd,
“ And both came out together.” This passage is quoted by Chetwood, from the Two Maids of Mooreclack, where it is not to be found,
* P. 73.
+ He was an actor at the Red Bull Theatre, as appears by a rather curious scene in the course of this play where Green is spoken of by name :
“Geraldine. Why then we'll go to the Red Bull: they say “ Green's a good clown. “ Bubble. Green! Green's an ass.
Scattergood. Wherefore do you say so? “ Bubble. Indeed, I ha' no reason ; for they say he is as like me as ever he can look.”
There seems every probability that the play when originally produced had some other title, until the excellence of Green's performance, and his mode of delivering Tu quoque, gave it his name. it could scarcely be brought out in the first instance under the appellation of " Green's Tu Quoque,” before it was known how it would succeed, and how his acting would tell in the part of Bubble. In this respect perhaps Langbaine was mistaken.' C.
# Attempt to ascertain the order of Shakspeare's plays, by Mr. Malone, p. 275.
$ The British Theatre, p. 9.
though it seems to be a genuine extract, which the writer, by whom it was produced, had forgot from whence he transcribed it. Heywood, who published this play, says, in the preface to it: “ As for Maister “ Greene all that I will speake of him (and that with“ out flattery) is this; there was not an actor of his “ nature, in his time, of better ability in performance o of what he undertooke, more applauded by the
audience, of greater grace at the court, or of more
general love in the citty.” From this preface it appears, Green was dead when it was written, and Oldys * says, there are three epitaphs upon him in Richard Braithwayt's Remains, 8vo. 1618, by which it seems, that he died after being newly arrived from seat. He was the author of “ A Poet's Vision and a « Prince's Glorie. Dedicated to the high and mightie “ Prince James, King of England, Scotland, France, " and Ireland.” 4to. 1603; and some verses prefixed to Drayton's Poem on the Barons' Wars.
I have seen
* MS. additions to Langbaine, p. 73.
+ The following are the epitaphs mentioned by Oldys, from Braithwayt's Remains. “ Upon an actor now of late deceased: and upon his action Tu Quoque :
“ and first upon his travel.
Upon his creditors.
Upon his fellow actors.
- That second'd him in action and in death."
Quæcunque orta sunt occidunt. Sallust.
Quæque tegit cineres, ipsa virescat humus.
Remains after Death, 8vo. 1618. Sign. G 5.
only two editions of this Comedy, one without a date, and the other in 1614, which I apprehend was about the time it was originally published. Chetwood, upon whom no dependance is to be had, with respect to dates, asserts, it was printed in 1599*. As it is said to have been acted by the Queen's servants, it probably appeared on the stage in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Langbaine says it was revived after the restoration, at the theatre in Little Lincoln's-InnFields.
• Heywood speaks of it as “just published in print." The date of his epistle “ to the Reader,” however, may be older than 1614, the year of the earliest printed copy now known. C.
TO THE READER.
To gratulate the love and memory of my worthy friend the author, and my entirely beloved fellow the actor, I could not choose, being in the way just when this play was to be published in print, but to prefix some token of my affection to either, in the frontispiece of the book. For the gentleman that wrote it, his poem itself can better speak his praise, than any oratory from me. Nor can I tell whether this work was divulged with his consent or no: but howsoever, it hath passed the test of the stage, with so general an applause, pity it were but it should likewise have the honour of the
press. As for Master Greene, all that I will speak of him (and that without flattery) is this (if I were worthy to censure) there was not an actor of his nature in his time, of better ability in performance of what he undertook, more applauded by the audience, of greater grace at the court, or of more general love in the city: and so, with this brief character of his memory I commit him to his rest.
UPON THE DEATH OF THOMAS GREENE.
How fast bleak Autumn changeth Flora's dye!
* W. R.) Probably William Rowley.