Roger Boyle [Earl of Orrery] (1621-79)


Life

[Baron Broghill; 1st Earl of Orrery; son of Richard Boyle (1st Earl of Cork)]; created Lord Broghill 1627; ed. TCD, 1636 (aetat. 15); toured France and Italy; m. Margaret Howard, sis. of Earl of Suffolk; reached Ireland 1641; deserted Parliament at execution of Charles I; private interview with Oliver Cromwell resulting in military office in Ireland during the campaign of 1649; visited Charles II in France during Interregnum and received coldly by the king on his visit to England in 1660; he persuaded Wilson, the Gov. of Limerick, and Sir Charles Coote, commander in the North, to take the King’s side against Richard Cromwell; created Earl of Orrery, 1660; appt. President of Munster but passed over for the Lord Lieutenantship [Viceroy];

 
his early works incl. Parthenissa (1654-65), a romance in the style of in the style of de Scudéry, was printed in Waterford; A Poem ... on the Restoration; Poem on the Death of Cowley; History of Henry V (1668); author of verse drama circulated at court in London, incl. Mustapha (1668), The Black Prince (1669), Henry V (1672); Triphon (1672), Mark Anthony (1690), Guzman (1693); Herod the Great (1694), mostly tragedies;
 
his heroic verse drama, Altemera, one of the first of the genre, was registered in London as The Generall, 1663; performed at Smock Alley [Thomas Court], Dublin, 18 Oct. 1662/3, following Katherine [“Orinda”] Philips Pompey (also 1663), ante-dating plays by Dryden and Howard in the same vein, and - like hers - written in the spirit of Orinda’s Society of Friendship; neo-Platonic in spirit, it lacks any comic elements or characters other than aristocrats; issued in a version revised by Charles Boyle, 1702; ; Mr Anthony (1692), a comedy, published posthumously. RR ODNB CAB OCEL OCIL

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Works
Contemporary editions
  • Irish Colours displayed in a reply of an English Protestant to a letter of an Irish Roman Catholic (London 1662);
  • Answer to the scandalous letter ... by Peter Walsh (1662) [ded. to James Butler, Duke of Ormonde];
  • A Dream ... bold advice to the King; A Treatise on the Art of War; Poems on the Fasts and Festivals of the Church [q.d.];
  • Treatise on the Art of War (1677);
  • Collection of the State Letters of the Rt. Hon. Roger Boyle, the 1st Earl of Orrery Lord President of Munster in Ireland, containing a series of correspondence between the Duke of Ormonde and his Lordship from the Restoration to the Year 1668 together with some letters (1742).
Collected plays
  • William Smith Clark, ed., The Dramatic Works of Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, 2 vols. (Harvard UP 1937).

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Criticism
William Smith Clark, Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery and his Successors in the English Heroic Play (Harvard 1926) [dissertation]; See Irish Book Lover, Vols. 2, 4 & 13; 13 (Lord Orrery); Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica, Irish Worthies (1821), vol. I, p.179.

See also remarks in Christopher Morash, A History of Irish theatre, 1601-2000 (Cambridge UP 2002), 322pp. - viz., chap. on Katherine Philips.

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Commentary
Edmund Borlase, Execrable Rebellion (1680), on Lord Broghill: ‘Lord Dungarvan and Lord Broghill summoning the castle of Ardmore in the county of Waterford, 21 August 1642, it was yielded upon mercy. Nevertheless, one hundred and forty men were put to the sword.’ Further: ‘That he knew not what quarter meant.’ (p.110-11; quoted in O’Connell’s Memoir on Ireland, 1884, p.263.)

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Sir Edmund Gosse, introduction to Restoration Plays [Everyman Plays] (London: Dent 1912; new edn. 1932; rep. 1968), speaking of Betterton: ‘He is supposed to have visited the theatre of Molière […] but probably what pleased him best were not such French tragedies as we admire today, but those of Quinault and Thomas Corneille, with their languishing ardours of love and romantic travesties of history. These seem, at all events, to have inspired the founder of the English “heroic” tragedy, Roger Boyle, first Earl of Orrery, who had spent his youth in France, and whose Henry V, in 1664, offered Betterton that part of Owen Tudor in whic he is said to have laid the basis of his boundless reputation. / These plays are hardly comprehensible by us today, unless we understand them to represent, as we have said, a semi-operative convention which had its civilising effect manners. When Diderot asked his terrible questions: “Has any one every spoken as we declaim? Do kings walk otehrwise than does every man who walks well? Do princesses always hiss between their teeth when they talk?” he laid the axe to the root of the whole practice of classical histrionics. There was a radical absence of simplicity about the conveniton of tragedy, and a determined abuse of all the tricks of rhetoric, but thes faults are more obvious in England than in France. […]’ (p.ix; and see also under W. B. Yeats, Notes, infra.)

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William Smith Clark, Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery and his Successors in the English Heroic Play (Harvard 1926) [dissertation] shows that Altemera was first played in Dublin, and that it was registered in London as The Generall in 1663.

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W. B. Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition (IAP 1976; 1984), the first Anglo-Irish dramatist to use a tragic theme ... Roger Boyle, Lord Broghill, afterwards Earl of Orrery ... His Tryphon (1668) enacted the story of the pretender to the throne of Syria in the 2nd century BC as related by Josephus in History of the Jews and in the First Book of Maccabees; the production failed; his play Herod not staged. (p.91.) Further, Roger Boyle, Lord Baron Broghill, 1st Earl of Ossory, a professional Anglo-Irish soldier under Charles I, Cromwell, and Charles II, dramatist, poet of sorts, and elder brother of Robert Boyle, produced a Treatise on the Art of War (1677), involving an ostensibly scientific approach but extensive material from Greek and Roman history. He affirmed, ‘the Ultimate and Onely Legitimate end of war is, or at least ought to be, among Christians, the Obtaining of a Good and Lasting Peace.’ (p.188.)

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Raymond Gillespie, ‘Reading the Bible in Seventeenth Century Ireland’, in Bernadette Cunningham and Máire Kennedy, eds., The Experience of Reading: Irish Historical Perspectives (Dublin: Rare Books Group 1999), pp.10-38, quoting King: ‘I confess an aversion from the late custom of our age of every private hand as it serves on occasion to draw all stories and expressions of scripture into the consequence for the conduct of our lives and the framing of our opinioins. I have observed this to be of mischievous effect and destructive in a great measure to the respect and obedience we owe to civil authority. I revere the scriptures but esteem them given us for other use than to fortify disputes concerning state affairs out of every part of them.’ (The Irish Colours displayed, London 1662, p.16; here p.26.)

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Quotations
The Black Prince
(1669), Preface: ‘Is England’s genius, this victorious name / Which shakes the world and fills the mouth of fame/So much forgot [that you] ...Seek new worlds for a less noble theme?’ [Wells, Microcards].

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On Christmas Day” (Poems), ‘Hail glorious day, which miracles adorn, / Since ‘twas on thee eternity was born!’; “On the Day of the Crucifixion” [… ending:] ‘Oh may this day in all hearts be engraved; / This day in which God dy’d and man was saved!’; on the Incarnation, ‘To prove him man, he did from woman come, / To prove him God, ’twas from a virgin womb ... Oh prodigie of mercy, which did make/The god of gods our human nature take! / And through our vaile of flesh, his glory shine, / That we thereby might share in the divine.’ (Extract in Cabinet of Irish Literature.)

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References
Libraries: University of Ulster Library, Morris Collection, holds Collection of the State Letters of the Rt. Hon. Roger Boyle, the 1st Earl of Orrery Lord President of Munster in Ireland, containing a series of correspondence between the Duke of Ormonde and his Lordship from the Restoration to the Year 1668 together with some letters. Belfast Linen Hall Library holds Answer to the scandalous letter ... by Peter Walsh (1662).

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Notes
Charles Boyle revised Altemira in 1702 [supra]; Henry Bradshaw identified Parthenissa as a Waterford printing of 1654; there is an memoir, deemed unreliable, by Chaplain Connelly.

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Hammer: Peter Walsh (?1618-88; q.v.) conducted a pamphlet war with Roger Boyle, Earl of Orrery, known as ‘the Hammer of the Catholics’ and the organiser of an extensive spy-ring throughout the country in the teeth of Ormonde’s administration.

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