Charles Shadwell (?1670-1726)

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
[fl.1710-20]; son of Thomas Shadwell; served in the army in Portugal, made supervisor of the excise in Kent, 1710; wrote The Fair Quaker of Deal (Drury Lane, 25 February, 1710) and The Merry Wives of Broad Street (Drury Lane, 9 June 1713), both set in London; The Humours of the Army (1713), ded. to Maj.-gen. Newton, Governor of Londonderry, under whom he served in Portugal; set up as assurance broker in William Street, nr. Dublin Castle, 1713, running his business for two years before returning to playwriting;
 
issued The Hasty Wedding, Or, The Intriguing Squire (Smock Alley, 1716-17), a satire on an Irish servant willing to reject her national ways; also Irish Hospitality, Or, Virtue Rewarded (Smock Alley, 1717-18), which features Sir Jowler Kennel, an Anglo-Irish foxhunter; his next play, The Sham Prince; Or, News from Passau (Smock Alley, 1718-19) is based on William Newsted of Westmeath who had recently passed himself off as a German princeling, and includes patriotic Irish characters who express national pride in Ireland;
 
wrote The Plotting Lovers, Or, The Dismal Squire (Smock Alley, 1719-20), freely taken from Molière’sMonsieur de Pourceaugnac, transplanting the Cornishman Squire Trelooby [from Vanbrugh’s play] to Dublin for a planned marriage with a merchant’s daughter; wrote Rotherick O’Connor, Or, The Distressed Princess (Smock Alley, 1719-20), Shadwell’s last play, deals with warring kings of Connaught and Leinster and the invasion of Ireland by Strongbow, with a double love plot whose tragic outcome leaves Strongbow and Eva [Aoife] sole survivors of carnage; collected plays published in 1720; d. 11 Aug., Dublin. FDA OCIL

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Works
Christopher Wheatley & Kevin Donovan, eds., Irish Drama of the Seventeeth and Eighteenth Centuries, 2 vols. (UK: Ganesha Publishing UK 2003), 1,1140pp. [contains Rotherick O’Connor [extracts], King of Connaught or the Distressed Princess (1720), and Irish Hospitality, or Virtue Rewarded (1720)].

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Criticism
Judith Bailey Slagle, ‘Thomas Shadwell’s The Lancashire-Witches, and Tegue o Divelly the Irish-Priest: A Critical Old-Spelling Edition (Diss.; Tennessee 1991); Christopher Wheatley, Beneath Ierne’s Banners: Irish Protestant Drama of the Restoration and Eighteenth century (Notre Dame UP 1999) [q.pp.].

See also Des Slowey, The Radicalization of Irish Theatre, 1600-1900: The Rise and Fall of the Ascendancy Theatre (Dublin: IAP 2008), 272pp.

Online references to Shadwell’s Irish plays ...
Theodor Schenk, Charles Shadwell: His Comedy - The Fair Quaker of Deal (Büchler & Co. 1913), 99pp.
‘... figure of the Irishman on the stage, where it had been introduced by Sir Howard and Th. Shadwell ...’ (p.15); ‘... Rotherick O’Connor is Shadwell’s only tragedy. The subject is taken from Irish history at the time of Henry II, when the King of Leinster, on being expelled ...’ (p.21; see online.)
Philip Edwards, Threshold of a Nation: A Study in English and Irish Drama (Cambridge UP 1983), 284pp.
‘Charles Shadwell, however, resident dramatist at Smock Alley from about 1715 to 1720 (and like Shirley an ... Rotherick O’Connor King of Connaught, or, The Distressed Princess is a third-rate work but it was a pioneer play in using ...’ (p.198; see online.) 
Joseph Th[eodoor] Leerssen, Mere Irish & fíor-ghael: studies in the idea of Irish nationality (Utrecht: John Benjamins Publ. Co. 1986), 535pp.

‘It was called Rotherick O’Connor, king of Connaght: or, the distress’ d princess, and its author was Charles Shadwell, whom we have briefly encountered before (p.127) as author of The humours of the army. In Rotherick O’Connor, which addressed the politically thorny topic of the Norman conquest of Ireland ...’ (p.376.); ‘After the straws in the wind provided by Mrs. Butler’s Irish Tales, by Robert Digby’s project for a similar volume, and by isolated historical tragedies on Irish themes of the earlier eighteenth-century (i.e., Charles Shadwell’s Rotherick O’Connor), the all for home-grown literature, Irish in inspiration, was raised by Heffernan’s pamphlets, in the prologue of Howard’s The siege of Tara, and in the work of Charlotte Brooke.’ (p.425.)  The political hey-day of Anglo-Irish patriotism, involving on the cultural side a vogue for Ireland’s antiquity, generated a sudden flourish of similarly inclined Anglo-Irish literary activity; and the rise of Anglo-Irish literature in the early nineteenth century (Edgeworth, Moore, Morgan) was a direct consequence and continuation of this imagotypical shift in the last decades of before the Union. In this respect, the idea of Irish nationality is, in its origin and expression, governed no less by literary than by political parameters.’ (p.452; see online.)

Christopher J. Wheatley, “Beneath Iërne’s Banners”: Irish Protestant Drama of the of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century(Notre Dame UP 1999), 166pp.

‘Thus in Charles Shadwell’s Rotherick O’Connor (produced in Dublin in 1719), the son of Dermod who becomes the tragic scapegoat is the characteristically noble and doomed sentimental youth who appears in much of the drama of this period in England (such as Marcus in Addison’s Cato). ...’ (p.5; see online.)

Christopher Morash, A History of Irish theatre, 1601-2000 (Cambridge UP 2002), 322pp.

‘King of Leinster, Dermot MacMurrough, to defeat his father, Rotherick O’Connor, King of Connaught. ... Shadwell was a Whig, and a strong supporter of the Williamite settlement, and so he sets out to demonstrate the benightedness of ... ’ (p.39; see online.)

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Commentary
William Smith Clark, Early Irish Stage (OUP 1955) writes that Shadwell ‘sought to be a spokesman for Irish attitudes and loyalties’ (p.158). Clarke also cites The Hasty Wedding, as being played in 1716-17 season at Smock Alley (Clarke, p.160).

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G. C. Duggan, The Stage Irishman (1937): Charles Shadwell, The Hasty Wedding, or the Intriguing Squire, set in Dublin; chars. Sir Ambrose Wealthy, his dg. Aurelia; Sir John Dareall, in reality a sharper, Jack Ombre, who sues for her hand, in competition with the ludicrous Squire Daudle (of the title), a masterpiece of blundering character. Also, The Sham Prince, or News from Passau, written in 5 days to celebrate a famous hoax in Dublin; Sir William Cheatley, title char.; Araminta, and Trueman; Welldone, who rumbles Cheatley early, and contrives to fool him with an offer of marriage from ‘the Princess of Passau’; the tradesmen accomodate Cheatley and his father royal; the culprits make their escape to London; other chars. are Sir Bullet Airy, a fat man, who marries Miss Molly; Lady Homebred, Molly’s mother; Araminta, a well-balanced and witty young lady, who believes a little freedom good for her sex (‘My de[a]r Aunt, my cousins shall not be cooped up after your manner’). She is an example of ‘fine, gay, sprightly Irishwomen’, and a type of debutante.

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G. C. Duggan, The Stage Irishman (1937) - cont: The Plotting Lovers, or the Dismal Squire, from Moliere’s Monsieur de Pourceaugnac; reduced to one act, close adaptation; in it, a patient is examined by two physicians who have been told he is a lunatic, a plot element repeated by Thomas Sheridan in Captain O’Blunder. Also, Irish Hospitality or Virtue Rewarded; Sir Patrick Worthy, a Fingallian land owner; his retainer Morose; his loutish brother Squire Clumsey; his sister Lady Peevish; a friend Goodlove; a spendthrift son Charles Worthy (who takes advantage of a tenant Winifred Dermott, but marries her at his father’s insistence); his daughters Myra and Penelope, with the former of whom Goodlove is in love; contrasted with Sir Wou’d-be-Generous, a new arrival in county circles; and Sir Jowler, a sporting baronet. Duggan gives a full account of Rotherick O’Connor (1715; the date of the first performance being fixed by the prologue).

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Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (Amstersdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986): Charles Shadwell, The Humours of the Army (1713), set in Portugal, with chars. of four nations, of whom Major Outside has a broad brogue and another, called Young Fox, an Irish major, speaks standard English, ergo Gaelic and Anglo-Irish. (p.127). [Cont.]

Joseph Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fíor Ghael (1986) - cont.: In Rotherick O’Connor (Smock Alley, 1720), Shadwell’s sympathies are clearly on the Norman side; Rotherick is considered a tyrant, whole under the sway of the play’s main villain, the archbishop of Tuam; the Gaelic hero cheerfully acknowledges the superiority of the English and that there presence can only improve the Irish. [380] Shadwell takes care to avoid any reflection on Ireland’s bravery from the fact that the Gaels are militarily inferior to the Norman’s ‘artful Engines’. Leerssen shows than the imagotype involves a supine adulation of the English, but also a valorisation of native Irish courage sine Catholicism and rebellion. (p.381.)

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Quotations

Rotherick O’Connor (1715)

Dram. Personae: Rotherick O’Conner [sic]; Dermond MacMurrough, King of Leinster; Strongbow, Earl of Chepstow; Cothurnus, son of Dermond; Auliffe O’Kinaude, faithful follower of Dermond; Maurice Regan, Dermond’s friend and favourite; Catholicus, Archbishop of Tuam; Eva, dg. of Dermond; Marlagh, foster to Eva; Avelina, dg. of Rotherick.

This is a deeply sectarian melodrama in which Catholicus plays the part of the melodramatic villain and Rotherick the cruel and treacherous overlord; Strongbow, though hardly any better than him in the body of the play, emerges at the end as custodian of Irish peace and marries Eva, who has resisted him, after she is persuaded to love him by his killing Rotherick in single combat. SUMMARY & QUOT, Rotherick O’Conner [sic] King of Connaught, or the Distressed Princess, by Charles Shadwell (Dublin 1720). [BS]
Text:
1st PROLOGUE: ‘[The author] ... / ... resolves to show a monarch of your own / Who holds, alone from Jupiter, his throne; / His rule of life does from the Passions draw / Not aw’d by priests, nor terrified by law; / A popish priest the ventures to expose / Who sticks at nothing to distress his foes. / Thanks, Revolution, we have none of these, / For such outragious Plagues we’re not in pain: / They’re to be found in Muscovy or Spain.’
2nd PROLOGUE, by Shadwell, ‘From distant climes each scribbling author brings / A race of heroes or a race of kings ... / Our author tries by different ways to please / And shews you kings that never crossed the seas. / He brings to view, five hundred years ago, / Heroes nursed up in slaughter, blood, and woe, / And kings that rule by arbitrary sway / Their slavish subjects, born but to obey; / When Brehon laws could reach the subjects life / And none but great Ones dare support the strife. / There nature show’d them in the strongest Passions, / When each king govern’d by his inclinations, / Where Church and Clergy were monarchs tools, / And who opposed the king were reckoned fools; / Learn then, from these unhappy days of yore / To scorn and hate an arbitrary power; / To praise and love those laws that make you free / And are the bulwarks of your liberty. / Adore the Prince who rules by milder sway / And like good subjects lawfully obey: / All tragedies this moral should observe, / The best of kings does surely best deserve.’
EVA [on the Normans]:‘[...] but when they have conquered all our Enemies / Perhaps they’ll then attack my father’s friends / And so in time, make slaves of all this island.’
ROTHERICK, ‘Have you perused / the copy of the Grant sent to be signed / By that most mighty Lord of all our Church / Infallible and never erring Pope / Adrian the fourth, and since that confirmed / By Alexander’s Bull to give my land / Away to Henry the English king? / ... Now, by St. Patrick, Who was the greater man / Than ever filled your juggling Papal Chair / I swear revenge on all that Romish tribe! ... [W]ho gave the Priest the power he pretends to have on earth?’
STRONGBOW, ‘... deceitfulness is very deeply rooted / In each corner of this wretched isle / Instead of friendship, charity, and love / you plunder, burn, and sacrifice each other / And strive and fight and gape for revenge.’
DERMOND to STRONGBOW, ‘thou great, thou godlike man, more than man, thouo Briton!’ / STRONGBOW boast of having killed his own son in the fray when he showed cowardice; of Eva he says, ‘this female toy that has enraged me’.
CATHOLICUS is finally stabbed by Rotherick, and exclaims: ‘Quite through you’ve pierced my heart and I must die / There’s all my worldly glory thrown away / I’ve lost a cardinal’s cap, so fare you well.’
ROTHERICK kills DERMOND, and, when STRONGBOW kills Rotherick in turn, EVA says: ‘My heart grows pitiful and I must pray / The saints to favour Strongbow’s cause and mine’;
At the close, EVA invites STRONGBOW to rule Ireland, while he puts by his impatience occasioned by her beauty, and accepts that she needs to mourn her loss a while. They finally speak of the coming age of peace in Ireland.
ROTHERICK, in his last throes, exclaims: ‘Fetch me to my hand that foolish girl / That I may squeeze and crush her in my arms / To Death, I hate, and I hate myself / And you, and all the World - when am I going?’ [Dies].
EPILOGUE [spoken by Mr. Griffith, written by Hercules Davis, Esq.], ‘This is his first essay in tragic strains ... [&c] / The poet to please you, done his best / But to keep one alive had been a jest ...
Note: the play-text includes such partisan phrases as - ‘Rotherick’s tyranny’; ‘savage kerns’; ‘great Henry’s court’ ... &c.

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References
Dublin Weekly Journal (20 Aug 1726): ’On Thursday the 12 Instant, August died Mr. Charles Shadwell, a Poet, whose Comedies were too Virtuous to meet with much Encouragement ... nor is it strange he was dislik’d by those with whom Obscenity and Prophaness perhaps, are Wit ... resident for several Years in Foreign Countries ... etc. (Quoted in La Tourette Stockwell, Dublin Theatres and Theatre Customs 1637-1820, NY: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1968, p. 323.)

Dictionary of National Biography: Old DNB gives orth. Rotherich O’Connor [sic].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1: selects ‘A Second Song’ (Dublin 1725 [and in The Hibernian Patriot, being a collection of the Drapier’s letters to the people of Ireland concerning Mr Wood’s Halfpence, London 1730, pp.256-7]); Rotherick O’Connor, King of Connaught. Two of the poems that Swift inspired in his role as the Drapier, Witheral’s ‘New Song ..’, and Charles Shadwell’s ‘A Second Song ..’, created a sense of the temporary unity which emerged in Ireland as the factions united to protect their common interest. Shadwell’s poem opens: ‘Since the Drapier’s set up, and Wood is cry’d down, / Let ballads be made by the Bards of this Town; / To thank the brave Drapier for what he has done / Which no Body can deny &c.’; and ends with references to ‘Carteret’s Merit’ and to ‘the Protestant Int’rest Abroad and at Home’. Little is known of his life ... he joined in the pop. attack on Wood’s Halfpence and died, possibly in Dublin, in 1726. [497].

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Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1 - further: In Rotherick O’Connor, King of Connaught, or The Distress’d Princess (1720), ... the victory of Strongbow over the villainous last high king of Ireland in the late 12th century is presented as the victory of enlightenment over barbarism ... a point of view identical with countless prologues delivered in Dublin theatres, namely that refinement, reason and good taste were all hallmarks of the rule aristocracy ... an ideology not challenged till the Irish Lit. Theatre established by Yeats &c. [501]. See also comments in Deane, A Short History of Irish Literature (1986).

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British Library holds; Works of Charles Shadwell, 2 vols. (Dublin 1720), 8o; another, Dublin 1727, dupl. of preceeding with new title-pages; Five New Plays, viz, 1] The Hasty Wedding, or the Intriguing Squire, com. 2] The Sham Prince, or the News from Passau, com. 3] Rotherick O’Connor, King of Connaught, or The Distress’d Princess, trag. 4] The Plotting Lovers, or the Dismal Squire, farce 5] Irish Hospitality, or Virtue Rewarded, com. (Lon. 1720) 12o. [Also lists The Fair Quaker, and Humours of the Navy, eds. 1710, 1715 [copy with Shadwell’s signature]; Quaker, ed. in Bell’s Brit. Th., 1777; Quaker and Humours, now altered, with additions, 1773; 2nd ed. 1775; Also, The Humours of the Army, taken from F. Carton D’Ancourt’s Les Curieux de Compienge (London 1713); Charles Shadwell, Five New Plays; viz. I. the Hasty Wedding: or, The Intriguing Squire. A comedy. II. the Sham Prince: or, News from Passau. A comedy. III. Rotherick O’Connor, King of Connaught: or, The Distress’d Princess. A tragedy. IV. the Plotting Lovers: or, The Dismal Squire. A farce. V. Irish Hospitality: or, Virtue Rewarded. A comedy. London, 1720. 12o.

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Notes
Ruaidhri Ó Conchubhair [Roderick O’Conor] is castigated in his obituary notice in the Irish Annals on the grounds that he would not have lost to the Anglo-Normans if he had not blatantly ignored the new climate of sexual morality introduced by clerical reformers.

Variant dates: There is a confusion about the dates of the first performance of Rotherick given as 1715 in Duggan but as 1719 abd his last play elsewhere; likewise Irish Hospitality is variously given as 1717 and 1720.

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