Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Duffet, Thomas

DUFFET, THOMAS (fl. 1678), dramatist, was originally a milliner in the New Exchange, London, who unfortunately took to play-writing. He obtained some notoriety by burlesquing the rhymed tragedies with which Dryden, Shadwell, and Settle entertained the town. As literature, his productions are beneath criticism. He is best remembered by ‘The Mock Tempest,’ acted at the Theatre Royal in 1675, and written in opposition to Dryden and Davenant's alteration of Shakespeare's ‘Tempest,’ which was then in its full run at Dorset Gardens. of this travesty Sir William Soames, in his version of ‘Boyleau's Art of Poetry,’ 1683 (reissued as ‘revised by Dryden,’ 1710), wrote:

The dullest scribblers some admirers found,
And the Mock Tempest was a while renown'd:
But this low stuff the town at last despis'd,
And scorn'd the folly that they once had priz'd.

Duffet wrote also: 1. ‘The Empress of Morocco, a farce’ (anon.), 4to, London, 1674, satirising Settle's tragedy of that name; followed by ‘An Epilogue spoken by Witches after the mode of Macbeth,’ ‘perform'd with new and costly machines.’ 2. ‘The Spanish Rogue,’ a comedy in verse, 4to, London, 1674. This, the most indecent of his plays, is appropriately dedicated to ‘Madam Ellen Gwyn.’ 3. ‘Beauties Triumph, a masque [in verse]. Presented by the Scholars of Mr. Jeffery Banister and Mr. James Hart, at their new Boarding School for Young Ladies and Gentlewomen, kept in that House which was formerly Sir Arthur Gorges, at Chelsey,’ 4to, London, 1676, a curious lesson in what was then considered high moral culture. 4. ‘Psyche Debauch'd, a comedy,’ 4to, London, 1678, a travesty of Shadwell's tragedy. To Duffet is ascribed the authorship of the anonymous comedy entitled ‘The Amorous Old Woman. … Written by a Person of Honour,’ 4to, London, 1674 (afterwards reissued with a new title-page, ‘The Fond Lady,’ 4to, London, 1684). He also wrote a paltry volume of ‘New Poems, Songs, Prologues and Epilogues … set by the most eminent Musicians about the Town,’ 8vo, London, 1676, and a broadsheet ballad, undated, called ‘Amintor's Lamentation for Celia's Unkindness.’

[Baker's Biog. Dram. (1812), i. 210–11, ii. 25, 53, 194, iii. 52, 186, 293; Notes and Queries, 3rd ser. xii. 63; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. G.