Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 32.djvu/99

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Langbaine
Langlaine
93

Lamplugh, and he has been credited on slight grounds with the authorship of Dugdale's 'Short History of the Troubles' (ib. p. 6).

An oil portrait of Langbaine in academic cap and falling collar is in the provost's lodgings at Queen's College, Oxford.

[Information most kindly supplied by the Rev. Dr. Magrath, provost of Queen's College, Oxford; Wood's Athenæ Oxon. ed. Bliss, iii. 446 sq.; Wood's Hist. and Antiq. ed. Gutch, vol. ii.; Foster's Alumni Oxon. 1500-1714; Burrows's Visitation of Oxford University (Camd. Soc.); Hearne's Coll. (Oxf. Hist. Soc.); Hunter's MS. Chorus Vatum, in Brit. Mus. MS. Addit. 24489, f. 537; Fuller's Worthies; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

S. L.

LANGBAINE, GERARD, the younger (1656–1692), dramatic biographer and critic, born in the parish of St. Peter-in-the-East, Oxford, on 15 July 1656, was younger son of Gerard Langbaine the elder [q. v.] After attending a school kept by William Wildgoose (M.A. of Brasenose College, Oxford) at Denton, near Cuddesdon, Oxfordshire, he was apprenticed to Nevil Simmons, a bookseller in St. Paul's Churchyard, London; but on the death of his elder brother William in 1672, he was summoned home to Oxford by his widowed mother, and was entered as a gentleman-commoner of University College in the Michaelmas term of the same year. He was of a lively disposition 'a great jockey.' Wood calls him and idled away his time. He married young, apparently settled in London, and ran 'out of a good part of the estate that had descended to him.' But 'being a man of good parts,' he finally changed his mode of life, and retired successively to Wick and Headington, in the neighbourhood of Oxford. He had, in Wood's language, a 'natural and gay geny to dramatic poetry,' and in his retirement he studied dramatic literature, and collected a valuable library. He dabbled in authorship, but at first 'only wrote little things, without his name set to them, which he would never own.' The sole production of this period which is traceable to him is a practical tract entitled 'The Hunter: a Discourse of Horsemanship;' this was printed at Oxford by Leonard Lichfield in 1685, and bound up with Nicholas Cox's 'Gentleman's Recreation.' But it is quite possible that he did work for Francis Kirkman, the London bookseller, who shared his interest in dramatic literature. It was currently reported that Kirkman invited Langbaine to write a continuation of 'The English Rogue,' by Richard Head [q. v.], and that he declined the commission on the ground of the disreputable character of Head's original work. A translation of Chavigny's 'La Galante Hermaphrodite Nouvelle amoureuse,' Amsterdam, 1683, is assigned to him by Wood, who describes it as published in London in octavo in 1687, but no copy is accessible.

In November 1687 appeared a work by Langbaine called 'Momus Triumphans, or the Plagiaries of the English Stage exposed, in a Catalogue of Comedies, Tragedies,' and so forth. Two title-pages are met with, one bearing the name of Nicholas Cox of Oxford as publisher, the other that of Sam Holford of Pall Mall, London. In the preface Langbaine describes himself as a persistent playgoer and an omnivorous reader and collector of plays. He owned, he writes, 980 English plays and masques, besides drolls and interludes. Although he complained of the lack of originality in the construction of plots by English dramatists, he admitted that their plagiarisms were often innocent. A long catalogue of plays follows under the authors' names, alphabetically arranged, and the sources of the plots, which he usually traces to a classical author, are stated in each case in a footnote. A list of the works of anonymous authors precedes a final alphabetical list of titles. In December 1687 the work reappeared as 'A New Catalogue of English Plays,' London, 1688, and with an advertisement stating that Langbaine was not responsible for the title of the earlier edition, or for its uncorrected preface. Five hundred copies, he declared, had already been sold of the work in its spurious shape. For Dryden Langbaine had no regard, and he attributed the derisive title of the pirated edition to Dryden's ingenuity. Dryden, he believed, had heard before its publication that he was to be subjected to severe criticism in the preface to the 'Catalogue.'

Enlarging the scope of his labours, Langbaine in 1691 produced his best-known compilation, 'An Account of the English Dramatic Poets, or some Observations and Remarks on the Lives and Writings of all those that have published either Comedies, Tragedies, Tragicomedies, Pastorals, Masques, Interludes, Farces, or Operas, in the English Tongue,' Oxford, 1691, 8vo. The dedication is addressed to an Oxfordshire neighbour, James Bertie, earl of Abingdon. It is a valuable book of reference, with quaint criticisms, but it is weak in its bibliographical details. Langbaine continued his war on Dryden, and a champion of the poet, writing in a weekly paper called 'The Moderator' on Thursday, 23 June 1692, explained that Dryden could 'not descend so far below himself to cope with Langbaine's porterly language and disingenuity.' Langbaine's continuous efforts to show that the dramatists