Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 13.djvu/251
states that the play was written at the command of Charles II, on the model of the Spanish play ‘No Puedesser, or It cannot be.’ Dennis relates that Crowne was tired of play-writing; that Charles promised to give him an office if he would first write another comedy, and when Crowne replied that he plotted slowly, the king put into his hands the Spanish play. On the very last day of the rehearsal Charles died, and ‘Sir Courtly Nice’ was the first comedy acted after the succession of James. Crowne bewailed the death of Charles and saluted his successor in ‘A Poem on the late lamented Death of our late gratious Sovereign, King Charles the II, of ever blessed memory. With a congratulation to the Happy succession of King James the II.’ In 1688 was published ‘Darius, King of Persia. A Tragedy,’ which had been produced at the Theatre Royal. In 1690 was produced ‘The English Frier, or the Town Sharks,’ which contains some bitter satire on the favourites of the deposed King James; it was published in the same year with a dedication to William, earl of Devonshire. To Motteux's ‘Gentleman's Journal,’ 1691–2, Crowne contributed some songs, which were set to music by Henry Purcell; and in 1692 he published ‘Dæneids, or the Noble Labours of the Great Dean of Notre Dame in Paris,’ 4to; a burlesque poem in four cantos, partly translated from Boileau's ‘Lutrin.’ His next play was ‘Regulus, a Tragedy,’ published in 1694, but acted in 1692. In 1694 was also published, with a dedication to the Earl of Mulgrave, ‘The Married Beau, or the Curious Impertinent. A Comedy,’ which had been produced at the Theatre Royal; the plot is chiefly drawn from Don Quixote. ‘Caligula, a Tragedy,’ 1698, written in rhymed heroics, is Crowne's last play. From the dedicatory epistle to the Earl of Romney we learn that he had lost a liberal patroness in Queen Mary. In the ‘Epistle to the Reader’ he writes: ‘I have for some few years been disordered with a distemper, which seated itself in my head, threatened me with an epilepsy, and frequently took from me not only all sense but almost all signs of life, and in my intervals I wrote this play.’ Downes mentions an unpublished play of Crowne's entitled ‘Justice Busy,’ which was well acted, but ‘proved not a living play,’ though ‘Mrs. Bracegirdle, by a potent and magnetic charm, in performing a song in't caus'd the stones of the streets to fly in the men's faces.’ Crowne was certainly alive in 1701, for in a satire published in that year, ‘The Town display'd in a Letter,’ he is thus maliciously noticed:—
C——n, with a feeble pace and hoary hairs,
Has just outliv'd his wit by twenty years.
Baker in the ‘Companion to the Playhouse’ states, from Coxeter's manuscript notes, that he was still living in 1703, and adds (on the authority of Giles Jacob) that he was buried in the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields. His name is not found in the burial register.
Crowne seems to have been a man of easy and amiable temperament. ‘Many a cup of metheglin have I drank [sic] with little starch Johnny Crowne,’ says the writer of a letter in vol. xv. of the ‘Gentleman's Magazine’ (1749) on the poets and actors of Charles II's reign; ‘we called him so from the stiff, unalterable primness of his long crevat.’ He preferred a retired life to the bustle of a court, and when he was in high favour with Charles II he was often heard to say that ‘tho' he had a sincere affection for the king, he had yet a mortal aversion to the court’ (Dennis, Letters). Dryden allowed, according to Jacob Tonson (Spence, Anecdotes), that Crowne had some genius, ‘but then he added always that his father and Crowne's mother were very well acquainted.’ Tonson also remarks that when a play of Crowne's failed Dryden hastened to compliment the author; when it succeeded he was ‘very cold.’ Crowne's dramatic works were collected in 1873, 4 vols. 8vo.
[Langbaine's Dramatick Poets, with Oldys's manuscript annotations; John Dennis's Letters, 1721, i. 48–54; Cal. of State Papers, Col. Amer. and W. Indies; Genest's Account of the English Stage, i. 304, 415, ii. 144; Biographia Dramatica; Introduction to Crowne's Dramatic Works, 1873.]
CROWTHER, JAMES (1768–1847), botanist, the youngest of seven sons of a labourer, was born in a cellar in Deansgate, Manchester, on 24 June 1768. At nine years of age he became draw-boy at a loom, and rarely earned twenty shillings a week through life. Becoming one of the chief of the working-men botanists of Manchester, he gave great assistance to J. B. Wood in compiling the ‘Flora Mancuniensis,’ and also to John Hull. Though most conspicuously acquainted with the lower plants, he was the first to discover the Lady's-slipper Orchid at Malham in Yorkshire. When past work he had but a pittance of three shillings a week, and died on 6 Jan. 1847. He was buried at St. George's, Hulme.
[Cash's Where there's a Will there's a Way.]
CROWTHER, JONATHAN (1760–1824), methodist preacher, was appointed to the