1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cartwright, William

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CARTWRIGHT, WILLIAM (1611–1643), English dramatist and divine, the son of a country gentleman who had been reduced to keeping an inn, was born at Northway, Gloucestershire, in 1611. Anthony à Wood, whose notice of Cartwright is in the nature of a panegyric, gives this account of his origin, which is probably correct, although it is contradicted by statements made in David Lloyd’s Memoirs. He was educated at the free school of Cirencester, at Westminster school, and at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his M.A. degree in 1635. He became, says Wood, “the most florid and seraphical preacher in the university,” and appears to have been no less admired as a reader in metaphysics. In 1642 he was made succentor of Salisbury cathedral, and in 1643 he was chosen junior proctor of the university. He died on the 29th of November of the same year. Cartwright was a “son” of Ben Jonson and an especial favourite with his contemporaries. The collected edition of his poems (1651) contains commendatory verses by Henry Lawes, who set some of his songs to music, by Izaak Walton, Alexander Brome, Henry Vaughan and others, and the king wore mourning on the day of his funeral. His plays are, with the exception of The Ordinary, extremely fantastic in plot, and stilted and artificial in treatment. They are: The Royal Slave (1636), produced by the students of Christ Church before the king and queen, with music by Henry Lawes; The Lady Errant (acted, 1635–1636; printed, 1651); The Siege, or Love’s Convert (printed 1651). In The Ordinary (1635?) he produced a comedy of real life, in imitation of Jonson, representing pot-house society. It is reprinted in Dodsley’s Old Plays (ed. Hazlitt, vol. xii.).