Cartwright, William (d.1687) (DNB00)

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CARTWRIGHT, WILLIAM (d. 1687), actor and bookseller, was presumably the son of William Cartwright, also an actor, who flourished at the end of the sixteenth century and the beginning of the seventeenth, is mentioned under the date 1598 in the diary of Philip Henslowe, and had a close intimacy with Edward Alleyn, from whom, 31 Oct. 1618, together with Edward Jubye, William Bird, and others, he leased the Fortune Theatre. Cartwright the younger was a member of Prince Charles's company acting at the private house in Salisbury Court, otherwise known as the Whitefriars Theatre, the second of that name. Of his early performances no record exists. During the civil war and the Commonwealth he became a bookseller at the end of Turnstile Alley, and published, under the title of ‘The Actor's Vindication,’ London, 4to (? 1658), a reprint of Thomas Heywood's ‘Apology for Actors.’ After the Restoration he resumed his old profession, joining the company of Thomas Killigrew, known as the king's company. His first recorded performance took place in the Theatre Royal built in 1663 in Drury Lane. He played about 1663 Corbaccio in the ‘Fox’ of Ben Jonson, and subsequently Morose in the ‘Silent Woman,’ and Sir Epicure Mammon in the ‘Alchemist’ of the same author. Lygones in ‘A King and No King,’ Brabantio in the ‘Moor of Venice’ (‘Othello’), and Falstaff in ‘King Henry IV’ followed. Other characters in which he was seen were the Priest in Dryden's ‘Indian Emperor,’ Major Oldfox in the ‘Plain Dealer,’ Apollonius in ‘Tyrannick Love,’ Mario in the ‘Assignation,’ and Harmogenes in ‘Marriage à la Mode.’ With Mohun he heads, in the ‘Roscius Anglicanus,’ the list of the members of the king's company who joined the duke's company in the famous union brought about by Betterton [q. v.] in 1682. His name only once appears in stage records after this date, though, according to Genest, it stands opposite the character of Baldwin in an edition of ‘Rollo,’ as the ‘Bloody Brother’ of Fletcher was re-named, printed in 1686. In the ‘Rehearsal’ (Theatre Royal, 7 Dec. 1671) Cartwright, who played Thunder, is addressed by name by Bayes, ‘Mr. Cartwright, pr'ythee speak that a little louder, and with a hoarse voice.’ It is probable that Cartwright, who was a man of substance, retired soon after the union of the two companies. He died in or near Lincoln's Inn Fields about the middle of December 1687, leaving to Dulwich College his books, pictures, &c. This bequest became the subject of a curious lawsuit between the master, warden, fellows, &c., of the college, and Francis Johnson and Jane his wife, the latter a servant to Cartwright, who after his death had seized upon his property, including clothing, books of prints and plays, with other goods and 490 broad-pieces of gold. A portion only of the property was recovered, the portion lost including ‘two Shakspare's playes, 1647; three Ben Jonson's works, ye 1st vellum; one Ben Jonson's works, 2nd vellum’ (Warner, Dulwich College MSS. p. 154). Among the portraits bequeathed by Cartwright, and still in the college, are: 168, Old Mr. Cartwright, actor; 234, ‘My picture in a black dress, with a great dog;’ 78, ‘My first wife's picture like a shepherdess;’ 116, ‘My last wife's picture with a black veil on her head;’ 169, Young Mr. Cartwright, actor, is lost. The identity of its subject with the donor cannot accordingly be established. The catalogue, one leaf of which, containing 186–209, is wanting, is believed to be in the handwriting of Cartwright. It is illiterate in spelling. Cartwright's collection of plays after quitting Dulwich became the nucleus of the famous Garrick collection. Downes speaks of Cartwright as a good actor; Davies (Dramatic Miscellanies) mentions his Morose and his Falstaff, and says ‘little is heard of him;’ Aubrey, in the appendix to his ‘Natural History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey,’ 1719, v. 356, says ‘he was an excellent actor.’

[Downes's Roscius Anglicanus; Wright's Historia Histrionica; Genest's Account of the English Stage; Davies's Dramatic Miscellanies; Introduction to Heywood's Apology for Actors, reprinted for the Shakespeare Society, 1841; Collier's Memoirs of Alleyn, 1841; Collier's Diary of Philip Henslowe, 1845; Warner's Catalogue of the Manuscripts and Monuments at Dulwich; Buckingham's The Rehearsal, ed. Arber.]

J. K.