Howard, James (fl.1674) (DNB00)

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HOWARD, JAMES (fl. 1674), dramatist, was ninth son of Thomas Howard, first earl of Berkshire, and was brother of Sir Robert (1618?-1698) [q. v.], of Edward Howard [q. v.], and of Lady Elizabeth, who married Dryden (Collins, Peerage of England, ed. Brydges, 1812). He was the author of two comedies. 'All Mistaken, or the Mad Couple, a Comedy,' published in 4to in 1672, was first acted at the Theatre Royal on 20 Sept. and again on 28 Dec. 1667. According to Pepys the part of the heroine Mirida was taken by Nell Gwyn, and that of Philidor by Hart (Genest, i. 72, iv. 116). Langbaine says 'this play is commended by some for an excellent comedy.' Genest says the humour is 'of the lowest species.' Howard's second comedy, 'The English Mounsieur,' published in 4to in 1674, was first acted at the Theatre Royal 8 Dec. 1666. Nell Gwyn seems to have taken the part of Lady Wealthy, Lacy that of Frenchlove, and Hart of Wellbred. Pepys was present, and described the piece as 'a mighty pretty play, very witty and pleasant: and the women do all very well; but above all, little Nelly.' Pepys saw the comedy again performed on 7 April 1668 (Pepys. Diary, iii. 25, 420). Frenchlove, the main character, having recently returned from France, he affects all the habits of that country, and is amusingly drawn (cf. Genest, i. 66, x. 253-4). Langbaine adds: 'Whether the late Duke of Buckingham, in his character of Prince Volscius falling in love with Parthenope as he is pulling on his boots to go out of town, designed to reflect on the [i.e. Howard's] characters of Comely and Elsbeth, I pretend not to determine; but I know there is a near resemblance in the characters.' Howard is also said to have converted Shakespeare's 'Romeo and Juliet' into a tragi-comedy, 'preserving both Romeo and Juliet alive.' According to Downes's 'Roscius Anglicanus,' p. 22, Howard's adaptation was acted at the theatre in Lincoln's Inn Fields by Sir William D'Avenant's company on alternate nights with the authentic version (Genest, History of Stage, i. 42). Howard's adaptation was not printed.

[Collins's Peerage; Paget's Ashtead and its Howard Possessors, p. 39; Biographia Dramatica.]

W. R. M.