Biography of William Cartwright
William Cartwright (1 September 1611 – 29 November 1643) was an English dramatist and churchman.
The son of a country gentleman turned innkeeper, he was born at Northway, Gloucestershire. Anthony Wood gives an account of his origin which is probably correct, although it is contradicted by statements made in David Lloyd's Memoirs. Cartwright 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, according to 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. Cartwright was a successor to Ben Jonson and is often counted among the Sons of Ben, the group of dramatists who practiced Jonson's style of comedy. 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. It is said that King Charles I of England wore mourning on the day of his funeral.
Albert DeSimone, Jr., (MA, The University of Georgia, 1980) wrote his graduate thesis under the direction of Dr. Charles C. Doyle on the matter of the immense amount of commendatory poetry prefixed to Cartwright's 1651 Works. The thesis is entitled The royalist muse : a study of the commendatory poems prefixed to William Cartwright’s Comedies, tragi-comedies, with other poems, 1651 and documents the many Royalist sympathies that were expressed in this prefixed commendatory poetry.
His plays are, with the exception of The Ordinary, far-fetched 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 Robert Dodsley's Old Plays (ed. William Hazlitt, vol. xii.).
Cartwright and Lawes maintained an important working relationship, for perhaps a decade prior to Cartwright's death in 1643; in one view, Lawes made a significant contribution to Cartwright's conception of drama
William Cartwright Poems
No Platonic Love
Tell me no more of minds embracing minds, And hearts exchang'd for hearts; That spirits spirits meet, as winds do winds, And mix their subt'lest parts;
To Chloe,Who For His Sake Wished Herself...
THERE are two births; the one when light First strikes the new awaken'd sense; The other when two souls unite, And we must count our life from thence:
STILL do the stars impart their light To those that travel in the night; Still time runs on, nor doth the hand Or shadow on the dial stand;
On A Virtuous Young Gentlewoman That Die...
SHE who to Heaven more Heaven doth annex, Whose lowest thought was above all our sex, Accounted nothing death but t' be reprieved, And died as free from sickness as she lived.
The Dead Sparrow
TELL me not of joy: there's none Now my little Sparrow's gone; He, just as you, Would try and woo,
On The Queen's Return From The Low Count...
HALLOW the threshold, crown the posts anew! The day shall have its due. Twist all our victories into one bright wreath, On which let honour breathe;
No Platonic Love
Tell me no more of minds embracing minds,
And hearts exchang'd for hearts;
That spirits spirits meet, as winds do winds,
And mix their subt'lest parts;
That two unbodied essences may kiss,
And then like Angels, twist and feel one Bliss.
I was that silly thing that once was wrought
To practise this thin love;