14 April 2004
DAVENPORT, Robert (fl.1623). A Pleasant and Witty Comedy: Called, A New Trick to Cheat the Divell. London: Printed by John Okes for Humphrey Blunden, 1639.
4o (179 x 135 mm). (Headline clipped on final leaf.) Modern reddish-brown morocco, gilt-lettered on front cover and spine, edges gilt, by Riviere (front cover detached).
FIRST EDITION, with the first title, uncancelled and with Humphrey Blunden in the imprint. "To 'A New Trick to cheat the Divell' is prefixed by the publisher an address 'to the courteous reader and gentle peruser,' in which the play is described as 'now an Orphant and wanting the Father which first begot it.' From this statement it has been inferred that Davenport was dead at the time of publication; but the publisher may have merely intended to say that the author was at a distance. Davenport certainly seems to have been living in 1640; for commendatory verses by him are prefixed to two plays published in that year--Rawlins's 'Rebellion' and Richards's 'Messalina'. Indeed, it is probable that he was alive in 1651, when Samuel Sheppard published a collection of 'Epigrams,' one of which is addressed 'To Mr. Davenport on his play called the Pirate.' Sheppard had a high opinion of 'The Pirate,' a play which was never published, and declared, 'Thou rival'st Shakespeare though thy glory's lesse'" (DNB). Greg 561aI; STC 6315.
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