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law in the Middle Temple, but began early to write for the stage. His ‘Old Bachelor' was produced in January 1692—3, and acted with great applause. Lord Halifax conferred appointments on him in the customs and other departments of public service, werth £600 per an
Other plays soon appeared : the Double Dealer' in 1694 ; *Love for Love' in 1693; the Mourning Bride,' a tragedy, in 169;; and the Way of the World' in 1700. Iu 1710 he published a cl lection of miscellaneous poems, of which one little piece, Doris,' is worthy of his fame; and his good fortune still following bim, le ob. tained, on the accession of George I. the ottice of secretary for the island of Jamaica, which raised his emoluments to about £1200 per annum. Basking in the sunshine of opulence and courtly society, Congreve wished to forget that he was an author; and when Voltaire waited upon him, he said he would rather be considered a gentleman than a poet.
* If you had been merely a gentleman,' said the witty Frenchiman, 'I should not have come to visit you. A complaint in the eyes, which terminated in total biindness, afflicted Congreve in his latter days : le died at his house in London on the 19th of January 1729-30.
Dryden complimented Congreve as one whom every muse and grace adorned ; and Pope dedicated to him liis translation of the Iliad.' What higher literary lionours could have been paid a poet whose laurels were ali gained, or at least planted, by the age of thirty? One incident in the history of Congreve is too remarkable to be omitted. He contractel a close intimacy with the Duchess of Marlborough (daughter of the great duke), sat at her table daily, and assisted in her household management. On his death, he left ile bulk of his fortune, amounting to about £10,000, to tbis eccentric lady. The duchess spent seven of the ten thousand pounds in the purchase of a diamond necklace. • How much better would it have Deen to have given it to Mrs. Bracegirdle,' said Young the poet and clergyman. Mrs. Bracegirdle was an actress with whom Congreve had been very intimate for many years. The duchess honoured the poet's remains with a splendid funeral. The corpse lay in state under the ancient roof of the Jerusalem chamber, and was interred in Westininster Abbey. The pall was borne by the Duke of Bridgewater, Lord Cobham, the Earl of Wilmington, who had been Speaker, and was afterwards first_Lord of the Treasury, and other men of high corsideration. The Duche-s of Marlborough, if report is to be believed, further manifested her regard for the deceased poet in a manner that spoke more for her devotedness than her taste. It is said that she had a statue of him in ivory, which moved by clock.
ork, and was placed daily at her table ; that she had a wax-doll ade in imitation of him, and that the feet of this doll were regularly istered and anointed by the doctors, as poor. Congreve's feet had been when he suffered from the gout. This idol of fasbion and literature has been removed by the just award of posterity from the high place he once occupied. Ilis plays are generally without poetry or imagination, and his comic genius is inextricably associated with sensuality and profaneness. We adniire his brilliant dialogue and repartee, and his exuberance of dramatic incident and character ; but the total absence of the liigher virtues which ennoble life-ihe beauty and gracefulness of female virtue, the feelings of generosity, trutlı, honour, affection, modesty, and tenderness-leaves his pages barren and unproductive of any permanent interest or popularity. His glittering, artificial life possesses but few charms to the lovers of nature or of poetry, and is not recommended by any moral purpose or sentiment. The Mourning Bride, Congreve's only tragedy, possesses higher merit than most of the serious plays of that day. “It has the stiffness of the French School, with no small affectatiou of fine writing, without passion, yet it possesses poetical scenes and language. The opening lines have often been quoted:
Music has charms to soothe a savage breast,
By magic uunibers and persuasive sound. Dr. Johnson considered the following extract as forming the most poetical paragraph in the whole range of the drama-finer than any one in Shakspeare !
Descrintion of a Cathedral.
ALM. No; all is hushed and still as death. 'Tis dreadful
LEON. Let us return; the horror of this place
ALM, It may my fears, but cannot add to that.
In Congreve's comedies there is a constant stream of wit and liveliness, and quick interchange of dialogue and incident.
He was a master of dramatic rules and art. Nothing shews more forcibly the taste or inclination of the present day for the poetry of nature and passion, instead of the conventional world of our ancestors in the drama, than the neglect into which the works of Congreve have fallen, even as literary productions. Gay Young Men upon Town. From the Old Bachelor.'
BELMOUR-VAINLOVE. BELMOUR. Vainlove, and abroad so early! Good-morrow. I thought a contemplative lover could no more have parted with his bed in a morning, than he could have slept in it.
VAINLOVE. Belmour, good-morrow. Why, truth on 't is, these early sallies are not usual to me; but business, as you see, sir—[Shewing letters]-and business must be followed, or be lost.
BEL. Business! And so must time, my friend, be close pursned or lost. Business is the rub of life, perverts our aim, casts off the bias, and leaves us wide and short of the intended mark.
VAIN. Pleasure, I guess you mean.
BEL. Ay, ay, wisdom is nothing but a pretending to kyow and believe more than we really do. You read of but one wise man, and all that he knew was—that he knew nothing. Come, come, leave business to idlers, and wisdom to fools ; they have need of them. Wit be my faculty, and pleasure my occupation; and let father Time shake his glass. Let low and earthly souls grovel till they have worked themselves six foot deep into a grave. Business is not my element; I roll in a higher orb, and dwellVAIN. In castles i' th' air of thy own building-that's thy element, Ned.
A Swaggering Bully and Boaster-From the same
SIR JOSEPI WITTOL-SHARPER-CAPTAIN BLUFF. SIR JOSEP.. Oh, here he comes. Ay, my Hector of Troy; welcome, my bully, my back; egad, my heart has gone pit-a-pat for thee.
BLUFF. How now, my young knight? Not for fear, I hope? He that knows me must be a stranger to fear.
Sir Jos. Nay, egad, I hate fear ever since I had like to have died of fright. But
BLUFF But! Look you here, boy, here's your antidote; here's your Jesuit's Powder for a shaking fit. But who hast thou got with ye; is he of inettle ?
(Laying his hand on his sword. Sir Jos. Ay, bully, a smart fellow; and will fight like a cock.
BLUFF. Say you so? Then I'll honour him. But has he been abroad ? for every cock will fight upon his own dunghill.
Sir Jos. I don't know; but I'll present you.
BLUFF. I'll recommend myself. Sir, I honour you; I understand you love figating. I reverence a man that loves fighting. Sir, I kiss your hilts.
SHARPER. Sir, your servant, but you are misinformed; for unless it be to serve my particular friend, as Sir Joseph here, my country, or my religion, or in some very justifiable cause, I am not for it.
BLUFF. Oh, I beg your pardon, sir; I find you are not of my palate; you carrelish a dish of fighting without some sauce. Now, I think fighting for fightir. gake is sufficient cause. Fighting to me is religion and the laws!
Sir Jos. Ah, well said, my hero! Was not that great, sir?. By the Lord Harry, he says true; fighting is meat, drink, and clothes to him. But, Back, this gentleman is one of the best friends I have in the world, and saved my life last night. You kuow I told you.
BLUFF. Ay, then I honour him again. Sir, may I crave your name?
Sir Jos. Pray, Mr. Sharper, embrace my Back; very well. By the Lord Harry, Mr. Sharper, he is as brave a fellow as Cannibal; are you not, Buily-Back?
SHARPER. Hannibal, I believe you mean, Sir Joseph ?
BLUFF. Undoubtedly he did, sir. Faith, Hannibal was a very pretty fellow; but, Sir Joseph, comparisons are odious. Hanuibal was a very pretty fellow in those days, it must be granted. But alas, sir, were he alive now, he would be nothing, nothing in the earth.
SHARPER. How, sir? I make a doubt if there be at this day a greater general breathing.
BLUFF. Oh, excuse me, sir; have you served abroad, sir ?
BLUFF. Oh, I thought so. Why, then, you can know nothivg, sir. I am afraid you scarce know tlie history of the late war in Flanders with all its particulars.
SHARPER. Not I, sir : no more than public papers or Gazettes tell 118.
BLUFF. Gazette! Why, there again now. Why, sir, there are not three words of truth, the year round, put into the Gazette. I'll tell you a strange thing now as to that. You must know, sir, I was resident in Flanders the last canipaign, had a sniall post there; but no matter for that. Perhaps, sir, there was scarce anything of moment done but a humble servant of yours that shall be nameless was an eye-witness of. I won't say had the greatest share in 't-though I might say that too, since I name nobody, you know." Well, Mr. Sharper, would you think it i In all this time, as I hope for a truncheon, that rascally Gazette-writer never so much as once men tioned me. Not once, by the wars! Took no more notice than as if Noll Bluff had not been in the land of the living.
SIR Jos. Yet, by the Lord Harry, 'tis true, Mr. Sharper; for I went every day to coffee-houses to read the Gazette myself.
BLUFF. Ay, ay; no matter. You see, Mr. Sharper, after all, I am content to retire--live a private person. Scipio and others have done so. SHARPER. Impudent rogue.
[Aside. SIR Jos. Ay, this modesty of yours. Egad, if he would put in for 't, he might bo made general himself yet.
BLUFF. Oh, fie no. Sir Joseph ; you know I hate this.
SIR Jos. Let me but tell Mr. Sharper a little, how you ate fire once out of the mouth of a cannon; egad, he did ; those impenetrable whiskers of his have confronted flames.
BLUFF. Death ! What do you mean, Sir Joseph ?
BLUFF. Pish; you have put me out; I have forgot what I was abont. Pray, hold your tongue, and give me leave
[Angrily. SIR Jos. I am dumb.
BLUFF. This sword I think I was telling you of, Mr. Sharper. This sword l'il maintain to be the best divine, anatomist, lawyer, or casuist in Europe; it shall decide a controversy, or split a cause,
SIR Jos. Nay, now, I must speak; it will split a hair ; by the Lord Harry, I have Been it!
BLUFF. Zounds! sir, it is a lie; you have not seen it, nor shan't see it : sir, I say you can't see.
What d'ye say to that, pow?
BLUFF. Oh, I am calm, sir; calm as a discharged culverin. But 'twas indiscreet, when you know what will provoke me. Nay, come, Sir Josepb; you know my beat's soon over.
SIR Jos. Well, I am a fool sometimes, but I'nı sorry.
Scandal and Literature in High Life--From ‘T'he Double Dealer.'
CYNTHIA-LORD and LADY FROT-BRISK. LADY FROTH. Then you think that episode between Susan the dairy-maid and our coachman is not amiss. You know, I may suppose the dairy in town as well as in the country.
BRISK. Incomparable, let me perish! But, then, being an heroic poem, had pot you better call hiin a charioteer? Charioteer sounds great. Besides, your ladyship's coachman having a red face, and you comparing him to the sun—aul you know the sun is called · heavens' charioteer.'
LADY F. Oh! infinitely better; I am extremely beholden to you for the hint. Stay; we'll read over those half-a-score lines again. [Pulls out a paper.] Let me see here: you know what goes before-the comparison you know. (Reads.]
For as the sun shines every day,
So of our coachman I may say. BRISK. I am afraid that simile won't do in wet weather, because you say the sun shines every day.
LADY F. No; for the sun it won't, but it will do for the coachman ; for you know there's most occasion for a coach in wet weather.
BRISK. Right, right; that saves all.
LADY F. Then I don't say the sun shines all the day, but that he peeps now ana theu; yet he does shine all the day, too, you know, though we don't see him.
BRISK. Right; but the vulgar will never comprehend that.
For as the sun shines every day,
Just as the son does, more or less.
And when at night his labour's done,
Then, too, like heaven's charioteer, the sur-
Into the dairy he descends,
His fare is paid him, and he sets in milk.
BRISK. Incomparable well and proper, egad! But I have one exception to make: don't you think bilk-I know it's a good rhyme--but dou’t you think bilk and fare too like a hackney coachman ?
LADY F. I swear and vow I'm afraid so. And yet our Jehu was a hackney coachman when my lord took him.
BRISK. Was he? I'm answered, if Jeha was a hackney coachman. You may put that in the marginal notes though, to prevent criticism; only mark it with a small asterisk, and say, Jehu was formerly a hackney coachman.'
LADY F. I will; you'd oblige me extremely to write notes to the whole poem. BRISK. With all my heart and soul, and proud of the vast honour, let me perish!
LORD FROTH. Hee, hee, hee! my dear, have you done? Wou't you join with us? We were laughing at my Lady Whister and Mr. Sneer.
LADY F. Ay, my dear, were you ? Oh! filthy Mr. Sneer; he's a nauseous figura, a most fulsamic fop. Foh! He spent two days together in going about Covent Garden to suit the living of his coach with his complexion.
LORD F. O silly! Yet his aunt is as fond of him as if she had brought the ape into the world herself.
BRISK. Who? my Lady Toothless! Oh, she's a mortifying spectacle; she's always chewing the cud like an old ewe.
LORD F. Foh!