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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, worth £600 per annum. Other plays soon appeared: the Double Dealer' in 1694; 'Love for Love' in 1695; the Mourning Bride,' a tragedy, in 1697; and the Way of the World' in 1700. In 1710 he published a cllection of miscellaneous poems, of which one little piece, Doris,' is worthy of his fame; and his good-fortune still following him, he ob tained, on the accession of George I. the office 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 Frenchman, 'I should not have come to visit you.' A complaint in the eyes, which terminated in total blindness, afflicted Congreve in his latter days: he died at his house in London on the 19th of January 1729-30.

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Dryden complimented Congreve as one whom every muse and grace adorned; and Pope dedicated to him his translation of the Iliad.' What higher literary honours could have been paid a poet whose laurels were all gained, or at least planted, by the age of thirty? One incident in the history of Congreve is too remarkable to be omitted. He contracted 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 the bulk of his fortune, amounting to about £10,000, to this eccentric lady. The duchess spent seven of the ten thousand pounds in the purchase of a diamond necklace. 'How much better would it have been 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 Westminster 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 consideration. The Duchess 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 ́s 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 fashion and literature has been removed by the just award of posterity from the high place

he once occupied. His plays are generally without poetry or imagination, and his comic genius is inextricably associated with sensuality and profaneness. We admire his brilliant dialogue and repartee, and his exuberance of dramatic incident and character; but the total absence of the higher virtues which ennoble life-the beauty and gracefulness of female virtue, the feelings of generosity, truth, 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 affectation 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,
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
I've read that things inanimate have moved,
And, as with living souls, have been informed
By magic numbers 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!

Description of a Cathedral.


ALMERIA. It was a fancied noise, for all is hushed.
LEONORA. It bore the accent of a human voice.
ALM. It was thy fear, or else some transient wind
Whistling through hollows of this vaulted aisle.
We'll listen.

LEON. Hark!

ALM. No; all is hushed and still as death. "Tis dreadful
How reverend is the face of this tall pile,
Whose ancient pillars rear their marble heads
To bear aloft its arched and ponderous roof,
By its own weight made steadfast and immovable,
Looking tranquillity. It strikes an awe
And terror on my aching sight; the tombs
And monumental caves of death look cold,
And shoot a chillness to my trembling heart,
Give me thy hand, and let me hear thy voice;
Nay, quickly speak to me, and let me hear
Thy voice--my own affrights me with its echoes.
LEON. Let us return; the horror of this place
And silence will increase your melancholy.

ALM. It may my fears, but cannot add to that.
No, I will on; shew me Anselmo's tomb,
Lead me o'er bones and skulis and mouldering earth
Of human bodies; for I'il mix with them;
Or wind me in the shroud of some pale corpse
Yet green in earth, rather than be the bride'
Of Garcia's inore detested bed: that thought
Exerts my spirits, and my present fears
Are lost in dread of greater ill.

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, 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 pursued 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, what else has meaning?

VAIN. Oh, the wise will tell you

BEL. More than they believe or understand.

VAIN. HOW; how, Ned? a wise man says more than he understands?

BEL. Ay, ay, wisdom is nothing but a pretending to know 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; roll in a higher orb,


and dwell

VAIN. In castles i' th' air of thy own building-that's thy element, Ned.

A Swaggering Bully and Boaster-From the same


SIR JOSEPH. 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 mettle ?

[Laying his hand on his sword. fight like a cock.

But has he been abroad? for every

SIR Jos. Ay, bully, a smart fellow; and will BLUFF. Say you so? Then I'll honour him. 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 car relish a dish of fighting without some sauce. Now, I think fighting for fightir sake 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 know I told you.

BLUFF. Ay, then I honour him again. Sir, may I crave your name?

SHARPER. Ay, sir, my name's Sharper.

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, Bully-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. Hannibal 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?
SHARPER. Not I, really, sir.

BLUFF. Oh, I thought so. Why, then, you can know nothing, sir. I am afraid you scarce know the history of the late war in Flanders with all its particulars. SHARPER. Not I, sír: no more than public papers or Gazettes tell us.

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 campaign, had a small 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? In all this time, as I hope for a truncheon, that rascally Gazette-writer never so much as once mentioned me. Not once, by the wars! Took no more notice than as if Noll Bluff had not been in the land of the living.


SHARPER. Strange!

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 re, tire-live a private person. Scipio and others have done so.

SHARPER. Impudent rogue.

[A side.

SIR Jos. Ay, this modesty of yours. Egad, if he would put in for 't, he might be 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 ?

SIR Jos. Look you now, I tell you he is so modest, he'll own nothing. BLUFF. Pish; you have put me out; I have forgot what I was about. 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 I'll 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 seen 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, now?

SIR JOS. I am blind.

BLUFF. Death had any other man interrupted me.

SIR Jos. Good Mr. Sharper, speak to him; I dare not look that way.
SHARPER. Captain, Sir Joseph's penitent.

BLUFF. Oh, I am calm, sir; calm as a discharged culverin. But 'twas indiscreet, when you know what will provoke me. Nay, come, Sir Joseph; you know my

heat's soon over.

SIR Jos. Well, I am a fool sometimes, but I'm sorry.
BLUFF. Enough.

SIR Jos. Come, we'll go take a glass to drown animosities.

Scandal and Literature in High Life-From 'The Double Dealer.'


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 not you better call him a charioteer? Charioteer sounds great. Besides, your ladyship's coachman having a red face, and you comparing him to the sun-and 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 and 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.
LADY F. Well, you shall hear. Let me see-

For as the sun shines every day,
So of our coachman I may say,
He shews his drunken fiery face
Just as the sun does, more or less.

BRISK: That's right; all's well, all's well. More or less.
LADY F. [Reads.]

And when at night his labour's done,
Then, too, like heaven's charioteer, the sun-

Ay, charioteer does better

Into the dairy he descends,

And there his whipping and his driving ends;
There he's secure from danger of a bilk;

His fare is paid him, and he sets in milk.

For Susan, you know, is Thetis, and so

BRISK. Incomparable well and proper, egad! But I have one exception to make: don't you think bitk-I know it's a good rhyme-but don'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 Jehu 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? Won'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 lining 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!

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