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proposes to her with a complete delicacy, and dignity, without lowering himself, without recrimination, without wronging himself or his friend. When Oronte reads him a sonnet, he does not assume in the fop a nature which he has not, but praises the conventional verses in conventional language, and is not so clumsy as to display a poetical judgment which would Le out of place. He takes at once his one from the circumstances; he perceives instantly what he must say and what be silent about, in what degree and in what gradations, what exact expedient will reconcile truth and conventional propriety, how far he ought to go or where to take his stand, what faint line separates decorum from flattery, truth from awkwardness. On this narrow path he proceeds free from embarrassment or mistakes, never put out of his way by the shocks or changes of circumstance, never allowing the calm smile of politeness to quit his lips, never omitting to receive with a laugh of good humor the nonsense of his neighbor. This cleverness, entirely French, reconciles in him fundamental honesty and worldly breeding; without it, he would be altogether on the one side or the other. In this way comedy finds its hero half-way between the roué and the preacher.

Such a theatre depicts a race and an age. This mixture of solidity and elegance belongs to the seventeenth century, and belongs to France. The world does not deprave, it develops Frenchmen; it polished then not only their manners and their homes, but also their sentiments and ideas. Conversation provoked thought; it was no mere talk, but an inquiry; with the exchange of news, it called forth the interchange of reflections. Theology and philosophy entered into it; morals, and the observation of the heart, formed its daily pabulum. Science kept up its vitality, and lost only its aridity. Pleasantness cloaked reason, but did not smother it. Frenchmen never think better than in society; the play of features excites them; their ready ideas flash into lightning, in their shock with the ideas of others. The varied current of conversation suits their fits and starts, the frequent

change of subject fosters their inven tion; the pungency of piquant speeches reduces truth to small but precious coin, suitable to the lightness of their hands. And the heart is no more tainted by it than the intelligence. The Frenchman is of a sober temperament, with little taste for the brutishness of the drunkard, for violent joviality, fo the riot of loose suppers; he is more over gentle, obliging, always ready to please; in order to set him at ease he needs that flow of goodwill and ele gance which polite society creates and cherishes. And in accordance therewith, he shapes his temperate and amiable inclinations into maxims; it is a point of honor with him to be ser viceable and refined. Such is the gentleman, the product of society in a sociable race. It was not so with the English. Their ideas do not spring up in chance conversation, but by the concentration of solitary thought; this is the reason why ideas were then wanting. Their gentlemanly feelings are not the fruit of sociable instincts, but of personal reflection; that is why gentlemanly feelings were then at a discount. The brutish foundation remained; the outside alone was smooth. Manners were gentle, sentiments harsh; speech was studied, ideas frivolous. Thought and refinement of soul were rare, talent and fluent wit abundant. There was politeness of manner, not of heart; they had only the set rules and the conventionalities of life, its giddiness and heedlessness.


The English comedy-writers paint these vices, and possess them. Their talent and their stage are tainted by them. Art and philosophy are absent. The authors do not advance upon a by the most direct method. They pu general idea, and they do not proceed materials. Their pieces have generally together ill, and are embarrassed by two intermingled plots, manifestly di tinct,* combined in order to multiply incidents, and because the public de mands a multitude of characters and facts. A strong current of boisterous

ways find a complete comedy grossly amalga * Dryden boasts of this. With him, we al mated with a complete tragedy.

Moreover, this pleasure is not real it has no resemblance to the hearty laughter of Molière. In English comedy there is always an undercurrent of tartness. We have seen this, and more in Wycherley; the others though less cruel, joke sourly. Their characters in a joke say harsh things to one another; they amuse themselves by hurting each other; a Frenchman is pained to hear this interchange of mock politeness; he does not go to blows by way of fun. Their dialogue turns naturally to virulent satire; instead of covering vice, it makes it prominent; instead of making it ridiculous, it makes it odious:

"Clarissa. Prithee, tell me how you have passed the night?

Araminta. Why, I have been studying all the ways my brain could produce to plague my


Cl. No wonder indeed you look so fresh this morning, after the satisfaction of such pleasing ideas all night.” *

action is necessary to stir up their dense | only to fill up the evenings of coquettes appreciation; they do as the Romans and coxcombs. did, who packed several Greek plays into one. They grew tired of the French simplicity of action, because they had not the French refined taste. The two series of actions mingle and jostle one with another. We cannot see where we are going; every moment we are turned out of our path. The scenes are ill connected; they change twenty times from place to place. When one scene begins to develop itself, a deluge of incidents interrupts. An irrelevant dialogue drags | on between the incidents, suggesting a book with the notes introduced promiscuously into the text. There is no plan carefully conceived and rigorously carried out; they took, as it were, a plan, and wrote out the scenes one after another, pretty much as they came into their head. Probability is not well cared for. There are poorly arranged disguises, il simulated folly, mock marriages, and attacks by robbers These women are really wicked, and worthy of the comic opera. In order that too openly. Throughout vice is to obtain a sequence of ideas and prob- crude, pushed to extremes, served up ability, we must set out from some gen- with material adjuncts. Lady Fidget eral idea. The conception of avarice, says: "Our virtue is like the stateshypocrisy, the education of women, ill-man's religion, the quaker's word, the assorted marriages, arranges and binds together by its individual power incidents which are to reveal it. But in the English comedy we look in vain for such a conception. Congreve, Farquhar, Vanbrugh, are only men, of wit, not thinkers. They skim the surface of things, but do not penetrate. They play with their characters. They aim at success, at amusement. They sketch caricatures, they spin out in lively fashion a vain and bantering conversation; they make answers clash with one another, fling forth paradoxes; their nimble fingers manipulate and juggle with the incidents in a hundred ngenious and unlooked-for ways. They have animation, they abound in gesture and repartee; the constant bustle of the stage and its lively spirit surround them with continual excitement. But the pleasure is only skin-deep; we have seen nothing of the eternal foundation and the real nature of mankind; we carry no thought away; we have passed an hour, and that is all; the amusement teaches us nothing, and serves

gamester's oath, and the great man's honor; but to cheat those that trust us." Or again: "If you'll consult the widows of this town," says a young lady who does not wish to marry again, " they'll tell you, you should never take a lease of a house you can hire for a quarter's warning." Or again: "My heart cut a caper up to my mouth," says a young heir, "when I heard my father was shot through the head."§ The gentlemen collar each other on the stage, treat the ladies roughly before spectators, contrive an adultery not far off between the wings. Base or ferocious parts abound. There are furies like Mrs. Loveit and Lady Touchwood There are swine like parson Bull and the go-between Coupler. Lady Touch wood wants to stab her lover on the stage. | Coupler, on the stage, uses * Vanbrugh, Confederacy, ii. 1.

† Wycherley, The Country Wife, v. 4. Vanbrugh, Relapse, ii. end. Ibia.

She says to Maskwell, her lover: "You soothe me to a fond belief of all your fictions want but leisure to invent fresh falsehood, and but I will stab the lie that's forming in you

gestures which recall the court of Henry III. of France. Wretches like Fainall as Maskwell are unmitigated scoundrels, and their hatefulness is not even cloaked by the grotesque. Even honest women like Silvia and Mrs. Sullen are plunged into the most shocking situations. Nothing shocked the English public of those days; they had no real education, but only its varnish. There is a forced connection between ne mind of a writer, the world which surrounds him, and the characters which he produces; for it is from this world that he draws the materials out of which he composes them. The sentiments which he contemplates in others and feels himself are gradually arranged into characters; he can only invent after his given model and his acquired experience; and his characters only manifest what he is, or abridge what he has seen. Two features are prominent in this world; they are prominent also on this stage. All the successful characters can be reduced to two classes -natural beings on the one part, and artificial on the other; the first with the coarseness and shamelessness of their primitive inclinations, the second with the frivolities and vices of worldly habits the first uncultivated, their simplicity revealing nothing but their innate baseness; the second cultivated, their refinement instilling into them nothing but a new corruption. And the talent of the writers is suited to the painting of these two groups: they possess the grand English faculty, which is the knowledge of exact detail and real sentiments; they see gestures, surroundings dresses; they hear the sounds of voices, and they have the courage to exhibit them; they have inherited, very ittle, and at a great distance,and in spite of themselves, still they have inherited from Shakspeare; they manipulate freely, and without any softening the coarse harsh red color which alone can bring out the figures of their brutes. On the other hand, they have animation and a good style; they can express the thoughtless chatter, the frolicsome affectations, the inexhaustible and capricious abundance of drawing-room stupidities; they have as much liveliness heart, and save a sin, in pity to your soul."Congreve, Double Dealer, v. 17.

as the maddest and at the same time they speak as well as the best instruct ed; they can give the model of witty conversation; they have lightness of touch, brilliancy, and also facility, exactness, without which you cannot draw the portrait of a man of the world. They find naturally on their palette the strong colors which suit their barbarians, and the pretty tints which suit their exquis ites.


First there is the blockhead, Squire Sullen, a low kind of sot, of whom his wife speaks in this fashion : "After his man and he had rolled about the room, like sick passengers in a storm, he comes flounce into bed, dead as a sal· mon into a fishmonger's basket; his feet cold as ice, his breath hot as a furnace, and his hands and his face as greasy as his flannel nightcap. C matrimony! He tosses up the clothes with a barbarous swing over his shoulders, disorders the whole economy of my bed, leaves me half naked, and my whole night's comfort is the tuneable serenade of that wakeful nightingale, his nose!"* Sir John Brute says: "What the plague did I marry her (his wife) for? I knew she did not like me ; if she had, she would have lain with me." t He turns his drawing-room into a stable, smokes it foul to drive the women away, throws his pipe a: their heads, drinks, swears, and curses. Coarse words and oaths flow through his conversation like filth through a gutter. He gets drunk at the tavern, and howls out, "Damn morality ! and damn the watch! and let the constable be married." He cries out that he is a free-born Englishman; he wants to go out and break every thing. He leaves the inn with other besotted scamps and attacks the women in the street He robs a tailor who was carrying doctor's gown, puts it on, thrashes the guard. He is seized and taken by the constable; on the road he breaks out into abuse, and ends by proposing to him, amid the hiccups and stupid reit erations of a drunken man, to go and find out somewhere a bottle and a girl

*Farquhar, The Beaux Stratagem, ii. 1.
+ Vanbrugh, Provoked Wife, v. 6.
Ibid. iii. a.

He returns home at last, covered with blood and mud, growling like a dog, with red swollen eyes, calling his wife a slut and a liar. He goes to her, forcibly embraces her, and as she turns away, cries, "I see it goes damnably against your stomach-and therefore-kiss me again. (Kisses and tumbles her. So, now you being as dirty and as nasty as myself, we may go pig together."* He wants to get a cup of cold tea out of the closet, kicks open the door, and discovers his wife's and niece's gallants. He storms, raves madly with his clammy tongue, then suddenly falls asleep. His valet comes and takes the insensible burden on his shoulders. It is the portrait of a mere animal, and I fancy it is not a nice one.

a Scotch-coal fire in the great parlor set all the Turkey-work chairs in their places; get the great brass candlesticks out and be sure stick the sockets full of laurel. Run!... And do you hear, run away to nurse, bid her let Miss Hoyden loose again, and if it was not shifting-day, let her put on a clear tucker, quick!"* The pretended sonin-law wants to marry Hoyden straight off. "Not so soon neither! that's shooting my girl before you bid he stand. Besides, my wench's wed ding-gown is not come home yet." ↑ The other suggests that a speedy mar riage will save money. Spare money ? says the father, "Udswoons, I'll give my wench a wedding dinner, though I go to grass with the king of Assyria for't.


Sir Tunbelly, taking him for an impostor, calls him a dog; Hoyden proposes to drag him in the horse-pond; they bind him hand and foot, and thrust him into the dog-kennel; Sir Tunbelly puts his fist under his nose, and threatens to knock his teeth down his throat. Afterwards, having discovered the impostor, he says, " My lord, will you cut his throat? or shall I ?. Here, give me my dog-whip. . . . Here, here, here, let me beat out his brains, and that will decide all." He_raves, and wants to fall upon Tom Fashion with his fists. Such is the country gentleman, of high birth and a farmer, boxer and drinker, brawler and beast. There steams up from all these scenes a smell of cook. ing, the noise of riot, the odor of a dung hill. §

That is the husband; let us look at Ah! poor girl, she'll be the father, Sir Tunbelly Clumsey, a scared out of her wits on her weddingcountry gentleman, elegant, if any of night; for, honestly speaking, she does them were. Tom Fashion knocks at not know a man from a woman but by the door of the mansion, which looks his beard and his breeches." Foplike "Noah's ark," and where they re-pington, the real son-in-law, arrives. ceive people as in a besieged city. A servant appears at a window with a blunderbuss in his hand, who is at last with great difficulty persuaded that he ought to let his master know that somebody wishes to see him. " Ralph, go thy weas, and ask Sir Tunbelly if he pleases to be waited upon. And dost hear? call to nurse that she may lock up Miss Hoyden before the geat's open." Please to observe that in this house they keep a watch over the girls. Sir Tunbelly comes up with his people, armed with guns, pitchforks, scythes, and clubs, in no amiable mood, and wants to know the name of his visitor. "Till I know your name, I shall not ask you to come into my house; and when I know your name-'tis six to four I don't ask you neither."§ He is like a watch-dog growling and looking at the calves of an intruder. But he presently learns that this intruder is ais future son-in-law; he utters some exc.amations, and makes his excuses. "Cod's my life! I ask your lordship's pardon ten thousand time. (To a servant.) Here,run in a doors quickly. Get

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Like father like child. What a can did creature is Miss Hoyden! She grumbles to herself, " It's well I have a husband a-coming, or, ecod, I'd marry the baker; I would so! Nobody can knock at the gate, but presently I must be locked up; and here's the young greyhound bitch can run loose about the house all the day long, she can, 'tis very well." When the nurse teils her her future husband has arrived, ↑ Ibid. iii. 5.

Ibid. v. 5.

Ibid. || Ibid. iii. 4.


when I am a wife and a lady both nurse, ecod, I'll flaunt it with the best of 'em." * But she is cautious all the same. She knows that her father has his dog's wh.p handy, and that he will give her a good shake. "But, d'ye

take care of one thing: when the busi ness comes to break out, be sure you get between me and my father, for you know his tricks: he'll knock me down." ↑ Here is your true moral ascendency. For such a character,

there is no other, and Sir Tunbelly does well to keep her tied up, and to let her taste a discipline of daily stripes.


All these art

ste leaps for joy, and kisses the old woman. "O Lord! I'll go put on my laced smock, though I'm whipped till the blood run down my heels for't." Tom comes himself, and asks her if she will be his wife. "Sir, I never disobey my father in any thing but eat-hear?" she says to the nurse. Pray ng of green gooseberries." But your father wants to wait "a whole week." "A week -Why I shall be an old woman by that time."t I cannot give all her answers. There is the spirit of a goat behind her kitchentalk. She marries Tom secretly on the spot, and the chaplain wishes them many children. 66 Ecod," she says, "with all my heart! the more the merrier, I say; ha! nurse!" But Lord Foppington, her real intended, turns up and Tom makes off. Instantly her plan is formed. She bids the nurse and chaplain hold their tongues. "If you two will be sure to hold your tongues, and not say a word of what's past, I'll e'en marry this lord too." What," says nurse, "two husbands, my dear? "Why, you had three, good nurse, you may hold your tongue." She nevertheless takes a dislike to the lord, and very soon; he is not well made, he hardly gives her any pocket-money; she hesitates between the two. "If I leave my lord, I must leave my lady too; and when I rattle about the streets in my coach, they'll only say, There goes mistress-mistress-mistress what? What's this man's name I have married, nurse?" 66 'Squire Fashion." "Squire Fashion is it? Well, 'Squire, that's better than nothing. Love him! why do you think I love him, nurse? ecod, I would not care if he were hanged, so I were but once married to him -No-that which pleases me, is to think what work I'll make when I get to London; for

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* Vanbrugh's Relapse, iii. 4. + Ibid. iv. 1. + Ibid. iv. 4. The character of the nurse is excellent. Tom Fashion thanks her for the

training she has given Hoyden: "Alas, all
I can boast of is, I gave her pure good milk,
and so your honour would have said, an you
had seen how the poor thing sucked it.
Eh! God's blessing on the sweet face on't!
how it used to hang at this poor teat, and suck
and squeeze, and kick and sprawl it would, till
the belly on't was so full, it would drop off like
a leech." This is good, even after Juliet's
aurse in Shakspeare.

§ Ibid. iv. 6,

\ Ibid. v. 5.

acter to town, and place her with her Let us accompany this modest charequals in fine society. less ladies do wonders there, both in Wycherley's Country Wife gives us the the way of actions and maxims. tone. When one of them happens to ners and the boldness of a hussar in be partly honest, § she has the manthe souls of courtesans and procuresses. petticoats. Others seem born with Dorinda, "there will be title, place, "If I marry my lord Aimwell," says and and precedence, the Park, the play, equipage, noise and flambeaux.-Hey, the drawing-room, splendor, my lady Aimwell's servants there! Aimwell's coach put forward! Stand Lights, lights to the stairs! My lady by, make room for her ladyship -Are not these things moving ?" She is Miss Betty, Belinda, for example. Be. candid, and so are others-Corinna, linda says to her aunt, whose virtue is tottering: "The sooner you capitulate has decided to marry Heartfree, to the better." Further on, when she save her aunt who is compromised, she makes a confession of faith which promises well for the future of her new in the balance, I should go near to "Were't not for your affair spouse; * Ibid. iv. 1. ↑ Ibid. v. 5.

See also the characte af a young stupid blockhead, Squire Humphrey. (Vanbrugh's Journey to London.) He has only a single idea, to be always eating.


§ Wycherley's Hippolita; Farquhar's Sil

Farquhar's Beaux Stratagem, iv. 1.
Vanirugh's Provoked Wife, iii. 3.

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