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cover that, while attempting to render an same persons who, a few months before, with impossible service to the cause of virtue, it meek voices and demure looks, had consulted has in truth only promoted vice.

divines about the state of their souls, now sur For what are the means by which a govern- rounded the midnight table, where, amidst the ment can effect its ends ? Two only, rewards bounding of champagne corks, a drunken and punishments;- powerful means, indeed, prince, enthroned between Dubois and Madame for influencing the exterior act, but altogether de Parabère, hiccoughed out atheistical arguimpotent for the purpose of touching the heart

. inents and obscene jests. The early part of A public functionary who is told that he will the reign of Louis the Fourteenth had been a be advanced if he is a devout Catholic, and time of license; but the most dissolute men of turned out of his place if he is not, will proba- that generation would have blushed at the bly go to mass every morning, exclude meat orgies of the Regency. from his table on Fridays, shrive himself regu- It was the same with our fathers in the time larly, and perhaps let his superiors know that of the Great Civil War. We are by no means he wears a hair shirt next to his skin. Under unmindful of the great debt which mankind a Puritan government, a person who is apprized owes to the Puritans of that time, the deliverers that piety is essential to thriving in the world, of England, the founders of the great American will be strict in the observance of the Sunday, Commonwealths. But in the day of their or, as he will call it, Sabbath, and will avoid a power they committed one great fault, which theatre as if it were plague-stricken. Such a left deep and lasting traces in the national show of religion as this, the hope of gain and character and manners. They mistook the end the fear of loss will produce, at a week's and overrated the force of government. They notice, in any abundance which a government determined not merely to proteci religion and may require. But under this show, sensuality, public morals from insult--an object for which ambition, avarice, and hatred retain unimpaired the civil sword, in discreet hands, may be benepower; and the seeming convert has only added ficially employed--but to make the people to the vices of a man of the world all the still committed to their rule truly devout. Yet if darker vices which are engendered by the con- they had only retlected on events which they stant practice of dissimulation, The truth had themselves witnessed, and in which they cannot be long concealed. The public disc had themselves borne a great part, they would covers that the grave persons who are proposed have seen what was likely to be the result of to it as patterns, are more utterly destitute of their enterprise. They had lived under a gomoral principle and of moral sensibility than vernment which, during a long course of avowed libertines. It sees that these Pharisees years, did all that could be done, by lavish are further removed from real goodness thany bounty and rigorous punishment, to enforce publicans and harlots. And, as usual, it rushes conformity to the doctrine and discipline of the to the extreme opposite to that which it quits. Church of England. No person suspected of It considers a high religious profession as a hostility to that church had the smallest chance sure mark of meanness and depravity. On of obtaining favour at the court of Charles. the very first day on which the restraints of Avowed dissent was punished by imprisonfear is taken away, and on which men can ment, by ignominious exposure, by cruel maventure to say what they feel, a frightful peal tilations, and by ruinous fines. And the event of blasphemy and ribaldry proclaims that the had been, that ihe Church had fallen, and had, short-sighted policy which aims at making a in its fall, dragged down with it a monarchy nation of saints has made a nation of scoffers. which had stood six hundred years. The Puritan

It was thus in France about the beginning might have learned, if from nothing else, yet of the eighteenth century. Louis the Four- from his own recent victory, that governments teenth in his old age became religious, and de- which attempt things beyond their reach are termined that his subjects should be religious likely not merely to fail, but to produce an 100-shrugged his shoulders and knitted his effect directly the opposite of that which they brows if he observed at his levee or near his contemplate as desirable. dinner-table any gentleman who neglected the All this was overlooked. The saints were duties enjoined by the Church--and rewarded to inherit the earth. The theatres were closed. piety with blue ribands, invitations to Marli, The fine arts were placed under absurd regovernments, pensions, and regiments. Forth- straints. Vices which had never before been with Versailles became, in every thing but even misdemeanours were made capital felodress, a convent. The pulpits and confession-nies. And it was solemnly resolved by Parliaals were surrounded by swords and embroidery. ment, “ that no person should be employed bui The marshals of France were much in prayer; such as the House shall be satisfied of his real and there was hardly one among the dukes godliness.” The pious assembly had a Bible and peers who did not carry good little books lying on the table for reference. If they had in his pocket, fast during Lent, and communi- consulted it they might have learned that the cate at Easter. Madame de Maintenon, who wheat and the tares grow together inseparably, had a great share in the blessed work, boasted and must either be spared together, or rooted that uevotion had become quite the fashion. up together. To know whether a man was A fashion indeed it was; and like a fashion really godly was impossible. But it was easy it passed away. No sooner had the old king to know whether he had a plain dress, lank been carried to St. Denis, than the whole court hair, no starch in his linen, no gay furniture in unmasked. Every man hastened to indemnify his house ; whether he talked through his nose, simself, by the excess of licentiousness and and showed the whites of his eyes ; whcther he impudeuce, for years of mortification. The named his children, Assurance, Tribulation et Maher-shalal-hash-baz– whether he avoided events, a person who affected to be better than Spring Garden when in town, and abstained his neighbours was sure to be a knave. from hunting and hawking when in the coun- In the old drama there had been much that try-whether he expounded hard scriptures to was reprehensible. But whoever compares his troop of dragoons, and talked in a com- even the least decorous plays of Fletcher with mittee of ways and means about seeking the those contained in the volume before us, will Lord. These were tests which could easily be see how much the profligacy which follows a applied. The misfortune was, that they were period of overstrained austerity, goes beyond tests which proved nothing. Such as they the profligacy which precedes such a period. were, they were employed by the dominant The nation resembled the demoniac in the party. And the consequence was, that a crowd New Testament. The Puritans boasted that of impostors, in every walk of life, began to the unclean spirit was cast out. The house mimic and to caricature what were then re- was empty, swept, and garnished, and for a garded as the outward signs of sanctity. The time the expelled tenant wandered through dry nation was not duped. The restraints of that places seeking rest and finding none. But gloomy time were such as would have been ihe force of the exorcism was spent. The impatiently borne, if imposed by men who fiend returned to his abode; and returned not were universally believed to be saints. Those alone. He took to him seven other spirits restraints became altogether insupportable more wicked than himself. They entered in, when they were known to be kept up for the and dwelt together: and the second possession profit of hypocrites. It is quite certain that, was worse than the first. even if the Royal Family had never returned We will now, as far as our limits will per. -even if Richard Cromwell or Henry Crom-mit, pass in review the writers to whom Mr. well had been at the head of the administration Leigh Hunt has introduced us. of the four, --there would have been a great relaxation of Wycherley stands, we think, last in literary manners. Before the Revolution many signs merit, but first in order of time, and first, beindicated that a period of license was at hand. yond all doubt, in immorality. The Restoration crushed for a time the Puritan William WYCH ERLEI was born in 1640. party, and placed supreme power in the hands He was the son of a Shropshire gentleman of of a libertine. The political counter-revolu- old family, and of what was then accounted a tion assisted the moral counter-revolution, and good estate. The property was estimated at was in turn assisted by it. A period of wild 6001. a year, a fortune which, ainong the forand desperate dissoluteness followed. Even in tunes of that time, probably ranked as a forremote manor-houses and hamlets the change tune of 2000l. a year would rank in our days. was in some degree felt; but in London the William was an infant when the civil war outbreak of debauchery was appalling. And broke out; and, while he was still in his rudi. in London the places most deeply infected were ments, a Presbyterian hierarchy and a republi. the palace, the quarters inhabited by the aris- can government were established on the ruins tocracy, and the Inns of Court. It was on the of the ancient church and throne. Old Mr. support of these parts of the town that the Wycherley was attached to the royal cause, playhouses depended. The character of the and was not disposed to intrust the education drama became conformed to the character of of his heir to the solemn Puritans who no in its patrons. The comic poet was the mouthpiece ruled the universities and public schools. Au. of the most deeply corrupted part of a corrupted cordingly, the young gentleman was sent ai society. And in the plays before us, we find fifteen to France. He resided some time in distilled and condensed, the essential spirit of the neighbourhood of the Duke of Montausini, the fashionable world during the Anti-puritan chief of one of the noblest races of Tourame. reaction.

The duke's wife, a daughter of the house of The Puritan had affected formality; the Rambouillet, was a finished specimen of those comic poet laughed at decorum. The Puritan talents and accomplishments for which lzer had frowned at innocent diversions; the comic house was celebrated. The young foreigner poet took under his patronage the most flagi- was introduced to the splendid circle which tious excesses. The Puritan had canted; the surrounded the duchess, and there he appears comic poet blasphemed. The Puritan had to have learned some good and some evil. In made an affair of gallantry felony, without a few years he returned to this country a fine benefit of clergy; the comic poet represented gentleman and a Papist. His conversion, it it as an honourable distinction. The Puritan may safely be affirmed, was the effect, not of spoke with disdain of the low standard of any strong impression on his understanding popular morality; his life was regulated by a or feelings, but partly of intercourse with an far more rigid code; his virtue was sustained agreeable society in which the Church of by motives unknown to men of the world. Rome was the fashion; and partly of that Unhappily it had been amply proved in many aversion to Calvinistic austerities, which was cases, and might well be suspected in many then almost universal among young Englishinore, that these high pretensions were un- men of parts and spirit, and which, at one founded. Accordingly, the fashionable circles, time, seemed likely to make one half of them and the comic poets who were the spokesmen Catholics, and the other half Atheists. of those circles, took up the notion that all pro- But the Restoration came. The universities fessions of piety and integrity were to be con- were again in loyal hands; and there was rea. strued by the rule of contrary; that it might son to hope that there would be again a na well be doubted whether there was such a tional church fit for a gentleman. Wycherley thing as virtue in the world: but t?:44 at all I became a member of Queen's Colloge, Oxford.


and abjured the errors of the Church of Rome. / “Plain Dealer,” which is said to have been The somewhat equivocal glory of turning, for written when he was twenty-five, it contains a short time, a very good-for-nothing Papist one scene unquestionably written after 1675, into a very good-for-nothing Protestant is as- several which are later than 1668, and scarcecribed to Bishop Barlow.

ly a line which can have been composed beWycherley left Oxford without taking a de- fore the end of 1666. gree, and entered at the Temple, where he Whatever may have been the age at which lived gayly for some years, observing the hu- Wycherley composed his plays, it is certain mours of the town, enjoying its pleasures, and that he did not bring them before the public picking up just as much law as was necessary till he was upwards of thirty. In 1672, "Love to make the character of a pettifogging attor- in a Wood” was acted with more success than ney or a litigious client entertaining in a it deserved, and this event produced a great comedy.

change in the fortunes of the author. The From an early age he had been in the habit Duchess of Cleveland cast her eyes upon him, of amusing himself by writing. Some wretch- and was pleased with his appearance. This ed lines of his on the Restoration are still ex- abandoned woman, not content with her comtant. Had he devoted himself to the making placent husband and her royal keeper, lavished of verses, he would have been nearly as far her fondness on a crowd of paramours of all below Tate and Blackmore as Tate and Black- ranks, from dukes to rope-dancers. In the more are below Dryden. His only chance for time of the commonwealth she commenced her renown would have been, that he might have career of gallantry, and terminaled it under occupied a niche, in a satire, between Fleck- Anne, hy marrying, when a great-grandmother, noe and Settle. There was, however, another that worthless fop, Beau Fielding. It is not kind of composition in which his talents and strange that she should have regarded Wy. acquirements qualified him to succeed; and to cherley with favour. His figure was that he judiciously betook himself.

manding, his countenance strikingly handsome, In his old age he used to say, that he wrote his look and deportment full of grace and dig. “Love in a Wood” at nineteen, the “Gen-nily. He had, as Pope said long after, “ the tleman Dancing-Master” at twenty-one, the true nobleman look,” the look which seems to " Plain Dealer" at twenty-five, and the "Coun- indicate superiority, and a not unbecoming try Wife" at one or two-and-thirty. We are consciousness of superiority. His hair, inincredulous, we own, as to the truth of this deed, as he says in one of his poems, was prestory. Nothing that we know of Wycherley maturely gray. But in that age of periwigs leads us to think him incapable of sacrificing this misfortune was of little importance. The truth to vanity. And his memory in the de- duchess admired him, and proceeded :o make cline of his life played him such strange tricks, love to him after the fashion of the coarsethat we might question the correctness of his minded and shameless circle to which she beassertion, without throwing any imputation on longed. In the Ring, when the crowd of beau. his veracity. It is certain that none of his ties and fine gentlemen was thickest, she put plays were acted till 1672, when he gave “Love her head out of her coach-window, and bawled in a Wood" to the public. It seems improba- to him—“Sir, you are a rascal; you are a vilble that he should resolve on so important an lain;" and, if she be not belied, added another occasion as that of a first appearance before phrase of abuse which we will not quote, but the world, to run his chance with a feeble of which we may say that it might most justly piece, written before his talents were ripe, be- have been applied to her own children. Wyfore his style was formed, before he had looked cherley called on her grace the next day, and abroad into the world; and this when he had with great humility begged to know in what actually in his desk two highly-finished plays, way he had been so unfortunate as to disoblige the fruit of his matured powers. When we her. Thus began an intimacy from which the look minutely at the pieces themselves, we poet probably expected wealth and honours. find in every part of them reason to suspect Nor were such expectations unreasonable. A the accuracy of Wycherley's statement. In handsome young fellow about the court, known the first scene of “Love in a Wood,” to go no by the name of Jack Churchill, was about the inrther, we find many passages which he same time so lucky as to become the object of a could not have written when he was nineteen. short-lived fancy of the duchess. She had preThere is an allusion to gentlemen's periwigs, sented him with 45001., the price, in all protawhich first came into fashion in 1663; an allu- bility, of some title or some pardon. The pru. sion to guineas, which were first struck in dent youth had lent the money on high interest 1663; an allusion to the vests which Charles and on landed security, and this judicious inordered to be worn at court in 1666; an allu- vestment was the beginning of the most splension to the fire of 1666 ; several allusions to did private fortune in Europe. Wrcherley was political and ecclesiastical affairs which must not so lucky. The partiality with which the be assigned to times later than the year of the great lady regarded him was, indeed, the talk Restoration to times when the government of the whole town; and, sixty years later, old and the city were opposed to each other, and men who remembered those days told Voltaire when the Presbyterian ministers had been that she often stole from the court to her lover's driven from the parish churches to the con- chambers in the Temple, disguised like a counventicles. But it is needless to dwell on par- try girl, with a straw hat on her head, pattens ticular expressions. The whole air and spirit on her feet, and a basket in her hand. The of the piece belong to a period subsequent to poet was indeed too happy and proud to be that mertioned by Wycherley. As to the discreet. He dedicated to the duches the play


which had led to their acquaintance, and in the About the same time he brought on the stage dedication expressed himself in terms which his second piece, the “Gentleman Dancing could not but confirm the reports which had Master.” The biographer says nothing, as far gone abroad. But at Whitehall such an affair as we remember, about the fate of this play. was regarded in no serious light. The lady There is, however, reason to believe, that, was not afraid to bring Wycherley to court, though certainly far superior to “Love in a and to introduce him to a splendid society, Wood,” it was not equally successful. It was with which, as far as appears, he had never first tried at the west end of the town, and, as before mixed. The easy king, who allowed to the poet confessed, “would scarce do there.” It his mistresses the same liberty which he was then performed in Salisbury Court, but, as it claimed for himself, was pleased with the con- should seem, with no better event. For, in the versation and manners of his new rival. prologue to the “Country Wise,” Wycherley

So high did Wycherley stand in the royal described himself as “the late so baffled scribfavour, that once, when he was confined by a bler." fever to his lodgings in Bow-street, Charles, In 1675, the “Country Wife” was performed who, with all his faults, was certainly a man with brilliant success, which, in a literary point of a social and affable disposition, called on of view, was not wholly unmerited. For, him, sat by his bed, advised him to try change though one of the most profligate and heartless of air, and gave him a handsome sum of mo- of human compositions, it is the elaborate proney to defray the expense of the journey. duction of a mind, not indeed rich, original, or Buckingham, then master of the horse, and imaginative, but ingenious, observant, quick w one of that infamous ministry known by the seize hints, and patient of the toil of polishing, name of the Cabal, had been one of the The “Plain Dealer,” equally immoral and duchess's innumerable paramours. He at first equally well written, appeared in 1677. AI showed some symptoms of jealousy, but soon, first this piece pleased the people less than the after his fashion, veered ruund from anger 10 critics; but after a time its unquestionable fondness, and gave Wycherley a commission merits, and the zealous support of Lord Dorin his own regiment, and a place in the royal set, whose influence in literary and fashionhousehold.

able society was unbounded, established it in It would be unjust to Wycherley's memory the public favour. not to mention here the only good action, as The fortune of Wycherley was now in the far as we know, of his whole life. He is said zenith, and began to decline. A long life was to have made great exertions to obtain the pa- still before him. But it was destined to be tronage of Buckingham for the illustrious au- filled with nothing but shame and wretchedthor of “ Hudibras,” who was now sinking into ness, domestic dissensions, literary failures, an obscure grave, neglected by a nation proud and pecuniary embarrassments. of his genius, and by a court which he had The king, who was looking about for an acserved too well. His grace consented to see complished man to conduct the education of poor Butler, and an appointment was made. his natural son, the young Duke of Richmond, But unhappily two pretty women passed by; at length fixed on Wycherley. The poet, exthe volatile duke ran after them; the oppor- ulting in his good luck, went down to amuse tunity was lost, and could never be regained. himself at Tunbridge; looked into a booksel.

The second Dutch war, the most disgraceful ler's shop on the Pantiles, and to his great dewar in the whole history of England, was now light, heard a handsome woman ask for the raging. It was not in that age considered as by "Plain Dealer,” which had just been published. any means necessary that a naval officer should He made acquaintance with the lady, who receive a professional education. Young men proved to be the Countess of Drogheda, a gay of rank, who were hardly able to keep their young widow, with an ample jointure. She feet in a breeze, served on board of the king's was charmed with his person and his wit; and, ships, sometimes with commissions and some after a short flirtation, agreed to become his times as volunteers. Mulgrave, Dorset, Ro- wife. Wycherley seems to have been apprechester, and many others, lest the playhouses hensive that this connexion might not suit and the Mall for hammocks and salt pork; well with the king's plan respecting the Duke and, ignorant as they were of the rudiments of Richmond. He accordingly prevailed on of naval science, showed, at least on the day the lady to consent to a private marriage. All of battle, the courage which is seldom wanting came out. Charles thought the conduct of in an English gentleman. All good judges of maritime affairs complained that under this was one of the battles between Rupert and De Ruyter, system the ships were grossly mismanaged, The point is of no importance; and there can scarcely and that the tarpaulins contracted the vices, be said to be any evidence either way. We offer, howwithout acquiring the graces, of the court. But ever, to Mr. Leigh Hunt's consideration three argu

ments-of no great weight certainly-yet such as ought, on this subject, as on every other, the govern- we think, to prevail in the absence of better

First, it ment of Charles was deaf to all remonstrances is not very likely that a young Templar, quite unknown where the interests or whims of favourites were have quitted

his chambers to go to sea. On the other

in the world-and Wycherley was such in 1665—-should concerned. Wycherley did not choose to be hand, it would have been in the regular course of things out of the fashion. He embarked, was present that, when a courtier and an equerry, he should offer at a battle, and celebrated it on his return in a written after a drawn battle, like those of 1673. and not

his services. Secondly, his verses appear to have been copy of verses too bad for the bellman.”.

after a complete victory like that of 1665. Thirdly, in the

epilogue to the “Gentleman Dancing-Master," writien Mr. Leigh Hunt supposes that the battle at which in 1673, he says that “all gentlemen must pack to sea;": Wycherley was present was that which the Duke of an expression which makes it probable that he did nu York gained over Opdam, in 1665. We believe 'hat it himself mean to stay behind.


Wycherley both disrespectful and disinge- that, if we place it at this time, we do no in

Other causes probably assisted to justice to the character either of Wycherley or alienate the sovereign from the subject who James. nad been so highly favoured. Buckingham Not long after, old Mr. Wycherley died; and was now in opposition, and had been com- his son, now past the middle of life, came to mitted to the Tower; not, as Mr. Leigh Hunt the family estate. Still, however, he was not supposes, on a charge of treason, but by an at his ease. His embarrassments were great; order of the Honse of Lords for some expres- his property was strictly tied up; and he was sions which he had used in debate. Wycherley on very bad terms with the heir-at-law. He wrote some bad lines in praise of his impri- appears to have led, during a long course of soned patron, which, if they came to the years, that most wretched life, the life of an knowledge of the king, would certainly have old boy about town. Expensive tastes with made his majesty very angry. The favour of little money, and licentious appetites with dethe court was completely wiihdrawn from the clining vigour, were the just penance for his poet. An amiable woman, with a large for early irregularities. A severe illness had protune, might indeed have been an ample com- duced a singular effect on his intellect. His pensation for the loss. But Lady Drogheda memory played him pranks stranger than was ill-tempered, imperious, and extravagantly almost any that are to be found in the history jealous. She had herself been a maid of of that strange faculty. It seemed to be at once honour at Whitehall. She well knew in what preternaturally strong and preternaturally estimation conjugal fidelity was held among weak. If a book was read to him before he the fine gentlemen there; and watched her went to bed, he would wake the next morning town husband as assiduously as Mr. Pinch- with his mind full of the thoughts and expreswife watched his country wife. The unfortu- sions which he had heard over night; and he nate wit was, indeed, allowed to meet his would write them down, without in the least friends at a tavern opposite his own house. suspecting that they were not his own. In his Buton such occasions the windows were verses the same ideas, and even the same always open, in order that her ladyship, who words came over and over again several times was posted on the other side of the street, in a short composition. His fine person bore might be satisfied that no woman was of the the marks of age, sickness, and sorrow; and party.

he mourned for his departed beauty with an The death of Lady Drogheda released the effeminate regret. He could not look without unfortunate poet from this distress; but a se- a sigh at the portrait which Lely had painted ries of disasters, in rapid succession, broke of him when he was only twenty-eight; and down his health, his spirits, and his fortune. often murmured, Quantum mutatus ab illo. He His wife meant to leave him a good property, was still nervously anxious about his literary and left him only a lawsuit. His father could reputation ; and, not content with the fame not or would not assist him. He was at length which he still possessed as a dramatist, was thrown into the Fleet, and languished there determined to be renowned as a satirist and during seven years, utterly forgotten, as it an amatory poet. should seem, by the gay and lively circle of In 1704, after twenty-seven years of silence, which he had been a distinguished ornament. he again appeared as an author. He put forth In the extremity of his distress he implored a large folio of miscellaneous verses, which, the publisher who had been enriched by the we believe, has never been reprinted. Some sale of his works, to lend him twenty pounds, of these pieces had probably circulated through and was refused. His comedies, how the town in manuscript; for, before the volume still kept possession of the stage, and drew appeared, the critics at the coffee-houses very great audiences, which troubled themselves confidently predicted that it would be utterly little about the situation of the author. At worthless; and were, in consequence, bitterly length James the Second, who had now suc- reviled by the poet in an ill-written, foolish, ceeded to the throne, happened to go to the and egotistical preface. The book amply vin. theatre on an evening when the “Plain Dealer"|dicated the most unfavourable prophecies that was acted. He was pleased by the perform had been hazarded. The style and versificaance, and touched by the fate of the writer, tion are beneath criticism; the morals are whom he probably remembered as one of the those of Rochester. For Rochester, indeed, gayest and handsomest of his brother's cour- there was some excuse. When his ofiences tiers. The king determined to pay Wycher- against decorum were committed, he was a ley's debts, and to settle on the unfortunate very young man, misled by a prevailing fast poet a pension of 2007. a year. This munifi-ion. Wycherley was sixty-four. He had long cence, on the part of a prince who was little outlived the times when libertinism was rein the habit of rewarding literary merit, and garded as essential to the character of a wit whose whole soul was devoted to the interests and a gentleman. Most of the rising poets, of his church, raises in us a surmise which like Addison, John Philips, and Rowe, were Mr. Leigh Hunt will, we fear, 'pronounce very studious of decency. We can hardly conczive uncharitable. We cannot help suspecting that any thing more miserable than the figure which it was at this time that Wycherley returned to the ribald old man makes in the midst of so the communion of the Church of Rome. That many sober and well-conducted youths. he did return to the communion of the Church In the very year in which this bulky volume of Rome is certain. The date of his re-con- of obscene doggerel was published, Wycherley version, as far as we know, has never been formed an acquaintance of a very singula: mentioned by any biographer. We believe I kind. A little, pale, crooked sickly, bright

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