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William Congreve

lore, world, success and 19th

CON'GREVE, WILLIAM, the second son of Richard Congreve, esq., of Congreve and Stretton, was born about 1672, at Bardsey, Yorkshire. Educated at Kilkenny, and at Trinity College, Dublin, he in 1688 returned to England, and was entered at the middle temple, but he dose not seem to have taken kindly to law. His first publication was a novel, entitled Incognita, or Lore and Duty Reconciled, a performance which Dr. Johnson said he would rather praise than read, but which has been neither read nor praised by succeeding critics. His first play, The OM Bachelor, was produced at Drury Lane, when C. was in his 19th year, and its success was remarkable. Next year he came out with The Double Dealer, which was a comparative failure; but his comedy Lore for Lore, published in 1695, was a great success, 'and brought to its author money and fame. The Mourning Bride, a blank-verse tragedy, written after the manner of the old passionate masters, came out in 1697. Its success was enormous, far exceeding that of his comedies, but it has long since fallen from its high estate. Two years after, he produced his comedy, entitled The Way of the WorldĄ which failed completely, and him with the theater. In other respects, C. was a fortunate man. Ile held various offices, which together yielded him an income of £1200. C. affected to despise

his theatrical triumphs, and cultivated the modish airs of the fine gentlennn, an eccen tricity which laid him open to rebuke when he was visited by Voltaire. In his later days, he was afflicted by gout and blindness. He died 19th of Jan., 1729, at his house at Surrey street, in the Strand. London, at the age of 57, and was buried in Westmin ster Abbey, nobles supporting the pall.

As a writer of comedies, C. takes a high place, but not the highest. His plots are intricate and confused, and his dialogue is defiled by all the grossness of his age. He has none of those touches of nature that make the whole world kin. The element in which he moves is intrigue. His world is composed of wives, gallants, and husbands; and the wives and the gallants are in a continued conspiracy against the husbands. What strikes the reader of these plays, is the superabundant wit. But there is no dis crimination or keeping in the brilliancy. The shoeblack is as witty as the hero. C. has so ninny good things to say, that he is glad to get a mouth to stick them in. He is the wittiest and the least amusing of writers. He has no heart, no generosity, no humor. His splendor is frosty, and the innumerable flashing points dazzle the eye, and make the brain ache.