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hill: Vainlove = Williams: Sharper = Alexander: Lsetitia = Mrs. Barry: Belinda = Mrs. Mountfort: Araminta = Mrs. Bracegirdle: Silvia = Mrs. Bowman: Lucy = Mrs. Leigh :—Congreve, having no acquaintance with the Manager of the Theatre, found means to be introduced to Southerne, who recommended him to the notice and protection of Dryden—after reading his Comedy over, Dryden declared he never saw such a first play, though from the author's inexperience it stood in need of some corrections to fit it for representation—these he readily supplied —so high was the opinion entertained of Congreve, after Dryden's perusal of his play, that for some time before its appearance on the stage, he was admitted to the freedom of the theatre—and from this period he lived in great intimacy with Dryden —Malone adds that the Old Batchelor came out in Jan. 1692-3—in the Female Wits, Marsilia speaks of her play as likely to be acted 17 or 18 nights together—to which Mrs. Wellfed replies—" How Madam! that is 3 or 4 more "than the Old Batchelor held out."
Malone says■—" As at the time of Congreve's "sitting down to compose the Old Batchelor, he is "said to have been only 19, so at that of its represen"tation, we are told, by all his biographers, that he "was but 21— * * —at what time he began to write "this C., has not been ascertained either by himself "or his friend Southerne; but if, according to the "account given by the latter to Dr. Birch, 2 years «« only intervened between its composition and its "performance he was 21, when he began to write it; "for assuredly, when it was first exhibited, he was 23 "years old—this fact is ascertained by the register "of Bardsey, in Yorkshire, from which it appears "that he was baptized there, Feb. 10 1669-70."
Malone is not correct—Congreve has himself ascertained at what time he wrote his play—and that he was at that time about 19—the Old Batchelor was acted and printed in 1693—Congreve says of it in his dedication—" had it been acted when it was first "written, more might have been said in its behalf; "ignorance of the town and stage would then have "been excuses in a young writer, which now, almost "four years experience will scarce allow of."
Malone has removed all doubt as to the place of Congreve's birth; but he was commonly considered as an Irishman.
Dryden says—" As for Comedy, Repartee is one "of its chiefest graces, the greatest pleasure of the "audience is a chase of wit kept up on both sides, "and swiftly managed"—and in this who was ever equal to Congreve?
It is to be regretted, that Congreve, who in general is so happy in the management of his plots, should have concluded this play and Love for Love with a Marriage in a Mask; a deception which perhaps never happened and which (whether likely or not) had been introduced in so many plays, that it was stale to the last degree.
Congreve says he wrote this play to amuse himself in a slow recovery from a fit of sickness—on which Collier remarks, he will not inquire what his disease was, but it must have been a very ill one, to be worse than the remedy.
Richmond Heiress, or a Woman Once in the Right —(D'Urfey dates his dedication May 6th 1693)— Quickwit = Dogget: Tom Romance = Powell: Cunnington = Bowen: Frederick = Williams: Sir Quibble Quere = Bright: Dr. Guiacum = Sandford: Stockjob = Underhill: Rice ap Shinkin = Bowman: Sir Charles Romance = Freeman: Hotspur = Hodgson: Fulvia = Mrs. Bracegirdle: Sophronia (a female plain dealer) = Mrs. Barry: Mrs. Stockjob = Mrs. Bowman: Mrs. Squeamish = Mrs. Knight: Marmalette = Mrs. Leigh :—Fulvia, the Heiress, is ward to Sir Charles—she is privately in love with Frederick—to avoid impertinent suitors, she pretends to be mad, and is placed under the care of Dr. Guiacum—Frederick engages Quickwit in his design on the Heiress —Quickwit is sent to Dr. Guiacum's as a mad Lord—Cunnington, who is mischievous and mercenary, discovers the plot to Sir Charles—and Quickwit is severely beaten—Sir Charles gives Cunnington a letter, which he is to carry to Dr. Guiacum in the disguise of a Quaker, who was Steward to Fulvia's father—Quickwit contrives to exchange this letter for another—he goes himself to Dr. Guiacum's as Zekiel, and carries off Fulvia—Cunnington is treated as a madman—he however makes his escape, and by his means Fulvia falls again into her guardian's hands— Quickwit contrives another scheme in Frederick's favour—this would have been successful, if Fulvia had not in the mean time been convinced by Sophronia, that Frederick's love was more to her money than her person—Sir Charles' wish was to have had Fulvia married to his son—Sir Quibble Quere wanted likewise to have married her—she rejects all her suitors, and the play ends without a marriage—it is a good bustling C. but might be shortened to advantage— Waldron altered it, and brought it out at Richmond in 1777—his alteration is not printed—almost all the principal actors are mentioned in a scene in the 1st act between Quickwit, Sir Quibble, and Frederick.
Female Virtuosoes. Witless (a Cambridge scholar) = Dogget: Clerimont = Powell: Sir Maurice Meanwell (an honest rich citizen) = Underhill: Sir Maggot Jingle = Bowman: Sir Timothy Witless = Bright: Meanwell = Hodgson: Trap = Bowen: Huff = Haines: Lady Meanwell = Mrs. Leigh: Catchat (an old maid) = Mrs. Mountfort: Mrs. Lovewitt = Mrs. Knight: Mariana = Mrs. Bracegirdle: Lucy (her maid) = Mrs. Rogers:—this is a moderate C. by Wright—it is professedly taken from Moliere.
The Learned Ladies came out at Paris in 1672— the Learned Ladies are Philaminta, Armanda, and Belisa, the wife, daughter, and sister of Chrisalus— his other daughter, Henrietta, is a woman of plain good sense—she is in love with Clitander—he had at first paid his addresses to Armanda, but being slighted by her, he had transferred his affections to Henrietta —Chrisalus approves of their union—Philaminta insists that Henrietta should marry Trissotin, a bad poet, with whose writings the learned ladies are greatly enamoured—Clitander requests Belisa to assist him in his love for Henrietta—she chooses to think him in love with herself—in the last act, Aristus, the brother of Chrisalus, pretends that Chrisalus had lost an important lawsuit, and that his bankers had failed—Trissotin declines the match with Henrietta —she marries Clitander—Aristus acknowledges, that what he had said was not true, but only a stratagem —in the 3d act, Trissotin introduces Vadius to the learned ladies—Trissotin and Vadius begin with paying each other extravagant compliments—Trissotin asks Vadius his opinion of a sonnet—Vadius, not knowing it to have been written by Trissotin, calls it a miserable composition—they come to a complete quarrel—this is the most humorous thing in the piece —Moliere has very well ridiculed the folly of false wit, and a pedantic education—but as the subject was rather dry, he should have confined his play to three acts, instead of extending it to five.
In the Female Virtuosoes, the characters of Sir Maurice Meanwell—Mr. Mean well - Clerimont — Lady Meanwell—Mrs. Lovewit—Mariana and Catchat, correspond with those of Chrisalus — Aristus— Clitander—Philaminta—Armanda —Henrietta and Belisa—Sir Maggot Jingle reads his verses as Trissotin does in the French play, but the person, whom Lady Meanwell designs to marry Mariana, is not Sir Jingle, but Witless—Witless is entirely a new character—evidently written for Dogget—this play came out at D. G.—it was revived at L. I. F. Jan. 10 1721, in order to anticipate Cibber's Refusal, which was brought out at D. L. in Feb. 1721—there is a striking resemblance between the two plays, each of them being taken from the same French Comedy—Cibber's play is better than Wright's.
Wary Widow, or Sir Noisy Parrot—this C. was written by Higden—Whincop says—" the author "had contrived so much drinking of Punch in the "play, that the actors almost all got drunk, and were "unable to get through with it, so that the audience "was dismissed at the end of the 3d act"—this C,
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