Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

Cost. Come, Tummas, we'll go home,
Tho. Ay, ay, come.

KITE. Home! for shame, gentlemen ; behave yourselves better before your cap tain. Dear Thomas ! honest Costar!

Tho. No, no; we'll be gone.

KITE. Nay, then. I command you to stay; I place you both sentinels in this place for two hours, to watch the motion of St. Mary's clock you, and you the motion of St Chad's: and he that dares stir from his post till he be relieved, shall have my sword in his belly the next minute.

PLUME. What's the matter, sergeant? I'm afraid you are too rough with these gentlemen.

KITE. I'm too mild, sir; they disobey command, sir; and one of them should be shot for an example to tic oiler. They deny their being listed.

Tho. Nay, sergeant, we don't downright deny it neither; that we dare not do, for fear of being shot; but we humbly conceive, in a civil way, and begging your worship's pardon, that we may go home. "PLUME. That's easily known. Have either of you received any of the king's money?

Cost. Not a brass farthing, sir.

Kite They have each of thein received one-and-twenty shillings, and 'tis now in their pockets

Cost. Wounds ! if I have a penny in my pocket but a bent sixpence, I'll be content to be listed and shot into the bargain.

Tho. And I: look ye here, sir.
Cost. Nothing but the king's picture, that the sergeant gave me just now.
Kite. See there, a guinea; onc-and-twenty shillings; t'other has the fellow on 't.

PLUME. The case is plain, gentlemen : the goods are found upon you. Those pieces of gold are worth one-and-twenty shillings eneh.

Cost. So, it seems that Carolus is one-and-twenty shillings in Latin ?
Tho. Tis the same thing in Greek, for we are listed.

Cost. Flesh ; but we an't, Tummas: I desire to be carried before the mayor. captain.

[Captain and Sergeant whisper the while. PLUME. 'Twill never do, Kite; your tricks will ruin me at last. I won't lose the fellows though, if I can help it. Well, gentlemen, there must be some trick in this: my sergeant offers to take his oath that you are fairly listed.

'Tho. Why, captain, we know that you soldiers have more liberty of conscience than other folks ; but for me or neighbour Coster here to take such ar oath, 'twould be downright perjuration.

PLUME. Look ye, rascal, yon villain ! if I find that you have imposed upon these two honest fellows, I'll trample you to death, you dog! Come, how was it?

Tuo. Nay, then, we'll speak. Your sergeant, as you say, is a rogue; un 't like your worship, begging your worship's pardon; and

Cost. Nay, Tuminas, let us speak; you know I can read. And so, sir, he gave us those two pieces of money for pictures of the king, by way of a present.

PLUTE. How? by way of a present? the rascal! I'll teach him to abuse honest fellows like you. Scoundrel, rogue, villain ! (Beats off the Sergeant, and follows.

Both. Obrave noble captain ! huzza! A brave captain, faith!

Cost. Now. Tummas, Carolus is Latin for a beating. 'l'his is the bravest captain I ever saw. Wounds! I've a month's mind to go with him.

Enter KITE. KITE. An't you a couple of pretty fellows, now ? Here you have complained to the captain ; I am to be turned out, and one of you will be sergeant. Which of you is to have my balberd ?

BOTH. I.
KITE. March, you scoundrels !

[Beats them off. COLLEY CIBBER-STEELE— PHILIPS—AARON HILL-MRS. CENTLIVRE. · Among the other successful writers for the stage may be instanced COLLEY CIBBER (1671-1757), an actor and manager, whose comedy, the. Careless Husband is still deservedly a favourite. Cibber was

IN

[ocr errors]

a lively amusing writer, and his ' Apology for luis Life,' is one of the
most entertaining autobiographies in the language.-- Sir RICHARD
STEELE was also a dramatist, and ovtained from George I. & patent,
appointing him manager and governor of the royal company of
comedians --The ‘Distrest Moller,' translated from Racine, was one of
brought out löy AMBROSE PHILIPS, the friend of Addison, and was sur
highly successtil.-AARON HILL adapied the .Zara' of Voltaire to
thie English theatre, aud wrote some original dramas, which entitled
bim, no less than liis poems, to the niche le has obtained in the

Dunciad,'- more legitimate comic writer appeared in MRI.
SUSANNA CENTLIVRE (1667-1723), whose life and writings were im-
moral, but who possessed considerable dramatic skill and talent,
Her comedies, the “Busy Body,' The Wonder-A Woman keeps :

har uta Secret,' and A Bold Stroke for a Wite,' are still favourite acting plays. Her plots and incidents are admirably arranged for stage effect, and her characters well discriminated, Mrs. Centlivre bad been some time an actress, and her experience had been of service 10 ver in writing for the stage. Her plays have recently (1873) been collected and published iu tour volumes.

PROSE LITERATURE

ESSAYISTS.

• The literature of France had the delightful essays of Mantaigne, and, a century later, the Characters' of La Bruyère, in which the artificial life of the court of Louis XIV. was portrayed with fidelity and satirical effect; but it was not until the reign of Queen Anne that any Englislı writer ventured to undertake & periodical work in which he should meet the public with a paper on some topic of the day, exposing fashionable folly, or insinuating instruction in the form of tale, allegory, or anecdote. The honour of originating this branch of literature is due to Daniel Defoe, who on the 19th of February 1704 commenced a literary and political journal, entitled The Rcview,' which he continued for about bine years, publishing for the first year twice a week, and afterwards thrice--0u Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday-the days in which the post lest London for the ccuntry. Defoe aimed at being a censor of manners; he laslied the vices of the age, wrote also light and pleasant papers, and descanted on subjects of trade and commerce. His Review' was highly popular. But it was not till Steele and Addison took the field that the essay assumed universal interest and importance, and exercised a great and beneficial influence on the morality, the piety, social manners, und intelligence of the British public,

SEITE

RRO

SIR RICHARD STEELE--JOSEPH ADDISON. land The life of Addison we have already sketched. Steele was of POUR English parentage, but born in Dublin. March 12, 1671-2. His

father held the office of Secretary to the Lord-lieutenant of Ireland, 1, 2015 the Duke of Ormond; and through Ormond's influence Richard

Steele was placed in thie Charteruouse, London. There lie met Addison, just ille same age as bimself, and a close intimacy was formed between them, one of the most memorable in literature. Steele always regarded Addison with respect approaching to veneration.

Tlırongh the school and througl the world,' as Mr. Thackeray has said, ' whithersocver bis strange fort!

me led this erring, wayward, affectionate creature, Joseplı Addison was always his head-boy: . rite i They were together at Oxford, Steele having been entered of Merton M College in 1692. He remained there three years, but left without lived taking a degree; and becoming enamoured of ihe military profession,

but unable to obtain a commission, he entered as a private in the
Horse Guards. A rich relation in Ireland threatened to disinherit
bim if he took this step, but Steele, preferring the state of his mind to
that of bis fortune,' enlisted, and was disinherited. In the army, le
was soon a favourite; be obtained a cornetcy, became secretary to his
colonel, Lord Cuits, and afterwards was promoted to the rank of cap-
tain. He then plunged into the fashionable vices and follies of the.
age, at the same time acquiring that knowledge of life and character
which proved so serviceable to him when he exchanged the sword for
the pen. As a check on his irregularities~a self-monitor-Steele
wrote a treatise, called the 'Christian Hero,' which he published in 1701.
His gay associates did not relish this semi-religious work (wlici
&bounds in fine characteristic passages), and not being himself very
deeply impressed with liis own reasoning and pious examples, he set
about writing a comedy, 'The Funeral, or Grief à la Mode,' which was
performed at Drury Lane in 1702 with great success. Next year he
producell another play, the 'Tender Husbanıl,' and in 1704 the Lying
Lover, which proved to be too grave a comedy for the public taste.
The ill-success of this piece deterred him from attempting the stage
again unul 1722, wlieu he achieved his great dramatic triumph by the
production of the Conscious Lovers.'

Steele was now a popular and fashionable man upon town. The Whig minister, Harley, conferred upon him the office of Gazetteer and Gentleman-Usher to Prince George; lie had married a wife who died soon afterwards, leaving him an estate in Barbadoes, and his second marriage with Molly Scurlock' added to luis fortune. But Steele lived expensively, and was never free from pecuniary difficul. ties. His letters to his wife---of which about 400 have been preserved, forming the most singular correspondence ever published : slew that he was familiar with duns and bailiffs, with misery, folly, and repentance. Addison upon one occasion lent him £1000, which

[ocr errors]

was repaid within a twelvemonth; but another loan from the same friend is said to have been reclaimed by an execution, and Addison 13181 has been condemned for harshness. To his friend, Benjamin Victor, Stcele related the case. His bond on some expensive furniture was put in force, but from the letter lie receiver with the surplus arising from the sale, he knew that Addison only intended a friendly warn- stol o ing against a manner of living altogether 100 costly, and, taking it as mored he believed it to be meant, he met him afterwards with the same gaiety of temper he had always shewn.* The warning was little lieeded-Stecle had a long succession of troubles and embarrassments, but nothing could depress the elastic gaiety of his spirits. In 1709, ESO happy project suggested itself. His Office of Gazetteer gave him a 'command of early foreign. intelligence, and following up Defoe's scheme of a thrice-a-week journal on the post-days, combining news and literature, he organised the "Tatler,' the first number of which appeared on the 12th of April, 171 9. Swift had, by his ridicule of 1. Sed Partridge the almanac-maker, made the name of Ísaac Bickerstaff familiar; Steele adopted it for his new work, and thus, as he said, • gained an audience of all who had any taste of wit, while the addi. tion of the ordinary occurrences of common journals of news brought in a multitude of readers.

Addison also came to his aid. He sent him hints from Ireland, and after the 80ih number, became a regular contributor. 'I fared,' says Steele, like a distressed prince who calls in a powerful nciglibour to his aid: I was undone by my auxiliary ; wlien I had onco called him in, I could not subsist without dependence on bim. Some of the most charming of Addison's essays appear in the “Tailer,' but Steele stamped its character on the work as a gentle censor of man. ners and morals, a corrector of the public taste, and a delightful exponent of English society and English feeling. He aimed at high objects to expose the false arts of life, to pull off the disguises of cunning, vanity, and affectation, and to recommend a general simplicity in our dress, ouir discourse, and our behaviour. That the careless and jovial ‘Dick Steele' should set about such a task is only another illustration of the contradictions and incongruities in his character. His happy genius, however, carried him over all difficulties. The 'Tailer' was continued regularly thrice a week, price one penny eaclı mumber, until the 2d of January 1710–11. By this time the Tories were triumphant; Steele lost his appointment of Gazetteer ; but his success as an ess:lyist inspired him with ambition, and on the 1st of March 1710-11, appeared the first number of the • Spectator,' which was to be published daily. The design was carried out, with unex:umpled success through 555 numbers, terminating on the 6th of December 1712. In 1714, the Spectator' was resumed, and eighty numbers-forming an eighth volume-added. In its

* See Forster's Essays-Sir Richard Steelo.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

most prosperous period, wlien Bolingbroke thought to curb tlie press
by imposing a stamp on each sheet, ile 'Spectator' doubled its price,
ict maintained its popularity, and paid government on account of
the half-penny stamp a sum of £29 each week. It had also a circu-
lation of about 10,000 in volumes. Of the excellent effects produced
by the essays of Steele and Addison, we possess the evidence not only
of the improved state of society and literature which afterwards pre-
vailed, but likewise the testimony of writers contemporary with the
authors themselves. All speak of a decided and inarked improvement.
The Spectator' ceased in Deceniber 1712, and in the March following
appeared the Guardian,' which was also issued daily. It extended to
175 vumbers, or two volumes. Pope, Berkeley, Budgell, and other
friends, aided Stcele in this new work, but Addison was again bis
principalassistant. Of the 271 papers in the 'Tailer,' Steele wrote 188,
Addison 42, and both conjoined, 36. Of 635 Spectators, Addison
trote 874, Steele, 240; and of 175 'Guardians,' Sieele wrote 82, and
Addison, 53. At various intervals during his busy life Steele attempted
other periodicals on the same plan-as the 'Englislıman,' (which was
chiefly political, and extended to 57 numbers), the 'Lover,' the
* Reader, the Plebeian,' the Theatre,' &c. but these were short-
lived productions, and had little influence either on his fame or for.
lune.

Political controversy now raged Swift assailed Steele withwitty
malice and virulence, and the patriotism of Steele prevailed over his
interest, for he resigned an appointment he had received as commis-
sioner of stamps, and threw himself into political warfare with disin-
terested but leadlong zeal. He obtained a seat in parliament as
member for Stockbridge, spoke warmly in support of the Protestant
succession, which he conceived to be in danger, and published a
pamphilet, entitled the Crisis,' which contained some seasonable
remarks on the danger of a popisl successor.' For these insinuations
against the Protestantism of the government, Steele was expelled tlie
House of Commons by a majority of 215 against 152 voies. The
death of Queen Anne, lowever, humbled his opponents; and in the
new reign, Siecle received a place in the household Surveyor of the
Royal Stables, Governor of the Royal Company of Comedians--was
placed in the commission of the peace for Middlesex, and kuighted by
King George I. Through the influence of the Duke of Newcastle, be
entered parliament as member for Borouglıbridge, and was an active
politician and debater. In 1717, he visited Edinburgh, as one of the
commissioners of forfeited estates, and whilst there, he is said on one
occasion to have given a splendid entertainment to a mullitude of
decayed tradesmen and beggars collected from the streets! In 1718,
he published an account of a patent scheme he had devised, called
* The Fislipool,' for conveying salmon and other fish alive from
Ireland to ihe London market. In 1719, he opposed the Peerage
Bill, by which it was sought to fix permanently the number of

[ocr errors]
« ForrigeFortsett »