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LECTURE IV.

ON WYCHERLEY, CONGREVE, VANBRUGH, AND

FARQUHAR.

Comedy is a “ graceful ornament to the civil order; the Corinthian capital of polished society." Like the mirrors which have been added to the sides of one of our theatres, it reflects the images of grace, of gaiety, and pleasure double, and completes the perspective of human life. To read a good comedy is to keep the best company in the world, where the best things are said, and the most amusing happen. The wittiest remarks are always ready on the tongue, and the luckiest occasions are always at hand to give birth to the happiest conceptions. Sense makes strange havoc of nonsense. Refinement acts as a foil to affectation, and affectation to ignorance. Sentence after sentence tells. We don't know which to admire most, the observation, or the answer to it. We would give our fingers to be able to talk so ourselves, or to hear others talk so. In turning over the pages of the best comedies, we are almost

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comedy (which I think the best) are undoubtedly Wycherley, Congreve, Vanbrugh, and Farquhar. The dawn was in Etherege, as its latest close was in Sheridan.-It is hard to say which of these four is best, or in what each of them excels, they had so many and such great excellences.

Congreve is the most distinct from the others, and the most easily defined, both from what he possessed, and from what he wanted. He had by far the most wit and elegance, with less of other things, of humour, character, incident, &c. His style is inimitable, nay perfect. It is the highest model of comic dialogue. Every sentence is replete with sense and satire, conveyed in the most polished and pointed terms. Every page presents a shower of brilliant conceits, is a tissue of epigrams in prose, is a new triumph of wit, a new conquest over dulness. The fire of artful raillery is nowhere else so well kept up. This style, which he was almost the first to introduce, and which he carried to the utmost pitch of classical refinement, reminds one exactly of Collins's description of wit as opposed to humour,

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Whose jewels in his crisped hair
Are placed each other's light to share."

Sheridan will not bear a comparison with him in the

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in the very words which is to be found in hardly
any otheir writer, iTo the mere reader his writings
would be an irreparable losses to the stage they are ;
already become a dond, letture with the exception of
one of thoro, Love for Love This play is as full
of character, incidentand stage-effect, as almost
any of those of this.contemporaries, land*füller of
wity than any of his own, except perhaps the Way
of the World as it cuill acts, and is still acted well.
The electrode it is to digi
spect to res pagous on the well-informed
spectato. Ti particular; Mundons Foresight, if

it is not" just the thing, is a wonderfully rich and s powerful piece of comic aeting. His look is

planet-struck, his dress and appearance like one

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