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SIR CHARLES

SEDLEY.

[SIR CHARLES SEDLEY was born at Aylesford in 1639, and died August 20, 1701. His most famous comedy, The Mulberry Garden, appeared in 1668; his poetical and dramatic works were collected in 1719.]

Sedley was one of the most graceful and refined of the mob of Restoration gentlemen who wrote in prose and verse. For nearly forty years he was recognised as a patron of the art of poetry, and as an amateur of more than usual skill. Three times, at intervals of ten years, he produced a play in the taste of the age, and when his clever comedy of Bellamira was condemned at the Theatre Royal, on account of its intolerable indelicacy, he sulked for the remainder of his life, and left to his executors three more plays in manuscript. His songs are bright and lively, but inferior to those of Rochester in lyrical force. A certain sweetness of diction in his verse delighted his contemporaries, who praised his 'witchcraft' and his

gentle prevailing art.' In his plays he seems to be successively inspired by Etheredge, Shadwell and Crowne. Two lines in his most famous song have preserved his reputation from complete decay.

EDMUND W. GOSSE.

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SONG.

Love still has something of the sea,
From whence his Mother rose;
No time his slaves from love can free,
Nor give their thoughts repose.

They are becalm'd in clearest days,
And in rough weather tost;
They wither under cold delays,
Or are in tempests lost.

One while they seem to touch the port,
Then straight into the main

Some angry wind in cruel sport
Their vessel drives again.

At first disdain and pride they fear,
Which, if they chance to 'scape,
Rivals and falsehood soon appear

In a more dreadful shape.

By such degrees to joy they come,
And are so long withstood,
So slowly they receive the sum,
It hardly does them good.

'Tis cruel to prolong a pain,
And to defer a bliss,
Believe me, gentle Hermoine,
No less inhuman is.

An hundred thousand oaths your fears
Perhaps would not remove,

And if I gazed a thousand years,
I could no deeper love.

'Tis fitter much for you to guess

Than for me to explain,

But grant, oh! grant that happiness,
Which only does remain.

SONG.

[From The Mulberry Garden.]

Ah! Chloris, that I now could sit
As unconcerned as when
Your infant beauty could beget
No pleasure, nor no pain!
When I the dawn used to admire
And praised the coming day,

I little thought the growing fire
Must take my rest away.

Your charms in harmless childhood lay,
Like metals in the mine,
Age from no face took more away
Than youth concealed in thine.

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Lovers, like dying men, may well
At first disordered be,
Since none alive can truly tell
What fortune they must see.

SONG.

Phillis is my only joy,

Faithless as the winds or seas, Sometimes cunning, sometimes coy, Yet she never fails to please;

If with a frown
I am cast down,
Phillis smiling
And beguiling

Makes me happier than before.
Though alas! too late I find

Nothing can her fancy fix,
Yet the moment she is kind
I forgive her with her tricks ;
Which though I see,

I can't get free,—
She deceiving,

I believing,

What need lovers wish for more.

MRS. BEHN.

[APHRA BEHN, whose maiden name was Johnson, was born in Canterbury in 1642, and died in London, April 16, 1689. Her most famous comedy, The Rover, was printed in 1677; her Poems appeared in 1685.]

Mrs. Behn was the first Englishwoman who made her livelihood by the profession of literature. After a youth of much vicissitude and some not inconsiderable social splendour, she seems to have lost her fortune, and to have turned at the age of twenty-nine to her pen for support. She was a woman of no learning, but of great enthusiasm for scholarship in others, and of unbounded veneration for wit and genius. Wit she herself possessed, and something, too, of genius, though not enough to lift her above the mean standard of a debased and grovelling age. But while we condemn the laxity of her manners, and exclaim, with Pope, 'how loosely does Astræa tread the stage,' we must not deny her the praise due to honest work unwearily performed through nearly twenty years of poverty and failing health. Living among men, struggling by the side of Settle and of Shadwell for the dingy honours of the stage, she forgot the dignity of her sex, and wrote like a man. In eighteen years she saw nineteen of her dramas applauded or hissed by the debauched and idle groundlings of the Duke's Theatre; and forced to write what would please, she wrote in a style that has put a later generation very justly to the blush. But in power of sustained production she surpassed all her contemporaries except Dryden, since beside this ample list of plays, she published eight novels, some collections of poetry, and various miscellaneous volumes. The bulk of her writings, and the sustained force so considerable a body of literature displays, are more marked than the quality of her style, which is very irregular, uncertain and untutored. She possessed none of that command over her pen which a university training had secured to the best male poets of

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