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And all to preach to German dame,
* The three ecclesiastical Electors WERE, the Electors of Treves, Cologne, and Mentz. At this time the Diet of the empire was sitting at Ratisbon.
No health of potentate is sunk,
+ Etherege has been pleased to confirm our author's opinion of the German jollity, and his own inclination to softer pleasures, by the following passage of a letter to the Duke of Buckingham.
“ I find that to this day, they (e. e. the Germans) make good the observation that Tacitus made of their ancestors; I mean, that their affairs (let them be never so serious and pressing) never put a stop to good eating and drinking, and that they debate their weightiest negociations over their cups.
“ 'Tis true, they carry this humour by much too far for one of my complexion ; for which reason I decline appearing among them, but when my master's concerns make it necessary for me to come to their assemblies: They are, indeed, a free-hearted open sort of gentlemen that compose the Diet, without reserve, affectation, and artifice ; but they are such unmerciful plyers of the bottle, so wholly given up to what our sots call good-fellowship, that 'tis as great a constraint upon my nature to sit out a night's entertainment with them, as it would be to hear half a score long-winded Presbyterian divines cant successively one after another.
“ To unbosom myself frankly and freely to your grace, I al. ways looked upon drunkenness to be an unpardonable crime in a young fellow, who, without any of these foreign helps, has fire enough in his veins to enable him to do justice to Cælia whenever she demands a tribute from him. In a middle-aged man, I con
a sider the bottle only as subservient to the nobler pleasures of love; and he that would suffer himself to be so far infatuated by it, as to neglect the pursuit of a more agreeable game, I think deserves no quarter from the ladies : In old age, indeed, when it is convenient
very often to forget and even steal from ourselves, I am of
morals and belief in these affairs. But the gentlemen of this country go upon a quite different scheme of pleasure ; the best furniture of their parlours, instead of innocent china, are tall overgrown rum
Nor need this title give offence,
mers ; and they take more care to enlarge their cellars, than their
; patrimonial estates. In short, drinking is the hereditary sin of this country ; and that hero of a deputy here, that can demolish, at one sitting, the rest of his brother envoys, is inentioned with as much applause as the Duke of Lorrain for his noble exploits against the Turks, and may claim a statue, erected at the public expence, in any town in Germany.
Judge, then, my lord, whether a person of my sober principles, and one that only uses wine (as the wiser sort of Roman Catholics do images,) to raise up my imagination to something more exalted, and not to terminate my worship upon it, must not be reduced to very mortifying circumstances in this place ; where I cannot pretend to enjoy conversation, without practising that vice that directly ruins it."
Then finish what you have began,
* This is the only mention that our author makes of the 6 Rehearsal” in poetry : In prose
he twice notices that satirical farce with some contempt. The length of time which the Duke spent upon it, or at least which elapsed between the first concoction and the representation, is mentioned by Duke in his character of Valerius :
But with play-houses, wars, immortal wars,
He'll finish Čliveden sooner than his play. The last line alludes to the magnificent structure at Cliveden, which Buckingham planned, but never completed. Another satirist has the same idea :
I come to his farce, which must needs well be done,
EPISTLE THE TENTH.
ON HIS COMEDY
THE WIVES' EXCUSE,
ACTED IN 1692.
SOUTHERNE,well known to the present age as a tragic writer, for his Isabella has been ranked among the first-rate parts of our inimitable Siddons-was also distinguished by his contemporaries as a successful candidate for the honours of the comic muse. Two of his comedies, “ The Mother in Fashion,” and “ Sir Anthony Love,” had been represented with success, when, in 1692, the “Wives' Excuse, or Cuckolds make themselves," was brought forward. The tone of that piece approaches what we now call genteel comedy : but, whether owing to the fatness into which such plays are apt to slide, for want of the vis comica which enlivens the more animated, though coarser, effusions of the lower comedy, or to some strokes of satire directed against music meetings, and other places of fashionable resort, “The Wives' Excuse" was unfortunate in the representation. The author of the dedication of the printed play,t has hinted at the latter cause as that
+ To the honourable Thomas Wharton, Esq. comptroller of his majesty's household.