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HOROSCOPIC PREDICTIONS.

with a superior grace and genius, to the loud Acclamations of Mirth, which inspir'd the mix'd or rather Mob-Auditors. The Procession began to move, a numerous Train of Coaches attended the Hearse: But, good God! in what Disorder can only be express'd by a Sixpenny Pamphlet, soon after publish’d, entitled Dryden's Funeral.' 'At last the Corps arrived at the

“ Abbey, which was all unlighted. No Organ played, no Anthem sung; only two of the Singing boys preceded the Corps, who sung an Ode of Horace, with each a small candle in their Hand. The Butchers and other Mob broke in like a Deluge, so that only about eight or ten Gentlemen could gain Admission, and those forced to cut the Way with their drawn Swords. The Coffin in this Disorder was let down into Chaucer's Grave, with as much Confusion, and as little Ceremony, as was possible; every one glad to save themselves from the Gentlemen's Swords, or the Clubs of the Mob. When the Funeral was over, Mr. Charles sent a Challenge to Lord Jeffreys, who refusing to answer it, he sent several others, and went often himself, but could neither get a letter deliver'd, nor Admittance to speak to him, that he resolved, since his Lordship refused to answer him like a gentleman, he would watch an Opportunity to meet him, and fight off hand, tho' with all the Rules of Honor; which his Lordship hearing, left the Town, and Mr. Charles could never have the satisfaction, to meet him, tho' he sought it till his Death with the utmost Application."

Dryden was, perhaps, the last man of learning that believed in astrology; though an eminent English author, now living, and celebrated for the variety of his acquirements, has been known to procure the casting of horoscopes, and to consult a noted “astrologer," who gives opinions for a small sum. The coincidences of prophecy are not more remarkable than those of star-telling; and Dryden and the author I have referred to were probably both captivated into belief by some fortuitous realization of their horoscopic predictions. Nor can we altogether blame their credulity, when we see biology, table-turning, rapping, and all the family of impostures, taken up seriously in our own time. On the birth of his son Charles, Dryden

immediately cast his horoscope. The following account of Dryden's paternal solicitude for his son, and its result, may be taken as embellished, if not apocryphal

. Evil hour, indeed—Jupiter, Venus, and the Sun were “all under the earth;” Mars and Saturn were in square: eight, or a multiple of it, would be fatal to the child—the square foretold it. In his eighth, his twentythird, or his thirty-second year, he was certain to die, though

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he might possibly linger on to the age of thirty-four. The stars did all they could to keep up their reputation. When the boy was eight years old he nearly lost his life by being buried under a heap of stones out of an old wall, knocked down by a stag and hounds in a hunt. But the stars were not to be beatep; and though the child recovered, went in for the game a second time in his twenty-third year, when he fell, in a fit of giddiness, from a tower, and, to use Lady Elsabeth's words, was “mash'd to a mummy.” Still the battle was not, over, and the mummy returned in due course to its human form, though considerably disfigured. Mars and Saturn were naturally disgusted at his recovery, and resolved to finish the disobedient youth. As we have seen, he in vain sought his fate at the hand of Jeffreys; but we must conclude that the offended constellations took Neptune in partnership, for in due course the youth met with a watery grave.

After abandoning the drama, Congreve appears to have come out in the light of an independent gentleman. He was already sufficiently introduced into literary society; Pope, Steele, Swift, and Addison were not only his friends but his admirers, and we can well believe that their admiration was considerable, when we find the one dedicating his “Miscellany,

," the other his translation of the " Iliad,” to a man who was qualified neither by rank nor fortune to play Mæcenas.

At what time he was admitted to the Kit-kat I am not in a position to state, but it must have been after 1715, and by that time he was a middle-aged man, his fame was long since achieved; and whatever might be thought of his works and his controversy with Collier, he was recognized as one of the literary stars at a period when the great courted the clever; and wit was a passport to any society. Congreve had plenty of that, and probably at the Kit-kat was the life of the party when Vanbrūgh was away or Addison in a graver mood. Untroubled by conscience, he could launch out on any subject whatever; and his early life, spent in that species of so-called gayety which was then the routine of every young man of the world, gave him ample experience to draw upon. But Congreve's ambition was greater than his talents. No man so little knew his real value, or so grossly asserted one which he had not. Gay, handsome, and in good circumstances, he aspired to be, not Congreve the poet, not Congreve the wit, not Congreve the man of mind, but simply Congreve the fine gentleman. Such humility would be charming if it were not absurd. It is a vice of scribes to seek a character for which they have little claim. Johnson was as proud or prouder of his hunting than he was of his dictionary; Moore loved to be

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ANECDOTE OF VOLTAIRE AND CONGREVE.

thought a diner-out rather than a poet; even Byron affected the fast man when he might have been content with the name of "genius;" but Congreve went farther, and was ashamed of being poet, dramatist, genius, or what you will. An anecdote of him, told by Voltaire, who may have been an “awfu' liar," but had no temptation to invent in such a case as this, is so consistent with what we gather of the man's character, that one can not but think it is true.

The philosopher of Ferney was anxious to see and converse with a brother dramatist of such celebrity as the author of “ The Way of the World.” He expected to find a man of a keen satirical mind, who would join him in a laugh against humanity. He visited Congreve, and naturally began to talk of his works. The fine gentleman spoke of them as trifles utterly beneath his notice, and told him, with an affectation which perhaps was sincere, that he wished to be visited as a gentleman, not as an author. One can imagine the disgust of his brother dramatist. Voltaire replied, that had Mr. Congreve been nothing more than a gentleman, he should not have taken the trouble to call on him, and therewith retired with an expression of merited contempt.

It is only in the present day that authorship is looked upon as a profession, though it has long been one. It is amusing to listen to the sneers of men who never wrote a book, or who, having written, have gained thereby some more valuable advantage than the publisher's check. The men who talk with horror of writing for money, are glad enough if their works introduce them to the notice of the influential, and aid them in procuring a place. In the same way, Congreve was not at all ashamed of fulsome dedications, which brought him the favor of the great. Yet we may ask, if, the laborer being worthy of his hire, and the labor of the brain being the highest, finest, and most exhausting that can be, the man who straightforwardly and without affectation takes guineas from his publisher, is not honester than he who counts upon an indirect reward for his toil? Fortunately, the question is almost settled by the example of the first writers of the present day; but there are still people who think that one should sit down to a year's—ay ten years—hard mental work, and expect no return but fame. Whether such objectors bave always private means to return to, or whether they have never known what it is to write a book, we do not care to examine, but they are to be found in large numbers among the educated; and indeed, to this present day, it is held by the upper classes to be utterly derogatory to write for money.

Whether this was the feeling in Congreve's day or not is

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not now the question. Those were glorious days for an author, who did not mind playing the sycophant a little. Instead of having to trudge from door to door in Paternoster Row, humbly requesting an interview, which is not always granted—instead of sending that heavy parcel of MS., which costs you a fortune for postage, to publisher after publisher, till it is so often “returned with thanks” that you hate the very sight of it, the young author of those days had a much easier and more comfortable part to play. An introduction to an influential man in town, who again would introduce you to a patron, was all that was necessary. The profession of Mæcenas was then as recognized and established as that of doctor or lawyer. A man of money could always buy brains; and

. most noblemen considered an author to be as necessary a part of his establishment as the footmen who ushered them into my lord's presence. A fulsome dedication in the largest type was all that he asked; and if a writer were sufficiently profuse in his adulation, he might dine at Mæcenas's table, drink his sack and canary without stint, and apply to him for cash whenever he found his pockets empty. Nor was this all : if a writer were sufficiently successful in his works to reflect honor on his patron, he was eagerly courted by others of the noble profession. He was offered, if not hard cash, as good an equivalent, in the shape of a comfortable government sinecure; and if this was not to be had, he was sometimes even lodged and boarded by his obliged dedicatee. In this way he was introduced into the highest society; and if he had wit enough to support the character, he soon found himself facile princeps in a circle of the highest nobility in the land. Thus it is that in the clubs of the day we find title and wealth mingling with wit and genius; and the writer who had begun life by a cringing dedication, was now rewarded by the devotion and assiduity of the men he had once flattered. When Steele, Swift, Addison, Pope, and Congreve were the kings of their sets, it was time for authors to look and talk big. Eheu! those happy days are gone!

Our dramatist, therefore, soon discovered that a good play was the key to a good place, and the Whigs took care that he should have it. Oddly enough, when the Tories came in they did not turn him out. Perhaps they wanted to gain him over to themselves; perhaps, like the Vicar of Bray, he did not mind turning his coat once or twice in a lifetime. However this may be, he managed to keep his appointment without offending his own party; and when the latter returned to power, he even induced them to give him a comfortable little sinecure, which went by the name of Secretary to the Island of Jamaica, and raised the income from his appointments to £1200 a year.

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CONGREVE'S PRIVATE LIFE.

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From this period he was little before the public. He could afford now to indulge his natural indolence and selfishness. His private life was perhaps not worse than that of the majority of his contemporaries. He had his intrigues, his mistresses, the same love of wine, and the same addiction to gluttony. He had the reputation of a wit, and with wits he passed his time, sufficiently easy in his circumstances to feel no damping to his spirits in the cares of this life. The Island of Jamaica probably gave him no further trouble than that of signing a few papers from time to time, and giving a receipt for his salary. His life, therefore, presents no very remarkable feature, and he is henceforth known more on account of his friends than for aught he

may himself have done. The best of these friends was Walter Moyle, the scholar, who translated parts of Lucian and Xenophon, and was pretty well known as a classic. He was a Cornish man of independent means, and it was to him that Congreve addressed the letters in which he attempted to defend himself from the attacks of Collier.

It was not to be expected that a wit and a poet should go through life without a platonic, and accordingly we find our man not only attached, but devoted to a lady of great distinction. This was no other than Henrietta, Duchess of Marlborough, the daughter of “ Malbrook” himself, and of the famous

Queen Sarah.” Henrietta was the eldest daughter, and there was no son to inherit the prowess of Churchill and the parsimony of his wife. The nation—to which, by the way,

the Marlboroughs were never grateful—would not allow the title of their pet warrior to become extinct, and a special Act of Parliament gave to the eldest daughter the honors of the duchy.* The two Duchesses of Marlborough hated each other cordially. Sarah's temper was probably the main cause of their bickering; but there is never a feud between parent and child in which both are not more or less blamable.

The Duchess Henrietta conceived a violent fancy for the wit and poet, and whatever her husband, Lord Godolphin, may have thought of it, the connection ripened into a most intimate friendship, so much so that Congreve made the duchess not only his executrix, but the sole residuary legatee of all his property.f His will gives us some insight into the toadying character of the man. Only four near relations are mentioned as legatees, and only £540 is divided among them; whereas, after leaving £200 to Mrs. Bracegirdle, the actress; £100,

and all my apparel and linnen of all sorts” to a Mrs. Rooke, he divides the rest between his friends of the nobil

* See Burke's “Peerage." † The Duchess of Marlborough received £10,000 by Mr. Congreve's will.

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