too fine for the taste of the town, and there is probably a good deal of truth in this. The portraits of Petulant and Witwoud are painted by strokes much more delicate than those with which Vanbrugh had caricatured Lord Foppington, and the play as a whole is much more quiet in tone than Vanbrugh's, or, indeed, than any of Congreve's earlier comedies.
Sir JOHN VANDRUGH ( 1664-1726) was a soldier and an architect as well as a dramatist. His theatrical interests belong to the central part of his career; they began with the writing of original plays, from which they proceeded to translations and adaptations from the French, and at length to a brief experiment in theatrical management. The two original plays with which he began ( The Relapse, 1696; The Provoked Wife, 1697) are by far the most important: his other original play, A Journey to London, was left unfinished at his death. The last completed play in which it is certain that he had a hand was produced in 1705. He was a more breezy and less urbane writer than Congreve: his plays are full of action and gayety, but they are perhaps the most loosely constructed of the period. The two plots of The Relapse are connected by the slenderest of threads, and the main plot can hardly be said to have been brought to a conclusion. But the characters and the individual scenes of Vanbrugh were so amusing that his two original plays were very popular in their own day. The author's subject-matter and license of speech were probably the chief causes for the revival of the protests against the immorality of the stage. Moreover, Vanbrugh was given to baiting the clergy and religion, and this fact further aroused such opponents as Jeremy Collier. Vanbrugh's retort to criticism was coolly insolent: the tone of his preface to The Relapse is typical. When Collier's famous pamphlet appeared in the year following The Provoked Wife, Vanbrugh replied in much the same vein. His last comedy, The Confederacy (adapted from the French, but with considerable alteration) showed him still unrepentant.
GEORGE FARQUHAR (? 1678-1707) took a different road to success. Born and educated in Ireland, he left Trinity College, Dublin, to become an actor in that city's theatre. When he was about twenty he accidentally wounded a fellow-actor, and as a consequence determined to quit the stage. Removing to London, he had his apprentice comedy, Love and a Bottle, produced in 1698. His natural bent was for the comedy of Etherege, although he was gayer and less sophisticated than his prototype: he had an irrepressible spirit and a youthful irresponsibility which forestall criticism. He sensed, however, the turn in public sentiment, and his later plays show an increasing tendency to placate the reformers, at the same time retaining as much of the old attitude toward life as possible. His method of 'moralizing' his comedies was to permit his characters to talk like Restoration rakes, but usually to prevent them from acting in accordance with their professions. A speech of Plume in The Recruiting Officer ( 1706) illustrates this: 'No, faith, I'm not that rake the world imagines; I have got an air of freedom, which people mistake for lewdness in me, as they mistake formality in others for religion. The world is all a cheat; only I take mine, which is undesigned, to be more excusable than theirs, which is hypocritical. I hurt nobody but myself, and they abuse all mankind.' The compromise shows that Farquhar's comic sense allied him to the older school, but it also points unmistakably to the eventual triumph of the sentimental comedy which was already being supported by Cibber and Steele.
A. E. C.
1913. Palmer, John. The Comedy of Manners.
1914. Nettleton, George H. English Drama of the Restoration and Eighteenth Century. New York and London. [Chapters V, VIII, with Bibliographical Notes.]
1923. Nicoll, Allardyce. A History of Restoration Drama, 1660-1700. Cambridge [England]. [Chapter Three, section VI.]
1924. Dobrée, Bonamy. Restoration Comedy, 1660-1720. Oxford.
1924. Krutch, Joseph Wood. Comedy and Conscience after the Restoration. New York.
1925. Perry, Henry Ten Eyck. The Comic Spirit in Restoration Drama. New Haven.
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Publication information: Book title: British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan. Contributors: George Henry Nettleton - Editor, Arthur Eillicot Case - Editor. Publisher: Boston ; Houghton Mifflin company,.. Place of publication: Boston; New York. Publication year: 1939. Page number: 154.
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