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incidents according to his own discretion ; he must do no violence to nature and

probability for the purposes of his plot.

Maskwell having in this manner escaped with success, begins next to put in execution his plot for obtaining Cynthia, and this constitutes the intrigue and catastrophe of the fifth act : His plan is as followsHaving imparted to Lord Touchwood his love for Cynthia by the vehicle of a foliloquy, which is to be overheard by his lordfhip, he proposes to himself to carry off Cynthia to St. Albans with the chaplain in the coach, there to be married ; this she is to be trepanned into by persuading her that the chaplain is Mellafont, and Mellafont is brought to co-operate, by a promise that he shall elope with Cynthia under that difguise, and that the chaplain shall be made to follow on the day after and then marry him to Cynthia ; with this view Mellafont is appointed to meet Maskwell in one chamber, and Cynthia in another; the real chaplain is to be passed upon the lady for Mellafont, and Mellafont is to be left in the lurch; this plot upon Cynthia Maskwell confides to Lord Touchwood, telling him


there is no other way to possess himself of her but by surprize.

Though the author undoubtedly meant his villain should in the end outwit himself, yet he did not mean him to attempt im. possibilities, and the absurdities of this contrivance are so many, that I know not which to mention first. How was Maskwell to possess himself of Cynthia by this scheme? By what force or fraud is he to accomplish the object of marrying her ? We must conclude he was not quite so desperate as to facrifice all his hopes from Lord Touchwood by any violence upon her person; there is nothing in his character to warrant the conjecture. It is no less unaccountable how Mellafont could be caught by this project, and induced to equip himself in the chaplain's gown to run off with a lady, who had pledged herself to him never to marry any other man : There was no want of consent on her part ; a reconciliation with Lord Touchwood was the only object he had to look to, and how was that to be effected by this elopement with Cynthia ?


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The jealousy of Lady Touchwood was another rock on which Mafkwell was sure to split : It would have been natural for him to have provided against this danger by binding my lord to secrecy, and the lady's pride of family was a ready plea for that purpose ; when he was talking to himself for the purpose of being overheard by Lord Touchwood, he had nothing to do but to throw in this observation amongst the rest to bar that point against discovery.

The reader will not suppose I would suggest a plan of operation for The Double Dealer to secure him against discovery ; I am

1 only for adding probability and common precaution to his projects : I allow that it is in character for him to grow wanton with success; there is a moral in a villain outwitting himself; but the catastrophe would in my opinion have been far more brilliant, if his schemes had broke up with more force of contrivance; laid as they are, they melt away and diffolve by their own weakness and inconsistency; Lord and Lady Touchwood, Careless and Cynthia, all join in the discovery; every one but Mellafont i sees through the plot, and he is blindness itself.


Mr. Congreve, in his dedication above mentioned, defends himself against the objection to soliloquies; but I conceive he is more open to criticism for the frequent use he makes of listening; Lord Touchwood three times has recourse to this expedient.

Of the characters in this comedy Lady Touchwood, though of an unfavourable caft, seems to have been the chief care of the poet, and is well perserved throughout; her elevation of tone, nearly approaching to the tragic, affords a strong relief to the lighter sketches of the cpifodical persons, Sir Paul and Lady Pliant, Lord and Lady Froth, who are highly entertaining, but much more loose than the stage in its present state of reformation would endure : Nothing more can be faid of Careless and Brisk, than that they are the young men of the theatre, at the time when they were in representation. Of Maskwell enough has been said in these remarks, nor need any thing be added to what has been already observed upon Meliafont and Cynthia. As for the moral of the play, which the author says he de


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signed in the first place, and then applied the fable to it, it should seem to have been his principal object in the formation of the comedy, and yet it is not made to reach several characters of very libertine principles, who are left to reform themselves at leisure ; and the plot, though subordinate to the moral, seems to have drawn him off from executing his good intentions so compleatly, as those professions may be understood to

engage for.


Citò scribendo non fit ut bene fcribatur ; bene

fcribendo fit ut citò. (QUINTIL. LIB. X.)


He celebrated author of the Rambler in

his concluding paper says, I have laboured to refine our language to grammatical purity, and to clear it from colloquial barbarisms, licentious idioms and irregular combinations : something perhaps I have added to the elegance of its construction, and something to the harmony of its cadence. I hope our language hath gained all the profit, which the labours


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