« السابقةمتابعة »
in Shropshire, Esq. When he was about fifteen years of age, he was sent to France, where he became a Roman Catholic; hut on his return to England, and being entered a Gentleman-Cominoner of Queen's College in Oxford, he was reconciled to the Protestant religion. He afterwards entered himself in the Middle Temple; but, making his first appearance in town in the loose reign of Charles II. when wit and gaiety were the favourite distinctions, he soon quitted the dry study of the law, and pursued things more agreeable to his own genius, as well as to the taste of the age. As 'nothing was likely to take better than dramatic performances, especially comedies, he applied himself to this species of writing. On the appearance of his first play, he became acquainted with several of the first-rate wits, and likewise with the Duchess of Cleveland, with whom, according to the secret history of those limes, he was admitted to the last degree of intimacy. Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, had also the highest esteem for him, and, as Master of the Horse to the King, made him one of his Equerries; as Colonel of a regiment, CaptainLieutenant of his own company, "resigning to him at the same time his own pay as Captain, with many other advantages. King Charles likewise shewed him signal marks of favour; and once gave him a proof of his esteem, which perhaps never any Sovereign Prince before had given to a prie vate gentleman. Mr. Wycherly being ill of a fever at his lodgings in Bow-street, the King did him the honour of a visit. Finding him extremely weakened, and his spirits miserably shattered, he commanded him to take a journeyto the south of France, believing that the air of Montpelier would contribute to restore him, and assured him, at the same time, that he would order himn 5001, to defray the charges of the journey, Mr. Wycherly accordingly went into France, and, having spent the winter there, returned to England, entirely restored to his former vigour.' The King, shortly after his arrival, told him that he had a son, who he was resolved should be educated like the son of a King, and that he could not choose a more proper man for his governor than Mr. Wycherly; for which service 15001. per annum should be settled upon him. * Mr. Wycherly, however, such is the uncertain state of all human affairs, lost the favour of the King by the following means :-Immediately after he had received the gracious offer above mentioned, he went down to Tun.
bridge, where, walking one day upon the Wells'-walk, with his friend, Mr. Fairbeard, of Gray's Inn, just as he came up to the bookseller's shop, the Countess of Drogheda, a young widow, rich, noble, and beautiful, came there to inquire for the The Plain Dealer. “ Madam,” said Mr. Fairbeard, “since you are for the “ Plain Dealer, there he is for you ; pushing Mr. “ Wycherly towards her. " Yes,” said Mr. Wycherly, “ this lady can bear plain dealing; for she appears to be “ so accoinplished, that what would be a compliment to “ others, would be plain dealing to her.” “ No, truly, “ Sir," said the Countess, “ I am not without my faults, “ any more than the rest of my sex; and yet, notwith“ standing, I love plain dealing, and am never more fund “ of it than when it tells me of them.” “ Then madain," says Mr. Fairbeard, “ you and the Plain Dealer seem “ designed by Heaven for each other.” In short, Mr. Wycherly walked a turn or two with the Countess, waited upon her home, visited her daily at her lodgings while she staid at Tunbridge, and at her lodgings in Hatton-garden after she went to London; where in a little time he married her, without acquainting the King. But this match, so promising in appearance to his fortunes and happiness, was the actual ruin of both. As soon as the news came of it to court, it was looked upon as a contempt of his Majesty's orders; and Mr. Wycherly's conduct after his marriage occasioned this to be resented still more heinously; for he seldom or never went near the court. The true cause of his absence, however, was not known. In short, the lady was jealous of him to that degree, that she could not endure him to be one moment out of her sight. Their lodgings were in Bow-street, Covent-garden, over against the Cock'; whither, if he at any time went with his friends, he was obliged to leave the windows open, that his lady might see there was no woman in company. Nevertheless, she made him some amends by dying in a reasonable time. She settled her fortune on him : but his title being disputed after her death, the expenses of the law, and other incumbrances, so far reduced him, that, not being able to satisfy the importunity of his creditors, he was fluny into prison, where he languished several years; nor was he released, until King James II. going to see his Plain Dealer. was so charmed with the entertainment, that he gave immediate orders for the payment
of his debts ; adding withala pension of 2001. per annum while he continued in England. But the bountiful intentions of that Prince had not all the designed effect, for Wycherly was ashamed to give the Earl of Mulgrave, whom the King had sent to demand it, a full account of his debts. He laboured under these difficulties until his father died; and then too the estate that descended to him was left under very uneasy limitations, since, being only a tenant for life, he could not raise money for the payment of his debts. However, he took a method of doing it which few suspected to be his choice; and this was, making a jointure. He had often declared that he was resolved to die married, though he could not bear the thoughts of living in that state again : accordingly, just at the eve of his death, he married 'a young gentlewoman with 15001. fortune, part of which he applied to the uses, he wanted it for. Eleven days after the celebration of these nuptials, on the 1st of January, 1715, he died, and was interred in the vault of Covent-garden church.
BARTON BOOTH, . With a very classical and highly improved judgment, possessed all the natural powers of an actor in a very eminent degree. “He was of a middle stature, five feet eight; his form rather inclining to the athletic, though nothing clumsy or heavy ; his air and deportinent naturally graceful, with a marking eye, and a manly sweetness in his countenance,
" His voice was completely harmonious, from the softness of the flute to the extent of the trumpet: his attitudes were all picturesque: he was noble in his designs, and happy in his execution *.”
To this testimony Aaron Hill (a writer of great theatrical knowledge) adds, “ It was this actor's peculiar felicity to be heard and seen the same, whether as the pleased, the grieved, the pitying, the reproachful, or the angry. One would be alınost tempted to borrow the aid of a very bold figure, and, to express this excellence the more significantly, beg perimission to affirm, that the blind might have seen him in his voice, and the deaf have heard him in his visage.
* Victor's History of the Theatre.