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all those powers exalted and invigorated by just confidence in his cause.
Thus qualified, and thus incited, he walked out to battle, and affailed at once most of the living writers, from Dryden to Durfey. His onset was violent: those passages, which while they stood single had passed with little notice, when they were accumulated and exposed together, excited horror; the wise and the pious caught the alarm, and the nation wondered why it had so long suffered irreligion and licentioufnefs to be openly taught at the publick charge.
Nothing now remained for the poet's but to resist or fly. Dryden's conscience, or his prudence, angry as he was, with
held him from the conflict; Congreve and Vanbrug attempted answers. Congreve, a very young man, elated with success, and impatient of censure, afsumed an air of confidence and security. His chief artifice of controversy is to retort upon his adversary his own words : he is very angry, and, hoping to conquer Collier with his own weapons, allows himself in the use of every term of contumely and contempt; but he has the sword without the arm of Scanderbeg; he has his antagonist's coarseness, but not his strength. Collier replied; for contest was his delight, he was not to be frighted from his purpose or his
: The cause of Congreve was not · tenable : whatever glofses he might use
for the defence or palliation of single passages, the general tenour and tendency of his.plays must always be condemned. It is acknowledged, with uni- versal conviction, that the perusal of his : works will make no man better; and that their ultimate effect is to represent pleasure in alliance with vice, and to relax those obligations by which life · ought to be regulated.
The stage found other advocates, and the dispute was protracted through ten years; but at last Comedy grew more modest, and Collier lived, to see the reward of his labour in the reformation of the theatre.
Of the powers by which this important victory was atchieved, a quotation from Love for Love, and the remark upon it, may afford a specimen.
Sir Samps. Sampson's a very good name; - for your Sampsons were strong dogs from the ; beginning. 3 Angel. Have a care—If you remember,
the strongest Sampson of your name pulld * an old house over his head at last. 3 “ Here you have the Sacred History
“burlesqued, and Sampson once more i " brought into the house of Dagon, to “make sport for the Philistines!"
Congreve's last play was The Way of the World; which, though, as he hints in his dedication, it was written with great labour and much thought, was received
with fo little favour, that, being in a high degree offended and disgusted, he resolved to commit his quiet and his fame no more to the caprices of an audience.
. From this time his life ceased to be publick: he lived for himself, and for his friends; and among his friends was able to name every man of his time whom wit and elegance had raised to reputation. It may be therefore reasonably supposed that his manners were politę, and his conversation pleasing.
He seems not to have taken much pleasure in writing, as he contributed nothing to the Spectator, and only one paper to the Tatler, though published by men with whom he might be supposed will