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market, Butcher-row. Here on Sundays he preached upon theological subjects; and on the Wednesdays, as he affirmed, upon all other sciences.
These discourses .soon degenerated into ribaldry and abuse, and at length into downright blasphemy and buffoonery. His auditors paid a shilling each; and as they chiefly consisted of ignorant mechanics, and sometimes of the very refuse of society, he had occasionally recourse to expedients of a very singular cast in order to replenish his finances. He once, it is said, collected an amazing number of shoemakers, by promising to teach them the art of making a pair of excellent shoes in a few minutes; when behold! this wonderful abridgment of labour was effected by cutting off the tops of ready-made boots !
To this disgraceful mode of earning his bread, our orator added another, nearly as despicable; that of writing for any political party that was weak enough to employ him. In the pursuit of this traffic, he was the author of a periodical paper entitled the Hyp-Doctor; for which, though possessing not the smallest merit, he was paid 1001. per annum.
Having at length completely succeeded in ren
dering himself an object of contempt, this singular character paid the debt of nature on October the 14th, 1756.
The literary abilities of Henley, of which so much had been expected from the unwearied industry of his youth, proved of a very inferior order. On his first arrival in town, he had procured employment from the booksellers; he translated the Epistles of Pliny, several of the productions of the Abbe Vertot, and the Italian Travels of Montfaucon. At Melton, likewise, he had written a poem entitled Esther, and commenced a work which he termed Universal Grammar, of which it is related that he had finished ten languages with prefatory dissertations. Whilst at St. John's College, Cambridge, he became a correspondent in the Spectator, and two 'letters are attributed to him, on good authority; one in N° 396, on Punning, signed Peter de Quir, and another in No 518, on Physiognomy, signed Tom Tweer. They are neither of them such as merit much notice; the first indeed
pronounced little short of nonsense, but the second is seasoned with a portion of wit and humour.
25. SHEPHEARD, Miss. This lady and the subject of the next article were collateral descen
dants of Sir Fleetwood Shepheard.* To Miss Shepheard we are indebted for two letters in the Spectator; the first, subscribed Parthenia, in No 140, is written to request advice and direction on reading, and the choice of authors; and the second, with the signature of Leonoru, in N° 163, relates a severe disappointment in love, which, there is reason to believe, really occurred to the amiable writer of this epistle. They both impart a very pleasing idea of her talents and character; and the latter has the additional merit of eliciting from Addison in the succeeding number, the pathetic narrative of Theodosius and Constantia, intended by its author as a consolatory lesson for his afflicted correspondent.
26. Perry, Mrs. the sister of Miss Shepheard, has contributed one short letter to the Spectator, in N°92, for the purpose of reminding Addison of a promise which he had made in N° 37, commending a select library for the improvement of the fair sex. The answer, to which this letter has given birth, occupying the remainder of No 92, is full of that exquisite humour and pleasantry so remarkably the characteristic of the author of Cato.
• Spectator, vol. il. p. 449--note.
27. WILLIAM CONGREVE was born at Bardsey, near Leeds, in February 1669;* but, his father being a military man, and having a command in the army, which made it necessary for him to visit Ireland, he was consequently educated in the sister kingdom. After the customary grammatical discipline in the public school of Kilken: ny, he was sent to the university of Dublin, and, having there perfected himself in classical lite rature, he came over to England, and was entered as a student of the law at the Middle Temple.
He soon, however, relinquished the initiatory studies of the law for the more inviting region of the Muses; and ventured, at a very early period of life, to solicit the attention of the literary world, by the publication of a work of fancy under the title of Incognita, or Love and Duty reconciled. Vivacity and imagination are to be found in this production, but neither nature nor probability; it has deservedly, therefore, dropped into oblivion; nor was its original reception fortunately such as to encourage our young au
Mr. Malone has, in his life of Dryden, published the entry of Congreve's baptism at Bardsey, and consequently terminated the dispute which has 80 long subsisted relative to the place of his birth.
thor in the prosecution of novel-writing.-In a moment truly auspicious to the lovers of the drama, he commenced his first comedy, entitled The Old Batchelor, to amuse himself, as he affirmed, in a slow recovery from a fit of sickness. “ The age of the writer considered,” says
Johnson, it is indeed a very wonderful performance; for, whenever written, it was acted (1693) when he was not more than twenty-one years old."* It is evident, from the entry discovered by Mr. Malone, that the Doctor has made a considerable mistake with regard to the age of the author, and which has been followed by every succeeding biographer. Congreve must have been four and twenty when the Old Batchelor was first
produced upon the stage; these additional three years, however, detract little or nothing from the value of the play, which still merits the encomium of Dryden, who declared, “ that he never saw such a first play in his life.”
: To the applause which Congreve received from the public in consequence of this dramatic effort, was added the substantial patronage of Lord Halifax, who, with a generosity highly to be praised, immediately made him a commissioner for licensing hackney coaches; and, shortly afterwards, presented him with a place
• Lives of the Poets, vol. ii. p. 187.