Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. II. Ben Jonson to Dryden
Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. II. The Seventeenth Century: Ben Jonson to Dryden
Critical Introduction by Edmund W. Gosse
Sir Charles Sedley (1639–1701)
[Sir Charles Sedley was born at Aylesford in 1639, and died August 20, 1701. His most famous comedy, The Mulberry Garden, appeared in 1668; his poetical and dramatic works were collected in 1719.]  1
SEDLEY was one of the most graceful and refined of the mob of Restoration noblemen who wrote in prose and verse. For nearly forty years he was recognised as a patron of the art of poetry, and as an amateur of more than usual skill. Three times, at intervals of ten years, he produced a play in the taste of the age, and when his clever comedy of Bellamira was condemned at the Theatre Royal, on account of its intolerable indelicacy, he sulked for the remainder of his life, and left to his executors three more plays in manuscript. His songs are bright and lively, but inferior to those of Rochester in lyrical force. A certain sweetness of diction in his verse delighted his contemporaries, who praised his ‘witchcraft’ and his ‘gentle prevailing art.’ In his plays he seems to be successively inspired by Etheredge, Shadwell and Crowne. Two lines in his most famous song have preserved his reputation from complete decay.  2

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