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bleffing to the age in which you live. You have ever used these advantages for the service of your country, with a beautiful disregard to what is usually thought a man's greatest interest. All men of fenfe give you, in their real fentiments and just conceptions of your merit, much greater honours than could be purchased from the gaudy affluence of fuch things as are the admiration and firft pursuit of common men.

Many circumstances render it inconvenient to fay much of the prefent I now make you; but if I had, instead of forming the character of an Englishman from my own conceptions, drawn it from the gentleman to whom I am now speaking, it had been much eafier to have defended it. I do not by this application design to involve you in a dispute in favour of thefe writings; you undertook it, with great humanity, when it was most useful to me *, and I cannot but do thofe who have condemned them the juftice to mention to the world this ftrong circumftance against thefe papers, that your eloquence has been ineffectual in their defence. However, no one can blame me for being proud

* In the House of Commons, on the queftion for his expulfion, "Mr. Steele chose to make his appearance near the bar "of the House; and I will not forget to mention one circumstance "in this fcene that very much fweetened his affliction, which was, "that he had the honour to ftand between Mr. Stanhope and Mr. "Walpole, who had condefcended to take upon them the parts of “his advocates.” Apology, p. 234.

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that so good and great a man condefcended, in places wherein they have been cenfured, to be my advocate.

Your Queen and country have your great qualifications in ftore for their glory and service, whenever you are called to their affiftance in the field, the cabinet, or the fenate. In the talents of each place you have few, equals in ability, even among those who are practifed only in one of them, and much fewer in a difinterested integrity in exerting that ability. Your generous conduct with relation to the fortunes as well as the lives of your enemies, over whom you have had the right of conqueft, has gained you the most eligible fame, that of juftice and moderation. This generous conduct has made every man you ever commanded love you as a comrade, and every fellow-fubject you have ferved (and you have ferved every fellow-fubject) efteem you as a friend. The world, which is in arrear to your virtue, never speaks of you without wishing you honour in proportion to what you have done for your country's glory, and wishing you wealth in proportion to what you have refused, to augment that glory..

I am, Sir, with the greatest gratitude and refpect, your moft obliged and moft humble ferRICHARD STEELE.

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LETTER

CCCCXXXI*.

To Mr. CONGREVET.

SIR,

[1714.]

MY

Y name, as publisher of the following Mifcellanies, I am fenfible, is but a slight recommendation of them to the publick; but the town's opinion of them will be raised, when it fees them addreffed to Mr. Congreve. If the patron is but known to have a tafte for what is prefented to him, it gives an hopeful idea of the work; how much more, when he is an acknowledged mafter of the art he is defired to

* Prefixed to Steele's collection of "Poetical Mifcellanies" + Mr. William Congreve was born in Staffordshire in 1672. His father being a fteward in the Burlington family, he was bred in Ireland. Soon after the Revolution, he was entered of the Middle Temple; but, the law proving too fevere a study for his inclination, he early distinguished himself as a dramatic writer. His first comedy, "The Old Bachelor," came out in 1693; and that munificent patron of wit, the Earl of Halifax, foon after made him a Commiffioner of the Hackney-coaches, gave him a place in the Pipe-office, and another in the Customs, worth 600l. a year. He continued writing with fuccefs till 1698, when he seems to have quitted the stage in disgust. Under the ministry of the Earl of Oxford, he was continued in office, though almost blind, through the friend hip of Dr. Swift; and the latter years of his life were spent in eafe and retirement. He became at last quite blind; and, dying Jan. 19, 1728-9, was buried with great pomp in Westminster-abbey, where an elegant monument was erected to his memory at the expence of Henrietta Duchefs of Marlborough, to whom he bequeathed the greater part of his fortune. See Southern's account of Congreve, from an autograph paper in the British Museum, in the late edition of the TATLER with Notes, vol. VI. note, p. 471, & feq.

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favour? Your juft fuccefs in the various parts of Poetry, will make your approbation of the following fheets a favour to many ingenious gentlemen, whofe modefty wants the fanction of fuch an authority. Men of your talents oblige the world, when they are ftudious to produce in others the fimilitude of their excellencies. Your great difcerning in diftinguishing the characters of mankind, which is manifefted in your Comedies, renders your good opinion a juft foundation for the esteem of other men. I know, indeed, no argument against these collections, in comparison of any other Tonfon has heretofore printed; but that there are in it no verses of yours. That gentle, free, and eafy faculty, which alfo in fongs, and fhort poems, you poffefs above all others, diftinguishes itself whereever it appears. I cannot but inftance your inimitable "Doris," which excels, for politenefs, fine raillery, and courtly fatire, any thing we can meet with in any language.

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Give me leave to tell you, that when I confider your capacity this way, I cannot enough applaud the goodness of your mind, that has given fo few examples of thefe feverities, under the temptation of fò great applause as the ill-natured world beftows on them, though addreffed without any mixture of your delicacy.

* Dr. Johnson was of a different opinion. "The petty poems "of Congreve," he fays, "are feldom worth the cost of criti "cifm." See Atterbury's Letters, vol. IV. p. 215. ~

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I cannot leave my favourite "Doris" without taking notice how much that short performance difcovers a true knowledge of life. "Doris" is the character of a libertine woman of condition, and the fatire is worked up accordingly; for people of quality are seldom touched with any representation of their vices but in a light which makes them ridiculous.

As much as I efteem you for your excellent writings, by which you are an honour to our nation, I chuse rather, as one that has paffed many happy hours with you, to celebrate that eafy condefcenfion of mind, and command of a pleasant imagination, which give you the uncommon praise of a man of wit, always to pleafe, and never to offend. No one, after a joyful evening, can reflect upon an expreffion of Mr. Congreve's that dwells upon him with pain.

In a man capable of exerting himself any way, this (whatever the vain and ill-natured may think of the matter) is an excellence above the brightest fallies of imagination.

The reflection upon this moft equal, amiable, and correct behaviour, which can be observed only by your intimate acquaintance, has quite diverted me from acknowledging your feveral excellencies as a writer; but to dwell particularly on those subjects would have no very good effect upon the following performances of myfelf,

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