1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Charles Sedley

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 1:1099-1100.



CHARLES SEDLEY, Baronet, Son of Joh. Sedl. of Aylesford in Kent, by his Wife Elizabeth Daughter and Heir of Sir Hen. Savile Kt. sometime Warden of Mert. College in Oxon, was born there, or at Southfleet, or at least in the said County of Kent, became a Fellow Com. of Wadham Coll. in Lent Term 1655-6, aged 17 Years or thereabouts, but taking no degree he retired to his own Country, and neither went to travel, or to the Inns of Court. Afterwards, when the Nation was set at Liberty, and freed from the Severities of the Usurpers, by the Restoration of K. Ch. II. he lived mostly in the great City, became a Debauchee, set up for a satyrical Wit, a Comedian, Poet, and Courtier of Ladies, and I know not what, and therefore remembered by an eminent Poet [author's note: John Wilmot Earl of Rochester in his Poems. Printed 1680. p. 42.] in these Verses.

Sedley has that prevailing, gentle Art,
That can with a resistless Charm impart
The loosest Wishes, to the chastest Heart;
Raise such a Conflict, kindle such a Fire,
Betwixt declining Virtue and Desire;
Till the poor vanquish'd Maid dissolves away
In Dreams all Night, in Sighs and Tears all Day.

In the Month of June 1663 this our Author Sir Ch. Sedley, Charles Lord Buckhurst (afterwards Earl of Middlesex) Sir Tho. Ogle, &c. were at a Cook's House at the Sign of the Cock in Bow-street near Covent-Garden, within the Liberty of Westm. and being inflam'd with strong Liquors, they went into the Balcony belonging to that House, and putting down their Breeches they excremented in the Street: which being done, Sedley stripped himself naked, and with Eloquence preached Blasphemy to the People: whereupon a Riot being raised, the People became became very clamorous, and would have forced the Door next to the Street open; but being hindred, the Preacher and his Company were pelted into their Room, and the Windows belonging thereunto were broken. This Frolick being soon spread abroad, especially by the fanatical Party, who aggravated it to the utmost, by making it the most scandalous thing in nature, and nothing more reproachful to Religion than that; the said Company were summoned to the Court of Justice in Westminster-Hall, where being indicted of a Riot before Sir Rich. Hyde, L. Ch. Just. of the Com. Pleas, were all fined, and Sir Charles being fined £500 he made Answer, that he thought he was the first Man that paid for shitting. Sir Rob. Hyde asked him whether ever he read the Book called The Compleat Gentleman, &c. to which Sir Ch. made Answer, that "set aside his Lordship, he had read more Books than himself," &c. The day for Payment being appointed, Sir Charles desired Mr. Henry Killegrew, and another Gent. to apply themselves to his Majesty to get it off; but instead of that, they beg'd the said Sum of his Majesty, and would not abate Sir Charles two Pence of the Money. Afterwards Sir Charles taking up, and growing very serious, he was chosen a Recruiter of that Long-Parliament, which began at Westminster 8 May 1661, to serve for New-Rumney in Kent, as he hath been for 3 or more Parliaments since the Dissolution of that, which was on the 24th of Jan. 1678. The Plays that this great Wit has obliged the World with, are as yet only these, viz.

The Mulberry-Garden; a Comedy. Lond. 1668. 1675 qu.

Anthony and Cleopatra; a Tragedy. Lond. 1677. qu.

Tunbridge-Wells; or, a Day's Courtship; a Comedy. Lond. 1678. qu. Sir Ch. Sedley's Name is not set to it in the Title, only said to be written by a Person of Quality, and then reported to be written by him.

Bellamira: or, the Mistress, a Comedy. Lond. 1678. qu. He hath also extant,

Speech in the House of Commons, an. 1690 — 'twas spoken about the middle of Dec. that Year, and published in half a sheet on one Side about the beginning of Jan. following. The beginning of it is, "We have provided for the Navy, we have provided for the Army, and now at the latter end of the Sessions," &c.

Several Poems — Twenty of which, at least, are in a Book entit. A Collection of Poems by Several Hands, &c. Lond. 1693. oct. wherein are three to Celia, three to Chloris, &c. He hath also translated from Lat. into English The eighth Elegy of Ovid's first Book of Elegies, which is printed in Miscellany Poems, &c. Lond. 1684. oct. p. 116; as also, The fifth Elegy of the second Book, which is in the said Miscellany, p. 122, and the fourth Elegy of the third Book, p. 144.

By Catherine the Daughter of this Sir Ch. Sedley, K. James II. (who, as I suppose, made her Countess of Dorchester) had a natural Daughter called the Lady Catherine Darnley. By Arabella also, Daughter of Sir Winston Churchill Clerk of the Green-Cloth, the said King has a Son named James Fitz-James, afterwards by him made Duke of Berwick, Henry Fitz-James, and Lady Henrietta, who was married to Henry Waldgrave, Esq; Son of Sir Charles Waldgrave of Chewton in Somersetshire Knight, on the 29th of Nov. 1683, and in 1685 the said Henry Waldgrave was by the said King James II. created a Baron.