1748 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Congreve

Edmund Burke, in The Reformer (1748); Congreve: The Critical Heritage (1989) 219-20.



But he who seems to have shared the Gifts of Nature as largely as he has abused them, was the celebrated Mr. Congreve, who, to the Charms of a lively Wit, solid Judgment and rich Invention, has added such Obscurity, as none can, without the greatest Danger to Virtue, listen to; the very texture and groundwork of some of his Plays is Lewdness, which poisons the surer, as it is set off with the Advantage of Wit. I know 'tis said in his Excuse, that he drew his Pictures after the times; but whoever examines his Plays will find, that he not only copied the ill Morals of the Age, but approved them, as may be seen in such Characters as he plainly purposes for Imitation.