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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

V. The Restoration Drama

§ 20. Sir Charles Sedley

The closest immediate follower of Etherege in comedy is Sir Charles Sedley, whose earliest comedy, The Mulberry Garden, 1668, is based, in part, on Molière’s L’École des Maris and is written in that mixture of prose and heroic couplets which Etherege introduced in his Comical Revenge. An intimate in the chosen circle of the king, Sedley was as famous for his wit as he was notorious for the profligacy of his life. Nevertheless, he appears to have been a capable man of affairs and, as a writer, gained a deserved reputation alike for the clearness and ease of his prose and for a certain poetic gift, more appreciable in his occasional lyrics than in the serious parts of his dramas. The Mulberry Garden, no bad comedy in its lighter scenes, is bettered in Bellamira, or the Mistress, 1687, which, though founded on the Eunuchus of Terence, presents a lively, if coarsely realistic, picture of the reckless pursuit of pleasure of Sedley’s day. The Grumbler, printed in 1702, is little more than an adaptation of Le Grondeur of Brueys and Palaprat. Sedley’s tragedies call for no more than the barest mention. His Antony and Cleopatra, 1667, reprinted as Beauty the Conqueror, is among the feeblest, as it is the latest, of heroic plays written in couplets. His Tyrant King of Crete, 1702, is merely a revision of Henry Killigrew’s Pallantus and Eudora, little amended in the process.