Sedley Sir Charles 16391701

Charles Sedley was born at Aylesford in Kent, matriculating through Wadham College, oxford, in 1656 without a degree. He succeeded to his title as baron upon the death of his elder brother that same year and became member of Parliament for New Romney, serving terms through 1701. Characterized by critics as one of a "mob" of aristocrats who dabbled in writing, Sedley produced some popular songs in his RestoraTIoN drama. During his near-40-year public career, he gained a reputation as a poetry patron as well as a dramatist. His best work included The Mulberry Garden (1668), and he staged two additional comedies and two tragedies. His works were bawdy and indelicate, causing those at the Duke's Theater to refuse to stage his comedy Bellamira, or, The Mistress (1687), which he based on the Eunachus of Terence.

The dashing and scandalous John Wilmot, second earl of Rochester, proved one of Sedley's favorite companions. The editor Charles Wells Moulton includes many comments about Sedley in his second volume of The Library of Literary Criticism of English and American Authors (1959). The famous diarist Samuel Pepys wrote of "the late frolick and debauchery" of Sedley and others who ran "up and down all the night, almost naked through the streets; and at last fighting and being beat by the watch and clapped up all night," adding that King Charles II always defended him. Sir George Eth-eredge praised Sedley, writing "Few of our plays can boast of more wit than I have heard him speak at a supper. Some barren sparks have found fault with what he has formerly done, only because the fairness of the soil has produced so big a crop." While Alexander Pope noted, "Sedley is a very insipid writer," he added, "except in some few of his little love-verses." Edwin Whipple wrote that Sedley distinguished himself by "writing poems of considerable impurity of idea and considerable purity of language." Songs that received critical acclaim and continue to appear in anthologies include "Phillis Is My Only Joy" and "Love Still Has Something of the Sea."

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