“Music has charms to sooth a savage breast”, who wrote that? The same man who wrote “Heav’n has no rage, like love to hatred turn’d, Nor Hell a fury, like a woman scorn’d.”
Both quotations come from “The Mourning Bridge” a tragedy first published in 1697 and as it transpired the only tragedy to come from the pen of William Congreve, then a young twenty-seven year-old playwright from Yorkshire. A school-friend of Jonathan Swift he studied law at the Middle Temple in London before publishing his first work, a novel, in 1692, when he was 22.
Best known for his comedy “The Way of the World” written eight years later, and not particularly well-received at the time, he wrote no more plays after that he later went on to become manager of the Haymarket Theatre in London.
He published a few pieces of poetry in his later years and died in 1729, little aware that his comic writing in later years would come to be regarded as some of the nation’s finest.