The Old Bachelor



  • A comedy by William Congreve, first performed in 1693at Drury Lane where it ran for a record two weeks with a cast headedby Thomas Betterton, Anne Bracegirdle, and Mrs Mountfort. Accordingto Congreve, the play had been written to pass the time during a convalescencethree years earlier. When he saw the script Dryden remarked that hehad never seen such a brilliant first play and used his influenceto have it produced.

    The plot involves a surly old bachelor, Heartwell, who marriesthe young Silvia before learning that she is a discarded mistressof Vainlove. Heartwell is delighted when he discovers that the 'marriage'ceremony was performed by a sham vicar, Vainlove's friend Bellmour,who has disguised himself to get close to Laetitia, the wife of oldFondlewife. Eventually Sir Joseph Wittol, a foolish fellow, genuinelymarries Silvia, thinking her to be the rich Araminta, and the cowardlyCaptain Bluffe weds Silvia's maid under the same false assumption.Vainlove, however, finds that the real Araminta is not ready to marryhim.