Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 09.djvu/428

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16. ‘A Wife well managed,’ farce, 12mo, 1715, supposed to have been acted at Drury Lane in 1715, taken from the ‘Husband his own Cuckold’ of John Dryden, jun. 17. ‘The Cruel Gift, or the Royal Resentment,’ tragedy, 12mo, 1717, drawn from the first novel of the fourth day of the ‘Decameron,’ acted at Drury Lane 17 Dec. 1716. 18. ‘A Bold Stroke for a Wife,’ comedy, 8vo, 1718, acted at Drury Lane 3 Feb. 1718; in this piece she was assisted by a Mr. Mottley. 19. ‘The Artifice,’ comedy, 8vo, 1721, acted at Drury Lane 2 Oct. 1722. These works were collected in three volumes, 12mo, 1761, and reprinted in 1872.

The comedies of Mrs. Centlivre are often ingenious and sprightly, and the comic scenes are generally brisk. Mrs. Centlivre troubled herself little about invention, ‘A Bold Stroke for a Wife’ being the only work for which she is at the pains to claim absolute originality. So far as regards the stage, she may boast a superiority over almost all her countrywomen, since two of her comedies remain in the list of acting plays. More than one other work is capable, with some alterations, of being acted. A keen politician, she displays in some of her dramatic writings a strong whig bias, which was in part responsible for their success. Steele in the ‘Tatler’ (No. 19) speaks of ‘The Busy Body,’ and says that ‘the plot and incidents are laid with that subtlety of spirit which is peculiar to females of wit.’ Some of her most successful works were translated into French, German, and other languages. The volume of letters to which allusion is made in Boyer's ‘Political State’ (see above) has not been discovered. A supposition that it might be a work, ‘Letters and Essays on several subjects, Philosophical, Moral, Historical, Critical, Amorous,’ &c., 1694, mentioned by Lowndes (Bibl. Man. p. 1348), must remain conjecture, as the work is not in the British Museum. She left at her death many valuable ornaments presented to her by royalty or the aristocratic patrons to whom she dedicated her dramas.

[Life of Mrs. Centlivre prefixed to her works, 3 vols. 1761; List of English Dramatic Poets affixed to Whincop's Scanderbeg; Boyer's Political State of Great Britain, 1711–40, vol. xxvi.; Genest's Account of the English Stage; British Essayist, vol. i. (ed. Chalmers); Peter Cunningham's Handbook to London; Pope's Dunciad; Notes to Poetical Register (Giles Jacob), 1723.]

J. K.

CENTWINE or KENTEN (d. 685), king of the West Saxons, was the son of Cynegils and the brother of Cenwalh [q. v.] Accepting the statement of Bæda (Eccl. Hist. iv. 12) that after Cenwalh's death the under-kings of the West Saxons divided the kingdom between them for about ten years, we must hold that Centwine had considerably less power than his brother had enjoyed. The ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,’ however, says nothing of any such division. Neither in it nor in the list of West-Saxon kings given by Florence of Worcester is there any hint of an interruption of the head kingship. After the death of Cenwalh comes the one year's rule of his widow Sexburh; then Æscwine, a member of another branch of the house of Cutha, reigns, until on his death he is succeeded by Centwine in 676. The reign of Centwine is marked by a renewal of the West-Saxon victories over the Welsh, which seem to have ceased for a while after Centwalh in 658 had advanced the frontier to the Parret, for in 682 ‘Centwine drove the Britons to the sea’ (A.-S. Chron.), or, in other words, subdued the coast west of the Parret, and made his people masters of the Quantock range. Such vigorous action implies considerable strength, and seems to make it certain that if Bæda is right in asserting that the head kingship of the West Saxons was for a time in abeyance, Centwine must by this time have revived it, and that the under-kings must have obeyed him. The assertion of the disturbed state of Wessex seems incidentally corroborated by the omission of the name of any West-Saxon king in the record of the council of Hatfield held in 680; it is, however, possible that the circumstances that led to the war of 682 may have given the headship of the kingdom to Centwine. By thus shortening the interval of divided kingship, the apparently contradictory accounts given by Bæda and the Chronicle are in a measure reconciled. Centwine married a sister of Eormenburh, the wife of Ecgfrith of Northumbria, and the enemy of Wilfrith. Accordingly, when Wilfrith, having been forced to leave Mercia, fled for refuge to Wessex and was received by the king, the queen after a little while persuaded her husband to drive him out of the land (Eddius). Dr. Freeman holds that Centwine is the Kenten described by Faricius as the father of Aldhelm [see reference below]. Against this opinion must be set a poem addressed by Aldhelm to Bugge (Eadburh), the daughter of Kenten (Centwine). In this poem ‘Kenten’ is spoken of as a mighty king, very religious, who after winning three great battles retired from his throne to become a monk; the writer, however, does not hint at any relationship between the king and himself. Faricius, indeed, says that Aldhelm's father, Kenten, was the brother of King Ine. Wil-