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Profaneness of the English Stage, by Jeremy Collier

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Title: A Short View of the Immorality, and Profaneness of the English Stage
       together with the Sense of Antiquity on this Argument

Author: Jeremy Collier

Release Date: January 11, 2014 [EBook #44645]

Language: English

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Immorality, and Profaneness


English Stage,


With the Sence of Antiquity
upon this Argument,


London, Printed for S. Keble at the Turk's-Head
in Fleetstreet, R. Sare at Gray's-Inn-Gate,
and H. Hindmarsh against the Exchange in
Cornhil. 1698.



Being convinc'd that nothing has gone farther in Debauching the Age than the Stage Poets, and Play-House, I thought I could not employ my time better than in writing against them. These Men sure, take Vertue and Regularity, for great Enemies, why else is their Disaffection so very Remarkable? It must be said, They have made their Attack with great Courage, and gain'd no inconsiderable Advantage. But it seems Lewdness without Atheism, is but half their Business. Conscience might possibly recover, and Revenge be thought on; and therefore like Foot-Pads, they must not only Rob, but Murther. To do them right their Measures are Politickly taken: To make sure work on't, there's nothing like Destroying of Principles; Practise must follow of Course. For to have no good Principles, is to have no Reason to be Good. Now 'tis not to be expected that people should check their Appetites, and balk their Satisfactions, they don't know why. If Virtue has no Prospect, 'tis not worth the owning. Who would be troubled with Conscience if 'tis only a Bugbear, and has nothing in't but Vision, and the Spleen?

My Collection from the English Stage, is much short of what They are able to furnish. An Inventory of their Ware-House would have been a large Work: But being afraid of over charging the Reader, I thought a Pattern might do.

In Translating the Fathers, I have endeavour'd to keep close to their Meaning: However, in some few places, I have taken the Liberty of throwing in a Word or two; To clear the Sense, to preserve the Spirit of the Original, and keep the English upon its Legs.

There's one thing more to acquaint the Reader with; 'Tis that I have Ventured to change the Terms of Mistress and Lover, for others somewhat more Plain, but much more Proper. I don't look upon This as any failure in Civility. As Good and Evil are different in Themselves, so they ought to be differently Mark'd. To confound them in Speech, is the way to confound them in Practise. Ill Qualities ought to have ill Names, to prevent their being Catching. Indeed Things are in a great measure Govern'd by Words: To Guild over a foul Character, serves only to perplex the Idea, to encourage the Bad, and mislead the Unwary. To treat Honour, and Infamy alike, is an injury to Virtue, and a sort of Levelling in Morality. I confess, I have no Ceremony for Debauchery. For to Compliment Vice, is but one Remove from worshipping the Devil.

March 5th. 16978.



The Introduction. Page 1
The Immodesty of the Stage. p. 3
The Ill Consequences of this Liberty. p. 5
Immodesty a Breach of good Behaviour. p. 6
The Stage faulty in this respect to a very Scandalous degree. p. 8
Modesty the Character of Women. p. 9
The Natural Serviceableness of this Quality. p. 11
Immodesty much more insufferable, under the Christian, than under the Heathen Religion. p. 14
The Roman, and Greek Theatres more inoffensive than the English. p. 15
This proved from Plautus. Ibid.
From Terence. p. 20
From Seneca's Tragedies. p. 25
The Comparison carried on to the Theatre at Athens. Ibid.
A short Character of Æschylus. p. 26
The Cleaness of his Expression. p. 27
The Genius and Conduct of Sophocles. p. 28

The Sobriety of his Plays.

p. 29
Euripides's Character distinguished from the two former. p. 30
The Reserv'dness of his Stile. p. 31
All Humours not fit for Representation. p. 35
A Censure of Aristophanes. p. 36
Aristophanes his Testimony against himself. p. 48

The Authorities of
brace Ben. Johnson.
Beaumont & Fletcher.
And Corneille.
against the present Stage.
p. 51
p. 52
p. 53
The Prophaneness of the Stage.
This Charge prov'd upon them,
I. By their Cursing and Swearing. p. 57
The English Stage formerly less hardy in this respect. Ibid.
The provokingness of this Sin. p. 58
This Offence punishable by Law, and how far. p. 59
Swearing in the Play House an Un-Gentlemanly, as well as an Un-Christian practise.
A Second Branch of the Profaness of the Stage, consisting in their Abuse of Religion, and the Holy Scriptures. p. 60
Instances of this Liberty in the Mock Astrologer. Ib.
In the Orphan. p. 62

In the Old Batchelour, and Double Dealer.

p. 63, 64
In Don Sebastian. p. 65
Breif Remarks upon a Passage or two in the Dedications of Aurenge Zebe, and the Translation of Juvenal. p. 66, 69
Farther Instances of Profaneness in Love Triumphant. p. 72
In Love for Love. p. 74
In the provok'd Wife. p. 77
And in the Relapse. p. 78
The Horrid Impiety of this Liberty. p. 80
The Stage guilty of down right Blasphemy.
This Charge made good from several of the Plays above mention'd. p. 82
The Comparative Regularity of the Heathen Stage, exemplyfied in Terence, and Plautus. p. 86
And in the Greek Tragedians. p. 87
Seneca more exceptionable than the Greeks, but not so faulty as the Modern Stage. p. 94
This outraging of Religion Intolerable. p. 95
The Clergy abused by the Stage. p. 98
This Usage both
brace Unpresidented.
p. 112
p. 127
The Misbehaviour of the Stage upon this account. p. 138


Immorality encouraged by the Stage. p. 140
The Stage Poets make Libertines their Top-Characters, and give them Success in their Debauchery. p. 142
A Character of their fine Gentleman. p. 143
Their fine Ladies Accomplish'd much after the same manner. p. 146
The Young People of Figure in Plautus and Terence, have a greater regard to Morality. Ibid.
The Defence in the Preface to the Mock-Astrologer, not sufficient. p. 148
The Christian Religion makes a great difference in the Case. p. 149
Horace of a Contrary Opinion to the Mock-Astrologer. p. 150
The Mock-Astrologer's Instances from Ben Johnson Unserviceable. p. 151
The Authority of Shakespear against the Mock-Astrologer. p. 154
His Maxim founded on the difference between Tragedy, and Comedy, a Mistake. p. 155
Delight not the Chief-End of Comedy. p. 157
This Assertion prov'd against the Mock-Astrologer from the Testimonies of Rapin. Ibid.
And Ben Johnson. p. 158
Aristotle, and Quintilian, cited to the same purpose p. 159, 161

To make Delight the main Business in Comedy, dangerous, and unreasonable.

p. 162
The improper Conduct of the Stage with respect to Poetry, and Ceremony. p. 165
Extravagant Rants. p. 167
Gingles in the Spanish Fryar, King Arthur, and Love Triumphant. p. 169
Women roughly treated by the Stage. p. 171
Their coarse Usage of the Nobility. p. 173
These Freedoms peculiar to the English Stage. p. 175
Remarks upon Amphytrion. p. 177
The Machines prophane, smutty, and out of the Character. p. 178
The singularity of the Poet in this point. p. 180
Blasphemy in Absalom and Achitophel. p. 184
A Poem upon the Fall of the Angels, call'd a Fairy way of Writing. p. 189
The Punishment of the Damned ridiculed. p. 192
Remarks on the Comical History of Don Quixot. p. 196
The Poets horrible Prophaneness. p. 197

His want of Modesty, and Regard to the Audience.

p. 202
All Imitations of Nature not proper for the Stage. p. 204
The Poets Talent in Raillery, and Dedication. p. 205
Remarks on the Relapse. p. 209
A Misnommer in the Title of the Play. p. 210
The Moral Vitious. p. 211
The Plot ill Contriv'd. p. 212
The Manners or Characters out of Order. p. 218
The three Dramatick Unities broken. p. 228
The Opinion of the Heathen Philosophers, Orators, and Historians, concerning the Stage. p. 233
The Stage censured by the State. This proved from the Constitutions of Athens, Sparta, and Rome. p. 240
Farther Instances of this publick Discountentance in the Theodosian Code. p. 241
In our own Statute Book. p. 242
And in the late Order of the French King. p. 243
An Order of the Bishop of Arras against Plays. p. 245

The Stage Condemn'd by the Primitive Church.

p. 250
The Councils of Illiberis, Arles, &c. cited. Ibid.
The Testimony's of the Fathers against the Stage, particularly, of Theophilus Antiochenus. p. 252
Of Tertullian. p. 253
Of Clemens Alexandrinus. p. 260
Of Minutius Fœlix. p. 261
Of St. Cyprian. Ibid.
Lactantius. p. 265
St. Chrisostom. p. 267
St. Hierom. p. 272
And St. Augustine cited to the same purpose. p. 273
The Censure of the Fathers, and Councils &c. applicable to the English Stage. p. 276
The Conclusion. p. 280


Page 31 Margin for Κῶρον, r. Μῶρον. p. 37. l. 1. for by his, r. his. l. 2. for other, r. his other. l. 25. for præstr, r. præter. p. 39. l. 18. for Poets, Knaves, r. Poets Knaves. p. 44. l. 14. for Concianotores, r. Concionatores. p. 45. l. 25. for Debaush, r. Debauchee. p. 46. l. 9. for Enterprizes, r. Enterprize. p. 47. l. 9. for ridicules, r. ridiculous. p. 52. l. 1. for justifying, r. and justifie. p. 60. l. 2. for tempestiuous, r. tempestuous. l. 31. for pray, r. should pray. p. 80. for executed, r. exerted. p. 108. l. 4. for Antarkick. r. Antartick. p. 117. l. 12. for Angitia, r. Angitiæ. p. 121. l. 24. for Auger, r. Augur. p. 135. margin, for Heglins Cogmog, r. Heylins Cosmog. p. 154. l. 22. dele up. p. 163. l. 28. for then, r. therefore. p. 183. l. 6. for to, r. too. p. 186. l. 6. dele And. p. 191. l. 18. for Circumstance, r. Circumstances. p. 222. l. 9. for Cup, r. a Cup. p. 237. l. 2. for apon't, r. upon't. 245. l. 25. for Le, r. Les. p. 257. l. 28. for Correspondence r. this Correspondence. p. 272. l. 9. for himself. r. themselves.

The Litteral mistakes the Reader is Desired to Correct.

Essays upon several Moral Subjects in two parts the Second Edition Corrected and Enlarged by Jeremy Collier, M.A.

Human Prudence, or the Art by which a man may raise himself and his Fortune to Grandure, the Seventh Edition.

An Answer to all the Excuses and Pretences that men usually make for their not coming to the Holy Communion, by a Divine of the Church of England: Fitted for the meanest Capacity, and proper to be given away by such Persons as are Charitably Inclin'd. Price 3 pence.



The business of Plays is to recomend Virtue, and discountenance Vice; To shew the Uncertainty of Humane Greatness, the suddain Turns of Fate, and the Unhappy Conclusions of Violence and Injustice: 'Tis to expose the Singularities of Pride and Fancy, to make Folly and Falsehood contemptible, and to bring every Thing that is Ill Under Infamy, and Neglect. This Design has been oddly pursued by the English Stage. Our Poets write with a different View, and are gone into an other Interest. 'Tis true, were their Intentions fair, they might be Serviceable to this Purpose. They have in a great measure the Springs of Thought and Inclination in their Power. Show, Musick, Action, and Rhetorick, are moving Entertainments; and rightly employ'd would be very {2}significant. But Force and Motion are Things indifferent, and the Use lies chiefly in the Application. These Advantages are now, in the Enemies Hand, and under a very dangerous Management. Like Cannon seized they are pointed the wrong way, and by the Strength of the Defence the Mischief is made the greater. That this Complaint is not unreasonable I shall endeavour to prove by shewing the Misbehaviour of the Stage with respect to Morality, and Religion. Their Liberties, in the Following Particulars are intolerable. viz. Their Smuttiness of Expression; Their Swearing, Profainness, and Lewd Application of Scripture; Their Abuse of the Clergy; Their making their Top Characters Libertines, and giving them Success in their Debauchery. This Charge, with some other Irregularities, I shall make good against the Stage, and shew both the Novelty and Scandal of the Practise. And first, I shall begin with the Rankness, and Indecency of their Language.



The Immodesty of the Stage.

In treating this Head, I hope the Reader does not expect that I should set down Chapter and Page, and give him the Citations at Length. To do this would be a very unacceptable and Foreign Employment. Indeed the Passages, many of them, are in no Condition to be handled: He that is desirous to see these Flowers let him do it in their own Soil: 'Tis my business rather to kill the Root than Transplant it. But that the Poets may not complain of Injustice; I shall point to the Infection at a Distance, and refer in General to Play and Person.

Now among the Curiosities of this kind we may reckon Mrs. Pinchwife, Horner, and Lady Fidget in the Country Wife; Widdow Blackacre and Olivia in the Plain Dealer. These, tho' not all the exceptionable Characters, are the most remarkable. I'm sorry the Author should stoop his Wit thus Low, and use his Understanding so unkindly. Some People {4}appear Coarse, and Slovenly out of Poverty: They can't well go to the Charge of Sense. They are Offensive like Beggars for want of Necessaries. But this is none of the Plain Dealer's case; He can afford his Muse a better Dress when he pleases. But then the Rule is, where the Motive is the less, the Fault is the greater. To proceed. Jacinta, Elvira, Dalinda, and Lady Plyant, in the Mock Astrologer, Spanish Friar, Love Triumphant and Double Dealer, forget themselves extreamly: And almost all the Characters in the Old Batchelour, are foul and nauseous. Love for Love, and the Relapse, strike sometimes upon this Sand, and so likewise does Don Sebastian.

I don't pretend to have read the Stage Through, neither am I Particular to my Utmost. Here is quoting enough unless 'twere better: Besides, I may have occasion to mention somewhat of this kind afterwards. But from what has been hinted already, the Reader may be over furnish'd. Here is a large Collection of Debauchery; such Pieces are rarely to be met with: 'Tis Sometimes painted at Length too, and appears in great Variety of Progress and Practise. It wears almost all sorts of Dresses to engage the Fancy, and fasten upon the {5}Memory, and keep up the Charm from Languishing. Sometimes you have it in Image and Description; sometimes by way of Allusion; sometimes in Disguise; and sometimes without it. And what can be the Meaning of such a Representation, unless it be to Tincture the Audience, to extinguish Shame, and make Lewdness a Diversion? This is the natural Consequence, and therefore one would think 'twas the Intention too. Such Licentious Discourse tends to no point but to stain the Imagination, to awaken Folly, and to weaken the Defences of Virtue: It was upon the account of these Disorders that Plato banish'd Poets his Common Wealth: And one of the Fathers calls Poetry, Vinum Dæmonum an intoxicating Draught, made up by the Devils Dispensatory.

I grant the Abuse of a Thing is no Argument against the use of it. However Young people particularly, should not entertain themselves with a Lewd Picture; especially when 'tis drawn by a Masterly Hand. For such a Liberty may probably raise those Passions which can neither be discharged without Trouble, nor satisfyed without a Crime: 'Tis not safe for a Man to trust his Virtue too far, for fear it should give {6}him the slip! But the danger of such an Entertainment is but part of the Objection: 'Tis all Scandal and meanness into the bargain: it does in effect degrade Human Nature, sinks Reason into Appetite, and breaks down the Distinctions between Man and Beast. Goats and Monkeys if they could speak, would express their Brutality in such Language as This.

To argue the Matter more at large.

Smuttiness is a Fault in Behaviour as well as in Religion. 'Tis a very Coarse Diversion, the Entertainment of those who are generally least both in Sense, and Station. The looser part of the Mob, have no true relish of Decency and Honour, and want Education, and Thought, to furnish out a gentile Conversation. Barrenness of Fancy makes them often take up with those Scandalous Liberties. A Vitious Imagination may blot a great deal of Paper at this rate with ease enough: And 'tis possible Convenience may sometimes invite to the Expedient. The Modern Poets seem to use Smut as the Old Ones did Machines, to relieve a fainting Invention. When Pegasus is jaded, and would stand still, he is apt like other Tits to run into every Puddle.


Obscenity in any Company is a rustick uncreditable Talent; but among Women 'tis particularly rude. Such Talk would be very affrontive in Conversation, and not endur'd by any Lady of Reputation. Whence then comes it to Pass that those Liberties which disoblige so much in Conversation, should entertain upon the Stage. Do the Women leave all the regards to Decency and Conscience behind them when they come to the Play-House? Or does the Place transform their Inclinations, and turn their former Aversions into Pleasure? Or were Their pretences to Sobriety elsewhere nothing but Hypocrisy and Grimace? Such Suppositions as these are all Satyr and Invective: They are rude Imputations upon the whole Sex. To treat the Ladys with such stuff is no better than taking their Money to abuse them. It supposes their Imagination vitious, and their Memories ill furnish'd: That they are practised in the Language of the Stews, and pleas'd with the Scenes of Brutishness. When at the same time the Customs of Education, and the Laws of Decency, are so very cautious, and reserv'd in regard to Women: I say so very reserv'd, that 'tis almost a Fault for them to Understand they are ill Used. {8}They can't discover their Disgust without disadvantage, nor Blush without disservice to their Modesty. To appear with any skill in such Cant, looks as if they had fallen upon ill Conversation; or Managed their Curiosity amiss. In a word, He that treats the Ladys with such Discourse, must conclude either that they like it, or they do not. To suppose the first, is a gross Reflection upon their Virtue. And as for the latter case, it entertains them with their own Aversion; which is ill Nature, and ill Manners enough in all Conscience. And in this Particular, Custom and Conscience, the Forms of Breeding, and the Maxims of Religion are on the same side. In other Instances Vice is often too fashionable; But here a Man can't be a Sinner, without being a Clown.

In this respect the Stage is faulty to a Scandalous degree of Nauseousness and Aggravation. For

1st. The Poets make Women speak Smuttily. Of This the Places before mention'd are sufficient Evidence: And if there was occasion they might be Multiplyed to a much greater Number: Indeed the Comedies are seldom clear of these Blemishes: And sometimes you have them in Tragedy. For Instance. {9}The Orphans Monimia makes a very improper Description; And the Royal Leonora in the Spanish Friar, runs a strange Length in the History of Love p. 50. And, do Princesses use to make their Reports with such fulsom Freedoms? Certainly this Leonora was the first Queen of her Family. Such raptures are too Lascivious for Joan of Naples. Are these the Tender Things Mr. Dryden says the Ladys call on him for? I suppose he means the Ladys that are too Modest to show their Faces in the Pit. This Entertainment can be fairly design'd for none but such. Indeed it hits their Palate exactly. It regales their Lewdness, graces their Character, and keeps up their Spirits for their Vocation: Now to bring Women under such Misbehaviour is Violence to their Native Modesty, and a Mispresentation of their Sex. For Modesty as Mr. RapinReflect upon Aristot. &c.
Eurip. Hippolit.
[1] observes, is the Character of Women. To represent them without this Quality, is to make Monsters of them, and throw them out of their Kind. Euripides, who was no negligent Observer of Humane Nature, is always careful of this Decorum. Thus Phædra[2] when possess'd with an infamous Passion, takes all imaginable pains to conceal it. She is as {10}regular and reserv'd in her Language as the most virtuous Matron. 'Tis true, the force of Shame and Desire; The Scandal of Satisfying, and the difficulty of parting with her Inclinations, disorder her to Distraction. However, her Frensy is not Lewd; She keeps her Modesty even after She has lost her Wits. Had Shakespear secur'd this point for his young Virgin Ophelia,Hamlet.[3] the Play had been better contriv'd. Since he was resolv'd to drown the Lady like a Kitten, he should have set her a swimming a little sooner. To keep her alive only to sully her Reputation, and discover the Rankness of her Breath, was very Cruel. But it may be said the Freedoms of Distraction go for nothing, a Feavour has no Faults, and a Man non Compos, may kill without Murther. It may be so: But then such People ought to be kept in dark Rooms and without Company. To shew them, or let them loose, is somewhat unreasonable. But after all, the Modern Stage seems to depend upon this Expedient. Women are sometimes represented Silly, and sometimes Mad, to enlarge their Liberty, and screen their Impudence from Censure: This Politick Contrivance we have in Marcella,Don Quixot. Relapse. Love for Love.[4] Hoyden,[5] and Miss Prue.[6] However {11}it amounts to this Confession; that Women when they have their Understandings about them ought to converse otherwise. In fine; Modesty is the distinguishing Vertue of that Sex, and serves both for Ornament and Defence: Modesty was design'd by Providence as a Guard to Virtue; And that it might be always at Hand, 'tis wrought into the Mechanism of the Body. 'Tis likewise proportioned to the occasions of Life, and strongest in Youth when Passion is so too. 'Tis a Quality as true to Innocence, as the Sences are to Health; whatever is ungrateful to the first, is prejudicial to the latter. The Enemy no sooner approaches, but the Blood rises in Opposition, and looks Defyance to an Indecency. It supplys the room of Reasoning, and Collection: Intuitive Knowledge can scarcely make a quicker Impression; And what then can be a surer Guide to the Unexperienced? It teaches by suddain Instinct and Aversion; This is both a ready and a powerful Method of instruction. The Tumult of the Blood and Spirits, and the Uneasiness of the Sensation, are of singular Use. They serve to awaken Reason, and prevent surprize. Thus the Distinctions of Good and Evil are refresh'd, and the Temptation kept at proper Distance.


2ly. They Represent their single Ladys, and Persons of Condition, under these Disorders of Liberty, This makes the Irregularity still more Monstrous and a greater Contradiction to Nature, and Probability: But rather than not be Vitious, they will venture to spoil a Character. This mismanagement we have partly seen already. Jacinta,Mock Astrologer. Old Batchelour.[7] and Belinda[8] are farther proof. And the Double Dealer is particularly remarkable. There are but Four Ladys in this Play, and Three of the biggest of them are Whores. A Great Compliment to Quality to tell them there is not above a quarter of them Honest! This was not the Roman Breeding, Terence and Plautus his Strumpets were Little people; but of this more hereafter.

3dly. They have oftentimes not so much as the poor refuge of a Double Meaning to fly to. So that you are under a necessity either of taking Ribaldry or Nonsence. And when the Sentence has two Handles, the worst is generally turn'd to the Audience. The Matter is so Contrived that the Smut and Scum of the Thought rises uppermost; And like a Picture drawn to Sight, looks always upon the Company.


4ly. And which is still more extraordinary: the Prologues, and Epilogues are sometimes Scandalous to the last degree.Mock Astrologer. Country Wife. Cleomenes. Old Batchelour.[9] I shall discover them for once, and let them stand like Rocks in the Margin. Now here properly speaking the Actors quit the Stage, and remove from Fiction, into Life. Here they converse with the Boxes, and Pit, and address directly to the Audience. These Preliminarie and concluding Parts, are design'd to justify the Conduct of the Play, and bespeak the Favour of the Company. Upon such Occasions one would imagine if ever, the Ladys should be used with Respect, and the Measures of Decency observ'd, But here we have Lewdness without Shame or Example: Here the Poet exceeds himself. Here are such Strains as would turn the Stomach, of an ordinary Debauchee, and be almost nauseous in the Stews. And to make it the more agreeable, Women are Commonly pick'd out for this Service. Thus the Poet Courts the good opinion of the Audience. This is the Desert he regales the Ladys with at the Close of the Entertainment: It seems He thinks They have admirable Palats! Nothing can be a greater Breach of Manners then such Liberties as these. If a Man would {14}study to outrage Quality and Vertue, he could not do it more Effectually. But

5thly. Smut is still more insufferable with respect to Religion. The Heathen Religion was in a great Measure a Mystery of Iniquity. Lewdness was Consecrated in the Temples, as well as practised in the Stews. Their Deitys were great Examples of Vice, and worship'd with their own Inclination. 'Tis no wonder therefore their Poetry should be tinctured with their Belief, and that the Stage should borrow some of the Liberties of their Theology. This made Mercurys Procuring, and Jupiters Adultery the more passable in AmphitrionPlaut.
Terent. Eunuch.
[10]: Upon this Score Gymnasium[11] is less Monstrous in Praying the Gods to send her store of Gallants. And thus Chæræa[12] defends his Adventure by the Precedent of Jupiter and Danæ. But the Christian Religion is quite of an other Complexion. Both its Precepts, and Authorities, are the highest discouragement to Licentiousness. It forbids the remotest Tendencies to Evil, Banishes the Follies of Conversation, and Obliges up to Sobriety of Thought. That which might pass for Raillery, and Entertainment in Heathenism, is detestable in Christianity. The Restraint of the Precept, and the Quality of the {15}Deity, and the Expectations of Futurity quite alter the Case.

But notwithstanding the Latitudes of Paganism, the Roman and Greek Theatres were much more inoffensive than ours. To begin with Plautus. This Comedian, tho' the most exceptionable, is modest upon the Comparison. For

1st. He rarely gives any of the above mention'd Liberties to Women; And when there are any Instances of the contrary, 'tis only in prostituted and Vulgar People; And even these, don't come up to the Grossness of the Modern Stage.

For the Purpose. CleæretaAsinar.
Mercat. Act. 3.
[13] the Procuris borders a little upon Rudeness: Lena[14] and Bacchis[15] the Strumpet are Airy and somewhat over-merry, but not A l'Anglois obscene. Chalinus[16] in Womans Cloaths is the most remarkable. Pasicompa Charinus his Wench talks too freely to Lysimachus;[17] And so does Sophroclidisca Slave to Lemnoselene.[18] And lastly: Phronesiam a Woman of the Town uses a double entendre to Stratophanes.[19] These are the most censurable Passages, and I think all of them with relation to Women; which considering how the World goes is very moderate. Several of our Single Plays shall far out-do all This put together. And yet Plautus has upon the {16}matter left us 20 entire Comedies. So that in short, these Roman Lasses are meer Vestal Virgins, comparatively speaking.

2ly. The Men who talk intemperately are generally Slaves; I believe DordalusPersa.
[20] the Pandar, and Lusiteles[21] will be found the only exception: And this latter young Gentleman; drops but one over airy expression: And for this Freedom, the Poet seems to make him give Satisfaction in the rest of his Character. He disputes very handsomly by himself against irregular Love; The Discourse between him and Philto is instructive and well managed.Act. 2. 1.
Act. 2. 2.
[22] And afterwards he gives Lesbonicus a great deal of sober advice,[23] and declaims heartily against Luxury and Lewdness! Now by confining his Rudeness to little People, the Fault is much extenuated. For First, the representation is more Naturally this way; And which is still better, 'tis not so likely to pass into Imitation: Slaves and Clowns are not big enough to spread Infection; and set up an ill Fashion. 'Tis possible the Poet might contrive these Pesants Offensive to discountenance the Practise. Thus the Heilots in Sparta were made drunk to keep Intemperance out of {17}Credit. I don't mention this as if I approv'd the Expedient, but only to show it a circumstance of Mitigation and Excuse.

Farther, These Slaves and Pandars, Seldom run over, and play their Gambols before Women. There are but Four Instances of this Kind as I remember, Olympio,Casin.
Mil. Glor.
[24] Palæstrio,[25] Dordalus,[26] and Stratilax[27] are the Persons. And the Women they discourse with, are two of them Slaves, and the third a Wench. But with our Dramatists, the case is otherwise. With us Smuttiness is absolute and unconfin'd. 'Tis under no restraint, of Company, nor has any regard to Quality or Sex. Gentlemen talk it to Ladies, and Ladies to Gentlemen with all the Freedom, and Frequency imaginable. This is in earnest to be very hearty in the cause! To give Title and Figure to Ill Manners is the utmost that can be done. If Lewdness will not thrive under such encouragement it must e'en Miscarry!

4ly. Plautus his Prologues and Epilogues are inoffensive. 'Tis true, Lambinus pretends to fetch a double entendre out of that to Pœnulus, but I think there is a Strain in the Construction. His Prologue to the Captivi is worth the observing.


Fabulæ huic operam date.

Pray mind the Play. The next words give the reason why it deserves regarding.

Non enim pertractate facta est

Neque spurcidici insunt versus immemorabiles.

We see here the Poet confesses Smut a scandalous Entertainment. That such Liberties ought to fall under Neglect, to lie unmention'd, and be blotted out of Memory.

And that this was not a Copy of his Countenance we may learn from his Compositions. His best Plays are almost alwaies Modest and clean Complexion'd. His Amphitrio excepting the ungenuine Addition is such. His Epidicus the Master-Piece of his whole Collection is inoffensive Throughout: And so are his Menechmi, Rudens, and Trinummus, which may be reckon'd amongst some of his next Best. His Truculentus another fine Play (tho' not entire) with a Heathen Allowance, is pretty Passable. To be short: Where he is most a Poet, he is generally least a Buffoon. And where the Entertainment is Smut, there is rarely any other Dish well dress'd: The {19}Contrivance is commonly wretched, the Sence lean and full of Quibbles. So that his Understanding seems to have left him when he began to abuse it.

To conclude, Plautus does not dilate upon the Progress, Successes, and Disappointments of Love, in the Modern way. This is nice Ground, and therefore He either stands off, or walks gravely over it, He has some regard to the Retirements of Modesty, and the Dignity of Humane Nature, and does not seem to make Lewdness his Business. To give an Instance. Silenium is much gone in Love,Cistellear. A. 1.[28] but Modest withall, tho' formerly debauch'd.

She is sorry her Spark was forced from her, and in Danger of being lost. But then she keeps within compass and never flies out into Indecency. Alcesimarchus is strangely smitten with this Silenium, and almost distracted to recover her.Ibid. A. 2.[29] He is uneasy and blusters, and threatens, but his Passion goes off in Generals. He Paints no Images of his Extravagance, nor descends to any nauseous particulars.

And yet after all, Plautus wrote in an Age not perfectly refin'd, and often seems to design his Plays for a Vulgar Capacity. 'Twas upon this view I {20}suppose his Characters exceed Nature, and his ill Features are drawn too large: His old Men over credulous, his Misers Romantick, and his Coxcombs improbably singular. And 'tis likely for this reason his Slaves might have too much Liberty.

Terence appear'd when Breeding was more exact, and the Town better polish'd; And he manages accordingly: He hasHeauton.[30] but one faulty bordering Expression, which is that of Chremes to Clitipho. This single Sentence apart, the rest of his Book is (I think) unsullied and fit for the nicest Conversation. I mean only in referrence to the Argument in Hand, for there are things in Him, which I have no intention to warrant. He is Extreamly careful in the Behaviour of his Women. Neither Glycerium in Andria, Pamphila in Eunuchus, or Pamphila in Adelphi, Phanium in Phormio, or Philumena in Hecyra, have any share of Conversation upon the Stage. such Freedom was then thought too much for the Reservedness of a Maiden-Character. 'Tis true in Heautontimoroumenos the Poets Plot obliged Antiphila, to go under the Disguise of Bacchis her Maid. Upon this Occasion they hold a little Discourse together. But then Bacchis {21}tho' she was a Woman of the Town, behaves her self with all the Decency imaginable. She does not talk in the Language of her Profession. But commends Antiphila for her Virtue: Antiphila only says how constant she has been to Chinia, seems surprised at his Arrival, and salutes him civilly upon't, and we hear no more from her. Mr. Dryden seems to refer to this Conduct in his Dramatick Poesie. He censures the Romans for making Mutes of their single Women. This He calls the Breeding of the Old Elizabeth way, which was for Maids to be seen and not to be heard. Under Favour the old Discipline would be very serviceable upon the Stage. As matters go, the Mutes are much to few. For certainly 'tis better to say nothing, than talk out of Character, and to ill purpose.

To return. The Virgin injured by Chærea does nothing but weep, and won't so much as speak her misfortune to the Women.Eunuch.
Love Triump.
[31] But Comedy is strangly improved since that time; For Dalinda[32] has a great deal more Courage, tho' the loss of her Virtue was her own Fault.

But Terence has that regard for Women, that he won't so much as touch upon an ill Subject before them. Thus {22}Chremes was ashamed to mention any thing about his Sons Lewdness when his Wife was present.

Pudet dicere hac præsente verbum turpe.Heauton. A. 5. 4.[33]

The Slaves in this Comedian are kept in order and civilly bred. They Guard and Fence when occasion requires, and step handsomly over a dirty place.Eunuch A. 5. 4. 5.
Adelph. A. 2. 3.
[34] The Poet did not think Littleness and low Education a good Excuse for Ribaldry. He knew Infection at the weakest, might seize on some Constitutions: Besides, the Audience was a Superior Presence, and ought to be considered. For how Negligent soever People may be at Home, yet when they come before their Betters 'tis Manners to look wholsom.

Now tho' Plautus might have the richer Invention; Terence was always thought the more judicious Comedian. His Raillery is not only finer, and his stile better polish'd; but his Characters are more just, and he seems to have reach'd farther into Life than the other. To take Leave of this Author, even his Strumpets are better behaved than our honest Women, than our Women of Quality of the English Stage. Bacchis in Heautontimoroumenos and Bacchis in {23}Hecyra, may serve for example. They are both modest, and converse not unbecoming their Sex. Thais the most accomplish'd in her way,Eunuch.[35] has a great deal of Spirit and wheadling in her Character, but talks no Smut.

Thus we see with what Caution and Sobriety of Language Terence manages. 'Tis possible this Conduct might be his own Modesty, and result from judgment and Inclination. But however his Fancy stood, he was sensible the Coarse way would not do. The Stage was then under Discipline, the publick Censors formidable, and the Office of the Choragus was originally to prevent the Excesses of Liberty.

To this we may add the Nobless had no Relish for Obscenity; 'twas the ready way to Disoblige them.Casaub. Annot. in Curcul. Plauti.[36] And therefore 'tis Horaces Rule.

Nec immunda crepent ignominiosaque dicta.

Offenduntur enim quibus est Equus & Pater, & res.De A te Poet.[37]

The Old Romans were particularly carefull their Women might not be affronted in Conversation: For this reason the Unmarried kept off from Entertainments for fear of learning new Language.Var. apud. Nonium.
Corn. Nep.
Arist. Lib. 4. de Mor. cap. 14.
Vit. Eurip. ed Cantab. 1694.
[38] And in {24}Greece no Woman above the degree of a Slave was treated abroad by any but Relations.[39] 'Tis probable the old Comedy was silenced at Athens upon this Score, as well as for Defamation. For as Aristotle[40] observes the new Set of Comedians were much more modest than the former. In this celebrated Republick, if the Poets wrote any thing against Religion or Good Manners, They were tryed for their Misbehaviour, and lyable to the highest Forfeitures.[41]

It may not be amiss to observe that there are no Instances of debauching Married Women, in Plautus, nor Terence, no nor yet in Aristophanes. But on our Stage how common is it to make a Lord, a Knight, or an Alderman a Cuckold? The Schemes of Success are beaten out with great Variety, and almost drawn up into a Science. How many Snares are laid for the undermining of Virtue, and with what Triumph is the Victory proclaim'd? The Finess of the Plot, and the Life of the Entertainment often lies in these Contrivances. But the Romans had a different sence of these Matters, and saw thro' the consequences of them. The Government was awake upon the Theatre, and would not suffer the Abuses of Honour, and Family, to pass into {25}Diversion. And before we part with these Comedians we may take notice that there are no Smutty Songs in their Plays; in which the English are extreamly Scandalous.Love for Love.
Love Triump. &c.
[42] Now to work up their Lewdness with Verse, and Musick, doubles the Force of the Mischief. It makes it more portable and at Hand, and drives it Stronger upon Fancy and Practice.

To dispatch the Latins all together. Seneca is clean throughout the Piece, and stands generally off from the point of Love. He has no Courting unless in his Hercules Furens;p. 14. Ed. Scriv.[43] And here the Tyrant Lycus addresses Megara very briefly, and in Modest and remote Language. In his Thebais, Oedipus's Incest is reported at large, but without any choaking Description. 'Tis granted Phædra speaks her Passion plainly out, and owns the strength of the Impression, and is far less prudent than in Euripides.Hippol.[44] But tho' her Thoughts appear too freely, her Language is under Discipline.

Let us now Travel from Italy into Greece, and take a view of the Theatre at Athens. In this City the Stage had both its beginning and highest Improvement. Æschylus was the first who appear'd with any Reputation. His Genius {26}seems noble, and his Mind generous, willing to transfuse it self into the Audience, and inspire them with a Spirit of Bravery. To this purpose his Stile is Pompous, Martial, and Enterprizing. There is Drum and Trumpet in his Verse. 'Tis apt to excite an Heroick Ardour, to awaken, warm, and push forward to Action. But his Mettal is not always under Management. His Inclination for the Sublime; carrys him too far: He is sometimes Embarrass'd with Epithites. His Metaphors are too stiff, and far fetch'd; and he rises rather in Sound, than in Sence. However generally speaking, his Materials are both shining and solid, and his Thoughts lofty, and uncommon. This Tragedian had always a nice regard to Good Manners. He knew corrupting the People was the greatest disservice to the Commonwealth; And that Publick Ruine was the effect of general Debauchery. For this reason he declines the Business of Amours, and declares expresly against it.Aristoph. Ran.[45] Now here we can't expect any length of Testimony. His aversion to the subject makes him touch very sparingly upon it. But in this case there is no need of much citation. His very Omissions are Arguments, and his Evidence is the stronger for being short. That little I meet with shall be produced.


1st. Orestes was obliged by the Oracle to revenge his Fathers Death in the Murther of his Mother.Χοηφορ. 253, Ed. Steph.
Orest. 48. Ed. Cantab.
Ευμεν. 305.
[46] When he was going to kill her, he Mentions her Cruelty, but waves her Adultery. Euripides approv'd this Reservedness and makes his Electra practise it upon the same occasion.[47] Æschylus in his next Play complements his Country with a great deal of Address in the Persons of the Eumenides.[48] They are very Gentile and Poetical in their Civilities: Among other things They wish the Virgins may all Marry and make the Country Populous: Here the Poet do's but just glance upon the Subject of Love; and yet he governs the Expression with such care, that the wishes contain a Hint to Sobriety, and carry a Face of Virtue along with them.

The Double Dealer runs Riot upon such an Occasion as this; and gives Lord Touchwood a mixture of Smut and Pedantry to conclude with,p. 79.[49] and yet this Lord was one of his best Characters: But Poets are now grown Absolute within themselves, and may put Sence and Quality upon what Drudgeries they please. To return. Danaus cautions his Daughters very handsomly in point of Behaviour. They were in a strange Country, and had Poverty and Dependance to {28}struggle with: These were circumstances of Danger, and might make him the more pressing. He leaves therefore a solemn Charge with them for their Security, bids them never to subsist upon Infamy, but to prefer their Virtue to their Life.

Μόνον φύλαξαι τάς δ' ἐπιστολὰς πατρὸςἹκέτ. 340.[50]

Τὸ σωφρονεῖν τιμῶσα του βίου πλέον.

Our Poets I suppose would call this Preaching, and think it a dull Business. However I can't forbear saying an honest Heathen is none of the worst Men: A very indifferent Religion well Believed, will go a great way.

To proceed. Sophocles appear'd next upon the Stage, and was in earnest an Extraordinary Person. His Conduct is more Artificial, and his Stile more just, than that of Æschylus. His Characters are well drawn, and Uniform with themselves: His Incidents, are often surprising, and his Plots unprecipitated. There is nothing but what is Great, and Solemn Throughout. The Reasoning is well Coloured. The Figures are sometimes Bold, but not Extravagant. There are no Flights of Bombast, no Towring above Nature and Possibility: In short, Nothing like Don Sebastians Reigning in his Atomes.Don Sebast. p. 12.[51]


This Tragedian like Æschylus does not often concern himself with Amours, and when he does, nothing can be more temperate, and decent. For example where the Incest of Oedipus is described,Oedip. Tyran. Ed Steph.
Antig. 242. 244.
[52] the Offensiveness of the Idea is screen'd off and broken by Metaphorical and distant Expressions. In another Play[53] Creon resolves to put Antigone to Death for presuming to bury Polynices. This Lady and Hæmon Creons Son were very far engaged; Hæmon endeavours to disswade his Father from Antigones Execution: He tells him the burying her Brother tho' against his Order, was a popular Action. And that the People would resent her being punish'd: But never so much as mentions his own Concern unless in one Line; which was so obscure that Creon misunderstood him. Antigone amongst her other Misfortunes laments her dying Young and Single, but says not one word about Hæmon. The Poet takes care not to bring these two Lovers upon the Stage together, for fear they might prove unmanagable? Had They been with us, they had met with kinder treatment. They might have had Interviews and Time and Freedom enough. Enough to mud their Fancy, to tarnish their Quality, and make their Passion Scandalous. In the Relation of Hæmons Death, his Love is related too, and that with all the Life and Pathos {30}imaginable. But the Description is within the Terms of Honour: The tendernesses are Solemn, as well as Soft: They move to Ibid. 264.[54]Pity and Concern, and go no farther. In his Trachiniæ the Chorus owns the Force of Love next to irresistable; gently hints the Intrigues of the Gods, and then passes on to a handsome Trach. 348.[55]Image of the Combat between Achelous and Hercules. We see how lightly the Poet touches upon an amorous Theme: He glides along like a Swallow upon the Water, and skims the Surface, without dipping a Feather.

Sophocles will afford us no more, let us therefore take a view of Euripides. 'Tis the Method of this Author to decline the Singularities of the Stage, and to appear with an Air of Conversation. He delivers great Thoughts in Common Language, and is dress'd more like a Gentleman than a Player. His Distinction lies in the perspicuity of his Stile; In Maxim, and Moral Reflection; In his peculiar Happiness for touching the Passions, especially that of Pity; And lastly, in exhausting the Cause, and arguing pro and Con, upon the streach of Reason. So much by way of Character. And as for the Matter before us He is entirely Ours. We have had an Instance or two already in Electra and Phædra: To go on to the rest. In his Hippolitus He calls Whoring, {31}stupidness and playing the Fool. And to be Chast and regular, is with him, as well as with Æschylus, Σωφρονεῖν. As much as to say 'tis the Consequence of Sence, and right Thinking. Phædra when her Thoughts were embarrass'd with Hippolitus, endeavours to disentangle her self by Argument.Μωρία τὸ Μῶρον Ed. Cant. 241. 250. 252.[56] She declaims with a great deal of Satyr against intemperate Women; she concluded rather to die then dishonour her Husband and Stain her Family. The Blemishes of Parents, as she goes on, often stuck upon their Children, and made them appear with Disadvantage. Upon this, the Chorus is transported with the Virtue of her Resolution and crys out

Φεῦ Φεῦ. Τὸ σῶφρον ὥς ἁπανταχοῦ καλὸνIbid. 232. 233.[57]

καί δό ξαν ἐσθλην ἐνβροτοῖς κομίζεται.

How becoming a Quality is Modesty in all Places.

How strangly does it burnish a Character, and oblige ones Reputation?

The Scholiast upon these verses of Hippolitus.

Σοί τόν δε πλεκτὸν Στεφανον εξ ἀκηρά

Λειμῶνος, &c.

Makes this Paraphrase, 'Tha[......] Mind should be clean and unsulli[......] {32}that the Muses being Virgins their Performances should agree with their Condition.'

To proceed. Hermione complains against Andromache because she was entertain'd by her HusbandAndrom. p. 303.
Iphig. in Aulid. p. 51.
Helen. 277, 278.
Mourning Bride. p. 36.
[58]: For this Andromache tells her she talk'd too much for a Young Woman, and discover'd her Opinion too far. Achilles at the first Sight of Clytemnestra, lets her understand he was as much taken with the Sobriety of her Air,[59] as with the rest of her fine Face and Person. She receives the Complement kindly, and commends him for commending Modesty. Menelaus and Helen after a long Absence manage the surprize of their good Fortune handsomly.[60] The Most tender Expression stands clear of ill Meaning. Had Osmin parted with Almeria as civilly as these Two met,[61] it had been much better. That Rant of smut and profainness might have been spared. The Reader shall have some of it.

O my Almeria;

What do that Damn'd endure but to despair,

But knowing Heaven, to know it lost for ever.

Were it not for the Creed, these Poets would be crampt in their Courtship, and Mightily at a loss for a Simile! But Osmin is in a wonderful Passion. And {33}truly I think his Wits, are in some danger, as well as his Patience. You shall hear.

What are Wracks, and, Whips, and Wheels to this;

Are they not soothing softness, sinking Ease,

And wasting Air to this?

Sinking Ease, and Wasting Air, I confess are strange comforts; This Comparison is somewhat oddly equip'd, but Lovers like sick People may say what they please! Almeria takes this Speech for a Pattern, and suits it exactly in her return.

O I am struck, thy words are Bolts of Ice?

Which shot into my Breast now melt and chill me.

Bolts of Ice? Yes most certainly! For the Cold is struck up into her Head, as you may perceive by what follows.

I chatter, shake, and faint with thrilling Fears.

By the way 'tis a mighty wonder to hear a Woman Chatter! But there is no jesting, for the Lady is very bad. She won't be held up by any Means, but Crys out:


——lower yet, down down;

One would think she was learning a Spanel to Sett. But there's something behind.

——no more we'll lift our Eyes,

But prone and dumb, Rot the firm Face of Earth,

With Rivers of incessant scalding Rain.

These Figures are some of them as stiff as Statues, and put me in mind of Sylvesters Dubartas.

Now when the Winters keener breath began

To Crystallize, the Baltick Ocean,

To glaze the Lakes, to bridle up the Floods,

And periwig with Snow the bald pate woods.

I take it, the other Verses are somewhat of Kin to These, and shall leave them to Mr. Dryden's Reflection.Spanish Fryar. Ep. Ded.[62] But then as for Soothing Softness, Sinking Ease, Wasting Air, thrilling Fears, and incessant scalding Rain; It puts me to another stand. For to talk a little in the way of the Stage. This Litter of Epithetes makes the Poem look like a Bitch overstock'd with Puppies, and sucks the Sence almost to skin and Bone. But all this may pass in a Playhouse: False Rhetorick and false Jewells, do well together. To return to Euripides. Cassandra in reporting the Misfortunes of {35}the Greeks stops at the Adulteries of Clytemnestra and Ægiala And gives this handsome reason for making a Halt.

Σιγᾶν ἄμεινον τἀισχρὰ, μηδέ μοῦσα μοῖTroad. p. 146.[63]

Γένοιτ ἀοιδὸς ἥτις ὑμνήσει κακὰ.

Foul Things are best unsaid, I am for no Muse,

That loves to flourish on Debauchery.

Some Things are dangerous in report, as well as practise, and many times a Disease in the Description. This Euripides was aware of and manag'd accordingly, and was remarkably regular both in stile, and Manners. How wretchedly do we fall short of the Decencies of Heathenism! There's nothing more ridiculous than Modesty on our Stage.Plain Dealer. p. 21.[64] 'Tis counted an ill bred Quality, and almost sham'd out of Use. One would think Mankind were not the same, that Reason was to be read Backward, and Vertue and Vice had changed Place.Provok'd Wife. p. 41.[65]

What then? Must Life be huddled over, Nature left imperfect, and the Humour of the Town not shown? And pray where lies the Grievance of all This? Must we relate whatever is done, and is every Thing fit for Representation? is a Man that has the Plague proper to make a {36}Sight of? And must he needs come Abroad when he breaths Infection, and leaves the Tokens upon the Company? What then must we know nothing? Look you! All Experiments are not worth the making. 'Tis much better to be ignorant of a Disease then to catch it. Who would wound himself for Information about Pain, or smell a Stench for the sake of the Discovery? But I shall have occasion to encounter this Objection afterwards,** Remarks upon Quixot.[66] and therefore shall dismiss it at present.

The Play-house at Athens has been hitherto in Order, but are there no Instances to the contrary? Do's not Aristophanes take great Liberties and make Women speak extraordinary Sentences? He do's so. But his Precedent signifies nothing in the case. For

1st. We have both the Reason of the Thing, and all the Advantage of Authority on the other side. We have the Practise and Opinion of Men of much greater Sence, and Learning then Himself. The best Philosophers and Poets, Criticks and Orators, both Greek and Latin, both Antient and Modern, give the Cause against him. But Aristophanes his own Plays are sufficient to ruin his Authority. For

1st, He discovers himself a downright Atheist. This Charge will be easily Made {37}good against him by Comparing his Nubes with his other Plays. The Design of his Nubes was to expose Socrates, and make a Town jest of him. Now this Philosopher was not only a Person of great Sence and Probity, but was likewise suppos'd to refine upon the Heathen Theology, to throw off the Fabulous part of it, and to endeavour to bring it back to the Standard of Natural Religion. And therefore Justin Martyr and some others of the Fathers, look'd on him as a Person of no Pagan Belief, and thought he suffer'd for the Unity of the God-Head. This Man Aristophanes makes fine sport with as he fancies: He puts him in a Fools Coat, and then points at him. He makes Socrates instruct his Disciple Strepsiades in a new Religion, and tell him that he did not own the Gods in the vulgar Notion. He brings him in elswhere affirming that the Clouds are the only Deities.Nub. Act. 1. Sc. 3. p. 104. Ed. Amstel.[67] Which is the same Lash which Juvenal gives the Jews, because they worship'd but one single Soveraign Being.

Nil præter Nubes & Cœli numen adorant.Sat. 14.[68]

Socrates goes on with his Lecture of Divinity and declares very roundly that there is no such thing as Jupiter.p. 106.[69] Afterwards he advances farther, and endeavours {38}to get Strepsiades under Articles to acknowledge no other Gods, but Chaos, the Clouds, and the Tongue.Nub. p. 110.[70] At last the Poet brings the Philosopher to publick Pennance for his Singularities. He sets fire to his School for teaching Young People (as he pretends) to dispute against Law and Justice; for advancing Atheistick Notions, and burlesquing the Religion of the Country.Act. 5. p. 176.[71]

That Socrates was no Atheist is clear from Instances enough. To mention but one. The Confidence he had in his Dæmon, or Genius by which he governed his Affairs puts it beyond all dispute.Plat. Apol. Socrat.[72] However 'tis plain Aristophanes was not of his Religion. The Comedian was by no means for correcting the Common Perswasion. So that he must either be an Orthodox Heathen or nothing at all. Let us see then with what Respect he treats the Receiv'd Divinities. This Play, where one would not expect it, discovers somewhat of his Devotion. In the beginning of it Phidippides, who was a sort or New-Market Spark, swears by Jocky Neptune,Nub. p. 86.[73] that he had a strange Kindness for his Father Strepsiades. upon this the old Man replies; No Jocky, if you love me; that Deity has almost undone me. This was making somewhat bold with Neptune who was Jupiters Brother, Soveraign of a whole Element, and had no {39}less than the Third Share of the Universe! Certainly Aristophanes had no Venture at Sea, or else must think the Trident signified but very little. But this is meer Ceremony to what follows. In his first Play Plutus pretends he had a mind to oblige only Men of Probity, but Jupiter had made him blind on purpose that he might not distinguish Honest men from Knaves: For to be plain Jupiter had a Pique against Good people. Towards the end of this Comedy Mercury is abused by Cario,Plut. A. 1. Sc. 2.[74] and acts a ridiculous, and lessening part himself. Afterwards he complains heavily that since Plutus was cured of his Blindness, the business of Sacrifing fell off, and the Gods were ready to starve. This Mercury has the same ill Usage with the Poets Knaves, Informers, and Lewd Women; From all this stuff put together, his meaning is pretty plain, viz. That Religion was no better than an Imposture supported by Art, and Ignorance: And that when Men's Understandings were awake, and their Eyes a little open, they would have more discretion than to be at any expence about the Gods.

This I take to be part of the Moral of his Fable. If we look farther into him we shall see more of his Mind. His Ranæ makes Merry with the Heathen Scheme of {40}Heaven and Hell. Here Charon and the Stygian Frogs are brought in Comically enough. And that you may understand his opinion more perfectly we are told, that He that Bilks his Catamite after a Sodomitical Abuse, is thrown into the Common shore of Hades. And what Company do you think he is lodg'd with? Why with those who Perjure themselves, with those who Kick their Fathers and Mothers? It seems in the Poets Justice a Man might as good be false to his Oath, as to his Lewdness.Ran. p. 188.[75] To disappoint the Stews, is every jot as great a Crime; as to fly in the Face of Nature, and outrage our Parents. His Quartering his Malefactors thus critically, was without question on purpose to Banter the perswasion of future Punishment. In the same Play Xanthias bids Æacus answer him by Jove, Ὅς ἡμὶν ἐστὶν ὁμομαστιγίας. This little Scoundrel of a Slave has the Manners to make Jupiters Quality no better than his own. To go on with him: In his Aves he speaks out to purpose. Here Pisthetærus tells Epops that if the Birds would build a Castle in the Air, they might intercept the Fumes of the Sacrifices, and starve the Gods unless they would come too, and be Tributary. It seems the Birds had very good Pretences to execute this project; for they {41}were ancienter than Jupiter and Saturn, and Govern'd before the Gods. And to speak truth were more capable of the Function. Their Adviser goes on to inform them,536. 538. 546.[76] that after they had built their pensile City, and fortifyed the Air, their next business was to demand their ancient Soveragnity: If Jupiter refused to quit, they were to declare a Holy War against Him, and the rest of the Confederate Gods, and to cut off the Communication between Heaven and Earth. Pisthæterus542.[77] grows very warm in his new Interest, and swears by Jove that Men ought to Sacrifice to the Birds, and not to Jupiter. And if things came to a Rupture, and Jupiter grew Troublesome, he undertakes582.[78] to send a Detachement of Eagles against Him; with Orders to storm his Palace with Flambeaux, and fire it about his Ears. At last to prevent the Calamities of a War, Hercules proposes an Accomodation,Ibid.[79] and is willing Jupiter should Resign. Neptune calls him a Block-head for his pains, because he was Heir at Law, and after Jupiters Decease was of Course to succeed in his Dominions: Once more, and I have done: In Eirene, Trygæus speaks in a menacing way.602.[80] That unless Jupiter gave him Satisfaction in his business, he would inform {42}against Him as a disaffected Person, and a betrayer of the Liberties of Greece.Eiren. 616.[81] I might add many other Instances, and some more Scandalous than any I have mentioned; But these are sufficient to shew the Authors Sentiment: And is it any wonder an Atheist should misbehave himself in point of Modesty? What can we expect less from those who laugh at the Being of a God, at the Doctrines of Providence, and the Distinctions of Good and Evil? A Sceptick has no notion of Conscience, no Relish for Virtue, nor is under any Moral restraints from Hope or Fear. Such a one has nothing to do but to consult his Ease, and gratifie his Vanity, and fill his Pocket. But how these Ends are compassed, he has no squeamishness, or Scruples about it. 'Tis true when the Methods of Lewdness will Take, they are generally most agreeable. This way suits their Talent, and screens their practise, and obliges their Malice. For nothing is a greater Eye-sore to these Men, then Virtue and Regularity. What a pleasure is it then to be admired for Mischeif, to be reveng'd on Religion, and to see Vice prosper and improve under our Hands! To return: Beside Aristophanes Atheisme, I have a Second objection to his Authority, and that is want of {43}Judgment. If we examine his Plays we shall find his Characters improper, or ununiform; either wrong at first, or unsteady in the Right. For the purpose. In his Nubes. A. 3. S. 3. p. 146. 150. He puts dirty expressions in the Mouth of his Man of Probity, makes him declaim vitiously against Vice, and Corrects scurrility with Impudence; Now what can be more idle and senceless, than such Conduct as this? Epecially when this Justus as he calls him had told them in the beginning of his speech, that People used to be well slash'd for such Fooling, when Government and Discipline were in their due Force. The Chorus of his Ranæ slidesp. 142. p. 200.[82] into the same Inconsistency of Precept, and Practise. Farther, in the Progress of this Play; Æschylus falls a rallying contrary to his Humour, and jests away his own Arguments at a very unseasonable Juncture, when he was disputing for no less prize than the Laureatship. This Tragedian after he had play'd a little with the Story of Bellerophon,242.[83] goes on in the same strain; And charges Euripides that he had furnish'd all sorts of People with Sawciness and Prattle. The Schools and Academies were spoil'd by this means; So that the Boys were often whip'd, and the Boatswains drubb'd, for {44}their Chattering.p. 244.[84] These Comical Levities come with an ill Grace from Æschylus. His Character was quite different both in Reality, and in the Play before us. He is all along represented as a Person of a serious Temper, of a reserv'd Loftiness, Cholerick, and tender of his Honour to an Excess, and almost in a rage at the Affront of a Rival, and being forc'd to enter the Lists with Euripides. The case standing thus, neither the Man, nor the Business, would admit of Drolling. Another Instance of his want of Conduct we have in his Concionatores. Here Blepyrus and some others of his Legislative Assembly, talk at a very dirty insipid rate. The Lowest of the Mob, can hardly jest with less Wit, and more Lewdness. And to make their Discourse more remarkable; These douty Members were just going to the House, and had their Heads full of the Good of the Nation, when they entertain'd themselves thus decentlyp. [......] p. [......][85]. And are these little Buffoons fit to consult de Arduis Regni, &c. to give Authority to Law, and Rules for publick Life? Do's Ribaldry and Nonsence become the Dignity of their Station, and the Solemnity of their Office? To make his Parliament-Men play the Fool thus egregiously, must needs have a great deal of Decorum, and State-Policy in the {45}Contrivance; And is just as wise as if a Painter should have Drawn them in the Habit of Jack-Puddings, and Merry-Andrews. But Aristophanes has still higher Flights of Absurdity. He won't so much as spare the Gods but makes them act these little Parts of Clownishness and Infamy. Bacchus and Hercules in his Ranæ are forced to talk Smut and rally like Link-boys, and do almost all the Tricks of Bartholomew-Fair. To mention something that will bear the quoting. Bacchus enquires of Hercules the readiest way to Hades, or the other World. He bids him either Hang, or Poyson himself, and he can't miss the Road. This is Hercules's Humour to a Tittle! And represents him as much to the Life, as an Ape would do the Grand Signior at a publick Audience! This with a short Sentence or two of Lewdness,Ranæ p. 186. p. 182.[86] is the hardest of Hercules his Usage: And 'tis well he escaped so; for Bacchus is treated much worse. He appears under the disadvantages of a Clownish Debauchee, and a Coward. And is terribly afraid of a Spectre.p. 192, 194, 196.[87] When he comes before Æacus, this Judge is very rough with him; and tries his pretences to a Deity by Bastinado: Bacchus howls in the drubbing and had almost spoil'd all.Act 2. Sc. 6.[88] {46}Now do's this paultry Behaviour agree with the Heathen Theology, with the Common Opinion concerning Bacchus and Hercules? Do's a Blew-Cap and a Ladle, become the Sons of Jupiter and the Objects of Religious Worship? Those who at the lowest, were counted the Conquerors of the World, and more than Men both by Birth and Enterprize? Sophocles and Euripides make these two Persons manage at a quite different rate of Decency. 'Tis no defence to say Aristophanes wrot Comedy, and so was obliged to make his Scenes more diverting. This excuse I say is defective; for a Comedian ought to imitate Life and Probability, no less than a Tragedian. To Metomorphose Characters, and present Contradictions to Common Belief, is to write, Farce instead of Plays. Such Comedians like Thespis ought to have a travelling Stage, and take the Air with Porcupines and Dromedaryes. If 'tis said that Gravity and greatness do's not suit the Complection and Entertainment of Comedy. To this I answer, that therefore the Persons should be chosen accordingly. They should have nothing in their known Humour, and Condition too Noble, and solemn for Trifling. 'Tis Horaces advice.


Aut famam sequere, aut convenientia finge Scriptor. De. Art. Poet.

Let us remember that Operations always resemble the Nature from whence they flow. Great Persons should therefore have a correspondent Behaviour assign'd them. To make Beings much Superior to the Biggest of Mankind, talk below the Least, is absurd and ridiculous. This Aristophanes seems sensible of in his defence of Æschylus. Here Euripides objects to Æschylus,Ranæ p. 242.[89] that he was too rumbling, noisy, and bombastick, over affecting that which Horace calls

Ampulla, & sesquipedalia Verba.

To this Æschylus Answers, that the Thoughts, and Designs of Heroes must be deliver'd in Expressions proportioned to their Greatness. It being likely that the Demi-Gods spoke up to their Dignity and Stature: And as they were distinguish'd by the richness of their Habit, so they had a more Magnificent Language than other Mortals. To this Euripides replys nothing; from whence you may conclude the Poet thought the Apology not unreasonable. In short Aristophanes {48}had Sense but he does not always use it. He is not equal, and uniforme. Sometimes you have him flat and foolish a good while together. And where he has Spirit, 'tis oftentimes lavished away to little purpose.Ranæ A. 1. Sc. 1. Concionat.[90] His Buffoonery is commonly too strong for his Judgment. This makes him let fly his jests without regard to Person or occasion: And thus by Springing the Game too soon, the Diversion is lost. I could make several other Material Objections against the Conduct of his Plays; But this being not necessary I shall observe in the

3d. Place. That notwithstanding the scandalous Liberty for which Aristophanes is so remarkable; yet in his Lucid Intervalls, when Sence and Sobriety return upon him, he pronounces against his own Practise. In the contest between Æschylus and Euripides, Bacchus is made the Umpire of the Controversie. Æschylus begins with a Question,Ranæ p. 238.[91] and asks Euripides what 'tis which makes a Poet admired? He answers. 'Tis for the address of his Conduct, and the handsome Turns of Morality in his Poems. 'Tis because his performance has a tendency to form the Audience to Virtue, and Improvement, Æschylus demands of him {49}farther; But suppose you debauched the Age, and made an Honest and a brave People Lewd, and good for nothing, what do you deserve then? Here Bacchus interposes, and crys out, what does he deserve? A Halter! pray don't ask so plain a question. And afterwards we are told, that Poets are valuable only for describing Things useful, in Life and Religion, for polishing Inventions, and setting off great Examples with Lustre, and Advantage.p. 240.[92] In the progress of the Dispute, Æschylus taxes Euripides with being too uncautious in his Representations; And tells him that Poets ought to conceal that which is vicious in Story; And entertain with nothing but Virtue, and Sobriety: He goes on reprimanding Euripides for his Dramatick incests, Strumpets, and Amours: And as for himself, to his best remembrance, He never brought any Love-Intrigues upon the Stage.p. 242. 244.[93]

This is very significant expostulation: and contains very good Rules for the Trial of the Muses: But if the English Stage, should be obliged to this Test; Aristophanes must set fire to it, and that with much more reason than to Socrates his School. Now that Æschylus spoke Aristophanes's Sense is pretty plain: For first; As to the Business of Love, Aristophanes {50}always declines it; He never patches up a Play with Courtship, and Whining, tho' he wrote nothing but Comedy. In the next place the Chorus which is usually the Poets Interpreter, speaks honourably of Æschylus even to a Preference;255. 267.[94] And at last Judge Bacchus gives Sentence for him.

Thus we see Aristophanes Confutes his own Lewdness, and comes in Evidence against himself. This with the other two Exceptions I have made good against him, are sufficient to take off the Force of the Precedent, and make him an insignificant Authority.

To what I have observ'd from the Stage of the Antients, I could add the Authorities of Aristotle, and Quintilian, both extraordinary Persons, but I shall reserve their Testimony till Afterwards.

To come Home, and near our own Times: The English Theatre from Queen Elizabeth to King Charles II. will afford us something not inconsiderable to our purpose.

As for Shakespear, he is too guilty to make an Evidence: But I think he gains not much by his Misbehaviour; He has commonly Plautus's Fate, where there is most Smut, there is least Sense.

Ben. Johnson is much more reserv'd in his Plays, and declares plainly {51}for Modesty in his Discoveries, some of his Words are these.

A just Writer whom he calls a True Artificer, will avoid Obscene and Effeminate Phrase. Where Manners and Fashions are Corrupted, Language is so too.Discov. p. 700.[95] The excess of Feasts and Apparel, are the Notes of A Sick State, and the Wantonness of Language of a sick Mind.p. 701.[96] A little after he returns to the Argument, and applies his Reasoning more particularly to the Stage. Poetry, (says he) and Picture, both behold Pleasure, and profit, as their common Object, but should abstain from all base Pleasures, least they should wholly Err from their End; And while they seek to better Men's Minds, Destroy their Manners, Insolent and obscene Speeches, and Jests upon the best Men, are most likely to excite Laughter. But this is truly leaping from the Stage to the Tumbrill again, reducing all Wit to the Original Dung-Cart.p. 706. 717.[97] More might be cited to this purpose, but that may serve for an other Occasion: In the mean time I shall go on to Beaumont and Fletcher.

Fletchers Faithfull Shepheardess is remarkably Moral, and a sort of Exhortation to Chastity. This Play met with ill Judges, 'twas Hiss'd before half Acted, and seems to have suffer'd on the account of its Innocence.Beauments, &c. Works.
[98] Soon after Ben. Johnson {52}and Beaumont appear and justifie the Author in a Copy of Verses. And as Beaumont commends Modesty in Fletcher, so he is commended himself by Mr. Earl for the same Quality.[99]

Such Passions, Such Expressions meet my Eye,

Such Wit untainted with Obscenity.

And as I remember Jasper Main has some stroaks to the same purpose.Ibid.[100] Fletcher is still more full for the Cause. Indeed nothing can be more express. He delivers himself by way of Prologue; where the Poet speaks in his own Person. The Prologue to the Woman-Hater, very frankly lets the Audience know what they are to expect. If there be any amongst you, (says he) that come to hear Lascivious Scenes, let them depart; For I do pronounce this, to the utter discomfort of all two-penny Gallery Men, you shall no Bawdry in it. We find in those days Smut was the expectation of a Coarse Palate, and relish'd by none but two-penny Customers. In the Knight of the Burning Pestle, part of the Prologue runs thus. They were banish'd the Theatre at Athens, and from Rome hiss'd, that brought Parasites on the Stage with Apish Actions, or Fools with uncivil Habits, or Courtezans with immodest words. Afterwards Prologue, who represents a Person, gives us more to the same purpose.


——Fly far from hence.

All private taxes, immodest phrases,

Whatever way but look like Vitious.

For wicked mirth, never true Pleasure brings;

For honest Minds, are pleas'd with honest things.

I have quoted nothing but Comedy in this Author. The Coronation is another. And the Prologue tells you there is

No Undermirth such as does lard the Scene,

For Coarse Delight, the Language here is clean.

And confident our Poet bad me say,

He'll bate you but the Folly of a Play.

For which altho' dull Souls his Pen despise;

Who think it yet too early to be wise.

The Nobles yet will thank his Muse, at least

Excuse him, cause his Thought aim'd at the Best.

Thus these Poets are in their Judgments clearly ours. 'Tis true their Hand was not always steady. But thus much may be aver'd, that Fletcher's later Plays are the most inoffensive. This is either a sign of the Poets Reformation; or that the exceptionable Passages belonged to Beaumont, who dyed first.

To these Authorities of our own Nation, I shall add a considerable Testimony out of Mr. Corneille. This Author was {54}sensible that tho' the Expression of his Theodore was altogether unsmutty,Theodore. Ed. Roven. Ep. Ded.[101] 'Yet the bare Idea of Prostitution uneffected, shock'd the Audience, and made the Play miscarry. The Poet protests he took great care to alter the natural Complexion of the Image, and to convey it decently to the Fancy; and delivered only some part of the History as inoffensively as possible. And after all his Screening and Conduct, the Modesty of the Audience would not endure that little, the Subject forced him upon. He is positive 'the Comedies St. Augustine declaim'd against, were not such as the French. For theirs are not spectacles of Turpitude, as that Father justly calls those of his Time. The French generally speaking, containing nothing but examples of Innocence, Piety and Virtue.'

In this Citation we have the Opinion of the Poet, the Practise of the French Theatre, and the Sense of that Nation, and all very full to our purpose.

To conclude this Chapter. By what has been offer'd, it appears that the Present English Stage is superlatively Scandalous. It exceeds the Liberties of all Times and Countries: It has not so much as the poor plea of a Precedent, to which most other ill Things may claim a pretence. 'Tis mostly meer Discovery and Invention: A new {55}World of Vice found out, and planted with all the Industry imaginable. Aristophanes himself, how bad soever in other respects, does not amplyfie, and flourish, and run through all the Topicks of Lewdness like these Men. The Miscellany Poems are likewise horribly Licentious. They are sometimes Collections from Antiquity, and often, the worst parts of the worst Poets. And to mend the Matter, the Christian Translation, is more nauseous than the Pagan Original. Such stuff I believe was never seen, and suffer'd before. In a word, If Poverty and Diseases, the Dishonour of Families, and the Debauching of Kingdoms, are such valuable Advantages, then I confess these Books deserve encouragement. But if the Case is otherwise, I humbly conceive the Proceeding should be so too.



The Profaness of the Stage.

An other Instance of the Disorders of the Stage is their Profaness: This Charge may come under these two particulars.

1st. Their Cursing and Swearing.

2dly. Their Abuse of Religion and Holy Scripture.

1st Their Cursing and Swearing.

What is more frequent then their wishes of Hell, and Confusion, Devils, and Diseases, all the Plagues of this World, and the next, to each other? And as for Swearing; 'tis used by all Persons, and upon all Occasions: By Heroes, and Paltroons; by Gentlemen, and Clowns: Love, and Quarrels, Success, and Disappointment, Temper, and Passion, must be varnish'd, and set off with Oaths. At some times, and with some Poets Swearing is no ordinary Releif. It stands up in the room of Sense, gives Spirit to a flat Expression, and makes a Period Musical and Round. In short, 'tis almost all the {57}Rhetorick, and Reason some People are Masters of: The manner of performance is different. Some times they mince the matter; change the Letter, and keep the Sense,Gad for God.[102] as if they had a mind to steal a Swearing, and break the Commandement without Sin. At another time the Oaths are clipt, but not so much within the Ring, but that the Image and Superscription are visible. These expedients, I conceive are more for variety, then Conscience: For when the fit comes on them, they make no difficulty of Swearing at Length. Instances of all these kinds may be met with in the Old Batchelour, Double Dealer, and Love for Love. And to mention no more, Don Quixot, the Provok'd Wife, and the Relapse, are particularly rampant and scandalous. The English Stage exceed their predecessors in this, as well as other Branches of immorality. Shakespear is comparatively sober, Ben Jonson is still more regular; And as for Beaument and Fletcher, In their Plays they are commonly Profligate Persons that Swear, and even those are reprov'd for't. Besides, the Oaths are not so full of Hell and Defiance, as in the Moderns.

So much for matter of Fact: And as for point of Law, I hope there needs not {58}many words to prove Swearing a Sin: For what is more provoking than contempt, and what Sin more contemptuous than common Swearing? what can be more Insolent and Irreligious, than to bring in God to attest our Trifles, to give Security for our Follies, and to make part of our Diversion? To Play with Majesty and Omnipotence in this manner, is to render it cheap and despicable. How can such Customes as these consist with the belief of Providence or Revelation? The Poets are of all People most to blame. They want even the Plea of Bullies and Sharpers. There's no Rencounters, no starts of Passion, no suddain Accidents to discompose them. They swear in Solitude and cool Blood, under Thought and Deliberation, for Business, and for Exercise: This is a terrible Circumstance; It makes all Malice Prepence, and enflames the Guilt, and the Reckoning.

And if Religion signifies nothing, (as I am afraid it does with some People) there is Law, as well as Gospel against Swearing. 3d Jac. 1 cap. 21. is expresly against the Playhouse. It runs thus.

For the preventing and avoiding of the great abuse of the holy Name of God, in Stage Plays, Enterludes &c. Be it enacted by our Sovereign Lord &c. That if at any time, or times, {59}after the End of this present Session of Parliament; any Person or Persons do, or shall in any Stage Play, Enterlude, Show, &c. Jeastingly or Profanly, speak or use the Holy Name of God, or of Christ Jesus, or of the Holy Ghost, or of the Trinity, which are not to be spoken, but with Fear and Reverence; shall forfeit for every such offence, by him or them committed, ten pounds: The one Moity thereof to the King's Majesty, his Heirs; and Successors, the other Moity thereof to him, or them, that will sue for the same in any Court of Record at Westminster, wherein no essoin, protection, or wager of Law shall be allow'd.

By this Act not only direct Swearing, but all vain Invocation of the Name of God is forbidden. This Statute well executed would mend the Poets, or sweep the Box: And the Stage must either reform, or not thrive upon Profaness.

3dly Swearing in the Playhouse is an ungentlemanly, as well as an unchristian Practice. The Ladies make a considerable part of the Audience. Now Swearing before Women is reckon'd a Breach of good Behaviour, and therefore a civil Atheist will forbear it. The custom seems to go upon this Presumption; that the Impressions of Religion are strongest in Women, and more generally spread. And that it must be very disagreeable to them, to hear the Majesty of God treated with {60}so little respect. Besides: Oaths are a boistrous and tempestuous sort of Conversation; Generally the effects of Passion, and spoken with Noise, and Heat. Swearing looks like the beginning of a Quarrel, to which Women have an aversion: As being neither armed by Nature, nor disciplin'd by Custome for such rough Disputes. A Woman will start at a Soldiers Oath, almost as much as at the Report of his Pistol: And therefore a well Bred Man will no more Swear, than Fight in the Company of Ladies.

A Second Branch of the Profaness of the Stage is their Abuse of Religion, and Holy Scripture. And here sometimes they don't stop short of Blasphemy. To cite all that might be Collected of this kind would be tedious. I shall give the Reader enough to justifie the Charge, and I hope to abhor the Practice.

To begin with the Mock-Astrologer. In the First Act the Scene is a Chappel; And that the Use of such Consecrated places may be the better understood, the time is taken up in Courtship, Raillery, and ridiculing Devotion. Jacinta takes her turn among the rest. She Interrupts Theodosia, and cries out: why Sister, Sister——will you pray? what injury have I ever done you that you should pray in my Company?


Wildblood Swears by Mahomet, rallies smuttily upon the other World, and gives the preference to the Turkish Paradisep. 31.[103]! This Gentleman to incourage Jacinta to a Complyance in Debauchery, tells her Heaven is all Eyes and no Tongue.p. 37.[104] That is, it sees Wickedness but conceals it. He Courts much at the same rate a little before. When a Man comes to a great Lady, he is fain to approach her with Fear, and Reverence, methinks there's something of Godliness in't.p. 24.[105] Here you have the Scripture burlesqu'd, and the Pulpit Admonition apply'd to Whoring.Hebr. 12.
34. 36.
[106] Afterwards Jacinta out of her great Breeding and Christianity, swears by Alla, and Mahomet, and makes a Jest upon Hell.[107] Wildblood tells his Man that such undesigning Rogues as he, make a Drudge of poor Providence. And Maskall to show his proficiency under his Masters, replies to Bellamy, who would have had him told a Lie.55.[108] Sir upon the Faith of a Sinner you have had my last Lie already. I have not one more to do me Credit, as I hope to be saved Sir.

In the close of the Play, They make sport with Apparitions and Fiends. One of the Devils sneezes, upon this they give him the Blessing of the Occasion, and conclude he has got cold by being too long out of the Fire.59.[109]


The Orphan lays the Scene in Christendom, and takes the same care of Religion. Castalio Complements his Mistress to Adoration.

No Tongue my Pleasure and my Pain can tell:

'Tis Heaven to have thee, and without thee Hell. Orph. p. 20.[110]

Polydor when upon the attempt to debauch Monimia, puts up this ejaculation.

Blessed Heaven assist me but in this dear Hour: p. 31.[111]

Thus the Stage worships the true God in Blasphemy, as the Lindians did Hercules by Cursing and throwing stones.Lactan.[112] This Polydor has another Flight of Profaness, but that has got a certain Protection, and therefore must not be disturb'd.

In the Old Batchelour, Vain-love asks Belmour, could you be content to go to Heaven?

Bell. Hum, not immediatly in my Conscence, not heartily.p. 19.[113]——This is playing I take it with Edge-Tools. To go to Heaven in jeast, is the way to go to Hell in earnest. In the Fourth Act, Lewdness is represented with that Gaity, as if the Crime was purely imaginary, and lay only in ignorance and preciseness. Have you throughly consider'd (says Fondlewife) how detestable, how Heinous, and how crying a Sin {63}the Sin of Adultery is? have you weighed I say? For it is a very weighty Sin: and, altho' it may lie——yet thy Husband must also bear his part; For thy iniquity will fall on his Head.p. 28.[114] I suppose this fit of Buffoonry and profaness, was to settle the Conscience of young Beginners, and to make the Terrors of Religion insignificant. Bellmour desires Lætitia to give him leave to swear by her Eyes and her Lips: He kisses the Strumpet, and tells her, Eternity was in that Moment.p. 31.
p. 39.
p. 39.
[115] Lætitia is horibly profane in her Apology to her Husband; but having the Stage-Protection of Smut for her Guard, we must let her alone.[116] Fondlewife stalks under the same shelter, and abuses a plain Text of Scripture to an impudent Meaning.[117] A little before, Lætitia when her Intrigue with Bellmour was almost discover'd, supports her self with this Consideration. All my comfort lies in his impudence, and Heaven be prais'd, he has a Considerable Portion.[118] This is the Play-house Grace, and thus Lewdness is made a part of Devotion! Ther's another Instance still behind: 'Tis that of Sharper to Vain-Love, and lies thus.

I have been a kind of God Father to you, yonder: I have promis'd and vow'd something in your Name, which I think you are bound to Perform.Id. 49.[119] For Christians to droll upon {64}their Baptism is somewhat extraordinary; But since the Bible can't escape, 'tis the less wonder to make bold with the Catechisme.

In the Double Dealer, Lady Plyant cries out Jesu and talks Smut in the same Sentence.Double Dealer. 34.[120] Sr. Paul Plyant whom the Poet dub'd a Fool when he made him a Knight, talks very Piously! Blessed be Providence, a Poor unworthy Sinner, I am mightily beholden to Providence36.
[121]: And the same word is thrice repeated upon an odd occasion.[122] The meaning must be that Providence is a ridiculous supposition, and that none but Blockheads pretend to Religion. But the Poet can discover himself farther if need be. Lady Froth is pleas'd to call Jehu a Hackney Coachman.p. 40.[123] Upon this, Brisk replies, If Jehu was a Hackney Coachman, I am answer'd——you may put that into the Marginal Notes tho', to prevent Criticisms——only mark it with a small Asterisme and say——Jehu was formerly a Hackney Coachman. This for a heavy Piece of Profaness, is no doubt thought a lucky one, because it burlesques the Text, and the Comment, all under one. I could go on with the Double Dealer but he'll come in my way afterwards, and so I shall part with him at present. Let us now take a veiw of Don Sebastian. And here {65}the Reader can't be long unfurnish'd. Dorax shall speak first.

Shall I trust Heaven

With my revenge? then where's my satisfaction?

No, it must be my own, I scorn a Proxy.Sebast. p. 9.[124]

But Dorax was a Renegado, what then? He had renounc'd Christianity, but not Providence. Besides; such hideous Sentences ought not to be put in the Mouth of the Devil. For that which is not fit to be heard, is not fit to be spoken. But to some people an Atheistical Rant is as good as a Flourish of Trumpets. To proceed. Antonio tho' a profess'd Christian, mends the matter very little. He is looking on a Lot which he had drawn for his Life: This proving unlucky, after the preamble of a Curse or two, he calls it,

As black as Hell, an other lucky saying!

I think the Devils in me:——good again,

I cannot speak one syllable but tends

To Death or to Damnation.Id. p. 10.[125]

Thus the Poet prepares his Bullies for the other World! Hell and Damnation are strange entertaining words upon the Stage! Were it otherwise, the Sense in these {66}Lines, would be almost as bad as the Conscience. The Poem warms and rises in the working: And the next Flight is extreamly remarkable:

Not the last sounding could surprize me more,

That summons drowsy Mortals to their doom,

When call'd in hast they fumble for their Limbs:p. 47.[126]

Very Solemnly and Religiously express'd! Lucian and Celsus could not have ridiculed the Resurrection better! Certainly the Poet never expects to be there. Such a light Turn would have agreed much better to a Man who was in the Dark, and was feeling for his Stockings. But let those who talk of Fumbling for their Limbs, take care they don't find them too fast. In the Fourth Act Mustapha dates his Exaltation to Tumult, from the second Night of the Month Abib.Id. p. 83.
Exod. 12, 13.
[127] Thus you have the Holy Text abused by Captain Tom; And the Bible torn by the Rabble! The Design of this Liberty I can't understand, unless it be to make Mustapha as considerable as Moses; and the prevalence of a Tumult, as much a Miracle as the Deliverance out of Ægypt. We have heard this Author hitherto in his Characters, let us hear him now in his own Person. In his Dedication of Aurenge Zebe he is so hardy as {67}to affirm that he who is too lightly reconciled after high Provocation, may Recommend himself to the World for a Christian, but I should hardly trust him for a Friend. And why is a Christian not fit to make a Friend of? Are the Principles of Christianity defective, and the Laws of it Ill contriv'd? Are the Interests and Capacities of Mankind overlook'd? Did our Great Master bind us to Disadvantage, and make our Duty our Misfortune? And did he grudge us all the Pleasures and Securities of Friendship? Are not all these horrid Suppositions? Are they not a flat Contradiction to the Bible, and a Satyr on the Attributes of the Deity? Our Saviour tells us we must forgive until Seventy times Seven; That is, we must never be tired out of Clemency and Good Nature. He has taught us to pray for the Forgiveness of our own Sins, only upon the Condition of forgiving others. Here is no exception upon the Repetition of the Fault, or the Quality of the Provocation. Mr. Dryden to do him right, do's not dispute the Precept. He confesses this is the way to be a Christian: But for all that he should hardly trust him for a Friend. And why so? Because the Italian Proverb says, He that forgives the second time is a Fool.Ibid.[128] This Lewd Proverb comes in for Authority, {68}and is a piece of very pertinent Blasphemy! Thus in some Peoples Logick one proof from Atheism, is worth Ten from the New Testament. But here the Poet argues no better than he Believes. For most certainly, a Christian of all others is best qualified for Friendship. For He that loves his Neighbour as himself, and carries Benevolence and Good Nature beyond the Heights of Philosophy: He that is not govern'd by Vanity, or Design; He that prefers his Conscience to his Life, and has Courage to Maintain his Reason; He that is thus qualified must be a good Friend; And he that falls short, is no good Christian. And since the Poet is pleas'd to find fault with Christianity, let us examine his own Scheme. Our Minds (says he) are perpetually wrought on by the Temperament of our Bodies, which makes me suspect they are nearer Allyed than either our Philosophers, or School Divines will allow them to be.Ibid.[129] The meaning is, he suspects our Souls are nothing but Organiz'd Matter. Or in plain English, our Souls are nothing but our Bodies. And then when the Body dies you may guess what becomes of them! Thus the Authorities of Religion are weaken'd, and the prospect of the other World almost shut up. And is this a likely Supposition for Sincerity and good Nature? Do's Honour {69}use to rise upon the Ruines of Conscience? And are People the best Friends where they have the least Reason to be so? But not only the Inclinations to Friendship must Languish upon this Scheme, but the very Powers of it are as it were destroy'd. By this Systeme no Man can say his Soul is his own. He can't be assured the same Colours of Reason and Desire will last. Any little Accident from without may metamorphose his Fancy, and push him upon a new set of Thoughts. Matter and Motion are the most Humorsom Capricious Things in Nature; and withall, the most Arbitrary and uncontroll'd. And can Constancy proceed from Chance, Choice from Fate, and Virtue from Necessity? In short a Man at this rate must be a Friend or an Enemy in spite of his Teeth, and just as long as the Atoms please and no longer. Every Change in Figure and Impulse, must alter the Idea, and wear off the former Impression. So that by these Principles, Friendship will depend on the Seasons, and we must look in the Weather Glass for our Inclinations. But this 'tis to Refine upon Revelation, and grow wiser than Wisdom! The same Author in his Dedication of Juvenal and Persius, has these words: My Lord, I am come to the last Petition of {70}Abraham;Ded. p. 51.[130] If there be ten Righteous Lines in this vast Preface, spare it for their sake; and also spare the next City because it is but a little one. Here the Poet stands for Abraham; and the Patron for God Almighty: And where lies the Wit of all this? In the Decency of the Comparison? I doubt not. And for the next City he would have spared, he is out in the Allusion. 'Tis no Zoar, but much rather Sodom and Gomorrah, Let them take care the Fire and Brimstone does not follow: And that those who are so bold with Abraham's Petition, are not forced to that of Dives. To beg Protection for a Lewd Book in Scripture Phrase, is very extraordinary! 'Tis in effect to Prostitute the Holy Rhetorick, and send the Bible to the Brothell! I can hardly imagin why these Tombs of Antiquity were raked in, and disturb'd? Unless it were to conjure up a departed Vice, and revive the Pagan Impurities: Unless it were to raise the Stench of the Vault, and Poyson the Living with the Dead. Indeed Juvenal has a very untoward way with him in some of his Satyrs. His Pen has such a Libertine stroak that 'tis a Question whether the Practise, or the Reproof, the Age, or the Author, were the more Licentious. He teaches those Vices he would {71}correct, and writes more like a Pimp, than a Poet. And truly I think there is but little of Lewdness lost in the Translation. The Sixth and Eleventh Satyrs are Particularly remarkable. Such nauseous stuff is almost enough to debauch the Alphabet, and make the Language scandalous. One would almost be sorry for the privilege of Speech, and the Invention of Letters, to see them thus wretchedly abused. And since the Business must be undertaken, why was not the Thought Blanched, the Expression made remote, and the ill Features cast into shadows? I'm mistaken if we have not Lewdness enough of our own Growth, without Importing from our Neighbours. No. This can't be. An Author must have Right done him, and be shown in his own shape, and Complexion. Yes by all means! Vice must be disrobed, and People poyson'd, and all for the sake of Justice! To do Right to such an Author is to burn him. I hope Modesty is much better than Resemblance. The Imitation of an ill Thing is the worse for being exact: And sometimes to report a Fault is to repeat it.

To return to his Plays. In Love Triumphant, Garcia makes Veramond this Compliment:


May Heaven and your brave Son, and above all,

Your own prevailing Genius guard your Age.Love Triumph. p. 3.[131]

What is meant by his Genius, in this place, is not easy to Discover, only that 'tis something which is a better Guard than Heaven. But 'tis no Matter for the Sense, as long as the Profaness is clear. In this Act, Colonel Sancho lets Carlos know the old Jew is dead, which he calls good news.

Carl. What Jew?

Sanch. Why the rich Jew my Father. He is gone to the Bosom, of Abraham his Father, and I his Christian Son am left sole Heir.Id. p. 11.[132] A very mannerly Story! But why does the Poet acquaint us with Sanchos Religion? The case is pretty plain: 'tis to give a lustre to his Profaness, and make him burlesque St. Luke with the better Grace. Alphonso complains to Victoria that Nature doats with Age.Id. p. 11.[133] His reason is, because Brother and Sister can't Marry as they did at first: 'Tis very well! We know what Nature means in the Language of Christianity, and especially under the Notion of a Law-giver. Alphonso goes on, and compares the Possession of Incestuous Love to Heaven. Yes, 'tis Eternity in Little.p. 34.[134]


It seems Lovers must be distracted or there's no diversion. A Flight of Madness like a Faulcons Lessening, makes them the more gaz'd at! I am now coming to some of the Poets Divinity. And here Vengeance is said to be so sweet a Morsel,

That Heaven reserves it for its proper Tast.58.[135]

This belike is the meaning of those Texts, that God is good and Gracious, and slow to anger, and does not willingly afflict the Children of Men! From expounding the Bible he goes to the Common Prayer. And as Carlos interprets the Office of Matrimony, For Better, for Worse, is for Virgin for Whore;p. 62.[136] And that the Reference might not be mistaken, the Poet is careful to put the Words in Italick, and great Letters. And by the way, He falls under the Penalty of the Statute for Depraving the Common Prayer.1st. Eliz. cap. 2.[137]

Sancho upon reading a Letter which he did not like, cries Damn it, it must be all Orthodox.p. 63.[138] Damn and Orthodox clapt together, make a lively Rant, because it looks like Cursing the Creeds. The most extraordinary passage is behind; Sancho was unhappily Married: Carlos tells him, For your Comfort, Marriage they say is Holy. Sancho replies: Ay, and so is Martyrdom as they say, but both of them are good for just nothing, but to make an end of a Mans Life.p. 72.[139] {74}I shall make no Reflections upon This: There needs no Reading upon a Monster: 'Tis shown enough by its own Deformity. Love for Love has a Strain like this, and therefore I shall put them together: Scandal solicits Mrs. Foresight; She threatens to tell her Husband. He replys, He will die a Martyr rather then disclaim his Passion.Love for Love. p. 42.[140] Here we have Adultery dignified with the stile of Martyrdom: As if 'twas as Honourable to perish in Defence of Whoring, as to dye for the Faith of Christianity. But these Martyrs will be a great while in burning, And therefore let no body strive to grace the Adventure, or encrease the Number. And now I am in this Play the Reader shall have more. Jeremy who was bred at the University, calls the Natural Inclinations to Eating and Drinking, Whoreson Appetites. This is strange Language! The Manicheans who made Creation the work of the Devil, could scarcely have been thus Coarse.26.[141] But the Poet was Jeremy's Tutor, and so that Mystery is at an end. Sr. Samson carries on the Expostulation, rails at the Structure of Human Bodies, and says,p. 27.[142] Nature has been Provident only to Bears, and Spiders; This is the Authors Paraphrase on the 139 Psalm; And thus he gives God thanks for the Advantage {75}of his Being! The Play advances from one wickedness to another, from the Works of God, to the Abuse of his Word. Foresight confesses 'tis Natural for Men to mistake.p. 47.[143] Scandal replies, You say true, Man will err, meer Man will err——but you are something more——There have been wise Men; but they were such as you——Men who consulted the Stars, and, were observers of Omens——Solomon was wise but how?——by his judgment in Astrology. 'Tis very well! Solomon and Foresight had their Understandings qualified alike. And pray what was Foresight? Why an Illiterate Fellow. A pretender to Dreams, Astrology, Palmistry &c. This is the Poets account of Solomon's Supernatural Knowledge!Vid. Person. Dram.[144] Thus the wisest Prince is dwindled into a Gypsie! And the Glorious Miracle resolved into Dotage, and Figure-flinging! Scandal continues his Banter, and says, the wise Men of the East owed their Instruction to a Star; which is rightly observ'd by Gregory the Great in favour of Astrology. This was the Star which shone at our Saviour's Birth. Now who could imagine by the Levity of the occasion, that the Author thought it any better than an Ignis Fatuus, or Sydrophel's Kite in Hudibras? Sr. Sampson and the fine Angelica, after some lewd raillery continue the Allegory, and {76}drive it up into Profaness. For this reason the Citation must be imperfect.

Sr. Samps. Sampson's a very good Name for——your Sampsons were strong Dogs from the Beginning.p. 80.[145]

Angel. Have a care——If you remember the strongest Sampson of your Name, pull'd an old House over his Head at last. Here you have the Sacred History burlesqu'd, and Sampson once more brought into the House of Dagon, to make sport for the Philistines! To draw towards an end of this Play. Tattle would have carried off Valentine's Mistress. This later, expresses his Resentment in a most Divine manner! Tattle I thank you, you would have interposed between me and Heaven, but Providence has laid Purgatory in your way.p. 91.[146] Thus Heaven is debas'd into an Amour, and Providence brought in to direct the Paultry concerns of the Stage! Angelica concludes much in the same strain: Men are generally Hypocrites And Infidels, they pretend to Worship, but have neither Zeal, nor Faith; How few like Valentine would persevere unto Martyrdom? &c.p. 92.[147] Here you have the Language of the Scriptures, and the most solemn Instances of Religion, prostituted to Courtship and Romance! Here you have a Mistress made God Almighty, Ador'd with Zeal and Faith, {77}and Worship'd up to Martyrdom! This if 'twere only for the Modesty, is strange stuff for a Lady to say of her self. And had it not been for the profane Allusion, would have been cold enough in all Conscience.

The Provok'd Wife furnishes the Audience with a Drunken Atheistical Catch: 'Tis true this Song is afterwards said to be Full of Sin and Impudence.Prov. Wife p. 38.[148] But why then was it made? This Confession is a miserable Salvo; And the Antidote is much weaker than the Poyson: 'Tis just as if a Man should set a House in a Flame, and think to make amends by crying Fire in the Streets. In the last Act Rasor makes his Discovery of the Plot against Belinda in Scripture phrase. I'le give it the Reader in the Authors Dialogue.

Belind. I must know who put you upon all this Mischief.Id. p. 77.[149]

Rasor. Sathan And his Equipage. Woman tempted me, Lust weaken'd,——And so the Devil overcame me: As fell Adam so fell I.

Belind. Then pray Mr. Adam will you make us acquainted with your Eve?

Rasor unmasks Madamoselle and says, This is the Woman that tempted me: But this is the Serpent (meaning Lady Fanciful) {78}that tempted the Woman; And if my Prayers might be heard, her punishment for so doing should be like the Serpents of old, &c. This Rasor in what we hear of him before, is all Roguery, and Debauch: But now he enters in Sackcloth; and talks like Tribulation in the Alchemist. His Character is chang'd to make him the more profane; And his Habit, as well as Discourse, is a Jest upon Religion. I am forced to omit one Line of his Confession. The Design of it is to make the Bible deliver an obscene Thought: And because the Text would not bend into a Lewd Application; He alters the words for his purpose, but passes it for Scripture still. This sort of Entertainment is frequent in the Relapse. Lord Foplington laughs at the publick Solemnities of Religion, as if 'twas a ridiculous piece of Ignorance, to pretend to the Worship of a God. He discourses with Berinthia and Amanda in this mannerRelapse. p. 32, 33.[150]: Why Faith Madam,——Sunday is a vile Day, I must confess. A man must have very little to do at Church that can give an account of the Sermon. And a little after: is to mind what one should not do. Lory tells young Fashion, I have been in a lamentable Fright ever since that Conscience had the Impudence to intrude into your Company. {79}His Master makes him this Comfortable Answer. Be at peace, it will come no more:——I have kick'd it down stairs. A little before he breaks out into this Rapture. Now Conscience I defie thee!p. 44, 45.
Vid. Infra.
[151] By the way we may observe, that this young Fashion is the Poets Favorite.[152] Berinthia and Worthy, two Characters of Figure, determine the point thus in defence of Pimping.

Berinth. Well, I would be glad to have no Bodies Sins to answer for but my own. But where there is a necessity——p. 51.[153]

Worth. Right as you say, where there is a Necessity; A Christian is bound to help his Neighbour.

Nurse, after a great deal of Profane Stuff concludes her expostulation in these words: But his Worship (Young Fashion) over-flows with his Mercy and his Bounty; He is not only pleas'd to forgive us our Sins——but which is more than all, has prevail'd with me to become the Wife of thy Bosom:p. 96, 97.[154] This is very heavy, and ill dress'd. And an Atheist must be sharp set to relish it. The Vertuous Amanda, makes no scruple to charge the Bible with untruths.

What Slippery stuff are Men compos'd of?

Sure the Account of their Creation's false,

And 'twas the Womans Rib that they were form'd of.Ibid.[155]


Thus this Lady abuses her self, together with the Scripture, and shews her Sense, and her Religion, to be much of a Size.

Berinthia, after she has given in a Scheme for the debauching Amanda, is thus accosted by Worthy: Thou Angel of Light, let me fall down and, adore thee!p.91.[156] A most Seraphick Compliment to a Procuress! And 'tis possible some Angel or other, may thank him for't in due time.

I am quite tired with these wretched Sentences. The sight indeed is horrible, and I am almost unwilling to shew it. However they shall be Produced like Malefactors, not for Pomp, but Execution. Snakes and Vipers, must sometimes be look'd on, to destroy them. I can't forbear expressing my self with some warmth under these Provocations. What Christian can be unconcern'd at such intolerable Abuses? What can be a juster Reason for indignation than Insolence and Atheism? Resentment can never be better shown, nor Aversion more seasonably exerted! Nature made the Ferment and Rising of the Blood, for such occasions as This. On what unhappy Times are we fallen! The Oracles of Truth, the Laws of Omnipotence, and the Fate of Eternity are Laught at and despis'd! That the Poets {81}should be suffer'd to play upon the Bible, and Christianity be Hooted off the Stage! Christianity that from such feeble beginings made so stupendious a progress! That over-bore all the Oppositions of Power, and Learning; and with Twelve poor Men, outstretch'd the Roman Empire. That this glorious Religion so reasonable in its Doctrine, so well attested by Miracles, by Martyrs, by all the Evidence that Fact is capable of, should become the Diversion of the Town, and the Scorn of Buffoons! And where, and by whom is all this Out-rage committed? why not by Julian, or Porphirie, not among Turks or Heathens, but in a Christian Country, in a Reform'd Church, and in the Face of Authority! Well! I perceive the Devil was a Saint in his Oracles, to what he is in his Plays. His Blasphemies are as much improv'd as his Stile, and one would think the Muse was Legion! I suppose the Reader may be satisfied already: But if he desires farther proof, there's something more flamingly impious behind.

The Christian Almeida when Sebastian was in danger, Raves and Foames like one Possess'd,

But is there Heaven, for I begin to doubt?Don. Sebastian. p. 51.[157]

Now take your swing ye impious Sin unpunish'd,

Eternal Providence seems over watch'd,

And with a slumbring Nod assents to Murther.


In the next page, she bellows again much after the same manner. The Double Dealer to say the least of him, follows his Master in this Road, Passibus æquis. Sr. Paul Plyant one would think had done his part: But the ridiculing Providence won't satisfie all People: And therefore the next attempt is somewhat bolder.

Sr. Paul. Hold your self contented my Lady Plyant,——I find Passion coming upon me by Inspiration.Double Dealer. p. 19.
p. 17.
p. 44.
[158] In Love Triumphant, Carlos is by the Constitution of the Play a Christian;[159] and therefore must be construed in the sense of his Religion. This Man blunders out this horrible expression. Nature has given me my Portion in Sense with a P—— to her. &c. The Reader may see the Hellish Syllable at Length if he pleases. This Curse is borrow'd for Young Fashion in the Relapse.[160] The Double Dealer is not yet exhausted. Cynthia the Top Lady grows Thoughtful. Upon the question she relates her Contemplation. Cynth. I am thinking (says she) that tho' Marriage makes Man and Wife one Flesh, it leaves them two Fools.Double Dealer. p. 18.
Gen. 2.
St. Math. 9.
[161] This Jest is made upon a Text in Genesis,[162] and afterwards applyed by our Saviour to the case of {83}Divorse. Love for Love will give us a farther account of this Authors Proficiency in the Scriptures. Our Blessed Saviour affirms himself to be the Way, the Truth, and the Light, that he came to bear witness to the Truth, and that his Word is Truth. These expressions were remembred to good purpose. For Valentine in his pretended Madness tells Buckram the Lawyer; I am Truth,——I am Truth——Who's that, that's out of his way, I am Truth, and can set him right.Love, &c. p. 59, 61.[163] Now a Poet that had not been smitten with the pleasure of Blasphemy, would never have furnish'd Frensy with Inspiration; nor put our Saviours Words in the Mouth of a Madman. Lady Brute, after some struggle between Conscience and Lewdness, declares in Favour of the later. She says the part of a downright Wife is to Cuckold her Husband.Provok'd Wife. p. 3.[164] And tho' this is against the strict Statute Law of Religion, yet if there was a Court of Chancery in Heaven, she should be sure to cast him.p. 4.[165]

This Brass is double guilt. First, It supposes no Equity in Heaven. And Secondly, If there was, Adultery would not be punish'd! The Poet afterwards acquaints us by this Lady, that Blasphemy is no Womans Sin.p. 65.[166] Why then does she fall into it? Why in the mid'st of Temper and {84}Reasoning? What makes him break in upon his own Rules? Is Blasphemy never unseasonable upon the Stage, And does it always bring its excuse along with it? The Relapse goes on in the same strain. When Young Fashion had a prospect of cheating his Elder Brother, he tells Lory, Providence thou see'st at last takes care of Men of Merit.Relapse. p. 19.[167] Berinthia who has engag'd to corrupt Amanda for Worthy; attacks her with this Speech, Mr. Worthy used you like A Text, he took you all to peices,p. 96.[168] and it seems was particular in her Commendation, Thus she runs on for several Lines, in a Lewd, and Profane Allegory. In the Application she speaks out the Design, and concludes with this pious Exhortation! Now consider what has been said, and Heaven give you Grace to put it in practise; that is to play the Whore. There are few of these last Quotations, but what are plain Blasphemy, and within the Law. They look reeking as it were from Pandæmonium, and almost smell of Fire and Brimstone. This is an Eruption of Hell with a witness! I almost wonder the smoak of it has not darken'd the Sun, and turn'd the Air to Plague and Poyson! These are outrageous Provocations; Enough to arm all Nature in Revenge; To exhaust the Judgments, of Heaven, {85}and sink the Island in the Sea! What a spite have these Men to the God that made them. How do They Rebell upon his Bounty, and attack him with his own Reason? These Giants in Wickedness, how would they ravage with a Stature Proportionable? They that can Swagger in Impotence, and Blaspheme upon a Mole-Hill, what would they do if they had Strength to their Good-Will? And what can be the Ground of this Confidence, and the Reason of such horrid Presumption? Why the Scripture will best satisfie the question. Because sentence against An Evil work is not excuted speedily, therefore the heart of the Sons of Men, is fully set in them to do Evil.Eccles. 8. 11.[169]

Clemency is weakness with some People; And the Goodness of God which should lead them to Repentance, does but harden them the more. They conclude he wants Power to punish, because he has patience to forbear. Because there is a Space between Blasphemy and Vengeance; and they don't perish in the Act of Defiance; Because they are not blasted with Lightning, transfixt with Thunder, and Guarded off with Devils, they think there's no such matter as a day of Reckoning. But let no Man be Deceiv'd, God is not mock'd;Gal. 6.[170] not without danger they may be assur'd. Let them retreat in time, before the Floods {86}run over them: Before they come to that place, where Madness will have no Musick, nor Blasphemy any Diversion.

And here it may not be amiss to look a little into the Behaviour of the Heathens. Now 'tis no wonder to find them run riot upon this Subject. The Characters of their Gods were not unblemish'd. Their prospect of the other World, was but dim; neither were they under the Terrors of Revelation. However, they are few of them so bad as the Moderns.

Terence does not run often upon this rock. 'Tis true Chærea falls into an ill Rapture after his Success.Eunuch.
Heauton. A. 5. 1.
Adelp. A. 5. 7.
[171] Chremes bids his Wife not tire the Gods with Thanks:[172] And Æschinus is quite sick of the Religious part of the Weding.[173] These Instances; excepting his Swearing, are the most, (and I think near all the) exceptionable Passages of this Author.

Plautus is much more bold. But then his sally's are generally made by Slaves and Pandars.

This makes the Example less dangerous, and is some sort of extenuation. I grant this imperfect excuse wont serve him always. There are some Instances where his Persons of better Figure are guilty of lewd Defences, Profane Flights, and Sawcy Expostulation.Lyconides. Aulular. A. 2. 4.
Palæstra. Rud. A. 1. 3.
Dinarchus. Trucul. A. 2. 4.
[174] But the Roman Deities were Beings of ill Fame, {87}'tis the less wonder therefore if the Poets were familiar with them. However, Plautus has something good in him, and enough to condemn the Practise. Pleusides would gladly have had the Gods changed the method of Things, in some Particulars. He would have had frank good Humour'd People long live'd, and close-fisted Knaves die Young. To this Periplectimenes Gravely answers, That 'tis great Ignorance, and Misbehaviour to Censure the Conduct of the Gods, or speak dishonorably of them.Mil. Glor.[175] In his Pseudolus the Procurer Ballio talks Profanely. Upon which Pseudolus makes this Reflection. This Fellow makes nothing of Religion, how can we trust him in other matters? For the Gods whom all People have the greatest reason to fear, are most slighted by him.Pseud. A. 1. 3.[176]

The Greek Tragedians are more staunch, and write nearer the Scheme of Natural Religion. 'Tis true, they have some bold expressions: But then they generally reprove the Liberty, and punish the Men. Prometheus in Æschylus blusters with a great deal of Noise, and Stubborness.Prom. vinct. 57.[177] He is not for changing Conditions with Mercury: And chuses rather to be miserable, than to submit even to Jupiter himself. The Chorus rebuke him for his Pride, and threaten him with greater Punishment. And the Poet to make all sure brings him {88}to Execution before the end of the Play. He discharges Thunder and Lightning at his Head; shakes his Rock with an Earthquake, turns the Air into Whirl-wind, and draws up all the Terrors of Nature to make him an example. In his Expedition against Thebes, Eteocles expects Capaneus would be destroy'd for his Blasphemies.p. 92.[178] Which happen'd accordingly. On the other hand; Amphiaraus being a person of Virtue, and Piety, they are afraid least he should succeed. For a Religious Enemy is almost invincible.p. 101.[179] Darius's Ghost lays Xerxes's ruin upon the excess of his Ambition, 'Twas, because he made a Bridge over the Hellespont, used Neptune contumeliously, and, thought himself Superiour to Heaven.Περσ. 161.[180] This Ghost tells the Chorus that the Persian Army miscarried for the out-rages they did to Religion, for breaking down the Altars, and plundering the Gods.164.[181]

Ajax's Distraction is represented as judicial in Sophocles. 'Twas inflicted for his Pride and Atheism.Ajax. Flagell.[182] 'When his Father bid him be brave but Religious withall, he haughtily replyed that 'twas, for Cowards to beg the Assistance of the Gods; as for his part, he hoped to Conquer without them. And when Minerva encouraged him to charge the Enemy,


Το τ' ἀντιφωνεὶ δεινὸν ἀρρητον τ' ἔπος,

'He made her this Lewd and insufferable Answer. Pray withdraw, and give your Countenance elswhere, I want no Goddesses to help me do my Business. This Insolence made Minerva hate him; and was the cause of his Madness and self Murther.' To proceed. The Chorus condemns the Liberty of Jocasta, who obliquely charged a Practise upon the Oracle:Oedip. Tyran. p. 187.[183] Tho' after all, she did not tax Apollo, but his Ministers.

The same Chorus recommends Piety, and Relyance upon the Gods, and threatens Pride and Irreligion with Destruction. In Antigone,p. 188.[184] Tiresias advises Creon to wave the Rigour of his Edict, And not let the Body of Polynices lie unburied, and expos'd. He tells him the Altars were already polluted with Humane Flesh. This had made the Language of the Birds unintelligible, and confounded the marks of Augury.Antig. p. 256.[185] Creon replies in a rage, and says he would not consent to the Burial of Polynices: No, tho' 'twere to prevent the Eagle's throwing part of the Carkass in Jove's Chair of State. This was a bold Flight; but 'tis not long before he pays for't. Soon after, his Son, and Queen, kill {90}themselves. And in the close the Poet who speaks in the Chorus, explains the Misfortune, and points upon the Cause, and affirms that Creon was punish'd for his Haughtiness and Impiety. To go on to his Trachiniæ. Hercules in all the extremity of his Torture does not fall foul upon Religion. 'Tis true, He shows as much Impatience as 'tis possible. His Person, his pain, and the Occasion of it, were very extraordinary. These circumstances make it somewhat natural for him to complain above the common rate. The Greatness of his Spirit, the Feavour of his Blood, and the Rage of his Passion, could hardly fail of putting Force, and Vehemence into his Expressions. Tho' to deal clearly he seems better furnish'd with Rhetorick, than true Fortitude.Trach. p. [......].[186] But after all, his Disorders are not altogether ungovern'd. He is uneasy, but not impious, and profane.

I grant Hercules Oeteus in Seneca, swaggers at a strange Rhodomontading rate. But the Conduct of this Author is very indifferent. He makes a meer Salamander of his Hero, and lets him declaim with too much of Length, Curiosity and Affectation, for one in his Condition: He harangues it with great plenty of Points, and Sentences in the Fire, and lies frying, and {91}Philosophizing for near a hundred Lines together. In fine, this Play is so injudiciously manag'd, that Heinsius is confident 'twas written by neither of the Seneca's, but by some later Author of a lower Class. To return to Sophocle's Trachiniæ. Hyllus reproaches the Gods with Neglect, because they gave Hercules no Assistance, and glances upon Jupiter himself.Trach. p. 375.[187] This sally is not so thoroughly corrected as formerly. 'Tis true the Chorus make some little satisfaction immediately after. They resolve all surprizes of Misfortune, all Revolutions of States or Families, into the will and Permission of Jupitur. This by implication, They make an argument for acquiescence. Besides, the Poet had laid in a sort of caution against Misconstruction before. For the Messenger tells Dejaneira that we ought not to Murmur at the Conduct of Jupiter.Trach. p. 340.[188]

——Τοῦ λόγου δ' ὀυ χρὴ Φθόνον

Γόναι προσεῖναι Ζεὺς ὅτου πράκτωρ φανῆ.

This for a Heathen is something tho' not enough, Cleomenes's Rant seems an imitation of Hyllus, Only 'tis bolder, and has nothing of the rashness of Youth to excuse it.Cleom. p. 54.[189] Besides Sophocles throws in somewhat by way of Preservative. {92}Whereas in Cleomenes the Boy Cleonidas has the better on the wrong side, and seems to carry the cause of Atheism against his Father.Id. p. 55.[190] This Scene of a Famine Mr. Dryden calls a Beauty; and yet Methinks Cleora is not very Charming! Her part is to tell you the Child suck'd to no purpose.

It pull'd and pull'd but now but nothing came,

At last it drew so hard that the Blood follow'd.

And that Red Milk I found upon its Lips,

Which made me swoon for Fear.p. 54.[191]

There's a Description of Sucking for you! And truly one would think the Muse on't were scarsely wean'd. This Lady's fancy is just Slip-Stocking-high; and she seems to want Sense, more than her Breakfast. If this Passage would not shine, the Poet should have let it alone. 'Tis Horace's advice.

——et quæ

Desperes tractata nitescere posse relinquas.De Art. Poet.[192]

The greatest part of the Life of this Scene is spent in impious Rants, and Atheistical Disputes. To do the Author right, his Characters never want Spirits for such Service, either full or Fasting. Some {93}people love to say the worst Things in the best manner; To perfume their Poysons, and give an Air to Deformity.

There is one ill Sentence in Sophocles behind. Philoctetes calls the Gods Κακὸι, and Libells their Administration.Philoct. 402.[193] This Officer we must understand was left upon a Solitary Island, ill used by his Friends, and harrass'd with Poverty and Ulcers, for Ten years together. These, under the Ignorance of Paganism, were trying Circumstances, and take off somewhat of the Malignity of the Complaint. Afterwards He seems to repent,419.[194] and declares his Assurance that the Gods will do Justice, and prays frequently to them. The Conclusion of this Play is remarkably Moral. Here Hercules appears in Machine; aquaints Philoctetes with his own glorious Condition; That his Happiness was the Reward of Virtue, and the Purchase of Merit. He charges him to pay a due regard to Religion; For Piety would recommend him to Jupiter more than any other Qualification. It went into the other World with People and they found their Account in't both Living and Dead.p. 431.[195]

Upon the whole; The Plays of Æschylus and Sophocles are formed upon Models of Virtue: They joyn Innocence with {94}Pleasure, and design the Improvement, of the Audience.

In Euripides's Bacchæ, Pentheus is pull'd in pieces for using Bacchus with Disrespect. And the Chorus observes that God never fails to punish Impiety, and Contempt of Religion.Act. 2.
p. 295.
[196] Polyphemus blusters Atheistically, and pretends to be as great as Jupiter: But then his Eye is burnt out in the fifth Act.[197] And the Chorus in Heraclidæ affirm it next to Madness not to worship the Gods. I grant he has some profane Passages stand uncorrected, and what wonder is it to see a Pagan Miscarry? Seneca, as he was inferiour in Judgment to the Greeks, so he is more frequent, and uncautious, in his Flights of extravagance. His Hero's and Heroines, are excessively bold with the Superior Beings. They rave to Distraction, and he does not often call them to an account for't. 'Tis true Ajax Oileus is made an Example for Blaspheming in a Storm. He is first struck with Thunder, and then carried to the Bottom.Agam. Act. 3.[198] The Modern Poets, proceed upon the Liberties of Seneca, Their Madmen are very seldom reckon'd with. They are profane without Censure, and defie the Living God with success. Nay, in some respect they exceed even Seneca himself. He flies out only under Impatience; And never falls into these Fits without {95}Torture, and hard Usage. But the English Stage are unprovok'd in their Irreligion, and Blaspheme for their Pleasure. But supposing the Theatres of Rome, and Athens as bad as possible, what Defence is all This? Can we argue from Heathenism to Christianity? How can the practise be the same, where the Rule is so very different? Have we not a clearer Light to direct us, and greater Punishments to make us afraid. Is there no Distinction between Truth and Fiction, between Majesty and a Pageant? Must God be treated like an Idol, and the Scriptures banter'd like Homers Elysium, and Hesiods Theogonia? Are these the Returns we make Him for his Supernatural Assistance? For the more perfect Discovery of Himself, the stooping of his Greatness, and the Wonders of his Love. Can't we refuse the Happiness without affronting the Offer? Must we add Contempt to Disobedience, and Out-rage to Ingratitude? Is there no Diversion without Insulting the God that made us, the Goodness that would save us, and the Power that can damn us? Let us not flatter our selves, Words won't go for Nothing. Profaness is a most Provoking Contempt, and a Crime of the deepest dye. To break through the Laws of a Kingdom is bad {96}enough; But to make Ballads upon the Statute-Book, and a Jest of Authority, is much worse. Atheists may fancy what they please, but God will Arise and Maintain his own Cause, and Vindicate his Honour in due time.

To conclude. Profaness tho' never so well corrected is not to be endured. It ought to be Banish'd without Proviso, or Limitation. No pretence of Character or Punishment, can excuse it; or any Stage-Discipline make it tolerable. 'Tis grating to Christian Ears, dishonourable to the Majesty of God, and dangerous in the Example. And in a Word, It tends to no point, unless it be to wear off the horrour of the Practise, to weaken the force of Conscience, and teach the Language of the Damn'd.



The Clergy abused by the Stage.

The Satyr of the Stage upon the Clergy is extreamly Particular. In other cases, They level at a single Mark, and confine themselves to Persons. But here their Buffoonry takes an unusual Compass; They shoot Chain'd-shot, and strike at Universals. They play upon the Character, and endeavour to expose not only the Men, but the Business. 'Tis true, the Clergy are no small Rub in the Poets way. 'Tis by their Ministrations that Religion is perpetuated, the other World Refresh'd, and the Interest of Virtue kept up. Vice will never have an unlimited Range, nor Conscience be totally subdued, as long as People are so easy as to be Priest-ridden! As long as these Men are look'd on as the Messengers of Heaven, and the Supports of Government, and enjoy their old Pretentions in Credit and Authority; as long as this Grievance continues, the Stage must decline of Course, and Atheism give Ground, and Lewdness lie under Censure, {98}and Discouragment. Therefore that Liberty may not be embarrass'd, nor Principles make Head against Pleasure, the Clergy must be attack'd, and rendred Ridiculous.

To represent a Person fairly and without disservice to his Reputation, two Things are to be observ'd. First He must not be ill used by others: Nor Secondly be made to Play the Fool Himself. This latter way of Abuse is rather the worst, because here a Man is a sort of Felo de se; and appears Ridiculous by his own fault. The Contradiction of both these Methods is practised by the Stage. To make sure work on't, they leave no stone unturn'd, The whole Common place of Rudeness is run through. They strain their Invention and their Malice: And overlook nothing in ill Nature, or ill Manners, to gain their point.

To give some Instances of their Civility! In the Spanish Fryer, Dominick is made a Pimp for Lorenzo;20.[199] He is call'd a parcel of Holy Guts and Garbage, and said to have room in his Belly for his Church steeple.

Dominick has a great many of these Compliments bestow'd upon him. And to make the Railing more effectual, you have a general stroke or two upon the Profession. Would you know what are the {99}Infallible Church Remedies. Why 'tis to Lie Impudently, and Swear Devoutly.p. 37.[200] A little before this Dominick Counterfits himself sick, retires, and leaves Lorenzo and Elvira together; And then the Remark upon the Intrigue follows. 'You see Madam (says Lorenzo)p. 23.[201] 'tis Interest governs all the World. He Preaches against Sin, why? Because he gets by't: He holds his Tongue; why? because so much more is bidden for his Silence. 'Tis but giving a Man his Price, and Principles of Church are bought off as easily as they are in State: No man will be a Rogue for nothing; but Compensation must be made, so much Gold for so much Honesty; and then a Church-man will break the Rules of Chess. For the Black Bishop, will skip into the White, and the White into the Black, without Considering whether the remove be Lawful.

At last Dominick is discover'd to the Company, makes a dishonourable Exit, and is push'd off the Stage by the Rabble. This is great Justice! The Poet takes care to make him first a Knave, and then an Example: But his hand is not even. For Lewd Lorenzo comes off with Flying Colours. 'Tis not the Fault which is corrected but {100}the Priest. The Authors Discipline is seldom without a Biass. He commonly gives the Laity the Pleasure of an ill Action, and the Clergy the Punishment.

To proceed. Horner in his general Remarks upon Men, delivers it as a sort of Maxim, that your Church-man is the greatest Atheist. In this Play Harcourt puts on the Habit of a Divine.Country Wife p. 6.[202] Alithea does not think him what he appears; but Sparkish who could not see so far, endeavours to divert her Suspicion. I tell you (says he) this is Ned Harcourt of Cambridge, you see he has a sneaking Colledge look.p. 35.[203] Afterwards his Character is sufficiently abused by Sparkish and Lucy; but not so much as by Himself.Ibid.[204] He tells you in an Aside he must suit his Stile to his Coat. Upon this wise Recollection, He talks like a servile, impertinent Fop,

In the Orphan, The Young Soldier Chamont calls the Chaplain Sr. Gravity, and treats him with the Language of Thee, and Thou. The Chaplain instead of returning the Contempt; Flatters Chamont in his Folly, and pays a Respect to his Pride. The Cavalier encouraged I suppose by this Sneaking, proceeds to all the Excesses of Rudeness,


——is there not one

Of all thy Tribe that's Honest in your School?

The Pride of your Superiours makes ye Slaves:

Ye all live Loathsome, Sneaking, Servile lives:

Not free enough to Practise generous Truth,

'Tho ye pretend to teach it to the World.p. 25.[205]

After a little Pause for Breath, the Railing improves.

If thou wouldst have me not contemn thy Office,

And Character, think all thy Brethren Knaves,

Thy Trade a Cheat, and thou its worst Professour

Inform me; for I tell thee Priest I'le know.p. 26.[206]

The Bottom of the Page is down-right Porters Rhetorick.

Art thou then

So far concern'd in't?——

Curse on that formal steady Villains Face!

Just so do all Bawds look; Nay Bawds they say;

Can Pray upon Occasion; talk of Heaven;

Turn up their Gogling Eye-balls, rail at Vice;

Dissemble, Lye, and Preach like any Priest,

Art thou a Bawd?Ibid.[207]

The Old Batchelour has a Throw at the Dissenting Ministers. The Pimp Setter {102}provides their Habit for Bellmour to Debauch Lætitia. The Dialogue runs thus.

Bell. And hast thou Provided Necessaries?

Setter. All, all Sir, the large Sanctified Hat, and the little precise Band, with a Swingeing long Spiritual Cloak, to cover Carnal Knavery,—not forgetting the black Patch which Tribulation Spintext wears as I'm inform'd upon one Eye, as a penal Mourning for the——Offences of his Youth &c.Old Batch. p. 19, 20.[208]

Barnaby calls another of that Character Mr. Prig, and Fondlewife carrys on the Humour lewdly in Play-house Cant; And to hook the Church of England into the Abuse, he tacks a Chaplain to the End of the Description.p. 27.[209]

Lucy gives an other Proof of the Poets good Will, but all little Scurilities are not worth repeating.p. 41.[210]

In the Double Dealer the discourse between Maskwell and Saygrace is very notable. Maskwell had a design to cheat Mellifont of his Mistress, and engages the Chaplain in the Intrigue: There must be a Levite in the cafe; For without one of them have a finger in't, no Plot publick, or private, can expect to prosper.p. 71.[211]

To go on in the order of the Play.

Maskwell calls out at Saygraces door, Mr. Saygrace Mr. Saygrace.

The other answers, Sweet sir I will but {103}pen the last line of an Acrostick, and be with you in the twingling of an Ejaculation, in the pronouncing of an Amen. &c.

Mask. Nay good Mr. Saygrace do not prolong the time, &c.

Saygrace. You shall prevail, I would break off in the middle of a Sermon to do you Pleasure.

Mask. You could not do me a greater——except——the business in hand——have you provided a Habit for Mellifont?

Saygr. I have, &c.

Mask. have you stich'd the Gownsleeve, that he may be puzled and wast time in putting it on?

Saygr. I have; the Gown will not be indued without Perplexity. There is a little more profane, and abusive stuff behind, but let that pass.

The Author of Don Sebastian strikes at the Bishops through the sides of the Mufti, and borrows the Name of the Turk, to make the Christian ridiculous. He knows the transition from one Religion to the other is natural, the Application easy, and the Audience but too well prepar'd. And should they be at a loss he has elsewhere given them a Key to understand him.

For Priests of all Religions are the same.Absal. and Achi.[212]


However that the Sense may be perfectly intelligible, he makes the Invective General, changes the Language, and rails in the stile of Christendom.

Benducar speaks,

——Churchmen tho' they itch to govern all,

Are silly, woful, awkard Polititians,

They make lame Mischief tho' they mean it well.

So much the better, for 'tis a sign they are not beaten to the Trade. The next Lines are an Illustration taken from a Taylor.

Their Intrest is not finely drawn and hid,

But seams are coarsly bungled up and seen.p. 24.[213]

This Benducar was a rare Spokesman for a first Minister; And would have fitted John of Leyden most exactly!

In the Fourth Act the Mufti is Depos'd and Captain Tom reads him a shrewd Lecture at parting. But let that pass:

To go on, Mustapha threatens his great Patriark to put him to the Rack. Now you shall hear what an answer of Fortitude and Discretion is made for the Mufti.

Mufti. I hope you will not be so barbarous to torture me. We may Preach Suffering to others, but alas holy Flesh is too well pamper'd {105}to endure Martyrdom.p. 96.[214] By the way, if flinching from Suffering is a proof of Holy Flesh, the Poet is much a Saint in his Constitution, witness his Dedication of King Arthur.

In Cleomenes, Cassandra rails against Religion at the Altar, and in the midst of a publick Solemnity.

Accurs'd be thou Grass-eating fodderd God!

Accurs'd thy Temple! more accurs'd thy Priests!p. 32.[215]

She goes on in a mighty Huff, and charges the Gods and Priesthood with Confederacy, and Imposture, This Rant is very unlikely at Alexandria. No People are more bigotted in their Superstition than the Ægyptians; Nor any more resenting of such an Affront. This Satyr then must be strangely out of Fashion, and probability. No matter for that; it may work by way of Inference, and be serviceable at Home. And 'tis a handsom Compliment to Libertines and Atheists.

We have much such another swaggering against Priests in Oedipus.

Why seek I Truth from thee?

The smiles of Courtiers and the Harlots tears,

The Tradesmens Oaths, and Mourning of an Heir,

Are Truths to what Priests tell.

O why has Priesthood privilege to Lie,

And yet to be believ'd!Oedip. p. 38.[216]


And since They are thus Lively, I have one word or two to say to the Play.

When Ægeon brought the News of King Polybus's Death, Oedipus was wonderfully surpriz'd at the Relation.

O all ye Powers is't possible? what, Dead!p. 43.[217]

And why not? was the Man invulnerable or immortal? Nothing of that: He was only Fourscore and Ten years old, that was his main security. And if you will believe the Poet he

Fell like Autumn Fruit that mellow'd long,

Ev'n wondred at because he dropt no sooner.Ibid.[218]

And which is more, Oedipus must be acquainted with his Age, having spent the greatest part of his time with him at Corinth. So that in short, the pith of the Story lies in this Circumstance. A Prince of Ninety years was dead, and one who was wondred at for dying no sooner. And now why so much Exclamation upon this occasion? Why must all the Powers in Being be Summon'd in to make the News {107}Credible? This Posse of Interjections would have been more seasonably raised if the Man had been alive; for that by the Poets Confession had been much the stranger Thing. However Oedipus is almost out of his Wits about the Matter, and is Urgent for an account of Particulars.

That so the Tempest of my joys may rise

By just degrees, and hit at last the Stars.Ibid.[219]

This is an empty ill proportion'd Rant, and without warrant in Nature or Antiquity. Sophocles does not represent Oedipus. in such Raptures of Extravagant surprize. In the next page there's another Flight about Polybus his Death somewhat like This. It begins with a Noverint Universi. You would think Oedipus was going to make a Bond.

Know, be it known to the limits of the World;

This is scarce Sence, be it known.

Yet farther, let it pass yon dazling roof

The Mansion of the Gods, and strike them deaf

With Everlasting peals of Thundring joy.

This Fustian puts me in mind of a Couplet of Taylors the Water Poet, which for {108}the Beauty of the Thought are not very unlike.

What if A Humble Bee should chance to strike,

With the But-End of an Antartick Pole.

I grant Mr. Dryden clears himself of this Act in his Vindication of the Duke of Guise. But then why did he let these crude Fancies pass uncorrected in his Friend? Such fluttering ungovern'd Transports, are fitter for a Boys Declamation then a Tragedy. But I shall trouble my self no farther with this Play. To return therefore to the Argument in Hand. In the Provok'd Wife Sir John Brute puts on the Habit of a Clergyman, counterfeits himself drunk; quarrels with the Constable, and is knock'd down and seiz'd. He rails, swears, curses, is lewd and profane, to all the Heights of Madness and Debauchery: The Officers and Justice break jests upon him, and make him a sort of Representative of his Order.Provok'd Wife. p. 45, 46, 52, 52.[220]

This is rare Protestant Diversion, and very much for the Credit of the Reformation! The Church of England, I mean the Men of Her, is the only Communion in the World, that will endure such Insolences as these: The Relapse is if possible more singularly abusive. Bull the Chaplain {109}wishes the Married couple joy, in Language horribly Smutty and Profane.Relapse. p. 74.[221] To transcribe it would blot the Paper to much. In the next Page Young Fashion desires Bull to make hast to Sr. Tun-belly. He answers very decently, I fly my good Lord.p. 75.[222] At the end of this Act Bull speaks to the Case of Bigamy, and determines it thus. I do confess to take two Husbands for the Satisfaction of —— is to commit the Sin of Exorbitancy, but to do it for the peace of the Spirit, is no more then to be Drunk by way of Physick; besides to prevent a Parents wrath is to avoid the Sin of Disobedience, for when the Parent is Angry, the Child is froward: The Conclusion is insolently Profane, and let it lie: The spirit of this Thought is borrow'd from Ben Johnsons Bartholomew-Fair, only the Profaness is mightily improved, and the Abuse thrown off the Meeting House, upon the Church. The Wit of the Parents being angry, and the Child froward, is all his own.p. 86.[223] Bull has more of this Heavy stuff upon his Hands. He tells Young Fashion Your Worships goodness is unspeakable, yet there is one thing seems a point of Conscience; And Conscience is a tender Babe. &c.p. 97.[224]

These Poets I observe when They grow lazy, and are inclined to Nonsence, they commonly get a Clergy-man to speak it. {110}Thus they pass their own Dulness for Humour, and gratifie their Ease, and their Malice at once. Coupler instructs Young Fashion which way Bull was to be managed. He tells him as Chaplains go now, he must be brib'd high, he wants Money, Preferment, Wine, and a Whore. Let this be procured for him, and I'll warrant thee he speaks Truth like an Oracle.89.[225]

A few Lines forward, the Rudeness is still more gross, and dash'd with Smut, the common Play-house Ingredient. 'Tis not long before Coupler falls into his old Civilities. He tells Young Fashion, Last Night the Devil run away with the Parson of Fatgoose Living.p. 94.[226] Afterwards Bull is plentifully rail'd on in down right Billings-gate: made to appear Silly, Servile, and Profane; and treated both in Posture and Language, with the utmost Contempt.p. 95, 97, 105.[227]

I could cite more Plays to this purpose; But these are sufficient to show the Temper of the Stage.

Thus we see how hearty these People are in their Ill Will! How they attack Religion under every Form, and pursue the Priesthood through all the Subdivisions of Opinion. Neither Jews nor Heathens, Turks nor Christians, Rome nor Geneva, Church nor Conventicle, can {111}escape them. They are afraid least Virtue should have any Quarters undisturbed, Conscience any Corner to retire to, or God be Worship'd in any Place. 'Tis true their Force seldom carries up to their Malice: They are too eager in the Combat to be happy in the the Execution. The Abuse is often both gross and clumsey, and the Wit as wretched as the Manners. Nay Talking won't always satisfy them. They must ridicule the Habit as well as the Function, of the Clergy. 'Tis not enough for them to play the Fool unless they do it in Pontificalibus. The Farce must be play'd in a Religious Figure, and under the Distinctions of their Office! Thus the Abuse strikes stronger upon the sense; The contempt is better spread, and the little Idea is apt to return upon the same Appearance.

And now does this Rudeness go upon any Authorities? Was the Priesthood alwaies thought thus insignificant, and do the Antient Poets palt it in this Manner? This Point shall be tried, I shall run through the most considerable Authors that the Reader may see how they treat the Argument. Homer stands highest upon the Roll, and is the first Poet both in Time, and Quality; I shall therefore begin with him. Tis true he wrote no {112}Plays; but for Decency, Practise, and general Opinion, his Judgment may well be taken, Let us see then how the Priests are treated in his Poem, and what sort of Rank they hold.

Chryses Apollo's Priest appears at a Council of War with his Crown and guilt Scepter. He offers a valuable Ransom for his Daughter; and presses his Relation to Apollo. All the Army excepting Agamemnon are willing to consider his Character, and comply with his Proposals. But this General refuses to part with the Lady, and sends away her Father with disrespect. Apollo thought himself affronted with this Usage, and revenges the Indignity in a Plague.

οὕνεκα τὸν Χρύσην ἠτίμησ' ἀρητῆραHom. Il. α. p. 3. & dein.
Ed. Screvel.


Adrastus and Amphius the Sons of Merops a Prophet, commanded a considerable extent of Country in Troas,Il. B. p. 91.
Ibid. p. 92.
[229] and brought a Body of Men to King Priam's Assistance.[230] And Ennomus the Augur commanded the Troops of Mysia for the Besieged.

Phegeus and Idæus were the Sons of Dares the Priest of Vulcan.Il. E. p. 154, 155.[231] They appear in an Equipage of Quality, and charge Diomedes the third Hero in the Grecian {113}Army. Idæus after the Misfortune of the Combat, is brought off by Vulcan. Dolopion was Priest to Scamander,Il. E. p. 154, 155.[232] and regarded like the God he Belong'd to,

Θεὸς δ' ὥς τίετο δήμω.Ibid. p. 158.[233]

Ulisses in his return from Troy, took Ismarus by Storm, and makes Prize of the whole Town, excepting Maron, and his Family. This Maron was Apollo's Priest, and preserv'd out of respect to his Function: He presents Ulisses nobly in Gold, Plate, and Wine; And this Hero makes an honourable Mention of him, both as to his Quality, and way of Living.Odyss. I p. 174, 181.[234]

These are all the Priests I find Mentioned in Homer; And we see how fairly the Poet treats them, and what sort of Figure they made in the World.

To the Testimony of Homer, I shall joyn that of Virgil, who tho' He follows at a great distance of Time, was an Author of the first Rank, and wrote the same kind of Poetry with the other. Now Virgil tho' he is very extraordinary in his Genius, in the Compass of his Learning, in the Musick and Majesty of his Stile; yet the exactness of his Judgment seems to be his peculiar, and most distinguishing Talent. He had the truest {114}Relish imaginable, and always described Things according to Nature, Custom, and Decency. He wrote with the greatest Command of Temper, and Superiority of good Sense. He is never lost in smoak and Rapture, nor overborn with Poetick Fury; but keeps his Fancy warm and his Reason Cool at the same time. Now this great Master of Propriety never Mentions any Priests without some Marks of Advantage. To give some Instances as they lie in Order.

When the Trojans were consulting what was to be done with the Wooden-Horse, and some were for lodging it within the Walls; Laocoon appears against this Opinion at the Head of a numerous Party, harangues with a great deal of Sense, and Resolution, and examines the Machine with his Lance. In fine, He advised so well, and went so far in the Discovery of the Stratagem; that if the Trojans had not been ungovernable, and as it were stupified by Fate and Folly, he had saved the Town.Ænid. 2.[235]

Trojaque nunc stares Priamique arx alta maneres.

This Laocoon was Neptunes Priest, and either Son to Priam, or Brother to {115}Anchises, who was of the Royal Family.Ruaus. in Loc.[236] The next we meet with is Pantheus Apollo's Priest. He is call'd Pantheus Otriades, which is an argument his Father was well known. His acquaintance with Æneas to whose House he was carrying his little Grandson, argues him to be a Person of Condition.Æneid 2.[237] Pantheus after a short relation of the Posture of Affairs, joyns Æneas's little Handful of Men, charges in with him when the Town was seiz'd, and fired, and at last dies Handsomly in the Action.Ibid.[238]

The next is Anius King of Delos, Prince and Priest in one Person.

Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phœbique Sacerdos.Æneid. 3.[239]

When Æneas was outed at Troy, and in quest of a new Country, he came to an Anchor at Delos; Anius meets him in a Religious Habit, receives him civilly, and obliges him with his Oracle.Ibid.[240] In the Book now Mention'd we have another of Apollo's Priests, his name is Helenus, Son of Priam and King of Chaonia. He entertains Æneas with a great deal of Friendship, and Magnificence, gives him many material Directions, and makes him a rich Present at parting. To this Prince if you {116}Please we may joyn a Princess of the same Profession; and that is Rhea Silvia Daughter to Numitor King of Alba, and Mother to Romulus, and Remus. This Lady Virgil calls——regina Sacerdos a Royal Priestess.Ænead. 1st.[241] Farther. When Æneas made a Visit upon Business to the shades Below, He had for his Guide, the famous Sibylla Cumæa, who Belong'd to Apollo.Æn. 6.[242] When he came thither amongst the rest of his Acquantance he saw Polybætes a Priest of Ceres. This Polybætes is mention'd with the three Sons of Antenor, with Glaucus, and Thersilochus, who Commanded in Cheif in the Trojan Auxiliaries: So that you may know his Quality by his Company. When Æneas had passed on farther, he saw Orpheus in Elysium: The Poet calls him the Thracian Priest. There needs not be much said of Orpheus; He is famous for his skill in Musick, Poetry, and Religious Ceremonies,Ibid.[243] He was one of the Hero's of Antiquity, and a principal Adventurer in the Expedition for the Golden-Fleece.

In the Seventh Æneid the Poet gives in a List of the Princes, and General Officers who came into the Assistance of Turnus; Amongst the rest he tells you,


Quin & Marrubia venit de gente Sacerdos,

Archippi regis missu fortissimus Umbro.

This Priest he commends both for his Courage and his skill in Physick, Natural Magick, and Phlosophy. He understood the Virtue of Plants, and could lay Passions and Poysons asleep. His death was extreamly regretted by his Country, who made a Pompous and Solemn Mourning for him.

Te nemus Angitiæ, vitrea te Fucinus unda,

Te liquidi flevere lacus.Æneid. 7.[244]

The Potitij, and the Pinarij Mention'd Æneid 8.Lib. 1.[245] were as Livy observes, chosen out of the first Quality of the Country, and had the Priesthood hereditary to their Family. To go on, Æmonides, and Chloreus make a glittering Figure in the Feild, and are very remarkable for the Curiosity of their Armour, and Habit. Æmonides's Finery is passed over in general.

Totus collucens veste atque insignibus armis.Æneid. 10.[246]

But the Equipage of Chloreus is flourish'd out at Length, and as I remember admired by Macrobius as one of the Master {118}peices of Virgil in Description. In short; He is all Gold, Purple, Scarlet, and Embroydery;Æneid. 11.[247] and as rich as Nature, Art, and Rhetorick can make him. To these I might add Rhamnes, Asylas, and Tolumnius, who were all Persons of Condition, and had Considerable Posts in the Army.Æneid. 9. 10. 11.[248]

It may be these last were not strictly Priests. Their Function was rather Prophetick. They interpreted the Resolutions of the Gods, by the voice of Birds, the Inspection of Sacrifices, and their Observations of Thunder. This made their Character counted Sacred, and their Relation to the Deity particular. And therefore the Romans ranged them in the Order of the Priests.Guther. de jure veter. pontif.[249]

Thus we see the admired Homer, and Virgil, always treat the Priests fairly, and describe them in Circumstances of Credit: If 'tis said that the Instances I have given are mostly in Names of Fiction, and in Persons who had no Being, unless in the Poets fancy. I answer, I am not concern'd in the History of the Relation. Whether the Muster is true or false, 'tis all one to my purpose. This is certain, had the Priests been People of such slender Consideration as our Stage Poets endeavour to make them; they must have {119}appear'd in a different Figure; or rather have been left out as too little for that sort of Poem. But Homer and Virgil had other Sentiments of Matters: They were governed by the Reason of Things, and the common usage of the World. They knew the Priesthood a very reputable Employment, and always esteem'd as such. To have used the Priests ill, They must have call'd their own Discretion in question: They must have run into impropriety, and fallen foul upon Custom, Manners, and Religion. Now 'twas not their way to play the Knave and the Fool together: They had more Sense than to do a silly Thing, only for the Satisfaction of doing an ill one.

I shall now go on to enquire what the Greek Tragedians will afford us upon the present Subject. There are but two Plays in Æschylus where the Ministers of the Gods are represented. The one is in his Eumenides, and here Apollo's Priestess only opens the Play and appears no more. The other is in his Seige of Thebes. In this Tragedy the Prophet Amphiaraus is one of the Seven Commanders against the Town. He has the Character of a Modest, Brave Officer, and of one who rather affected to be great in Action, than Noise.


In Sophocle's Oedipus Tyrannus, Jupiter's Priest has a short part. He appears at the Head of an Address, and delivers the Harangue by the King's Order. Oedipus in his Passion treats Tiresias ruggedly;Oedip. Tyr. p. 148.[250] Tiresias replies with Spirit and Freedom; and plainly tell him he was none of his Servant but Apollo's.

Ὀυ γάρ τί σοὶ ζῶ δοῦλος ἀλλά λοξίαIbid. 169.[251]

And here we may observe that all Oedipus his reproaches relate to Tiresias's person, there is no such Thing as a general Imputation upon his Function: But the English Oedipus makes the Priesthood an Imposturous Profession;p. 38.[252] and rails at the whole Order. In the next Tragedy, Creon charges Tiresias with subornation; and that he intended to make a Penny of his Prince. The Priest holds up his Character, speaks to the ill Usage with an Air of Gravity, calls the King Son, and foretells him his Misfortune.Antig. p. 250, 258.[253]

To go on to Euripides, for Sophocles has nothing more. This Poet in his Phænissæ brings in Tiresias with a very unacceptable report from the Oracle. He tells Creon that either his Son must die, or the City be lost. Creon keeps himself within Temper, and gives no ill Language. And even {121}when Mœnecius had kill'd himself, he neither complains of the Gods, nor reproaches the Prophet.Eurip. Phœniss. p. 158, 159.[254]

In his Bacchæ, Tiresias is honourably used by Cadmus; And Pentheus who threatned him, is afterwards punish'd for his Impiety.Bacch. Act. 1. Act. 4.[255] In another Play Apollo's Priestess comes in upon a creditable account, and is respectfully treated.Jon. Act 5.[256] Iphigenia Agamemnon's Daughter is made Priestess to Diana; and her Father thought himself happy in her Employment.Iphig. in Aulid. & in Taur.[257] These are all the Priests I remember represented in Euripides. To conclude the antient Tragedians together: Seneca seems to follow the Conduct of Euripides, and secures Tiresias from being outraged. Oedipus carries it smoothly with him and only desires him to out with the Oracle, and declare the Guilty Person. This Tiresias excuses, and afterwards the Heat of the expostulation falls upon Creon.Oedip.[258] Calchas if not strictly a Priest, was an Augur, and had a Religious Relation. Upon this account Agamemnon calls him interpres Deorum; The Reporter of Fate, and the God's Nuntio; And gives him an honourable Character.Troad. A. 2. p. 193.[259]

This Author is done; I shall therefore pass on to the Comedians. And here, Aristophanes is so declared an Atheist, that {122}I think him not worth the citing. Besides, he has but little upon the Argument: And where he does engage it, the Priests have every jot as good Quarter as the Gods.Plut. Ran. Aves.[260] As for Terence, he neither represents any Priests, nor so much as mentions them. Chrysalus in Plautus describes Theotimus Diana's Priest, as a Person of Quality, and Figure.Bacchid. Act. 2. 5. 3.[261] In his Rudens we have a Priestess upon the Stage, which is the only Instance in this Poet.Rud. A. 1. 5. A. 2. 3.[262] She entertains the two Women who were wrecked, and is commended for her hospitable Temper. The Procurer Labrax swaggers that he will force the Temple, and begins the Attack. Demades a Gentleman, is surprized at his Insolence, and threatens him with Revenge. The report of so bold an attempt made him cry out. Quis homo est tanta Confidentia; qui sacerdotem andeat Violare?Act [......][263] It seems in those Days 'twas very infamous to affront a Holy Character, and break in upon the Guards of Religion! Thus we see how the Antient Poets behaved themselves in the Argument. Priests seldom appear in their Plays. And when they come 'tis Business of Credit that brings them. They are treated like Persons of Condition. They Act up to their Relation; neither sneak, nor prevaricate, nor do any thing unbecoming their Office.


And now a word or two of the Moderns.

The famous Corneille and Moliere, bring no Priests of any kind upon the Stage. The former leaves out Tiresias in his Oedipus: Tho' this Omission balks his Thought, and maims the Fable. What therefore but the regard to Religion could keep him from the use of this Liberty? As I am informed the same Reservedness is practis'd in Spain, and Italy: And that there is no Theatre in Europe excepting the English, that entertains the Audience with Priests.

This is certainly the right method, and best secures the Outworks of Piety. The Holy Function is much too Solemn to be play'd with. Christianity is for no Fooling, neither the Place, the Occasion nor the Actors are fit for such a Representation. To bring the Church into the Playhouse, is the way to bring the Playhouse into the Church. 'Tis apt to turn Religion into Romance, and make unthinking People conclude that all Serious Matters are nothing but Farce, Fiction, and Design. 'Tis true the Tragedies at Athens were a sort of Homilies, and design'd for the Instruction of the People: To this purpose they are all Clean, Solemn, and Sententious. Plautus likewise informs us that the Comedians used to teach the People Morality.Rud. A. 4. S. 7.[264] The {124}case standing thus 'tis less suprizing to find the Priests sometimes Appear. The Play had grave Argument, and Pagan Indulgence, to plead in its behalf. But our Poets steer by an other Compass. Their Aim is to destroy Religion, their Preaching is against Sermons; and their Business, but Diversion at the best. In short, Let the Character be never so well managed no Christian Priest (especially,) ought to come upon the Stage. For where the Business is an Abuse, and the place a Profanation; the demureness of the Manner, is but a poor excuse. Monsieur Racine is an Exception to what I have observ'd in France. In his Athalia, Joida the High-Priest has a large part. But then the Poet does him Justice in his Station; he makes him Honest and Brave, and gives him a shining Character throughout. Mathan is another Priest in the same Tragedy. He turns Renegado, and revolts from God to Baal. He is a very ill Man but makes a considerable Appearance, and is one of the Top of Athaliahs Faction. And as for the Blemishes of his Life, they all stick upon his own Honour, and reach no farther than his Person: In fine the Play is a very Religious Poem; 'Tis upon the Matter all Sermon and Anthem. And if it were not designed for the Theatre, I have nothing to object.


Let us now just look over our own Country-men till King Charles the Second. Shakespear takes the Freedom to represent the Clergy in several of his Plays: But for the most part he holds up the Function, and makes them neither Act, nor Suffer any thing unhandsom. In one Play or two He is much bolder with the Order.Measure for Measure.
Much a do about Nothing.
Henry 4th pt. 1st.
Hen. 6. pt. 3d.
Romeo and Juliet.
* Merry Wives of Windsor.
[265] *Sr. Hugh Evans a Priest is too Comical and Secular in his Humour. However he understands his Post, and converses with the Freedom of a Gentleman. I grant in Loves Labour lost the Curate plays the Fool egregiously; And so does the Poet too, for the whole Play is a very silly one. In the History of Sr. John Old-Castle, Sr. John, Parson of Wrotham Swears, Games, Wenches, Pads, Tilts, and Drinks: This is extreamly bad, and like the Author of the Relapse &c. Only with this difference; Shakespears, Sr. John has some Advantage in his Character. He appears Loyal, and Stout; He brings in Sr. John Acton, and other Rebels Prisoners. He is rewarded by the King, and the Judge uses him Civilly and with Respect. In short He is represented Lewd, but not Little; And the Disgrace falls rather on the Person, then the Office. But the Relapsers business, is to sink the Notion, and Murther the Character, and make the {126}Function despicable: So that upon the whole, Shakespear is by much the gentiler Enemy.

Towards the End of the Silent Woman, Ben Johnson brings in a Clergy-man, and a Civilian in their Habits. But then he premises a handsom Excuse, acquaints the Audience, that the Persons are but borrowed, and throws in a Salvo for the Honour of either profession. In the Third Act, we have another Clergy-man; He is abused by Cutberd, and a little by Morose. But his Lady checks him for the ill Breeding of the Usage. In his Magnetick Lady, Tale of a Tub, and Sad Sheapherd, there are Priests which manage but untowardly. But these Plays were his last Works, which Mr. Dryden calls his Dotages.Essay of Dramat. &c.[266] This Author has no more Priests, and therefore we'll take Leave.

Beaumont and Fletcher in the Faithful Shepheardess, The False one, A Wife for a Month, and the Knight of Malta, give, us both Priests and Bishops, part Heathen and part Christian: But all of them save their Reputation and make a creditable Appearance. The Priests in the Scornful Lady, and Spanish Curate are ill used. The first is made a Fool, and the other a Knave. Indeed they seem to be brought in on purpose to make sport, and disserve {127}Religion. And so much for Beaumont and Fletcher.

Thus we see the English Stage has always been out of Order, but never to the Degree 'tis at present.

I shall now take Leave of the Poets, and touch a little upon History and Argument.

And here I shall briefly shew the Right the Clergy have to Regard, and fair Usage, upon these Three following Accounts.

I. Because of their Relation to the Deity.

II. Because of the Importance of their Office.

III. They have prescription for their Privilege. Their function has been in Possession of Esteem in all Ages, and Countries.

I. Upon the account of their Relation to the Deity.

The Holy Order is appropriated to the Divine Worship: And a Priest has the peculiar Honour to Belong to nothing less then God Almighty. Now the Credit of the Service always rises in proportion to the Quality and Greatness of the Master. And for this Reason 'tis more Honourable to serve a Prince, than a private Person. To apply this. Christian Priests are the Principal Ministers of Gods Kingdom. {128}They Represent his Person, Publish his Laws, Pass his Pardons, and Preside in his Worship. To expose a Priest much more to burlesque his Function, is an Affront to the Diety. All indignities done to Ambassadors, are interpreted upon their Masters, and reveng'd as such. To outrage the Ministers of Religion, is in effect to deny the Being, or Providence of God; And to treat the Bible like a Romance. As much as to say the Stories of an other World are nothing but a little Priest-craft, and therefore I am resolv'd to Lash the Profession. But to droll upon the Institutions of God; To make his Ministers cheap, and his Authority contemptible; To do this is little less than open defyance. Tis a sort of Challenge to awaken his Vengeance, to exert his Omnipotence; and do Right to his Honour. If the Profession of a Courtier was unfashionable, a Princes Commission thought a Scandal, and the Magistracy laught at for their Business; the Monarch had need look to himself in time; He may conclude his Person is despis'd, his Authority but a Jest, and the People ready either to change their Master, or set up for themselves. Government and Religion, no less than Trade Subsist upon Reputation. 'Tis true God can't be Deposed, neither does {129}his Happiness depend upon Homage; But since he does not Govern by Omnipotence, since he leaves Men to their Liberty, Acknowledgment must sink, and Obedience decline, in proportion to the Lessenings of Authority. How provoking an Indignity of this kind must be, is easy to imagine.

II. The Functions and Authorities of Religion have a great Influence on Society. The Interest of this Life lies very much in the Belief of another. So that if our Hopes were bounded with Sight, and Sense, if Eternity was out of the Case, General Advantage, and Publick Reason, and Secular Policy, would oblige us to be just to the Priesthood. For Priests, and Religion always stand and fall together; Now Religion is the Basis of Government, and Man is a wretched Companion without it. When Conscience takes its Leave, Good Faith, and Good Nature goes with it. Atheism is all Self, Mean and Mercenary. The Atheist has no Hereafter, and therefore will be sure to make the most of this World. Interest, and Pleasure, are the Gods he Worships, and to these he'll Sacrifice every Thing else.

III. The Priest-hood ought to be fairly treated, because it has prescription for this Privilege. This is so evident a {130}Truth, that there is hardly any Age or Country, but affords sufficient Proof. A just Discourse upon this Subject would be a large Book, but I shall just skim it over and pass on. and

1st. For the Jews. Josephus tells us the Line of Aaron made some of the best Pedigrees, and that the Priests were reckon'd among the Principal Nobility.De Bell. Judaic.[267]

By the Old Testament we are inform'd that the High-Priest was the Second Person in the Kingdom.Deut. 17. 9. 20. 2. Chron. 19. 8.[268] The Body of that Order had Civil Jurisdiction. And the Priests continued Part of the Magistracy in the time of our Saviour. Jehoiada the High-Priest was thought an Alliance big enough for the Royal Family.Math. 27. Act. 4.
Vid. seldon de Synedr.
[269] He Married the Kings Daughter; His Interest and Authority was so great that he broke the Usurpation under Athalia; and was at the Head of the Restauration. And lastly the Assamonean Race were both Kings and Priests.Joseph.[270]

To Proceed. The Ægyptian Monarchy was one of the most antient and best polish'd upon Record. Here Arts and Sciences, the Improvment of Reason, and the Splendor of Life had its first Rise. Hither 'twas that Plato and most of the Celebrated Philosophers travel'd for their Learning. Now in this Kingdom the {131}Priests made no vulgar Figure. These with the Military Men were the Body of the Nobility, and Gentry. Besides the Business of Religion, the Priests were the Publick Annalists and kept the Records of History, and Government. They were many of them bred in Courts, formed the Education of their Princes, and assisted at their Councils.Diod. Sic.[271] When Joseph was Viceroy of Ægypt, and in all the height of his Pomp, and Power, the King Married him to the Daughter of Potipherah Priest of On. The Text says Pharaoh gave him her to Wife.Gen. 41.[272] This shows the Match was deliberate Choice, and Royal Favour, no stooping of Quality, or Condescensions of Love, on Joseph's Side.

To pass on. The Persian Magi, and the Druids, of Gaul were of a Religious Profession, and consign'd to the Service of the Gods. Now all these were at the upper End of the Government, and had a great share of Regard and Authority.Porph. de Abstin. Lib. 4.
Cæsar de Bell. Gall. Lib. 6
[273] The Body of the Indians as Diodorus Siculus reports is divided into Seven parts. The first is the Clan of the Bramines, the Priests, and Philosophers of that Country. 'This Division is the least in Number, but the first in Degree. Their Privileges are extraordinary. They are {132}exempted from Taxes, and Live Independent of Authority. They are called to the Sacrifices, and take care of Funerals; They are look'd on as the Favourites of the Gods, and thought skillful in the Doctrins of an other Life: And upon these accounts are largely consider'd in Presents, and Acknowledgment. The Priestesses of Argos were so Considerable, that Time is dated from them, and they stand for a Reign in Chronology.Lib. 6.[274] The Brave Romans are commended by Polybius for their Devotion to the Gods; Indeed they gave great Proof of their being in earnest; For when thier Cheif Magistrates, their Consuls themselves, met any of the Vestals, they held down their Fasces, and stoop'd their Sword and Mace to Religion.Ser. in Controv.[275]

The Priest-hood was for sometime confin'd to the Patrician Order, that is to the Upper Nobility. And afterwards the Emperours were generally High-Priests themselves. The Romans in distress endeavour'd to make Friends with Coriolanus whom they had banish'd before. To this purpose they furnish'd out several Solemn Embasayes. Now the Regulation of the Ceremony, and the Remarks of the Historian;Dion. Halic.[276] plainly discover that the Body of the Priests were thought not inferior {133}to any other. One Testimony from Tully and I have done. 'Tis in his Harangue to the College of the Priests.Pro Dom. ad Pontif.[277] Cum multa divinitus, Pontifices, a majoribus nostris inventa atque instituta sunt; tum nihil preclarius quam quòd vos eosdem et Religionibus Deorum immortalium, & summe Rei publicæ præesse voluerunt. &c. i. e. Amongst the many laudable Instances of our Ancestors Prudence, and Capacity, I know nothing better contrived then their placing your Order at the Helm, and setting the same Persons at the Head both of Religion, and Government. Thus we see what Rank the Priest-hood held among the Jews, and how Nature taught the Heathen to regard it. And is it not now possess'd of as fair pretences as formerly? Is Christianity any disadvantage to the Holy Office. And does the Dignity of a Religion lessen the Publick Administrations in't? The Priests of the most High God and of Idolatry, can't be compared without Injury. To argue for the Preference is a Reflection upon the Creed. 'Tis true the Jewish Priest-hood was instituted by God: But every Thing Divine is not of Equal Consideration. Realities are more valuable than Types; And as the Apostle argues, the Order of Melchizedeck is greater than that of Aaron.Hebr. 7.[278] The Author, (I mean the {134}immediate one,) the Authorities, the Business, and the End, of the Christian Priest-hood, are more Noble than those of the Jewish. For is not Christ greater than Moses, Heaven better than the Land of Canaan, and the Eucharist to be prefer'd to all the Sacrifices, and Expiations of the Law? Thus the Right, and the Reason of Things stands. And as for Fact, the Christian World have not been backward in their Acknowledgments. Ever since the first Conversion of Princes, the Priest-hood has had no small share of Temporal Advantage. The Codes, Novels, and Church History, are Sufficient Evidence what Sense Constantine and his Successors had of these Matters. But I shall not detain the Reader in remote Instances.

To proceed then to Times and Countries more generally known. The People of France are branched into three Divisions, of these the Clergy, are the First. And in consequence of this Privilege, at the Assembly of the States, they are first admitted to Harangue before the King.Davila Filmers Freeholders Grand Inq.[279]

In Hungary the Bishops are very Considerable, and some of them great Officers of State.Miræus De Statu Relig. Christ.[280] In Poland they are Senators that is part of the Upper Nobless. In Muscovy the Bishops have an Honourable Station; and the Present Czar is descended {135}from the Patriarchal Line.Fletchers Embassy.[281] I suppose I need say nothing of Italy. In Spain the Sees generally are better endowed than elswhere, and Wealth alwaies draws Consideration.Puffendorf Introduction à l'Histoire.
Heylins Cosgmog.
[282] The Bishops hold their Lands by a Military Noble Tenure, and are excused from Personal Attendance. And to come toward an end; They are Earls and Dukes in France, and Soveraign Princes, in Germany.[283] In England the Bishops are Lords of Parliament: And the Law in plain words distinguishes the Upper House into the Spiritual and Temporal Nobility. And several Statutes call the Bishops Nobles by direct Implication.2, Hen. 8. cap. 22.
26, Hen. 8 cap 2.
1. Edw. 6. cap. 12, &c. Preamb.
[284] To mention nothing more, their Heraldry is regulated by Garter, and Blazon'd by Stones, which none under the Nobility can pretend to. In this Country of ours, Persons of the First Quality have been in Orders; To give an Instance of some few. Odo Brother to William the Conquerour was Bishop of Baieux, and Earl of Kent. King Stephens Brother was Bishop of Winchester. Nevill Arch-Bishop of York was Brother to the Great Earl of Warwick, and Cardinal Pool was of the Royal Family. To come a little lower, and to our own Times. And here we may reckon not a few Persons of Noble Descent in Holy Orders. Witness the Berklyes, Comptons, Montagues, Crews, {136}and Norths; The Annesleys, Finches, Grayhams &c. And as for the Gentry, there are not many good Families in England, but either have, or have had a Clergy-man in them,

In short; The Priest-hood is the profession of a Gentleman. A Parson notwithstanding the ignorant Pride of some People, is a Name of Credit, and Authority, both in Religion, and Law. The Addition of Clerk is at least equal to that of Gentleman. Were it otherwise the Profession would in many cases be a kind of Punishment. But the Law is far from being so singular as to make Orders a Disadvantage to Degree. No, The Honour of the Family continues, and the Heraldry is every jot as safe in the Church, as 'twas in the State. And yet when the Laity are taken leave of, not Gentleman but Clerk is usually written. This Custom is an argument the Change is not made for the worse, that the Spiritual Distinction is as valuable as the other; And to speak Modestly, that the first Addition is not lost, but Cover'd. Did the Subject require it, this Point might be farther made good. For the stile of a higher Secular Honour is continued as well with Priest-hood as without it. A Church-man who is either Baronet, or Baron, {137}writes himself so, notwithstanding His Clerkship. Indeed we can't well imagine the Clergy degraded from Paternal Honour without a strange Reflection on the Country; without supposing Julian at the Helm, the Laws Antichristian, and Infidelity in the very Constitution. To make the Ministers of Religion less upon the score of their Function, would be a Penalty on the Gospel, and a contempt of the God of Christianity. 'Tis our Saviours reasoning; He that despises you, despises Me, and he that Despises Me, Despises Him that sent me.S. Luke 12.[285]

I hope what I have offer'd on this Subject will not be misunderstood. There is no Vanity in necessary Defence. To wipe off Aspersions, and rescue Things from Mistake, is but bare Justice: Besides, where the Honour of God, and the Publick Interest are concern'd, a Man is bound to speak. To argue from a resembling Instance. He that has the Kings Commission ought to Maintain it. To let it suffer under Rudeness is to betray it. To be tame and silent in such cases, is not Modesty but Meanness, Humility obliges no Man to desert his Trust; To throw up his Privilege, and prove false to his Character. And is our Saviours Authority inferiour to that of Princes? Are the Kingdoms of this World more {138}Glorious than that of the next? And can the Concerns of Time be greater than those of Eternity? If not, the reasoning above mention'd must hold in the Application.

And now by this time I conceive the ill Manners of the Stage may be in some measure apparent; And that the Clergy deserve none of that Coarse Usage which it puts upon them. I confess I know no Profession that has made a more creditable Figure, that has better Customs for their Privileges, and better Reasons to maintain them. And here setting aside the point of Conscience, where lies the Decency of falling foul upon this Order? What Propriety is there in Misrepresentation? In confounding Respects, disguising Features, and painting Things out of all Colour and Complexion? This crossing upon Nature and Reason, is great Ignorance, and out of Rule. And now what Pleasure is there in Misbehaviour and Abuse? Is it such an Entertainment to see Religion worryed by Atheism, and Things the most Solemn and Significant tumbled and tost by Buffoons? A Man may laugh at a Puppy's tearing a Wardrobe, but I think 'twere altogether as discreet to beat him off. Well! but the Clergy mismanage sometimes, and they must be told of their Faults. What then? Are the Poets their Ordinaries? Is the Pulpit under the {139}Discipline of the Stage? And are those fit to correct the Church, that are not fit to come into it? Besides, What makes them fly out upon the Function; and rail by wholesale? Is the Priesthood a crime, and the service of God a disadvantage? I grant Persons and Things are not always suited. A good Post may be ill kept, but then the Censure should keep close to the Fault, and the Office not suffer for the Manager. The Clergy may have their Failings sometimes like others, but what then? The Character is still untarnish'd. The Men may be Little, but the Priests are not so. And therefore like other People, they ought to be treated by their best Distinction.

If 'tis Objected that the Clergy in Plays are commonly Chaplains, And that these Belonging to Persons of Quality they were obliged to represent them servile and submissive. To this I Answer

1st. In my former remark, that the Stage often outrages the whole Order, without regard to any particular Office. But were it not so in the

2d. Place, They quite overlook the Character, and mistake the Business of Chaplains. They are no Servants, neither do they Belong to any Body, but God Almighty. This Point I have fully proved in another, Treatise,Moral Essays.[286] and thither I refer the Reader.



The Stage-Poets make their Principal Persons Vitious, and reward them at the End of the Play.

The Lines of Virtue and Vice are Struck out by Nature in very Legible Distinctions; They tend to a different Point, and in the greater Instances the Space between them is easily perceiv'd. Nothing can be more unlike than the Original Forms of these Qualities: The First has all the sweetness, Charms, and Graces imaginable; The other has the Air of a Post ill Carved into a Monster, and looks both foolish and Frightful together. These are the Native Appearances of good and Evil: And they that endeavour to blot the Distinctions, to rub out the Colours, or change the Marks, are extreamly to blame. 'Tis confessed as long as the Mind is awake, and Conscience goes true, there's no fear of being imposed on. But when Vice is varnish'd over with Pleasure, and comes in the Shape of Convenience, the case grows somewhat dangerous; for then {141}the Fancy may be gain'd, and the Guards corrupted, and Reason suborn'd against it self. And thus a Disguise often passes when the Person would otherwise be stopt. To put Lewdness into a Thriving condition, to give it an Equipage of Quality, and to treat it with Ceremony and Respect, is the way to confound the Understanding, to fortifie the Charm, and to make the Mischief invincible. Innocence is often owing to Fear, and Appetite is kept under by Shame; But when these Restraints are once taken off, when Profit and Liberty lie on the same side, and a Man can Debauch himself into Credit, what can be expected in such a case, but that Pleasure should grow Absolute, and Madness carry all before it? The Stage seem eager to bring Matters to this Issue; They have made a considerable progress, and are still pushing their Point with all the Vigour imaginable. If this be not their Aim why is Lewdness so much consider'd in Character and Success? Why are their Favourites Atheistical, and their fine Gentleman debauched? To what purpose is Vice thus prefer'd, thus ornamented, and caress'd, unless for Imitation? That matter of Fact stands thus, I shall make good by several Instances: To begin then with their Men of Breeding and {142}Figure. Wild-blood sets up for Debauchery, Ridicules Marriage, and Swears by Mahomet.Mock Astrol. p. 3, &c.
Mock Astrol. p. 57, 59.
Spanish Fryar. p. 61.
Country Wife. p. 25.
Old Batch.
Double Dealer. p. 34.
Love for Love p. 90.
[287] Bellamy makes sport with the Devil,[288] and Lorenzo is vitious and calls his Father Bawdy Magistrate.[289] Horner is horridly Smutty, and Harcourt false to his Friend who used him kindly.[290] In the Plain Dealer Freeman talks coarsely, cheats the Widdow, debauches her Son, and makes him undutiful. Bellmour is Lewd and Profane,[291] And Mellefont puts Careless in the best way he can to debauch Lady Plyant.[292] These Sparks generally Marry up the Top Ladys, and those that do not, are brought to no Pennance, but go off with the Character of Fine Gentlemen: In Don-Sebastian, Antonio an Atheistical Bully is rewarded with the Lady Moraima, and half the Muffty's Estate. Valentine in Love for Love is (if I may so call him) the Hero of the Play;[293] This Spark the Poet would pass for a Person of Virtue, but he speaks to late. 'Tis true, He was hearty in his Affection to Angelica. Now without question, to be in Love with a fine Lady of 30000 Pounds is a great Virtue! But then abating this single Commendation, Valentine is altogether compounded of Vice.Love for Love. p. 6, 7. 25. 61. 89. 91.[294] He is a prodigal Debauchee, unnatural, and Profane, Obscene, Sawcy, and undutiful, And yet this {143}Libertine is crown'd for the Man of Merit, has his Wishes thrown into his Lap, and makes the Happy Exit. I perceive we should have a rare set of Virtues if these Poets had the making of them! How they hug a Vitious Character, and how profuse are they in their Liberalities to Lewdness? In the Provoked Wife, Constant Swears at Length, solicits Lady Brute, Confesses himself Lewd, and prefers Debauchery to Marriage. He handles the last Sybject very notably and worth the Hearing. There is (says he) a poor sordid Slavery in Marriage, that turns the flowing Tide of Honour, and sinks it to the lowest ebb of Infamy. 'Tis a Corrupted Soil, Ill Nature, Avarice, Sloth, Cowardize, and Dirt, are all its Product.—But then Constancy (alias Whoring) is a Brave, Free, Haughty, Generous, Agent. This is admirable stuff both for the Rhetorick and the Reason!p. 35.[295] The Character Young Fashion in the Relapse is of the same Staunchness, but this the Reader may have in another Place.

To sum up the Evidence. A fine Gentleman, is a fine Whoring, Swearing, Smutty, Atheistical Man. These Qualifications it seems compleat the Idea of Honour. They are the Top-Improvements of Fortune, and the distinguishing Glories of Birth and Breeding! This is {144}the Stage-Test for Quality, and those that can't stand it, ought to be Disclaim'd. The Restraints of Conscience and the Pedantry of Virtue, are unbecoming a Cavalier: Future Securities, and Reaching beyond Life, are vulgar Provisions: If he falls a Thinking at this rate, he forfeits his Honour; For his Head was only made to run against a Post! Here you have a Man of Breeding and Figure that burlesques the Bible, Swears, and talks Smut to Ladies, speaks ill of his Friend behind his Back, and betraies his Interest. A fine Gentleman that has neither Honesty, nor Honour, Conscience, nor Manners, Good Nature, nor civil Hypocricy. Fine, only in the Insignificancy of Life, the Abuse of Religion and the Scandals of Conversation. These Worshipful Things are the Poets Favourites: They appear at the Head of the Fashion; and shine in Character, and Equipage. If there is any Sense stirring, They must have it, tho' the rest of the Stage suffer never so much by the Partiality. And what can be the Meaning of this wretched Distribution of Honour? Is it not to give Credit and Countenance to Vice, and to shame young People out of all pretences to Conscience, and Regularity? They seem forc'd to turn Lewd in their own Defence: They can't {145}otherwise justifie themselves to the Fashion, nor keep up the Character of Gentlemen: Thus People not well furnish'd with Thought, and Experience, are debauch'd both in Practise and Principle. And thus Religion grows uncreditable, and passes for ill Education. The Stage seldom gives Quarter to any Thing that's serviceable or Significant, but persecutes Worth, and Goodness under every Appearance. He that would be safe from their Satir must take care to disguise himself in Vice, and hang out the Colours of Debauchery. How often is Learning, Industry, and Frugality, ridiculed in Comedy? The rich Citizens are often Misers, and Cuckolds, and the Universities, Schools of Pedantry upon this score. In short, Libertinism and Profaness, Dressing, Idleness, and Gallantry, are the only valuable Qualities. As if People were not apt enough of themselves to be Lazy, Lewd, and Extravagant, unless they were prick'd forward, and provok'd by Glory, and Reputation. Thus the Marks of Honour, and Infamy are misapplyed, and the Idea's of Virtue and Vice confounded. Thus Monstrousness goes for Proportion, and the Blemishes of Human Nature, make up the Beauties of it.


The fine Ladies are of the same Cut with the Gentlemen; Moraima is scandalously rude to her Father, helps him to a beating, and runs away with Antonio.Don Sebast.
Love for Love. p. 20.
Provok'd Wife. p. 64.
Chap. 1. & 2.
[296] Angelica talks sawcily to her Uncle,[297] and Belinda confesses her Inclination for a Gallant.[298] And as I have observ'd already,[299] the Toping Ladies in the Mock Astrologer, Spanish Fryar, Country Wife, Old Batchelour, Orphan, Double Dealer, and Love Triumphant, are smutty, and sometimes Profane.

And was Licentiousness and irreligion, alwaies a mark of Honour? No; I don't perceive but that the old Poets had an other Notion of Accomplishment, and bred their people of Condition a different way. Philolaches in Plautus laments his being debauch'd; and dilates upon the Advantages of Virtue, and Regularity.Mostel. A. 1. 2.
Trinum. A. 2. 1. A. 2. 2.
Enuch. A. 3. 3.
Hecyr. A. 3. 4.
[300] Lusiteles another Young Gentleman disputes handsomly by himself against Lewdness. And the discourse between him and Philto is Moral, and well managed.[301] And afterwards he lashes Luxury and Debauching with a great deal of Warmth, and Satir.[302] Chremes in Terence is a modest young Gentleman, he is afraid of being surpriz'd by Thais, and seems careful not to sully his Reputation.[303] And Pamphilus in Hecyra resolves rather to be govern'd by Duty, than Inclination.[304]


Plautus's Pinacium tells her Friend Panegyric that they ought to acquit themselves fairly to their Husbands, tho' These should fail in their Regards towards them.Stich A. 1. 1.[305] For all good People will do justice tho' they don't receive it. Lady Brute in the Provok'd Wife is govern'd by different maxims. She is debauch'd with ill Usage, says Virtue is an Ass, and a Gallant's worth forty on't.p. 3.[306] Pinacium goes on to another Head of Duty, and declares that a Daughter can never respect her Father too much, and that Disobedience has a great deal of scandal, and Lewdness in't.Stich. A. 1. 2.[307] The Lady Jacinta as I remember does not treat her Father at this rate of Decency. Let us hear a little of her Behaviour. The Mock Astrologer makes the Men draw, and frights the Ladys with the Apprehension of a Quarrel. Upon this; Theodosia crys what will become of us! Jacinta answers, we'll die for Company: nothing vexes me but that I am not a Man, to have one thrust at that malicious old Father of mine, before I go.p. 60.[308] Afterwards the old Gentleman Alonzo threatens his Daughters with a Nunnery. Jacinta spars again and says, I would have thee to know thou graceless old Man, that I defy a Nunnery: name a Nunnery once more and I disown thee for my Father.Ibid.[309] I could carry on the Comparison between the old {148}and Modern Poets somewhat farther. But this may suffice.

Thus we see what a fine time Lewd People have on the English Stage. No Censure, no mark of Infamy, no Mortification must touch them. They keep their Honour untarnish'd, and carry off the Advantage of their Character. They are set up for the Standard of Behaviour, and the Masters of Ceremony and Sense. And at last that the Example may work the better, they generally make them rich, and happy, and reward them with their own Desires.

Mr. Dryden in the Preface to his Mock-Astrologer, confesses himself blamed for this Practise. For making debauch'd Persons his Protagonists, or chief Persons of the Drama; And, for making them happy in the Conclusion of the Play, against the Law of Comedy, which is to reward Virtue, and punish Vice. To this Objection He makes a lame Defence. And answers

1st. That he knows no such Law constantly observ'd in Comedy by the Antient or Modern Poets. What then? Poets are not always exactly in Rule. It may be a good Law tho' 'tis not constantly observ'd, some Laws are constantly broken, and yet ne're the worse for all that. He goes on, and pleads the Authorities of Plautus, and Terence. I grant there are Instances of {149}Favour to vitious young People in those Authors, but to this I reply

1st. That those Poets had a greater compass of Liberty in their Religion. Debauchery did not lie under those Discouragements of Scandal, and penalty, with them as it does with us. Unless therefore He can prove Heathenism, and Christianity the same, his precedents will do him little service.

2ly. Horace who was as good a judge of the Stage, as either of those Comedians, seems to be of another Opinion. He condemns the obscenities of Plautus, and tells you Men of Fortune and Quality in his time; would not endure immodest Satir.De Art. Poet.[310] He continues, that Poets were formerly admired for the great services they did. For teaching Matters relating to Religion, and Government; For refining the Manners, tempering the Passions, and improving the Understandings of Mankind: For making them more useful in Domestick Relations, and the publick Capacities of Life.Ibid.[311] This is a demonstration that Vice was not the Inclination of the Muses in those days; and that Horace beleiv'd the chief business of a Poem was, to Instruct the Audience. He adds farther that the Chorus ought to turn upon the Argument of the Drama, and support the Design of the Acts. That {150}They ought to speak in Defence of Virtue, and Frugality, and show a Regard to Religion. Now from the Rule of the Chorus, we may conclude his Judgment for the Play. For as he observes, there must be a Uniformity between the Chorus and the Acts: They must have the same View, and be all of a Piece. From hence 'tis plain that Horace would have no immoral Character have either Countenance or good Fortune, upon the Stage. If 'tis said the very mention of the Chorus shews the Directions were intended for Tragedy. To this

I answer, that the Consequence is not good. For the use of a Chorus is not inconsistent with Comedy. The antient Comedians had it. Aristophanes is an Instance. I know 'tis said the Chorus was left out in that they call the New Comedy. But I can't see the conclusiveness of this Assertion. For Aristophanes his Plutus is New Comedy with a Chorus in't.[......] Schol.[312] And Aristotle who lived after this Revolution of the Stage, mentions nothing of the Omission of the Chorus. He rather supposes its continuance by saying the Chorus was added by the Government long after the Invention of Comedy.Libr. de Poet. cap. 5.[313] 'Tis true Plautus and Terence have none, but those before them probably might. Moliere has now reviv'd them,Psyche.[314] {151}And Horace might be of his Opinion, for ought wee know to the contrary.

Lastly. Horace having expresly mentioned the beginning and progress of Comedy, discovers himself more fully: He advises a Poet to form his Work upon the Precepts of Socrates and Plato, and the Models of Moral Philosophy. This was the way to preserve Decency, and to assign a proper Fate and Behaviour to every Character.Ibid.[315] Now if Horace would have his Poet govern'd by the Maxims of Morality, he must oblige him to Sobriety of Conduct, and a just distribution of Rewards, and Punishments.

Mr. Dryden makes Homewards, and endeavours to fortifie himself in Modern Authority. He lets us know that Ben Johnson after whom he may he proud to Err, gives him more than one example of this Conduct;Pref. Mock. Astrol.[316] That in the Alchemist is notorius, where neither Face nor his Master are corrected according to their Demerits. But how Proud soever Mr. Dryden may be of an Errour, he has not so much of Ben Jonson's company as he pretends. His Instance of Face &c. in the Alchemist is rather notorious against his Purpose then for it.

For Face did not Council his Master Lovewit to debauch the Widdow; neither {152}is it clear that the Matter went thus far. He might gain her consent upon Terms of Honour for ought appears to the contrary. 'Tis true Face who was one of the Principal Cheats is Pardon'd and consider'd. But then his Master confesses himself kind to a fault. He owns this Indulgence was a Breach of Justice, and unbecoming the Gravity of an old Man. And then desires the Audience to excuse him upon the Score of the Temptation. But Face continued, in the Cousenage till the last without Repentance.Ibid.[317] Under favour I conceive this is a Mistake. For does not Face make an Apology before he leaves the Stage? Does he not set himself at the Bar, arraign his own Practise, and cast the Cause upon the Clemency of the Company? And are not all these Signs of the Dislike of what he had done? Thus careful the Poet is to prevent the Ill Impressions of his Play! He brings both Man and Master to Confession. He dismisses them like Malefactours; And moves for their Pardon before he gives them their Discharge. But the Mock-Astrologer has a gentler Hand: Wild-Blood and Jacinta are more generously used: There is no Acknowledgment exacted; no Hardship put upon them: They are permitted to talk on in their Libertine way to {153}the Last: And take Leave without the least Appearance of Reformation. The Mock-Astrologer urges Ben Johnson's Silent Woman as an other Precedent to his purpose. For there Dauphine confesses himself in Love with all the Collegiate Lady's. And yet this naughty Dauphine is Crowned in the end with the Possession of his Uncles Estate, and with the hopes of all his Mistresses.Ibid.[318] This Charge, as I take it, is somewhat too severe. I grant Dauphine Professes himself in Love with the Collegiate Ladies at first. But when they invited him to a private Visit, he makes them no Promise; but rather appears tired, and willing to disengage. Dauphine therefore is not altogether so naughty as this Author represents him.

Ben Johnson's Fox is clearly against Mr. Dryden. And here I have his own Confession for proof. He declares the Poets end in this Play was the Punishment of Vice, and the Reward of Virtue.Essay of Dramatick Poetry. p. 28.[319] Ben was forced to strain for this piece of Justice, and break through the Unity of Design. This Mr. Dryden remarks upon him: How ever he is pleased to commend the Performance, and calls it an excellent Fifth Act.

Ben Johnson shall speak for himself afterwards in the Character of a Critick; {154}In the mean time I shall take a Testimony or two from Shakespear. And here we may observe the admir'd Falstaffe goes off in Disappointment. He is thrown out of Favour as being a Rake, and dies like a Rat behind the Hangings. The Pleasure he had given, would not excuse him. The Poet was not so partial, as to let his Humour compound for his Lewdness. If 'tis objected that this remark is wide of the Point, because Falstaffe is represented in Tragedy, where the Laws of Justice are more strickly observ'd, To this I answer, that you may call Henry the Fourth and Fifth, Tragedies if you please. But for all that, Falstaffe wears no Buskins, his Character is perfectly Comical from end to end.

The next Instance shall be in Flowerdale the Prodigal. This Spark notwithstanding his Extravagance, makes a lucky Hand on't at last, and marries a rich Lady.The London Prodigall.[320] But then the Poet qualifies him for his good Fortune, and mends his Manners with his Circumstances. He makes him repent, and leave off his Intemperance, Swearing &c. And when his Father warn'd him against a Relapse, He answers very soberly,

Heaven helping me I'le hate the Course of Hell.


I could give some instances of this kind out of Beaumount and Fletcher, But there's no need of any farther Quotation; For Mr. Dryden is not satisfied with his Apology from Authority: He does as good as own that this may be construed no better than defending one ill practise by another. To prevent this very reasonable objection he endeavours to vindicate his Precedents from the Reason of the Thing. To this purpose he makes a wide difference between the Rules of Tragedy and Comedy. That Vice must be impartially prosecuted in the first, because the Persons are Great &c.

It seems then Executions are only for Greatness; and Quality. Justice is not to strike much lower than a Prince. Private People may do what they please. They are too few for Mischief, and too Little for Punishment! This would be admirable Doctrine for Newgate, and give us a general Goal-Delivery without more ado. But in Tragedy (says the Mock Astrologer.) the Crimes are likewise Horrid, so that there is a necessity for Severity and Example. And how stands the matter in Comedy? Quite otherwise. There the Faults are but the follies of Youth, and the Frailties of Human Nature.Ibid.[321] For Instance. There is nothing but a little Whoring, Pimping, Gaming, Profaness &c, And who could be so hard hearted {156}to give a Man any Trouble for This? Such Rigours would be strangely Inhumane! A Poet is a better natur'd Thing I can assure you. These little Miscarrages move Pity and Commiseration, and are not such as must of necessity be Punish'd.Ibid.[322] This is comfortable Casuistry! But to be Serious. Is Dissolution of Manners such a Peccadillo? Does a Profligate Conscience deserve nothing but Commiseration? And are People damn'd only for Humane Frailties? I perceive the Laws of Religion and those of the Stage differ extreamly! The strength of his Defence lies in this choice Maxim, that the Cheif End of Comedy is Delight. He questions whether Instruction has any thing to do in Comedy; If it has, he is sure 'tis no more then its secondary end: For the business of the Poet is to make you laugh.Ibid.[323] Granting the Truth of this Principle, I somewhat question the serviceableness of it. For is there no Diversion to be had unless Vice appears prosperous, and rides at the Head of Success. One would think such a preposterous, distribution of Rewards, should rather shock the Reason, and raise the Indignation of the Audience. To laugh without reason is the Pleasure of Fools, and against it, of something worse. The exposing of Knavery, and making Lewdness ridiculous, is a much better occasion for Laughter. {157}And this with submission I take to be the End of Comedy. And therefore it does not differ from Tragedy in the End, but in the Means. Instruction is the principal Design of both. The one works by Terror, the other by Infamy. 'Tis true, they don't move in the same Line, but they meet in the same point at last. For this Opinion I have good Authority, besides what has been cited already.

1st. Monsieur Rapin affirms 'That Delight is the End that Poetry aims at, but not the Principal one. For Poetry being an Art, ought to be profitable by the quality of it's own nature, and by the Essential Subordination that all Arts should have to Polity, whose End in General is the publick Good. This is the Judgment of Aristotle and of Horace his chief Interpreter.Rapin Reflect. &c. p. 10.[324] Ben Johnson in his Dedicatory Epistle of his Fox has somewhat considerable upon this Argument; And declaims with a great deal of zeal, spirit, and good Sense, against the Licentiousness of the Stage. He lays it down for a Principle, 'That 'tis impossible to be a good Poet without being a good Man. That he (a good Poet) is said to be able to inform Young Men to all good Discipline, and enflame grown Men to all great Virtues &c.—That the general complaint was that the Writers of those days had {158}nothing remaining in them of the Dignity of a Poet, but the abused Name. That now, especially in Stage Poetry, nothing but Ribaldry, Profanation, Blasphemy, all Licence of Offence to God and Man, is practised. He confesses a great part of this Charge is over-true, and is sorry he dares not deny it. But then he hopes all are not embark'd in this bold Adventure for Hell. For my part (says he) I can, and from a most clear Conscience affirm; That I have ever trembled to think towards the least Profaness, and loath'd the Use of such foul, and unwash'd Bawdry, as is now made the Food of the Scene.—The encrease of which Lust in Liberty, what Learned or Liberal Soul does not abhor? In whole Enterludes nothing but the Filth of the Time is utter'd—with Brothelry able to violate the Ear of a Pagan, and Blasphemy, to turn the Blood of a Christian to Water. He continues, that the Insolence of these Men had brought the Muses into Disgrace, and made Poetry the lowest scorn of the Age. He appeals to his Patrons the Universities, that his Labour has been heretofore, and mostly in this his latest Work, to reduce not only the antient Forms, but Manners of the Scene, the Innocence and the Doctrine, which is the Principal End of Poesy, {159}to inform Men in the best Reason of Living.' Lastly he adds, that 'he has imitated the Conduct of the Antients in this Play, The goings out (or Conclusions) of whose Comedies, were not always joyful but oft-times the Bawds, the Slaves, the Rivals, ye and the Masters are multed, and fitly, it being the Office of a Comick Poet (mark that!) to imitate Justice, and Instruct to Life &c.' Say you so! Why then if Ben Johnson knew any thing of the Matter, Divertisment and Laughing is not as Mr. Dryden affirms, the Chief End of Comedy. This Testimony is so very full and clear, that it needs no explaining, nor any enforcement from Reasoning, and Consequence.

And because Laughing and Pleasure has such an unlimited Prerogative upon the Stage, I shall add a Citation or two from Aristotle concerning this Matter. Now this great Man 'calls those Buffoons, and Impertinents, who rally without any regard to Persons or Things, to Decency, or good Manners. That there is a great difference between Ribaldry, and handsom Rallying. He that would perform exactly, must keep within the Character of Virtue, and Breeding. He goes on, and tells us that the old Comedians entertain'd the Audience with Smut, but the {160}Modern ones avoided that Liberty, and grew more reserv'd. This latter way he says was much more proper and Gentile then the other. That in his Opinion Rallying, no less than Railing, ought to be under the Discipline of Law; That he who is ridden by his Jests, and minds nothing but the business of Laughing, is himself Ridiculous. And that a Man of Education and Sense, is so far from going these Lengths that he wont so much as endure the hearing some sort of Buffoonry.'Libr. 4. de Morib. cap. 14.[325]

And as to the point of Delight in general, the same Author affirms, 'that scandalous Satisfactions are not properly Pleasures. 'Tis only Distemper, and false Appetite which makes them palatable. And a Man that is sick, seldom has his Tast true. Besides, supposing we throw Capacity out of the Question, and make Experiment and Sensation the Judge; Granting this, we ought not to chop at every Bait, nor Fly out at every Thing that strikes the Fancy. The meer Agreableness must not overbear us, without distinguishing upon the Quality, and the Means. Pleasure how charming soever, must not be fetched out of Vice. An Estate is a pretty thing, but if we purchase by Falshood, and Knavery, {161}we pay too much for't. Some Pleasures, are Childish and others abominable; And upon the whole, Pleasure, absolutely speaking, is no good Thing.'De Mor. Lib. 10, cap. 2.[326] And so much for the Philosopher. And because Ribaldry is used for Sport, a passage or two from Quintilian, may not be unseasonable. This Orator does not only Condemn the grosser Instances, but cuts off all the Double-Entendre's at a Blow. He comes up to the Regularity of Thought, and tells us 'that the Meaning, as well as the Words of Discourse must be unsullied.'Institut. Lib. 6; c. 3.[327] And in the same Chapter he adds that 'A Man of Probity has always a Reserve in his Freedoms, and Converses within the Rules of Modesty, and Character. And that Mirth at the expence of Virtue, is an Over-purchase,' Nimium enim risus pretium est si probitatis impendio constat.

Thus we see how these great Masters qualify Diversion, and tie it up to Provisoes, and Conditions. Indeed to make Delight the main business of Comedy is an unreasonable and dangerous Principle. It opens the way to all Licentiousness, and Confounds the distinction between Mirth, and Madness. For if Diversion is the Chief End, it must be had at any Price, No serviceable Expedient must be refused, {162}tho' never so scandalous. And thus the worst Things are said, and best abus'd; Religion is insulted, and the most serious Matters turn'd into Ridicule! As if the Blindside of an Audience ought to be caress'd, and their Folly and Atheism entertain'd in the first Place. Yes, if the Palate is pleas'd, no matter tho' the Body is Poyson'd! For can one die of an easier Disease than Diversion? But Raillery apart, certainly Mirth and Laughing, without respect to the Cause, are not such supreme Satisfactions! A man has sometimes Pleasure in losing his Wits. Frensy, and Possession, will shake the Lungs, and brighten the Face; and yet I suppose they are not much to be coveted. However, now we know the Reason of the Profaness, and Obscenity of the Stage, of their Hellish Cursing, and Swearing, and in short of their great Industry to make God, and Goodness Contemptible: 'Tis all to Satisfie the Company, and make People Laugh! A most admirable justification! What can be more engaging to an Audience, then to see a Poet thus Atheistically brave? To see him charge up to the Canons Mouth, and defy the Vengeance of Heaven to serve them? Besides, there may be somewhat of Convenience in the Case. To fetch Diversion out of {163}Innocence is no such easy matter. There's no succeeding it may be in this method, without Sweat, and Drudging. Clean Wit, inoffensive Humour, and handsom Contrivance, require Time, and Thought. And who would be at this Expence, when the Purchase is so cheap another way? 'Tis possible a Poet may not alwaies have Sense enough by him for such an Occasion. And since we are upon supposals, it may be the Audience is not to be gain'd without straining a Point, and giving a Loose to Conscience: And when People are sick, are they not to be Humour'd? In sine, We must make them Laugh, right or wrong, for Delight is the Cheif End of Comedy. Delight! He should have said Debauchery: That's the English of the Word, and the Consequence of the Practise. But the Original Design of Comedy was otherwise: And granting 'twas not so, what then? If the Ends of Thing are naught, they must be mended. Mischief is the Chief end of Malice, would it be then a Blemish in Ill Nature to change Temper, and relent into Goodness? The Chief End of a Madman it may be is to Fire a House, must we not therefore bind him in his Bed? To conclude. If Delight without Restraint, or Distinction without Conscience or Shame, is the {164}Supream Law of Comedy, 'twere well if we had less on't. Arbitrary Pleasure, is more dangerous than Arbitrary Power. Nothing is more Brutal than to be abandon'd to Appetite; And nothing more wretched than to serve in such a Design. The Mock-Astrologer to clear himself of this Imputation, is glad to give up his Principle at Last. Least any Man should think (says He) that I write this to make Libertinism amiable, or that I cared not to debase the end, and Institution of Comedy. (It seems then Delight is not the Chief end.) I must farther declare that we make not Vitious Persons Happy, but only as Heaven makes Sinners so. &c. If this will hold, all's well. But Heaven does not forgive without Repentance. Let us see then what Satisfaction he requires from his Wild-Blood, and what Discipline he puts him under. Why, He helps him to his Mistress, he Marries him to a Lady of Birth and Fortune. And now do you think He has not made him an Example, and punish'd him to some Purpose! These are frightful Severities! Who would be vitious when such Terrors hang over his Head? And does Heaven make Sinners happy upon these Conditions? Sure some People have a good Opinion of Vice, or a very ill one of Marriage, otherwise they {165}would have Charged the Penance a little more. But I have nothing farther with the Mock-Astrologer.

And now for the Conclusion of a Chapter, I shall give some Instances of the Manners of the Stage, and that with respect to Poetry, and Ceremony. Manners in the Language of Poetry, is a Propriety of Actions, and Persons. To succeed in this business, there must always be a regard had to Age, Sex, and Condition: And nothing put into the Mouths of Persons which disagrees with any of these Circumstances. 'Tis not enough to say a witty Thing, unless it be spoken by a likely Person, and upon a Proper occasion. But my Design will lead me to this Subject afterwards, and therefore I shall say no more of it at present, but proceed to apply the Remark.

One Instance of Impropriety in Manners both Poetical and Moral, is their making Women, and Women of Quality talk Smuttily. This I have proved upon them already, and could cite many more places to the same Purpose were it necessary.

But I shall go on, and give the Reader some other examples of Decency, Judgment, and Probability. Don Sebastian will help us in some measure. Here {166}the Mufti makes a foolish Speech to the Rabble, and jests upon his own Religion. He tells them, tho' your Tyrant is a Lawful Emperour, yet your Lawful Emperour is but a Tyrant,——That your Emperour is a Tyrant is most Manifest, for you were born to be Turks, but he has play'd the Turk with you. And now is not this Man fit to Manage the Alcoran, and to be set up for on Oracle of State? Captain Tom should have had this Speech by right: But the Poet had a farther Design, and any thing is good enough for a Mufti.

Sebastian after all the violence of his Repentance, his grasping at self Murther, and Resolutions for the Cell, is strangely pleased with the Remembrance of his Incest, and wishes the Repetition of it: And Almeida out of her Princely Modesty, and singular Compunction, is of the same mind. This is somewhat surprising! Oedipus and Jocasta in Sophocles don't Repent at this rate. No: The horror of the first Discovery continues upon their Spirits: They never relapse into any fits of Intemperance, nor entertain themselves with a lewd Memory. This sort of Behaviour is not only more Instructive but more Natural too. It being very unlikely one should wish the Repeating a Crime, when He was almost Distracted {167}at the thoughts on't, At the thoughts on't, tho' 'twas comitted under all the Circumstances of excuse. Now when Ignorance and meer Mistake are so very disquieting, 'tis very strange if a Man should plague his Mind with the Aggravations of Knowledge; To carry Aversion, and Desire, in their full strength upon the same Object; To fly and pursue with so much eagerness, is somewhat Unusual.p. 32.[328]

If we step to the Spanish Fryar He will afford us a Flight worth the observing. 'Tis part of the Addresses of Torrismond to Leonora.

You are so Beautiful

So wondrous Fair, you justifie Rebellion;

As if that faultless Face could make no Sin,

But Heaven by looking on it must forgive.

These are strange Compliments! Torrismond calls his Queen Rebel to her head, when he was both her General and her Lover. This is powerful Rhetorick to Court a Queen with! Enough one would think to have made the Affair desperate. But he has a Remedy at hand. The Poets Nostrum of Profaness cures all. He does as good as tell Her, she may Sin as much as she has a mind to. Her Face is a Protection to her Conscience. For {168}Heaven is under a necessity to forgive a Handsom Woman. To say all this ought to be pass'd over in Torrismond on the score of his Passion, is to make the Excuse more scandalous than the Fault, if possible. Such Raptures are fit only for Bedlam, or a place which I shan't name. Love Triumphant will furnish another Rant not altogether inconsiderable. Here Celadea a Maiden Lady when she was afraid her Spark would be married to another, calls out presently for a Chaos. She is for pulling the World about her ears, tumbling all the Elements together, and expostulates with Heaven for making Humane Nature otherwise than it should have been.

Great Nature break thy chain that links together

The Fabrick of this Globe, and make a Chaos,

Like that within my Soul.——p. 52.[329]

Now to my fancy, if she had call'd for a Chair instead of a Chaos, trip'd off, and kept her folly to her self, the Woman had been much wiser. And since we have shown our Skill in vaulting on the High Ropes, a little Tumbling on the Stage, may not do amiss for variety.

Now then for a jest or two. Don Gomez shall begin:Spanish Fryar. p. 36.[330] And here he'le give us {169}a Gingle upon the double meaning of a word.

I think, says Dominick the Fryar, it was my good Angel that sent me hither so opportunely. Gomez suspects him brib'd for no creditable business and answers.

Gom. Ay, whose good Angels sent you hither, that you know best, Father.

These Spaniards will entertain us with more of this fine Raillery. Colonel Sancho in Love Triumphant has a great stroak at it. He says his Bride Dalinda is no more Dalinda, but Dalilah the Philistine.p. 70.[331] This Colonel as great a Soldier as he is, is quite puzzled at a Herald. He thinks they call him Herod, or some such Jewish Name. Here you have a good Officer spoil'd for a miserable jest.p. 61.[332] And yet after all, this Sancho tho' he can't pronounce Herald, knows what 'tis to be Laconick, which is somewhat more out of his way. Thraso in TerenceEnuch.
King Arth. p. 2.
[333] was a man of the same size in Sense, but for all that he does not quibble. Albanact Captain of the Guards,[334] is much about as witty as Sancho. It seems Emmeline Heiress to the Duke of Cornwal was Blind. Albanact takes the rise of his Thought from hence; And observes that as Blind as she is, Coswald would have no blind Bargain of her. Carlos tells Sancho he is sure of his Mistress,Love Trium. p. 26.[335] {170}and has no more to do but to take out a License.

Sancho replies, Indeed I have her License for it. Carlos is somewhat angry at this Gingle, and cries, what quibling too in your Prosperity? Adversity it seems is the only time for punning. Truly I think so too. For 'tis a sign a Man is much Distress'd when he flies to such an Expedient. However, Carlos needed not to have been so touchy: For He can stoop as low himself upon occasion. We must know then that Sancho had made Himself a Hunch'd Back, to counterfeit the Conde Alonzo. The two Colonels being in the same Disguise, were just upon the edg of a Quarrel. After some Preliminaries in Railing, Sancho cries, Don't provoke me; I am mischeivously bent.

Carlos replies, Nay, you are Bent enough in Conscience, but I have a Bent Fist for Boxing. Here you have a brace of Quibbles started in a Line and a half. And which is worst of all, they come from Carlos, from a Character of Sense; And therefore the poet, not the Soldier, must answer for them.

I shall now give the Reader a few Instances of the Courtship of the Stage, and how decently they treat the Women, and Quality of both Sexes. The Women who {171}are secured from Affronts by Custom, and have a Privilege for Respect, are sometimes but roughly saluted by these Men of Address. And to bar the Defence, this Coarseness does not alwaies come from Clowns, and Women-haters; but from Persons of Figure, neither singular, nor ill Bred. And which is still worse, The Satir falls on blindly without Distinction, and strikes at the whole Sex.

Enter Raymond a Noble-man in the Spanish Fryar.p. 47.[336]

O Vertue! Vertue! What art thou become?

That men should leave thee for that Toy a woman,

Made from the dross and refuse of a Man;

Heaven took him sleeping when he made her too,

Had Man been waking he had nee'r consented.

I did not know before that a Man's Dross lay in his Ribs; I believe sometimes it lies Higher. But the Philosophy, the Religion, and the Ceremony of these Lines, are too tender to be touched. Creon a Prince in Oedipus,Oedip. p. 3.[337] railes in General at the Sex, and at the same time is violently in Love with Euridice. This upon the Matter, is just as natural, as 'tis Civil. If any one would understand what the Curse of all tender hearted Women is, Belmour will inform him. What is it then? {172}'Tis the Pox.Old Batch. p. 41.[338] If this be true, the Women had need lay in a stock of ill Nature betimes. It seems 'tis their only preservative. It guards their Virtue, and their Health, and is all they have to trust to. Sharper another Man of Sense in this Play, talks much at the same rate. Belinda would know of him where he got that excellent Talent of Railing?

Sharp. Madam the Talent was Born with me.——I confess I have taken care to improve it, to qualifie me for the Society of Ladies.p. 35.[339] Horner, a Topping Character in the Country Wife, is advised to avoid Women, and hate them as they do him. He Answers.

Because I do hate them, and would hate them yet more, I'll frequent e'm; you may see by Marriage, nothing makes a Man hate a Woman more than her Constant Conversation.p. 22.
Don. Sebast. p. 5.
[340] There is still something more Coarse upon the Sex spoken by Dorax[341] but it is a privileged Expression, and as such I must leave it. The Relapse mends the Contrivance of the Satir, refines upon the Manner, and to make the Discourse the more probable, obliges the Ladies to abuse themselves. And because I should be loath to tire the Reader, Berenthia shall close the Argument. This Lady having {173}undertook the Employment of a Procuress, makes this remark upon it to her self.

Berinth. So here is fine work! But there was no avoiding it.——Besides, I begin to Fancy there may be as much Pleasure in carrying on another Bodies Intrigue, as ones own. This is at least certain, It exercises almost all the Entertaining Faculties of a Woman. For there is Employment for Hypocrisie, Invention, Deceit, Flattery, Mischief, and Lying.

Let us now see what Quarter the Stage gives to Quality. And here we shall find them extreamly free, and familiar. They dress up the Lords in Nick Names, and expose them in Characters of Contempt. Lord Froth is explain'd a Solemn Coxcomb;Double Dealer. Person. Dram.
Provok'd Wife.
p. 4. p. 2.
[342] And Lord Rake, and Lord Foplington give you their Talent in their Title.[343] Lord Plausible in the Plain Dealer Acts a ridiculous Part, but is with all very civil. He tells Manly he never attempted to abuse any Person, The other answers; What? you were afraid?[344] Manly goes on and declares He would call a Rascal by no other Title, tho' his Father had left him a Dukes.[345] That is, he would call a Duke a Rascal. This I confess is very much Plain Dealing. Such Freedoms would appear but odly in Life, especially without Provocation. I must own the Poet to be an Author of {174}good Sense; But under favour, these jests, if we may call them so, are somewhat high Season'd, the Humour seems overstrain'd, and the Character push'd too far. To proceed. Mustapha was selling Don Alvarez for a Slave. The Merchant asks what Virtues he has.Don Sebast. p. 16.[346] Mustapha replies. Virtues quoth ah! He is of a great Family and Rich, what other Virtues would'st thou have in a Nobleman? Don Carlos in Love Triumphant stands for a Gentleman, and a Man of Sense, and out-throws Mustapha a Bars Length. He tells us Nature has given Sancho an empty Noddle, but Fortune in revenge has fill'd his Pockets: just a Lords Estate in Land and Wit.p. 17.[347] This is a handsom Compliment to the Nobility! And my Lord Salisbury had no doubt of it a good Bargain of the Dedication.Don. Quix. part. 2. p. 37.[348] Teresa's general Description of a Countess is considerable in its Kind: But only 'tis in no Condition to appear. In the Relapse, Sir Tunbelly who had Mistaken Young Fashion for Lord Foplington, was afterwards undeceiv'd; and before the surprize was quite over, puts the Question, is it then possible that this should be the true Lord Foplington at Last? The Nobleman removes the scruple with great Civility and Discretion! Lord Fopl. Why what do you see in his Face to make you doubt of {175}it? Sir without presuming to have an extraordinary Opinion of my Figure, give me leave to tell you, if you had seen as many Lords as I have done you would not think it Impossible A Person of a worse Taille then mine might be a Modern Man of Quality.Relapse. p. 84.[349]

I'm sorry to hear Modern Quality degenerates so much. But by the way, these Liberties are altogether new. They are unpractised by the Latin Comedians, and by the English too till very lately, as the Plain Dealer observes.p. 24.
L'Ombre de Moliere
[350] And as for Moliere in France, he pretends to fly his Satir no higher than a Marquis.[351]

And has our Stage a particular Privilege? Is their Charter inlarg'd, and are they on the same Foot of Freedom with the Slaves in the Saturnalia? Must all Men be handled alike? Must their Roughness be needs play'd upon Title? And can't they lash the Vice without pointing upon the Quality? If as Mr. Dryden rightly defines it, a Play ought to be a just Image of Humane Nature;Essay Dram. poet. p. 5.[352] Why are not the Decencies of Life, and, the Respects of Conversation observ'd? Why must the Customes of Countries be Cross'd upon, and the Regards of Honour overlook'd? What necessity is there to kick the Coronets about the Stage, and to make a Man a Lord, only in order to {176}make him a Coxcomb. I hope the Poets don't intend to revive the old Project of Levelling and Vote down the House of Peers. In earnest, the Play-house is an admirable School of Behaviour! This is their way of managing Ceremony, distinguishing Degree, and Entertaining the Boxes! But I shall leave them at present to the Enjoyment of their Talent, and proceed to another Argument.



Remarks upon Amphytrion, King Arthur, Don Quixote, and the Relapse.


The following Plays, excepting the Last, will fall under the same Heads of Commendation with the Former. However, since the Poets have here been prodigal in their Expence, and dress'd themselves with more Curiosity then ordinary, they deserve a proportionable Regard. So much Finery must not be Crowded. I shall therefore make Elbow-Room for their Figure, and allow them the Compass of a distinct Chapter.

To begin with Amphytrion. In this Play Mr. Dryden represents Jupiter with the Attributes of the supream Being: He furnishes him with Omnipotence, makes him the Creator of Nature, and the Arbiter of Fate, puts all the Functions of Providence in his Hand, and describes him with the Majesty of the true God.Amphit. p. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9.[353] And when he has put Him in this glorious {178}Equipage, he brings him out for Diversion. He makes him express himself in the most intemperate Raptures:p. 8. 17.[354] He is willing to Renounce his Heaven for his Brutality, and employ a whole Eternity in Lewdness. He draws his Debauch at its full Length, with all the Art, and Heightings, and Foulness of Idea immaginable. This Jupiter is not contented with his success against Amphitrion, unless he brings Alcmena into the Confederacy, and makes her a Party ex post Facto. He would not have her think of her Husband, but her Lover, that is, her Whoremaster. 'Tis not the success, but the manner of gaining it which is all in all. 'Tis the Vice which is the charming Circumstance. Innocence and Regularity, are dangerous Companions; They spoil Satisfaction, and make every Thing insipid! Unless People take care to discharge their Virtue, and clear off their Conscience, their Senses will vanish immediately! For Jupiter, says he,p. 18.[355] would owe nothing to a Name so dull as Husband. And in the next Page.

That very name of Wife And Marriage

Is poyson to the dearest sweets of Love.19.[356]

I would give the Reader some more of these fine Sentences, but that they are {179}too much out of Order to appear. The truth is, Our Stage-Poets seem to fence against Censure by the excess of Lewdness; And to make the overgrown size of a Crime, a Ground for Impunity. As if a Malefactor should project his Escape by appearing too scandalous for Publick Tryal. However, This is their Armour of Proof, this is the Strength they retreat to. They are fortified in Smut, and almost impregnable in Stench, so that where they deserve most, there's no coming at them. To proceed. I desire to know what Authority Mr. Dryden has for this extraordinary Representation? His Original Plautus, is no President. Indeed Plautus is the only bold Heathen that ever made Jupiter tread the Stage. But then he stops far short of the Liberties of the English Amphitrion. Jupiter at Rome, and London, have the same unaccountable Design; but the Methods of pursuit are very different. The First, does not solicit in scandalous Language, nor flourish upon his Lewdness, nor endeavours to set it up for the Fashion. Plautus had some regard to the Height of the Character, and the Opinion of his Country, and the Restraints of Modesty. The Sallies of Aristophanes do not come up to the case; And if they did, I have cut off the Succours from that {180}Quarter already. Terence's Chærea. is the next bold Man:Eunuch.[357] However, here the Fable of Jupiter and Danae are just glanced at, and the Expression is clean; and He that tells the Story, a Young Libertine. These are all circumstances of extenuation, and give quite another Complexion to the Thing. As for the Greek Tragedians and Seneca, there's no Prescription can be drawn from them. They mention Jupiter in Terms of Magnificence and Respect, and make his Actions, and his Nature of a piece. But it may be the Celebrated Homer, and Virgil may give Mr. Dryden some Countenance. Not at all. Virgil's Jupiter is alwaies great, and solemn, and keeps up the port of a Deity. 'Tis true, Homer does not guard the Idea with that exactness, but then He never sinks the Character into Obscenity. The most exceptionable passage is that where Jupiter relates his Love Adventures to Juno. Here this pretended Deity is charm'd with Venus's Girdle, is in the height of his Courtship, and under the Ascendant of his Passion. This 'tis confess'd was a slippery Place, and yet the Poet makes a shift to keep his Feet. His Jupiter is Little, but not nauseous; The Story, tho' improper, will bear the telling, and look Conversation in the Face. However; These {181}Freedoms of Homer were counted intolerable: I shall not insist on the Censures of Justin Martyr, or Clemens Alexandrinus: Even the Heathen could not endure them. The Poets are lashed by Plato upon this Score; For planting Vice in Heaven, and making their Gods infectious; If Mr. Dryden answers that Jupiter can do us no Harm.Euseb. præpar. Evang.[358] He is known to be an Idol of Lewd Memory, and therefore his Example can have no Force: Under Favour this is a mistake: For won't Pitch daub when a dirty Hand throws it; or can't a Toad spit Poyson because she's ugly? Ribaldry is dangerous under any Circumstances of Representation. And as Menander and St. Paul express it, Evil Communications corrupt good Manners. I mention them both, because if the Apostle should be dislik'd, the Comedian may pass. But after all, Mr. Dryden has not so much as a Heathen President for his Singularities. What then made him fall into them? Was it the Decency of the Thing, and the Propriety of Character, and Behaviour? By no means. For as I have observ'd before, Nature and Operations, ought to be proportion'd, and Behaviour suited to the Dignity of Being. To draw a Monkey in Royal Robes, and a Prince in Antick, would be Farce upon {182}Colours, entertain like a Monster, and please only upon the score of Deformity. Why then does Mr. Dryden cross upon Nature and Authority, and go off as he Confesses, from the Plan of Plautus, and Moliere? Tho' by the way, the English Amphitryon has borrow'd most of the Libertine Thoughts of Moliere, and improv'd them. But to the former question. Why must the beaten Road be left? He tells us, That the difference of our Stage from the Roman and the French did so require it.Ep. Ded.[359] That is, our Stage must be much more Licentious. For you are to observe that Mr. Dryden, and his Fraternity, have help'd to debauch the Town, and Poyson their Pleasures to an unusal Degree: And therefore the Diet must be dress'd to the Palate of the Company. And since they are made Scepticks, they must be entertain'd as such. That the English Amphitryon was contriv'd with this View is too plain to be better interpreted. To what purpose else does Jupiter appear in the shape of Jehovah? Why are the incommunicable Attributes burlesqu'd, and Omnipotence applyed to Acts of Infamy? To what end can such Horrible stuff as this serve, unless to expose the Notion, and extinguish the Belief of a Deity? The Perfections of God, are Himself. To {183}ridicule his Attributes and his Being, are but two words for the same Thing. These Attributes are bestow'd on Jupiter with great Prodigality, and afterwards execrably outrag'd. The Case being thus, the Cover of an Idol, is too thin a pretence to Screen the Blasphemy. Nothing but Mr. Dryden's Absolom and Achitophel can out-do This. Here I confess the Motion of his Pen is bolder, and the Strokes more Black'd. Here we have Blasphemy on the top of the Letter, without any trouble of Inference, or Construction. This Poem runs all upon Scripture Names, Upon Suppositions of the true Religion, and the right Object of Worship. Here Profaness is shut out from Defence, and lies open without Colour or Evasion. Here are no Pagan Divinities in the Scheme, so that all the Atheistick Raillery must point upon the true God. In the beginning we are told that Absalom was David's Natural Son: So then there's a blot in his Scutcheon and a Blemish upon his Birth. The Poet will make admirable use of this, remark presently! This Absalom it seems was very extraordinary in his Person and Performances. Mr. Dryden does not certainly know how this came about, and therefore enquires of himself in the first place,


Whether inspired with a diviner Lust,

His Father got him——p. 1.[360]

This is down right Defiance of the Living God! Here you have the very Essence and Spirit of Blasphemy, and the Holy Ghost brought in upon the most hideous Occasion. I question whether the Torments and Despair of the Damn'd, dare venture at such Flights as these. They are beyond Description, I Pray God they may not be beyond Pardon too. I can't forbear saying, that the next bad Thing to the writing these Impieties, is to Suffer them. To return to Amphitryon. Phœbus and Mercury have Manners assign'd very disagreeable to their Condition. The later abating Propriety of Language, talks more like a Water-man than a Deity. They rail against the Gods, and call Mars and Vulcan the two Fools of Heaven. Mercury is pert upon his Father Jupiter, makes jests upon his Pleasures, and his Greatness, and is horribly smutty and profane.p. 3, 16, etc.[361] And all this Misbehaviour comes from him in his own shape, and in the sublimity of his Character. Had He run Riot in the Disguise of Sofia, the Discourse and the Person had been better adjusted, and the Extravagance more Pardonable. {185}But here the Decorum is quite lost. To see the Immortals play such Gambols, and the biggest Beings do the least Actions, is strangely unnatural. An Emperour in the Grimaces of an Ape, or the Diversions of a Kitten, would not be half so ridiculous. Now as Monsieur Rapin observes, without Decorum there can be no probability, nor without Probability any true Beauty. Nature must be minded, otherwise Things will look forced, tawdry, and chimerical. Mr. Dryden discourses very handsomly on this occasion in his Preface to Albion and Albanius.p. 1.[362] He informs us, That Wit has been truly defin'd a propriety of Words and Thoughts.——That Propriety of Thought is that Fancy which arises naturally from the Subject. Why then without doubt, the Quality, of Characters should be taken care of, and great Persons appear like themselves. Yes, yes, all this is granted by implication, and Mr. Dryden comes still nearer to the present case. He tells us, that Propriety is to be observed, even in Machines; And that the Gods are all to manage their Peculiar Provinces. He instances in some of their respective Employments; but I don't find that any of them were to talk Lewdly. No. He plainly supposes the contrary. For as he goes on, If they were to speak upon {186}the Stage it would follow of necessity, that the Expressions should be Lofty, Figurative, and Majestical. It seems then their Behaviour should be agreeable to their Greatness. Why then are not these Rules observ'd, in the Machines of Amphitrion? As I take it, Obscenity has not the Air of Majesty, nor any Alliance with the Sublime. And as for the Figurative Part, 'tis generally of the same Cut with the Lofty: The Smut shines clear, and strong, through the Metaphor, and is no better screen'd than the Sun by a Glass Window. To use Mercury thus ill, and make the God of Eloquence speak so unlike himself is somewhat strange! But tho' the Antients knew nothing of it, there are Considerations above those of Decency. And when this happens, A Rule must rather be trespass'd on, than a Beauty left out. 'Tis Mr. Dryden's opinion in his Cleomenes, where he breaks the Unity of Time, to describe the Beauty of a Famine.Pref.[363] Now Beauty is an arbitrary Advantage, and depends upon Custom and Fancy. With some People the Blackest Complexions are the handsomest. 'Tis to these African Criticks that Mr. Dryden seems to make his Appeal. And without doubt he bespeaks their Favour, and strikes their Imagination luckily enough. For to lodge Divinity and Scandal together; To make {187}the Gods throw Stars, like Snow-balls at one another, but especially to Court in Smut, and rally in Blasphemy, is most admirably entertaining! This is much better than all the Niceties of Decorum. 'Tis handsomly contriv'd to slur the Notion of a Superiour Nature, to disarm the Terrors of Religion, and make the Court Above as Romantick as that of the Fairies. A Libertine when his Conscience is thus reliev'd, and Atheism sits easie upon his Spirits, can't help being grateful upon the Occasion. Meer Interest will oblige him to cry up the Performance, and solicit for the Poets Reputation! Before I take leave of these Machines, it may not be amiss to enquire why the Gods are brought into the Spiritual Court.p. 1.[364] Now I suppose the Creditableness of the Business, and the Poets Kindness to those Places, are the principal Reasons of their coming. However. He might have a farther Design in his Head, and that is, to bring Thebes to London, and to show the Antiquity of Doctors Commons. For if you will believe Mercury, this Conference between him and Phœbus was held three thousand years ago.19.[365] Thus Shakespear makes Hector talk about Aristotles Philosophy,Troil. and Cressid.
The Hist. of Sr. John Old Castle.
[366] and calls Sr. John Old Castle, Protestant.[367] I had not mention'd this Discovery in Chronology, {188}but that Mr. Dryden falls upon Ben Johnson, for making Cataline give Fire at the Face of a Cloud, before Guns were invented.

By the Pattern of these pretended Deities, we may guess what sort of Mortals we are likely to meet with. Neither are we mistaken. For Phædra, is bad enough in all Conscience, but Bromia is a meer Original. Indeed when Mr. Dryden makes Jupiter, and Jupiter makes the Women, little less can be expected. So much for Amphitrion.

I shall pass on to King Arthur for a word or two.King Arthur.[368] Now here is a strange jumble and Hotch potch of Matters, if you mind it. Here we have Genii, and Angels, Cupids, Syrens, and Devils; Venus and St. George, Pan and the Parson, the Hell of Heathenism, and the Hell of Revelation; A fit of Smut, and then a Jest about Original Sin. And why are Truth and Fiction, Heathenism and Christianity, the most Serious and the most Trifling Things blended together, and thrown into one Form of Diversion? Why is all this done unless it be to ridicule the whole, and make one as incredible as the other? His Airy and Earthy Spirits discourse of the first state of Devils, of their Chief of their Revolt, their Punishment, and {189}Impostures. This Mr. Dryden very Religiously calls a Fairy way of Writing, which depends only on the Force of Imagination.Ep. Ded.[369] What then is the Fall of the Angels a Romance? Has it no basis of Truth, nothing to support it, but strength of Fancy, and Poetick Invention? After He had mention'd Hell, Devils, &c. and given us a sort of Bible description of these formidable Things; I say after he had formed his Poem in this manner, I am surprized to hear him call it a Fairy kind of Writing. Is the History of Tophet no better prov'd than that of Styx? Is the Lake of Brimstone and that of Phlegeton alike dreadful? And have we as much Reason to believe the Torments of Titius and Prometheus, as those of the Devils and Damn'd? These are lamentable Consequences! And yet I can't well see how the Poet can avoid them. But setting aside this miserable Gloss in the Dedication, the Representation it self is scandalously irreligious. To droll upon the Vengeance of Heaven, and the Miseries of the Damn'd, is a sad Instance of Christianity! Those that bring Devils upon the Stage, can hardly believe them any where else. Besides, the Effects of such an Entertainment must needs be admirable! To see Hell thus play'd with is a mighty Refreshment to a lewd {190}Conscience, and a byass'd Understanding. It heartens the Young Libertine, and confirms the well-wishers to Atheism, and makes Vice bold, and enterprising. Such Diversions serve to dispel the Gloom, and guild the Horrors of the Shades below, and are a sort of Ensurance against Damnation. One would think these Poets went upon absolute Certainty, and could demonstrate a Scheme of Infidelity. If they could, They had much better keep the Secret. The divulging it tends only to debauch Mankind, and shake the Securities of Civil Life. However, if they have been in the other World and find it empty, and uninhabited, and are acquainted with all the Powers, and Places, in Being; If they can show the Impostures of Religion, and the Contradictions of Common Belief, they have something to say for themselves. Have they then infallible Proof and Mathematick Evidence for these Discoveries? No Man had ever the Confidence to say This; And if He should, he would be but laughed at for his Folly. No Conclusions can exceed the Evidence of their Principles; you may as well build a Castle in the Air, as raise a Demonstration upon a Bottom of Uncertainty. And is any Man so vain as to pretend to know the Extent of Nature, and the Stretch of Possibility, {191}and the Force of the Powers Invisible? So that notwithstanding the Boldness of this Opera, there may be such a Place as Hell; And if so, a Discourse about Devils, will be no Fairy way of Writing. For a Fairy way of Writing, is nothing but a History of Fiction; A subject of Imaginary Beings; such as never had any existence in Time, or Nature. And if as Monsieur Rapin observes, Poetry requires a mixture of Truth and Fable; Mr. Dryden may make his advantage, for his Play is much better founded on Reality than He was aware of.

It may not be improper to consider in a word or two, what a frightfull Idea the Holy Scriptures give us of Hell. 'Tis describ'd by all the Circumstances of Terror, by every Thing dreadful to Sense, and amazing to Thought. The Place, the Company, the Duration, are all Considerations of Astonishment. And why has God given us this solemn warning? Is it not to awaken our Fears, and guard our Happiness; To restrain the Disorders of Appetite, and to keep us within Reason, and Duty? And as for the Apostate Angels, the Scriptures inform us of their lost Condition, of their Malice and Power, of their active Industry and Experience; and all these Qualities {192}Correspondent to the Bulk of their Nature, the Antiquity of their Being, and the Misery of their State. In short, They are painted in all the formidable Appearances imaginable, to alarm our Caution, and put us upon the utmost Defence.

Let us see now how Mr. Dryden represents these unhappy Spirits, and their Place of Abode. Why very entertainingly! Those that have a true Tast for Atheism were never better regaled. One would think by this Play the Devils were meer Mormo's and Bugbears, fit only to fright Children and Fools. They rally upon Hell and Damnation, with a great deal of Air and Pleasantry; and appear like Robin Good-fellow, only to make the Company laugh. Philidel: Is call'd a Puling Sprite. And why so? For this pious reason, because

He trembles at the yawning Gulph of Hell,

Nor dares approach the Flames least he should Singe

His gaudy silken Wings.

He sighs when he should plunge a Soul in Sulphur,

As with Compassion touch'd of Foolish Man.p. 6.[370]

The answer is, What a half Devil's he.


You see how admirably it runs all upon the Christian Scheme! Sometimes they are Half-Devils, and sometimes Hopeful-Devils, and what you please to make sport with. Grimbald is afraid of being whooped through Hell at his return, for miscarrying in his Business. It seems there is great Leisure for Diversion! There's Whooping in Hell, instead of Weeping and Wailing! One would fancy Mr. Dryden had Daylight and Company, when these Lines were written. I know his Courage is extraordinary; But sure such Thoughts could never bear up against Solitude and a Candle!

And now since he has diverted himself with the Terrors of Christianity, I dont wonder he, should treat those that Preach them with so much Civility! enter Poet in the Habit of a Peasant.

We ha' cheated the Parson we'el cheat him again,

For why should a Blockhead have one in ten?

For prating so long like a Booklearned Sot,

Till Pudding, and Dumpling burn to pot.

These are fine comprehensive stroaks! Here you have the Iliads in a Nutshell! Two or three courtly words take in the whole Clergy; And what is wanting in {194}Wit, is made up in Abuse, and that's as well. This is an admirable Harvest Catch, and the poor Tith-stealers stand highly indebted. They might have been tired with Cheating in Prose, had not they not been thus seasonably releiv'd in Doggrell! But now there is Musick in playing the Knave. A Countryman now may fill his Barn, and humour his ill Manners, and sing his Conscience asleep, and all under one. I dont question but these four Lines steal many a Pound in the year. Whether the Muse stands indictable or not, the Law must determine: But after all, I must say the Design is notably laid. For Place and Person, for Relish and Convenience; nothing could have been better. The Method is very short, clear, and Practicable. 'Tis a fine portable Infection, and costs no more Carriage than the Plague.

Well! the Clergy must be contented: It might possibly have been worse for them if they had been in his favour: For he has sometimes a very unlucky way of showing his Kindness. He commends the Earl of Leicester for considering the Friend, more than the Cause;Ep. Ded. Don Sebast.[371] that is, for his Partiality; The Marquess of Halifax for quitting the Helm, at the approach of a Storm;Ded. King Arthur.[372] As if Pilots were made only for fair {195}Weather. 'Tis Presum'd these Noble Persons are unconcern'd in this Character. However the Poet has shown his skill in Panegyrick, and 'tis only for that I mention it. He commends Atticus for his Trimming, and Tally for his Cowardize, and speaks meanly of the Bravery of Cato.Sebast. K. Arth.
[373] Afterwards he professes his Zeal for the Publick welfare, and is pleas'd to see the Nation so well secur'd from Foreign Attempts &c.[374] However he is in some pain about the Coming of the Gauls; 'Tis possible for fear they should invade the Muses, and carry the Opera's into Captivity, and deprive us of the Ornaments of Peace.

And now He has serv'd his Friends, he comes in the last place like a modest Man, to commend Himself. He tells us there were a great many Beauties in the Original Draught of this Play. But it seems Time has since tarnish'd their Complexion. And He gives Heroick Reasons for their not appearing. To speak Truth, (all Politicks apart,) there are strange Flights of Honour, and Consistencies of Pretention in this Dedication! But I shall forbear the Blazon of the Atcheivment, for fear I should commend as unluckily as Himself.



Remarks upon Don Quixot, &c.

Mr. Durfey being somewhat particular in his Genius and Civilities, I shall consider him in a word or two by himself. This Poet writes from the Romance of an ingenious Author: By this means his Sense, and Characters are cut out to his Hand. He has wisely planted himself upon the shoulders of a Giant; but whether his Discoveries answer the advantage of his standing, the Reader must judge.

What I have to object against Mr. Durfey shall most of it be ranged under these three Heads.

I. His Profaness with respect to Religion and the Holy Scriptures.

II. His Abuse of the Clergy.

III. His want of Modesty and Regard to the Audience.

I. His Profaness, &c.

And here my first Instance shall be in a bold Song against Providence.


Providence that formed the Fair

In such a charming Skin,

Their Outside made his only care,

And never look'd within.Part 1st. p. 20.[375]

Here the Poet tells you Providence makes Mankind by halves, huddles up the Soul, and takes the least care of the better Moyety. This is direct blaspheming the Creation, and a Satir upon God Almighty. His next advance is to droll upon the Resurrection.

Sleep and indulge thy self with Rest,

Nor dream thou e're shalt rise again.p. 20.[376]

His Third Song makes a jest of the Fall, rails upon Adam and Eve, and burlesques the Conduct of God Almighty for not making Mankind over again.

When the World first knew Creation,p. 37.[377]

A Rogue was a Top-Profession,

When there was no more in all Nature but Four,

There were two of them in Transgression.

He that first to mend the Matter,

Made Laws to bind our Nature,

Should have found a way,

To make Wills obey,

And have Modell'd new the Creature.


In this and the following page, the Redemption of the World is treated with the same respect with the Creation. The word Redeemer, which among Christians is appropriated to our Blessed Saviour, and like the Jewish Tetragrammaton peculiarly reserv'd to the Deity; This adorable Name (Redeemer and Dear Redeemer,) is applyed to the ridiculous Don Quixote. These Insolencies are too big for the Correction of a Pen, and therefore I shall leave them. After this horrible abuse of the Works, and Attributes of God, he goes on to make sport with his Vengeance. He makes the Torments of Hell a very Comical Entertainment: As if they were only Flames in Painting, and Terrors in Romance. The Stygian Frogs in Aristophanes are not represented with more Levity, and Drolling. That the Reader may see I do him no wrong, I shall quote the places which is the main Reason why I have transcrib'd the rest of his Profaness.


Appear ye fat Feinds that in Limbo do groan,

That were when in Flesh the same souls with his own:

You that always in Lucifers Kitchin reside,

'Mongst Sea-coal and Kettles, and Grease newly try'd:

That pamper'd each day with a Garbidge of Souls,

Broil Rashers of Fools for a Breakfast on Coals.

In the Epilogue you have the History of Balaam's Ass exposed, and the Beast brought upon the Stage to laugh at the Miracle the better;

And as 'tis said a parlous Ass once spoke,

When Crab-tree Cudgel did his rage provoke.

So if you are not civil,——I fear

He'el speak again.——

In the second Part the Devil is brought upon the Stage.p. 13.[378] He cries as he hopes to be Saved. And Sancho warrants him a good Christian. Truly I think he may have more of Christianity in him than the Poet. For he trembles at that God, with whom the other makes Diversion.

I shall omit the mention of several outrages of this Kind, besides his deep mouth'd swearing, which is frequent, and pass on to the Second Head, which is His Abuse of the Clergy. And since Reveal'd Religion has been thus horribly treated, {200}'tis no Wonder if the Ministers of it have the same Usage.

And here we are likely to meet with some passages extraordinary enough. For to give Mr. Durfey his due, when he meddles with Church men he lays about him like a Knight Errant: Here his Wit and his Malice, are generally in extreams, tho' not of the same Kind. To begin. He makes the Curate Perez assist at the ridiculous Ceremony of Don Quixots Knighting.Part. 1. p. 13.[379] Afterwards Squire Sancho confessing his mistake to Quixote, tells him, Ah consider dear Sir no man is born wise. And what if he was born wise? He may be Bred a Fool, if he has not a care. But how does he prove this Memorable Sentence? Because a Bishop is no more than another man without Grace and Good Breeding. I must needs say if the Poet had any share of either of these Qualities, he would be less bold with his Superiors; and not give his Clowns the Liberty to droll thus heavily upon a solemn Character. This Sancho Mr. Durfey takes care to inform us is a dry shrewd Country Fellow, The reason of this Character is for the strength of it somewhat surprising.Person. Dram.[380] 'Tis because he blunders out Proverbs upon all Occasions, tho' never so far from the purpose. Now if blundring and talking nothing {201}to the purpose, is an argument of Shrewdness; some Peoples Plays are very shrewd Performances. To proceed. Sancho complains of his being married, because it hindred him from better offers. Perez the Curate is sorry for this Misfortune. For as I remember says he 'twas my luck to give Teresa and you the Blessing. To this Sancho replies. A Plague on your Blessing! I perceive I shall have reason to wish you hang'd for your Blessing——Good finisher of Fornication, good Conjunction Copulative.p. 51.[381] For this irreverence and Profaness Perez threatens him with Excommunication. Sancho tells him, I care not, I shall lose nothing by it but a nap in the Afternoon. In his Second Part, Jodolet a Priest is call'd a Holy Cormorant, and made to dispatch half a Turkey, and a Bottle of Malaga for his Breakfast.p. 3.[382] Here one Country Girl chides another for her sawcyness. D'ee (says she) make a Pimp of a Priest? Sancho interposes with his usual shrewdness: A Pimp of a Priest, why is that such a Miracle? In the Second Scene the Poet Provides himself another Priest to abuse.p. 7.[383] Mannel the Steward calls Bernardo the Chaplain Mr. Cuff-Cushion, and tells him a Whore is a Pulpit he loves.——In settling the Characters Mannel is given out for a witty pleasant Fellow. And now you see he comes up to Expectation. To the Blind all Colours {202}are alike, and Rudeness, and Raillery are the same thing!p. 10.[384] Afterwards, Bernardo says Grace upon the Stage; and I suppose Prays to God to bless the Entertainment of the Devil. Before they rise from Table, the Poet contrives a Quarrel between Don Quixot and Bernardo. The Priest railes on the Knight, and calls him Don Coxcomb &c. By this time you may imagine the Knight heartily Provok'd, ready to buckle on his Bason, and draw out for the Combat, Let us hear his Resentment.

Don Quix. Oh thou old black Fox with a Fire brand in thy Tail, thou very Priest: Thou Kindler of all Mischeifs in all Nations. De'e hear Homily: Did not the Reverence I bear these Nobles——I would so thrum your Cassock you Church Vermin.p. 41.[385]

At last he bids Bernardo adieu in Language too Profane and Scandalous to relate.p. 47.[386] In the Fourth Act His Song calls the Clergy Black Cattle, and says no Body now minds what they say. I could alledge more of his Courtship to the Order, but the Reader might possibly be tired, and therefore I shall proceed in the

Third, place to his want of Modesty, and Regard to the Audience. As for Smut Sancho and Teresa talk it broad, and single sens'd, for almost a page together.Part. 1st. p. 7, 8. pt. 2d. p. 57.[387] Mary the Buxsom has likewise her share {203}of this Accomplishment. The first Epilogue is Garnish'd with a Couplet of it;pt. 2d. p. 60;[388] Marcella the Maiden Shepherdess raves in Raptures of Indecency; And sometimes you have it mixt up with Profaness, to make the Composition the 1st. p. 38. pt. 2d. p. 14.[389] But this entertainment being no Novelty, I shall pass it over; And the rather because there are some other Rarities which are not to be met with else where.

Here he diverts the Ladies with the Charming Rhetorick of Snotty-Nose, filthy Vermin in the Beard, Nitty Jerkin, and Louse Snapper, with the Letter in the Chamber-pot, and natural Evacuation;pt. 1st. p. 7, 8. pt. 2d. p. 52. pt. 2d. p. 36, 49. pt. 2d. p. 37. 44.[390] with an abusive description of a Countess, and a rude story of a certain Lady, and with some other varieties of this Kind, too coarse to be named. This is rare stuff for Ladies, and Quality! There is more of Physick, than Comedy in such Sentences as these. Crocus Metallorum will scarse turn the Stomack more effectually. 'Tis possible Mr. Durfey might design it for a Receipt. And being Conscious the Play was too dear, threw a Vomit into the Bargain.Pref. pt. 3d.[391] I wonder Mr. Durfey should have no more regard to the Boxes and Pitt! That a Man who has studied the Scenes of Decency and Good Manners with so much Zeal, should practise with so little Address! Certainly indefatigable Diligence, {204}Care and Pains, was never more unfortunate!Ibid.[392] In his third Part, Buxsome swears faster, and is more scandalous, and impertinent, than in the other two. At these Liberties, and some in Sancho, the Ladies took Check. This Censure Mr. Durfey seems heartily sorry for. He is extreamly concern'd that the Ladies, that Essential part of the Audience, should think his Performance nauseous and undecent.Pref.[393] That is, he is very sorry they brought their Wits, or their Modesty along with them. However Mr. Durfey is not so Ceremonious as to submit: He is resolved to keep the Field against the Ladies; And endeavours to defend himself by saying, I know no other way in Nature to do the Characters right, but to make a Romp, speak like a Romp, and a clownish Boor blunder &c.Ibid.[394]

By his favour, all Imitations tho' never so well Counterfeited are not proper for the Stage. To present Nature under every Appearance would be an odd undertaking. A Midnight Cart, or a Dunghil would be no Ornamental Scene. Nastyness, and dirty Conversation are of the same kind. For Words are a Picture to the Ear, as Colours and Surface are to the Eye. Such Discourses are like dilating upon Ulcers, and Leprosies: The more {205}Natural, the worse; for the Disgust always rises with the Life of the Description. Offensive Language like offensive Smells, does but make a Man's Senses a burthen, and affords him nothing but Loathing and Aversion. Beastliness in Behaviour, gives a disparaging Idea of Humane Nature, and almost makes us sorry we are of the same Kind. For these reasons 'tis a Maxime in Good Breeding never to shock the Senses, or Imagination. This Rule holds strongest before Women, and especially when they come to be entertain'd. The Diversion ought to be suited to the Audience; For nothing pleases which is disproportion'd to Capacity, and Gust. The Rudenesses and broad Jests of Beggars, are just as acceptable to Ladies as their Rags, and Cleanliness. To treat Persons of Condition like the Mob, is to degrade their Birth, and affront their Breeding. It levells them with the lowest Education. For the size of a Man's Sense, and Improvement, is discovered by his Pleasures, as much as by any thing else.

But to remove from Scenes of Decency, to Scenes of Wit. And here Mannel and Sancho, two pleasant sharp Fellows, will divert us extreamly.Person. Dram.[395] Mannel in the Disguise of a Lady addresses the Dutchess in this {206}manner. Illustrious Beauty——I must desire to know whether the most purifidiferous Don Quixote of the Manchissima, and his Squireiferous Panca, be in this Company or no. This is the Ladies speech! Now comes Sancho. Why look you forsooth, without any more Flourishes, the Governour Panca is here, and Don Quixotissimo too; therefore most afflictedissimous Matronissima, speak what you willissimus, for we are all ready to be your 2d. p. 31.[396]

I dare not go on, for fear of overlaying the Reader. He may cloy himself at his Leisure. The Scene between the Taylor and Gardiner, lies much in the same Latitude of Understanding.p. 51.[397]

The Third Part presents a set of Poppets, which is a Thought good enough; for this Play is only fit to move upon Wires. 'Tis pity these little Machines appear'd no sooner, for then the Sense, and the Actors had been well adjusted. In explaining the Persons, He acquaints us that Carasco is a Witty Man. I can't tell what the Gentleman might be in other Places, but I'm Satisfied he is a Fool in his Play. But some Poets are as great Judges of Wit, as they are an instance; And have the Theory and the Practise just alike.

Mr. Durfeys Epistles Dedicatory are to the full as diverting as his Comedies. A little of them may not be amiss.


In his first, He thus addresses the Dutches of Ormond. 'Tis Madam from your Graces Prosperous Influence that I date my Good Fortune. To Date from time and Place, is vulgar and ordinary, and many a Letter has miscarried with it: But to do it from an Influence, is Astrological, and surprizing, and agrees extreamly with the Hemisphere of the Play-house.Pref. pt. 1st.
[398] These Flights one would easily imagine were the Poor Off-spring of Mr. Durfey's Brain, as he very judiciously phrases it.[399]

One Paragraph in his Dedication to Mr. Montague is perfect Quixotism; One would almost think him enchanted. I'll give the Reader a Tast.

Had your Eye's shot the haughty Austerity upon me of a right Courtier,——your valued minutes had never been disturb'd with dilatory Trifles of this Nature, but my Heart on dull Consideration of your Merit, had supinely wish'd you prosperity at a 3d.[400] I'm afraid the Poet was under some Apprehensions of the Temper he complains of. For to my thinking, there is a great deal of Supiness, and dull Consideration in these Periods. He tells his Patron his Smiles have embolden'd him. I confess I can't see how He could forbear smiling at such Entertainment. However Mr. Durfey takes Things by the best Handle, and is resolv'd {208}to be happy in his Interpretation. But to be serious. Were I the Author, I would discharge my Muse unless she prov'd kinder. His way is rather to cultivate his Lungs, and Sing to other Peoples Sense; For to finish him in a word, he is Vox, & præterea nihil. I speak this only on Supposition that the rest of his Performances are like These. Which because I have not perused I can judge of no farther than by the Rule of ex pede Herculem. I shall conclude with Monsieur Boileau's Art of Poetry. This citation may possibly be of some service to Mr. Durfey; For if not concern'd in the Application, he may at least be precaution'd by the Advice.

The Translation runs thus.

I like an Author that Reforms the Age;

And keeps the right Decorum of the Stage:

That always pleases by just Reasons Rule:

But for a tedious Droll a Quibbling Fool,

Who with low nauseous Baudry fills his Plays;

Let him begone and on two Tressells raise

Some Smithfield Stage, where he may act his Pranks,

And make Jack-puddings speak to Mountebanks.p. 53.[401]



Remarks upon the Relapse.

The Relapse shall follow Don Quixot; upon the account of some Alliance between them. And because this Author swaggers so much in his Preface, and seems to look big upon his Performance, I shall spend a few more thoughts than ordinary upon his Play, and examine it briefly in the Fable, the Moral, the Characters, &c. The Fable I take to be as follows.

Fashion a Lewd, Prodigal, younger Brother; is reduced to extremity: Upon his arrival from his Travels, he meets with Coupler, an old sharping Match-maker; This Man puts him upon a project of cheating his Elder Brother Lord Foplington, of a rich Fortune. Young Fashion being refused a Summ of Money by his Brother, goes into Couplers Plot, bubbles Sir Tunbelly of his Daughter, and makes himself Master of a fair Estate.

From the Form and Constitution of the Fable, I observe

1st. That there is a Misnommer in the Title. The Play should not have been call'd the Relapse, or Virtue in Danger: {210}Lovelace, and Amanda, from whose Characters these Names are drawn, are Persons of Inferiour Consideration. Lovelace sinks in the middle of the Fourth Act, and we hear no more of him till towards the End of the Fifth, where he enters once more, but then 'tis as Cato did the Senate house, only to go out again. And as for Amanda she has nothing to do but to stand a shock of Courtship, and carry off her Virtue. This I confess is a great task in the Play-house, but no main matter in the Play.

The Intrigue, and the Discovery, the great Revolution and success, turns upon Young Fashion. He without Competition, is the Principal Person in the Comedy. And therefore the Younger Brother, or the Fortunate Cheat, had been much a more proper Name. Now when a Poet can't rig out a Title Page, 'tis but a bad sign of his holding out to the Epilogue.

2ly. I observe the Moral is vitious: It points the wrong way, and puts the Prize into the wrong Hand. It seems to make Lewdness the reason of Desert, and gives Young Fashion a second Fortune, only for Debauching away his First. A short view of his Character, will make good this Reflection. To begin with him: He confesses himself a Rake, swears, and {211}Blasphemes, Curses, and Challenges his Elder Brother, cheats him of his Mistress, and gets him laid by the Heels in a Dog-Kennel. And what was the ground of all this unnatural quarrelling and outrage? Why the main of it was only because Lord Foplington refused to supply his Luxury, and make good his Extravagance. This Young Fashion after all, is the Poets Man of Merit. He provides, a Plot and a Fortune, on purpose for him. To speak freely, A Lewd Character seldom wants good Luck in Comedy. So that when ever you see a thorough Libertine, you may almost swear he is in a rising way, and that the Poet intends to make him a great Man. In short; This Play perverts the End of Comedy: Which as Monsieur Rapin observes ought to regard Reformation, and publick Improvement. But the Relapser had a more fashionable Fancy in his Head.Reflect, &c. p. 131.[402] His Moral holds forth this notable Instruction.

1st. That all Younger Brothers should be careful to run out their Circumstances as Fast, and as Ill as they can. And when they have put their Affairs in this posture of Advantage, they may conclude themselves in the high Road to Wealth, and Success. For as Fashion Blasphemously applies it, Providence takes care of Men of Merit.Relapse. p. 19[403]


2ly. That when a Man is press'd, his business is not to be govern'd by Scruples, or formalize upon Conscience and Honesty. The quickest Expedients are the best; For in such cases the Occasion justifies the Means, and a Knight of the Post, is as good as one of the Garter. In the

3d. Place it may not be improper to look a little into the Plot. Here the Poet ought to play the Politician if ever. This part should have some stroaks, of Conduct, and strains of Invention more then ordinary. There should be something that is admirable, and unexpected to surprize the Audience. And all this Finess must work by gentle degrees, by a due preparation of Incidents, and by Instruments which are probable.Reflect. p. 133.[404] 'Tis Mr. Rapins remark, that without probability every Thing is lame and Faulty. Where there is no pretence to Miracle and Machine, matters must not exceed the force of Beleif. To produce effects without proportion; and likelyhood in the Cause, is Farce, and Magick, and looks more like Conjuring than Conduct. Let us examine the Relapser by these Rules. To discover his Plot, we must lay open somewhat more of the Fable.

'Lord Foplington a Town Beau, had agreed to Marry the Daughter of Sir. {213}Tun-belly Clumsey a Country Gentleman, who lived Fifty miles from London. Notwithstanding this small distance, the Lord had never seen his Mistress, nor the Knight his Son in Law. Both parties out of their great Wisdom, leave the treating the Match to Coupler. When all the preliminaries of Settlement were adjusted, and Lord Foplington expected by Sir Tun-belly in a few days, Coupler betrays his Trust to Young Fashion. He advises him to go down before his Brother: To Counterfeit his Person, and pretend that the strength of his Inclinations brought him thither before his time, and without his Retinue. And to make him pass upon Sir Tun-belly, Coupler gives him his Letter, which was to be Lord Foplingtons Credential. Young Fashion thus provided, posts down to Sir Tun-belly, is received for Lord Foplington, and by the help of a little Folly and Knavery in the Family, Marries the young Lady without her Fathers Knowledge, and a week before the Appointment.

This is the Main of the Contrivance. The Counterturn in Lord Foplingtons appearing afterwards, and the Support of the main Plot, by Bulls, and Nurses attesting the Marriage, contain's little of Moment. And here we may observe that {214}Lord Foplington has an unlucky Disagreement in his Character; This Misfortune sits hard upon the credibility of the Design. Tis true he was Formal and Fantastick, Smitten with Dress, and Equipage, and it may be vapour'd by his Perfumes But his Behaviour is far from that of an Ideot.p. 27.[405] This being granted, 'tis very unlikely this Lord with his five Thousand pounds per annum, should leave the choise of his Mistress to Coupler, and take her Person and Fortune upon Content. To court thus blindfold, and by Proxy, does not agree with the Method of an Estate, nor the Niceness of a Beau. However the Poet makes him engage Hand over Head, without so much as the sight of her Picture.p. 79.[406] His going down to Sir Tun-belly was as extraordinary as his Courtship. He had never seen this Gentleman. He must know him to be beyond Measure suspicious, and that there was no Admittance without Couplers Letter. This Letter which was, the Key to the Castle, he forgot to take with him, and tells you 'twas stolen by his Brother Tam. And for his part he neither had the Discretion to get another, nor yet to produce that written by him to Sir Tun-belly.Ibid.[407] Had common Sense been consulted upon this Occasion, the Plot had been at an End, and the Play had sunk {215}in the Fourth Act. The Remainder subsists purely upon the strength of Folly, and of Folly altogether improbable, and out of Character. The Salvo of Sir John Friendly's appearing at last, and vouching for Lord Foplington, won't mend the matter. For as the Story informs us, Lord Foplington never depended on this Reserve.p. 81.[408] He knew nothing of this Gentleman being in the Country, nor where he Lived. The truth is, Sir John was left in Town, and the Lord had neither concerted his journey with him, nor engaged his Assistance.p. 83.[409]

Let us now see how Sir. Tun-belly hangs together. This Gentleman the Poet makes a Justice of Peace, and a Deputy Lieutenant, and seats him fifty Miles from London: But by his Character you would take him for one of Hercules's Monsters, or some Gyant in Guy of Warwick. His Behaviour is altogether Romance, and has nothing agreeable to Time, or Country. When Fashion, and Lory, went down, they find the Bridge drawn up, the Gates barr'd, and the Blunderbuss cock'd at the first civil Question. And when Sir Tun-belly had notice of this formidable Appearance, he Sallies out with the Posse of the Family, and marches against a Couple of Strangers with a Life Gaurd of Halberds, Sythes, {216}and Pitchforks. And to make sure work, Young Hoyden is lock'd up at the first approach of the Enemy. Here you have prudence and wariness to the excess of Fable, and Frensy. And yet this mighty man of suspition, trusts Coupler with the Disposal of his only Daughter, and his Estate into the Bargain. And what was this Coupler? Why, a sharper by Character, and little better by Profession. Farther. Lord Foplington and the Knight, are but a days Journey asunder, and yet by their treating by Proxy, and Commission, one would Fancy a dozen Degrees of Latitude betwixt them. And as for Young Fashion, excepting Couplers Letter, he has all imaginable Marks of Imposture upon him. He comes before his Time, and without the Retinue expected, and has nothing of the Air of Lord Foplington's Conversation. When Sir Tun-belly ask'd him, pray where are your Coaches and Servants my Lord? He makes a trifling excuse. Sir, that I might give you and your Fair Daughter a proof how impatient I am to be nearer akin to you, I left my Equipage to follow me, and came away Post, with only one Servant.p. 59.[410] To be in such a Hurry of Inclination for a Person he never saw, is somewhat strange! Besides, 'tis very unlikely Lord Foplington should hazard his {217}Complexion on Horseback, out ride his Figure, and appear a Bridegroom in Deshabille. You may as soon perswade a Peacock out of his Train, as a Beau out of his Equipage; especially upon such an Occasion. Lord Foplington would scarsely speak to his Brother just come a Shore, till the Grand Committee of Taylors, Seamtresses, &c. was dispatch'd.p. 11.[411] Pomp, and Curiosity were this Lords Inclination; why then should he mortifie without necessity, make his first Approaches thus out of Form and present himself to his Mistress at such Disadvantage? And as this is the Character of Lord Foplington, so 'tis reasonable to suppose Sir Tunbelly acquainted with it. An enquiry into the Humour and management of a Son in Law, is very natural and Customary. So that we can't without Violence to Sense, suppose Sir Tunbelly a Stranger to Lord Foplington's Singularities. These Reasons were enough in all Conscience to make Sir Tunbelly suspect a Juggle, and that Fashion was no better then a Counterfeit. Why then was the Credential swallow'd without chewing, why was not Hoyden lock'd up, and a pause made for farther Enquiry? Did this Justice never hear of such a Thing as Knavery, or had he ever greater reason to guard against it? More wary steps {218}might well have been expected from Sir Tunbelly. To run from one extream of Caution, to another of Credulity, is highly improbable. In short, either Lord Foplington and Sir Tunbelly are Fools, or they are not. If they are, where lies the Cunning in over-reaching them? What Conquest can there be without Opposition? If they are not Fools, why does the Poet make them so? Why is their Conduct so gross, so particolour'd, and inconsistent? Take them either way, and the Plot miscarries. The first supposition makes it dull, and the later, incredible. So much for the Plot. I shall now in the

4th. Place touch briefly upon the Manners.

The Manners in the Language of the Stage have a signification somewhat particular. Aristotle and Rapin call them the Causes and Principles of Action. They are formed upon the Diversities of Age, and Sex, of Fortune, Capacity, and Education. The propriety of Manners consists in a Conformity of Practise, and Principle; of Nature, and Behaviour. For the purpose. An old Man must not appear with the Profuseness and Levity of Youth; A Gentleman must not talk like a Clown, nor a Country Girl like a Town Jilt. And when the Characters are feign'd {219}'tis Horace's Rule to keep them Uniform, and consistent, and agreeable to their first setting out. The Poet must be careful to hold his Persons tight to their Calling and pretentions. He must not shift, and shuffle, their Understandings; Let them skip from Wits to Blockheads, nor from Courtiers to Pedants; On the other hand. If their business is playing the Fool, keep them strictly to their Duty, and never indulge them in fine Sentences. To manage otherwise, is to desert Nature, and makes the Play appear monstrous, and Chimerical. So that instead of an Image of Life, 'tis rather an Image of Impossibility. To apply some of these remarks to the Relapser.

The fine Berinthia, one of the Top-Characters, is impudent and Profane. Lovelace would engage her Secrecy, and bids her Swear. She answers I do.

Lov. By what?

Berinth. By Woman.

Lov. That's Swearing by my Deity, do it by your own, or I shan't believe you.

Berinth. By Man then.p. 47.[412]

This Lady promises Worthy her Endeavours to corrupt Amanda; and then They make a Profane jest upon the Office.p. 51.[413] In the progress of the Play after a great deal of Lewd Discourse with Lovelace, {220}Berinthia is carried off into a Closet, and Lodged in a Scene of Debauch.p. 74.[414] Here is Decency, and Reservedness, to a great exactness! Monsieur Rapin blames Ariosto, and Tasso, for representing two of their Women over free, and airy.Reflect. p. 40.[415] These Poets says he, rob Women of their Character, which is Modesty. Mr. Rymer is of the same Opinion: His words are these. Nature knows nothing in the Manners which so properly, and particularly distinguish a Woman, as her Modesty.——An impudent Woman is fit only to be kicked, and expos'd in Comedy.Tragedies of the last Age consider'd, &c. p. 113, 114.[416]

Now Berinthia appears in Comedy 'tis true; but neither to be kick'd, nor expos'd. She makes a Considerable Figure, has good Usage, keeps the best Company, and goes off without Censure, or Disadvantage. Let us now take a Turn or two with Sir Tun-belly's Heiress of 1500 pounds a year. This Young Lady swears, talks smut, and is upon the matter just as rag-manner'd as Mary the Buxsome. 'Tis plain the Relapser copyed Mr. Durfey's Original, which is a sign he was somewhat Pinch'd. Now this Character was no great Beauty in Buxsome; But it becomes the Knights Daughter much worse. Buxsome was a poor Pesant, which made her Rudeness more natural, and expected. But Deputy Lieutenants Children don't {221}use to appear with the Behaviour of Beggars. To breed all People alike, and make no distinction between a Seat, and a Cottage, is not over artful, nor very ceremonious to the Country Gentlemen. The Relapser gives Miss a pretty Soliloquy, I'll transcribe it for the Reader.

She swears by her Maker, 'tis well I have a Husband a coming, or I'de Marry the Baker I would so. No body can knock at the Gate, but presently I must be lock'd up, and, here's the Young Gray-hound——can run loose about the House all day long, she can, 'tis very well!!p. 59.[417] Afterwards her Language is too Lewd to be quoted. Here is a Compound of Ill Manners, and Contradiction Is this a good Resemblance of Quality, a Description of a great Heiress, and the effect of a Cautious Education? By her Coarsness you would think her Bred upon a Common, and by her Confidence, in the Nursery of the Play-house. I suppose the Relapser Fancies the calling her Miss Hoyden is enough to justifie her Ill Manners. By his favour, this is a Mistake. To represent her thus unhewn, he should have suited her Condition to her Name, a little better. For there is no Charm in Words as to matters of Breeding, An unfashionable Name won't make a Man a Clown. Education is not form'd upon {222}Sounds, and Syllables, but upon Circumstances, and Quality. So that if he was resolv'd to have shown her thus unpolish'd, he should have made her keep Sheep, or brought her up at the Wash-Boul.

Sir Tun-belly accosts Young Fashion much at the same rate of Accomplishment.p. 61.[418] My Lord,——I humbly crave leave to bid you Welcome in a Cup of Sack-wine. One would imagine the Poet was overdozed before he gave the Justice a Glass. For Sack-wine is too low for a Petty Constable. This peasantly expression agrees neither with the Gentlemans Figure, nor with the rest of his Behaviour. I find we should have a Creditable Magistracy, if the Relapser had the Making them. Here the Characters are pinch'd in Sense, and stinted to short Allowance. At an other time they are over-indulged, and treated above Expectation.

For the purpose. Vanity and Formalizing is Lord Foplingtons part. To let him speak without Aukwardness, and Affectation, is to put him out of his Element. There must be Gumm and stiffening in his Discourse to make it natural However, the Relapser has taken a fancy to his Person, and given him some of the most Gentile raillery in the whole Play. To give an Instance or two. This Lord {223}in Discourse with Fashion forgets his Name, flies out into Sense, and smooth expression, out talks his Brother, and abating the starch'd Similitude of a Watch, discovers nothing of Affectation, for almost a Page together.p. 42.[419] He relapses into the same Intemperance of good Sense, in an other Dialogue between him and his Brother. I shall cite a little of it.

Y. Fash. Unless you are so kind to assist me in redeeming my Annuity, I know no Remedy, but to go take a Purse.

L. Fopl. Why Faith Tam——to give you my Sense of the Thing, I do think taking a Purse the best Remedy in the World, for if you succeed, you are releiv'd that way, if you are taken——you are reliev'd to'ther.p. 43.[420]

Fashion being disappointed of a supply quarrels his Elder Brother, and calls him the Prince of Coxcombs.p. 44.[421]

L. Fopl. Sir I am proud of being at the Head of so prevailing a party.

Y. Fash. Will nothing then provoke thee? draw Coward.

L. Fopl. Look you Tam, your poverty makes your Life so burdensome to you, you would provoke me to a Quarrel, in hopes either to slip through my Lungs into my Estate, or else to get your self run through the Guts, to put an end to your Pain. But I shall disappoint you in both. &c.


This Drolling has too much Spirit, the Air of it is too free, and too handsomly turn'd for Lord Foplingtons Character. I grant the Relapser could not aford to lose these Sentences. The Scene would have suffer'd by the Omission. But then he should have contriv'd the matter so, as that they might, have been spoken by Young Fashion in Asides, or by some other more proper Person. To go on. Miss Hoyden sparkles too much in Conversation. The Poet must needs give her a shining Line or two,p. 64. At top.[422] which serves only to make the rest of her dullness the more remarkable. Sir. Tun-belly falls into the same Misfortune of a Wit, and rallies above the force of his Capacity.p. 85.[423] But the place having a mixture of Profaness, I shall forbear to cite it. Now to what purpose should a Fools Coat be embroider'd? Finery in the wrong place is but expensive Ridiculousness. Besides, I don't perceive the Relapser was in any Condition to be thus liberal. And when a Poet is not overstock'd, to squander away his Wit among his Block-heads, is meer Distraction. His men of Sense will smart for this prodigality. Lovelace in his discourse of Friendship, shall be the first Instance. Friendship (says he) is said to be a plant of tedious growth, its Root composed of tender Fibers, {225}nice in their Tast, &c. By this Description the Palate of a Fiber, should be somewhat more nice and distinguishing, then the Poets Judgment. Let us examin some more of his Witty People. Young Fashion fancies by Misses forward Behaviour, she would have a whole Kennel of Beaux after her at London. And then Hey to the Park, and the Play, and the Church, and the Devil.p. 64.[424] Here I conceive the ranging of the Period is amiss. For if he had put the Play, and the Devil together, the Order of Nature, and the Air of Probability had been much better observ'd.

Afterwards Coupler being out of Breath in coming up stairs to Fashion, asks him why the —— canst thou not lodge upon the Ground-floor?p. 94.[425]

Y. Fash. Because I love to lye as near Heaven as I can. One would think a Spark just come off his Travels, and had made the Tour of Italy and France, might have rallied with a better Grace! However if he lodg'd in a Garret, 'tis a good Local jest. I had almost forgot one pretty remarkable Sentence of Fashion to Lory.p. 15.[426] I shall shew thee (says he) the excess of my Passion by being very calm. Now since this Gentleman was in a vein of talking Philosophy to his Man, I'm sorry he broke of so quickly. Had he gone on and shown {226}him the Excess of a Storm and no Wind stirring, the Topick had been spent, and the Thought improv'd to the utmost.

Let us now pass onto Worthy, the Relapsers fine Gentleman. This Spark sets up for Sense, and Address, and is to have nothing of Affectation or Conscience to spoil his Character. However to say no more of him, he grows Foppish in the last Scene, and courts Amanda in Fustian, and Pedantry. First, He gives his Periods a turn of Versification, and talks Prose to her in Meeter. Now this is just as agreeable as it would be to Ride with one Leg, and Walk with the other. But let him speak for himself. His first business is to bring Amanda to an Aversion for her Husband; And therefore he perswades her to Rouse up that Spirit Women ought to bear; and slight your God if he neglects his Angel.p. 99.[427] He goes on with his Orisons. With Arms of Ice receive his Cold Embraces and keep your Fire for those that come in Flames. Fire and Flames, is Mettal upon Mettal; 'Tis false Heraldry. Extend the Arms of Mercy to his Aid. His zeal may give him Title to your Pity, altho' his Merit cannot claim your Love.Ibid.[428] Here you have Arms brought in again by Head and shoulders. I suppose the design was to keep up the Situation of the Allegory. But the latter {227}part of the Speech is very Pithy. He would have her resign her Vertue out of Civility, and abuse her Husband on Principles of good Nature. Worthy pursues his point, and Rises in his Address. He falls into a Fit of Dissection, and hopes to gain his Mistress by Cutting his Throat. He is for Ripping up his Faithful Breast, to prove the Reality of his Passion. Now when a Man Courts with his Heart in his Hand, it must be great Cruelty to refuse him! No Butcher could have Thought of a more moving Expedient! However, Amanda continues obstinate, and is not in the usual Humour of the Stage. Upon this, like a well bred Lover he seizes her by Force, and threatens to Kill her. Nay struggle not for all's in vain, or Death, or Victory, I am determin'd.p. 100.[429] In this rencounter the Lady proves too nimble, and slips through his Fingers. Upon this disappointment, he cries, there's Divinity about her, and she has dispenc'd some Portion on't to me. His Passion is Metamorphos'd in the Turn of a hand: He is refin'd into a Platonick Admirer, and goes off as like a Town Spark as you would wish. And so much for the Poets fine Gentleman.

I should now examine the Relapser's Thoughts and Expressions, which are two other Things of Consideration in a Play. {228}The Thoughts or Sentiments are the Expressions of the Manners, as Words are of the Thoughts.Rapin Reflect, &c.[430] But the view of the Characters has in some measure prevented this Enquiry. Leaving this Argument therefore, I shall consider his Play with respect to the

Three Unities of Time, Place, and Action.

And here the Reader may please to take notice, that the Design of these Rules, is to conceal the Fiction of the Stage, to make the Play appear Natural, and to give it an Air of Reality, and Conversation.

The largest compass for the first Unity is Twenty Four Hours: But a lesser proportion is more regular. To be exact, the Time of the History, or Fable, should not exceed that of the Representation: Or in other words, the whole Business of the Play, should not be much longer than the Time it takes up in Playing.

The Second Unity is that of Place. To observe it, the Scene must not wander from one Town, or Country to another. It must continue in the same House, Street, or at farthest in the same City, where it was first laid. The Reason of this Rule depends upon the First. Now the Compass of Time being strait, that of Space must bear a Correspondent Proportion. {229}Long journeys in Plays are impracticable. The Distances of Place must be suited to Leisure, and Possibility, otherwise the supposition will appear unnatural and absurd. The

Third Unity is that of Action; It consists in contriving the chief Business of the Play single, and making the concerns of one Person distinguishably great above the rest. All the Forces of the Stage must as it were serve Under one General: And the lesser Intrigues or Underplots, have some Relation to the Main. The very Oppositions must be useful, and appear only to be Conquer'd, and Countermin'd. To represent Two considerable Actions independent of each other, Destroys the beauty of Subordination, weakens the Contrivance, and dilutes the pleasure. It splits the Play, and makes the Poem double. He that would see more upon this subject may consult Corneille.Discourse des Trois Unitez. pt. 3d.[431] To bring these Remarks to the Case in hand. And here we may observe how the Relapser fails in all the Rules above mention'd.

1st. His Play by modest Computation takes up a weeks Work, but five days you must allow it at the lowest. One day must be spent in the First, Second, and part of the Third Act, before Lord Foplington sets forward to Sir Tun-belly. Now the Length {230}of the Distance, the Pomp of the Retinue, and the Niceness of the Person being consider'd; the journey down, and up again, cannot be laid under four days.p. 88.[432] To put this out of doubt, Lord, Foplington is particularly careful to tell Coupler, how concern'd he was not to overdrive for fear of disordering his Coach-Horses. The Laws of Place, are no better observ'd than those of Time. In the Third Act the Play is in Town, in the Fourth Act 'tis stroll'd Fifty Miles off, and in the Fifth Act in London again. Here Pegasus stretches it to purpose! This Poet is fit to ride a Match with Witches. Juliana Cox never Switched a Broom stock with more Expedition! This is exactly

Titus at Walton Town, and Titus at Islington.

One would think by the probability of matters, the Plot had been stolen from Dr. O——s.

The Poet's Success in the last Unity of Action is much the same with the former. Lovelace, Amanda, and Berinthia, have no share in the main Business. These Second rate Characters are a detatched Body: Their Interest is perfectly Foreign, and they are neither Friends, nor Enemies to {231}the Plot. Young Fashion does not so much as see them till the Close of the Fifth Act, and then they meet only to fill the Stage: And yet these Persons are in the Poets account very considerable; Insomuch that he has misnamed his Play from the Figure of two of them. This strangness of Persons, distinct Company, and inconnexion of Affairs, destroys the Unity of the Poem. The contrivance is just as wise as it would be to cut a Diamond in two. There is a loss of Lustre in the Division. Increasing the Number, abates the Value, and by making it more, you make it less.

Thus far I have examin'd the Dramatick Merits of the Play. And upon enquiry, it appears a Heap of Irregularities. There is neither Propriety in the Name, nor Contrivance in the Plot, nor Decorum in the Characters. 'Tis a thorough Contradition to Nature, and impossible in Time, and Place. Its Shining Graces as the Author calls them,Pref.[433] are Blasphemy and Baudy, together with a mixture of Oaths, and Cursing. Upon the whole; The Relapser's Judgment, and his Morals, are pretty well adjusted. The Poet, is not much better than the Man. As for the Profane part, 'tis hideous and superlative.see Chap. 2d.[434] But this I have consider'd elsewhere. All that I shall observe here is, that the Author was {232}sensible of this Objection. His Defence in his Preface is most wretched: He pretends to know nothing of the Matter, and that 'tis all Printed; Which only proves his Confidence equal to the rest of his Virtues. To out-face Evidence in this manner, is next to the affirming there's no such Sin as Blasphemy, which is the greatest Blasphemy of all. His Apology consists in railing at the Clergy; a certain sign of ill Principles, and ill Manners. This He does at an unusual rate of Rudeness and Spite. He calls them the Saints with Screw'd Faces, and wry Mouths. And after a great deal of scurrilous Abuse too gross to be mention'd, he adds;Pref.[435] If any Man happens to be offended at a story of a Cock and a Bull, and a Priest and a Bull-dog, I beg his Pardon, &c. This is brave Bear-Garden Language! The Relapser would do well to transport his Muse to Samourgan.** An Academy in Lithuania, for the Education of Bears. Pere Auvill Voyage en Divers Etats, &c. p. 240.[436] There 'tis likely he might find Leisure to lick his Abortive Brat into shape; And meet with proper Business for his Temper, and encouragement for his Talent.



The Opinion of Paganism, of the Church, and State, concerning the Stage.

Having in the foregoing Chapters discover'd some part of the Disorders of the English Stage; I shall in this Last, present the Reader with a short View of the Sense of Antiquity, To which I shall add some Modern Authorities; From all which it will appear that Plays have generally been look'd on as the Nurseries of Vice, the Corrupters of Youth, and the Grievance of the Country where they are suffer'd.

This proof from Testimony shall be ranged under these three Heads.

Under the First, I shall cite some of the most celebrated Heathen Philosophers, Orators, and Historians; Men of the biggest Consideration, for Sense, Learning, and Figure. The

Second, Shall consist of the Laws and Constitutions of Princes, &c. The

Third, Will be drawn from Church-Records, from Fathers, and Councils of {234}unexceptionable Authority, both as to Persons, and Time.

1st. I shall produce some of the most celebrated Heathen Philosophers &c. To begin with Plato. 'This Philosopher tells us that Plays raise the Passions, and pervert the use of them, and by consequence are dangerous to Morality. For this Reason he banishes these Diversions his Common-Wealth.'Plat. de Repub. Lib. 10.
Euseb. Præpar. Evang.

Xenophon who was both a Man of Letters and a great General, commends the Persians for the Discipline of their Education. 'They won't (says he) so much as suffer their Youth to hear any thing that's Amorous or Tawdry.'Cyropæd. p. 34[438] They were afraid want of Ballast might make them miscarry, and that 'twas dangerous to add weight to the Byass of Nature.

Aristole lays it down for a Rule 'that the Law ought to forbid Young People the seeing of Comedies. Such permissions not being safe till Age and Discipline had confirm'd them in sobriety, fortified their Virtue, and made them as it were proof against Debauchery.'Polit. Lib. 7. c. p. 12.[439] This Philosopher who had look'd as far into Humane Nature as any Man, observes farther. 'That the force of Musick and Action is very affecting. It commands the Audience and changes the Passions to {235}a Resemblance of the Matter before them.'Polit. Lib. 8.[440] So that where the Representation is foul, the Thoughts of the Company must suffer.

Tully crys out upon 'Licentious Plays and Poems, as the bane of Sobriety, and wise Thinking: That Comedy subsists upon Lewdness, and that Pleasure is the Root, of all Evil.'Tusc. Quest. Lib. 4.
De Leg. Lib. 1.

Livy, reports the Original of Plays among the Romans. 'He tells us they were brought in upon the score of Religion, to pacifie the Gods, and remove a Mortality. But then He adds that the Motives are sometimes good, when the Means are stark naught: That the Remedy in this case was worse than the Disease, and the Atonement more Infectious then the Plague.'Dec. 1. Lib. 7.[442]

Valerius Maximus, Contemporary with Livy, gives much the same Account of the rise of Theatres at Rome. 'Twas Devotion which built them. And as for the Performances of those Places, which Mr. Dryden calls the Ornaments, this Author censures as the Blemishes of Peace.' And which is more, He affirms 'They were the Occasions of Civil Distractions; And that the State first Blush'd, and then Bled, for the Entertainment.Lib. 2. cap. 4.
cap. 6.
[443] He concludes the consequences of Plays {236}intolerable;[444] And that the Massilienses did well in clearing the Country of them. Seneca complains heartily of the Extravagance and Debauchery of the Age: And how forward People were to improve in that which was naught. That scarce any Body would apply themselves to the Study of Nature and Morality, unless when the Play-House was shut, or the Weather foul. That there was no body to teach Philosophy, because there was no body to Learn it: But that the Stage had Nurseries, and Company enough. This Misapplication of time and Fancy, made Knowledge in so ill a Condition. This was the Cause the Hints of Antiquity were no better pursued; that some Inventions were sunk, and that Humane Reason grew Downwards rather than otherwise.Natural Quest. Lib. 7. cap. 32.[445] And elswhere he avers that there is nothing more destructive to Good Manners then to run Idling to see Sights. For there Vice makes an insensible Approach, and steals upon us in the Disguise of pleasure.Epist. 7.[446]

'Tacitus relating how Nero hired decay'd Gentlemen for the Stage, complains of the Mismanagement;Annal. Lib 14. cap. 14.[447] And lets us know 'twas the part of a Prince to releive their Necessity, and not to Tempt it. And that his Bounty should rather {237}'have set them above an ill practise, than driven them upon't.'

And in another place, He informs us that 'the German Women were Guarded against danger, and kept their Honour out of Harms way, by having no Play-Houses amongst them.'De Mor. German. cap. 19[448]

Plays, in the Opinion of the Judicious Plutark are dangerous to corrupt Young People; And therefore Stage Poetry when it grows too hardy, and Licentious, ought to be checkt.Symposiac. Lib. 7.
De Audiend. Poet. p. 15. Ed. Par.
[449] This was the Opinion of these Celebrated Authors with respect to Theatres: They Charge them with the Corruption of Principles, and Manners, and lay in all imaginable Caution against them. And yet these Men had seldom any thing but this World in their Scheme; and form'd their Judgments only upon Natural Light, and Common Experience. We see then to what sort of Conduct we are oblig'd. The case is plain; Unless we are little enough to renounce our Reason, and fall short of Philosophy, and live under the Pitch of Heathenism.

To these Testimonies I shall add a Couple of Poets, who both seem good Judges of the Affair in Hand.

The first is Ovid, who in his Book De Arte Amandi, gives his Reader to {238}understand that the Play-House was the most likely Place for him to Forage in. Here would be choice of all sorts: Nothing being more common than to see Beauty surpriz'd, Women debauch'd, and Wenches Pick'd up at these Diversions.

Sed tu præcique curvis venare Theatris,

Hæc loca sunt voto fertiliora tuo.

—— ruit ad celebres cultissima Fæmina Ludos;

Copia judicium sæpe morata meum est.

Spectatum veniunt, veniunt Spectentur ut ipsæ;

Ille locus casti damna pudoris habet.Lib. 1.[450]

And afterwards relating the imperfect beginning of Plays at the Rape of the Sabine Virgins, he adds,

Silicit exillo solennia more Theatra

Nunc quoque formosis insidiosa manent.

This Author some time after wrote the Remedy of Love. Here he pretends to Prescribe for Prudence, if not for Sobriety. And to this purpose, He forbids the seeing of Plays, and the reading of Poets, especially some of them. Such Recreations being apt to feed the Distemper, and make the Patient relapse.


At tanti tibi sit non indulgere Theatris

Dum bene de cacuo Pectore cedat amor.

Enervant animos Citharæ, Cantusque, lyraque

Et vox, & numeris brachia mota suis.

Illic assidue ficti saltantur amantes,

Quid, caveas, actor, quid juvet, arte docet.Remed. Amor.[451]

In his De Tristibus, He endeavours to make some Amends for his scandalous Poems, and gives Augustus a sort of Plan for a Publick Reformation. Amongst other Things, he advises the suppressing of Plays, as being the promoters of Lewdness, and Dissolution of Manners.

Ut tamen hoc fatear ludi quoque semina præbent

Nequitiæ, tolli tota Theatra jube.Lib. 2.[452]

To the Testimony of Ovid, I could add Plautus, Propertius, and Juvenal, but being not willing to overburthen the Reader, I shall content my self with the Plain-Dealer as one better known at Home.

This Poet in his Dedication to Lady B, some Eminent Procuress, pleads the Merits of his Function, and insists on being Billeted upon free Quarter. Madam (says he) I think a Poet ought to be as free of {240}your Houses, as of the Play-Houses: since he contributes to the support of both, and is as necessary to such as you, as the Ballad-singer to the Pick-purse, in Convening the Cullies at the Theatres to be pick'd up, and Carried to a supper, and Bed, at your Houses.Ep. Ded.[453] This is franck Evidence, and ne're the less true, for the Air of a Jest.

I shall now in the Second Place proceed to the Censures of the State; And show in a few Words how much the Stage stands discouraged by the Laws of other Countrys and our own.

To begin with the Athenians.Plut. De Glor. Atheniens.[454] This People tho' none of the worst Freinds to the Play-House 'thought a Comedy so unreputable a Performance, that they made a Law that no Judge of the Ariopagus should make one.'

The Lacedemonians,Plut. Lacon. Institut.[455] who were remarkable for the Wisdom of their Laws, the Sobriety of their Manners, and their Breeding of brave Men. This Government would not endure the Stage in any Form, nor under any Regulation.

To pass on to the Romans. TullyCic. de Repub. Lib. 4. cited by, St. Augustine. Libr. 2. de civ. dei. cap. 13.[456] informs us that their Predecessours 'counted all Stage-Plays uncreditable and Scandalous. In so much that any Roman who turn'd Actor was not only to be Degraded, but likewise as it were disincorporated, {241}and unnaturalized by the Order of the Censors.

St. Augustine in the same Book,Lib. 2. cap. 29.[457] commends the Romans for refusing the Jus Civitatis to Players, for seizing their Freedoms, and making them perfectly Foreign to their Government.

We read in LivyDec. 1. Libr. 7.[458] that the Young People in Rome kept the Fabulæ Attellanæ to themselves. 'They would not suffer this Diversion to be blemish'd by the Stage. For this reason, as the Historian observes,Ab Histrionibus Pollui.[459] the Actors of the Fabulæ Atellanæ were neither expell'd their Tribe, nor refused to serve in Arms; Both which Penalties it appears the Common Players lay under.'

In the Theodosian Code, Players are call'd Personæ inhonestæ;XV. Cod. Theod. Tit. vii. p.375.[460] that is, to Translate it softly, Persons Maim'd, and Blemish'd in their Reputation. Their Pictures might be seen at the Play-House, but were not permitted to hang in any creditable Place** in loco Honesto.[461] of the Town, Upon this Text Gothofred tells us the Function of Players was counted scandalous** turpe munus.[462] by the Civil Law, L. 4. And that those who came upon the Stage to divert the people, had a mark of Infamy set upon them. Famosi sunt ex Edicto. L. 1. §. 6. de his qui notantur infamia. Gothofred. Ibid. p. 376.[463]

I shall now come down to our own Constitution. And I find by 39 Eliz. cap. 4. 1. Jac. cap. 7. That {242}all Bearwards, Common Players of Enterludes, Counterfeit Egyptians &c. shall be taken, adjudged and deem'd Rogues, Vagabonds, and sturdy beggars, and shall sustain all pain and Punishment, as by this Act is in that behalf appointed. The Penalties are infamous to the last degree, and Capital too, unless they give over. 'Tis true, the first Act excepts those Players which belong to a Baron or other Personage of higher Degree, and are authorized to Play under the hand and Seal of Armes of such Baron, or Personage. But by the later Statute this Privilege of Licensing is taken away: And all of them are expresly brought under the Penalty without Distinction.

About the Year 1580, there was a Petition made to Queen Elizabeth for suppressing of Play-Houses. 'Tis somewhat remarkable, and therefore I shall transcribe some part of the Relation.

Many Godly Citizens, and other well disposed Gentlemen of London, considering that Play-Houses and Dicing-Houses, were Traps for Young Gentlemen and others, and perceiving the many Inconveniencies and great damage that would ensue upon the long suffering of the same, not only to particular Persons but to the whole City; And that it would also be a great disparagement to the Governours, and a dishonour to the Government of this Honourable City, if they should {243}any longer continue, acquainted some Pious Magistrates therewith, desiring them to take some Course for the suppression of Common Play-Houses, &c. within the City of London and Liberties thereof; who thereupon made humble suit to Queen Elizabeth and her Privy Council, and obtain'd leave of her Majesty to thrust the Players out of the City and to pull down all Play-Houses, and Dicing-Houses within their Liberties, which accordingly was effected.Rawlidge his Monster, lately found out, &c. p. 2, 3, 4.[464] And the Play-Houses in Grace-Church-street &c. were quite put down and suppress'd.

I shall give a Modern Instance or two from France and so conclude these Authorities.

In the Year 1696. we are inform'd by a Dutch Print,Gazett Roterdam: Dec. 20. Paris.[465] M. L' Archevéque appuyé &c. That the Lord Arch-Bishop 'support'd by the interest of some Religious Persons at Court, has done his utmost to suppress the Publick Theatres by degrees; or at least to clear them of Profaness.'

And last Summer the Gazetts in the Paris Article affirm.French Amsterdam Harlem Gazetts. Paris, May. 17th. 1697.[466] That the King has 'order'd the Italian Players to retire out of France because they did not observe his Majesties Orders, but represented immodest Pieces, and did not correct their Obscenities, and indecent Gestures.'


The same Intelligence the next week after, acquaints us, 'that some Persons of the first Quality at Court, who were the Protectors of these Comedians, had solicited the French King to recal his Order against them, but their Request had no success.'

And here to put an end to the Modern Authorities, I shall subjoyn a sort of Pastoral Letter publish'd about two years since by the Bishop of Arras in Flanders. The Reader shall have as much of it as concerns him in both Languages.




L'Illustrissime Et Reverendissime



GUY DE SEVE DE ROCHE CHOUART par la grace de Dieu & du Saint Siége Apostolique Evéque d' Arras, A tous fideles dela Ville d'Arras Salut & Benediction. Il faut ignorer sa Religion pour ne pas connoître l'horreur qu'elle a marquée dans tous les temps des Spectacles, & de la Comédie en particulier. Les saints Peres la condamnent dans leurs écrits; Ils la regardent comme un reste du paganisme, & Comme une école d'impureté. L'Eglise l' a toûjours regardée avec abomination, & si elle n'a pas absolument rejetté de son sein ceux qui exercent ce mêtier infame & scandaleux, elle les prive publiquement des Sacremens & n'oublie rien pour marquer en toutes rencountres son aversion pour cet ètat & pour l'inspirer a ses Enfans. Des Rituels de Dioceses tres reglés les mettent au nombre des personnes que les Curés sont obligés de traiter comme excommunies; Celui de Paris les joint aux Sorciers, & aux Magiciens, & les regarde comme manifestement infames; Les Eveques les plus saints leur font refuser publiquement, les Sacremens; Nous avons veu un des premiers Eveques de France ne vouloir pas par cette raison recevoir au mariage un homme de cet état; un autre ne vouloir pas leur accorder la terre Sainte; Et dans {246}les Statuts d'un prelat bien plus illustre per son merite par sa Pieté, & par l'austerité de sa vie que par la pourpre dont il est revestu, on les trouve avec les concubinaires, les Usuriers, les Blasphemateurs, les Femmes debauchées, les excommuniés denoncés, les Infames, les Simoniaque's, & autres personnes scandaleuses mis an nombre de ceux a qui on doit refuser publiquement la Communion.

Il est donc impossible de justifyer la Comedie sans vouloir condamner l'Eglise, les saints peres, les plus saint Prelats, mais il ne l'est pas moins de justifiër ceux qui par leur assistance a ces spectacles non seulement prennent part au mal qui s'y fait, mais contribuent en même temps à retenir ces malheureux ministres de Satan dans une profession, qui les separant des Sâcremens de l'Eglise les met dans un état perpetuel de peché & hors de salut s'ils ne l'abandonnnent.—— ——

Et à egard des Comediens & Commediennes, Nous defendons trés expressement à nos pasteurs & à nos Confesseurs des les recevoir aux Sacremens si cé n'est qu'ils aient fait Penitence de leur peché, donné des preuves d'amendment, renoncé a leur Etat, & repare par une satisfaction publique telle que nous jugerons à propos de leur ordonner, le Scandale public qu'ils ont donné. Fait & ordonné à Arras le quatriéme jour de Decembre mil six cent quatre-vingt quinze.Trois lettres Pastorales De Monseigneur L'Eveque D'Arras &c. A Delf. 1697.[467]

Guy Evéque d'Arras

Et plus bas

Par Monseigneur



In English thus,

An Order of the most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord Bishop of Arras against Plays.

'GUY DE SEVE DE ROCHE CHOUART by the grace of God, &c. Bishop of Arras. To all the Faithful in the Town of Arras Health and Benediction. A man must be very ignorant of his Religion, not to know the great disgust it has always declar'd, for Publick Sights, and for Plays in particular. The Holy Fathers condemn them in their writings; They look upon them as reliques of Heathenism, and Schools of Debauchery. They have been always abominated by the Church; And notwithstanding those who are concern'd in this Scandalous Profession; are not absolutely expell'd by a Formal Excommunication, yet She publickly refuses them the Sacraments, and omits nothing upon all occasions, to show her aversion for this Employment, and to transfuse {248}the same sentiments into her Children. The Rituals of the best govern'd Dioceses, have ranged the Players among those whom the Parish Priests are oblig'd to treat as Excommunicated Persons. The Ritual of Paris joyns them with Sorcerers, and Magicians, and looks upon them as notoriously infamous; The most eminent Bishops for Piety, have publickly denied them the Sacraments: For this reason, we our selves have known one of the most considerable Bishops in France, turn back a Player that came to be Married; And an other of the same order, refused to bury them in Consecrated Ground. And by the Orders of a Bishop, who is much more illustrious for his worth, for his Piety, and the Strictness of his Life, than for the Purple in his Habit; They are thrown amongst Fornicators, Usurers, Blasphemers, Lewd Women, and declar'd Excommunicates, amongst the Infamous, and Simoniacal, and other Scandalous Persons who are in the List of those who ought publickly to be barr'd Communion.

'Unless therfore we have a mind to condemn the Church, the Holy Fathers, and the most holy Bishops, 'tis impossible to justifie Plays; neither is the Defence of those less impracticable, who {249}by their Countenance of these Diversions, not only have their share of the Mischief there done, but contribute at the same time to fix these unhappy Ministers of Satan in a Profession, which by depriving them of the Sacraments of the Church, leaves them under a constant necessity of Sinning, and out of all hopes of being saved, unless they give it over.——'

From the general Unlawfulness of Plays, the Bishop proceeds to argue more strongly against seeing them at times which are more particularly devoted to Piety, and Humiliation: And therefore he strickly forbids his Diocess the Play-House in Advent, Lent, or under any publick Calamity. And at last concludes in this Manner.

'As for the Case of Players both Men, and Women, we expresly forbid all our Rectors, Pastors, and Confessours, to admit them to the Sacraments, unless they shall repent them of their Crime, make proof of their Reformation, renounce their Business, and retrieve the Scandal they have given, by such publick Satisfaction as we shall think proper to injoyn them. Made and Decreed at Arras the fourth day of December 1695.

Guy Bishop of Arras. &c.


I shall now in the Third Place, give a short account of the sense of the Primitive Church concerning the Stage: And first I shall instance in her Councils.

The Council of Illiberis, or Collioure in Spain, decrees,Ann. 305. Can. 67.[468]

'That it shall not be lawful for any Woman who is either in full Communion or a probationer for Baptism, to Marry, or Entertain any Comedians or Actors; whoever takes this Liberty shall be Excommunicated.'

The first Council of Arles, runs thus,Ann. 314. Can. 5.[469]

'Concerning Players, we have thought fit to Excommunicate them as long as they continue to Act.'

The Second Council of Arles made their 20th Canon to the same purpose, and almost in the same words.Ann. 452.[470]

The Third Council of Carthage, of which St. Augustine was a Member, ordains,Ann. 397. Can. 11.[471]

'That the Sons of Bishops, or other Clergy-men should not be permitted to furnish out Publick Shews, or Plays** Secularia spectacula, which manifestly comprehends the Stage.[472] or be present at them: Such sort of Pagan Entertainments being forbidden all the Laity. It being always unlawful for all Christians to come amongst Blasphemers.


This last branch shews the Canon was Principally levell'd against the Play-House: And the reason of the Prohibition, holds every jot as strong against the English, as against the Roman Stage.

By the 35th Canon of this Council 'tis decreed,

'That Actors or others belonging to the Stage, who are either Converts, or Penitents upon a Relapse, shall not be denied Admission into the Church.' This is farther proof, that Players as long as they kept to their Employment were bar'd Communion.

Another African Council declares,Ann. 424. Can. 96[473]

'That the Testimony of People of ill Reputation, of Players, and others of such scandalous Employments, shall not be admitted against any Person.'

The Second Council of Chaalon sets forth,Concil. Cabilon. Ann. 813. Can. 9.[474]

'That Clergy men ought to abstain from all over-engaging Entertainments in Musick or Show. (oculorum auriumque illecebris.) And as for the smutty, and Licentious Insolence of Players, and Buffoons, let them not only decline the Hearing it themselves, but likewise conclude the Laity oblig'd to the same Conduct.

I could cite many more Authorities of this Kind, but being conscious of the {252}Niceness of the Age, I shall forbear, and proceed to the Testimony of the Fathers.

To begin with Theophilus Bishop of Antioch, who lived in the Second Century.

''Tis not lawful (says he)Libr. 3. ad Autol.[475] for us to be present at the Prizes or your Gladiators, least by this means we should be Accessaries to the Murthers there committed. Neither dare we presume upon the Liberty of your other Shews,** Spectacula.[476] least our Senses should be tinctur'd, and disoblig'd, with Indecency, and Profaness. The Tragical Distractions of Tereus and Thyestes, are Nonsense to us. We are for seeing no Representations of Lewdness. The Stage-Adulteries of the Gods, and Hero's, are unwarrantable Entertainments: And so much the worse, because the Mercenary Players set them off with all the Charms and Advantages of Speaking. God forbid that Christians who are remarkable for Modesty, and Reserv'dness; who are obliged to Discipline, and train'd up in Virtue, God forbid I say, that we should dishonour our Thoughts, much less our Practise, with such Wickedness as This!'

Tertullian who liv'd at the latter end of this Century is copious upon this subject; I shall translate but some Part of {253}it. In his Apologetick, He thus addresses the Heathens.Chap. 38.[477]

'We keep off from your publick Shews, because we can't understand the Warrant of their Original. There's Superstition and Idolatry in the Case: And we dislike the Entertainment because we dislike the reason of its Institution. Besides, We have nothing to do with the Frensies of the Race-Ground, the Lewdness of the Play-House, or the Barbarities of the Bear-Garden. The Epicureans had the Liberty to state the Notion, and determine the Object of Pleasure. Why can't we have the same Privilege? What Offence is it then if we differ from you in the Idea of Satisfaction? If we won't understand to brighten our Humour, and live pleasantly, where's the harm? If any body has the worst on't, 'tis only our selves.'

His Book de Spectaculis was wrote on purpose to diswade the Christians, from the publick Diversions of the Heathens, of which the Play-House was one. In his first Chapter He gives them to understand, 'That the Tenour of their Faith, the Reason of Principle, and the Order of Discipline, had bar'd them the Entertainments of the Town. And therefore He exhorts them to refresh their {254}Memories, to run up to their Baptism, and recollect their first Engagements. For without care, Pleasure is a strange bewitching Thing. When it gets the Ascendant, 'twill keep on Ignorance for an Excuse of Liberty, make a man's Conscience wink, and suborn his Reason against himself.

'But as he goes on,Chap. 3.[478] some peoples Faith is either too full of Scruples, or too barren of Sense. Nothing will serve to settle them but a plain Text of Scripture. They hover in uncertainty because 'tis not said as expresly thou shalt not go to the Play-House, as 'tis thou shalt not Kill. But this looks more like Fencing than Argument. For we have the Meaning of the prohibition tho' not the sound, in the first Psalm. Blessed is the Man that walks not in the Council of the Ungodly, nor stands in the way of Sinners, nor sits in the Seat of the Scornful.

'The Censors whose business 'twas to take care of Regularity and Manners,Ibid. Cap. 10.[479] look'd on these Play-Houses as no other than Batteries upon Virtue and Sobriety, and for this reason often pull'd them down before they were well built, so that here we can argue from the Precedents of meer Nature, and plead the Heathens against themselves. Upon this {255}view Pompey the Great, when he built his Dramatick Bawdy-House, clapp'd a Chappel a Top on't. He would not let it go under the Name of a Play-House, but conven'd the people to a Solemn Dedication, and called it Venus's Temple; Giving them to understand at the same time that there were Benches under it for Diversion. He was afraid if he had not gone this way to work, The Censors might afterwards have razed the Monument, and branded his Memory. Thus a Scandalous pile of Building was protected: The Temple, cover'd the Play-House, and Discipline was baffled by Superstition. But the Design is notably suited to the Patronage of Bacchus** The Play-houses were dedicated to Bacchus.[480] and Venus. These two Confederate Devils of Lust and Intemperance, do well together. The very Functions of the Players resemble their Protectors, and are instances of Service and Acknowledgment. Their Motion is effeminate, and their Gestures vitious and Significant: And thus they worship the Luxury of one Idoll, and the Lewdness of the other.

'And granting the Regards of Quality, the Advantages of Age, or Temper, may fortifie some People;Ibid. cap. 15.[481] granting Modesty secur'd, and the Diversion as it were refin'd by this Means: Yet a Man {256}must not expect to stand by perfectly unmoved, and impregnable. No body can be pleas'd without Sensible Impressions. Nor can such Perceptions be received without a Train of Passions attending them. These Consequences will be sure to work back upon their Causes, solicite the Fancy, and heighten the Original Pleasure. But if a Man pretends to be a Stoick at Plays, he falls under another Imputation. For where there is no Impression, there can be no Pleasure: And then the Spectator is very much Impertinent, in going where he gets nothing for his Pains. And if this were all; I suppose Christians have something else to do than to ramble about to no purpose.Ibid. cap. 22.[482]

'Even those very Magistrates who abet the Stage, discountenance the Players. They stigmatize their Character, and cramp their Freedoms. The whole Tribe of them is thrown out of all Honour and Privilege. They are neither suffer'd to be Lords, nor Gentlemen: To come within the Senate, or harangue the People, or so much as to be Members of a Common-Council. Now what Caprice and Inconsistency is this! To love what we punish, and lessen those whom we admire! To cry up the Mystery, and {257}censure the practise; For a Man to be as it were eclips'd upon the score of Merit is certainly an odd sort of Justice! True. But the Inference lies stronger another way. What a Confession then is this of an Ill Business; when the very Excellency of it is not without Infamy?

'Since therefore Humane Prudence has thought fit to degrade the Stage, notwithstanding the Divertingness of it. Since Pleasure can't make them an Interest Here, nor shelter them from Censure.Ibid. cap. 23.[483] How will They be able to stand the shock of Divine Justice, and what Reckoning have they Reason to expect Hereafter?

'All things consider'd 'tis no wonder such People should fall under Possession. God knows we have had a sad Example of this already. A certain Woman went to the Play-House, and brought the Devil Home with Her.Ibid. cap. 26.[484] And when the Unclean Spirit was press'd in the Exorcism and ask'd how he durst attack a Christian. I have done nothing (says he) but what I can justify. For I seiz'd her upon my own Ground. Indeed, how many Instances have we of others who have apostatiz'd from God, by this Correspondence with the Devil? What Communion has Light with Darkness? No Man can serve {258}two Masters, nor have Life and Death in him at the same time.

'Will you not then avoid this Seat of Infection?Ibid. cap. 27.[485] The very Air suffers by their Impurities; And they almost Pronounce the Plague. What tho' the performance may be in some measure pretty and entertaining? What tho' Innocence, yes and Virtue too, shines through some part of it? 'Tis not the custom to prepare Poyson unpalatable, nor make up Ratzbane with Rhubarb and Sena. No. To have the Mischief speed, they must oblige the Sense, and make the Dose pleasant. Thus the Devil throws in a Cordial Drop to make the Draught go down; And steals some few Ingredients from the Dispensatory of Heaven. In short, look upon all the engaging Sentences of the Stage; Their flights of Fortitude, and Philosophy, the Loftiness of their Stile, the Musick of the Cadence, and the Finess of the Conduct; Look upon it only I say as Honey dropping from the Bowels of a Toad, or the Bag of a Spider: Let your Health over-rule your Pleasure, and don't die of a little Liquorishness.

'In earnest Christian, our time for Entertainment is not yet:Ibid. cap. 28.[486] you are two craving and ill managed if you are so violent {259}for Delight. And let me tell you, no wiser than you should be, if you count such Things Satisfaction. Some Philosophers placed their Happiness in bare Tranquillity. Easiness of Thought, and Absence of Pain, was all they aim'd at. But this it seems won't Satisfie Thee. Thou liest sighing and hankering after the Play-house. Prethee recollect thy self: Thou knowest Death ought to be our Pleasure, And therefore I hope Life may be a little without it. Are not our Desires the same with the Apostles, To be Dissolv'd and to be with Christ. Let us act up to our pretentions, and let Pleasure be true to Inclination.

'But if you can't wait for Delight; if you must be put into present Possession, wee'l cast the Cause upon that Issue.Ibid. cap. 29.[487] Now were you not unreasonable, you would perceive the Liberalities of Providence, and find your self almost in the midst of Satisfaction. For what can be more transporting than the Friendship of Heaven, and the Discovery of Truth, than the Sense of our Mistakes, and the Pardon of our Sins? What greater Pleasure can there be, than to scorn being Pleas'd? To contemn the World? And to be a Slave to Nothing? 'Tis a mighty satisfaction I take it, to have a clear Conscience;


To make Life no Burthen, nor Death any Terror! To trample upon the Pagan Deities; To batter Principalities and Powers, and force the Devils to Resign!** By Exorcisms[488] These are the Delights, these are the noble Entertainments of Christians: And besides the advantage of the Quality, they are always at hand, and cost us nothing.'

Clemens Alexandrinus affirmsLib. 3. Pædag. Ann. 204. cap. 11.[489] 'That the Circus and Theatre may not improperly be call'd the Chair of Pestilence.——Away then with these Lewd, Ungodly Diversions, and which are but Impertinence at the Best. What part of Impudence either in words or practise, is omitted by the Stage? Don't the Buffoons take almost all manner of Liberties, and plunge through Thick and Thin, to make a jest? Now those who are affected with a vitious satisfaction, will be haunted with the Idea, and spread the Infection. But if a man is not entertain'd to what purpose should he go Thither? Why should he be fond where he finds nothing, and court that which sleeps upon the Sense? If 'tis said these Diversions are taken only to unbend the Mind, and refresh Nature a little. To this I answer. That the spaces between Business should not {261}be fill'd up with such Rubbish. A wise man has a Guard upon his Recreations, and always prefers, the Profitable to the Pleasant.'

Minutius Felix delivers his Sense in these Words:Ann. 206.[490]

'As for us, who rate our Degree by our Virtue, and value our selves more upon our Lives, than our Fortunes; we decline your Pompous Shews, and publick Entertainments. And good Reason we have for our Aversion. These Things have their Rise from Idols, and are the Train of a false Religion. The Pleasure is ill Descended, and likewise Vitious and ensnaring. For who can do less than abominate, the Clamorous Disorders of the Race-Ground, and the profession of Murther at the Prize. And for the Stage, there you have more Lewdness, tho' not a jot less of Distraction. Sometimes your Mimicks, are so Scandalous and Expressing, that 'tis almost hard to distinguish between the Fact and the Representation. Sometimes a Luscious Actor shall whine you into Love, and give the Disease that he Counterfeits.'

St. Cyprian or the Author de Spectaculis, will furnish us farther.

Here this Father argues against those who thought the Play-House no unlawful {262}Diversion, because 'twas not Condemn'd by express Scripture. 'Let meer Modesty (says he) supply the Holy Text: And let Nature govern where Revelation does not reach. Some Things are too black to lie upon Paper, and are more strongly forbidden, because unmention'd. The Divine Wisdom must have had a low Opinion of Christians, had it descended to particulars in this Case. Silence is sometimes the best Method for Authority. To Forbid often puts People in mind of what they should not do; And thus the force of the Precept is lost by naming the Crime. Besides, what need we any farther Instruction? Discipline and general Restraint makes up the Meaning of the Law; and common Reason will tell you what the Scripture has left unsaid. I would have every one examine his own Thoughts, and inquire at Home into the Duties of his Profession. This is a good way to secure him from Indecency. For those Rules which a Man has work'd out for himself he commonly makes most use of.'——And after having describ'd the infamous Diversions of the Play-house; He expostulates in this Manner.

'What business has a Christian at such Places as these? A Christian who has not {263}the Liberty so much as to think of an ill Thing. Why does he entertain himself with Lewd Representations? Has he a mind to discharge his Modesty, and be flesh'd for the Practise? Yes. this is the Consequence. By using to see these Things, hee'l learn to do them.——What need I mention the Levities, and Impertinence in Comedies, or the ranting Distractions of Tragedy? Were these Things unconcern'd with Idolatry, Christians ought not to be at them. For were they not highly Criminal, the Foolery of them is egregious, and unbecoming the Gravity of Beleivers.——

'As I have often said these Foppish, these pernicious Diversions, must be avoided. We must set a Guard upon our Senses, and keep the Sentinal always upon Duty. To make Vice familiar to the ear, is the way to recommend it. And since the mind of Man has a Natural Bent to Extravagance; how is it likely to hold out under Example, and Invitation? If you push that which totters already, whether will it tumble? In earnest, we must draw off our Inclinations from these Vanities. A Christian has much better Sights than these to look at. He has solid Satisfactions in his {264}Power, which will please, and improve him at the same time.

'Would a Christian be agreeably Refresh'd? Let him read the Scriptures: Here the Entertainment will suit his Character, and be big enough for his Quality.—Beloved, how noble, how moving how profitable a pleasure is it to be thus employed? To have our Expectations always in prospect, and be intent on the Glories of Heaven?'

He has a great deal more upon this Subject in his Epistles to Donatus and Eucratius, which are undoubtedly genuine. The later being somewhat remarkable, I shall Translate part of it for the Reader. Ad Eucrat.[491]

'Dear Brother, your usual Kindness, together with your desire of releiving your own Modesty and mine, has put you upon asking my Thoughts concerning a certain Player in your Neighbourhood; whether such a Person ought to be allow'd the Privilege of Communion. This Man it seems continues in his Scandalous Profession, and keeps a Nursery under him. He teaches that which 'twas a Crime in him to learn, sets up for a Master of Debauch, and Propagates the lewd Mystery. The case standing thus, 'tis my Opinion that the Admission of such a Member would be a Breach of the {265}Discipline of the Gospel, and a Presumption upon the Divine Majesty: Neither do I think it fit the Honour of the Church should suffer by so Infamous a Correspondence.'

Lactantius's Testimony shall come next. This Author in his Divine Institutions,Lib. 6. cap. 20.[492] which he Dedicates to Constantine the Great, cautions the Christians against the Play-House, from the Disorder, and danger of those places. For as he observes.

'The debauching of Virgins, and the Amours of Strumpets, are the Subject of Comedy. And here the Rule is, the more Rhetorick the more Mischeif, and the best Poets are the worst Common-Wealths-men. For the Harmony and Ornament of the Composition serves only to recommend the Argument, to fortifie the Charm, and engage the Memory. At last he concludes with this advice.

'Let us avoid therefore these Diversions, least somewhat of the Malignity should seize us. Our Minds should be quiet and Compos'd, and not over-run with Amusements. Besides a Habit of Pleasure is an ensnaring Circumstance. 'Tis apt to make us forget God, and grow cool in the Offices of Virtue.Ibid. cap. 21.[493]


'Should a Man have a Stage at Home, would not his Reputation suffer extreamly, and all people count him a notorious Libertine? most undoubtedly. Now the Place does not alter the Property. The Practise at the Play-House is the same thing, only there he has more Company to keep him in Countenance.

'A well work'd Poem is a powerful piece of Imposture: It masters the Fancy, and hurries it no Body knows whither.——If therefore we would be govern'd by Reason let us stand off from the Temptation, such Pleasures can have no good Meaning. Like delicious Morsels they subdue the Palate, and flatter us only to cut our Throats. Let us prefer Reality to Appearance, Service, to Show; and Eternity to Time.Ibid. cap. 22.[494]

'As God makes Virtue the Condition of Glory, and trains men up to Happiness by Hardship and Industry. So the Devils road to Destruction lies through Sensuality and Epicurism. And as pretended Evils lead us on to uncounterfeited Bliss; So Visionary Satisfactions are the causes of Real Misery. In short, These Inviting Things are all stratagem. Let us, take care the softness and Importunity of the Pleasure does not surprise us, nor the Bait bring {267}us within the snare. The Senses are more than Out-Works, and should be defended accordingly.'

I shall pass over St. Ambrose,In Psal. 119.[495] and go on to St. Chrisostome. This Father is copious upon the Subject, I could translate some Sheets from him were it necessary. But length being not my Business, a few Lines may serve to discover his Opinion. His 15 Homily ad Populum Antiochenum, runs thus.

'Most People fancy the Unlawfulness of going to Plays is not clear. But by their favour, a world of Disorders are the Consequences of such a Liberty. For frequenting the Play-House has brought Whoring and Ribaldry into Vogue, and finish'd all the parts of Debauchery.'

Afterwards he seems to make the supposition better than the Fact, and argues upon a feign'd Case.

'Let us not only avoid downright Sinning, but the Tendencies to it. Some Indifferent Things are fatal in the Consequence, and strike us at the Rebound. Now who would chuse his standing within an Inch of a Fall; or swim upon the Verge of a Whirlpool? He that walks upon a Precipice, shakes tho' he does not tumble. And commonly his Concern brings him to the Bottom. The Case is much {268}the same in reference to Conscience, and Morality. He that won't keep his Distance from the Gulph, is oftentimes suck'd in by the Eddy; and the least oversight is enough to undo Him.'

In his 37 Homily upon the Eleventh Chapter of St. Matthew he declaims more at large against the Stage.

'Smutty Songs (says he) are much more abominable than Stench and Ordure. And which is most to be lamented, you are not at all uneasy at such Licentiousness. You Laugh when you should Frown; and Commend what you ought to abhor.——Heark you, you can keep the Language of your own House in order: If your Servants or your Childrens Tongues run Riot, they presently smart for't. And yet at the Play-House you are quite another Thing. These little Buffoons have a strange Ascendant! A luscious Sentence is hugely welcome from their Mouth: And instead of Censure, they have thanks and encouragement for their Pains. Now if a Man would be so just as to wonder at himself, here's Madness, and Contradiction in Abundance.

'But I know you'l say what's this to me, I neither sing nor pronounce, any of this Lewd stuff? Granting your Plea, {269}what do you get by't? If you don't repeat these Scurrilities, you are very willing to hear them. Now whether the Ear, or the Tongue is mismanaged, comes much to the same reckoning. The difference of the Organ, does not alter the Action so mightily, as you may imagine. But pray how do you prove you don't repeat them? They may be your Discourse, or the Entertainments of your Closet for ought we know to the contrary. This is certain; you hear them with pleasure in your Face, and make it your business to run after them: And to my Mind, these are strong Arguments of your Approbation.

'I desire to ask you a Question. Suppose you hear any wretches Blaspheme, are you in any Rapture about it? And do your Gestures appear airy, and obliged? Far from it. I doubt not but your blood grows chill, and your Ears are stopt at the Presumption. And what's the Reason of this Aversion in your Behaviour? Why 'tis because you don't use to Blaspheme, your self. Pray clear your self the same way from the Charge of Obscenity. Wee'l then believe you don't talk Smut, when we percieve you careful not to hear it. Lewd Sonnets, and Serenades are quite different from the {270}Prescriptions of Virtue. This is strange Nourishment for a Christian to take in! I don't wonder you should lose your Health, when you feed thus Foul. It may be Chastity is no such easy Task! Innocence moves upon an Ascent, at least for sometime. Now those who are always Laughing can never strain up Hill. If the best preparations of Care will just do, what must become of those that are dissolv'd in Pleasure, and lie under the Instructions of Debauchery?——Have you not heard how that St. Paul exhorts us to rejoyce in the Lord? He said in the Lord; not in the Devil. But alas! what leisure have you to Mind St. Paul? How should you be sensible of your Faults, when your Head is always kept Hot, and as it were intoxicated with Buffooning?'—— ——He goes on, and lashes the Impudence of the Stage with a great deal of Satir and Severity; and at last proposes this Objection.

'You'l say, I can give you many Instances where the Play-House has done no Harm. Don't mistake. Throwing away of Time and ill example, has a great deal of Harm in't; And thus far you are guilty at the best. For granting your own Virtue impenetrable, and out of Reach, Granting the Protection of your Temper has brought you off unhurt, {271}are all People thus Fortified? By no means. However, many a weak Brother has ventur'd after you, and miscarried upon your Precedent. And since you make others thus Faulty, how can you be Innocent your self? All the People undone There, will lay their Ruine at your Door. The Company are all Accessary to the Mischeif of the Place. For were there no Audience, we should have no Acting. And therefore those who joyn in the Crime, will ne're be parted in the Punishment. Granting your Modesty has secur'd you, which by the way I believe nothing of; yet since many have been debauch'd by the Play-House, you must expect a severe Reckning for giving them Encouragement. Tho' after all, as Virtuous as you are, I doubt not, you wou'd have been much Better, had you kept away.

'In fine, Let us not dispute to no purpose; The practise won't bear a Defence! Where the Cause is naught 'tis in vain to rack our Reason, and strain for Pretences. The best excuse for what is past, is to stand clear from the danger, and do so no more.'

One citation more from St. Chrysostom, and I take Leave. In the Preface of his Commentary upon St. John's Gospel speaking of Plays and other Publick Shews, he has these words.


'But what need I branch out the Lewdness of those Spectacles, and be particular in Description? For what's there to be met with but Lewd Laughing, but Smut, Railing, and Buffoonry? In a word. 'Tis all Scandal and Confusion. Observe me, I speak to you all; Let none who partake of this Holy-Table, unqualifie themselves with such Mortal Diversions.'

St. Hierom on the 1st. Verse 32 Psal. makes this Exposition upon the Text.

'Some are delighted with the Satisfactions of this World, some with the Circus, and some with the Theatre: But the Psalmist commands every good Man to delight himself in the Lord.——For as Isaiah speaks, woe to them that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter.' And in his EpistlesEp. 9. 12. Advers. Jovinian. Lib. 2. cap. 7.[496] he cautions the Ladies against having any thing to do with the Play-House, against Lewd Songs, and Ill Conversation. Because they set ill Humours at work, Caress the Fancy, and make pleasure a Conveyance for Destruction.'

In the 6th. Book of his Comentary on Ezechiel he lets us understand;Chap. 20.[497] 'That when we depart out of Ægypt we must refine our Inclinations, and change our Delights into Aversion. And after some other Instances, He tells us we must {273}decline the Theatres, and all other dangerous Diversions, which stain the Innocence of the Soul, and slip into the Will through the Senses.'

St. Augustine in his 5th. Epistle to Marcellinus will afford us something upon the same Argument.

'The prosperity of Sinners is their greatest Unhappiness. If one may say so, They are most Punish'd when they are overlook'd. By this means their bad Temper is encourag'd, and they are more inclin'd to be false to themselves; And we know an Enemy within, is more dangerous than one without. But the perverse Reasonings of the Generality, make different Conclusions. They fancy the World goes wonderfully well when People make a Figure. When a Man is a Prince in his Fortune, but a Begger in his Vertue; Has a great many fine Things about him, but not so much as one good Quality to deserve them. When the Play-Houses go up, and Religion go's down. When Prodigality is admir'd, and Charity laugh'd at. When the Players can revel with the Rich Man's purse, And the Poor have scarse enough to keep Life and Soul together.——When God suffers these Things to flourish, we may be sure he is most Angry. Present Impunity, is the deepest Revenge. But {274}when he cuts off the Supplies of Luxury, and disables the Powers of Extravagance, then as one may say, he is mercifully severe.'

In his 1st. Book de consensu Evangelistarum,cap. 33.[498] He answers an objection of the Heathens, and comes up to the Case in Hand.

'Their Complaint as if the Times were less happy since the Appearance of Christianity is very unreasonable. Let them read their own Philosophers: There they'l find those very Things censured, which they now are so uneasy to part with; This Remark must shut up their Mouths, and convince them of the Excellency of our Religion. For pray what Satisfactions have they lost? None that I know of, excepting some Licentious ones, which they abused to the Dishonour of their Creatour. But it may be the Times are bad because the Theatres are Tumbling almost every where. The Theaters those Cages of Uncleaness, and publick Schools of Debauchery.——And what's the Reason of their running to Ruine? Why 'tis the Reformation of the Age: 'Tis because those Lewd Practises are out of Fashion, which first built and kept them in Countenance. Their own Tully's Commendation of the Actor Roscius is remarkable. He was so much {275}a Master (says he) that none but himself was worthy to Tread the Stage. And on the other hand, so good a Man, that he was the most unfit Person of the Gang to come There. And is not this a plain Confession of the Lewdness of the Play-House; And that the better a Man was, the more he was obliged to forbear it?'

I could go on, much farther with St. Augustine, but I love to be as brief as may be. I could likewise run through the succeeding Centuries, and collect Evidence all along. But I conceive the best Ages, and the biggest Authorities, may be sufficient: And these the Reader has had already. However, one Instance more from the Moderns may not be amiss. Didacus de Tapia an eminent Spaniard, shall close the Evidence. This Author in debating the Question whether Players might be admitted to the Sacrament, amongst other things encounters an Objection. Some People it seems pretended there was some good to be learn'd at the Play-House. To these, he makes this reply.

'Granting your Supposition, (says He) your Inference is naught. Do People use to send their Daughters to the Stews for Discipline? And yet it may be, they might meet some there lamenting their own Debauchery. No Man will breed his Son upon the High-way, to harden his {276}Courage; Neither will any one go on board a Leaky Vessel, to learn the Art of shifting in a Wreck the better. My conclusion is, let no body go to the Infamous Play-House. A place of such staring Contradiction to the Strictness and Sobriety of Religion: A Place hated by God, and haunted by the Devil. Let no man I say learn to relish any thing that's said there; For 'tis all but Poyson handsomly prepared.' Didac. &c. in D. Thom. p. 546.[499]

Thus I have presented the Reader with a short View of the Sense of Christianity. This was the opinion of the Church for the first 500 Years. And thus she has Censured the Stage both in Councils, and Single Authorities. And since the Satir of the Fathers comes full upon the Modern Poets, their Caution must be applicable. The parity of the Case makes their Reasons take place, and their Authority revive upon us. If we are Christians, the Canons of Councils, and the Sense of the Primitive Church must have a weight. The very Time is a good argument of it self. Then the Apostolical Traditions were fresh, and undisputed; and the Church much better agreed than she has been since. Then, Discipline was in Force, and Virtue Flourish'd, and People lived up to their Profession. And as for the Persons, they are beyond all exception. Their Station, their {277}Learning, and Sufficiency was very Considerable; Their Piety and Resolution, extraordinary. They acted generously, and wrote freely, and were always above the little Regards of Interest or Danger. To be short; They were, as we may say the Worthies of Christendom, the Flower of Humane Nature, and the Top of their Species. Nothing can be better establish'd, than the Credit of these Fathers: Their Affirmation goes a great way in a proof; And we might argue upon the strength of their Character.

But supposing them contented to wave their Privilege, and dispute upon the Level. Granting this, the Stage would be undone by them. The Force of their Reasoning, and the bare Intrinsick of the Argument, would be abundantly sufficient to carry the Cause.

But it may be objected, is the Resemblance exact between Old Rome and London, will the Paralel hold out, and has the English Stage any Thing so bad as the Dancing of the Pantomimi? I don't say that: The Modern Gestures tho' bold and Lewd too sometimes, are not altogether so scandalous as the Roman. Here then we can make them some little Abatement.

And to go as far in their Excuse as we can, 'tis probable their Musick may not be altogether so exceptionable as that of the {278}Antients. I don't say this part of the Entertainment is directly vitious, because I am not willing to Censure at Uncertainties. Those who frequent the Play-House are the most competent Judges: But this I must say, the Performances of this kind are much too fine for the Place. 'Twere to be wish'd that either the Plays were better, or the Musick worse. I'm sorry to see Art so meanly Prostituted: Atheism ought to have nothing Charming in its Retinue. 'Tis great Pity Debauchery should have the Assistance of a fine Hand, to whet the Appetite, and play it down.

Now granting the Play-House-Musick not vitious in the Composition, yet the design of it is to refresh the Idea's of the Action, to keep Time with the Poem, and be true to the Subject. For this Reason among others the Tunes are generally Airy and Gailliardizing; They are contriv'd on purpose to excite a sportive Humour, and spread a Gaity upon the Spirits. To banish all Gravity and Scruple, and lay Thinking and Reflection a sleep. This sort of Musick warms the Passions, and unlocks the Fancy, and makes it open to Pleasure like a Flower to the Sun. It helps a Luscious Sentence to slide, drowns the Discords of Atheism, and keeps off the Aversions of Conscience. It throws a Man off his Guard, makes way for an ill Impresion, and is most {279}Commodiously planted to do Mischief. A Lewd Play with good Musick is like a Loadstone Arm'd, it draws much stronger than before.

Now why should it be in the power of a few mercenary Hands to play People out of their Senses, to run away with their Understandings, and wind their Passions about their Fingers as they list? Musick is almost as dangerous as Gunpowder; And it may be requires looking after no less than the Press, or the Mint. 'Tis possible a Publick Regulation might not be amiss. No less a Philosopher than Plato seems to be of this Opinion. He is clearly for keeping up the old grave, and solemn way of Playing. He lays a mighty stress upon this Observation: He does not stick to affirm, that to extend the Science, and alter the Notes, is the way to have the Laws repeal'd and to unsettle the Constitution.De Repub. L. 4.[500] I suppose He imagined that if the Power of Sounds, the Temper of Constitutions, and the Diversities of Age, were well studied; If this were done, and some general Permissions formed upon the Enquiry, the Commonwealth might find their Account in't.

Tully does not carry the Speculation thus high: However, he owns it has a weight in't, and should not be overlook'd.Cic. de Leg. L. 2.[501] He denies not but that when the Musick is soft, {280}exquisite, and airy, 'tis dangerous and ensnaring. He commends the Discipline of the ancient Greeks, for fencing against this Inconvenience. He tells us the Lacedemonians fixt the number of Strings for the Harp, by express Law. And afterwards silenc'd Timotheus,** A Famous Musician[502] and seiz'd his Harp, for having One String above publick Allowance. To return. If the English Stage is more reserv'd than the Roman in the Case above mention'd: If they have any advantage in their Instrumental Musick, they loose it in their Vocal. Their Songs are often rampantly Lewd, and Irreligious to a flaming Excess. Here you have the very Spirit and Essence of Vice drawn off strong scented, and thrown into a little Compass. Now the Antients as we have seen already were inoffensive in this respect.

To go on. As to Rankness of Language we have seen how deeply the Moderns stand charged upon the Comparison. And as for their Caressing of Libertines, their ridiculing of Vertue, their horrible Profaness, and Blasphemies, there's nothing in Antiquity can reach them.

Now were the Stage in a Condition to wipe off any of these Imputations, which They are not, there are two Things besides which would stick upon them, and [......] an ill Effect upon the Audience.


The first is their dilating so much upon the Argument of Love.

This Subject is generally treated Home, and in the most tender and passionate manner imaginable. Tis often the governing Concern: The Incidents make way, and the Plot turns upon't. As matters go, the Company expect it: And it may be the Poets can neither Write, nor Live without it. This is a cunning way enough of stealing upon the Blind Side, and Practising upon the Weakness of humane Nature. People love to see their Passions painted no less than their Persons: And like Narcissus are apt to dote on their own Image. This Bent of self Admiration recommends the Business of Amours, and engages the Inclination. And which is more, these Love-representations oftentimes call up the Spirits, and set them on work. The Play is acted over again in the Scene of Fancy, and the first Imitation becomes a Model. Love has generally a Party Within; And when the Wax is prepared, the Impression is easily made. Thus the Disease of the Stage grows Catching: It throws its own Amours among the Company, and forms these Passions when it does not find them. And when they are born before, they thrive extreamly in this Nursery. Here they seldom fail either of Grouth, or Complexion. {282}They grow strong, and they grow Charming too. This is the best Place to recover a Languishing Amour, to rowse it from Sleep, and retrieve it from Indifference. And thus Desire becomes Absolute, and forces the Oppositions of Decency and Shame. And if the Misfortune does not go thus far, the consequences are none of the best. The Passions are up in Arms, and there's a mighty Contest between Duty, and Inclination. The Mind is over-run with Amusements, and commonly good for nothing sometime after.

I don't say the Stage Fells all before them, and disables the whole Audience: 'Tis a hard Battle where none escapes. However, Their Triumphs and their Tropheys are unspeakable. Neither need we much wonder at the Matter. They are dangerously Prepar'd for Conquest, and Empire. There's Nature, and Passion, and Life, in all the Circumstances of their Action. Their Declamation, their Mein their Gestures, and their Equipage, are very moving and significant. Now when the Subject is agreeable, a lively Representation, and a Passionate way of Expression, make wild work, and have a strange Force upon the Blood, and Temper.

And then as for the General Strains of Courtship, there can be nothing more Profane and extravagant. The Hero's Mistress {283}is no less than his Deity. She disposes of his Reason, prescribes his Motions, and Commands his Interest. What Soveraign Respect, what Religious Address, what Idolizing Raptures are we pester'd with? Shrines and Offerings and Adorations, are nothing upon such solemn Occasions. Thus Love and Devotion, Ceremony and Worship are Confounded; And God, and his Creatures treated both alike! These Shreds of Distraction are often brought from the Play-House into Conversation: And thus the Sparks are taught to Court their Mistresses, in the same Language they say their Prayers.

A Second Thing which I have to object against the Stage is their encouraging Revenge. What is more Common than Duels and Quarrelling in their Characters of Figure? Those Practises which are infamous in Reason, Capital in Law, and Damnable in Religion, are the Credit of the Stage. Thus Rage and Resentment, Blood and Barbarity, are almost Deified: Pride goes for Greatness, and Fiends and Hero's are made of the same Mettal. To give Instances were needless, nothing is more frequent. And in this respect the French Dramatists have been to blame no less than the English.Vid. Corneille Cid, Cinna & Pompee.[503] And thus the Notion of Honour is mistated, the Maxims of Christianity despised, and the Peace of the {284}World disturb'd. I grant this desperate Custom is no Original of the Stage. But then why was not the Growth of it check'd? I thought the Poets business had not been to back false Reasoning and ill Practise; and to fix us in Frensy and Mistake! Yes. They have done their endeavour to cherish the Malignity, and keep the Disorder in Countenance. They have made it both the Mark, and the Merit of a Man of Honour; and set it off with Quality, and Commendation. But I have discours'd on this Subject elswhere,Moral Essays.[504] and therefore shall pursue it no farther.

To draw towards an End. And here I must observe that these two later Exceptions are but Petty Mismanagements with respect to the Former. And when the best are thus bad, what are the worst? What must we say of the more foul Representations, of all the Impudence in Language and Gesture? Can this Stuff be the Inclination of Ladies? Is a Reading upon Vice so Entertaining, and do they love to see the Stews Dissected before them? One would think the Dishonour of their own Sex, the Discovery of so much Lewdness, and the treating Human Nature so very Coarsly, could have little Satisfaction in't. Let us set Conscience aside, and throw the other World out of the Question: These Interests are but the greatest, but not all. The {285}Ladies have other Motives to confine them. The Restraints of Decency, and the Considerations of Honour, are sufficient to keep them at Home. But hoping They will be just to themselves I shall wave this unacceptable Argument. I shall only add, that a Surprize ought not to be Censured. Accidents are no Faults. The strictest Virtue may sometimes stumble upon an Ill Sight. But Choise, and Frequency, and ill Ground, conclude strongly for Inclination. To be assured of the inoffensiveness of the Play is no more than a Necessary Precaution. Indeed the Players should be generally discouraged. They have no relish of Modesty, nor any scruples upon the Quality of the Treat. The grossest Dish when 'twill down is as ready as the Best. To say Money is their Business and they must Live, is the Plea of Pick pockets, and High way men. These later may as well pretend their Vocation for a Lewd practise as the other. But

To give the Charge its due Compass: To comprehend the whole Audience, and take in the Motives of Religon.

And here I can't imagine how we can reconcile such Liberties with our Profession. These Entertainments are as it were Litterally renounc'd in Baptism. They are the Vanities of the wicked World, and the Works of the Devil, in the most open, and emphatical Signification. What Communion {286}has Light with Darkness, and what concord has Christ with Belial.2 Cor. 6. 14.[505] Call you this Diversion? Can Profaness be such an irresistable Delight? Does the Crime of the Performance make the Spirit of the Satisfaction, and is the Scorn of Christianity the Entertainment of Christians? Is it such a Pleasure to hear the Scriptures burlesqu'd? Is Ribaldry so very obliging, and Atheism so Charming a Quality? Are we indeed willing to quit the Privilege of our Nature; to surrender our Charter of Immortality, and throw up the Pretences to another Life? It may be so! But then we should do well to remember that Nothing is not in our Power. Our Desires did not make us, neither can they unmake us. But I hope our wishes are not so mean, and that we have a better sense of the Dignity of our Being. And if so, how can we be pleas'd with those Things which would degrade us into Brutes, which ridicule our Creed, and turn all our Expectations into Romance.

And after all, the Jest on't is, these Men would make us believe their design is Virtue and Reformation. In good time! They are likely to combat Vice with success, who destroy the Principles of Good and Evil! Take them at the best, and they do no more than expose a little Humour, and Formality. But then, as the Matter is manag'd, the Correction is much worse {287}than the Fault. They laugh at Pedantry, and teach Atheism, cure a Pimple, and give the Plague. I heartily wish they would have let us alone. To exchange Virtue for Behaviour is a hard Bargain. Is not plain Honesty much better than Hypocrisy well Dress'd? What's Sight good for without Substance? What is a well Bred Libertine but a well bred Knave? One that can't prefer Conscience to Pleasure, without calling himself Fool: And will sell his Friend, or his Father, if need be, for his Convenience.

In short: Nothing can be more disserviceable to Probity and Religion, than the management of the Stage. It cherishes those Passions, and rewards those Vices, which 'tis the business of Reason to discountenance. It strikes at the Root of Principle, draws off the Inclinations from Virtue, and spoils good Education: 'Tis the most effectual means to baffle the Force of Discipline, to emasculate peoples Spirits, and Debauch their Manners. How many of the Unwary have these Syrens devour'd? And how often has the best Blood been tainted, with this Infection? What Disappointment of Parents, what Confusion in Families, and What Beggery in Estates have been hence occasion'd? And which is still worse, the Mischief spreads dayly, and the Malignity grows more envenom'd. {288}The Feavour works up towards Madness; and will scarcely endure to be touch'd. And what hope is there of Health when the Patient strikes in with the Disease, and flies in the Face of the Remedy? Can Religion retrive us? Yes, when we don't despise it. But while our Notions are naught, our Lives will hardly be otherwise. What can the Assistance of the Church signify to those who are more ready to Rally the Preacher, than Practise the Sermon? To those who are overgrown with Pleasure, and hardned in Ill Custom? Who have neither Patience to hear, nor Conscience to take hold of? You may almost as well feed a Man without a Mouth, as give Advice where there's no disposition to receive it. 'Tis true; as long as there is Life there's Hope. Sometimes the Force of Argument, and the Grace of God, and the anguish of Affliction, may strike through the Prejudice, and make their way into the Soul. But these circumstances don't always meet, and then the Case is extreamly dangerous. For this miserable Temper, we may thank the Stage in a great Measure: And therefore, if I mistake not, They have the least pretence to Favour, and the most, need of Repentance, of all Men Living.


NOTES (In margin in the Original).

[1] Reflect upon Aristot. &c.

[2] Eurip. Hippolit.

[3] Hamlet.

[4] Don Quixot.

[5] Relapse.

[6] Love for Love.

[7] Mock Astrologer.

[8] Old Batchelour.

[9] Mock Astrologer. Country Wife. Cleomenes. Old Batchelour.

[10] Plaut.

[11] Cistellar.

[12] Terent. Eunuch.

[13] Asinar.

[14] Cistellar.

[15] Bacchid.

[16] Casin.

[17] Mercat. Act. 3.

[18] Persa.

[19] Trucul.

[20] Persa.

[21] Trinum.

[22] Act. 2. 1.

[23] Act. 2. 2.

[24] Casin.

[25] Mil. Glor.

[26] Pers.

[27] Trucul.

[28] Cistellear. A. 1.

[29] Ibid. A. 2.

[30] Heauton.

[31] Eunuch.

[32] Love Triump.

[33] Heauton. A. 5. 4.

[34] Eunuch A. 5. 4. 5. Adelph. A. 2. 3.

[35] Eunuch.

[36] Casaub. Annot. in Curcul. Plauti.

[37] De A te Poet.

[38] Var. apud. Nonium.

[39] Corn. Nep.

[40] Arist. Lib. 4. de Mor. cap. 14.

[41] Vit. Eurip. ed Cantab. 1694.

[42] Love for Love. Love Triump. &c.

[43] p. 14. Ed. Scriv.

[44] Hippol.

[45] Aristoph. Ran.

[46] Χοηφορ. 253, Ed. Steph.

[47] Orest. 48. Ed. Cantab.

[48] Ευμεν. 305.

[49] p. 79.

[50] Ἱκέτ. 340.

[51] Don Sebast. p. 12.

[52] Oedip. Tyran. Ed Steph.

[53] Antig. 242. 244.

[54] Ibid. 264.

[55] Trach. 348.

[56] Μωρία τὸ Μῶρον Ed. Cant. 241. 250. 252.

[57] Ibid. 232. 233.

[58] Androm. p. 303.

[59] Iphig. in Aulid. p. 51.

[60] Helen. 277, 278.

[61] Mourning Bride. p. 36.

[62] Spanish Fryar. Ep. Ded.

[63] Troad. p. 146.

[64] Plain Dealer. p. 21.

[65] Provok'd Wife. p. 41.

[66] Remarks upon Quixot.

[67] Nub. Act. 1. Sc. 3. p. 104. Ed. Amstel.

[68] Sat. 14.

[69] p. 106.

[70] Nub. p. 110.

[71] Act. 5. p. 176.

[72] Plat. Apol. Socrat.

[73] Nub. p. 86.

[74] Plut. A. 1. Sc. 2.

[75] Ran. p. 188.

[76] 536. 538. 546.

[77] 542.

[78] 582.

[79] Ibid.

[80] 602.

[81] Eiren. 616.

[82] p. 142. p. 200.

[83] 242.

[84] p. 244.

[85] p. [......] p. [......]

[86] Ranæ p. 186. p. 182.

[87] p. 192, 194, 196.

[88] Act 2. Sc. 6.

[89] Ranæ p. 242.

[90] Ranæ A. 1. Sc. 1. Concionat.

[91] Ranæ p. 238.

[92] p. 240.

[93] p. 242. 244.

[94] 255. 267.

[95] Discov. p. 700.

[96] p. 701.

[97] p. 706. 717.

[98] Beauments, &c. Works.

[99] Ibid.

[100] Ibid.

[101] Theodore. Ed. Roven. Ep. Ded.

[102] Gad for God.

[103] p. 31.

[104] p. 37.

[105] p. 24.

[106] Hebr. 12.

[107] 34. 36.

[108] 55.

[109] 59.

[110] Orph. p. 20.

[111] p. 31.

[112] Lactan.

[113] p. 19.

[114] p. 28.

[115] p. 31.

[116] 38.

[117] p. 39.

[118] p. 39.

[119] Id. 49.

[120] Double Dealer. 34.

[121] 36.

[122] 55.

[123] p. 40.

[124] Sebast. p. 9.

[125] Id. p. 10.

[126] p. 47.

[127] Id. p. 83. Exod. 12, 13.

[128] Ibid.

[129] Ibid.

[130] Ded. p. 51.

[131] Love Triumph. p. 3.

[132] Id. p. 11.

[133] Id. p. 11.

[134] p. 34.

[135] 58.

[136] p. 62.

[137] 1st. Eliz. cap. 2.

[138] p. 63.

[139] p. 72.

[140] Love for Love. p. 42.

[141] 26.

[142] p. 27.

[143] p. 47.

[144] Vid. Person. Dram.

[145] p. 80.

[146] p. 91.

[147] p. 92.

[148] Prov. Wife p. 38.

[149] Id. p. 77.

[150] Relapse. p. 32, 33.

[151] p. 44, 45.

[152] Vid. Infra.

[153] p. 51.

[154] p. 96, 97.

[155] Ibid.

[156] p.91.

[157] Don. Sebastian. p. 51.

[158] Double Dealer. p. 19.

[159] p. 17.

[160] p. 44.

[161] Double Dealer. p. 18.

[162] Gen. 2. St. Math. 9.

[163] Love, &c. p. 59, 61.

[164] Provok'd Wife. p. 3.

[165] p. 4.

[166] p. 65.

[167] Relapse. p. 19.

[168] p. 96.

[169] Eccles. 8. 11.

[170] Gal. 6.

[171] Eunuch.

[172] Heauton. A. 5. 1.

[173] Adelp. A. 5. 7.

[174] Lyconides. Aulular. A. 2. 4. Palæstra. Rud. A. 1. 3. Dinarchus. Trucul. A. 2. 4.

[175] Mil. Glor.

[176] Pseud. A. 1. 3.

[177] Prom. vinct. 57.

[178] p. 92.

[179] p. 101.

[180] Περσ. 161.

[181] 164.

[182] Ajax. Flagell.

[183] Oedip. Tyran. p. 187.

[184] p. 188.

[185] Antig. p. 256.

[186] Trach. p. [......].

[187] Trach. p. 375.

[188] Trach. p. 340.

[189] Cleom. p. 54.

[190] Id. p. 55.

[191] p. 54.

[192] De Art. Poet.

[193] Philoct. 402.

[194] 419.

[195] p. 431.

[196] Act. 2.

[197] p. 295.

[198] Agam. Act. 3.

[199] 20.

[200] p. 37.

[201] p. 23.

[202] Country Wife p. 6.

[203] p. 35.

[204] Ibid.

[205] p. 25.

[206] p. 26.

[207] Ibid.

[208] Old Batch. p. 19, 20.

[209] p. 27.

[210] p. 41.

[211] p. 71.

[212] Absal. and Achi.

[213] p. 24.

[214] p. 96.

[215] p. 32.

[216] Oedip. p. 38.

[217] p. 43.

[218] Ibid.

[219] Ibid.

[220] Provok'd Wife. p. 45, 46, 52, 52.

[221] Relapse. p. 74.

[222] p. 75.

[223] p. 86.

[224] p. 97.

[225] 89.

[226] p. 94.

[227] p. 95, 97, 105.

[228] Hom. Il. α. p. 3. & dein. Ed. Screvel.

[229] Il. B. p. 91.

[230] Ibid. p. 92.

[231] Il. E. p. 154, 155.

[232] Il. E. p. 154, 155.

[233] Ibid. p. 158.

[234] Odyss. I p. 174, 181.

[235] Ænid. 2.

[236] Ruaus. in Loc.

[237] Æneid 2.

[238] Ibid.

[239] Æneid. 3.

[240] Ibid.

[241] Ænead. 1st.

[242] Æn. 6.

[243] Ibid.

[244] Æneid. 7.

[245] Lib. 1.

[246] Æneid. 10.

[247] Æneid. 11.

[248] Æneid. 9. 10. 11.

[249] Guther. de jure veter. pontif.

[250] Oedip. Tyr. p. 148.

[251] Ibid. 169.

[252] p. 38.

[253] Antig. p. 250, 258.

[254] Eurip. Phœniss. p. 158, 159.

[255] Bacch. Act. 1. Act. 4.

[256] Jon. Act 5.

[257] Iphig. in Aulid. & in Taur.

[258] Oedip.

[259] Troad. A. 2. p. 193.

[260] Plut. Ran. Aves.

[261] Bacchid. Act. 2. 5. 3.

[262] Rud. A. 1. 5. A. 2. 3.

[263] Act [......]

[264] Rud. A. 4. S. 7.

[265] Measure for Measure. Much a do about Nothing. Twelf-Night. Henry 4th pt. 1st. Hen. 6. pt. 3d. Romeo and Juliet. * Merry Wives of Windsor.

[266] Essay of Dramat. &c.

[267] De Bell. Judaic.

[268] Deut. 17. 9. 20. 2. Chron. 19. 8.

[269] Math. 27. Act. 4. Vid. seldon de Synedr.

[270] Joseph.

[271] Diod. Sic.

[272] Gen. 41.

[273] Porph. de Abstin. Lib. 4. Cæsar de Bell. Gall. Lib. 6

[274] Lib. 6.

[275] Ser. in Controv.

[276] Dion. Halic.

[277] Pro Dom. ad Pontif.

[278] Hebr. 7.

[279] Davila Filmers Freeholders Grand Inq.

[280] Miræus De Statu Relig. Christ.

[281] Fletchers Embassy.

[282] Puffendorf Introduction à l'Histoire.

[283] Heylins Cosgmog.

[284] 2, Hen. 8. cap. 22. 26, Hen. 8 cap 2. 1. Edw. 6. cap. 12, &c. Preamb.

[285] S. Luke 12.

[286] Moral Essays.

[287] Mock Astrol. p. 3, &c.

[288] Mock Astrol. p. 57, 59.

[289] Spanish Fryar. p. 61.

[290] Country Wife. p. 25.

[291] Old Batch.

[292] Double Dealer. p. 34.

[293] Love for Love p. 90.

[294] Love for Love. p. 6, 7. 25. 61. 89. 91.

[295] p. 35.

[296] Don Sebast.

[297] Love for Love. p. 20.

[298] Provok'd Wife. p. 64.

[299] Chap. 1. & 2.

[300] Mostel. A. 1. 2. Trinum. A. 2. 1. A. 2. 2. Enuch. A. 3. 3. Hecyr. A. 3. 4.

[301] Trinum. A. 2. 1.

[302] A. 2. 2.

[303] Enuch. A. 3. 3.

[304] Hecyr. A. 3. 4.

[305] Stich A. 1. 1.

[306] p. 3.

[307] Stich. A. 1. 2.

[308] p. 60.

[309] Ibid.

[310] De Art. Poet.

[311] Ibid.

[312] [......] Schol.

[313] Libr. de Poet. cap. 5.

[314] Psyche.

[315] Ibid.

[316] Pref. Mock. Astrol.

[317] Ibid.

[318] Ibid.

[319] Essay of Dramatick Poetry. p. 28.

[320] The London Prodigall.

[321] Ibid.

[322] Ibid.

[323] Ibid.

[324] Rapin Reflect. &c. p. 10.

[325] Libr. 4. de Morib. cap. 14.

[326] De Mor. Lib. 10, cap. 2.

[327] Institut. Lib. 6; c. 3.

[328] p. 32.

[329] p. 52.

[330] Spanish Fryar. p. 36.

[331] p. 70.

[332] p. 61.

[333] Enuch.

[334] King Arth. p. 2.

[335] Love Trium. p. 26.

[336] p. 47.

[337] Oedip. p. 3.

[338] Old Batch. p. 41.

[339] p. 35.

[340] p. 22.

[341] Don. Sebast. p. 5.

[342] Double Dealer. Person. Dram. Relapse. Provok'd Wife. p. 4. p. 2.

[343] Relapse.

[344] p. 4.

[345] p. 2.

[346] Don Sebast. p. 16.

[347] p. 17.

[348] Don. Quix. part. 2. p. 37.

[349] Relapse. p. 84.

[350] p. 24.

[351] L'Ombre de Moliere

[352] Essay Dram. poet. p. 5.

[353] Amphit. p. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9.

[354] p. 8. 17.

[355] p. 18.

[356] 19.

[357] Eunuch.

[358] Euseb. præpar. Evang.

[359] Ep. Ded.

[360] p. 1.

[361] p. 3, 16, etc.

[362] p. 1.

[363] Pref.

[364] p. 1.

[365] 19.

[366] Troil. and Cressid.

[367] The Hist. of Sr. John Old Castle.

[368] King Arthur.

[369] Ep. Ded.

[370] p. 6.

[371] Ep. Ded. Don Sebast.

[372] Ded. King Arthur.

[373] Sebast. K. Arth.

[374] Ibid.

[375] Part 1st. p. 20.

[376] p. 20.

[377] p. 37.

[378] p. 13.

[379] Part. 1. p. 13.

[380] Person. Dram.

[381] p. 51.

[382] p. 3.

[383] p. 7.

[384] p. 10.

[385] p. 41.

[386] p. 47.

[387] Part. 1st. p. 7, 8. pt. 2d. p. 57.

[388] pt. 2d. p. 60;

[389] pt. 1st. p. 38. pt. 2d. p. 14.

[390] pt. 1st. p. 7, 8. pt. 2d. p. 52. pt. 2d. p. 36, 49. pt. 2d. p. 37. 44.

[391] Pref. pt. 3d.

[392] Ibid.

[393] Pref.

[394] Ibid.

[395] Person. Dram.

[396] pt. 2d. p. 31.

[397] p. 51.

[398] Pref. pt. 1st.

[399] Ibid.

[400] pt. 3d.

[401] p. 53.

[402] Reflect, &c. p. 131.

[403] Relapse. p. 19

[404] Reflect. p. 133.

[405] p. 27.

[406] p. 79.

[407] Ibid.

[408] p. 81.

[409] p. 83.

[410] p. 59.

[411] p. 11.

[412] p. 47.

[413] p. 51.

[414] p. 74.

[415] Reflect. p. 40.

[416] Tragedies of the last Age consider'd, &c. p. 113, 114.

[417] p. 59.

[418] p. 61.

[419] p. 42.

[420] p. 43.

[421] p. 44.

[422] p. 64. At top.

[423] p. 85.

[424] p. 64.

[425] p. 94.

[426] p. 15.

[427] p. 99.

[428] Ibid.

[429] p. 100.

[430] Rapin Reflect, &c.

[431] Discourse des Trois Unitez. pt. 3d.

[432] p. 88.

[433] Pref.

[434] see Chap. 2d.

[435] Pref.

[436] An Academy in Lithuania, for the Education of Bears. Pere Auvill Voyage en Divers Etats, &c. p. 240.

[437] Plat. de Repub. Lib. 10. Euseb. Præpar. Evang.

[438] Cyropæd. p. 34

[439] Polit. Lib. 7. c. p. 12.

[440] Polit. Lib. 8.

[441] Tusc. Quest. Lib. 4. De Leg. Lib. 1.

[442] Dec. 1. Lib. 7.

[443] Lib. 2. cap. 4.

[444] cap. 6.

[445] Natural Quest. Lib. 7. cap. 32.

[446] Epist. 7.

[447] Annal. Lib 14. cap. 14.

[448] De Mor. German. cap. 19

[449] Symposiac. Lib. 7. De Audiend. Poet. p. 15. Ed. Par.

[450] Lib. 1.

[451] Remed. Amor.

[452] Lib. 2.

[453] Ep. Ded.

[454] Plut. De Glor. Atheniens.

[455] Plut. Lacon. Institut.

[456] Cic. de Repub. Lib. 4. cited by, St. Augustine. Libr. 2. de civ. dei. cap. 13.

[457] Lib. 2. cap. 29.

[458] Dec. 1. Libr. 7.

[459] Ab Histrionibus Pollui.

[460] XV. Cod. Theod. Tit. vii. p.375.

[461] in loco Honesto.

[462] turpe munus.

[463] L. 1. §. 6. de his qui notantur infamia. Gothofred. Ibid. p. 376.

[464] Rawlidge his Monster, lately found out, &c. p. 2, 3, 4.

[465] Gazett Roterdam: Dec. 20. Paris.

[466] French Amsterdam Harlem Gazetts. Paris, May. 17th. 1697.

[467] Trois lettres Pastorales De Monseigneur L'Eveque D'Arras &c. A Delf. 1697.

[468] Ann. 305. Can. 67.

[469] Ann. 314. Can. 5.

[470] Ann. 452.

[471] Ann. 397. Can. 11.

[472] Secularia spectacula, which manifestly comprehends the Stage.

[473] Ann. 424. Can. 96

[474] Concil. Cabilon. Ann. 813. Can. 9.

[475] Libr. 3. ad Autol.

[476] Spectacula.

[477] Chap. 38.

[478] Chap. 3.

[479] Ibid. Cap. 10.

[480] The Play-houses were dedicated to Bacchus.

[481] Ibid. cap. 15.

[482] Ibid. cap. 22.

[483] Ibid. cap. 23.

[484] Ibid. cap. 26.

[485] Ibid. cap. 27.

[486] Ibid. cap. 28.

[487] Ibid. cap. 29.

[488] By Exorcisms

[489] Lib. 3. Pædag. Ann. 204. cap. 11.

[490] Ann. 206.

[491] Ad Eucrat.

[492] Lib. 6. cap. 20.

[493] Ibid. cap. 21.

[494] Ibid. cap. 22.

[495] In Psal. 119.

[496] Ep. 9. 12. Advers. Jovinian. Lib. 2. cap. 7.

[497] Chap. 20.

[498] cap. 33.

[499] Didac. &c. in D. Thom. p. 546.

[500] De Repub. L. 4.

[501] Cic. de Leg. L. 2.

[502] A Famous Musician

[503] Vid. Corneille Cid, Cinna & Pompee.

[504] Moral Essays.

[505] 2 Cor. 6. 14.

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