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´╗┐Title: Representation of the Impiety and Immorality of the English Stage (1704); Some Thoughts Concerning the Stage in a Letter to a Lady (1704)
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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Series Three:
Essays on the Stage

No. 2
Anon., Representation of the Impiety and Immorality of the English Stage
Anon., Some thoughts Concerning the Stage (1704)

With an Introduction by
Emmett L. Avery
a Bibliographical Note

Announcement of Publications for the Second Year

The Augustan Reprint Society
March, 1947
Price: 75c

General Editors: Richard C. Boys, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor;
Edward N. Hooker, H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., University of California, Los
Angeles 24, California.

Membership in the Augustan Reprint Society entitles the subscriber to
six publications issued each year. The annual membership fee is $2.50.
Address subscriptions and communications to the Augustan Reprint
Society, in care of one of the General Editors.

Editorial Advisors: Louis I. Bredvold, University of Michigan; James L.
Clifford, Columbia University; Benjamin Boyce, University of Nebraska;
Cleanth Brooks, Louisiana State University; Arthur Friedman, University
of Chicago; James R. Sutherland, Queen Mary College, University of
London; Emmett L. Avery, State College of Washington; Samuel Monk,
Southwestern University.

Photo-Lithoprint Reproduction


Within two or three years after the appearance in 1698 of Jeremy
Collier's 'A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English
Stage', the bitter exchanges of reply and counter-reply to the charges
of gross licentiousness in the London theaters had subsided. The
controversy, however, was by no means ended, and around 1704 it flared
again in a resurgence of attacks upon the stage. Among the tracts
opposing the theaters was an anonymous pamphlet entitled 'A
Representation of the Impiety and Immorality of the English Stage', a
piece which was published early in 1704 and which appeared in three
editions before the end of that year.

The author reveals within his tract some of the reasons for its
appearance at that time. He remarks upon the obvious failure of the
opponents of the theater to end "the outragious and insufferable
Disorders of the STAGE." He stresses the brazenness of the players in
presenting, soon after the devastating storm of the night of November
26-27, 1703, two plays, 'Macbeth' and 'The Tempest', "as if they
design'd to Mock the Almighty Power of God, _who alone commands the
Winds and the Seas_." ('Macbeth' was acted at Drury Lane on Saturday,
November 27, as the storm was subsiding, but, because it was advertised
in the 'Daily Courant' on Friday, November 26, for the following
evening, it would appear that, unless the players possessed the even
more formidable power of foreseeing the storm, their presentation of
'Macbeth' at that time was pure coincidence. No performance of 'The
Tempest' in late November appears in the extant records, but there was
probably one at Lincoln's Inn Fields, which was not regularly
advertising its offerings.) The author also emphasizes the propriety,
before the approaching Fast Day of January 19, 1704, of noting once more
the Impiety of the stage and the desirability of either suppressing it
wholly or suspending its operations for a considerable period.
Apparently the author hoped to arouse in religious persons a renewed
zeal for closing the theaters, for the tract was distributed at the
churches as a means of giving it wider circulation among the populace.
('The Critical Works of John Dennis' [Baltimore, 1939], I, 501, refers
to a copy listed in Magga catalogue. No. 563, Item 102, with a note:
"19th Janry, Fast Day. This Book was given me at ye Church dore, and was
distributed at most Churches.")

Except for the author's ingenuity in seizing upon the fortuitous
circumstances of the storm, the acting of 'Macbeth' and 'The Tempest',
and the proclamation of the Fast Day (which was ordered partly because
of the ravages of the storm), there is nothing greatly original in the
work. The author was engaged, in fact, in bringing up to date some of
the accusations which earlier controversialists had made. For example,
he reviews the indictments of the players in 1699 and 1701 for uttering
profane remarks upon the stage, and he culls from several plays and
prints the licentious expressions which had resulted in the indictments.
Like Jeremy Collier before him and Arthur Bedford in 'The Evil and
Danger of Stage-Plays' later (1706), he adds similar expressions from
plays recently acted, as proof, presumably, of the failure of the
theaters to reform themselves in spite of the publicity previously given
to their shortcomings. In so doing, he damns the stage and plays by
excerpts, usually brief ones, containing objectionable phrases. To this
material he adds a section consisting of seventeen questions, a not
uncommon device, addressed to those who might frequent the playhouses.
The questions again stress the great difficulty involved in attending
plays and remaining truly good Christians.

The pamphlet must have been completed late in 1703 or very early in
1704. The references to the storm and the performances of 'Macbeth' and
'The Tempest' would place its final composition after late November,
1703, and it was in print in time to be distributed at the churches on
January 19 and also to be advertised in the 'Daily Courant' for January
20 under the heading "This present day is publish'd." The fact that it
quickly attained three editions during 1704 may be partially accounted
for by its being given to churchgoers, for it seems unlikely that the
pamphlet would have a tremendous sale, even if one allows for the strong
opposition to the stage which persisted in the minds of many people at
the turn of the century. The author of the tract is unknown, although
Sister Rose Anthony in 'The Jeremy Collier Stage Controversy, 1698-1726'
(Milwaukee, 1937), pages 194-209, ascribed it to Jeremy Collier, an
attribution which E. N. Hooker, in a review of the book in 'Modern
Language Notes', LIV (1939), 388, and also in 'The Critical Works of
John Dennis', I, 501, has deemed unlikely.

Advertised also in the 'Daily Courant' for January 20, 1704, under the
heading "This present day is publish'd" and in the same paragraph with
the advertisement of 'A Representation', was another short pamphlet,
'Some Thoughts Concerning the Stage in a Letter to a Lady'. (Immediately
below this notice of publication was a re-advertisement of Jeremy
Collier's 'Dissuasive from the Play-House', with the result that, on the
day following the Fast Day, three of the pamphlets attacking the stage
and referring to the performances of plays representing tempests soon
after the destructive storm of November 26-27, 1703, were brought
simultaneously to the attention of the public.)

It seems clear that the publication and distribution of these books was
a feature in the activities of the Societies for Reformation of Manners.
The anonymous 'Account of the Progress of the Reformation of Manners'
(13th ed., 1705) boasted that the Societies had enlarged their design
by causing books to be written which aimed at "laying open to the World
the outragious Disorders and execrable Impieties of our most Scandalous
Play-Houses, with the fatal Effects of them to the Nation in general,
and the manifest Sin and Danger of particular Persons frequenting of
them" (p. 2). Defoe's 'Review' (III, no. 93, for August 3, 1706) pointed
out that thousands of Collier's books had been distributed at the church
doors by the Societies for Reformation of Manners and the founders of
the Charity Schools. Obviously the Societies did not restrict themselves
to the works of Collier. Incidentally, the habit of Collier and his
followers of giving excerpts to illustrate the profaneness and
immorality of the stage produced an unexpected effect in at least one
quarter. The same issue of the 'Review' tells us that the Rev. Dr.
William Lancaster, archdeacon of Middlesex, objected strongly to the
dispersal of anti-stage tracts at the door of _his_ church, on the
grounds that they tended "to teach the ignorant People to swear and

'Some Thoughts Concerning the Stage in a Letter to a Lady' was ascribed
by Halkett and Laing to Josiah Woodward, who was associated with the
Society for the Reformation of Manners, and the ascription has been
referred to by later writers on the controversy over the immorality of
the stage. According to Sister Rose Anthony (op. cit., pp. 203-209),
Jeremy Collier may have issued a pamphlet as a supplement to his
'Dissuasive from the Play-House', which was first published late in
1703; and it has been conjectured (cf. 'Critical Works of John Dennis',
I, 501, 505) that 'Some Thoughts' might be that work, especially since
Dennis, at the end of 'The Person of Quality's Answer to Mr. Collier's
Letter', refers to a quotation from Tillotson which appears on pages 8-9
of 'Some Thoughts' and begins his reference to the pamphlet by
designating it as a "Letter written by you [Collier], tho' without
Name." In any event, both 'A Representation' and 'Some Thoughts' stem
from the renewed opposition to the stage which arose in the winter of
1703-1704 and were activated in part by the belief that the great storm
of 1703 was a judgment brought on England by, among other faults, the
licentiousness of the stage.

Both of the items printed in this issue are reproduced, with permission,
from copies in the library of the University of Michigan.

                                                         Emmett L. Avery
                                             State College of Washington

Impiety & Immorality
English Stage,

Reasons for putting a Stop thereto: and some Questions Addrest to those
who frequent the Play-Houses.

The Third Edition.

Printed, and are to be Sold by J. Nutt near Stationers-Hall, 1704.

Impiety & Immorality
English Stage.

The various Methods that have been used for Preventing the outragious
and insufferable Disorders of the STAGE, having been in a great measure
defeated: It is thought proper, under our present Calamity, and before
the approaching FAST, to collect some of the _Prophane and Immoral
Expressions_ out of several late PLAYS, and to put them together in a
little Compass, that the Nation may thereby be more convinced of the
_Impiety of the Stage_, the Guilt of such as frequent it, and the
Necessity of putting a Stop thereto, either by a total Suppression of
the _Play-Houses_, as was done in the Reign of Queen _Elizabeth_, or by
a Suspension for some considerable time, after the Example of other
Nations; where, we are informed, the Stages were very chaste, in respect
of ours of this Nation, who are of a Reformed Religion, and do with so
much Reason glory in being of the best constituted Church in the World;
nay, 'tis out of doubt but the _Theatres_ even of _Greece_ and _Rome_
under _Heathenism_ were less obnoxious and offensive, which yet by the
Primitive Fathers and General Councils stood condemned.

And is not the dangerous and expensive War we are engaged in, together
with the present Posture of Affairs, a sufficient Reason for this, tho'
the Play-Houses were less mischievous to the Nation than they are?

Are we not also loudly called upon to lay aside this prophane Diversion,
by the late dreadful Storm, terrible beyond that which we are told was
felt in the Year 1636? which, as a Right Reverend Prelate has observ'd,
some good Men then thought presag'd further Calamity to this Nation, and
was accordingly followed by the Commotions in _Scotland_ the very next
Year, and not long after by the Civil War in _England_.

And if we go on to countenance such open and flagrant Defiances of
Almighty God, have we not great Reason to fear his heavy Judgments will
consume us?

But further, Her Majesty having now, upon Occasion of the late great
Calamity, appointed a Day of Solemn Fasting and Humiliation throughout
the Kingdom, for the deprecating of God's Wrath, surely the Players have
little Reason to expect that they shall still go on in their abominable
Outrages; who, 'tis to be observed with Indignation, did, as we are
assured, within a few Days after we felt the late dreadful Storm,
entertain their Audience with the ridiculous Representation of what had
fill'd us with so great Horror in their Plays call'd 'Mackbeth' and the
'Tempest' as if they design'd to Mock the Almighty Power of God, _who
alone commands the Winds and the Seas, and they obey him_. No surely, it
cannot but be hoped, that a Suspension at least of the Players acting
for some considerable time will follow, when the _Prophaneness and
Immorality of the Stage_ comes to Her Majesty's Knowledge, who, 'tis to
be remembred, has never once given any Countenance to the Play-House by
Her Royal Presence, since Her happy Accession to the Throne.

The abominable obscene Expressions which so frequently occur in our
Plays, as if the principal Design of them was to gratifie the lewd and
vicious part of the Audience, and to corrupt the virtuously dispos'd,
are in this black Collection wholly omitted; lest thereby fresh Poison
should be administred instead of an Antidote.

_After the Endeavours used by Sir Richard Blackmore, Mr. Collier, and
others, to Correct and Reform the _Scandalous Disorders and Abuses of
the Stage_ were found too unsuccessful; in the Year _1699_, several of
the _Players_ were prosecuted in the Court of _Common-Pleas_, upon the
Statute of _3 Jac. 1._ for prophanely using the Name of GOD upon the
_Stage_, and Verdicts were obtained against them._

_And in _Easter-Term, 1701_, the _Players_ of one House were Indicted at
the _King's-Bench-Bar_, before the Right Honourable the Lord Chief
Justice _Holt_, for using these following Expressions, and were thereof

_In the Play call'd, _The Provok'd Wife.__

'But more than all that, you must know I was afraid of being damn'd in
those Days; for I kept sneaking, cowardly Company, Fellows that went to
Church, and said Grace to their Meat, and had not the least Tincture of
Quality about em.

'Damn 'em both, with all my Heart, and every thing else that daggles a
Petticoat; except four generous Whores, with Betty Sands at the Head of
'em, who were drunk with my Lord Rake and I, ten times in a Fortnight.

'Sure, if Woman had been ready created, the Devil, instead of being
kick'd down into Hell, had been married.

'Pox of my Family.

'Pox of her Virtue.

'He has married me, and be damn'd to him

'Pox of the Parson.

'Damn Morality, and damn the Watch.

'Let me speak and be damn'd.

    [Note: _This is spoken by one in a Minister's Habit._]

'And you and your Wife may be damn'd.

'Stand off and be damn'd.

'Damn me, if you han't.

'Lord! What Notions have we silly Women from these old Philosophers of
Virtue, for Virtue is this, and Virtue is that, and Virtue has its own
Reward; Virtue, Virtue is an Ass, and a Gallant is worth forty on't.

'If I should play the Wife and Cuckold him.

'That would be playing the down-right Wife indeed.

'I know according to the strict Statute Law of Religion, I shou'd do
wrong; but if there were a Court of _Chancery_ in Heaven, I'm sure I
shou'd cast him.

'If there were a House of Lords you might.

'If you should see your Mistress at a Coronation, dragging her Peacocks
Train, with all her State and Insolence about her, it would strike you
with all the awful Thoughts that Heaven it self could pretend to, from

'Madam, to oblige your Ladyship, he shall speak Blasphemy.

'In hopes thou'lt give me up thy Body, I resign thee up my Soul.

'A Villain, but a repenting Villain; Stuff which Saints in all Ages have
been made of.

'Satan and his Equipage; Woman tempted me, Lust weakened me, and so the
Devil overcame me; as fell _Adam_, so fell I.

_A Bill was likewise found against the _Players_ of the other House, in
the Term abovementioned, for the following Expressions; but the
Indictement being wrong laid, they were acquitted: but they were
Indicted the Term following for the same, which Indictment is not yet

In the Humour of the Age.

'Marriage, that was only contriv'd for the meaner Rank; tell me of
Marriage, commend me to a Whore.

'Every serious Thought, was so much Time lost.

'We address you with the same awful Reverence we petition Heaven.

_In Sir 'Courtly Nice'._

'Nay, his Salvation is a Looking-Glass, for there he finds his eternal
Happiness, Surly's Heaven, at least his Priest is his Claret-Glass, for
to that he confesses all his Sins, and from it receives Absolution and
Comfort. But his Damnation is a Looking-Glass, for there he finds an
eternal Fire in his Nose.

'That same thing, the Word _Love_, is a Fig-Leaf to cover the naked
Sense, a Fashion brought up by _Eve_, the Mother of Jilts, she Cuckold
her Husband with the Serpent, then pretended to Modesty, and fell a
making of Plackets.

'Let him be in Misery and be damn'd.

'And a Pox on thee for't.

'Prithee Dress and be damn'd.

'Pox on 'em: Pox on you all Whores.

'Pox take him.

'Rot me.

'Let him Plague you, Pox you, and damn you; I don't care and be damn'd.

_The following Expressions are transcribed out of the Plays that have
been Acted and Printed since they were Indicted for the horrid Passages

_In the Comedy call'd, 'The False Friend. 1702'._

Pag. 7. 'Pox take ye. Pag. 12 'The Devil fetch me, &c.

Pag. 22. 'Heaven's Blessing must needs fall upon so dutiful a Son; but I
don't know how its Judgments may deal with so indifferent a Lover.

Pag. 28. 'Say that 'tis true, you are married to another, and that a----
Twou'd be a Sin to think of any Body but your Husband, and that ---- You
are of a timorous Nature, and afraid of being damn'd.

'How have I lov'd, to Heaven I appeal; but Heaven does now permit that
Love no more.

'Why does it then permit us Life and Thought? Are we deceiv'd in its
Omnipotence? Is it reduc'd to find its Pleasure in its Creature's Pain?

Pag. 33. '_Leonora_'s Charms turn Vice to Virtue, Treason into Truth;
Nature, who has made her the Supream Object of our Desires must needs
have design'd her the Regulator of our Morals.

'There he goes I'faith; he seem'd as if he had a Qualm just now; but he
never goes without a Dram of Conscience-water about him to set Matters
right again.

Pag. 43. 'Speak, or by all the Flame and Fire of Hell eternal; speak, or
thou art dead.

_In the 'Inconstant', or the 'Way to Win him. 1702'._

Pag. 10. 'My Blessing! Damn ye, you young Rogue.

Pag. 20. 'What do you pray for? Why, for a Husband; that is, you implore
Providence to assist you in the just and pious Design of making the
wisest of his Creatures a Fool, and the Head of the Creation a Slave.

Pag. 43. 'But don't you think there is a great deal of Merit in
dedicating a beautiful Face to the Service of Religion?

'Not half so much as devoting them to a pretty Fellow. If our Femality
had no Business in this World, why was it sent hither? Let's dedicate
our beautiful Minds to the Service of Heaven: And for our handsom
Persons, they become a Box at the Play, as well as a Pew in the Church.

_In the 'Modish Husband'._

Pag. 12. 'She's mad with the Whimsies of Virtue and the Devil.

Pag. 28. 'I think Wit the most impertinent thing that belongs to a
Woman, except Virtue.

Pag. 47. 'The Devil fetch him.

Pag. 50. 'I'm going towards Heaven, Sirrah; it must be the Way to my

_In the Play call'd, 'Vice Reclaim'd', &c._

Pag. 15. 'Now the Devil take that dear false agreeable; what shall I
call him, _Wilding_. But I'll go home and pray heartily we may meet
again to morrow.

'By Heaven, &c.

Pag. 24. 'By Heaven it becomes you.

Pag. 27. 'The Devil take me.

Pag. 31. 'Lightning blast him! Thunder rivet him to the Earth! That
Vulture, Conscience, prey upon his Heart, and rack him to Despair!

Pag. 32. 'Grant me, ye Powers, one lucky Hint for Mischief.

Pag. 43. 'Then damn me, if I don't, &c.

Pag. 47. 'Rot me and be damn'd.

Pag. 52. 'By Heaven, &c.

Pag. 60. 'Well, the Devil take me.

_In the 'Different Widows'._

Pag. 1. 'Damn'd Lies, by _Jupiter_ and _Juno_, and the rest of the
Heathen Gods and Goddesses; for I remember I paid two Guinea's for
swearing Christian Oaths last Night.

Pag. 2. 'Pox take him. Pag. 24. 'Ye immortal Gods, who the Devil am I?

Pag. 61. 'May the Devil, Curses, Plagues and Disappointments light upon

_In the 'Fickle Shepherdess'._

Pag. 17. 'Bid _Charon_ instantly prepare his Boat, I'd row to Hell.

Ibid. 'O _Ceres_, can thy all-seeing Eye _behold_ this Object, and yet
restrain thy Pity?

Pag. 32. 'Fly hence to Hell; there hide thy Head lower than Darkness.
Wou'd thou hadst been acting Incest, Murder, Witchcraft, when thou
cam'st to pray: Thou hadst in any thing sinn'd less than in this

Pag. 36. 'Where Love's blind, God sends forth continual Arrows.

Pag. 42. '_Ceres_, to whom we all things owe.

Pag. 46. 'Almighty _Ceres_.

_In the Play called, 'Marry or do Worse, 1704'._

Pag. 4. 'Pox on me. Rot the World.

Pag. 6. 'Pox on him.

Pag. 8. 'A Plague on her.

'The Devil take you for a Witch. The Devil take you for a Fool.

Pag. 12. 'No Matrimony; the Devil danced at the first Wedding there was,
and Cuckoldom has been in Fashion ever since.

'The Devil take you for me.

Pag. 12 & 13. 'The Devil's in't if he been't fit for Heaven, when my
Master has writ Cuckoldom there.

'The Devil take me &c.

Pag. 18. 'A Plague choak you,

Pag. 21. 'A smart Jade by Heaven.

Pag. 33. 'Now the Devil take him &c.

Pag. 37. 'A Plague on my Master.

Pag. 44. 'The Devil take me, &c.

Pag. 47. 'I pity him, and yet a Pox on him too.

Pag. 51. 'That dear damn'd Virtue of hers tempts me strangely.

Pag. 54. 'The Devil take me, &c.

Pag. 64. 'By Heaven.

It must be again remembred, that the detestable lewd Expressions
contained in the abovementioned Plays, which seem to be the most
pernicious part of our Comedies, are not here recited, least they should
debauch the Minds and corrupt the Manners of the Reader, and do the same
Mischief, in some degree, as they do in the greatest when used upon the
Stage, tho' mentioned with never so great Indignation. And it must be
likewise taken notice of, that these Instances of the prophane Language
of Plays, which the good Christian will read with Horror, would not have
been put together, and laid before the World, had not the
Incorrigibleness of the Players made it necessary for the Ends

_And now may not these plain Questions be proposed, without Offence, to
the Persons who frequent our _Play-Houses_; and especially to such of
them as appear at any times in our Churches, and at the Holy Sacrament,
and be submitted to the Judgment of all Mankind._

I. Can Persons who frequent the _Play-Houses_, and are not displeased to
hear Almighty God blasphemed, his Providence questioned and denied, his
Name prophaned, his Attributes ascribed to sinful Creatures, and even to
Heathen Gods, his Holy Word burlesqued, and treated as a Fable, his
Grace made a Jest of, his Ministers despised, Conscience laught at, and
Religion ridiculed; in short, the Christian Faith and Doctrine exposed,
and the sincere Practice of Religion represented as the Effect of
Vapours and Melancholy, Virtue discountenanced, and Vice encouraged.
Evil treated as Good, and Good as Evil, and all this highly aggravated
by being done in cool Blood, upon Choice and Deliberation? Can those, I
say, that frequent the _Play-Houses_, and are not displeased with any of
these things, be thought to have any due Sense of Religion?

II. Can Persons who often spend their Time and Money to see Plays, be
suppos'd to be displeas'd with, and to have a due Indignation at, the
Hearing the Outrages beforementioned, which so often occur in them, and
of which there is a dismal Specimen laid before the World in this Paper?

III. Can sincere Christians encourage and assist, by their Presence and
Purses, Men in committing such Practices, and in their living by a
Profession, which, as it is managed, is so inconsistent with

IV. Can any who have a true Concern for the Honour of Almighty God, give
Countenance and Support to such Entertainments whereby he is so
dishonour'd and affronted, though they could suppose themselves above
the Danger of being the worse for them, which they can never be?

V. Can Persons who know 'tis generally allowed, that the Infidelity and
Looseness of the Age is very much owing to the Play-Houses; who have
observed, that the Zeal of particular Persons have decreased, and their
Strictness of Life abated, by their going to Plays; and do think that
the Gospel obliges them to discourage, by their Reproof and Example, Sin
in their Neighbours, to endeavour, according to their Advantages and
Opportunities, to further their spiritual Welfare, and to be _Lights_ to
lead others in their Duty and Way to Heaven? Can such, tho' they could
think themselves wholly secure from taking Infection in going to the
Play-House, encourage others, even weak and feeble Christians, by their
Example, to run to the same dangerous Place likewise? Can this be
thought an Expression of their Charity to their Neighbour, or to be
acceptable to Almighty God? or rather, Should not Compassion to the
Souls of their Neighbours keep such as have a due Concern for them from
going to such Places?

VI. Can it be denied, but that the going of a few sober Persons, tho'
but once a Year, to see a Play, that they think less offensive and
dangerous, does encourage many others to go frequently to Plays, and to
those that are more abominably loose and prophane; who might never go at
all to them, if none frequented them but such as were entirely abandoned
to Shame as well as Vice?

VII. Can Persons who have good Dispositions to Religion, who go but once
or twice in a Year to the _Play-House_, say, upon their Experience, that
they think the seeing of Plays is proper to encrease the Love of God in
Men, to fit them for holy Exercises, and to promote their spiritual
Welfare? or rather, Must they not own, that by the seeing of Plays they
are more indisposed for Religious Performances; that the Awe and
Reverence which they had for God and Religion, and the Horrour which
they had at the Sins which they there see Men divert themselves with,
and make a Jest of, does thereby wear off; that their sensual Desires
are more heightned and enflamed; that they are more alienated from God,
and more enamoured with the World?

VIII. Can Persons who are sensible of, and do heartily lament their want
of the Love and Fear of God, their too great a Love of the World, the
frequent Distractions of their Mind in Prayer, and the Unruliness of
their Lusts and Passions, delight to frequent a Place where they are
surrounded with Temptations to the Love of the World; where what can
excite to unlawful Desires and Actions is promoted; and the Arts of an
easie Defilement are studied? Can they think this consistent with the
Rules of keeping from all Appearance of Evil, of avoiding the Occasions
and Temptations to Sin, and that Watchfulness over their Thoughts, and
that Diligence in making their Calling and Election sure, as the Gospel
requires? Do they in any wise herein adorn their Profession, resemble
the Christians who lived in the first Ages of Christianity; or those who
in any Age since have been celebrated for their Virtue?

IX. Can Persons in good earnest pray, as they are directed in the
Lord's-Prayer, _Not to be led into Temptation_, and yet frequent the
Play-House, where they are assaulted with more and greater Temptations
than incounter them perhaps in any other Place?

X. Can such Persons as go to the _Play-Houses_ on Week-days, and appear
in our _Churches_ on the Lord's-day, and even at the Holy Sacrament,
where they declare, that they _present themselves, their Souls and
Bodies, as a reasonable, holy and lively Sacrifice to God_, be suppos'd
to attend upon these Holy Ordinances with a suitable Frame of Mind;
since the Language and Design of Sermons, and of our Liturgy, and of
Plays, are so different and even directly contrary to each other?

XI. Can Ladies really dislike Lewd Discourse in Conversation, and yet
like to see Lewdness represented in all the Dresses that can vitiate the
Imagination, and fasten upon the Memory?

XII. Can Parents, or any other Persons who have the Conduct of Youth,
and have any serious Concern for the Souls of their Children, or of
those that are committed to their Care, satisfie their Consciences,
without Restraining them from going to a place of such Impiety and
Infection; where they would be in the way to unlearn the best
Instructions of their Parents and Governours; where Pride and Falshood,
Malice and Revenge, Injustice and Immodesty, Contempt of Marriage, and
false Notions of Honour, are recommended; where Men are taught to call
in question the first Principles of their Religion, and are led to a
contempt of Sacred things?

XIII. Can sincere and judicious Christians think that the Players
exposing (as they pretend to do) Formality, Humour, and Pedantry, is an
Equivalent for their insulting sacred things, and their promoting to so
high a degree the Prophaneness and Debauchery of the Nation?

XIV. Can modest and prudent Christians think, that the Opinion of the
General Councils, Primitive Fathers, and so many wise and good Men in
the several Ages of the Church, who have condemned the going to Plays as
unlawful, and as a renouncing the Baptismal Engagements, doth not
deserve great regard?

XV. Can sincerely religious Persons hear of the most horrid, licentious
Treatment of sacred things as is in our Plays, and this not among
_Mahometans_ and _Infidels_, not at _Rome_ and _Venice_, but in a
Protestant Countrey, without a Fear that the Judgments of God will fall
upon us?

XVI. Can less be expected from good Christians, who are sensible of the
intolerable Disorders of the Play-Houses, and the Mischiefs that are
brought upon Mankind by them, than that they would use all proper
Methods for the Discouraging and Restraining their Relations and Friends
from going to them, as they have any Concern for the Honour of God, the
Good of Mankind, and the Welfare of their own Immortal Souls; that so by
Persons, who have any virtuous Principles, keeping from a Place which
they will never be able to frequent with Safety to themselves, under any
partial Regulation; the _Players_, the unhappy, the miserable _Players_,
may be necessitated to quit their Profession, and take upon them some
honest and useful Employment (wherein good Men ought to encourage and
assist them) and thereby the execrable Impieties of the _Play-Houses_,
and the ruinous consequences of them, be prevented?

XVII. Lastly, Can Persons frequent the Play-Houses, after the outragious
Impieties of them, and the fatal Effects of their going to them, are in
so full and advantageous a manner laid open to the World, without a
greater Aggravation of their Guilt?


Concerning the

London, Printed Anno Dom. 1704


It is with no little Pleasure I behold you treading in the Paths of
_Virtue_, and practising the Duties of a Holy and Religious life. This,
as it has deservedly gain'd you the Love and Admiration of all that know
you: so, I doubt not, but you will always find it a _Fund_ of solid
Peace and Satisfaction to your own Mind. I heartily wish there were many
more such bright Examples in the World, that the Ladies might be at last
convinc'd, _That there is something worthy their Imitation beyond the
Modes of Dress and Equipage; something which will render them much more
agreeable to the best and wisest of their Admirers, and, in time, no
less pleasing to themselves_. I make no doubt but the Age (as corrupt as
it is) can furnish us with many Instances of those of your _Sex_, who
think the Beauty of the Mind does far surpass the gay Appearances of the
most splendid Outside: But yet, it must be confessed, that there are
others, (and those not a few) whose Lives are almost one continued
Circle of Vanity and Folly. Such as divide the best and most precious
part of their Time between their _Toilet_, the _Exchange_, and the
_Play-House_. This, I believe, upon Enquiry, will appear to be no unjust
Censure; tho' at the same time, _Madam_, I must freely own to you, that
I think it a most amazing thing, that the _Ladies_ (at least those who
make any Pretensions to Virtue and Goodness) should ever be seen at the
last of these Places; where they find themselves so scandalously
treated. I am apt to think, that very few of 'em have read Mr. Collier's
'View of the Stage'; if they had, they would there see the _Corruptions_
of the Plays set in so clear a Light, that one would believe, they
should never after be Tempted to appear in a Place where _Lewdness_ and
_Obscenity_ (not to mention other Immoralities) are so great a part of
the Entertainment; a Place that is now become the _Common Rendezvouz_ of
the most Lewd and Dissolute Persons; the _Exchange_, (if I may so call
it) where they meet to carry on the _vilest_ and _worst_ of Practices.
'Tis the Nursery of all manner of _Wickedness_, where the Seeds of
_Atheism_ and _Irreligion_ are sown, which Weak and Tender Minds too
readily cultivate, and from thence are easily led into a _Contempt_ of
all that's Serious. It is impossible to say, how many, and how great the
_Mischiefs_ are that spring from thence; which if a Man should take a
View of, it would perhaps, be one of the most Melancholy Prospects that
ever he beheld. To look into our _Modern Plays_, and there to see the
Differences of Good and Evil confounded, Prophaneness, Irreligion, and
Unlawful Love, made the masterly Stroaks of the _fine Gentleman_;
Swearing, Cursing, and Blaspheming, the Graces of his Conversation; and
Unchristian Revenge, to consummate the Character of the _Hero_;
Sharpness and Poignancy of Wit exerted with the greatest Vigor against
the _Holy Order_; in short, Religion and all that is Sacred, Burlesqu'd
and Ridicul'd; To see this, I say, and withall, to reflect upon the
fatal Effects which these things have already had, and how much worse
are likely to follow, if not timely prevented, cannot but fill the Minds
of all good Men with very dismal Apprehensions.

And are these then the Entertainments for a Christian to be pleas'd
with; for one whose _Salvation_ is to be wrought out with Fear and
Trembling? Will the Strictnesses of Virtue and Religion be ever relished
by a Mind tinctur'd with such Licentious Representations? Must not such
Diversions (to say no worse of 'em) insensibly steal upon the
_Affections_, especially of the _Younger sort_; give their Minds quite a
wrong Biass, and disarm them of that _Severity_ which is their greatest
Guard, and which, when once lost, leaves 'em an easie Prey to every
Temptation? Will not those _Lewd Scenes_ of Love, wherewith almost every
Play is fraught, inflame the Fancy, heighten the Imagination, and render
a Person thus prepar'd, a fit Subject for ill designing People to work
on? But suppose it were possible to be so armed as to be Proof against
all these Dangers; yet let any that have the least Regard to what is
_Serious_, tell me how they can answer it to _God_, or their own
_Consciences_, to be any ways Instrumental towards the _Support_ of so
much Wickedness? Do they think it a Sin to give the least Encouragement
to Vice, and at the same time believe themselves _Innocent_, when by
their _Persons_, and their _Purses_, they contribute to the cherishing
the very _Seed-Plot_ of Irreligion? 'Tis to no purpose for such to say,
That they are cautious what Plays they see, and always go to the best
and that the _Play-Houses_ would thrive whether they frequented them or
no. This may he true, but what then, Will this excuse them? Suppose a
powerful _Rebellion_ is begun in a Nation, and carried on
_successfully_, for some time; and a Man should not only appear
sometimes among the Rebels, but should, now and then, send them a
_Supply_ (tho' never so little) of Money and Arms: Could such a one
pretend that he was no ways _Instrumental_ in this Rebellion, nor
Accessary to the Mischiefs that attended it, and that because it was not
only _begun_, but would have _prosper'd_ too, without him; and altho' he
did sometimes appear among the Authors of it, yet it was with the Party
which did the least Mischief? Do you think, _Madam_, this a just way of
Reasoning? I dare say you do not. Is not this then the very Case I am
speaking of? Is the _Stage_, as 'tis now manag'd, any thing else but a
downright Rebellion against God and his Holy Religion? Are not the
Plays, (if not by Design) yet by a natural and necessary Consequence, an
_undermining_ of his Laws, and an _Attempt_ upon his Government? And
must it not then follow, that _every one_ that frequents them, is a
_Party_ in the _Cause_, and _encourages_ the Undertaking? And tho' he
should be so Happy as never to smile at a _Prophane Jest_, nor join in
Applauding a _Vitious_ Play; yet, will that exempt him from a Share of
that _Guilt_ which his Presence and Purse has help'd to support? No,
_Madam_, 'tis _Numbers_ strengthen the Enemy, and give fresh Courage to
his Attempts! A _Full_ House is the very _Life_ of the Stage, and keeps
it in Countenance, whereas _thin Audiences_ would, in time, make it
dwindle to nothing.

I know, _Madam_, this is strange Doctrine to some People. If a Man talks
to them of leaving the Plays, they wonder what he means, and are ready
to take him for a Madman. They have so long habituated themselves to the
_Play-Houses_, that they begin to think a _Place_ there, to be part of
their _Birth-Right_: But I desire such would be perswaded to hear what
the late A. B. Tillotson thought of these matters, (and I hope some
Deference is due to his Judgment). If they look into the 11th Volume of
his 'Sermons', they will find that in his Discourse against the _Evil of
Corrupt Communication_, he tells them, _That Plays, as the Stage now is,
are intolerable, and not fit to be permitted in a Civiliz'd, much less
in a Christian Nation, They do most notoriously minister_, says he,
_both to Infidelity and Vice. By the Prophaneness of them they are apt
to instil bad Principles into the Minds of Men, and to lessen that Awe,
and Reverence which all Men ought to have for God and Religion: and by
their Lewdness they teach Vice, and art apt to infect the Minds of Men,
and dispose them to Lewd and Dissolute Practices. And therefore_, says
he, _I do not see how any Person pretending to Sobriety and Virtue, and
especially to the pure and holy Religion of our Blessed Saviour; can,
without great Guilt and open Contradiction to his Holy Profession, be
present at such Lewd and Immodest Plays, much less frequent them, as too
many do, who would yet take it very ill to be shut out of the Communion
of Christians, as they would most certainly have been in the first and
purest Ages of Christianity._

This is the Opinion, _Madam_, of that Excellent Man: and, one would
think, it should put those Persons who are the Encouragers of Plays, and
the Frequenters of them, when they read it, upon an Enquiry, What it is
they are doing? Whether they are not carrying on the Designs of the
great Enemy of Mankind? But if that will not prevail upon them, let 'em
reflect upon the late Instance of God's _severe Displeasure_ against us,
and tell me then, whether they think it consistent with that
_Humiliation_ and _Repentance_ which this great Judgment ought to awaken
in us, and which _Her Majesty_, by Her late Gracious _Proclamation_,
calls upon us to Exercise, to be ever again present at a _Place_, where
they must often hear the Name of _God_ Prophaned, and every thing that
is _Serious_ made a Jest of? A _Place_ which they cannot but know, and
must own, (if put to the Question) has contributed so much to the
_Corrupting_ the present Age; and which, 'tis to be fear'd, is one of
those _accursed things_, that has provok'd the Almighty to be so angry
with us.

These are things, _Madam_, of no trifling Importance; they are such as
deserve the serious Reflections of all _good_ Christians, whatever the
_Pretenders to Gaiety_ may think. And though some may, perhaps,
misconstrue and ridicule such Considerations by the Names of
_Preciseness_ and _Fanaticism_; yet, 'tis to be hop'd, that all who have
any regard for the _Honour_ of God, the _Welfare_ of their Countrey, and
the _Interest_ of our _Established Church_, will not be laugh'd out of
their _Duty_, but be perswaded, not only to withdraw _themselves_ from a
Place of so much Danger, but advise _others_ to do the like; that the
Stage may no longer Triumph in the _Spoils_ of Virtue and Religion. 'Tis
now the time to begin such an _Undertaking_: We have a powerful Enemy
_abroad_, and a more formidable one at _home_; I mean that _Looseness_
and _Irreligion_ which so abounds: and what will it avail us to _subdue_
the one, while we _encourage_ the other? The _Hand of God_ has been
lifted up against us, we have seen the _Terrors of the Lord_, and felt
the _Arrows of the Almighty_; and what can all this mean, but to awaken
us to a due Sense of our _Danger_? And, 'tis to be hop'd, the Nation has
already taken the Alarm, and begin to think how to avert God's
Displeasure. The _Stage_ is called in Question, and Papers are dispers'd
to warn us of its Mischiefs; and it is not improbable that the
_Licentious_ and _Unbounded Liberty_ the Players have taken of late
years, and particularly in their daring to Act THE TEMPEST within a very
few Days after the late dreadful Storm, has rais'd in the Minds of Men
such an Abhorrence and Indignation, that we may possibly be so happy as
to see the Stage (if not _totally suppress'd_) yet brought under such a
_Regulation_, both as to the _Plays_ that are Acted, and the _Company_
that Resort to them, that Foreigners may no longer _stand amaz'd_ when
brought into our _Theatres_, nor Good Men _tremble_ at the Continuance
of them: but that _Virtue_ may appear there with all its Charms, and
_Vice_ be expos'd to the utmost _Contempt_. In short, that the Stage may
become so _Chast_, that even those _Birds of Prey_ who now hover about
the _Play-Houses_ and make the Avenues to 'em so dangerous, may fly away
from a Place that will no longer _Encourage_ nor _Protect_ them.

But after all, _Madam_, Whether this is such a Scheme as can ever be
reduc'd in Practice; whether so _noble a Structure_ as I am speaking of,
can be erected upon so _rotten_ a _Foundation_; whether the _Wound_ is
not _Gangreen'd_, and must be cur'd by _Excision_; I say, whether such a
_Regulation_ of the _Stage_ be possible, must be left to those who have
_Skill_ and _Authority_ to try the Experiment. In the mean time, it will
be every one's Duty to run from a Place of such _Infection_, least they
contribute to the spreading a _Disease_ which may, in time, prove
_Fatal_ to the whole Nation. But I forget, _Madam_, I am intrenching
upon your Patience, while I detain you in a place you have so long
abandon'd. I am fallen upon a Subject, which 'tis difficult not to say
much of: but I shall no longer interrupt your better Thoughts, than
while I beg Pardon for this Trouble, who am,

                                               Your very Humble Servant.
                                                              Jan. 10th.

A / Representation / of the / Impiety & Immorality / of the / English
Stage, / with / Reasons for putting a Stop thereto: / and some Questions
Addrest to / those who frequent the Play-/ Houses. / London, / Printed,
and are to be Sold by J. Nutt / near Stationers-Hall, 1704 / [enclosed
within double frame of rules]

Collation: A8 B4. Pp. [ 1-] 24. P. [1] title, as above; p. [2]
blank; pp. 3-24 text.

Three editions were issued in 1704. If we take the author's words
literally, the pamphlet was written between the "Great Storm" of
November 26, 1703 and the day of fasting decreed by Queen Anne for
January 19, 1704. According to Arthur Bedford ('The Evil and Danger of
Stage Plays' ... London, 1706) the pamphlet was published "At the Time
of the Fast ..."

                                                            Colton Storm


The Editors of the Augustan Reprint Society wish to thank the following
people for assistance rendered during the first year of the society's

      Mr. Warner G. Rice, Director of the Library, University of
      Mr. Stanley Pargellis, Director of the Newberry Library, Chicago.
      Mr. William Jackson, Director of the Houghton Library, Harvard
      Mr. R. B. Downs, Director of the Library, University of Illinois.
      Mr. Leslie Bliss, Director of the Henry E. Huntington Library, San
      Marino, California.
      Mr. Colton Storm, Curator of Manuscripts and Maps, William L.
      Clements Library, University of Michigan.
      Miss Ella M. Hymans, Curator of Rare Books, General Library,
      University of Michigan.
      Alvina Woodford, Photostat Department, General Library, University
      of Michigan.
      Cal Markham, Edwards Bros., Ann Arbor.

The Augustan Reprint Society

announces its schedule of publications for the _SECOND YEAR_

May, 1947:
      Series I, no. 3--John Gay's THE PRESENT STATE OF WIT and a section
      on wit from THE ENGLISH THEOPHRASTUS. With an Introduction by
      Donald Bond.
July, 1947:
      Series II, no. 3--Rapin's DE CARMINE PASTORALI, translated by
      Creech. With an Introduction by J. E. Congleton.
Sept. 1947:
      Series III, no. 3--T. Hanmer's (?) SOME REMARKS ON THE TRAGEDY OF
      HAMLET. With an Introduction by Clarence D. Thorpe.
Nov., 1947:
      Series I, no. 4.--Corbyn Morris's ESSAY TOWARDS FIXING THE TRUE
      STANDARDS OF WIT, etc. With an Introduction by James L. Clifford.
Jan., 1948:
      Series II, no. 4.--Thomas Purney's DISCOURSE ON THE PASTORAL. With
      an Introduction by Earl Wasserman.
Mar., 1948:
      Series III, no. 4--Essays on the Stage, selected, with an
      Introduction by Joseph Wood Krutch.


The above schedule is subject to slight modification. On the whole the
choices were made in response to requests by members of the Society. You
are urged to write the editors, who are anxious to know, not only what
you would like to see reprinted, but also what items already printed you
have found most useful, and what sort of information you think is most
profitable to include in the Introductions. At present we offer a
minimum of six issues annually. As soon as the Society's membership
increases sufficiently to warrant it, we shall bring out additional
publications at no extra charge.

Future Plans

It has seemed desirable that for the Second Year we should continue the
present series (on Wit, on Poetry and Language, and on the Stage). But
next year we hope to run one or two new series: Rare Poems, Rare Plays,
Swiftiana, Drydeniana, Popeana, Rare Periodicals, or some such unifying
topic or theme. Send us your suggestions for items in these or in the
present series. All suggestions are listed in our files; and our policy
in publications will be determined by the requests of members.

Bibliographical Notes

From time to time we shall include Bibliographical Notes in our
publications. If members find this addition valuable, it will become a
regular feature of the Reprints.

Membership Fees

With this issue we conclude our publications for the First Year. If your
membership expires, please send us your renewal before May 1, so that
you will not miss the first issue of the Second Year. Membership rates
remain fixed at $2.50 per year in the United States and Canada, and
$2.75 in Great Britain and the continent.

Back Numbers

A limited supply of back numbers is still available. Publications of the
first year may be secured by members for $2.50, the annual membership
rate. For your convenience we list them below:

May, 1946:
      Richard Blackmore's ESSAY UPON WIT (1716) and Joseph Addison's
      FREEHOLDER no. 45 (1716).
July, 1946:
      Samuel Cobb's OF POETRY, and DISCOURSE ON CRITICISM (1707).
Sept. 1946:
      Anon., LETTER TO A. H. ESQ; CONCERNING THE STAGE (1698) and
      Richard Willis's (?) THE OCCASIONAL PAPER, no. IX (1698).
Nov., 1946:
      Anon., ESSAY ON WIT (1748), together with Characters by Flecknoe
      and Joseph Warton's ADVENTURER nos. 127 and 133.
Jan., 1947:
      Samuel Wesley's EPISTLE TO A FRIEND CONCERNING POETRY (1700) and
Mar., 1947:
      (1704), and anon., SOME THOUGHTS CONCERNING THE STAGE (1704).


Libraries as well as individuals are eligible for membership. Because
the publications are issued without profit it will be impossible to
allow discounts to libraries, agents, or booksellers.

Foreign Subscriptions

Our agent for British subscriptions is B. H. Blackwell, Broad Street,
Oxford, ENGLAND.

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