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Title: A Discourse Concerning Ridicule and Irony in Writing (1729)
Author: Collins, Anthony, 1676-1729
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Discourse Concerning Ridicule and Irony in Writing (1729)" ***



  Ridicule and Irony


  _Introduction by_




  William E. Conway, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_
  George Robert Guffey, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Maximillian E. Novak, _University of California, Los Angeles_


  David S. Rodes, _University of California, Los Angeles_


  Richard C. Boys, _University of Michigan_
  James L. Clifford, _Columbia University_
  Ralph Cohen, _University of Virginia_
  Vinton A. Dearing, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Arthur Friedman, _University of Chicago_
  Louis A. Landa, _Princeton University_
  Earl Miner, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Samuel H. Monk, _University of Minnesota_
  Everett T. Moore, _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Lawrence Clark Powell, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_
  James Sutherland, _University College, London_
  H. T. Swedenberg, Jr., _University of California, Los Angeles_
  Robert Vosper, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


  Edna C. Davis, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


  Roberta Medford, _William Andrews Clark Memorial Library_


Between 1710 and 1729 Anthony Collins was lampooned, satirized, and
gravely denounced from pulpit and press as England's most insidious
defiler of church and state. Yet within a year of his death he became the
model of a proper country gentleman,

     ... he had an opulent Fortune, descended to him from his Ancestors,
     which he left behind him unimpair'd: He lived on his own Estate in
     the Country, where his Tenants paid him moderate Rents, which he
     never enhanced on their making any Improvements; he always oblig'd
     his Family to a constant attendance on Publick Worship; as he was
     himself a Man of the strictest Morality, for he never suffer'd any
     Body about him who was deficient in that Point; he exercised a
     universal Charity to all Sorts of People, without any Regard either
     to Sect or Party; being in the Commission of the Peace, he
     administered Justice with such Impartiality and Incorruptness, that
     the most distant Part of the County flock'd to his Decisions; but the
     chief Use he made of his Authority was in accommodating

In a comparison which likens him to Sir Roger de Coverley, there is less
truth than fiction. What they did share was a love of the countryside and
a "universal Charity" towards its inhabitants. For the most part, however,
we can approximate Collins's personality by reversing many of Sir Roger's
traits. Often at war with his world, as the spectatorial character was
not, he managed to maintain an intellectual rapport with it and even with
those who sought his humiliation. He never--as an instance--disguised his
philosophical distrust of Samuel Clarke; yet during any debate he planned
"most certainly [to] outdo him in civility and good manners."[2] This
decorum in no way compromised his pursuit of what he considered objective
truth or his denunciation of all "methods" or impositions of spiritual
tyranny. Thus, during the virulent, uneven battle which followed upon the
publication of the _Discourse of Free-Thinking_, he ignored his own wounds
in order to applaud a critic's

     _suspicions that there is a sophism_ in what he calls my
     _hypothesis_. That is a temper that ought to go thro' all our
     Inquirys, and especially before we have an opportunity of examining
     things to the bottom. It is safest at all times, and we are least
     likely to be mistaken, if we constantly suspect our selves to be
     under mistakes.... I have no system to defend or that I would seem to
     defend, and am unconcerned for the consequence that may be drawn from
     my opinion; and therefore stand clear of all difficultys wch others
     either by their opinion or caution are involved in.[3]

This is the statement of a man whose intellectual and religious commitment
makes him see that his own fallibility is symptomatic of a human tendency
to error. For himself, hence, he tries to avoid all manner of hard-voiced
enthusiasm. Paradoxically, however, Collins searched with a zealot's
avidity for any controversy which would either assert his faith or test
his disbelief. When once he found his engagement, he revelled in it,
whether as the aggressor or the harassed defendant. For example, in the
"Preface" to the _Scheme of Literal Prophecy Considered_ he boastfully
enumerated all the works--some twenty-nine--which had repudiated his
earlier _Discourse on the Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion_.
And in malicious fact he held up the publication of the _Scheme_ for
almost a year that he might add a "Postscript to the Preface" in which he
identified six more pieces hostile to the _Grounds and Reasons_.[4]

By May of 1727 and with no visible sign of fatigue he took on a new
contender; this time it was John Rogers, canon in ordinary to the Prince
of Wales. At the height of their debate, in late summer, Collins made
practical enquiries about methods to prolong and intensify its
give-and-take. Thus, in a note to his friend Pierre Des Maizeaux, he said:
"But I would be particularly informed of the success and sale of the
Letter to Dr Rogers; because, if it could be, I would add to a new
edition thereof two or three as sheets; which also might be sold
separately to those who have already that Letter." For all his militant
polemic, he asked only that his "Adversaries" observe with him a single
rule of fair play; namely, that they refrain from name-calling and petty
sniping. "Personal matters," he asserted, "tho they may some times afford
useful remarks, are little regarded by Readers, who are very seldom
mistaken in judging that the most impertinent subject a man can talk of is
himself," particularly when he inveighs against another.[5]

If Collins had been made to look back over the years 1676-1729, he
probably would have summarized the last twenty with a paraphrase of the
Popean line, "This long controversy, my life." For several years and in
such works as _Priestcraft in Perfection_ (1710) and _A Discourse of
Free-Thinking_ (1713), he was a flailing polemicist against the entire
Anglican hierarchy. Not until 1724 did he become a polished debater, when
he initiated a controversy which for the next five years made a "very
great noise" and which ended only with his death. The loudest shot in the
persistent barrage was sounded by the _Grounds and Reasons_, and its last
fusillade by the _Discourse concerning Ridicule and Irony in Writing_.[6]

During those five years Collins concentrated upon a single opponent in
each work and made it a rhetorical practice to change his "Adversary" in
successive essays. He created in this way a composite victim whose
strength was lessened by deindividualization; in this way too he ran no
risk of being labelled a hobbyhorse rider or, more seriously, a
persecutor. Throughout the _Grounds and Reasons_ he laughed at, reasoned
against, and satirized William Whiston's assumption that messianic
prophecies in the Old Testament were literally fulfilled in the figure and
mission of Jesus. Within two years and in a new work, he substituted
Edward Chandler, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield, for the mathematician.
It need not have been the Bishop; any one of thirty-four others could have
qualified for the role of opponent, among them people like Clarke, and
Sykes, and Sherwood, and even the ubiquitous Whiston. Collins rejected
them, however, to debate in the _Scheme_ with Bishop Chandler, the author
of _A Defence of Christianity from the Prophecies of the old Testament_,
with one who was, in short, the least controversial and yet the most
orthodox of his many assailants.

Early in 1727 the Anglican establishment came to the abrupt realization
that the subject of the continuing debate--the reliability of the argument
from prophecy--was inconclusive, that it could lead only to pedantic
wrangling and hair-splitting with each side vainly clutching victory.
Certainly the devotion of many clergymen to biblical criticism was
secondary to their interest in orthodoxy as a functional adjunct of
government, both civil and canonical. It was against this interest, as it
was enunciated in Rogers's _Eight Sermons concerning the Necessity of
Revelation_ (1727) and particularly in its vindictive preface, that
Collins chose to fight.[7] The debate had now taken a happy turn for him.
As he saw it, the central issue devolved upon man's natural right to
religious liberty. At least he made this the theme of his _Letter to Dr.
Rogers_. In writing to Des Maizeaux about the success of this work, he
obviously enjoyed his own profane irony:

     I have had particular compliments made me by the BP of Salisbury,
     and by Dr Clark, who among other things sayd, that the Archbp of
     Canterbury might have writ all that related to Toleration in it: to
     say nothing of what I hear from others. Dr Rogers himself has
     acknowledg[ed] to his Bookseller who sent it to him into the Country,
     that he has receivd it; but says that he is so engaged in other
     affairs, that he has no thought at present of answering it; tho he
     may perhaps in time do so.[8]

In time Rogers did. He counterattacked on 2 February 1728 with a
_Vindication of the Civil Establishment of Religion_.[9] For Collins this
work was a dogged repetition of what had gone before, and so it could be
ignored except for one of its appendices, _A Letter from the Rev. Dr.
Marshall jun. To the Rev. Dr. Rogers, upon Occasion of his Preface to his
Eight Sermons_. Its inclusion seemed an afterthought; yet it altered the
dimensions of the debate by narrowing and particularizing the areas of
grievance which separated the debaters. Collins, therefore, rebutted it
some fourteen months later in _A Discourse concerning Ridicule and Irony
in Writing_. He had great hopes for this pamphlet, preparing carefully for
its reception. He encouraged the republication of his three preceding
works, which find their inevitable conclusion, even their exoneration, in
this last performance, and he probably persuaded his bookseller to
undertake an elaborate promotional campaign. For the new editions were
advertised on seven different days between 10 January and 27 February 1729
in the _Daily Post_. He wanted no one to miss the relationship between the
_Discourse concerning Ridicule and Irony_ and these earlier pieces or to
overlook its presence when it finally appeared in the pamphlet shops on 17

Collins was animated by his many debates. Indeed, "he sought the storms."
Otherwise he would not, could not, have participated in these many verbal
contests. Throughout them all, his basic strategy--that of
provocation--was determined by the very real fact that he had many more
enemies than allies, among them, for instance, such formidable antagonists
as Swift and Richard Bentley.[10] To survive he had to acquire a tough
resilience, a skill in fending off attacks or turning them to his own
advantage. Nevertheless, he remained a ready target all his life.
Understandably so: his radicalism was stubborn and his opinions
predictable. Such firmness may of course indicate his aversion to
trimming. Or it may reveal a lack of intellectual growth; what he believed
as a young man, he perpetuated as a mature adult. Whether our answer is
drawn from either possibility or, more realistically, from both, the fact
remains that he never camouflaged the two principles by which he lived and

     1. That universal liberty be established in respect to opinions and
     practises not prejudicial to the peace and welfare of society: by
     which establishment, truth must needs have the advantages over
     _error_ and _falsehood_, the _law_ of _God_ over the _will_ of _man_,
     and _true Christianity tolerated_; private _judgment_ would be really
     exercised; and men would be allowed to have suffered to follow their
     consciences, over which God only is supreme:...

     2. Secondly, that nothing but the _law of nature_, (the observance
     whereof is absolutely necessary to society) and what can be built
     thereon, should be enforced by the civil sanctions of the


There is very little in this statement to offend modern readers. Yet the
orthodox in Collins's own time had reason to be angry with him: his
arguments were inflammatory and his rhetoric was devious, cheeky, and
effective. Those contesting him underscored his negativism, imaging him as
a destroyer of Christianity eager "to proselyte men, from the Christian to
no religion at all."[12] Certainly it is true that he aimed to disprove a
Christian revelation which he judged fraudulent and conspiratorial. In
place of ecclesiastical authority he offered the rule of conscience. For
orthodoxy he substituted "a Religion antecedent to Revelation, which is
necessary to be known in order to _ascertain Revelation_; and by that
Religion [he meant] _Natural Religion_, which is presupposed to
Revelation, and is a Test by which Reveal'd Religion is to be tried, is a
Bottom on which it must stand, and is a Rule to understand it by."[13]
Categorical in tone, the statement frustrated the Anglican clergy by its
very slipperiness; its generalities left little opportunity for decisive
rebuttal. It provided no definition of natural religion beyond the
predication of a body of unnamed moral law which is rational and original,
the archetype of what is valid in the world's religions.

His dismissal of revelation and his reduction of Christianity to what he
called its "natural" and hence incontrovertible basis carried with it a
corollary, that of man's absolute right to religious enquiry and
profession. Here he became specific, borrowing from Lockean empiricism his
conditions of intellectual assent. "Evidence," he said, "ought to be the
sole ground of Assent, and Examination is the way to arrive at Evidence;
and therefore rather than I wou'd have Examination, Arguing and Objecting
laid aside, I wou'd chuse to say, That no Opinions whatever can be
dangerous to a Man that impartially examines into the Truth of
Things."[14] The church leadership saw in this statement and others like
it not an epistemological premise but a deliberate subterfuge, an
insidious blind to vindicate his attacks upon an organized priesthood. We
can recognize now that his opponents oversimplified his intention, that
they blackened it to make his villainy at once definitive and vulnerable.
At the same time we must admit that he often equated the ideas of
repression and clerical authority, even as he coupled those of freedom and
the guide of private conscience.

The Anglican church was infuriated by these correlations, angered as much
by their manner of expression as by their substance. For the faithful were
frequently thrown off balance by a strategy of ironical indirection.
Sometimes this took the form of omission or the presentation of an
argument in so fragmentary or slanted a fashion that Collins's "Enemies"
could debate neither his implications nor his conclusions. At other times
he used this artful circumlocution to create his favorite mask, that of
the pious Christian devoted to scripture or of the moralist perplexed by
the divisions among the orthodox clergy. Finally, his rhetoric was shaped
by deistic predecessors who used sarcasm and satire to mock the gravity of
church authority. So much was their wit a trademark that as early as 1702
one commentator had noted, "when you expect an argument, they make a
jest."[15] Collins himself resorted to this practice with both instinctive
skill and deliberate contrivance.

All these methods, though underhanded, he silently justified on the
assumption that he was dealing with a conspiracy of priests: hence, he
professed that he had to fight fraud and deception with their like, and
that such craftiness, suitable "to his particular genius and temper," was
"serviceable to his cause." For these reasons even William Warburton, who
had vainly struggled to be judicious, described him as "a Writer, whose
dexterity in the arts of Controversy was so remarkably contrasted by his
abilities in reasoning and literature, as to be ever putting one in mind
of what travellers tell us of the genius of the proper Indians, who,
although the veriest bunglers in all the fine arts of manual operation,
yet excel everybody in slight of hand and the delusive feats of
activity."[16] Whatever may be said of Collins and his achievement, one
fact remains constant. He was a brilliant and persistent trickster whose
cunning in the techniques of polemic often silenced an opponent with every
substantive right to win the debate.

He seized any opportunity to expose the diversity of ethical and
theological opinion which set one Anglican divine against another, "to
observe"--as Jenkin put it--"how the gladiators in dispute murder the
cause between them, while they so fiercely cut and wound one another." For
Collins such observation was more than oratorical artifice; it was one of
the dogmas of his near-nihilism. He commented once to Des Maizeaux upon
the flurry of critics who replied to his statement of necessitarianism in
the _Philosophical Inquiry concerning Human Liberty_:

     I was extreamly pleasd with BP Hoadley, ... as it was upon the true
     and only point worth disputing with ye Preists, viz whether we the
     laity are the Calves and Sheep of the Preist. And I am not less
     pleasd to see them manage this controversy with ye same vile arts
     against one another, as they always use towards the laity. It must
     open the eyes of a few and convince them, that the Preists mean
     nothing but wealth and power, and have not the least ... of those
     qualitys for wch the superstitious world admires them.[17]

He applied this principle of divisive attack in _A Discourse of
Free-Thinking_. There in fifty-three pages he transparently ridiculed
contradictions which hedged three areas of fundamental religious belief:
_"The Nature and Attributes of the Eternal Being or God, ... the Authority
of Scriptures, and ... the Sense of Scripture."_ In accordance with one of
his favorite tricks--the massing of eminent authority--his exposition
rings with hallowed Anglican names: South, Bull, Taylor, Wallis, Carlton,
Davenant, Edwards, More, Tillotson, Fowler, Sherlock, Stillingfleet,
Sacheverell, Beveridge, Grabe, Hickes, Lesley.[18] What united these men,
he insinuated, was not a Christian commitment but a talent to disagree
with one another and even to repudiate themselves--as in the case of
Stillingfleet. In effect, the entire _Discourse_ bubbles with a carelessly
suppressed snicker.

The clergy could not readily reply to this kind of incriminating exposure
or deny its reality. They therefore overreacted to other judgments that
Collins made, particularly to his attacks upon Christian revelation. These
they denigrated as misleading, guileful, sinister, contrived, deceitful,
insidious, shuffling, covert, subversive. What they objected to was,
first, the way in which he reduced the demonstration of Christian
revelation to only the "puzzling and perplexing" argument from prophecy,
the casual ease with which he ignored or dismissed those other "clear"
proofs derived from the miracles of Jesus and the resurrection itself.[19]
But even more the orthodox resented the masked point of view from which
Collins presented his disbelief.

For example, the _Grounds and Reasons_ is the deist's first extended
attack upon revelation. Ostensibly it is, as we have seen, an answer to
Whiston's _Essay Towards Restoring the True Text of the Old Testament; and
for Vindicating the Citations Made Thence in the New Testament_ (1722). In
it the mathematician argued that the Hebraic prophecies relating to the
messiah had been literally fulfilled in Jesus. But this truth, he
admitted, had been obscured "in the latter Ages," only because of those
"Difficulties" which "have [almost wholly] arisen from the Corruptions,
the unbelieving _Jews_ introduc'd into the Hebrew and Greek copies of the
Old Testament, [soon after] the Beginning of the Second Century." These
conspiratorial corruptions he single-handedly planned to remove, returning
the Old Testament to a state of textual purity with emendations drawn from
sources as varied as the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Greek Psalms, the
Antiquities of Josephus, the Chaldee Paraphrases, the books of Philo. His
pragmatic purpose was to nullify the biblical criticism of historical
minded scholars as reputable as Grotius, to render useless the allegorical
interpretation of messianic prophecies. That is, he saw in the latter a
"pernicious" absence of fact, a "weak and enthusiastical" whimsy,
unchristian adjustments to the exigencies of the moment.[20]

Collins fought not to destroy Whiston's position, which was all too easily
destructible, but to undermine the structure, the very "grounds and
reasons" with which orthodoxy supported the mysteries of its faith. To do
so, he spun a gigantic web of irony controlled by a persona whose complex
purpose was concealed by a mien of hyper-righteousness. Here then was one
motivated by a fair-mindedness which allowed him to defend his opponent's
right of scriptural exegesis even while disagreeing with its approach and
its conclusions. Here too was a conservative Christian different from
Whiston "and many other great divines; who seem to pay little deference to
the books of the New Testament, the text whereof they are perpetually
mending in their sermons, commentaries, and writings, to serve purposes;
who pretend _we should have more of the true text by being less tenacious
of the printed one_, and in consequence thereof, presume to correct by
critical _emendations_, serve _capital places_ in the _sacred writers_;
and who ... do virtually set aside the authority of the scripture, and
place those compositions in its stead." Finally, here was one who,
obedient to the spirit of God's revealed word, rejected the fallacy that
messianic prophecy had been fulfilled in Christ in any "literal, obvious
and primary sense."[21]

But though the persona could not accept Whiston's program, he was not a
mere negativist. With growing excitement he argued for allegorical
interpretation. At this point the reader discerns that he has been duped,
that nowhere has there been a denial of Whiston's charge that the reading
of messianic prophecy in a typical or allegorical or secondary sense is
"weak and enthusiastical." On the contrary, the reader finds only the
damning innuendo that the two methods--the allegorical and the
literal--differ from one another not in kind but in degree of absurdity.
After being protected for a long time by all the twists and turns of his
creator's irony, the persona finally reveals himself for what he is, a man
totally insolent and totally without remorse. Never for one moment did he
wish to defend the scheme of allegorical prophecy but to attack it. His
argument, stripped of its convolutions and pseudo-piety, moves inexorably
to a single, negative conclusion. "Christianity pretends to derive itself
from Judaism. JESUS appeals to the religious books of the Jews as
prophesying of his Mission. None of these Prophecies can be understood of
him but in a _typical allegoric_ sense. Now that sense is absurd, and
contrary to all scholastic rules of interpretation. Christianity,
therefore, not being really predicted in the Jewish Writings, is
consequently false."[22]

Collins continued his attack upon Christian revelation in the _Scheme_. In
the two years which separated this work from the earlier _Grounds and
Reasons_, there occurred no change in the author's argument. What does
occur, however, is a perceptive if snide elaboration upon the mask. This
is in many ways the same persona who barely suppressed his guffaws in the
earlier work. Now he is given an added dimension; he is made more
decisively rational than his predecessor and therefore more insightful in
his knowledge of rhetorical method. As a disciple of certain Protestant
polemicists and particularly of Grotius, whose "integrity," "honor," and
biblical criticism he supports, he is the empirical-minded Christian who
knows exactly why the literalists have failed to persuade the
free-thinkers or even to have damaged their arguments. "For if you begin
with Infidels by denying to them, what is evident and agreeable to common
sense, I think there can be no reasonable hopes of converting or
convincing them."[23] The irony is abrasive simply because it unanswerably
singles out the great rhetorical failure of orthodoxy, its inability to
argue from a set of principles as acceptable to the deists as to

Many of the clergy chafed against Collins's manipulation of this
tongue-in-cheek persona. They resented his irreverent wit which projected,
for example, the image of an Anglican God who "talks to all mankind from
corners" and who shows his back parts to Moses. They were irritated by his
jesting parables, as in "The Case of Free-Seeing," and by the impertinence
of labelling Archbishop Tillotson as the man "whom all _English
Free-Thinkers_ own as their Head."[24]

But most of all they gagged upon Collins's use of satire in religious
controversy. As we have already seen, there were complex reasons for his
choice of technique. He was a naturally witty man who, sometimes out of
fear and sometimes out of malice, expressed himself best through
circuitous irony. In 1724, when he himself considered his oratorical
practice, he argued that his matter determined his style, that the targets
of his belittling wit were the "saint-errants." We can only imagine the
exasperation of Collins's Anglican enemies when they found their orthodoxy
thus slyly lumped with the eccentricities of Samuel Butler's "true blew"
Presbyterians. It would be hard to live down the associations of those
facetious lines which made the Augustan divines, like their unwelcome
forebear Hudibras, members

                      Of that stubborn Crew
  Of Errant Saints, whom all men grant
  To be the true Church Militant.

Those dignified Anglican exteriors were further punctured by Collins's
irreverent attack upon their cry of religious uniformity, a cry which was
"ridiculous, romantick, and impossible to succeed." He saw himself, in
short, as an emancipated Butler or even Cervantes; and like his famous
predecessors he too would laugh quite out of countenance the fool and the
hypocrite, the pretender and the enthusiast, the knave and the persecuter,
all those who would create a god in their own sour and puny image.


By 1727 several of the orthodox felt that they could take no more of
Collins's laughter, his sneering invectives against the clergy, or his
designs to make religion "a Matter purely personal; and the Knowledge of
it to be obtain'd by personal Consideration, _independently of any Guides,
Teachers, or Authority_." In the forefront of this group was John Rogers,
whose hostility to the deist was articulate and compulsive. At least it
drove him into a position seemingly at odds with the spirit if not the law
of English toleration. He urged, for example, that those like Collins be
prosecuted in a civil court for a persuasion "which is manifestly
subversive of all Order and Polity, and can no more consist with civil,
than with religious, Society."[25]

Thereupon followed charge and countercharge. New gladiators, as different
from each other as the nonconformist divine Samuel Chandler and the deist
Thomas Chubb, entered the arena on behalf of Collins. For all the dogmatic
volubility of Rogers, orthodoxy appeared beleaguered. The moderate clergy,
who witnessed this exchange, became alarmed; they feared that in the melee
the very heart of English toleration would be threatened by the
contenders, all of whom spoke as its champion. Representative of such
moderation was Nathanael Marshall, who wished if not to end the debate,
then at least to contain its ardor. As canon of Windsor, he supported the
condition of a state religion protected by the magistrate but he worried
over the extent of the latter's prerogative and power. Certainly he was
more liberal than Rogers in his willingness to entertain professions of
religious diversity. Yet he straitjacketed his liberalism when he denied
responsible men the right to attack laws, both civil and canonical, with
"ludicrous Insult" or "with Buffoonery and Banter, Ridicule or Sarcastick

Once again Collins met the challenge. In _A Discourse concerning Ridicule
and Irony_ he devoted himself to undermining the moral, the intellectual,
and practical foundations of that one restraint which Marshall would
impose upon the conduct of any religious quarrel. He had little difficulty
in achieving his objective. His adversary's stand was visibly vulnerable
and for several reasons. It was too conscious of the tug-of-war between
the deist and Rogers, too arbitrary in its choice of prohibition. It was,
in truth, strained by a choice between offending the establishment and yet
rejecting clerical extremism.[27] Moreover, Collins had this time an
invisible partner, a superior thinker against whom he could test his own
ideas and from whom he could borrow others. For the _Discourse concerning
Ridicule and Irony_ is largely a particularization, a crude but powerful
reworking of Shaftesbury's _Sensus Communis: An Essay on the Freedom of
Wit and Humour_.

Supported by Shaftesbury's urbane generalization, Collins laughed openly
at the egocentricity and blindness of Marshall's timid zealotry. Indeed,
he wryly found his orthodox opponent guilty of the very crime with which
he, as a subversive, was charged. It seemed to him, he said,

     a most prodigious Banter upon [mankind], for Men to talk in general
     of the _Immorality_ of _Ridicule_ and _Irony_, and of _punishing_ Men
     for those Matters, when their own Practice is _universal Irony_ and
     _Ridicule_ of all those who go not with them, and _universal
     Applause_ and _Encouragement_ for such _Ridicule_ and _Irony_, and
     distinguishing by all the honourable ways imaginable such _drolling_
     Authors for their Drollery; and when Punishment for _Drollery_ is
     never call'd for, but when _Drollery_ is used or employ'd against

     (p. 29)

Collins's technique continued its ironic ambiguity, reversal, and
obliquity. Under a tone of seeming innocence and good will, he credited
his adversaries with an enviable capacity for satiric argument. In
comradely fashion, he found precedent for his own rhetorical practice
through a variety of historical and biblical analogies. But even more
important for a contemporary audience, he again resorted to the device of
invoking the authority provided by some of the most respected names in the
Anglican Establishment. The use of satire in religious topics, hence, was
manifest in "the Writings of our most eminent Divines," especially those
of Stillingfleet, "our greatest controversial Writer" (pp. 4-5).

With all the outrageous assurance of a self-invited guest, the deist had
seated himself at the table of his vainly protesting Christian hosts (whom
he insisted on identifying as brethren). "In a word," he said so as to
obviate debate, "the Opinions and Practices of Men in all Matters, and
especially in Matters of Religion, are generally so absurd and ridiculous
that it is impossible for them not to be the Subjects of Ridicule" (p.
19). Thus adopting Juvenal's concept of satiric necessity ("difficile est
saturam non scribere"), Collins here set forth the thesis and rationale of
his enemy. There was a kind of impudent virtuosity in his "proofs," in his
manner of drawing a large, impressive cluster of names into his ironic net
and making all of them appear to be credible witnesses in his defense.
Even Swift, amusingly compromised as "one of the greatest _Droles_ that
ever appear'd upon the Stage of the World" (p. 39), was brought to the
witness box as evidence of the privileged status to which satiric writing
was entitled. Collins enforced erudition with cool intelligence so that
contemptuous amusement is present on every page of his _Discourse_.

Beneath his jeers and his laughter there was a serious denunciation of any
kind of intellectual restraint, however mild-seeming; beneath his verbal
pin-pricking there was conversely an exoneration of man's right to
inquire, to profess, and to persuade. Beneath his jests and sarcasms there
was further a firm philosophical commitment that informed the rhetoric of
all his earlier work. Ridicule, he asserted in 1729, "is both a proper and
necessary Method of Discourse in many Cases, and especially in the Case of
_Gravity_, when that is attended with Hypocrisy or Imposture, or with
Ignorance, or with soureness of Temper and Persecution: all which ought to
draw after them the _Ridicule_ and _Contempt_ of the Society, which has no
other effectual Remedy against such Methods of Imposition" (p. 22).

For the modern reader the _Discourse concerning Ridicule and Irony_ is the
most satisfactory of Collins's many pamphlets and books. It lacks the
pretentiousness of the _Scheme_, the snide convolutions of the _Grounds
and Reasons_, the argument by half-truths of the _Discourse of
Free-Thinking_. His last work is free of the curious ambivalence which
marked so many of his earlier pieces, a visible uncertainty which made him
fear repression and yet court it. On the contrary, his last work is in
fact a justification of his rhetorical mode and religious beliefs; it is
an _apologia pro vita sua_ written with all the intensity and decisiveness
that such a justification demands. To be sure, it takes passing shots at
old enemies like Swift, but never with rancor. And while its language is
frequently ironical, its thinking makes an earnest defense of wit as a
weapon of truth. The essay sets forth its author as an _animal ridens_, a
creature that through laughter and affable cynicism worships a universal
God and respects a rational mankind.

Brown University


[1] _Universal Spectator, and Weekly Journal_, No. 98 (22 August 1730).

[2] To Des Maizeaux (5 May 1717): B. M. Sloane MSS. 4282, ff. 129-130.

[3] To Des Maizeaux (9 February 1716): B. M. Sloane MSS. 4282, f. 123.

[4] The title page of the _Scheme_ is dated 1726. It was not advertised in
the newspapers or journals of that year--a strange silence for any of
Collins's work. Its first notice appeared in the _Monthly Catalogue: Being
a General Register of Books, Sermons, Plays, Poetry, Pamphlets, &c.
Printed and Publish'd in London, or the Universities, during the Month of
May, 1727_ (see No. 49). Yet we know that the _Scheme_ had been remarked
upon as early as March when on the 10th of that month Samuel Chandler
published his _Reflections on the Conduct of the Modern Deists in their
late Writings against Christianity_. (For the dating of Chandler's work,
see the _Daily Courant_ [10 March 1727].) We know also that the _Scheme_
went to a second edition late in 1727 and was frequently advertised in the
_Daily Post_ between 2 January and 20 January 1728.

[5] For the statement about the _Letter to Dr. Rogers_, see B. M. Sloane
MSS. 4282, f. 220 (15 August 1727). For that on the use of "personal
matters" in controversy, see B. M. Sloane MSS. 4282, f. 170 (27 December
1719); cf. _The Scheme of Literal Prophecy Considered_ (London, 1726), pp.

[6] _The Grounds and Reasons of the Christian Religion_ was published in
London within the first four days of January 1724; see the advertisement
in the _Daily Post_ (4 January 1724). _A Discourse concerning Ridicule and
Irony in Writing_ was published on or close to 17 March 1729; see the
advertisement in the _Daily Journal_ for that date.

[7] We can generally fix the date of Rogers's _Eight Sermons_ within the
first two months of 1727 because it was answered early by Samuel
Chandler's _Reflections on the Conduct of the Modern Deists_. (See note
4.) For the dating of Collins's rebuttal, see the _Monthly Catalogue_, No.
49 (May 1727).

[8] To Des Maizeaux (24 June 1727): B. M. Sloane MSS. 4282, ff. 218-219.

[9] For the dating of this work, see the _Daily Post_ (31 January 1728).

[10] For Swift's satire, see _Mr. C---ns's Discourse of Free-Thinking, Put
into plain English, by way of Abstract, for the Use of the Poor_. For
Bentley's devastating probe of Collins's scholarly inadequacies, see his
_Remarks on the Discourse of Free-Thinking. By Phileleutherus Lipsiensis_.
Both works appeared in 1713.

[11] _Scheme_, pp. 432-433.

[12] Edward Chandler, _A Defence of Christianity from the Prophecies of
the Old Testament_ (London, 1725), p. ii.

[13] _A Letter to Dr. Rogers_, p. 89.

[14] _A Vindication of the Divine Attributes_ (London, 1710), p. 24.

[15] Robert Jenkin, _A Brief Confutation of the Pretences against Natural
and Revealed Religion_ (London, 1702), p. 40.

[16] For Collins on his own rhetorical skills, see _Scheme_, p. 402;
William Warburton, _Divine Legation of Moses, Demonstrated_ (London,
1846), III, 199.

[17] Jenkin, _Brief Confutation_, p. 51; for the letter (1 July 1717), see
B. M. Sloane MSS. 4282, f. 137.

[18] Pp. 46-99.

[19] See, for example, the statement of John Conybeare, Bishop of Bristol,
in Joseph Spence, _Observations, Anecdotes, and Characters of Books and
Men_, ed. James M. Osborn (Oxford, 1966), I, sect. 992.

[20] _Essay_, pp. 329-333 (for Whiston's statement of sources); pp.
334-335 (for his defense of literal interpretation). The bracketed
material indicates Whiston's manuscript emendations of his own printed
text; see the British Museum's copy of the _Essay_ (873. 1. 10) which
originally belonged to the mathematician. See Collins, _Grounds and
Reasons_, pp. 98-99, for the summary of Whiston's attack upon allegorical

[21] _Grounds and Reasons_, pp. 20, 48-50.

[22] This terse summary of the persona's argument was correctly made by
Warburton, III, 232.

[23] _Scheme_, p. 391.

[24] _Discourse of Free-Thinking_, pp. 15-17, 38, 171.

[25] _Eight Sermons_, pp. 1, lxi.

[26] Marshall, pp. 301, 337. For Samuel Chandler's contribution, see his
_Reflections on the Conduct of the Modern Deists_ (London, 1727); for
Chubb's contribution see _Some Short Reflections on the Grounds and Extent
of Authority and Liberty, With respect to the Civil Government_ (London,

[27] Marshall's reluctance to support Rogers's extremism is seen in the
funeral sermon he preached at the latter's death (_A Sermon Delivered in
the Parish Church of St. Giles Cripplegate, May 18, 1729. Upon Occasion of
the Much Lamented Death of the Revd. John Rogers_ [London, 1729]). He
made only the most casual and indifferent reference to Rogers's work. So
obvious was this slight that it called for a rebuttal; see Philalethes (A.
A. Sykes [?]), _Some Remarks Upon the Reverend Dr. Marshall's Sermon on
Occasion of the Death of the Revd Dr Rogers_ (London, 1729).


This facsimile of _A Discourse concerning Ridicule and Irony in Writing_
(1729) is reproduced from a copy in the William Andrews Clark Memorial

  Ridicule and Irony
  IN A
  To the Reverend

  -------- _Ridiculum acri
  Fortius & melius magnas plerumq; secat res._

  -------- _Ridentem dicere verum
  Quid vetat?_


  Printed for J. BROTHERTON in _Cornhill_ and sold
  by T. WARNER in _Pater-noster-Row_, and
  A. DODD without _Temple-Bar_. 1729.

  _Ridicule_ and _Irony_, &c.


In your _Letter_ to Dr. _Rogers_, which he has publish'd at the End of his
_Vindication of the Civil Establishment of Religion_, I find a Notion
advanc'd by you: which as it is a common and plausible Topick for
Persecution, and a Topick by which you, and many others, urge the
Magistrate to punish [or, as you phrase it, _to pinch_] [28] Men for
controversial Writings, is particularly proper at this time to be fully
consider'd; and I hope to treat it in such manner as to make you your
self, and every fair Reader, sensible of the Weakness thereof.

You profess to "vindicate [29] a sober, serious, and modest Inquiry into
the Reasons of any Establishment."

And you add, that you "have not ordinarily found it judg'd inconsistent
with the Duty of a _private Subject_, to propose his Doubts or his Reasons
to the Publick in a _modest_ way, concerning the _Repeal_ of any Law which
he may think of ill Consequence by its Continuance. If he be a Man of
Ability, and well vers'd in the Argument, he will deserve some Attention;
but if he mistakes his Talent, and will be busy with what he very little
understands, Contempt and Odium will be his unavoidable and just
Allotment." And you say, that "Religion is more a personal Affair, in
which every Man has a peculiar Right and Interest, and a Concern that he
be not mistaken, than in any other Case or Instance which can fall under
the Cognizance of the Magistrate; and that greater Allowances seem due to
each private Person for Examination and Inquiry in this, than in any other

And herein I must do you the Justice to acknowledge, that you speak like a
Christian, like a Protestant, like an _Englishman_, and a reasonable Man;
like a Man concerned for Truth, like a Man of Conscience; like a Man
concern'd for the Consciences of others; like a Man concern'd to have some
Sense, Learning, and Virtue in the World; and, in a word, like a Man who
is not for abandoning all the valuable Things in Life to the Tyranny,
Ambition, and Covetousness of Magistrates and Ecclesiasticks.

But you observe, that "municipal Laws[30], how trivial soever in their
intrinsick Value, are never to be _insulted_; never to be treated with
_Buffoonery_ and _Banter_, _Ridicule_ and _Sarcastick Irony_. So that Dr.
_Rogers_'s grand Adversary will have from you no measure of Encouragement
to his manner of Writing." Again, you "never [31] desire to see the
Magistrate fencing in the publick Religion with so thick a Hedge as shall
exclude all Light, and shall tear out the Eyes of all such as endeavour to
see thro' it. _Sober arguing_ you never fear: _Mockery_ and _bitter
Railing_, if you could help it, you would never bear, either _for the
Truth or against it_."

Upon which I offer these following Considerations.

I. _First_, If what you call _Insult_, _Buffoonery_, _Banter_, _Ridicule_
and _Irony_, _Mockery_ and _bitter Railing_, be Crimes in Disputation, you
will find none more deeply involv'd in it than our most famous Writers, in
their controversial Treatises about _serious_ Matters; as all Notions and
Practices in Religion, whether reasonable or absurd, may be equally and
justly deem'd: the Notions and Practices of Papists, Presbyterians,
Quakers, and all other Sects, being no less _serious_ to their respective
Sects than ridiculous to one another. Let any Man read the Writings of our
most eminent Divines against the _Papists_, _Puritans_, _Dissenters_, and
_Hereticks_, and against one another, and particularly the Writings of
_Alexander Cook_, _Hales_, _Chillingworth_, _Patrick_, _Tillotson_,
_Stillingfleet_, _Burnet_, _South_, _Hickes_, _Sherlock_ and _Edwards_,
and he will find them to abound with _Banter_, _Ridicule_, and _Irony_.
_Stillingfleet_ in particular, our greatest controversial Writer, who
passes for _grave_ and _solemn_, is so conscious of his use thereof, that
he confesses that Charge of the Papists against him, saying[32], "But I
forget my Adversary's grave admonition, that I _would treat these Matters
seriously, and lay aside Drollery_." And again, after a _Banter_ of near a
Page, he says[33], "But I forget I am so near my Adversary's Conclusion,
wherein he so _gravely_ advises me, that I _would be pleas'd for once to
write Controversy, and not Play-Books_." Nor did I ever hear the Divines
of the Church condemn the Doctor for his sarcastical Method of writing
Controversy. On the contrary, I remember at the University, that he used
to be applauded no less for his Wit than for his Learning. And to exalt
his Character as a Wit, his _Conferences between a_ Romish _Priest, a
Fanatick Chaplain, and a Divine of the Church of_ England, _&c._ were
spoken of as an excellent _Comedy_, and especially for that Part which the
_Fanatick Chaplain_ acts therein, who makes as comical and as ridiculous a
Figure as he does in any of the _Plays_ acted on the Stage. And in his
_Controversy_ with _Dryden_ about the _Royal Papers_, and those of the
_Duchess_ of _York_, he was deem'd to have out-done that famous _Satirist_
in tart Repartees and Reflections; and to have attack'd the Character of
the _Poet_ with more severity, than that _Poet_, who was so remarkable for
his satirical Reflections on the holy Order, did the Character of the
_Divine_: As for example, he says to _Dryden_[34], "Could nothing be said
by you of Bishop _Morley_, but that _Prelate of rich Memory_? Or had you a
mind to tell us he was no _Poet_? Or that he was out of the Temptation of
changing his Religion for Bread?" And many Citations us'd to be produc'd
out of his Writings, as Specimens of his ironical Talent; among which I
particularly remember his _Ridicule_ of his Adversary Mr. _Alsop_, a
famous Presbyterian Wit and Divine; whose Book, which was full of low
Raillery and Ridicule, he resembles [35] to _the Bird of_ Athens, as _made
up of Face and Feathers_. And the Doctor himself adds, in Justification of
the polite Method of Raillery in Controversy, that _there is a
pleasantness of Wit, which serves to entertain the Reader in the rough
and deep way of Controversy_. Nor did Mr. _Alsop_ want Approvers of his
Raillery in his own Party. Mr. _Gilbert Rule_[36], a great _Scotch_
Presbyterian Divine, who defended him against _Stillingfleet_, contends in
behalf of his Raillery, "That the Facetiousness of Mr. _Alsop_'s Strain
needed to have bred no Disgust, being as a Condiment to prevent _Tædium_
and Nauseousness." And he adds, "That he knows none that blame the
excellent Writings of Mr. _Fuller_, which have a Pleasantness not unlike
that of Mr. _Alsop_."

And this manner of writing is seldom complain'd of, as unfit to be
allow'd, by any but those who feel themselves hurt by it. For the solemn
and grave can bear a solemn and grave Attack: That gives them a sort of
Credit in the World, and makes them appear considerable to themselves, as
worthy of a serious Regard. But _Contempt_ is what they, who commonly are
the most contemptible and worthless of Men, cannot bear nor withstand, as
setting them in their true Light, and being the most effectual Method to
drive Imposture, the sole Foundation of their Credit, out of the World.
Hence _Stillingfleet_'s Popish Adversaries, more conscious perhaps of the
Ridiculousness of Popery than the common People among Protestants
themselves, fall upon him very furiously. One says[37], "That by the
Phrases, which are the chief Ornaments that set off the Doctor's Works, we
may easily guess in what Books he has spent his Time; and that he is well
vers'd in _Don Quixot_, the _Seven Champions_, and other _Romantick
Stories_. Sure the Doctor err'd in his Vocation: Had he quitted all
serious Matters, and dedicated himself wholly to Drollery and Romance,
with two or three Years under _Hudibras_, he might have been a Master in
that Faculty; the Stage might have been a Gainer by it, and the Church of
_England_ would have been no Loser."

Another of his Adversaries says, "[38]Peruse the Doctor Page after Page,
you will find the Man all along in peevish Humour, when you see his Book
brimfull of tart biting Ironies, Drolleries, comical Expressions,
impertinent Demands, and idle Stories, _&c._ as if the discharging a
little Gall were enough to disparage _the clearest Miracles_ God ever

But what are these _clearest Miracles God ever wrought_? Why, the most
extravagant, whimsical, absurd, and ridiculous Legends and Stories
imaginable; such as that of _St. Dominick_[39], who when the Devil came to
him in the Shape of a _Monkey_, made him hold a Candle to him while he
wrote, and keep it so long between his Toes, till it burnt them; and his
keeping the Devil, who sometimes came to him in the Shape of a _Flea_, and
by skipping on the Leaves of his Book disturb'd his Reading, in that
Shape, and using him for a Mark to know where he left off reading: Such as
St. _Patrick_'s heating an Oven with Snow, and turning a Pound of Honey
into a Pound of Butter: Such as _Christ_'s marrying Nuns, and playing at
Cards with them; and Nuns living on the Milk of the blessed Virgin _Mary_;
and that of divers Orders, and especially the _Benedictine_, being so dear
to the blessed Virgin, that in Heaven she lodges them under her
Petticoats: Such as making broken Eggs whole; and of People, who had
their Heads cut off, walking with their Heads in their Hands, which were
sometimes set on again: Such as Failing for a hundred Years; and raising
Cows, Calves, and Birds from the Dead, after they had been chopt to Pieces
and eaten, and putting on their Heads after they had been pull'd or cut
off; and turning a Pound of Butter into a Bell; and making a Bull give
Milk; and raising a King's Daughter from the Dead, and turning her into a
Son; and the several Translations thro' the Air of the Virgin _Mary_'s
House from _Palestine_ to _Loretto_, and the Miracles wrote there; and
more of the like Kind.

Are these, or such as these the _clearest Miracles God ever wrought_? Do
such Miracles deserve a serious Regard? And shall the _Gravity_ with which
Mankind is thus banter'd out of their common Sense, excuse these Matters
from _Ridicule_?

It will be difficult to find any Writers who have exceeded the Doctors,
_South_ and [40] _Edwards_, in _Banter_, _Irony_, _Satire_ and _Sarcasms_:
The last of whom has written a Discourse in _Defence of sharp Reflections
on Authors and their Opinions_; wherein he enumerates, as Examples for his
Purpose, almost all the eminent Divines of the Church of _England_. And
Mr. [41] _Collier_, speaking of a Letter of the Venerable _Bede_ to
_Egbert_ Bishop of _York_, says, "The Satire and Declamation in this
_Epistle_ shews the _pious Zeal_ and _Integrity_ of the Author;" which
seems to imply, that _Satire_ and _Declamation_ is the orthodox and most
pious Method of writing in behalf of _Orthodoxy_.

Dr. _Rogers_, to whom you write, falls into the Method of Buffoonery,
Banter, Satire, Drollery, Ridicule, and Irony, even in the Treatise to
which your Letter is subjoined, and against that _Person_ whom you would
have punish'd for that Method: When he says to him, [42] "Religion then,
it seems, must be left to the Scholars and Gentlefolks, and to them 'tis
to be of no other use, but as a Subject of Disputation to improve their
Parts and Learning; but methinks the Vulgar might be indulged a little of
it now and then, upon Sundays and Holidays, instead of Bull-baiting and
Foot-ball." And this insipid Piece of Drollery and false Wit [which is
design'd to ridicule his Adversary for asserting, that _What Men
understand nothing of, they have no Concern about_; which is a Proposition
that will stand the Test of _Ridicule_, which will be found wholly to lie
against the Doctor, for asserting the Reasonableness of imposing Things on
the People which they do not understand] is the more remarkable, as it
proceeds from one, who is at the same time for using the Sword of the
Magistrate against his Adversary. One would think the [43] _Inquisitor_
should banish the _Droll_, and the _Droll_ the _Inquisitor_.

One of the greatest and best Authorities for the _pleasant_ and _ironical_
manner of treating _serious_ Matters, is that eminent Divine at the Time
of the Reformation, the great _Erasmus_, who has written two Books in this
way with great Applause of Protestants, and without subjecting himself to
any Persecution of Papists: which makes it highly proper to propose them
to the Consideration of the Reader, that he may regulate his Notions, by
what, it may be presum'd, he approves of in that Author. These two Books
of _Erasmus_ are his _Colloquies_, and his _Praise of Folly_.

His _Colloquies_ were wrote in imitation of _Lucian_'s _Dialogues_; and I
think with equal, if not superior, Success.

Both these Authors had an Aversion to sullen, austere, designing Knaves;
and both of them being Men of Wit and Satire, employ'd their Talents
against _Superstition_ and _Hypocrisy_. _Lucian_ liv'd in an Age when
_Fiction_ and _Fable_ had usurp'd the Name of _Religion_, and _Morality_
was corrupted by _Men_ of _Beard_ and _Grimace_, but scandalously _Leud_
and _Ignorant_; who yet had the Impudence to preach up _Virtue_, and style
themselves _Philosophers_, perpetually clashing with one another about the
Precedence of their several Founders, the Merits of their different Sects,
and if 'tis possible, about Trifles of less Importance: yet all agreeing
in a different way to dupe and amuse the poor People, by the _fantastick_
Singularity of their Habits, the unintelligible Jargon of their Schools,
and their Pretensions to a severe and mortify'd Life.

These Jugglers and Impostors _Lucian_ in great measure help'd to chase out
of the World, by exposing them in their proper Colours, and by
representing them as ridiculous as they were. But in a few Generations
after him, a new Race of Men sprung up in the World, well known by the
Name of _Monks_ and _Fryars_, different indeed from the former in
Religion, Garb, and a few other Circumstances; but in the main, the same
sort of Impostors, the same ever-lasting Cobweb-Spinners, as to their
nonsensical Controversies, the same abandon'd _Wretches_, as to their
Morals; but as to the mysterious Arts of heaping up Wealth, and picking
the People's Pockets, infinitely superior to the _Pagan Philosophers_ and
_Priests_. These were the sanctify'd Cheats, whose Folly and Vices
_Erasmus_ has so effectually lash'd, that some Countries have entirely
turn'd these Drones out of their Cells; and in other Places, where they
are still kept up, they are in some measure become contemptible, and
obliged to be always on their Guard.

The Papists say, that these "[44]_Colloquies_, by turning into _Ridicule_
the Devotion to the holy Virgin and Saints, the Worship of Relicks and
Images, religious Vows and Pilgrimages, have made more Hereticks than the
Works of _Luther_ and _Calvin_." And I find the reverend Mr. _Trapp_
[after calling [45] _Reliques_, FOOLISH] celebrates _Erasmus_ for _having
abundantly_ RIDICUL'D _them_.

His _Praise of Folly_ treats of _serious_ Matters, in such a gay,
familiar, ingenious and pleasant manner, as makes it a Work proper to be
read by intelligent People, to remove out of their Minds all Bigotry
contracted by Ignorance and an evil Education, all Peevishness, Hatred,
and Ill-nature towards one another, on account of different Sentiments in
Religion; and to form in them the natural Principles of Moderation,
Humanity, Affection and Friendship. Our learned and ingenious Bishop
_Kennet_ could not do a more signal Piece of Service to our Country, than
by translating into _English_ this Book, which the Ladies have now an
Opportunity of understanding no less than the Men; and from whence they
may see the pleasant, amiable, and just Disposition of Mind of one of the
most learned and ingenious Men that ever liv'd, as well as Author of a
great Number of religious and devotional Books; nor could the Bishop well
give a heartier Stroke at Popery, than by approving of _Erasmus_'s [46]
_laughing_ at it, and applauding his numberless _Taunts on its Impostures,
Cheats, and Delusions_.

Our Clergy have ever treated Mr. _Hobbes_ with the greatest Mockery,
Ridicule and Raillery: As for example, _Ward_ Bishop of _Sarum_, _Brambal_
Bishop of _Derry_, _Parker_ Bishop of _Oxford_, Dr. _Wallis_ in his
several bantering Treatises against him, _Lucy_ Bishop of _St. Davids,
Shafto_, and particularly the Reverend _Droll_, Dr. _Eachard_, in two
_Dialogues_, which, it is well known, have been universally well receiv'd
by the Clergy, and that for their Treatment of Mr. _Hobbes_ in the
ridiculing Way; for which the Author himself makes the following just
Apology, in his _Dedication_ of his _Second Dialogue_ to Archbishop
_Sheldon_, "That of all Triflers, 'tis the _Set_, the _Grave_, the
_Philosophical_, and the _Mathematical Trifler_, to which he has the
greatest Aversion; whom when he meets, very gravely making out all Men to
be rational Beasts both in Nature and Conversation, and every Man, he
pleases, a rational Rebel; and upon any Fright or Pinch a rational Atheist
and Anti-Christian; and all this perform'd with all DEMURENESS, SOLEMNITY,
humbly beg his _Grace's_ Pardon, if then he has endeavour'd to SMILE a
little, and to get as much out of his Road and way of Writing as
possible." These _Dialogues_ used to be much recommended to the Youth to
make them laugh at Mr _Hobbes_, who was constantly represented as
provok'd and put out of all Temper by them, and was said to have vented
this strange and impious Expression, upon its being told him, that _the
Clergy said_ Eachard _had crucify'd_ Hobbes; "Why then don't they fall
down and worship me?"

Mr. _Selden_ has been the constant Subject of Clergy-banter, for his
_History of Tythes_; in the _Preface_ to which, "He reproaches the Clergy
with Ignorance and Laziness, and upbraids them with having nothing to keep
up their Credit but _Beard_, _Title_, and _Habit_; and their Studies
reach'd no farther than the _Breviary_, the _Postils_, and _Polyanthea_."
For this Work he was attack'd more particularly by three Divines,
_Tillesly_, _Mountagu_, and _Nettles_. And their Success was thus
originally represented[47], "That he was so gall'd by _Tillesly_, so
gagg'd by _Mountagu_, and so stung by _Nettles_, that he never came off in
any of his Undertakings with more loss of Credit." And this Jest has
pass'd much upon the World, and been continued down in many Books, where
Mr. _Selden_ is mention'd, to his Discredit with ignorant Readers, but not
with the Knowing and Learned; who, as Dr. _Wotton_ tells us[48], _have,
now Party-heats are over, acquiesced in what Mr._ Selden advanc'd; _who
first_, OF ALL CHRISTIANS, _set the Affair_ of Tythes _in a clear Light_.

It is usually said the Comedy called _Ignoramus_, which is a Clergy-banter
upon the _Law_, was a design'd Return for Mr. _Selden_'s _History of

The Reverend Dr. _Beaumont_, late Master of St. _Peter_'s _College_ and
King's Professor of Divinity, has given us a Book, entitled, "Some
Observations upon the Apology of Dr. _Henry More_ for his _Mystery of
Godliness_;" which endeavours to render the said Doctor _ridiculous_, and
set People a _laughing_ at him, (_p._ 9. _&c._ 64.) and used to be
applauded as a complete Performance in the way of Raillery and Irony, and
was well receiv'd for being directed against a Person esteem'd Heterodox.

Many Clergymen have written Books to banter the Works of Mr. _Locke_,
among whom Dr. _Edwards_ must have the first Place; whose _Brief
Vindication of the fundamental Articles of the Christian Faith_, which has
the _Imprimatur_ before it of _James_, _Beaumont_, _Covel_, and
_Balderston_, four _Cambridge_ Heads, was never exceeded by the most
licentious _Droll_.

When _Sorbier_'s _Voyage_ to _England_, which was a pert and insolent
Abuse and Satire on the Nation, and written in the _French_ manner of
contemptuously treating all Countries and Men but _France_ and
_Frenchmen_, was publish'd, it was deem'd proper that a drolling and
satirical Answer should be given to it, and that the Reverend Dr. _Sprat_
should be the _Droll_ employ'd; who perform'd his Part according to the
Expectation of the Drolling Court of King _Charles_ II. and as the
ingenious Mr. _Addison_ tells us, [49] _Vindicated the Honour of his
Country, in a Book full of Satire and Ingenuity_.

Bishop _Beveridge_ ever pass'd for a serious and profound Divine; and his
Writings have fix'd that Character upon him among the Religious of the
High Church, who have receiv'd his _Private Thoughts_ and his Volumes of
_Sermons_, like _Manna_ from Heaven. And yet possibly never Man had two
more severe Attacks made upon him than he had; one by Bishop
_Stillingfleet_, who in _A Vindication of their Majesties Authority to
fill the Sees of the depriv'd Bishops_, &c. occasion'd by Dr.
_Beveridge_'s Refusal of the Bishoprick of _Bath_ and _Wells_, satirizes
both his _Prudence_ and his _Sincerity_; and another, by an ingenious
Bishop also, who in _A short View of Dr._ Beveridge_'s Writings_, has in a
most refin'd _drolling manner_ represented those Writings as abounding in
most absurd and ridiculous Divinity.

But one of the justest and finest Pieces of _Irony_, and the most timely
and seasonably vented, and that deserves perpetual Remembrance, is,
_Andrews_ the grave Bishop of _Winchester_'s Irony, on _Neal_ the grave
Bishop of _Durham_; of which we have the following Relation in the Poet
_Waller_'s _Life_, prefix'd before his Works: "On the Day of the
Dissolution of the last Parliament of King _James_ the First, Mr.
_Waller_, out of Curiosity or Respect, went to see the King at Dinner;
with whom were Dr. _Andrews_ the Bishop of _Winchester_, and Dr. _Neal_
Bishop of _Durham_, standing behind his Majesty's Chair. There happen'd
something very extraordinary in the Conversation those Prelates had with
the King, on which Mr. _Waller_ did often reflect. His Majesty ask'd the
Bishops, _My Lords, cannot I take my Subjects Money when I want it,
without all this Formality in Parliament?_ The Bishop of _Durham_ readily
answer'd, _God forbid, Sir, but you should; you are the Breath of our
Nostrils_. Whereupon the King turn'd and said to the Bishop of
_Winchester_, _Well, my Lord, what say you? Sir_, replied the Bishop, _I
have no Skill to judge of Parliamentary Cases_. The King answer'd, _No
Put-offs, my Lord; answer me presently. Then, Sir_, said he, _I think it
is lawful for you to take my Brother_ Neal_'s_ _Money, for he offers it_.
Mr. _Waller_ said the Company was pleas'd with this Answer, and the Wit
of it seem'd to affect the King." Which shews the exceeding Aptness and
Usefulness of a good _Irony_; that can convey an Instruction to a vicious,
evil, and tyrannical Prince, highly reflecting on his Conduct, without
drawing on his Resentment.

To these famous Divines I might add the most eminent and renowned
Philosophers of Antiquity, who, either out of a Contempt of Mankind, or to
gratify their peculiar Tempers, or to correct the Vices and Follies of
Men, and to instil virtuous Maxims in those who would only receive them in
some pleasant way, set up for good Humour, Mirth, and Drollery, as their
standing Method of Life, and of Conversation with the World; and have left
behind them some of their occasional Sayings upon record, which do more
Honour to their Memories than the most elaborate Treatises would have
done, and more Good to Men; upon whom a Jest, or witty Saying, is more
fitted to operate and make Impression than long Deductions and Reasonings,
and particularly on Princes and great Men, who will receive no Instruction
but in some very artful and short Way: whereof even the rude _Diogenes_,
the _Cynick_, has given us a most incomparable Example, in his occasional
Conference with _Alexander the Great_, who was put into such Temper by the
mere Freedom and Raillery of the Philosopher, as to take every thing in
good part he said to him, and consequently be dispos'd to reflect upon it,
and to act with Discretion. At the Head of these Philosophers I place
SOCRATES, who has very generally in all Ages pass'd for the _wisest_ of
_Men_, and was declared so by an _Oracle_; which, at least, was therein
directed and influenc'd by some considerable human Authority, or by the
common Sentiments of Men at that time. His Character I shall give you in
the words of the most ingenious _Addison_, who was himself a Master of
_Humour_ and _Drollery_, and practis'd them in Perfection, and with great
Success in almost all his Prose-writings. "_Socrates_, says he[50], who
was the greatest Propagator of Morality in the Heathen World, and a Martyr
for the Unity of the Godhead, was so famous for the exercise of the Talent
[of Raillery and Humour] among the politest People of Antiquity, that he
gain'd the Name of THE DROLE.[51]" A Character that intitled him to the
greatest Merit, as it most of all enabled him to promote Virtue.

I might also offer to your Confederation the Affair of _Comedies_; which
all polite Governments have permitted, or establish'd, in their several
populous and wealthy Cities, as the necessary and proper means to
encounter Vice and recommend Virtue, and to employ innocently and usefully
the vacant Hours of many, who know not how to employ their Time, or would
employ it amiss, by entering into [52] Factions and Cabals to disturb the
State; or by Gaming, or by backbiting Conversations about their
Neighbours. And as _Comedies_, which were originally very gross, grew by
Use more polite and refin'd in _Satire_ and _Raillery_: so the most
celebrated Wits and Statesmen, and Persons of the greatest Quality, have
engag'd and join'd with others in them, and performed with the greatest
Success and Reputation to themselves; and have been valu'd, not only for
their Talents of _Irony_ and _Drollery_, which were essential to the
Credit of such Performances; but applauded, as acting the virtuous Part of

In fine, Books of Satire, Wit, Humour, Ridicule, Drollery, and Irony, are
the most read and applauded of all Books, in all Ages, Languages, and
Countries. And as those which are exquisite in their kinds, are the
standing Entertainment of the Ingenious and Learned; so others, of a lower
kind, are to be found among the lower Readers, who sleep under all Works
which do not make them merry.

In a word, the Opinions and Practices of Men in all Matters, and
especially in Matters of Religion, are generally so absurd and ridiculous
that it is impossible for them not to be the Subjects of Ridicule.

For what else can be expected from Men who generally take up their
Opinions without any Inquiry into their Reasonableness or Truth, and upon
the most incompetent Grounds? I cannot be supposed to injure Mankind, if I
consider them under the Character which the very ingenious Sir _Richard
Steele_ gives of himself; who _acknowledges_ [53] that (even while he took
upon himself the Title of the _Censor_ of _Great Britain_, and in so many
fine Papers corrects his Countrymen, and particularly _the Freethinkers_,
whom he directs the Magistrate to punish with Death) _it had been with
him, as it is with too many others, that a [53] sort of an_ implicit
Religion _seem'd the most easy and most comfortable; and that a blind
Veneration for_ he knew not what, _and he_ knew not whom, _stood for every
thing important_. And he _confesses_ he _was not enough aware, that this
Implicitness of Conduct is the great Engine of Popery, fram'd for the
Destruction of_ good Nature, _as well as_ good Sense. If so great a Man
could take up with such a Method, and act the Part of a _Censor_ and
Director of others, in a Matter which he had not at all consider'd, what
can be expected else from others, but absurd and ridiculous Opinions and

And if some Men will fall into absurd and ridiculous Opinions, Habits,
Forms, Figures and Grimaces; there will be those who will _laugh_, nay,
cannot help _laughing_ at them. Hence most Parties laugh at one another,
without the least Scruple, and with great Applause of their own Parties;
and the Leaders of the same Party laugh with one another, when they
consider the absurd and ridiculous Opinions they profess, and how they
cheat and govern their Followers; agreeably to what _Cicero_ reports of
_Cato_[54], "_Vetus autem illud_ Catonis _admodum scitum est, qui_ mirari
se _aiebat, quod non rideret haruspex cum haruspicem vidisset_."

I think it may be justly suppos'd, that Pope _Alexander_ and _Thomas
Becket_ could not but laugh together at the Simplicity and Weakness of
their Followers, the Papists, who receiv'd for truth the following Story.
It was told as a Fact[55], "that when _Thomas Becket_, who never drank any
thing but Water, sat at Table with _Pope Alexander_, and that his Holiness
would needs taste of his Cup; lest his abstemiousness should be known, God
turn'd the Water into Wine: so that the _Pope_ found nothing but Wine in
the Cup. But when _Becket_ pledg'd him, it was turn'd into Water again."

_Laughing_ therefore, and _Ridicule_ in _serious Matters_, go round the
World with no inconsiderable Applause, and seem highly proper for this
World of Nonsense and Folly. To hinder _laughing_ upon such just Occasions
as are given, is almost all one as to hinder _breathing_. A very witty,
drolling, Dramatick Poet, and of the first Rank for Quality, says in a
_Prologue_ to his Auditors.

  "_Suppose now, at this Instant, one of you_
  "_Were tickled by a Fool, what would you do?_
  "_'Tis ten to one you'd_ laugh: _here's just the Case._
  "_For there are Fools that tickle with their Face._
  "_Your gay Fool tickles with his Dress and Motions;_
  "_But your_ grave Fool _of_ Fools _with_ silly Notions.
  "_Is it not then unjust that Fops should still_
  "_Force one to_ laugh, _and then take laughing ill?_

II. _Secondly_, If it be a Fault in those reverend Divines, mention'd in
the foregoing Article, to use _Irony_, _Drollery_, _Ridicule_, and
_Satire_, in any Case; or if the Fault lies in an exorbitant Use thereof,
or in any particular Species of _Drollery_; as, for example, such
_Drollery_ as is to be found in the polemical Writings and Sermons of Dr.
_South_; it is fit some Remedy should be employ'd for the Cure of this
Evil. And the Remedy I would propose, should not be to have the Authors
punish'd by the Magistrate, any more than for any other Faults in writing;
but either to neglect and despise it, as Rage and Scolding, which drop
into Oblivion with the Sound, and would have a Life given it by
Resentment: or to allow Men to _criticize_ and _ridicule_ one another for
their _Ironies_ and _Drollery_, and to exercise their Wit and Parts
against each other; that being the true Method to bring Things to a
Standard, to fix the Decency and Propriety of Writing, to teach Men how to
write to the Satisfaction of the ingenious, polite, and sensible Part of
Mankind: for Decency and Propriety will stand the Test of Ridicule, and
triumph over all the false Pretences to Wit; and Indecency and
Impropriety will sink under the Trial of Ridicule, as being capable of
being baffled by Reason, and justly ridicul'd. And if any kind or degree
of _Ridicule_ be absurd or _ridiculous_, that will appear so upon Trial,
no less than the low and gross _Ridicule_ prevalent among the unpolite
Part of the World: But that will never appear. On the contrary, _Ridicule_
of certain kinds, and under reasonable Directions and Rules, and used in
proper Time, Place, and Manner, (all which also are only to be found out
and fix'd by Trial and Experience) is both a proper and necessary Method
of Discourse in many Cases, and especially in the Case of _Gravity_, when
that is attended with Hypocrisy or Imposture, or with Ignorance, or with
soureness of Temper and Persecution; all which ought to draw after them
the _Ridicule_ and _Contempt_ of the Society, which has no other effectual
Remedy against such Methods of Imposition. And to determine in some
measure the Nature and Extent of the _Irony_ I contend for, as _Just_, I
profess to approve the noble _Sarcasm_ of _Elijah_[56]; wherein he thus
mocks the _Priests_ of _Baal_, saying in effect to them, "_Cry aloud, for_
your _Baal_ is a fine God: _He is either talking, or he is pursuing, or he
is in a Journey; or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked_." And I
concur with the _Psalmist_[57], who thought it no Indecency to say, that
_he that sits in Heaven shall laugh them_ (that is, certain Kings, who
were _David_'s Enemies) _to scorn; the Lord shall have them in Derision_:
and must judge, that _laughing to scorn_, and _deriding_ the greatest Men
upon Earth, even Kings and Princes, to be a laudable and divine Method of
dealing with them, who are only to be taught or rebuk'd in some artful
way. I also approve of the following _Sarcasm_ or _Irony_, which has a
better Authority for it than _Elijah_ or the _Psalmist_. _Moses_
introduces God speaking thus after the Fall[58], _Behold the Man is become
like one of us, to know Good and Evil!_ And I think this Passage shews,
that the whole Affair of the _Fall_, of which we have so very brief an
Account, was a very entertaining Scene; and would have appear'd so, if set
forth at large; as indeed it does under the Hands of our Divines, who have
supplied that short Narration by various Additions, founded on
Conjectures, and particularly under the fine Hand of Dr. _Tho. Burnet_,
who has made a most ingenious Dialogue of what he suppos'd pass'd between
_Eve_ and the _Serpent_[59]. To say nothing of _Milton_'s famous _Paradise

In fine, ever since I could read the _Bible_, I was particularly pleas'd
with the _History_ of _Jonas_, where such a Representation is made of that
_Prophet_'s Ignorance, Folly, and Peevishness, as exposes him to the
utmost Contempt and Scorn, and fixes a perpetual _Ridicule_ on his
Character. And let me here observe, that this _History_ has had ample
Justice done it, in an Explication thereof by _two_ [60] very ingenious
Authors, who, by most penetrating and happy Criticisms and Reflections,
have drawn the Character of _Jonas_ in a more open manner.

III. But, _Thirdly_, I wave my _Remedy_, and am ready to come into any Law
that shall be made to rectify this suppos'd Fault of _Irony_, by punishing
those who are guilty of it.

The great Concern is and ought to be, that _the Liberty of examining into
the Truth of Things should be kept up_, that Men may have some Sense and
Knowledge, and not be the _Dupes_ of _Cheats_ and _Impostors_, or of those
who would keep them in the dark, and let them receive nothing but thro'
their Hands. If that be secur'd to us by Authority, I, for my part, am
very ready to sacrifice the Privilege of _Irony_, tho so much in fashion
among all Men; being persuaded, that a great Part of the _Irony_
complain'd of, has its rise from the _want of Liberty to examine into the
Truth of Things_; and that if that _Liberty_ was prevalent, it would,
without a Law, prevent all that _Irony_ which Men are driven into for want
of Liberty to speak plainly, and to protect themselves from the Attacks of
those who would take the Advantage to ruin them for direct Assertions; and
that such Authors as _Rabelais_, _Saint Aldegonde_, _Blount_, _Marvel_,
_Thekeringil_, and many others, would never have run into that Excess of
_Burlesque_, for which they are all so famous, had not the Restraint from
writing _seriously_ been so great.

"If [61] Men are forbid to speak their Minds _seriously_ on certain
Subjects, they will do it _ironically_. If they are forbid at all upon
such Subjects, or if they find it dangerous to do so, they will then
redouble their Disguise, involve themselves in mysteriousness, and talk so
as hardly to be understood, or at least not plainly interpreted by those
who are dispos'd to do them a Mischief. And thus _Raillery_ is brought
more in fashion, and runs into an Extreme. 'Tis the persecuting Spirit has
rais'd the _bantering_ one: And want of Liberty may account for want of a
true Politeness, and for the Corruption or wrong Use of Pleasantry and

"If in this respect we strain the just Measure of what we call _Urbanity_,
and are apt sometimes to take a buffooning rustick Air, we may thank the
ridiculous Solemnity and sour Humour of our _Pedagogues_: or rather they
may thank themselves, if they in particular meet with the heaviest of this
kind of Treatment. For it will naturally fall heaviest, where the
Constraint has been the severest. The greater the Weight is, the bitterer
will be the Satire. The higher the Slavery, the more exquisite the

"That this is really so, may appear by looking on those Countries where
the spiritual Tyranny is highest. For the greatest of _Buffoons_ are the
_Italians_: and in their Writings, in their freer sort of Conversations,
on their Theatres, and in their _Streets_, _Buffoonery_ and _Burlesque_
are in the highest Vogue. 'Tis the only manner in which the poor cramp'd
Wretches can discharge a free Thought. We must yield to 'em the
Superiority in this sort of Wit. For what wonder is it if we, who have
more Liberty, have less Dexterity in that egregious way of _Raillery_ and

Liberty of _grave_ Examination being fix'd by Law, I am, I say, ready to
sacrifice the Privilege of _Irony_, and yield to have a Law enacted to
prevent it. I am, moreover, willing to leave the drawing up such a Law to
your self; who honestly and impartially say[62], that all who _droll_, let
them be of any Party, let them _droll for the Truth or against it_, should
be equally punish'd.

Thus this grand Affair of _Irony_, _Banter_, and _Ridicule_; this last
persecuting Pretence, upon which you would set the Humours and Passions of
People, who are all at quiet, on float, and make a Fermentation, and
raise a Persecution against particular People, seems perfectly settled, by
yielding to your own Terms.

IV. Let me here add, that I am apt to think, that when you draw up your
Law, you will find it so very difficult to settle the Point of _Decency_
in Writing, in respect to all the various kinds of _Irony_ and _Ridicule_,
that you will be ready to lay aside your Project; and that you will be no
more able to settle that _Point of Decency_, than you would be to settle
by Law, that _Cleanliness_ in Clothes, and that Politeness in Dress,
Behaviour, and Conversation, which become Men of Quality and Fortune in
the World, and should be habitual to them: And that, if you are able to do
that to your own Satisfaction, you will find it very difficult to engage
the Lawmakers in your Project. For I am persuaded, that if our Lawmakers
were, out of a rational Principle, disposed to give Liberty by Law to
_serious_ Opposition to publickly receiv'd Notions, they would not think
it of much Importance to make a _Law_ about a Method of _Irony_. They will
naturally conclude, that if Men may and ought to be allow'd to write
_seriously_ in Opposition to publickly receiv'd Doctrines, they should be
allow'd to write in their own way; and will be unwilling to be depriv'd of
ingenious and witty Discourses, or such as some of them will judge so,
about a Subject wherein _serious free_ Discourse is allow'd. Besides, I am
apt to think, that you, upon consideration of the Advantages which the
Church has receiv'd from the _Berkenheads_, the _Heylins_, the _Ryves's_,
the _Needhams_, the _Lestranges_, the _Nalsons_, the _Lesleys_, the
_Oldesworths_, and others, in their _Mercurius Aulicus_'s, their
_Mercurius Pragmaticus's_, their _Mercurius Rusticus's_, their
_Observators_[63], their _Heraclitus Ridens_'s, _Rehearsals_, their
_Examiners_[64], and the three Volumes against the _Rights of the Church_;
from the _Butlers_ in their _Hudibras_'s, and other Burlesque Works upon
the Religion and Religious Conduct of the Dissenters; or from the
_Eachards_, the _Tom Browns_, and _Swifts_; or from the _Parkers_[65],
_Patricks_[66], _Souths_[67], _Sherlocks_[68], _Atterburys_[69], and
_Sacheverels_[70]; in their Discourses, and Tracts against the
Nonconformists, Whigs, Low-Church-men, and Latitudinarians; and other such
ironical, satirical, and polemical Divines; and from such _drolling_
Judges as _Howel_, _Recorder_ of London, and the Chief Justice _Jefferys_,
who, in all Causes, where _Whigs_ or Dissenters were the Persons accus'd
and try'd before them, carried on the Trial by a [71] Train of ridicule on
them, their Witnesses and Counsel: I say, I am apt to think, that you
would be unwilling to be depriv'd of what has been and may be again so

I am dispos'd to think that Dr. _Snape_, who is notoriously known to have
gone into the greatest Lengths of Calumny and Satire against Bishop
_Hoadley_[72], to have fall'n upon the dissenting Clergy in a burlesque
and bantering Address to the _Peirces_, the _Calamys_, and the
_Bradburys_, and to have written a long _ironical Letter_ in the Name of
the _Jesuits_ to Mr. _de la Pilloniere_[73], will be thought a very
improper Object of Censure for such Employment of his Pen. On the
contrary, such sort of Attacks upon such Persons are the most meritorious
Parts of a Man's Life, recommend him as a Person of true and sincere
Religion, much more than the strongest Reasoning, and the most regular
Life; and pave the way to all the Riches, and Pleasures and Advantages or
Life; not only among those, who, under the Colour of Religion, are
carrying on a common _Corporation Cause_ of Wealth, Power, and Authority,
but among many well-meaning People, who allow of all Practices, which they
suppose help out the _Truth_! It seems to me a most prodigious Banter upon
us, for Men to talk in general of the _Immorality_ of _Ridicule_ and
_Irony_, and of _punishing_ Men for those Matters, when their own Practice
is _universal Irony_ and _Ridicule_ of all those who go not with them, and
_universal Applause_ and _Encouragement_ for such _Ridicule_ and _Irony_,
and distinguishing by all the honourable ways imaginable such _drolling_
Authors for their Drollery; and when Punishment for _Drollery_ is never
call'd for, but when _Drollery_ is used or employ'd against them!

I don't know whether you would be willing, if you consider of it, to limit
the Stage it self, which has with great Applause and Success, from Queen
_Elizabeth_'s Time downwards, ridicul'd the serious _Puritans_ and
_Dissenters_, and that without any Complaints from _good Churchmen_, that
_serious_ Persons and Things were _banter'd_ and _droll'd_ upon; and has
triumph'd over its fanatical Adversaries in the Person of _Pryn_, who
sufficiently suffer'd for his _Histrio-Mastix_, and has been approv'd of
as an innocent Diversion by the religious Dr. _Patrick_ in his _Friendly
Debate_, in the Reign of King _Charles_ II. when the Stage was in a very
immoral State. I don't know whether you would be willing even to restrain
_Bartholomew Fair_, where the Sect of the _New Prophets_ was the Subject
of a _Droll_ or _Puppet-Show_, to the great Satisfaction of the Auditors,
who, it may be presum'd, were all good Churchmen, _Puritans_ and
_Dissenters_ usually declining such Entertainments out of _real_ or
_pretended_ Seriousness. ("A certain Clergyman thought fit to remark, that
King _William_ could be no good Churchman, because of his not frequenting
the _Play-House_."[74])

V. It will probably be a Motive with you to be against abolishing
_Drollery_, when you reflect that the Men of _Irony_, the _Droles_ and
_Satirists_, have been and always will be very numerous on your side,
where they have been and are so much incourag'd for acting that Part, and
that they have always been and always will be very few on the side of
_Heterodoxy_; a Cause wherein an Author by engaging, may hurt his
Reputation and Fortune, and can propose nothing to himself but Poverty and
Disgrace. I doubt whether you would be for punishing your Friend Dr.
_Rogers_, from whom I just now quoted an _Irony_ on the Author of _The
Scheme of Literal Prophecy consider'd_, or any one else, for _laughing_ at
and making sport with him; or whether you would be for punishing the
Reverend Mr. _Trapp_, who implies the _Justness_ and _Propriety of
ridiculing Popery_; when he says[75], that _Popery is so foolish and
absurd, that every body of common Sense must_ LAUGH _at it_; and when he
refers to _Erasmus_ for having _abundantly_ RIDICUL'D their _Reliques_;
and himself puts _Ridicule_ in Practice against them, by representing
their Doctrines and Practices as _ridiculously foolish_, as _despicably
childish_, and _Matter of mere Scorn_; as _monstrous_; as _Spells_,
_juggling Tricks_, _gross Cheats_, _Impostures_[76], and _wretched
Shifts_; and in fine, in representing by way of _Specimen_, all their
_Miracles_ as _Legends_; of which he says, _These and a thousand more such
like unreasonable Lies, which a Child of common Sense would laugh at, are
impos'd upon and swallow'd by the ignorant People, and make a_ VERY GREAT
_Part of the Popish Religion._

And this, in concurrence with Mr. _Trapp_, I also take to be the Case of
Popery, that it must make Men _laugh_; and that it is much easier to be
gravely disposed in reading a _Stage-Comedy_ or _Farce_, than in
considering and reflecting on the _Comedy_ and _Farce_ of _Popery_; than
which, Wit and Folly, and Madness in conjunction, cannot invent or make a
thing more ridiculous, according to that Light in which I see their
Doctrines, Ceremonies and Worship, the Histories and Legends of their
Saints, and the pretended Miracles wrought in their Church; which has
hardly any thing _serious_ in it but its Persecutions, its Murders, its
Massacres; all employ'd against the most innocent and virtuous, and the
most sensible and learned Men, because they will not be _Tools_ to support
Villany and Ignorance.

"Transubstantiation, says _Tillotson_[77], is not a Controversy of
Scripture against Scripture, or of Reason against Reason, but of downright
Impudence against the plain meaning of Scripture, and all the Sense and
Reason of Mankind." And accordingly he scruples not to say, in a most
_drolling_ manner, that "Transubstantiation is one of the chief of the
_Roman_ Church's _legerdemain_ and _juggling Tricks_ of Falshood and
Imposture; and that in all Probability those common juggling Words of
_Hocus-pocus_, are nothing else but a Corruption of _hoc est corpus_, by
way of ridiculous Imitation of the Church of _Rome_ in their _Trick_ of
_Transubstantiation_." And as he _archly_ makes the Introduction of this
monstrous Piece of _grave Nonsense_ to be owing to its being at first
preach'd by its Promoters with _convenient Gravity and Solemnity_[78],
which is the common Method of imposing Absurdities on the World; so I
think that Doctrine taught with such _convenient Gravity and Solemnity_
should necessarily produce _Levity, Laughter and Ridicule_, in all
intelligent People to whom it is propos'd, who must _smile_, if they can
with safety, to see such Stuff vented with a grave Face.

In like manner many other Divines treat and laugh at _Popery_. Even the
solemn and grave Dr. _Whitby_ has written a Book against
_Transubstantiation_, under the Title of "Irrisio Dei Panarii, _The
Derision of the Breaden God_," in Imitation of the primitive Fathers, who
have written _Derisions_ and _Mockeries_ of the _Pagan_ Religion.

And he takes the Materials whereof this drolling Performance of his
consists, from the _holy Scriptures_, the _Apocryphal Books_, and
_Writings_ of the _holy Fathers_, as he tells us in his Title-Page; three
inexhaustible Sources of Wit and Irony against the Corrupters of true and
genuine Religion. In like manner he turns upon the Popish Clergy the
several Arguments urg'd by the _Jewish_ Clergy in the _New Testament_, for
the Authority of the _Jewish_ Church; and answers, under that _Irony_, all
that the Popish Clergy offer in behalf of the _Authority_ of their
_Church_, in a _Sermon_ at the End of his _Annotations_ on St. _John_'s

Nor do our Divines confine their _Derisions_, _Ridicule_ and _Irony_
against _Popery_ to their Treatises and Discourses, but fill their
_Sermons_, and especially their _Sermons_ on the _Fifth_ of _November_,
and other political _Days_, with infinite Reflections of that Kind. Of
these _Reflections_ a Popish Author publish'd a _Specimen_, in a Book
intitled[79], _Good Advice to Pulpits_, in order to shame the Church out
of their Method of _drolling_ and _laughing_ [80] at _Popery_. But this
Book had no other effect, than to produce a _Defence_ of those _Sermons_
under the Title of _Pulpit Popery true Popery_, vindicating the several
_Droll_ Representations made of _Popery_ in those _Sermons_.

Of these _drolling_ Reflections cited by the Popish Author out of our
Church of _England Sermons_, take these following for a Specimen of what
are to be met with in those _Sermons_[81].

"Pilgrimages, going Bare-foot, Hair-shirts, and Whips, with other such
Gospel-artillery, are their only Helps to Devotion.----It seems that with
them a Man sometimes cannot be a Penitent, unless he also turns Vagabond,
and foots it to _Jerusalem_.----He that thinks to expiate a Sin by going
bare-foot, does the Penance of a Goose, and only makes one Folly the
Atonement of another. _Paul_ indeed was scourg'd and beaten by the _Jews_;
but we never read that he beat or scourg'd himself; and if they think his
keeping under his Body imports so much, they must first prove that the
Body cannot be kept under by a virtuous Mind, and that the Mind cannot be
made virtuous but by a Scourge; and consequently, that Thongs and Whipcord
are Means of Grace, and Things necessary to Salvation. The truth is, if
Mens Religion lies no deeper than their Skin, it is possible they may
scourge themselves into very great Improvements.----But they will find
that bodily Exercise touches not the Soul; and consequently that in this
whole Course they are like Men out of the way: let them flash on never so
fast, they are not at all nearer their Journey's-end: And howsoever they
deceive themselves and others, they may as well expect to bring a Cart, as
a Soul, to Heaven.

"What say you to the Popish Doctrine of the _Sacrifice of the
Mass_.----According to this Doctrine, our blessed Saviour must still, to
the end of the World, be laid hold on by Sinners, be ground with their
Teeth, and sent down into their impure Paunches, as often as the Priest
shall pronounce this Charm, _hoc est corpus meum_: and it seems that he
was a false Prophet, when he said upon the Cross, _It is finish'd_, seeing
there was such an infinite deal of _loathsom Drudgery_ still to be

"For _Purgatory_, 'tis not material in it self, whether it be, or where it
be, no more than the World in the Moon; but so long as that false Fire
serves to maintain a true one, and his Holiness's Kitchen smokes with the
Rents he receives for releasing Souls from thence, which never came there,
it concerns him and his to see to it, that it be not suffer'd to go out."

An ingenious Author, Sir _Richard Steel_, has of late made a _Dedication_
to his _Holiness_ the _Pope_ himself, before a Book entitled, _An Account
of the State of the Roman Catholick Religion throughout the World_, &c. In
which _Dedication_, that most exalted Clergyman the _Pope_, that
[suppos'd] infallible Dictator in Religion, and most grave Person; who, if
_serious_ Matters and Persons were always to be treated _seriously_, may
vie with any other Mortal for a Right to _serious_ Treatment; is expos'd
by incomparable _Drollery_ and _Irony_ to the utmost Contempt, to the
universal Satisfaction of Protestant Readers, who have been pleas'd to see
a gross Impostor, however respected and ador'd by godly and serious
Papists, so treated.

VI. In fine, it is suited to the common Practice of this Nation to
ridicule _Popery_ as well as _Nonconformity_; and tho several _grave_
Books, written among us against Popery, in the Reign of King _James_ II.
(of which yet the _Romish_ Priests complain'd, as treating the King's [82]
_Religion_ with Contempt) were then very well receiv'd and applauded for
Learning and strength of Arguing; yet, I believe, it may with more
Propriety be said, that King _James_ II. and _Popery_ were [83] _laugh'd_
or _Lilli-bullero'd_, than that they were _argu'd_ out of the Kingdom.

The reading the _King's Declaration of Indulgence_ in Churches 1688, had
this fatal _Jest_ put upon it by a reverend Divine, "Who pleasantly told
his People, _That tho he was obliged to read it, they were not obliged to
hear it_[84]; and stop'd till they all went out, and then he read it to
the Walls." To which may be added, the famous Mr. _Wallop_'s excellent
Comparison of that _Declaration_ upon the Instant of its Publication, to
_the scaffolding of St._ Paul_'s Church; which, as soon as the Building
was finish'd, would be pull'd down_.

Bishop _Burnet_ celebrates, with the greatest Justness, our Taste, and
indeed the Taste of the World in this Respect, when he relates how
_Popery_ was then used among us; and he recites some of the _Jests_ which
passed and were received with universal Applause. He tells us[85], "The
Court was now (that is, in 1686,) much set on making Converts, which
fail'd in most Instances, and produc'd _Repartees_; that whether true or
false, were much repeated, and were heard with great Satisfaction. The
Earl of _Mulgrave_ (since Duke of _Buckinghamshire_) was Lord Chamberlain;
he was apt to comply in every thing that he thought might be acceptable,
for he went with the King to Mass, and kneeled at it; and being look'd on
as indifferent to all Religions, the Priests made an Attack upon him: He
heard them _gravely_ arguing for _Transubstantiation_. He told them he was
willing to receive Instruction; he had taken much Pains to bring himself
to believe in God, who made the World and all Men in it: But it must not
be an ordinary Force of Argument that could make him believe that Man was
quits with God, and made God again. The Earl of _Middleton_ had marry'd
into a Popish Family, and was a Man of great Parts and a generous Temper,
but of loose Principles in Religion; so a Priest was sent to instruct him.
He began with _Transubstantiation_, of which he said he would convince him
immediately: And began thus, You believe the _Trinity_. _Middleton_ stop'd
him, and said, who told you so? At which he seem'd amazed. So the Earl
said, he expected he should convince him of his Belief, but not question
him of his own: With this the Priest was so disorder'd, that he could
proceed no farther. One Day the King gave the Duke of _Norfolk_ the Sword
of State to carry before him to the Chappel, and he stood at the Door.
Upon which the King said to him, My Lord, your Father would have gone
farther. To which the Duke answer'd, Your Majesty's Father was the better
Man, and he would not have gone so far. _Kirk_ was also spoken to, to
change his Religion, and he reply'd briskly, that he was already
pre-engag'd, for _he had promised the King of_ Morocco, _that if ever he
chang'd his Religion he would turn_ Mahometan." When K. _James_ sent an
_Irish_ Priest to convert the D. of _Bucks_ [_Villers_] the said Duke
entertain'd the Priest with a Bottle, and engag'd him in a _Dialogue_,
which the Duke afterwards caus'd to be printed, to the no small
Mortification of all Papists, who were therein exceedingly ridicul'd, and
to the Triumph of all good Churchmen, who are never better pleas'd, than
when they have the _Laugh_ on their side.

At this time also were publish'd two merry Books, by a couple of our
Divines, with express View to make Protestants laugh at _Popery_, as at a
_Farce_; and they were, _The School of the Eucharist_, wherein is a
Collection of ridiculous _Miracles_, pretended to be wrought to support
the Truth of _Transubstantiation_, and _Purgatory prov'd by Miracles_.

I must not omit another incomparable Piece of Wit and Raillery against
_Popery_, publish'd at that time. It seems the famous Poet, _Dryden_,
thought fit to declare himself a _Roman Catholick_; and had, as 'tis said,
a _Penance_ injoyn'd him by his Confessor, for having formerly written
_The Spanish Fryar_, of composing some _Treatise_ in a _poetical way_ for
_Popery_, and against the _Reformation_. This he executed in a _Poem_,
intituled, _The Hind and Panther_; which, setting aside the Absurdity of
the Matters therein asserted, and of the several Arguments to maintain
them, is, in other Respects, one of the most mean Compositions that ever
the Press produc'd. Was it proper to pass over in silence such a Work,
from whence probably the Popish Party expected great Matters, as knowing
the Efficacy of Poetry, and being Witnesses of the Success the Author had
had in his _Absalom_ and _Achitophel_ against the _Whigs_? Was it proper
to write _seriously_ and _gravely_ against a Book, wherein the Author
every where aims at Wit, Irony, and Burlesque, and does himself make so
ridiculous a Figure, as to be a standing Jest throughout the whole? Was
not the Convert himself, as such, a _Jest_, or as professing any Religion,
a _Jest_; who argu'd for Pay, and spoke as he was brib'd, and would have
profess'd any Opinions, as is the Mode and Practice of the World, to which
Salary and Preferments are annexed? Some ingenious Persons of the Times
took a better Method, and agreeably to the Temper and Disposition of our
Countrymen, and to the nature of _Dryden_'s Attack, and his interested
Writing for Religion, made a Return in a Paper intituled, _The Hind and
Panther transvers'd to the Story of the Country-Mouse and City-Mouse_: Out
of which, for a Specimen of _just Irony_, and _fine Raillery_, I will give
you the following Passage.

  "_Sirrah, says_ Brindle, _thou hast brought us_ Wine,
  "_Sour to my Taste, and to my Eyes unfine._
  "_Says_ Will, _All Gentlemen like it. Ah! says_ White,
  "_What is approved by them must needs be right._
  "_'Tis true, I thought it bad, but if the_ House
  "_Commend it, I submit, a_ private Mouse.
  "_Nor to their Catholick Consent oppose_
  "_My erring Judgment and reforming Nose._
  "[86]_Why, what a Devil, shan't I trust my Eyes,_
  "_Must I drink Stum, because the Rascal lies,_
  "_And palms upon us_ Catholick _Consent,_
  "_To give_ sophisticated Brewings _Vent?_
  "_Says_ White, _what antient Evidence can sway,_
  "_If you must argue thus and not obey?_
  "Drawers _must be trusted, thro' whose hands convey'd_
  "_You take the Liquor, or you spoil the Trade._
  "_For sure those honest_ Fellows _have no Knack_
  "_Of putting off stum'd Claret for_ Pontack.
  "_How long alas! would the poor Vintner last,_      }
  "_If all that drink must_ judge, _and every Guest_  }
  "_Be allow'd to have an understanding_ Taste?       }

VII. I question whether High-Church would be willing to have the reverend
Author of the _Tale of a Tub_, one of the greatest _Droles_ that ever
appear'd upon the Stage of the World, punish'd for that or any other of
his _drolling_ Works: For tho religious Matters, and all the various Forms
of Christianity have therein a considerable Share of _Ridicule_; yet in
regard of his _Drollery_ upon the _Whigs_, _Dissenters_, and the _War_
with _France_ (things of as _serious_ and weighty Consideration, and as
much affecting the Peace of Society, as _Justification_ by _Faith only_,
_Predestination_, _Transubstantiation_, or _Constansubstantiation_, or
_Questions_ about _religious Ceremonies_, or any such interested Matters)
the _Convocation_ in their famous _Representation_ of the _Profaneness_
and _Blasphemy_ of the Nation, took no notice of his _drolling_ on
Christianity: And his Usefulness in _Drollery_ and _Ridicule_ was deem'd
sufficient by the _Pious_ Queen _Anne_, and her _pious Ministry_, to
intitle him to a Church Preferment of several hundred Pounds _per Ann._
[87] which she bestow'd upon him, notwithstanding a _fanatick
High-Churchman_, who weakly thought _Seriousness_ in Religion of more use
to High-Church than _Drollery_, and attempted to hinder his Promotion, by
representing to her Majesty, "What a Scandal it would be both to Church
and State to bestow Preferment upon a Clergyman, who was hardly suspected
of being a Christian." Besides, High-Church receives daily most signal
Services from his drolling Capacity, which has of late exerted itself on
the Jacobite Stage of _Mist_'s and _Fogg_'s Journal, and in other little
Papers publish'd in _Ireland_; in which he endeavours to expose the
present Administration of publick Affairs to contempt, to inflame the
_Irish_ Nation against the _English_, and to make them throw off all
Subjection to the _English_ Government, to satirize Bishop _Burnet_ and
other _Whig_ Bishops; and, in fine, to pave the way for a new or Popish
Revolution, as far as choosing the most proper Topicks of Invective, and
treating of them in the way of _Drollery_, can do.

VIII. It is well known, that Gravity, Preciseness, Solemnity, Sourness,
formal Dress and Behaviour, Sobriety of Manners, keeping at a distance
from the common Pastimes of the World, Aversion to Rites and Ceremonies in
the publick Worship, and to Pictures, Images, and Musick in Churches;
mixing Religion in common Conversion, using long Graces, practising
Family-Worship, part of which was praying _ex tempore_; setting up and
hearing Lectures, and a strict Observation of the Lord's Day, which was
call'd the _Sabbath_, were the Parts of the Character of a _Puritan_; who,
it is to be observ'd, usually had the Imputation of Hypocrisy for his
great and extraordinary Pretences to Religion: He was also a great Opposer
of the Court-Measures in the Reign of King _James_ and King _Charles_ I.
and most zealous for Law, Liberty, and Property, when those two Princes
set up for raising Money by their own Authority, and in consequence
thereof, fell into numerous other Acts of Violence and Injustice. It is
also well known, that to quell these Puritans, and lessen their Credit,
and baffle all their Pretences, Gaiety, Mirth, Pastimes or Sports, were
incourag'd and requir'd on _Sundays_ of the People, that Churches were
render'd gay, theatrical, and pleasant by the Decorations, Paintings,
Musick, and Ceremonies therein perform'd[88]; and that the utmost Ridicule
was employ'd against some of them, as _Enthusiasts_, and against others of
them as _Hypocrites_, and against them all as factious and seditious, by
their Adversaries; who were under no Restraints, but incourag'd to write
with Scorn, Contempt, Raillery and Satire against these suppos'd Enemies
of Church and State. Nor did the great Success of the _Puritans_ in the
Field of Battle suppress that _Vein_ and _Humour_ of _Ridicule_ begun
against them; but the _Laudean_ Party still carry'd on a Paper War with
innumerable Pamphlets, which all tended more or less to make the World
_laugh_ at and _ridicule_ the _Puritans_. And I am verily persuaded, that
no History of any other Country in the World can produce a Parallel,
wherein the Principle and Practice of _Ridicule_ were ever so strongly
encourag'd, and so constantly pursu'd, fix'd and rooted in the Minds of
Men, as it was and is in Churchmen against Puritans and Dissenters. Even
at this Day the _Ridicule_ is so strong against the present Dissenters, so
promoted by Clergy and Laity, especially in Villages and small Country
Towns, that they are unable to withstand its Force, but daily come over in
Numbers to the Church to avoid being _laugh'd_ at. It seems to me a Mark
of Distinction more likely to last in the Church than any other Matter
that I can observe. Passive Obedience, the divine Right of Kings, _&c._
rise and fall according to particular Occasions; but _Laughter_ at
_Dissenters_ seems fixt for ever, if they should chance to last so long.

_South_'s Sermons, which now amount to _six Volumes_, make Reading _Jests_
and _Banter_ upon _Dissenters_, the religious Exercise of good Churchmen
upon _Sundays_, who now can serve God (as many think they do by hearing or
reading Sermons) and be as merry as at the Play-house. And _Hudibras_,
which is a daily High-Church Entertainment, and a Pocket and Travelling
High-Church Companion, must necessarily have a very considerable Effect,
and cannot fail forming in Men that Humour and Vein of _Ridicule_ upon
_Dissenters_ which runs thro' that Work. In a word, High-Church has
constantly been an Enemy to, and a Ridiculer of the _Seriousness_ of
_Puritans_ and _Dissenters_, whom they have ever charg'd with _Hypocrisy_
for their _Seriousness_.

"After [89] the Civil War had broke out in 1641, and the King and Court
had settled at _Oxford_, one _Birkenhead_, who had liv'd in _Laud_'s
Family, and been made Fellow of _All Souls College_ by _Laud_'s Means, was
appointed to write a Weekly Paper under the Title of _Mercurius Aulicus_;
the first whereof was publish'd in 1642. In the Absence of the Author,
_Birkenhead_, from _Oxford_, it was continued by _Heylin_. _Birkenhead_
pleas'd the Generality of Readers with his _Waggeries_ and _Buffooneries_;
and the Royal Party were so taken with it, that the Author was recommended
to be Reader of _Moral Philosophy_ by his Majesty;" who, together with the
religious Electors, it is justly to be presum'd, thought _Waggery_ and
_Buffoonery_, not only Political, but _Religious_ and _Moral_, when
employ'd against _Puritans_ and _Dissenters_.

IX. King _Charles_ the Second's Restoration brought along with it glorious
_High-Church_ Times; which were distinguish'd as much by _laughing_ at
_Dissenters_, as by persecuting them; which pass for a Pattern how
Dissenters are to be treated; and which will never be given up, by
_High-Church-men_, as faulty, for ridiculing Dissenters.

The King himself, who had very good natural Parts, and a Disposition to
banter and ridicule every Body, and especially the _Presbyterians_, whose
Discipline he had felt for his Lewdness and Irreligion in _Scotland_, had
in his _Exile_ an Education, and liv'd, among some of the greatest
_Droles_ and _Wits_ that any Age ever produc'd; who could not but form him
in that way, who was so well fitted by Temper for it. The Duke of
_Buckingham_ was his constant Companion. And he had a [90] _great
Liveliness of Wit, and a peculiar Faculty of turning all things into
ridicule_. He was Author of the _Rehearsal_; which, as a most noble Author
says, is [91] _a justly admir'd Piece of comick Wit_, and _has furnish'd
our best Wits in all their Controversies, even in Religion and Politicks,
as well as in the Affairs of Wit and Learning, with the most effectual and
entertaining Method of exposing Folly, Pedantry, false Reason, and ill
Writing_. The Duke of _Buckingham_ [92] brought _Hobbes_ to him to be his
_Tutor_, who was a _Philosophical Drole_, and had a great deal of _Wit_ of
the _drolling_ kind. _Sheldon_, who was afterwards Archbishop of
_Canterbury_, and attended the King constantly in his Exile as his
_Chaplain_, was an eminent _Drole_, as appears from Bishop _Burnet_, who
says[93], that _he had a great Pleasantness of Conversation, perhaps too

And _Hide_, afterwards Earl of _Clarendon_, who attended the King in his
Exile, seems also to have been a great Drole, by Bishop _Burnet_'s
representing him, as one, that _had too much Levity in his Wit, and that
did not observe the Decorum of his Post_[94]. In a _Speech_ to the Lords
and Commons, _Hide_ attack'd the Gravity of the Puritans, saying[95],
"Very merry Men have been very godly Men; and if a good Conscience be a
continued Feast, there is no reason but Men may be very merry at it." And
upon Mr. _Baxter_ and other Presbyterian Ministers waiting on him in
relation to the _Savoy Conference_, he said to Mr. _Baxter_ on the first
Salute[96], that if "he were but as fat as Dr. _Manton_, we should all do

No wonder therefore, that _Ridicule_, and _Raillery_, and _Satire_, should
prevail at Court after the _Restoration_; and that King _Charles_ the
Second, who was a Wit himself, and early taught to laugh at his _Father's
Stiffness_[97], should be so great a Master of them, and bring them into
play among his Subjects; and that he who had the most sovereign Contempt
for all Mankind, and in particular for the People and Church of _England_,
should use his Talent against them; and that his People in return should
give him like for like.

It is well known how he banter'd the Presbyterian Ministers, who out of
Interest came over to him at _Breda_; where they were placed in a Room
next to his Majesty, and order'd to attend till his Majesty had done his
Devotions; who, it seems, pray'd so artfully, and poured out so many of
their Phrases, which he had learned when he was in _Scotland_, where he
was forced to be present at religious Exercises of six or seven Hours
a-day; and had practis'd among the _Huguenot_ Ministers in _France_[98],
who reported him to have a _sanctify'd Heart_, and to _speak the very
Language of_ Canaan. This _Ridicule_ he _cover'd_ with _Seriousness_;
having at that time Occasion for those Ministers, who were then his great
Instruments in reconciling the Nation to his _Restoration_. When he had no
farther Occasion for them, he was open in his _Ridicule_, and would say,
that [99] _Presbyterianism was not a Religion for a Gentleman_.

X. Would you, who are a Man of Sense and Learning, and of some Moderation,
be for punishing the Author of _The Difficulties and Discouragements which
attend the Study of the Scriptures in the way of private Judgment_, &c.
who is suppos'd to be a Prelate of the Church, for that Book, which is
wholly an _Irony_ about the most sacred Persons and Things? Must not the
fine _Irony_ it self, and the Execution of it, with so much Learning,
Sense, and Wit, raise in you the highest Esteem and Admiration of the
Author, instead of a Disposition to punish him? Would you appear to the
intelligent Part of the World such an Enemy to Knowledge, and such a
Friend to the Kingdom of Darkness, as such Punishment would imply? In
fine, can you see and direct us to a better way, to make us inquire after
and understand Matters of Religion, to make us get and keep a good temper
of Mind, and to plant and cultivate in us the Virtues necessary to good
Order and Peace in Society, and to eradicate the Vices that every where
give Society so much Disturbance, than what is prescrib'd or imply'd in
that Book? And can you think of a better _Form_ of _Conveyance_, or
_Vehicle_ for Matters of such universal Concern to all intelligent People
(if you consider the State of the World, and the infinite Variety of
Understandings, Interests, and Designs of Men, who are all to be address'd
to at the same Time) than his Method of _Irony_? And has not Success
justify'd his Method? For the Book has had a free Vent in several
Impressions; has been very generally read and applauded; has convinced
Numbers, and has been no Occasion of trouble either to Bookseller or
Author. It has also had the Advantage to have a most ingenious _Letter_ of
_John Hales_ of _Eton_ join'd to some Editions of it; who by this
_Letter_, as well as by several others of his Pieces, shews himself to
have been another _Socrates_, one of the greatest Masters of _true Wit_
and _just Irony_, as well as Learning, which the World ever produc'd; and
shews he could have writ such a Book as the _Difficulties_, &c. But if you
are capable of coming into any Measures for punishing the Author of the
_Difficulties_, &c. for his _Irony_, I conceive, that you may possibly
hesitate a little in relation to the same Author, about his _New Defence
of the Bishop of_ Bangor_'s Sermon of the Kingdom of Christ, consider'd as
it is the Performance of a Man of Letters_; which, tho far below _The
Difficulties_, &c. is an ingenious _Irony_ on that _Sermon_. You may
probably, like many others of the Clergy, approve of Satire so well
employ'd, as against that Bishop, who has succeeded Bishop _Burnet_ in
being the Subject of _Clergy-Ridicule_, as well as in his Bishoprick. The
Bishop himself was very justly patient, under all Attacks by the Reverend
_Trapp_, _Earbery_, _Snape_, _Law_, and _Luke Milbourne_, in his _Tom of
Bedlam's Answer to his Brother_ Ben Hoadley, _St._ Peter_'s_ Poor _Parson
near the Exchange of Principles_; some of which were of a very abusive
kind, and such as can hardly be parallel'd; and did not call upon the
Magistrate to come to his Aid against that Author, or against any others
of the Clergy who had attack'd him with as great Mockery, Ridicule, and
Irony, as ever Bishop had been by the profess'd Adversaries of the Order;
or as ever the Bishops had been by the _Puritans_ and _Libellers_ in the
Reigns of Queen _Elizabeth_, King _James_ and King _Charles_ the First; or
as _Lesley_, _Hickes_, _Hill_, _Atterbury_, _Binks_, and other High-Church
Clergy, did the late Bishop _Burnet_. Instead of that he took the true and
proper Method, by publishing an _Answer_ to the said _Irony_, compos'd in
the same _ironical Strain_, intitled, _The Dean of_ Worcester _still the
same: Or his new Defence of the Bishop of_ Bangor_'s Sermon, consider'd,
as it is the Performance of a great Critick, a Man of Sense, and a Man of
Probity_. Which Answer does, in my Opinion, as much Honour to the Bishop,
by its Excellency in the _ironical Way_, as it does by allowing the Method
it self, and going into that Method, in imitation of his Reverend Brethren
of the Clergy, who appear to be under no Restraints from the _Immorality_
or _Indecency_ of treating the Bishop in the way of Ridicule and with the
utmost Contempt; but, on the contrary, to be spurr'd on by the
_Excellency_ and _Propriety_ thereof to use it against him, even in the
[100] _Pulpit_, as Part of the religious Exercise on the _Lord's-day_.

XI. There is an universal Love and Practice of _Drollery_ and _Ridicule_
in all, even the most _serious_ Men, in the most _serious Places_, and on
the most _serious Occasions_. Go into the Privy-Councils of Princes, into
Senates, into Courts of Judicature, and into the Assemblies of the Kirk or
Church; and you will find that Wit, good Humour, Ridicule, and Drollery,
mix themselves in all the Questions before those Bodies; and that the most
solemn and sour Person there present, will ever be found endeavouring, at
least, to crack his Jest, in order to raise a Character for Wit; which has
so great an Applause attending it, and renders Men so universally
acceptable for their Conversation, and places them above the greatest
Proficients in the Sciences, that almost every one is intoxicated with the
Passion of aiming at it.

In the Reports made to us of the Debates in the Houses of Lords, Commons,
and Convocation, the serious Parts of the Speeches there made die for the
most part with the Sound; but the Wit, the Irony, the Drollery, the
Ridicule, the Satire, and Repartees, are thought worthy to be remember'd
and repeated in Conversation, and make a Part of the History of the
Proceedings of those Bodies, no less than their grave Transactions, as
some such must necessarily be.

Whoever will look into Antiquity for an Account of the Lives, Actions, and
Works of the old Philosophers, will find little remaining of them; but
some of their witty, drolling, and bantering Sayings, which alone have
been thought worthy to be preserv'd to Posterity. And if you will look
into the Lives of the modern Statesmen, Philosophers, Divines, Lawyers,
_&c._ you will find that their witty Sayings ever make a considerable
Part: by reporting which great Honour is intended to be done to their
Memory. The great and most religious Philosopher Dr. _H. More_, has a
great many Pieces of Wit attributed to him in his _Life_ by Mr. _Ward_,
who represents him from his Companions, [101] _as one of the merriest
Greeks they were acquainted with_, and tells us, that the Doctor said in
his _last Illness_, to him[102], _that the merry way was that which he saw
mightily to take; and so he used it the more_.

The great and famous Sir _Thomas More_, Lord Chancellor of _England_ in
_Henry_ the Eighth's time, was an inexhaustible Source of _Drollery_[103],
as his voluminous Works, which consist for the most part of controversial
Divinity in behalf of Popery, show, and which are many of them written in
Dialogue, the better to introduce the _drolling_ Way of Writing, which he
has us'd in such Perfection, that it is said [104] _none can ever be weary
of reading them, tho they be never so long_. Nor could Death it self, in
immediate view before his Eyes, suppress his _merry_ Humour, and hinder
him from cracking _Jests_ on the _Scaffold_; tho he was a Man of great
_Piety_ and _Devotion_, whereof all the World was convinced by his Conduct
both in his Life and at his Death.

It is said (as I have before observ'd) of my Lord Chancellor _Clarendon_,
that "he had too much _Levity_ in his _Wit_[105], and that he did not
always observe the _Decorum_ of his Post." Which implies not only his
Approbation of _Drollery_ in the most _grave_ Business, but also his great
Knowledge of Mankind, by applying to them in that _Way_; which he knew
from Experience, and especially from the common _drolling_ [106]
Conversation in the Court of King _Charles_ the Second, would recommend
him to the World much more than an _impartial Administration of Justice_;
which is less felt, less understood, and less taken notice of and
applauded, than a _Piece_ of _Wit_; which is generally suppos'd to imply
in it a great deal of Knowledge, and a Capacity fit for any thing.

Mr. _Whiston_[107], a famous Person among us, sets up for great _Gravity_,
and proposes a Scheme of _Gravity_ for the Direction of those who write
about Religion: He is for allowing _Unbelievers_, nay for having them
"invited by Authority to produce all the real or original Evidence they
think they have discover'd against any Parts of the _Bible_; against any
Parts of the _Jewish_ and Christian Religions, in order to their being
fully weigh'd and consider'd by all learned Men; provided at the same
time, that the whole be done _gravely_, and _seriously_, without all
_Levity_, _Banter_, and _Ridicule_." And yet this Man, having a handle
given him by Bishop _Robinson_'s Letter to the _Clergy_ of his _Diocess_
about _New Doxologies borrow'd from Old Hereticks_, takes the advantage of
the Bishop's (supposed) Ignorance, Dulness, Stupidity, and Contradiction
to himself, and writes and prints, like a _Tom Brown_ or _Swift_, a most
_bantering_ and _drolling_ Letter, under the sneering Title of a _Letter
of Thanks to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of_ London, _for his late
Letter_, &c. whom, one would think, he should not only have spar'd, but
have applauded for his _profound Gravity_, and carrying on the Cause of
Religion in a very remarkable manner, with the most _consummate
Solemnity_. But so strong was the Temptation, so naturally productive of
Mirth was the Bishop's _Cause_, and his grave Management thereof, as that
he could not help laughing at the Bishop, by himself; and so was led on
mechanically to write in that Humour, and to publish what he wrote, and
afterwards to defend his drole _Manner_ [108] of attacking the Bishop,
against those who took _offence_ at that _Manner_ of writing.

XII. The burning Papists themselves are not always _serious_ with us: They
treat the Church and its Defenders as _fanatical_, and _laugh_ at them as
_such_, just as the Church does the Dissenters, and have their elaborate
Works of _Drollery_ against their Adversaries. They publish'd a Poem
against the _Reformation_, just before the Death of Queen _Anne_, which
was design'd to have given such a Stroke to the Protestant Religion among
us, under the new projected Revolution, as _Hudibras_ did to _Puritanism_
after the _Restoration_. The Popish Editor, in the Preface to the said
Poem, says, "that the Motive of the Author (_Thomas Ward_) for publishing
the _History of the Reformation in a Burlesque Style_ (tho a History full
of melancholy Incidents, which have distracted the Nation, even beyond the
hope of recovery, after so much Blood drawn from all its Veins, and from
its Head) was that which he met with in Sir _Roger L'Estrange_'s Preface
to the second Part of his _Cit_ and _Bumkin_, express'd in these Words;
_Tho this way of fooling is not my Talent, nor Inclination; yet I have
great Authorities for the taking up this Humour, in regard not only of the
Subject, but of the Age we live in; which is so much upon the Drole, that
hardly any thing else will down with it._"

And the ingenious Protestant Editor of this Poem at _London_, which he
allows to have some Wit in it, concludes the Remarks he makes upon it, by
saying, "One thing more we can't forbear hinting at, that a Retaliation
would be as happy a Thought as could enter into the Head of a Man of
Genius and Spirit. What a fruitful Harvest would the Legends, Tricks,
spiritual Jugglings, Convents, and Nunneries, yield to a good Poet?
_Buchanan_ in his _Franciscani_, and _Oldham_ in his _Satires_ on the
Jesuits, have open'd the Way, and we heartily wish some equal Pen would
write the whole Mystery of Iniquity at length."

XIII. All the old Puritan Preachers, who were originally Divines of the
Church of _England_, sprinkled and season'd their Sermons with a great
many _drolling_ Sayings against _Libertinism_ and _Vice_, and against
Church Ceremonies; many of which Sayings are reported and handed down to
us in Books and Conversation, as are also the Effects of those Sayings,
which we are told converted many to _Christ_ on the Spot, or in the
Instant of Delivery. Nor is that manner wholly laid aside, but has
continued to be kept alive by some Hands at all times; who have been
greatly follow'd for their Success in drolling upon _Sinners_, and
treating of Religion in humoursom and fantastical Phrases, and fixing that
way of Religion in some Mens Minds.

I do not remember to have met with a more complete Drole in the Church of
_England_, or in any other of the _laughing_ or _ridiculing_ Sects, than
_Andrew Marvel_ of the grave _Puritan_ Sect, in many Works of his both in
Prose and Verse, but especially in his _Rehearsal Transprosed_; which tho
writ against _Parker_, who with great Eloquence, Learning, and a Torrent
of Drollery and Satire, had defended the Court and Church's Cause, in
asserting the Necessity of Penal Laws against the Nonconformists, "was
read from the _King_ down to the Tradesman with great pleasure, on account
of that Burlesque Strain and lively Drollery that ran thro' it," as
Bishop _Burnet_ tells us[109]. Nor were the gravest _Puritans_ and
Dissenters among us less taken and pleas'd with his Writings for their
_Drollery_, than our _drole King_; tho there are some Passages in them,
which should give just Offence to chaste Ears.

I find also, that the _Puritans_ and _Dissenters_ have always born with,
and allow'd of, a great Mixture of _Drollery_ in their Sermons, that one
would think should offend their Gravity, and pious Ears; and that they
applaud their Ministers for such their Discourses, as much as the Church
does Dr. _South_ for the Ribaldry sprinkled thro'out his Sermons about the
most high Points in Divinity. They have always had some eminent Divines
among them who have been remarkable for such Passages and Reflections: And
these have never lessen'd their number of Auditors, nor drawn upon
themselves the Character of _Irreligious_; but have had the largest
Auditories of contributing Hearers, as well as of Churchmen, who came to
smile, and have been esteem'd very _pious_ Men.

In fine, the _Puritans_ and _Dissenters_ have, like the Church, their
Taste of Humour, Irony, and Ridicule, which they promote with great Zeal,
as a Means to serve Religion: And I remember, that, among other things
said in behalf of _Bunyan_'s _Pilgrim's Progress_, upon the reprinting it
lately by Subscription, it was affirm'd, and that, in my Opinion, truly,
"that it had infinitely out-done _The Tale of a Tub_; which perhaps had
not made one Convert to Infidelity, whereas the _Pilgrim's Progress_ had
converted many Sinners to _Christ_."

XIV. The _Quakers_ are certainly the most _serious_ and solemn People
among us in Matters of Religion, and out-go the Dissenters of all other
Kinds therein: But yet the Church has no regard to them on that Account,
but takes Advantage from thence to _ridicule_ them the more, and to call
their Sincerity more in question. And I much doubt whether there was ever
a Book written against them by the Divines of any Sect with perfect
Decency, and that had not its extravagant Flouts, Scorn, Banter, and
Irony, and that not only of the _laughing_, but of the _cruel_ kind:
Wherein they copy'd after the _Jews_ of old, who while they prosecuted
_Christ_ to Death, and carried on their High-Church Tragedy against him,
acted against him the _comick Scenes_ [110] "of spitting in his Face, and
buffeting him with the Palms of their Hands, saying, _Prophesy unto us,
thou Christ, who is he that smote thee_;" and who, when they had nail'd
him to the Cross, _revil'd_ him with divers _Taunts_, in which the _Chief
Priests_, _Scribes_, _Elders_, and even the _Thieves, which were crucified
with him_, concurr'd. But yet for all this, these solemn Quakers
themselves are not altogether averse to _Irony_ and _Ridicule_, and use it
when they can. Their Books abound in Stories to ridicule in their Turn the
Priests, their great and bitter Adversaries: And they please themselves
with throwing at the Priests the _Centuries of Scandalous Ministers_, and
the Books of the _Cobler of_ Glocester. They have also their Satirist and
Banterer, _Samuel Fisher_; whose Works, tho all wrote in the _drolling_
Style and Manner, they pride themselves in, and have collected into one
great Volume in _Folio_; in which Quaker-Wit and Irony are set up against
Church, Presbyterian, and Independent Wit and Irony, without the least
Scruple of the lawfulness of such Arms. In a word, their Author acts the
Part of a _Jack-Pudding_, _Merry Andrew_, or _Buffoon_, with all the
seeming Right, Authority, and Privilege, of the Member of some Establish'd
Church of abusing all the World but themselves. The _Quakers_ have also
encourag'd and publish'd a most arch Book of the famous _Henry Stubbe_,
intitled, _A Light shining out of Darkness_, &c. Wherein all the other
religious Parties among us are as handsomly and learnedly banter'd and
ridicul'd, as the _Quakers_ have been in any Book against them. And when
they were attack'd by one _Samuel Young_, a whimsical
Presbyterian-Buffoon-Divine, who call'd himself _Trepidantium Malleus_,
and set up for an Imitator of Mr. _Alsop_, in several Pamphlets full of
Stories, Repartees, and Ironies; in which _Young_, perhaps, thought
himself as secure from a Return of the like kind, as a Ruffian or Thief
may when he assaults Men: His Attacks were repell'd in a Book intitled
"_Trepidantium Malleus intrepidanter malleatus_; or the West Country
Wiseaker's crack-brain'd _Reprimand_ hammer'd about his own Numbscul.
Being a _Joco-satirical_ Return to a late Tale of a Tub, emitted by a
reverend _Non-con_, at present residing not far from _Bedlam_," said to be
written by _William Penn_, who has therein made use of the carnal Weapons
of Irony and Banter, and dress'd out the Presbyterian Priest in a Fool's
Coat, for a Spectacle to the Mob. It is also to be observ'd, that there
are several Tracts in the two Volumes of _William Penn_'s Works lately
publish'd, that for ingenious Banter and Irony, are much superior to the
Priests his Adversaries; and that other Quaker Authors profess to write
sometimes in a [111] _drolling Style_.

XV. The Jacobite Clergy have set up for great _Droles_ upon all the true
Friends of the _Establishment_. And I presume, the Body of our High
Churchmen would not willingly deprive them of the Benefit of their

The celebrated Mr. _Collier_ [112] thus attacks Bishop _Burnet_, for his
ESSAY _on the Memory of Queen_ Mary. "This Doctor, you know, is a Man of
mighty _Latitude_, and can say any thing to serve a Turn; whose
_Reverence_ resolves Cases of Conscience backwards and forwards, disputes
_pro_ and _con_, praises and dispraises by secular Measures; with whom
Virtue and Vice, passive Obedience and Rebellion, Parricide and filial
Duty, Treachery and Faithfulness, and all the Contradictions in Nature,
are the _best_ and _worst_ things under the Sun, as they are for his
Purpose, and according as the Wind sits: who equally and indifferently
writes for and against all Men, the Gospel, and himself too, as the World
goes: who can bestow a Panegyrick upon the seven deadly Sins, and (if
there be occasion) can make an Invective against all the

In relation to Dr. _Payne_'s _Sermon_ on the Death of that _Queen_, he
says[113], "that to go thro' it is too great a Discipline for any Man,
whose Palate hath ever relish'd any thing above _three half-penny
Poetry_." He adds, "Why, Sir, many Years ago I have heard some of it sung
about the Streets in wretched and nauseous _Doggrel_. What think you of
this? _Page_ 6. _I know not how to draw her Picture, 'tis so all over
beauteous, without any Foil, any Shade, any Blemish; so perfect in every
Feature, so accomplish'd in every Part, so adorn'd with every Perfection
and every Grace._ O rare, Sir! here's _Phillis_ and _Chloris_, and
_Gillian a Croydon_.

  "_Sh' hath_ every Feature, every Grace,
  "_So charming_ every part, _&c_.

"Tis no wonder he tells us, (_p._ 8.) of _strewing her with the Flowers of
withered and decay'd Poetry_; for the _Song_ out of which he hath
transcrib'd his _Sermon_, is of very _great age_, and hath been sung at
many a _Whitsun-Ale_, and many a _Wedding_ (tho I believe never at a
Funeral before) and therefore in all this time may well be _decay'd and
wither'd_: In the mean time, if you were to draw the Picture of a _great
Princess_, I fansy you would not make choice of _Mopsa_ to sit to it.
Alas! Sir, there was _Cassandra_ and _Cleopatra_, and many a famed
_Romance_ more, which might have furnish'd him with handsome Characters,
and yet he must needs be _preaching and instructing_ his People out of
_Hey down derry_, and the _fair Maid of_ Kent. If he had intitled it,
_The_ White-Chapel _Ballad_, and got some body to set it to the Tune of
_Amaryllis_, compos'd by _W. P. Songster_, the Character of the _Author_,
the _Title_, and the _Matter_, would have very well agreed, and perhaps it
might have passed at the Corners of the Streets; but to call it a
_Sermon_, and by _W. P._ Doctor in _Divinity_, 'tis one of the _lewdest_
things in the World.----"

Mr. _Lesley_ attacks the Clergy, who pray'd "that God would give King
_James_ Victory over all his Enemies[114], when that was the thing they
least wish'd; and confess'd, that they labour'd all they could against
it," saying, "good God! What Apprehensions, what Thought had those Men of
their publick Prayers; bantering God Almighty, and mocking him to his
Face, who heard their Words, and saw their Hearts? Is not _Atheism_ a
smaller Sin than this, since it is better to have no God, than so to set
up one _to laugh at him_."

Again he says, (_p._ 123.) "It is a severe Jest, that the common People
have got up against the Clergy, that there was but one thing formerly
which the Parliament could not do, that is, to make a Man a Woman: But now
there is another, that is, to make an Oath which the Clergy will not

The same Author attacks Bishop _Burnet_'s _Speech upon the Bill against
Occasional Conformity_, by a Pamphlet intitled, _The Bishop of_
Salisbury_'s proper Defence from a Speech cry'd about the Streets in his
Name, and said to have been spoken by him in the House of Lords upon the
Bill against Occasional Conformity_; which is one perpetual _Irony_ on the
Bishop, and gives the Author occasion to throw all manner of Satire and
Abuse on the Bishop. The beginning of this Pamphlet, which is as follows,
will let the Reader into the full Knowledge of the Design of the Irony,
and the manner of Execution.

"The License of this Age and of the Press is so great, that no Rank or
Quality of Men is free from the Insults of loose and extravagant Wits.

"The good Bishop of _Salisbury_ has had a plentiful Share in this sort of
Treatment: And now at last, some or other has presum'd to burlesque his
Lordship in printing a Speech for him, which none that knows his Lordship
can believe ever came from him.

"But because it may go down with others who are too apt to take Slander
upon trust, and that his Lordship has already been pelted with several
Answers to his Speech, I have presum'd to offer the following
Considerations, to clear his Lordship from the Suspicion of having vented
(in such an august Assembly) those crude and undigested Matters which are
set forth in that Speech, and which so highly reflect on his Lordship's

He has taken the same Method of Irony to attack the said Bishop for his
_Speech_ on the _Trial_ of _Sacheverel_, and for a _Sermon_, under this
Title, "The Good Old Cause, _or_ Lying in Truth; being a Second Defence of
the Lord Bishop of _Sarum_ from a Second Speech, and also the Dissection
of a Sermon it is said his Lordship preach'd in the Cathedral Church of
_Salisbury_." And this Pamphlet, which is also a continued Banter, begins

"No Man has more deserv'd than this good Bishop, and no Man has been more
persecuted by various Ways and Means than his Lordship, even to mobbing!
But the ugliest and most malicious of all these Arts, is that of putting
false Things upon him; to write scandalous, seditious, and senseless
Papers, and to affix his Lordship's Name! I was forc'd some Years ago to
vindicate his Lordship's Reputation from one of this sort: That Speech had
a Bookseller's Name to it of good figure, and look'd something like; but
this Speech (said likewise to be spoken in the House of Lords) has no body
to own it, and has all the Marks of _Grub_. But the nasty Phiz is nothing
to the inside. That discovers the Man; the Heart is false."

This same Author has thought fit to attack Mr. _Hoadley_ (since a Bishop)
in the way of Banter: His _Best Answer ever was made, and to which no
Answer will ever be made_, is by his own Confession a _Farce_; when he
says in his _Preface_, "If you ask why I treat this Subject by way of
_farce_, and shew a little Merriment sometimes? it was because the
Foundation you stand upon is not only _false_ but _ridiculous_, and ought
to be treated with the _utmost Contempt_."

Again, in his "_Finishing Stroke, in defence of_ his _Rehearsals, Best
Answer, and Best of all_," he gives us (_p._ 125.) what he calls, "A
Battle-Royal between three Cocks of the Game, _Higden_, _Hoadley_, and a
_Hottentot_;" which in the _Contents_ he calls _A Farce_, and to which he
joins both a _Prologue_ and _Epilogue_, and divers other Particulars, all
taken from the _Play-house_.

The Reverend Mr. _Matthias Earbery_ sets up for a great Satirist and Drole
upon the swearing and Low-Church Clergy, in numerous Pamphlets of late,
more particularly in his "_Serious Admonition to Dr._ Kennet: To which is
added, a short but complete Answer to Mr. _Marshal_'s late Treatise
called, _A Defence of our Constitution in Church and State_; and a
Parallel is drawn between him and Dr. _Kennet_, for the Satisfaction of
the unprejudic'd Reader."

He has a bantering Argument [115] to shew, that, "If in future Ages Mr.
_Marshal_'s Book should escape the just Judgment it deserves, of being
condemn'd to the _Pastry-Cooks_ and _Grocers_, an industrious Chronologist
might make an Observation to prove him too young to write it."

The _Parallel_ is in _Pag._ 126, which being very gross _Raillery_, I only
refer you to it.

This Mr. _Earbery_ also wrote a _Letter to Bishop_ Fleetwood, under the
Title of "A Letter to the Bishop of _Ely_, upon the Occasion of his
_suppos'd_ late _Charge_, said to be deliver'd at _Cambridge August_ 7,
1716, _&c._" in which he pursues the Ironical Scheme laid down in the said
Title, and endeavours to _vindicate_ his _Lordship from the Aspersion of
writing such a mean Pamphlet_, as the _Charge_.

Nor do these _Jacobites_ confine their Drollery to their Adversaries
without, but exercise it on one another, as may be seen in their late
Dispute about King _Edward the Sixth_'s Liturgy. And Mr. _Lesley_ himself,
happening to engage on the side opposite to the Traditions of the Fathers,
and attacking those Traditions by Low-Church Notions and Arguments, and
thereby running counter to all his former Books, is attack'd just in the
same manner he attack'd Bishop _Burnet_, in a Book under this Title, "Mr.
_Lesley_'s Defence, from some erroneous and dangerous Principles, advanced
in a Letter said to have been written concerning the New Separation." And
it has several Paragraphs at the beginning in the very words of one of Mr.
_Lesley_'s Books against the said Bishop, as may be seen on Comparison.

XVI. _Christ-Church_ in _Oxford_ is no less famous for the _Drolling_,
than for the _Orthodox_ Spirit reigning there; and the former, being
judged an excellent Method to support the latter, is cultivated among the
Youth, and employ'd by the Members of that Society against all the
supposed Adversaries of the Church, and encourag'd by the governing
Ecclesiasticks there and elsewhere.

Among the many, who have receiv'd their Education there, and been form'd
in Drollery, I will only instance in the Reverend Dr. _Atterbury_ and Dr.
_South_; who being as famous for _Drollery_ as for Zeal for Religion, and
applauded for their _Wit_ no less than for their _Orthodoxy_; and
particularly for imploying the former in behalf of the latter, seem of
sufficient Weight to bear down all Attempts to stifle their Productions.
What Considerations can make us amends for the Loss of such excellent
_drolling Writings_, which promote Religion as well as Mirth?

With what incomparable Mockery, Ridicule and Sarcasm does Dr. _Atterbury_
treat all the Low-Church Clergy that come in his way, together with the
_Whig_ Ministry and Administration in his several _Convocational Tracts_?
Dr. _Wake_, our present Archbishop of _Canterbury_, is represented by him
as writing so _contumeliously_ [116] of the Clergy, _that had he not
inform'd us in his Title Page who he was, we should rather have guess'd
him to have been of the Cabal against Priests and Priestcraft, than one of
the Order_; and as wholly govern'd by [117] _Interest_ in the _Debate_,
and as giving us a most [118] _shallow empty Performance_ in relation to
our Ecclesiastical Constitution, which he [119] _has done his best to
undermine_, as knowing himself to be in the wrong; and as _deserving_ any
Name or Censure, none being _too bad to be bestow'd_ on him; and in fine,
as _the least of the little officious Pens by which he expects to be

Dr. _Bentley_ is represented as _wrote out of Reputation into Preferment_;
which, whether it be a more severe Sarcasm on the Doctor, than on the
Government, is hard to determine; and besides, it gives Applause to one of
the most drolling and bantering Performances that this drolling Age has
produc'd, I mean _Dr._ Bentley_'s Dissertations on the Epistles of_
Phalaris, _and the Fables of_ Æsop, _examin'd_.

Bishop _Burnet_ is a standing Subject of Ridicule with him; as are Bishop
_Nicholson_, Bishop _Kennet_, Bishop _Gibson_, Bishop _Trimnel_ [to whom
he writes a most drolling [120] Letter] and Dr. _West_; and all the
Topicks that can affect them as Scholars, as honest Men, and Clergymen,
are imploy'd to render them ridiculous, and set the World a laughing at
them, who are not in the least spar'd for their being of the Holy Order;
but on the contrary seem more loaded and baited with Sarcasms for that

For a _Specimen_, take this Banter or Burlesque upon Bishop _Kennet_'s
Dedication of his _Ecclesiastical Synods and Parliamentary Convocations_,
&c. to the Archbishop of _Canterbury_; which Banter runs thus[121].

     "_May it please your Grace_,

     "Mr. _Atterbury_ has lately forc'd a Dedication upon you, which
     favours too much of Presumption or Design; he has presum'd to
     surprize you with an unexpected Address, and appears very indecently
     before your Grace, because he has taken no care to express upon this
     Subject a due Respect and Reverence to the Governors in Church and
     State, such as is suitable to the Christian Religion, and his
     particular Function: The Reports and Authorities in his Book are
     Fruits of other Mens Collections, not the immediate Effects of his
     own Searches into _Registers_ and _Records_; he imperiously summons
     your Grace and my Lords the Bishops to an immediate Compliance upon
     pain of being pronounc'd Betrayers of the Church----This, my Lord, is
     the Character of the Person _I set up_ against; but as for me, I am
     quite another sort of Man, I am very well bred, a great Antiquary,
     beholden to no body, _some Wits and merry Folks call me a Tool and a
     Play-thing_ (_Pref. p._ 8.) But I assure your Grace, that what
     Freedom soever I may have taken in taxing the Vices of the inferior
     _Clergy_, (_p._ 77. 188.) and in reflecting _upon the ambitious
     Designs of dignify'd Presbyters_ (_p._ 196.); yet _I am however
     tender and dutiful in treating the Governors of our Church_ (p. 78.);
     especially _those of them who are of the Ecclesiastical Commission
     for Preferments_, (p. 311). I have a very great Respect and Reverence
     for every body that will give me any thing; and how resolute soever
     Mr. _Atterbury_ may be, your Grace may do what you please with

     _Your Grace's most humble_

     _and obedient Servant_,


But for _Drollery_, the Reverend Dr. _South_ outdoes even _Christ-Church_,
and fills all his Performances with it, and throws it out against the
Enemies of the Church, and in particular against the late Dr. _Sherlock_,
whom he thought fit to single out. I shall select some Passages from his
Writings against the said Doctor, which cannot but entertain the
High-Church Orthodox Reader, and reconcile him to a _Drollery_ so well

He stiles him _a great good Man, as a certain poor Wretch_, meaning
_Prior, calls him_.

Again, he says[122], "There is hardly any one Subject which he (that is
Dr. _Sherlock_) has wrote upon Popery excepted, that he has wrote both
for it and against it. Could any thing be more sharp and bitter against
the Dissenters than what this Man wrote in his _Answer_ to the _Protestant
Reconciler_; and yet how frankly, or rather fulsomly does he open both his
Arms to embrace them in his Sermon preach'd before the Lord Mayor on
_November_ 4, 1688. Tho I dare say, that the Dissenters themselves are of
that Constancy, as to own that they were of the same Principles in 88 that
they were of in 85; but the Truth is, old Friendships cannot be so easily
forgot: And it has been an Observation made by some, that hardly can any
one be found, who was first tainted with a Conventicle, whom a Cathedral
could ever after cure, but that still upon every cross turn of Affairs
against the _Church_, the irresistible _Magnetism_ of the _Good Old Cause_
(as some still think it) would quickly draw him out of the _Good Old Way_.
The Fable tells us of a _Cat_ once turn'd into a _Woman_, but the next
sight of a _Mouse_ quickly dissolv'd the _Metamorphosis_, cashier'd the
Woman, and restor'd the Brute. And some _Virtuosi_ (skill'd in the _useful
Philosophy_ of _Alterations_) have thought her much a Gainer by the latter
Change, there being so many unlucky Turns in the World, in which it is not
half so safe and advantageous to _walk upright_, as to be _able to fall
always upon one's Legs_."

Again, Dr. _South_ says[123], "When I consider how wonderfully pleas'd the
Man is with these two new started Terms (_Self-consciousness_ and _mutual
Consciousness_) so high in Sound and so empty of Sense, instead of one
substantial word (_Omniscience_) which gives us all that can be pretended
useful in them, with vast Overplus and Advantage, and even swallows them
up, as _Moses_'s Rod did those pitiful Tools of the _Magicians_: This (I
say) brings to my mind (whether I will or no) a certain Story of a grave
Person, who riding in the Road with his Servant, and finding himself
something uneasy in his Saddle, bespoke his Servant thus: _John_ (says he)
_alight, and first take off the Saddle that is upon my Horse, and then
take off the Saddle that is upon your Horse; and when you have done this,
put the Saddle that was upon my Horse, upon your Horse; and put the Saddle
that was upon your Horse, upon my Horse_. Whereupon the Man, who had not
studied the Philosophy of Saddles (whether _Ambling_ or _Trotting_) so
exactly as his Master, replies something short upon him; _Lord, Master,
what need all these words? Could you not as well have said, Let us change
Saddles?_ Now I must confess, I think the Servant was much in the right;
tho the Master having a _rational Head of his own_, and being withal
willing to make the _Notion_ of _changing_ Saddles more _plain_, _easy_
and _intelligible_, and to give a clearer Explication of that word (which
his Forefathers, how good _Horsemen_ soever they might have been, yet were
_not equally happy in explaining of_) was pleas'd to set it forth by that
more full and accurate Circumlocution."

He says[124], _The Author_, Dr. _Sherlock, is no doubt a_ Grecian _in his
Heart_! And the tenth Chapter of the _Animadversions_ is one continued
Banter upon the _Dean_ for his Ignorance in _Greek_ and _Latin_, and even
his Inability to spell: All which he _closes_ with saying, "That St.
_Paul_'s _School_ is certainly an excellent School, and St. _Paul_'s
Church a most noble Church; and therefore he thinks that he directs his
Course very prudently, and happily too, who in his Passage to such a
_Cathedral_, takes a School in his way."

Again, he says[125], "He cannot see any new Advantage that the Dean has
got over the _Socinians_, unless it be, that the Dean thinks his _three
Gods_ will be too hard for their _one_."

After citing several Scurrilities of the Dean[126], (who it must be
confess'd, appears therein a great Banterer also of Dr. _South_ and his
Performance) the Dr. says, "These, with several more of the like
_Gravel-Lane_ Elegancies, are all of them such peculiar Strictures of the
Dean's _Genius_, that he might very well spare his Name, where he had made
himself so well known by his Mark; for all the foregoing
_Oyster-Wive-Kennel-Rhetorick_ seems so naturally to flow from him, who
had been so long Rector of St. _Botolph_ (with the well-spoken
_Billingsgate_ under his Care) that (as much a Teacher as he was) it may
well be question'd, whether he has learn'd more from his Parish, than his
Parish from him.--All favours of the Porter, the Carman, and the Waterman;
and a pleasant Scene it must be to see the _Master of the Temple_ laying
about him in the Language of the Stairs."

To the Dean's Scoff, that _this Argument_, &c. _was worth its weight in
Gold, tho the_ Dean _fears it will not much enrich the Buyer_, the Doctor
replies[127], "What is that to him? Let him mind his own Markets, who
never writes to _enrich the Buyer_ but the Seller; and that _Seller_ is
himself: and since he is so, well is it for his Books and his Bookseller
too, that Men generally _buy_ before they _read_."

In requital of the scurrilous Character of an _ingenious Blunderer_, Dr.
_South_ says[128], "He must here return upon him the just Charge of an
_impious Blasphemer_, and that upon more Accounts than one; telling him
withal, that had he liv'd in the former Times of the Church, his Gown
would have been stript off his Back for his detestable Blasphemies and
Heresies, and some other Place found out for him to perch in than the Top
of St. _Paul's_, where at present he is placed like a true Church
Weather-Cock, (as he is) notable for nothing so much, as _standing high
and turning round_."

Again, he says[129], "And so I take my leave of the Dean's _three distinct
infinite Minds, Spirits_, or _Substances_, that is to say, of his _three
Gods_; and having done this, methinks I see him go whimpering away with
his Finger in his Eye, and the Complaint of _Micah_ in his Mouth, _Ye have
taken away my Gods which I made, and what have I more_[130]? Tho he must
confess, he cannot tell why he should be so fond of them, since he dares
undertake that he will never be able to bring the Christian World either
to believe in, or to worship a _Trinity of Gods_: Nor does he see what use
they are likely to be of, even to himself, unless peradventure to _swear

Again, the Doctor says[131], "The Dean's following Instruction to his
Friend is certainly very diverting, in these words, where the Animadverter
charges the Dean with Absurdities and Contradictions; turn to the Place
and read it with its Context, and tell me what you cannot answer, and I
will; to which he would have done well to have added, _If I can_. But the
whole Passage is just as if he had said, Sir, if you find not
Contradictions and Absurdities enough in my Book to satisfy your Curiosity
that way, pray come to the Fountain-head, and consult me, and you shall be
sure of a more plentiful Supply."

Again, upon the Dean's "Frequent reproaching the [132] Animadverter with
the Character of a _Wit_, tho join'd with such ill-favour'd Epithets, as
his witless Malice has thought fit to degrade it with, as that he is _a
spiteful Wit_, a _wrangling Wit_, a _satirical Wit_, and the WITTY,
_subtle_, _good-natur'd Animadverter, &c._ the Dr. says, that tho there be
but little _Wit_ shewn in making such Charges; yet if _Wit_ be a
_Reproach_ (be it of what sort it will) the Animadverter is too _just_ to
return this _Reproach_ upon the _Defender_; and withal, understands
himself, and what becomes him, too well, either to _assume_ to himself, or
so much as to _admit_ the Character of a _Wit_, as at all due to him;
especially since he knows that _common Sense_ (a thing much short of Wit)
is enough to enable him to deal with such an Adversary. Nevertheless,
there are many in the World, who are both call'd and accounted _Wits_, and
really are so; which (one would think) should derive something of Credit
upon this Qualification, even in the Esteem of this Author himself, or at
least rebate the Edge of his Invectives against it, considering that it
might have pleas'd God to have made him a _Wit_ too."

XVII. As things now stand, it may easily be seen, that Prosecutions for
_Raillery_ and _Irony_ would not be relish'd well by the Publick, and
would probably turn to the Disreputation and Disgrace of the Prosecutor.

Archbishop _Laud_ has always been much censur'd for his malicious
Prosecution of _Williams_ in the _Star-Chamber_; among whose Crimes I find
the following laid to his Charge: [133] _That he said all Flesh in_
England _had corrupted their Ways_; that _he call'd a Book intitled_, A
Coal from the Altar (written by Dr. _Heylin_, for placing the
Communion-Table at the East-end of the Church, and railing it in) _a
Pamphlet_; that he _scoffingly said, that he had heard of a Mother Church,
but not of a Mother Chapel, meaning the King's, to which all Churches in
Ceremony ought to conform_; that _he wickedly jested on St._ Martin_'s
Hood_; that _he said the People ought not to be lash'd by every body's
Whip_; that _he said_, (citing _a National Council for it_) _that the
People are God's and the King's, and not the Priest's People; and that he
doth not allow Priests to jeer and make Invectives against the People_.
And I humbly conceive, that such Matters had much better be suffer'd to go
on in the World, and take their Course, than that Courts of Judicature
should be employ'd about them. A Sentence that imply'd some _Clergymen_
corrupt, as well as some _Laymen_, of whom _Laud_ would only allow to have
it said, that they had _corrupted their Ways_; a _Jest_ upon St.
_Martin_'s _Hood_, which, according to Ecclesiastical History, _cur'd sore
Eyes_; and a _Ridicule_ upon a High-Church Book of _Heylin_'s, by calling
it a Pamphlet, tho it was really a Pamphlet, as consisting of but seventy
Pages in Quarto; seem less _wicked_ and hurtful than disturbing, fining,
and undoing Men about them. And the having some Concern for the People,
that they should not be used as the Priest pleas'd; that the _People_
belong to _God_ and the _King_, and _not to the Priest_; and the _not
allowing_ the _Priests_ to _jeer and make Invectives against the People_;
seem all Errors fit to be born with.

Archbishop _Laud_ was also thought guilty of an excessive Piece of
Weakness in the Punishment of [134] _Archibald_ the King's Fool, by laying
the Matter before the Privy-Council, and occasioning him to be expell'd
the King's House for a poor _Jest_ upon himself; who, as he was a Man at
the Head of the State, should have despis'd such a thing in any Body, much
more in a _Fool_, and who should never have been hurried on to be the
Instrument of any _Motion_ against him, but have left it to others; who
upon the least Intimation would have been glad to make their court to
_Laud_, by sacrificing a _Fool_ only to his Resentment.

XVIII. I could have entertain'd the Reader with a great Variety of
Passages out of the Fathers of the Church, whose Writings are Magazines of
Authority, and urg'd upon us upon all Occasions by Ecclesiasticks, and are
particularly full of _Burlesque_ and _Ridicule_ on the _Gods and Religion_
of the _Pagans_; in the use whereof they are much more unanimous, than in
the Articles of their _Creed_. But that being a Subject too great and
extensive for a Digression, I shall content my self with the few following
Reflections; which will sufficiently evince, that the _Taste_ of the
Primitive Christians was like that of the rest of the World; that they
could laugh and be as merry as the _Greeks_ and other _Pagans_; and that
they would take the Advantage of the _Pagans_ weak Cause, to introduce
_Ridicule_, which always bears hard upon Weakness and Folly, and must load
them so as to prevent a Possibility of their being remov'd by another

These Fathers have transfused into their Writings all the Wit and Raillery
of the antient _Pagan_ Writers and Philosophers; who it is well known
wrote a great deal to turn _Paganism_ into Ridicule; most of which now
exists no where but in the Works of the Fathers; all Books of that kind
being lost, except _Cicero_'s Books of _the Nature of Gods_, and of
_Divination_, and the Dialogues of _Lucian_; both which Authors have been
of great use to the _Fathers_ to set them up for _Wits_, _Droles_, and
_Satirists_. For a Specimen how well these antient _Pagans_ could _drole_,
and how much beholden we are to the Fathers for recording their
Drolleries, the most remarkable, I think, are some _Fragments_ of a Book
of _Oenomaus_ concerning the _Pagan Oracles_, cited and preserv'd by [135]
_Eusebius_; who has given us occasion to [136] _regret_ the loss of this
Work, as one of the most valuable Books written by the Antients on the
Subject of _Oracles_, tho those Books were _very numerous_. And it is to
be observ'd, that this Book and a great many, perhaps a [137] thousand
more, were publish'd in _Greece_, where the Imposture of _Oracles_ greatly
prevail'd, and great Wealth flow'd in, not only to the Priests of the
_Oracular Temples_, but to all the Inhabitants of _Greece_, and especially
to those who lived in the Neighbourhood of the several _Oracular
Temples_; who made a great Profit from the rich Travellers, that came from
all Parts of the World to know their Fortunes. This shews the great
Integrity and Fairness of the old _Pagans_; who would suffer not only
their supposed standing Revelation to be call'd in question, but a
Revelation that brought in as much Money, as the Chapels, Churches, and
Shrines dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, or to any of the Saints, do in
the _Roman_ Church, without calling any Man to Account for the Liberties
they took; who, as far as appears, were not expos'd [138] _to any Danger_
thereby. It is also to be observ'd, that the merry [139] _Epicureans were
none of them ever prosecuted_, and _that_ Epicurus _himself died quietly
at_ Athens _in a very great old Age_.

But the Book, which the Fathers made the most use of, was that arch, fly,
and drolling Performance, now lost, of _Evemerus_, which he intitled, _A
sacred History_: wherein he gave an _historical Account_ of the _Birth_,
_Country_, _Lives_, _Deaths_, and _Burials_ of the _Gods_. This Work was
translated into _Latin_ by that arch Wag _Ennius_, who himself has most
ingeniously _ridicul'd_ several Impostors or very grave Persons, in a
remarkable Piece of Poetry, which I shall give my Reader in _English_.

  "_I value not a Rush the_ Marsian _Augur,_
  "_Nor Country-Fortune Tellers, nor Town-Star-Gazers,_
  "_Nor jugling Gypsies, nor yet Dream-Interpreters:_
  "_For, not by Skill or Art, are these Diviners;_
  "_But superstitious Prophets, Guessers impudent,_
  "_Or idle Rogues, or craz'd, or mere starving Beggars._
  "_They know no way themselves, yet others would direct;_
  "_And crave a Groat of those, to whom they promise Riches:_
  "_Thence let them take the Groat, and give back all the rest._

XIX. Wherefore I cannot but presume, that an Attempt to make a _Law_ to
restrain _Irony_, &c. would prove abortive, and that the Attempt would be
deem'd the Effect of a very partial Consideration of things, and of
present Anger at a poor Jest; which Men are not able to bear themselves,
how much soever they abound in _Jests_, both of the _light_ and _cruel_
kind, on others: tho for my own part I concur heartily with you in
_making_ such a _Law_, and in leaving it to a Person of your _Equity_ to
draw it up, craving only the Liberty to propose an Amendment or Addition,
_viz._ that you would be pleas'd to insert a Clause to prevent _Irony_,
_Ridicule_, and _Banter_, from invading the Pulpit, and particularly to
prevent pointing out _Persons of Men_ [140] from thence, and reviling
them, as also reviling whole Bodies of Men: For whatever is immoral in
Print, is, in my Opinion, immoral in the Pulpit. Besides, these things
seem more improper in the Pulpit, than they can be in Print: because no
_Reprisals_ can be made in the former, as in the latter Case; where they,
or the Fear of them, may give some Check to the Disorder, and reduce
things to a tolerable Temper and Decency. If, in order to justify my
Motion, it could be thought necessary or proper here to give a Detail of
ridiculing and ironical Passages, taken from Sermons against particular
Men, and Bodies of Men, and their Doctrines, you cannot but know how easy
it would be to fill a Volume with them, without going to Authors, who have
occasionally produc'd abundance of them. And I will only mention here a
Passage in a _Volume of Sermons_, just now publish'd, of a well known
_High Divine_, the Reverend Mr. _William Reeves_, made famous by his
_Translation_ of some _Apologies of the Primitive Fathers_, which gain'd
him the Applauses of a great many _High Men_, and particularly _Hickes_,
_Dodwel_, and _Nelson_, &c. and a Recommendation from the last to the
Queen, who in the latter end of her Reign made him _Chaplain in Ordinary_,
and obtain'd for him a considerable Preferment. This Gentleman, attacking
Bishop _Hoadley_'s _Sermon_ of _The Kingdom of Christ_, says[141], "In
these last Days we have been taught to be as indolent and unconcern'd as
possible in the Service of God: A noted _Novellist_ [Bp. _Hoadley_] among
many other odd _Engines_, hath invented one, to pump out all Devotion from
Prayer, and make it a _Vacuum_. Instead of the old fervent, affectionate
way of Worshipping, he hath substituted a new Idol, a Vanity, a Nothing of
his own, _a calm and undisturb'd Address to God_.----The _Arrows_ and
_bitter Words_ Mr. _Hales_ hath levell'd against _Rome_ only, our Right
Reverend hath _pointed a-new_, and shot them full against the Church he
superintends, and with all the Force of inbred, fanatick Fury. And by this
time surely it is well known, that he is a very _warm Man_ in every thing,
but his _Prayers_."

XX. Instead of addressing the foregoing Papers to you, I could have
address'd them to several others; who of late have thought fit to
recognize the Right of Men, to examine into, and judge for themselves in
all Matters of speculation, and especially in Matters of mere Religion,
and to publish their Reasons against any Opinions they judge erroneous,
tho publickly receiv'd in the Country where they live, provided they do it
_seriously_ and _gravely_: which is a noble Progress in Truth, and owing
to that glorious Liberty, and Freedom of Debate, that we enjoy under our
most excellent Princes; and which extorts it even from them, who, to have
some Credit in the World, are forced to own, what would discredit them to
go on to deny, among all who have any degree of _Virtue_, _Sense_, and
_Learning_. But I was determin'd to address my self to you, as a Person of
more remarkable _Moderation_ than ordinary in your _Letter_ to Dr.
_Rogers_: And one, who had, long before, in your _Defence of the
Constitution in Church and State; in answer to the Charge of the
Nonjurors, accusing us of Heresy and Schism, Perjury and Treason_, "valu'd
[142] and commended the Integrity of the Nonjurors in declaring their
Sentiments:" and who, tho you justly charge those of them you write
against, "as attacking us with such uncommon Marks of Violence [143] as
most plainly intimate, that no Measures are intended to be kept with us by
them in the Day of their Prosperity, who in the Day of their Adversity,
even when they are most at Mercy, cannot refrain from such _raging_
Provocations; but when reduced to the Necessity of _taking_ Quarter,
profess most plainly they will never give it:" Yet as to these Enemies,
who would destroy our Church and State, and [144] "revive upon us the
Charge of _Heresy_ and _Schism_, _Perjury_ and _Treason_, Crimes of no
small figure either in the Law or in the Gospel," you only say, that "if
you may have leave to borrow a Thought from [145] one of their own most
celebrated Writers, you would tell them, that _the Blood and Spirits were
made to rise upon such Occasions_: Nature design'd not, that we should be
cold or indifferent in our manner of receiving, or returning, such foul
Reproaches." This is great Moderation, and such as I heartily approve,
being dispos'd to forgive the Punishment due by Law to any Fault, when the
Non-execution of it will not overturn the Government. And I am willing to
hope, that since you can think that such bitter Adversaries to you, as
these licentious _Jacobites_ are, should only be smartly replied to, and
not be prosecuted by the Government, you will, upon Reflection, think,
that a merry, good humour'd Adversary should be treated as well.

Tho I have endeavour'd to defend the Use of _Ridicule_ and _Irony_, yet it
is such _Irony_ and _Ridicule_ only as is fit for polite Persons to use.
As to the gross _Irony_ and _Ridicule_, I disapprove of it, as I do other
Faults in Writing; only I would not have Men punish'd, or any other way
disturb'd about it, than by a Return of _Ridicule_ and _Irony_. This I
think fit to conclude with, more to prevent Misrepresentation from others,
than from you; whom I look on to have too much Sense and Integrity to
mistake or misrepresent me.

_I am Yours, &c._








16. Henry Nevil Payne, _The Fatal Jealousie_ (1673).

18. Anonymous, "Of Genius," in _The Occasional Paper_, Vol. III, No. 1
(1719), and Aaron Hill, Preface to _The Creation_ (1720).


19. Susanna Centlivre, _The Busie Body_ (1709).

20. Lewis Theobald, _Preface to the Works of Shakespeare_ (1734).

22. Samuel Johnson, _The Vanity of Human Wishes_ (1749), and two _Rambler_
papers (1750).

23. John Dryden, _His Majesties Declaration Defended_ (1681).


26. Charles Macklin, _The Man of the World_ (1792).


31. Thomas Gray, _An Elegy Wrote in a Country Churchyard_ (1751), and _The
Eton College Manuscript_.


41. Bernard Mandeville, _A Letter to Dion_ (1732).


104. Thomas D'Urfey, _Wonders in the Sun; or, The Kingdom of the Birds_


110. John Tutchin, _Selected Poems_ (1685-1700).

111. Anonymous, _Political Justice_ (1736).

112. Robert Dodsley, _An Essay on Fable_ (1764).

113. T. R., _An Essay Concerning Critical and Curious Learning_ (1698).

114. _Two Poems Against Pope:_ Leonard Welsted, _One Epistle to Mr. A.
Pope_ (1730), and Anonymous, _The Blatant Beast_ (1742).


115. Daniel Defoe and others, _Accounts of the Apparition of Mrs. Veal_.

116. Charles Macklin, _The Covent Garden Theatre_ (1752).

117. Sir George L'Estrange, _Citt and Bumpkin_ (1680).

118. Henry More, _Enthusiasmus Triumphatus_ (1662).

119. Thomas Traherne, _Meditations on the Six Days of the Creation_

120. Bernard Mandeville, _Aesop Dress'd or a Collection of Fables_ (1704).


123. Edmond Malone, _Cursory Observations on the Poems Attributed to Mr.
Thomas Rowley_ (1782).

124. Anonymous, _The Female Wits_ (1704).

125. Anonymous, _The Scribleriad_ (1742). Lord Hervey, _The Difference
Between Verbal and Practical Virtue_ (1742).


129. Lawrence Echard, Prefaces to _Terence's Comedies_ (1694) and
_Plautus's Comedies_ (1694).

130. Henry More, _Democritus Platonissans_ (1646).

132. Walter Harte, _An Essay on Satire, Particularly on the Dunciad_


133. John Courtenay, _A Poetical Review of the Literary and Moral
Character of the Late Samuel Johnson_ (1786).

134. John Downes, _Roscius Anglicanus_ (1708).

135. Sir John Hill, _Hypochondriasis, a Practical Treatise_ (1766).

136. Thomas Sheridan, _Discourse ... Being Introductory to His Course of
Lectures on Elocution and the English Language_ (1759).

137. Arthur Murphy, _The Englishman From Paris_ (1736).

138. [Catherine Trotter], _Olinda's Adventures_ (1718).

Publications of the first fifteen years of the Society (numbers 1-90) are
available in paperbound units of six issues at $16.00 per unit, from the
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139. John Ogilvie, _An Essay on the lyric poetry of the ancients_ (1762).
Introduction by Wallace Jackson.

140. _A Learned Dissertation on Dumpling_ (1726) and _Pudding burnt to pot
or a compleat key to the Dissertation on Dumpling_ (1727). Introduction by
Samuel L. Macey.

141. Selections from Sir Roger L'Estrange's _Observator_ (1681-1687).
Introduction by Violet Jordain.

142. Anthony Collins, _A Discourse concerning Ridicule and Irony in
writing_ (1729). Introduction by Edward A. Bloom and Lillian D. Bloom.

143. _A Letter from a clergyman to his friend, with an account of the
travels of Captain Lemuel Gulliver_ (1726). Introduction by Martin

144. _The Art of Architecture, a poem. In imitation of Horace's Art of
poetry_ (1742). Introduction by William A. Gibson.


Gerard Langbaine, _An Account of the English Dramatick Poets_ (1691),
Introduction by John Loftis. 2 Volumes. Approximately 600 pages. Price to
members of the Society, $7.00 for the first copy (both volumes), and $8.50
for additional copies. Price to non-members, $10.00.

Already published in this series:

1. John Ogilby, _The Fables of Aesop Paraphras'd in Verse_ (1668), with an
Introduction by Earl Miner. 228 pages.

2. John Gay, _Fables_ (1727, 1738), with an Introduction by Vinton A.
Dearing. 366 pages.

3. _The Empress of Morocco and Its Critics_ (Elkanah Settle, _The Empress
of Morocco_ [1673] with five plates; _Notes and Observations on the
Empress of Morocco_ [1674] by John Dryden, John Crowne and Thomas
Snadwell; _Notes and Observations on the Empress of Morocco Revised_
[1674] by Elkanah Settle; and _The Empress of Morocco. A Farce_ [1674] by
Thomas Duffett), with an Introduction by Maximillian E. Novak. 348 pages.

4. _After THE TEMPEST_ (the Dryden-Davenant version of _The Tempest_
[1670]; the "operatic" _Tempest_ [1674]; Thomas Duffett's _Mock-Tempest_
[1675]; and the "Garrick" _Tempest_ [1756]), with an Introduction by
George Robert Guffey. 332 pages.

Price to members of the Society, $3.50 for the first copy of each title,
and $4.25 for additional copies. Price to non-members, $5.00. Standing
orders for this continuing series of Special Publications will be
accepted. British and European orders should be addressed to B. H.
Blackwell, Broad Street, Oxford, England.


[28] _Page_ 337.

[29] _Pag._ 302.

[30] _Page_ 301.

[31] _Pag._ 307.

[32] Stillingfleet's _Answer to several late Treatises_, &c. _Page_ 14.

[33] _Pag._ 71.

[34] Vindication of the Answer to the Royal Papers. _p._ 105.

[35] _Preface to_ Unreasonableness of Separation. _p._ 62.

[36] Rule's _Rational Defence_ of Nonconf. _p._ 29.

[37] _Preface to_ Stillingfleet _still against_ Stillingfleet.

[38] _Preface to a Discourse of_ Miracles wrote in the _Roman_ Church,

[39] See _Stillingfleet_'s Second Vind. of the Protestant Grounds of
Faith, _c._ 3.

[40] _Edwards's_ New Discov. _p._ 184-215.

[41] _Ecclesiast. Hist._ cent. 8. _p._ 196.

[42] Vind. _p._ 199.

[43] _See_ Shaftesbury's _Characteristicks_, Vol. I. p. 61.

[44] Memoirs de Trevoux, _An._ 1707. _p._ 396. _An._ 1717. _p._ 1200.

[45] _Trapp_'s Popery truly stated, _p._ 123.

[46] _Preface._

[47] _Heylin_'s History of the Presbyterians, _p._ 391.

[48] _Wotton_ on the _Misna_, p. 118.

[49] _Freeholder_, Nº 30.

[50] _Freeholder_, Numb. xlv.

[51] _See_ Cicero de Officiis, _l._ 1. _c._ 30.

[52] _See_ Patrick_'s Friendly Debate_, Part 1, _p._ 139-141. 5_th Edit._

[53] _Preface to_ The State of the Roman Catholick Religion, _p._ 11.

[54] De Divin. l. 2. c. 25.

[55] _Rog. Hoveden_, Pars ii. p. 520.

[56] 1 _Kings_ xviii.

[57] _Psalm_ ii. 4.

[58] _Gen._ iii. 22.

[59] Archæolog. Philos. _l._ 2. _c._ 7.

[60] Shaftesbury _in Charact._ Vol. 3. _and_ Whitchcot_'s Sermons_: Vol.

[61] Shaftesbury's _Characteristicks_, Vol. I. p. 71.

[62] _Page_ 307.

[63] _How useful_ Lestrange_'s_ Observators, _which were design'd to
expose the Dissenters to Contempt and Persecution, were deem'd to the
Church at the time they were publish'd, may be judged of by Bp._ Burnet,
_who says_ [_in his_ Eighteen Papers, _p._ 90.] "_Another Buffoon was
hired to plague the Nation with three or four Papers a Week, which to the
Reproach of the Age in which we live, had but too great and too general
Effect, for poisoning the Spirits of the Clergy._"

[64] _In this Work the Dissenters and Low Churchmen are sufficiently
rally'd and abus'd, and particularly the_ Free-Thinkers, _whose_ Creed _is
therein represented as consisting of these two Negatives_, No Queen and no
God. _Examiners_, Vol. 3. p. 12.

_Mr._ Addison _tells us_ [Freeholder Nº. 19.] "_the_ Examiner _was the
favourite Work of the Party. It was usher'd into the World by a Letter
from a Secretary of State, setting forth the great Genius of the Author,
the Usefulness of his Design, and the mighty Consequences that were to be
expected from it. It is said to be written by those among them whom they
look'd upon as their most celebrated Wits and Politicians, and was
dispers'd into all Quarters of the Nation with great Industry and
Expence.----In this Paper all the great Men who had done eminent Services
to their Country, but a few Years before, were draughted out one by one,
and baited in their Turns. No Sanctity of Character, or Privilege of Sex
exempted Persons.----Several of our Prelates were the standing Marks of
publick Raillery._----"

[65] _In his_ Ecclesiastical Policy, _his_ Defence and Continuation
_thereof, and his_ Reproof to _Marvel_'s Rehearsal transpos'd.

[66] _In his_ Friendly Debates.

[67] _In his six Volumes of_ Sermons, _and in his_ Books _of the_ Trinity.

[68] _In his_ Discourse of the Knowledge of Christ, _&c. his_ Defences of
Dr. _Stillingfleet_'s Unreasonableness of Separation, _and his_ Answer _to
the_ Protestant Reconciler.

[69] _In his Translation of_ Dryden_'s_ Absalom _and_ Achitophel _into_
Latin _Verse, whereby he was first flush'd; and in his_ Convocational
Controversy, _and in his numerous State Libels_.

[70] _In his_ Sermons, Rights of the Church, _and especially his_
Character of a Low-Church-man, _drawn to abuse Bishop_ Floyd.

[71] _Of this, the Trials of_ Penn _and_ Mead _before_ Howel, _and of_
Baxter _before_ Jefferys, _are Master Pieces; of which last you have an
Account in_ Kennet_'s_ Compleat History of _England, Vol. 3d. and of the
former in_ the Phoenix, _Vol._ I.

[72] Snape_'s_ Vindication against _Pilloniere_. p. 50.

[73] _Id._ p. 63.

[74] _The Stage condemn'd_, p. 2.

[75] Popery truly stated, _p._ 127, 128.

[76] _Pag._ 75, 76, 77, 79, 81, 112, 113, 120, 122, 124, 125.

[77] _Sermons_, Vol. III. p. 299.

[78] Rule of Faith, _p._ 347, 348.

[79] See _p._ 57.

[80] _Pag._ 59.

[81] _Pag._ 57.

[82] Burnet_'s_ History of his own Times, _p._ 674.

[83] Ib. _p._ 792.

[84] Ibid. _p._ 740.

[85] Ibid. _p._ 683.

[86] _The Protestant Mouse speaks._

[87] _Boyer_'s Life of Queen _Anne_, in the Annual List of the Deaths,
_p._ 65.

[88] _A_ Clergyman _preach'd thus to his_ Auditory: _"You have_ Moses
_and_ Aaron _before you, and the Organs behind you, so are a happy People;
for what greater Comfort would mortal Men have?"_ See _Walker_'s
Sufferings, _&c. p._ 178.

[89] _See the Article_ Heylin, in _Wood_'s Athenæ Oxon.

[90] Burnet_'s Hist._ p. 100.

[91] _Characteristicks_, Vol. I. p. 259.

[92] Burnet. _ibid._

[93] Page 177.

[94] Burnet _p._ 95.

[95] Kennet_'s Register_, p. 258.

[96] _Ibid._ p. 516.

[97] Burnet_'s Hist._

[98] Kennet_'s Register_, p. 111.

[99] Burnet_'s History_, p. 107.

[100] _See the Bp. of_ Bangor_'s Preface to the_ Answer _to the_
Representation _of the Lower House of Convocation_.

[101] Ward_'s Life of Dr._ Henry More, _p._ 120.

[102] Ibid. _p._ 122.

[103] _See the several Lives of him._

[104] _Life lately printed_, 1726. p. 99.

[105] Burnet_'s Hist._ p. 95.

[106] Temple_'s Works_, Vol. II. p. 40.

[107] _Collection of authentick Records_, Vol. II. p. 1099.

[108] _Second Letter to the Bishop of_ London, _p._ 3, 4.

[109] _History_, p. 260.

[110] _Mat._ xxvi. 67, 68.

[111] Elwood_'s History of his own Life_, &c. _p._ 318.

[112] _Remarks on some late Sermons_, &c. _p._ 34.

[113] _Pag._ 52.

[114] _Answer to_ State of the Protestants in _Ireland_, &c. _p._ 108.

[115] _Pag._ 120, 121.

[116] _Preface_, p. 14.

[117] _Pag._ 11, 24.

[118] _Pag._ 1.

[119] _Pag._ 4, 11, 12, 13, 19.

[120] Appendix to Parliamentary Original, &c. _p._ 14.

[121] Some Remarks on the Temper of some late Writers, &c. _p._ 33.

[122] Preface to Animad. _p._ 12, 13.

[123] Animad. _p._ 114.

[124] Ibid. _p._ 332.

[125] Ibid. _p._ 348.

[126] Tritheism charged, _p._ 2, 3.

[127] Ib. _p._ 108.

[128] Ibid. _p._ 170.

[129] Ibid. _p._ 281.

[130] Judg. 18.24.

[131] Ib. _p._ 285.

[132] Ibid. _p._ 299.

[133] _Fuller_'s Church History, Cent. 17. B. 11. Sect. 89, Parag. 10.

[134] _Rushworth_, Part II. Vol. I. _p._ 471.

[135] _Prap. Evang._ l. 4. p. 209-234.

[136] Fontenelle, Historie des Oracles. I. Dissert. c. vii.

[137] Euseb. Id. l. 4.

[138] _Baltus_, Suite de la Reponse a l'His. des Oracles, _p._ 283.

[139] _Ibid._

[140] _Bp._ Hoadley_'s Answer to_ the Representation, _&c. Pref._ p. 12.

[141] _Page_ 91.

[142] _Page_ 2.

[143] _Page_ 1.

[144] _Page_ 4, 5.

[145] _Mr._ Collier.

Transcriber's Notes:

Passages in italics are indicated by _underscore_.

Additional spacing after some of the quotes is intentional to indicate
both the end of a quotation and the beginning of a new paragraph as
presented in the original text.

Long "s" has been modernized.

The inclusion of two footnotes numbered 53 in intentional to reflect the
original text.

Footnote placement in this text reflects the placement in the original,
either inside punctuation or spaced between words.

The following misprints have been corrected:
  "administred" corrected to "administered" (page i)
  "othodoxy" corrected to "orthodoxy" (page vi)
  "Trap's" corrected to "Trapp's" (page 12)
  "Rididicule" corrected to "Ridicule" (page 19)
  "ridiulons" corrected to "ridiculous" (page 63)
  "qustion" corrected to "question" (page 73)

Other than the corrections listed above, printer's inconsistencies in
spelling, punctuation, hyphenation, and ligature usage have been retained.

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