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Title: A Short View of the Immorality, and Profaneness of the English Stage - together with the Sense of Antiquity on this Argument
Author: Collier, Jeremy
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Short View of the Immorality, and Profaneness of the English Stage - together with the Sense of Antiquity on this Argument" ***

Transcriber's note: Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

The errata have been applied without further annotation. Otherwise no
attempt has been made to distinguish likely typographical errors from the
natural variability of 17th century orthography.

A few short phrases proved illegible on the scan: these are marked

The marginal notes have been changed to footnotes, marked thus [123].

       *       *       *       *       *




_Immorality, and Profaneness_


English Stage,


With the Sence of Antiquity
upon this Argument,


_London_, Printed for S. Keble at the _Turk's-Head_
in _Fleetstreet_, R. Sare at _Gray's-Inn-Gate_,
and H. Hindmarsh against the _Exchange_ in
_Cornhil_. 1698.



_Being convinc'd that nothing has gone farther in Debauching the Age than
the_ Stage Poets, _and_ Play-House, _I thought I could not employ my time
better than in writing against them. These Men sure_, take Vertue and
Regularity, _for_ great Enemies, _why else is their_ Disaffection _so very_
Remarkable? _It must be said, They have made their_ Attack _with great_
Courage, _and_ gain'd _no inconsiderable_ Advantage. _But it seems_
Lewdness without Atheism, _is but_ half their Business. Conscience _might
possibly recover, and_ Revenge _be thought on; and therefore like_
Foot-Pads, _they must not only_ Rob, _but_ Murther. _To do them right_
their Measures _are_ Politickly taken: _To make sure work on't, there's
nothing like_ Destroying of Principles; Practise _must_ follow _of_ Course.
_For to have_ no good Principles, _is to have_ no Reason to be Good. _Now
'tis not to be expected that people should_ check _their_ Appetites, _and_
balk _their_ Satisfactions, _they don't know why. If_ Virtue _has no_
Prospect, _'tis not worth the owning. Who would be_ troubled _with_
Conscience _if 'tis only a_ Bugbear, _and has nothing_ in't _but_ Vision,
_and the_ Spleen?

_My_ Collection _from the_ English Stage, _is much short of what_ They _are
able to furnish. An_ Inventory _of their_ Ware-House _would have been a
large_ Work: _But being afraid of over charging the_ Reader, _I thought a_
Pattern _might do_.

_In_ Translating _the_ Fathers, _I have endeavour'd to keep_ close _to
their_ Meaning: _However, in_ some few places, _I have taken the_ Liberty
of throwing in a Word or two; _To_ clear _the_ Sense, _to_ preserve _the_
Spirit _of the_ Original, _and keep the_ English _upon its Legs_.

_There's one thing more to acquaint the_ Reader _with; 'Tis that I have
Ventured to_ change _the_ Terms _of_ Mistress _and_ Lover, _for_ others
_somewhat more_ Plain, _but much more_ Proper. _I don't look upon This as
any_ failure _in_ Civility. _As_ Good _and_ Evil _are_ different _in_
Themselves, _so they ought to be_ differently Mark'd. _To_ confound _them
in_ Speech, _is the way to_ confound _them in_ Practise. Ill Qualities
_ought to have_ ill Names, _to prevent their being_ Catching. _Indeed_
Things _are in a great measure_ Govern'd _by_ Words: _To_ Guild _over a
foul_ Character, _serves only to perplex the_ Idea, _to encourage the_ Bad,
_and mislead the_ Unwary. _To treat_ Honour, _and_ Infamy _alike, is an_
injury _to_ Virtue, _and a sort of_ Levelling _in_ Morality. _I confess, I
have no_ Ceremony _for_ Debauchery. _For to_ Compliment Vice, _is but_ one
Remove _from_ worshipping _the_ Devil.

_March 5th. 1697/8._



  CHAP. I.

  _The Introduction._                                                Page 1

  _The_ Immodesty _of the_ Stage.                                      p. 3

  _The_ Ill Consequences _of this_ Liberty.                            p. 5

  Immodesty _a Breach_ of good Behaviour.                              p. 6

  _The_ Stage _faulty in this respect to a very_ Scandalous degree.    p. 8

  Modesty _the_ Character _of_ Women.                                  p. 9

  _The Natural_ Serviceableness _of this_ Quality.                    p. 11

  Immodesty _much more insufferable, under the_ Christian, _than
      under the_ Heathen _Religion_.                                  p. 14

  _The_ Roman, _and_ Greek Theatres _more_ inoffensive _than the_
      English.                                                        p. 15

  _This proved from_ Plautus.                                         Ibid.

  _From_ Terence.                                                     p. 20

  _From_ Seneca's Tragedies.                                          p. 25

  _The_ Comparison _carried on to the_ Theatre _at_ Athens.           Ibid.

  _A short_ Character _of_ Æschylus.                                  p. 26

  _The_ Cleaness _of his_ Expression.                                 p. 27

  _The_ Genius _and_ Conduct _of_ Sophocles.                          p. 28

  _The_ Sobriety _of his_ Plays.                                      p. 29

  Euripides'_s_ Character distinguished _from the two_ former.        p. 30

  _The_ Reserv'dness _of his_ Stile.                                  p. 31

  All _Humours not fit for_ Representation.                           p. 35

  _A_ Censure _of_ Aristophanes.                                      p. 36

  Aristophanes _his Testimony_ against himself.                       p. 48

                       { Ben. Johnson.                                p. 51
  _The Authorities of_ { Beaumont & Fletcher.                         p. 52
                       { _And_ Corneille.                             p. 53
                         _against the_ present Stage.


  The _Prophaneness_ of the _Stage_.

  _This_ Charge _prov'd upon them_,

  I. _By their_ Cursing _and_ Swearing.                               p. 57

  _The_ English Stage _formerly less hardy in this respect_.          Ibid.

  _The_ provokingness _of this Sin_.                                  p. 58

  _This Offence_ punishable _by_ Law, _and how far_.                  p. 59

  Swearing _in the_ Play House _an_ Un-Gentlemanly, _as well as an_
      Un-Christian practise.

  _A_ Second _Branch of the_ Profaness _of the_ Stage, _consisting in
      their Abuse of_ Religion, _and the_ Holy Scriptures.            p. 60

  _Instances of this Liberty in the_ Mock Astrologer.                   Ib.

  _In the_ Orphan.                                                    p. 62

  _In the_ Old Batchelour, _and_ Double Dealer.                   p. 63, 64

  _In_ Don Sebastian.                                                 p. 65

  _Breif Remarks upon a Passage or two in the_ Dedications _of_
      Aurenge Zebe, _and the_ Translation _of_ Juvenal.           p. 66, 69

  _Farther Instances of_ Profaneness _in_ Love Triumphant.            p. 72

  _In_ Love for Love.                                                 p. 74

  _In the_ provok'd Wife.                                             p. 77

  _And in the_ Relapse.                                               p. 78

  _The_ Horrid Impiety _of this_ Liberty.                             p. 80

  _The_ Stage _guilty of down right_ Blasphemy.

  _This_ Charge _made good from several of the_ Plays _above
      mention'd_.                                                     p. 82

  _The Comparative Regularity of the_ Heathen Stage, _exemplyfied in_
      Terence, _and_ Plautus.                                         p. 86

  _And in the_ Greek Tragedians.                                      p. 87

  Seneca _more exceptionable than the_ Greeks, _but not so faulty as
      the_ Modern Stage.                                              p. 94

  _This_ outraging _of_ Religion Intolerable.                         p. 95


  _The_ Clergy _abused by the_ Stage.                                 p. 98

  _This Usage both_ { _Unpresidented_.                               p. 112
              _And_ { _Unreasonable_.                                p. 127

  _The Misbehaviour of the_ Stage _upon this account_.               p. 138


  Immorality encouraged _by the_ Stage.                              p. 140

  _The_ Stage Poets _make_ Libertines _their_ Top-Characters, _and
      give them_ Success _in their_ Debauchery.                      p. 142

  _A_ Character _of their_ fine Gentleman.                           p. 143

  _Their_ fine Ladies _Accomplish'd much after the same manner_.     p. 146

  _The_ Young People _of_ Figure _in_ Plautus _and_ Terence, _have a
      greater regard to_ Morality.                                    Ibid.

  _The Defence in the_ Preface _to the_ Mock-Astrologer, _not
      sufficient_.                                                   p. 148

  _The_ Christian _Religion makes a great_ difference _in the Case_. p. 149

  Horace _of a Contrary Opinion to the_ Mock-Astrologer.             p. 150

  _The_ Mock-Astrologer's _Instances from_ Ben Johnson
      _Unserviceable_.                                               p. 151

  _The Authority of_ Shakespear _against the_ Mock-Astrologer.       p. 154

  _His_ Maxim _founded on the difference between_ Tragedy, _and_
      Comedy, _a_ Mistake.                                           p. 155

  Delight _not the Chief-End of_ Comedy.                             p. 157

  _This Assertion prov'd against the_ Mock-Astrologer _from the
      Testimonies of_ Rapin.                                          Ibid.

  _And_ Ben Johnson.                                                 p. 158

  Aristotle, _and_ Quintilian, _cited to the same purpose_      p. 159, 161

  _To make_ Delight _the main Business in_ Comedy, _dangerous, and
      unreasonable_.                                                 p. 162

  _The improper Conduct of the_ Stage _with respect to Poetry, and
      Ceremony_.                                                     p. 165

  _Extravagant Rants._                                               p. 167

  _Gingles in the_ Spanish Fryar, King Arthur, _and_ Love
      Triumphant.                                                    p. 169

  Women _roughly treated by the_ Stage.                              p. 171

  _Their coarse Usage of the_ Nobility.                              p. 173

  _These Freedoms peculiar to the_ English Stage.                    p. 175

  CHAP. V.

  SECT. I.

  _Remarks upon Amphytrion._                                         p. 177

  _The_ Machines _prophane, smutty, and out of the Character_.       p. 178

  _The singularity of the Poet in this point._                       p. 180

  _Blasphemy in Absalom and Achitophel._                             p. 184

  _A_ Poem _upon the Fall of the_ Angels, _call'd a Fairy way of
      Writing_.                                                      p. 189

  _The_ Punishment _of the_ Damned ridiculed.                        p. 192


  _Remarks on the_ Comical History _of_ Don Quixot.                  p. 196

  _The_ Poets horrible Prophaneness.                                 p. 197

  _His want of_ Modesty, _and_ Regard _to the_ Audience.             p. 202

  All _Imitations of Nature not proper for the_ Stage.               p. 204

  _The_ Poets _Talent in Raillery, and_ Dedication.                  p. 205


  _Remarks on the_ Relapse.                                          p. 209

  _A Misnommer in the Title of the_ Play.                            p. 210

  _The_ Moral _Vitious_.                                             p. 211

  _The_ Plot _ill Contriv'd_.                                        p. 212

  _The_ Manners _or_ Characters _out of Order_.                      p. 218

  _The three_ Dramatick Unities _broken_.                            p. 228


  _The Opinion of the_ Heathen _Philosophers_, _Orators_, _and
      Historians_, _concerning the_ Stage.                           p. 233

  _The_ Stage _censured by the_ State. _This proved from the_
      Constitutions _of_ Athens, Sparta, _and_ Rome.                 p. 240

  _Farther Instances of this publick Discountentance in the_
      Theodosian Code.                                               p. 241

  _In our own_ Statute Book.                                         p. 242

  _And in the late Order of the_ French King.                        p. 243

  _An_ Order _of the Bishop of_ Arras _against_ Plays.               p. 245

  _The_ Stage _Condemn'd by the_ Primitive Church.                   p. 250

  _The_ Councils _of_ Illiberis, Arles, &c. _cited_.                  Ibid.

  _The Testimony's of the_ Fathers _against the_ Stage,
      _particularly, of_ Theophilus Antiochenus.                     p. 252

  _Of_ Tertullian.                                                   p. 253

  _Of_ Clemens Alexandrinus.                                         p. 260

  _Of_ Minutius Foelix.                                              p. 261

  _Of St._ Cyprian.                                                   Ibid.

  Lactantius.                                                        p. 265

  _St._ Chrisostom.                                                  p. 267

  _St._ Hierom.                                                      p. 272

  _And St._ Augustine _cited to the same purpose_.                   p. 273

  _The Censure of the_ Fathers, _and_ Councils _&c. applicable to
      the_ English Stage.                                            p. 276

  _The Conclusion._                                                  p. 280


Page 31 Margin for [Greek: Kôron], r. [Greek: Môron]. p. 37. l. 1. for _by
his_, r. _his_. l. 2. for _other_, r. _his other_. l. 25. for _præstr_, r.
_præter_. p. 39. l. 18. for _Poets_, _Knaves_, r. _Poets Knaves_. p. 44. l.
14. for _Concianotores_, r. _Concionatores_. p. 45. l. 25. for _Debaush_,
r. _Debauchee_. p. 46. l. 9. for _Enterprizes_, r. _Enterprize_. p. 47. l.
9. for _ridicules_, r. _ridiculous_. p. 52. l. 1. for _justifying_, r. _and
justifie_. p. 60. l. 2. for _tempestiuous_, r. _tempestuous_. l. 31. for
_pray_, r. _should pray_. p. 80. for _executed_, r. _exerted_. p. 108. l.
4. for _Antarkick_. r. _Antartick_. p. 117. l. 12. for _Angitia_, r.
_Angitiæ_. p. 121. l. 24. for _Auger_, r. _Augur_. p. 135. margin, for
_Heglins Cogmog_, r. _Heylins Cosmog_. p. 154. l. 22. dele up. p. 163. l.
28. for _then_, r. _therefore_. p. 183. l. 6. for _to_, r. _too_. p. 186.
l. 6. dele _And_. p. 191. l. 18. for _Circumstance_, r. _Circumstances_. p.
222. l. 9. for _Cup_, r. _a Cup_. p. 237. l. 2. for _apon't_, r. _upon't_.
245. l. 25. for _Le_, r. _Les_. p. 257. l. 28. for _Correspondence_ r.
_this Correspondence_. p. 272. l. 9. for _himself_. r. _themselves_.

The Litteral mistakes the Reader is Desired to Correct.

  _Essays upon several Moral Subjects in two parts the Second Edition
  Corrected and Enlarged by_ Jeremy Collier, _M.A._

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

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


The business of _Plays_ is to recomend Virtue, and discountenance Vice; To
shew the Uncertainty of Humane Greatness, the suddain Turns of Fate, and
the Unhappy Conclusions of Violence and Injustice: 'Tis to expose the
Singularities of Pride and Fancy, to make Folly and Falsehood contemptible,
and to bring every Thing that is Ill Under Infamy, and Neglect. This Design
has been oddly pursued by the English _Stage_. Our _Poets_ write with a
different View, and are gone into an other Interest. 'Tis true, were their
Intentions fair, they might be _Serviceable_ to this _Purpose_. They have
in a great measure the Springs of Thought and Inclination in their Power.
_Show_, _Musick_, _Action_, and _Rhetorick_, are moving Entertainments; and
rightly employ'd would be very significant. But Force and Motion are Things
indifferent, and the Use lies chiefly in the Application. These Advantages
are now, in the Enemies Hand, and under a very dangerous Management. Like
Cannon seized they are pointed the wrong way, and by the Strength of the
Defence the Mischief is made the greater. That this Complaint is not
unreasonable I shall endeavour to prove by shewing the Misbehaviour of the
_Stage_ with respect to _Morality_, and _Religion_. Their _Liberties_, in
the Following Particulars are intolerable. _viz._ Their _Smuttiness_ of
_Expression_; Their _Swearing_, _Profainness_, and _Lewd Application of
Scripture_; Their _Abuse_ of the _Clergy_; Their _making_ their _Top
Characters Libertines_, and giving them _Success_ in their _Debauchery_.
This Charge, with some other Irregularities, I shall make good against the
_Stage_, and shew both the _Novelty_ and _Scandal_ of the _Practise_. And
first, I shall begin with the _Rankness_, and _Indecency_ of their


_The Immodesty of the_ Stage.

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

Now among the Curiosities of this kind we may reckon Mrs. _Pinchwife_,
_Horner_, and Lady _Fidget_ in the _Country Wife_; Widdow _Blackacre_ and
_Olivia_ in the _Plain Dealer_. These, tho' not all the exceptionable
_Characters_, are the most remarkable. I'm sorry the Author should stoop
his Wit thus Low, and use his Understanding so unkindly. Some People appear
Coarse, and Slovenly out of Poverty: They can't well go to the Charge of
Sense. They are Offensive like Beggars for want of Necessaries. But this is
none of the _Plain Dealer_'s case; He can afford his Muse a better Dress
when he pleases. But then the Rule is, where the Motive is the less, the
Fault is the greater. To proceed. _Jacinta_, _Elvira_, _Dalinda_, and _Lady
Plyant_, in the _Mock Astrologer_, _Spanish Friar_, _Love Triumphant_ and
_Double Dealer_, forget themselves extreamly: And almost all the
_Characters_ in the _Old Batchelour_, are foul and nauseous. _Love_ for
_Love_, and the _Relapse_, strike sometimes upon this _Sand_, and so
likewise does _Don Sebastian_.

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

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

To argue the Matter more at large.

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

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

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

_1st._ The _Poets_ make _Women_ speak Smuttily. Of This the Places before
mention'd are sufficient Evidence: And if there was occasion they might be
Multiplyed to a much greater Number: Indeed the _Comedies_ are seldom clear
of these Blemishes: And sometimes you have them in _Tragedy_. For Instance.
The _Orphans Monimia_ makes a very improper Description; And the Royal
_Leonora_ in the _Spanish Friar_, runs a strange Length in the History of
Love _p._ 50. And, do Princesses use to make their Reports with such fulsom
Freedoms? Certainly this _Leonora_ was the first Queen of her Family. Such
raptures are too Lascivious for _Joan_ of _Naples_. Are these the _Tender
Things_ Mr. _Dryden_ says the Ladys call on him for? I suppose he means the
_Ladys_ that are too Modest to show their Faces in the _Pit_. This
Entertainment can be fairly design'd for none but such. Indeed it hits
their Palate exactly. It regales their Lewdness, graces their Character,
and keeps up their Spirits for their Vocation: Now to bring Women under
such Misbehaviour is Violence to their Native Modesty, and a
Mispresentation of their Sex. For Modesty as Mr. _Rapin_[1] observes, is
the _Character_ of Women. To represent them without this Quality, is to
make Monsters of them, and throw them out of their Kind. _Euripides_, who
was no negligent Observer of Humane Nature, is always careful of this
Decorum. Thus _Phædra_[2] when possess'd with an infamous Passion, takes
all imaginable pains to conceal it. She is as regular and reserv'd in her
Language as the most virtuous Matron. 'Tis true, the force of Shame and
Desire; The Scandal of Satisfying, and the difficulty of parting with her
Inclinations, disorder her to Distraction. However, her Frensy is not Lewd;
She keeps her Modesty even after She has lost her Wits. Had _Shakespear_
secur'd this point for his young Virgin _Ophelia_,[3] the _Play_ had been
better contriv'd. Since he was resolv'd to drown the Lady like a Kitten, he
should have set her a swimming a little sooner. To keep her alive only to
sully her Reputation, and discover the Rankness of her Breath, was very
Cruel. But it may be said the Freedoms of Distraction go for nothing, a
Feavour has no Faults, and a Man _non Compos_, may kill without Murther. It
may be so: But then such People ought to be kept in dark Rooms and without
Company. To shew them, or let them loose, is somewhat unreasonable. But
after all, the Modern _Stage_ seems to depend upon this Expedient. Women
are sometimes represented _Silly_, and sometimes _Mad_, to enlarge their
Liberty, and screen their Impudence from Censure: This Politick Contrivance
we have in _Marcella_,[4] _Hoyden_,[5] and Miss _Prue_.[6] However it
amounts to this Confession; that Women when they have their Understandings
about them ought to converse otherwise. In fine; Modesty is the
distinguishing Vertue of that Sex, and serves both for Ornament and
Defence: Modesty was design'd by Providence as a Guard to Virtue; And that
it might be always at Hand, 'tis wrought into the Mechanism of the Body.
'Tis likewise proportioned to the occasions of Life, and strongest in Youth
when Passion is so too. 'Tis a Quality as true to Innocence, as the Sences
are to Health; whatever is ungrateful to the first, is prejudicial to the
latter. The Enemy no sooner approaches, but the Blood rises in Opposition,
and looks Defyance to an Indecency. It supplys the room of Reasoning, and
Collection: Intuitive Knowledge can scarcely make a quicker Impression; And
what then can be a surer Guide to the Unexperienced? It teaches by suddain
Instinct and Aversion; This is both a ready and a powerful Method of
instruction. The Tumult of the Blood and Spirits, and the Uneasiness of the
Sensation, are of singular Use. They serve to awaken Reason, and prevent
surprize. Thus the Distinctions of Good and Evil are refresh'd, and the
Temptation kept at proper Distance.

_2ly._ They Represent their single Ladys, and Persons of Condition, under
these Disorders of Liberty, This makes the Irregularity still more
Monstrous and a greater Contradiction to Nature, and Probability: But
rather than not be Vitious, they will venture to spoil a Character. This
mismanagement we have partly seen already. _Jacinta_,[7] and _Belinda_[8]
are farther proof. And the _Double Dealer_ is particularly remarkable.
There are but _Four_ Ladys in this _Play_, and _Three_ of the biggest of
them are Whores. A Great Compliment to Quality to tell them there is not
above a quarter of them Honest! This was not the Roman Breeding, _Terence_
and _Plautus_ his Strumpets were Little people; but of this more hereafter.

_3dly._ They have oftentimes not so much as the poor refuge of a Double
Meaning to fly to. So that you are under a necessity either of taking
Ribaldry or Nonsence. And when the Sentence has two Handles, the worst is
generally turn'd to the Audience. The Matter is so Contrived that the Smut
and Scum of the Thought rises uppermost; And like a Picture drawn to
_Sight_, looks always upon the Company.

_4ly._ And which is still more extraordinary: the _Prologues_, and
_Epilogues_ are sometimes Scandalous to the last degree.[9] I shall
discover them for once, and let them stand like Rocks in the Margin. Now
here properly speaking the _Actors_ quit the _Stage_, and remove from
Fiction, into Life. Here they converse with the _Boxes_, and _Pit_, and
address directly to the Audience. These Preliminarie and concluding Parts,
are design'd to justify the Conduct of the _Play_, and bespeak the Favour
of the Company. Upon such Occasions one would imagine if ever, the Ladys
should be used with Respect, and the Measures of Decency observ'd, But here
we have Lewdness without Shame or Example: Here the _Poet_ exceeds himself.
Here are such Strains as would turn the Stomach, of an ordinary Debauchee,
and be almost nauseous in the _Stews_. And to make it the more agreeable,
Women are Commonly pick'd out for this Service. Thus the _Poet_ Courts the
good opinion of the Audience. This is the Desert he regales the Ladys with
at the Close of the Entertainment: It seems He thinks They have admirable
Palats! Nothing can be a greater Breach of Manners then such Liberties as
these. If a Man would study to outrage _Quality_ and Vertue, he could not
do it more Effectually. But

_5thly._ Smut is still more insufferable with respect to Religion. The
Heathen Religion was in a great Measure a _Mystery_ of _Iniquity_. Lewdness
was Consecrated in the Temples, as well as practised in the _Stews_. Their
Deitys were great Examples of Vice, and worship'd with their own
Inclination. 'Tis no wonder therefore their Poetry should be tinctured with
their Belief, and that the _Stage_ should borrow some of the Liberties of
their Theology. This made _Mercurys_ Procuring, and _Jupiters_ Adultery the
more passable in _Amphitrion_[10]: Upon this Score _Gymnasium_[11] is less
Monstrous in Praying the Gods to send her store of Gallants. And thus
_Chæræa_[12] defends his Adventure by the Precedent of _Jupiter_ and
_Danæ_. But the Christian Religion is quite of an other Complexion. Both
its Precepts, and Authorities, are the highest discouragement to
Licentiousness. It forbids the remotest Tendencies to Evil, Banishes the
Follies of Conversation, and Obliges up to Sobriety of Thought. That which
might pass for Raillery, and Entertainment in Heathenism, is detestable in
Christianity. The Restraint of the Precept, and the Quality of the Deity,
and the Expectations of Futurity quite alter the Case.

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

_1st._ He rarely gives any of the above mention'd Liberties to Women; And
when there are any Instances of the contrary, 'tis only in prostituted and
Vulgar People; And even these, don't come up to the Grossness of the
_Modern Stage_.

For the Purpose. _Cleæreta_[13] the Procuris borders a little upon
Rudeness: _Lena_[14] and _Bacchis_[15] the Strumpet are Airy and somewhat
over-merry, but not _A l'Anglois_ obscene. _Chalinus_[16] in Womans Cloaths
is the most remarkable. _Pasicompa Charinus_ his Wench talks too freely to
_Lysimachus_;[17] And so does _Sophroclidisca_ _Slave_ to
_Lemnoselene_.[18] And lastly: _Phronesiam_ a Woman of the _Town_ uses a
double entendre to _Stratophanes_.[19] These are the most censurable
Passages, and I think all of them with relation to Women; which considering
how the World goes is very moderate. Several of _our_ Single _Plays_ shall
far out-do all This put together. And yet _Plautus_ has upon the matter
left us 20 entire _Comedies_. So that in short, these Roman Lasses are meer
_Vestal Virgins_, comparatively speaking.

_2ly._ The _Men_ who talk intemperately are generally _Slaves_; I believe
_Dordalus_[20] the Pandar, and _Lusiteles_[21] will be found the only
exception: And this latter young Gentleman; drops but one over airy
expression: And for this Freedom, the Poet seems to make him give
Satisfaction in the rest of his Character. He disputes very handsomly by
himself against irregular Love; The Discourse between him and _Philto_ is
instructive and well managed.[22] And afterwards he gives _Lesbonicus_ a
great deal of sober advice,[23] and declaims heartily against Luxury and
Lewdness! Now by confining his Rudeness to little People, the Fault is much
extenuated. For First, the representation is more Naturally this way; And
which is still better, 'tis not so likely to pass into Imitation: Slaves
and Clowns are not big enough to spread Infection; and set up an ill
Fashion. 'Tis possible the _Poet_ might contrive these _Pesants Offensive_
to discountenance the Practise. Thus the _Heilots_ in _Sparta_ were made
drunk to keep Intemperance out of Credit. I don't mention this as if I
approv'd the Expedient, but only to show it a circumstance of Mitigation
and Excuse.

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

_4ly._ _Plautus_ his _Prologues_ and _Epilogues_ are inoffensive. 'Tis
true, _Lambinus_ pretends to fetch a double _entendre_ out of that to
_Poenulus_, but I think there is a Strain in the Construction. His
_Prologue_ to the _Captivi_ is worth the observing.

  _Fabulæ huic operam date._

_Pray mind the Play._ The next words give the reason why it deserves

  _Non enim pertractate facta est
  Neque spurcidici insunt versus immemorabiles._

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

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

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

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

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

_Terence_ appear'd when Breeding was more exact, and the _Town_ better
polish'd; And he manages accordingly: He has[30] but one faulty bordering
Expression, which is that of _Chremes_ to _Clitipho_. This single Sentence
apart, the rest of his Book is (I think) unsullied and fit for the nicest
Conversation. I mean only in referrence to the Argument in Hand, for there
are things in Him, which I have no intention to warrant. He is Extreamly
careful in the Behaviour of his Women. Neither _Glycerium_ in _Andria_,
_Pamphila_ in _Eunuchus_, or _Pamphila_ in _Adelphi_, _Phanium_ in
_Phormio_, or _Philumena_ in _Hecyra_, have any share of Conversation upon
the _Stage_. such Freedom was then thought too much for the Reservedness of
a Maiden-Character. 'Tis true in _Heautontimoroumenos_ the _Poets_ Plot
obliged _Antiphila_, to go under the Disguise of _Bacchis_ her Maid. Upon
this Occasion they hold a little Discourse together. But then _Bacchis_
tho' she was a Woman of the _Town_, behaves her self with all the Decency
imaginable. She does not talk in the Language of her Profession. But
commends _Antiphila_ for her Virtue: _Antiphila_ only says how constant she
has been to _Chinia_, seems surprised at his Arrival, and salutes him
civilly upon't, and we hear no more from her. Mr. _Dryden_ seems to refer
to this Conduct in his Dramatick _Poesie_. He censures the _Romans_ for
making _Mutes_ of their single Women. This He calls the _Breeding of the
Old_ Elizabeth _way, which was for Maids to be seen and not to be heard_.
Under Favour the old Discipline would be very serviceable upon the _Stage_.
As matters go, the _Mutes_ are much to few. For certainly 'tis better to
say nothing, than talk out of Character, and to ill purpose.

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

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

  _Pudet dicere hac præsente verbum turpe._[33]

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

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

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

To this we may add the _Nobless_ had no Relish for Obscenity; 'twas the
ready way to Disoblige them.[36] And therefore 'tis _Horaces_ Rule.

  _Nec immunda crepent ignominiosaque dicta.
  Offenduntur enim quibus est Equus & Pater, & res._[37]

The Old _Romans_ were particularly carefull their Women might not be
affronted in Conversation: For this reason the Unmarried kept off from
Entertainments for fear of learning new Language.[38] And in _Greece_ no
Woman above the degree of a _Slave_ was treated abroad by any but
Relations.[39] 'Tis probable the old Comedy was silenced at _Athens_ upon
this Score, as well as for Defamation. For as _Aristotle_[40] observes the
new Set of Comedians were much more modest than the former. In this
celebrated Republick, if the _Poets_ wrote any thing against Religion or
Good Manners, They were tryed for their Misbehaviour, and lyable to the
highest Forfeitures.[41]

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

To dispatch the _Latins_ all together. _Seneca_ is clean throughout the
Piece, and stands generally off from the point of Love. He has no Courting
unless in his _Hercules Furens_;[43] And here the Tyrant _Lycus_ addresses
_Megara_ very briefly, and in Modest and remote Language. In his _Thebais_,
_Oedipus_'s Incest is reported at large, but without any choaking
Description. 'Tis granted _Phædra_ speaks her Passion plainly out, and owns
the strength of the Impression, and is far less prudent than in
_Euripides_.[44] But tho' her Thoughts appear too freely, her Language is
under Discipline.

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

_1st._ Orestes was obliged by the Oracle to revenge his Fathers Death in
the Murther of his Mother.[46] When he was going to kill her, he Mentions
her Cruelty, but waves her Adultery. _Euripides_ approv'd this Reservedness
and makes his _Electra_ practise it upon the same occasion.[47] _Æschylus_
in his next Play complements his Country with a great deal of Address in
the Persons of the _Eumenides_.[48] They are very Gentile and Poetical in
their Civilities: Among other things They wish the Virgins may all Marry
and make the Country Populous: Here the _Poet_ do's but just glance upon
the Subject of Love; and yet he governs the Expression with such care, that
the wishes contain a Hint to Sobriety, and carry a Face of Virtue along
with them.

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

  [Greek: Monon phylaxai tas d' epistolas patros][50]
  [Greek: To sôphronein timôsa tou biou pleon.]

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

To proceed. _Sophocles_ appear'd next upon the _Stage_, and was in earnest
an Extraordinary Person. His Conduct is more Artificial, and his Stile more
just, than that of _Æschylus_. His Characters are well drawn, and Uniform
with themselves: His _Incidents_, are often surprising, and his _Plots_
unprecipitated. There is nothing but what is Great, and Solemn Throughout.
The Reasoning is well Coloured. The Figures are sometimes Bold, but not
Extravagant. There are no Flights of Bombast, no Towring above Nature and
Possibility: In short, Nothing like Don _Sebastians_ Reigning in his

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

_Sophocles_ will afford us no more, let us therefore take a view of
_Euripides_. 'Tis the Method of this Author to decline the Singularities of
the _Stage_, and to appear with an Air of Conversation. He delivers great
Thoughts in Common Language, and is dress'd more like a Gentleman than a
_Player_. His Distinction lies in the perspicuity of his Stile; In Maxim,
and Moral Reflection; In his peculiar Happiness for touching the Passions,
especially that of Pity; And lastly, in exhausting the Cause, and arguing
_pro_ and _Con_, upon the streach of Reason. So much by way of Character.
And as for the Matter before us He is entirely Ours. We have had an
Instance or two already in _Electra_ and _Phædra_: To go on to the rest. In
his _Hippolitus_ He calls _Whoring_, stupidness and playing the Fool. And
to be Chast and regular, is with him, as well as with _Æschylus_, [Greek:
Sôphronein]. As much as to say 'tis the Consequence of Sence, and right
Thinking. _Phædra_ when her Thoughts were embarrass'd with _Hippolitus_,
endeavours to disentangle her self by Argument.[56] She declaims with a
great deal of Satyr against intemperate Women; she concluded rather to die
then dishonour her Husband and Stain her Family. The Blemishes of Parents,
as she goes on, often stuck upon their Children, and made them appear with
Disadvantage. Upon this, the _Chorus_ is transported with the Virtue of her
Resolution and crys out

  [Greek: Pheu Pheu. To sôphron hôs hapantachou kalon][57]
  [Greek: kai do xan esthlên enbrotois komizetai.]

  _How becoming a Quality is Modesty in all Places._
  _How strangly does it burnish a Character, and oblige ones Reputation?_

The Scholiast upon these verses of _Hippolitus_.

  [Greek: Soi ton de plekton Stephanon ex akêra]
  [Greek: Leimônos], &c.

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

To proceed. _Hermione_ complains against _Andromache_ because she was
entertain'd by her Husband[58]: For this _Andromache_ tells her she talk'd
too much for a Young Woman, and discover'd her Opinion too far. _Achilles_
at the first Sight of _Clytemnestra_, lets her understand he was as much
taken with the Sobriety of her Air,[59] as with the rest of her fine Face
and Person. She receives the Complement kindly, and commends him for
commending Modesty. _Menelaus_ and _Helen_ after a long Absence manage the
surprize of their good Fortune handsomly.[60] The Most tender Expression
stands clear of ill Meaning. Had _Osmin_ parted with _Almeria_ as civilly
as these Two met,[61] it had been much better. That Rant of smut and
profainness might have been spared. The _Reader_ shall have some of it.

  _O my_ Almeria;
  _What do that Damn'd endure but to despair,
  But knowing Heaven, to know it lost for ever._

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

  _What are Wracks, and, Whips, and Wheels to this;
  Are they not soothing softness, sinking Ease,
  And wasting Air to this?_

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

  _O I am struck, thy words are Bolts of Ice?
  Which shot into my Breast now melt and chill me._

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

  _I chatter, shake, and faint with thrilling Fears._

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

  ----_lower yet, down down_;

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

  ----_no more we'll lift our Eyes,
  But prone and dumb, Rot the firm Face of Earth,
  With Rivers of incessant scalding Rain._

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

  _Now when the Winters keener breath began
  To Crystallize, the Baltick Ocean,
  To glaze the Lakes, to bridle up the Floods,
  And periwig with Snow the bald pate woods._

I take it, the other Verses are somewhat of Kin to These, and shall leave
them to Mr. _Dryden's_ Reflection.[62] But then as for _Soothing Softness,
Sinking Ease, Wasting Air, thrilling Fears, and incessant scalding Rain_;
It puts me to another stand. For to talk a little in the way of the
_Stage_. This Litter of _Epithetes_ makes the _Poem_ look like a Bitch
overstock'd with Puppies, and sucks the Sence almost to skin and Bone. But
all this may pass in a _Playhouse_: False Rhetorick and false Jewells, do
well together. To return to _Euripides_. _Cassandra_ in reporting the
Misfortunes of the _Greeks_ stops at the Adulteries of _Clytemnestra_ and
_Ægiala_ And gives this handsome reason for making a Halt.

  [Greek: Sigan ameinon taischra, mêde mousa moi][63]
  [Greek: Genoit aoidos hêtis hymnêsei kaka.]

  _Foul Things are best unsaid, I am for no Muse,
  That loves to flourish on Debauchery._

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

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

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

_1st._ We have both the Reason of the Thing, and all the Advantage of
Authority on the other side. We have the Practise and Opinion of Men of
much greater Sence, and Learning then Himself. The best Philosophers and
Poets, Criticks and Orators, both Greek and Latin, both Antient and Modern,
give the Cause against him. But _Aristophanes_ his own _Plays_ are
sufficient to ruin his Authority. For

_1st_, He discovers himself a downright Atheist. This Charge will be easily
Made good against him by Comparing his _Nubes_ with his other _Plays_. The
Design of his _Nubes_ was to expose _Socrates_, and make a Town jest of
him. Now this Philosopher was not only a Person of great Sence and Probity,
but was likewise suppos'd to refine upon the Heathen Theology, to throw off
the Fabulous part of it, and to endeavour to bring it back to the Standard
of Natural Religion. And therefore _Justin Martyr_ and some others of the
_Fathers_, look'd on him as a Person of no Pagan Belief, and thought he
suffer'd for the Unity of the God-Head. This Man _Aristophanes_ makes fine
sport with as he fancies: He puts him in a Fools Coat, and then points at
him. He makes _Socrates_ instruct his Disciple _Strepsiades_ in a new
Religion, and tell him that _he did not own the Gods in the vulgar Notion_.
He brings him in elswhere affirming that the _Clouds are the only
Deities_.[67] Which is the same Lash which _Juvenal_ gives the _Jews_,
because they worship'd but one single Soveraign Being.

  _Nil præter Nubes & Coeli numen adorant._[68]

_Socrates_ goes on with his Lecture of Divinity and declares very roundly
that there is no such thing as _Jupiter_.[69] Afterwards he advances
farther, and endeavours to get _Strepsiades_ under Articles to acknowledge
no other Gods, but _Chaos_, the _Clouds_, and the _Tongue_.[70] At last the
_Poet_ brings the Philosopher to publick Pennance for his Singularities. He
sets fire to his _School_ for teaching Young People (as he pretends) to
dispute against Law and Justice; for advancing Atheistick Notions, and
burlesquing the Religion of the Country.[71]

That _Socrates_ was no Atheist is clear from Instances enough. To mention
but one. The Confidence he had in his _Dæmon_, or _Genius_ by which he
governed his Affairs puts it beyond all dispute.[72] However 'tis plain
_Aristophanes_ was not of his Religion. The _Comedian_ was by no means for
correcting the Common Perswasion. So that he must either be an Orthodox
Heathen or nothing at all. Let us see then with what Respect he treats the
Receiv'd _Divinities_. This _Play_, where one would not expect it,
discovers somewhat of his Devotion. In the beginning of it _Phidippides_,
who was a sort or _New-Market_ Spark, swears by _Jocky Neptune_,[73] that
he had a strange Kindness for his Father _Strepsiades_. upon this the old
Man replies; _No Jocky, if you love me; that Deity has almost undone me_.
This was making somewhat bold with _Neptune_ who was _Jupiters_ Brother,
_Soveraign_ of a whole _Element_, and had no less than the Third Share of
the Universe! Certainly _Aristophanes_ had no Venture at Sea, or else must
think the _Trident_ signified but very little. But this is meer Ceremony to
what follows. In his first _Play_ _Plutus_ pretends he had a mind to oblige
only Men of Probity, but _Jupiter_ had made him blind on purpose that he
might not distinguish Honest men from Knaves: For to be plain _Jupiter_ had
a Pique against Good people. Towards the end of this _Comedy Mercury_ is
abused by _Cario_,[74] and acts a ridiculous, and lessening part himself.
Afterwards he complains heavily that since _Plutus_ was cured of his
Blindness, the business of Sacrifing fell off, and the Gods were ready to
starve. This _Mercury_ has the same ill Usage with the _Poets_ Knaves,
Informers, and Lewd Women; From all this stuff put together, his meaning is
pretty plain, _viz._ That Religion was no better than an Imposture
supported by Art, and Ignorance: And that when Men's Understandings were
awake, and their Eyes a little open, they would have more discretion than
to be at any expence about the Gods.

This I take to be part of the Moral of his Fable. If we look farther into
him we shall see more of his Mind. His _Ranæ_ makes Merry with the Heathen
Scheme of Heaven and Hell. Here _Charon_ and the _Stygian Frogs_ are
brought in Comically enough. And that you may understand his opinion more
perfectly we are told, that He that Bilks his _Catamite_ after a
_Sodomitical_ Abuse, is thrown into the Common shore of _Hades_. And what
Company do you think he is lodg'd with? Why with those who Perjure
themselves, with those who Kick their Fathers and Mothers? It seems in the
_Poets_ Justice a Man might as good be false to his Oath, as to his
Lewdness.[75] To disappoint the _Stews_, is every jot as great a Crime; as
to fly in the Face of Nature, and outrage our Parents. His Quartering his
Malefactors thus critically, was without question on purpose to Banter the
perswasion of future Punishment. In the same _Play_ _Xanthias_ bids _Æacus_
answer him by _Jove_, [Greek: Hos hêmin estin homomastigias]. This little
Scoundrel of a Slave has the Manners to make _Jupiters_ Quality no better
than his own. To go on with him: In his _Aves_ he speaks out to purpose.
Here _Pisthetærus_ tells _Epops_ that if the _Birds_ would build a Castle
in the Air, they might intercept the Fumes of the Sacrifices, and starve
the Gods unless they would come too, and be Tributary. It seems the _Birds_
had very good Pretences to execute this project; for they were ancienter
than _Jupiter_ and _Saturn_,  and Govern'd before the Gods. And to speak
truth were more capable of the Function. Their Adviser goes on to inform
them,[76]  that after they had built their pensile City, and fortifyed the
Air, their next business was to demand their ancient Soveragnity: If
_Jupiter_ refused to quit, they were to declare a Holy War against Him, and
the rest of the Confederate Gods, and to cut off the Communication between
Heaven and Earth. _Pisthæterus_[77] grows very warm in his new Interest,
and swears by _Jove_ that Men ought to Sacrifice to the _Birds_, and not to
_Jupiter_. And if things came to a Rupture, and _Jupiter_ grew Troublesome,
he undertakes[78] to send a Detachement of Eagles against Him; with Orders
to storm his Palace with Flambeaux, and fire it about his Ears. At last to
prevent the Calamities of a War, _Hercules_ proposes an Accomodation,[79]
and is willing _Jupiter_ should Resign. _Neptune_ calls him a Block-head
for his pains, because he was Heir at _Law_, and after _Jupiters_ Decease
was of Course to succeed in his Dominions: Once more, and I have done: In
_Eirene_, _Trygæus_ speaks in a menacing way.[80] That unless _Jupiter_
gave him Satisfaction in his business, he would inform against Him as a
disaffected Person, and a betrayer of the Liberties of _Greece_.[81] I
might add many other Instances, and some more Scandalous than any I have
mentioned; But these are sufficient to shew the Authors Sentiment: And is
it any wonder an Atheist should misbehave himself in point of Modesty? What
can we expect less from those who laugh at the Being of a God, at the
Doctrines of Providence, and the Distinctions of Good and Evil? A
_Sceptick_ has no notion of Conscience, no Relish for Virtue, nor is under
any Moral restraints from Hope or Fear. Such a one has nothing to do but to
consult his Ease, and gratifie his Vanity, and fill his Pocket. But how
these Ends are compassed, he has no squeamishness, or Scruples about it.
'Tis true when the Methods of Lewdness will Take, they are generally most
agreeable. This way suits their Talent, and screens their practise, and
obliges their Malice. For nothing is a greater Eye-sore to these Men, then
Virtue and Regularity. What a pleasure is it then to be admired for
Mischeif, to be reveng'd on Religion, and to see Vice prosper and improve
under our Hands! To return: Beside _Aristophanes_ Atheisme, I have a Second
objection to his Authority, and that is want of Judgment. If we examine his
_Plays_ we shall find his Characters improper, or ununiform; either wrong
at first, or unsteady in the Right. For the purpose. In his _Nubes. A. 3.
S. 3. p. 146. 150_. He puts dirty expressions in the Mouth of his Man of
Probity, makes him declaim vitiously against Vice, and Corrects scurrility
with Impudence; Now what can be more idle and senceless, than such Conduct
as this? Epecially when this _Justus_ as he calls him had told them in the
beginning of his speech, that People used to be well slash'd for such
Fooling, when Government and Discipline were in their due Force. The
_Chorus_ of his _Ranæ_ slides[82] into the same Inconsistency of Precept,
and Practise. Farther, in the Progress of this _Play_; _Æschylus_ falls a
rallying contrary to his Humour, and jests away his own Arguments at a very
unseasonable Juncture, when he was disputing for no less prize than the
Laureatship. This _Tragedian_ after he had play'd a little with the Story
of _Bellerophon_,[83] goes on in the same strain; And charges _Euripides_
that he had furnish'd all sorts of People with Sawciness and Prattle. The
_Schools_ and _Academies_ were spoil'd by this means; So that the Boys were
often whip'd, and the Boatswains drubb'd, for their Chattering.[84] These
Comical Levities come with an ill Grace from _Æschylus_. His Character was
quite different both in Reality, and in the _Play_ before us. He is all
along represented as a Person of a serious Temper, of a reserv'd Loftiness,
Cholerick, and tender of his Honour to an Excess, and almost in a rage at
the Affront of a Rival, and being forc'd to enter the Lists with
_Euripides_. The case standing thus, neither the Man, nor the Business,
would admit of Drolling. Another Instance of his want of Conduct we have in
his _Concionatores_. Here _Blepyrus_ and some others of his Legislative
Assembly, talk at a very dirty insipid rate. The Lowest of the _Mob_, can
hardly jest with less Wit, and more Lewdness. And to make their Discourse
more remarkable; These douty Members were just going to the _House_, and
had their Heads full of the Good of the Nation, when they entertain'd
themselves thus decently[85]. And are these little Buffoons fit to consult
_de Arduis Regni, &c._ to give Authority to Law, and Rules for publick
Life? Do's Ribaldry and Nonsence become the Dignity of their Station, and
the Solemnity of their Office? To make his _Parliament-Men_ play the Fool
thus egregiously, must needs have a great deal of Decorum, and State-Policy
in the Contrivance; And is just as wise as if a _Painter_ should have Drawn
them in the Habit of _Jack-Puddings_, and _Merry-Andrews_. But
_Aristophanes_ has still higher Flights of Absurdity. He won't so much as
spare the Gods but makes them act these little Parts of Clownishness and
Infamy. _Bacchus_ and _Hercules_ in his _Ranæ_ are forced to talk Smut and
rally like _Link-boys_, and do almost all the Tricks of _Bartholomew-Fair_.
To mention something that will bear the quoting. _Bacchus_ enquires of
_Hercules_ the readiest way to _Hades_, or the other World. He bids him
either Hang, or Poyson himself, and he can't miss the Road. This is
_Hercules's_ Humour to a Tittle! And represents him as much to the Life, as
an _Ape_ would do the _Grand Signior_ at a publick Audience! This with a
short Sentence or two of Lewdness,[86] is the hardest of _Hercules_ his
Usage: And 'tis well he escaped so; for _Bacchus_ is treated much worse. He
appears under the disadvantages of a Clownish Debauchee, and a Coward. And
is terribly afraid of a _Spectre_.[87] When he comes before _Æacus_, this
Judge is very rough with him; and tries his pretences to a Deity by
Bastinado: _Bacchus_ howls in the drubbing and had almost spoil'd all.[88]
Now do's this paultry Behaviour agree with the Heathen Theology, with the
Common Opinion concerning _Bacchus_ and _Hercules_? Do's a _Blew-Cap_ and a
_Ladle_, become the Sons of _Jupiter_ and the Objects of Religious Worship?
Those who at the lowest, were counted the Conquerors of the World, and more
than Men both by Birth and Enterprize? _Sophocles_ and _Euripides_ make
these two Persons manage at a quite different rate of Decency. 'Tis no
defence to say _Aristophanes_ wrot Comedy, and so was obliged to make his
Scenes more diverting. This excuse I say is defective; for a Comedian ought
to imitate Life and Probability, no less than a Tragedian. To Metomorphose
_Characters_, and present Contradictions to Common Belief, is to write,
_Farce_ instead of _Plays_. Such Comedians like _Thespis_ ought to have a
travelling _Stage_, and take the Air with _Porcupines_ and _Dromedaryes_.
If 'tis said that Gravity and greatness do's not suit the Complection and
Entertainment of Comedy. To this I answer, that therefore the _Persons_
should be chosen accordingly. They should have nothing in their known
Humour, and Condition too Noble, and solemn for Trifling. 'Tis _Horaces_

  _Aut famam sequere, aut convenientia finge Scriptor._ De. Art. Poet.

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

  _Ampulla, & sesquipedalia Verba._

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

_3d._ Place. That notwithstanding the scandalous Liberty for which
_Aristophanes_ is so remarkable; yet in his Lucid Intervalls, when Sence
and Sobriety return upon him, he pronounces against his own Practise. In
the contest between _Æschylus_ and _Euripides_, _Bacchus_ is made the
Umpire of the Controversie. _Æschylus_ begins with a Question,[91] and asks
_Euripides_ what 'tis which makes a _Poet_ admired? He answers. 'Tis for
the address of his Conduct, and the handsome Turns of Morality in his
Poems. 'Tis because his performance has a tendency to form the Audience to
Virtue, and Improvement, _Æschylus_ demands of him farther; But suppose you
debauched the Age, and made an Honest and a brave People Lewd, and good for
nothing, what do you deserve then? Here _Bacchus_ interposes, and crys out,
what does he deserve? A Halter! pray don't ask so plain a question. And
afterwards we are told, that _Poets_ are valuable only for describing
Things useful, in Life and Religion, for polishing Inventions, and setting
off great Examples with Lustre, and Advantage.[92] In the progress of the
Dispute, _Æschylus_ taxes _Euripides_ with being too uncautious in his
Representations; And tells him that Poets ought to conceal that which is
vicious in Story; And entertain with nothing but Virtue, and Sobriety: He
goes on reprimanding _Euripides_ for his Dramatick incests, Strumpets, and
Amours: And as for himself, to his best remembrance, He never brought any
Love-Intrigues upon the Stage.[93]

This is very significant expostulation: and contains very good Rules for
the Trial of the _Muses_: But if the English _Stage_, should be obliged to
this Test; _Aristophanes_ must set fire to it, and that with much more
reason than to _Socrates_ his _School_. Now that _Æschylus_ spoke
_Aristophanes_'s Sense is pretty plain: For first; As to the Business of
Love, _Aristophanes_ always declines it; He never patches up a _Play_ with
_Courtship_, and _Whining_, tho' he wrote nothing but _Comedy_. In the next
place the _Chorus_ which is usually the _Poets_ Interpreter, speaks
honourably of _Æschylus_ even to a Preference;[94] And at last Judge
_Bacchus_ gives Sentence for him.

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

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

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

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

_Ben. Johnson_ is much more reserv'd in his _Plays_, and declares plainly
for Modesty in his _Discoveries_, some of his Words are these.

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

_Fletchers Faithfull Shepheardess_ is remarkably Moral, and a sort of
Exhortation to Chastity. This _Play_ met with ill Judges, 'twas Hiss'd
before half _Acted_, and seems to have suffer'd on the account of its
Innocence.[98] Soon after _Ben. Johnson_ and _Beaumont_ appear and justifie
the Author in a Copy of Verses. And as _Beaumont_ commends Modesty in
_Fletcher_, so he is commended himself by Mr. _Earl_ for the same

  _Such Passions, Such Expressions meet my Eye,
  Such Wit untainted with Obscenity._

And as I remember _Jasper Main_ has some stroaks to the same purpose.[100]
_Fletcher_ is still more full for the Cause. Indeed nothing can be more
express. He delivers himself by way of _Prologue_; where the _Poet_ speaks
in his own Person. The _Prologue_ to the _Woman-Hater_, very frankly lets
the Audience know what they are to expect. _If there be any amongst you,
(says he) that come to hear Lascivious Scenes, let them depart; For I do
pronounce this, to the utter discomfort of all two-penny Gallery Men, you
shall no Bawdry in it._ We find in those days Smut was the expectation of a
Coarse Palate, and relish'd by none but two-penny Customers. In the
_Knight_ of the _Burning Pestle_, part of the _Prologue_ runs thus. _They
were banish'd the Theatre at_ Athens, _and from_ Rome _hiss'd, that brought
Parasites on the Stage with Apish Actions, or Fools with uncivil Habits, or
Courtezans with immodest words_. Afterwards _Prologue_, who represents a
Person, gives us more to the same purpose.

  ----_Fly far from hence.
  All private taxes, immodest phrases,
  Whatever way but look like Vitious.
  For wicked mirth, never true Pleasure brings;
  For honest Minds, are pleas'd with honest things._

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

  _No Undermirth such as does lard the Scene,
  For Coarse Delight, the Language here is clean.
  And confident our Poet bad me say,
  He'll bate you but the Folly of a Play.
  For which altho' dull Souls his Pen despise;
  Who think it yet too early to be wise.
  The Nobles yet will thank his Muse, at least
  Excuse him, cause his Thought aim'd at the Best._

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

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

In this Citation we have the Opinion of the _Poet_, the Practise of the
_French_ Theatre, and the Sense of that _Nation_, and all very full to our

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


_The Profaness of the_ Stage.

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

  _1st. Their Cursing and Swearing._
  _2dly. Their Abuse of Religion and Holy Scripture._

_1st Their Cursing and Swearing._

What is more frequent then their wishes of Hell, and Confusion, Devils, and
Diseases, all the Plagues of this World, and the next, to each other? And
as for Swearing; 'tis used by all Persons, and upon all Occasions: By
Heroes, and Paltroons; by Gentlemen, and Clowns: Love, and Quarrels,
Success, and Disappointment, Temper, and Passion, must be varnish'd, and
set off with _Oaths_. At some times, and with some _Poets_ Swearing is no
ordinary Releif. It stands up in the room of Sense, gives Spirit to a flat
Expression, and makes a Period Musical and Round. In short, 'tis almost all
the Rhetorick, and Reason some People are Masters of: The manner of
performance is different. Some times they mince the matter; change the
Letter, and keep the Sense,[102] as if they had a mind to steal a Swearing,
and break the Commandement without Sin. At another time the Oaths are
clipt, but not so much within the Ring, but that the _Image and
Superscription_ are visible. These expedients, I conceive are more for
variety, then Conscience: For when the fit comes on them, they make no
difficulty of Swearing at Length. Instances of all these kinds may be met
with in the _Old Batchelour_, _Double Dealer_, and _Love for Love_. And to
mention no more, _Don Quixot_, the _Provok'd Wife_, and the _Relapse_, are
particularly rampant and scandalous. The _English Stage_ exceed their
predecessors in this, as well as other Branches of immorality. _Shakespear_
is comparatively sober, _Ben Jonson_ is still more regular; And as for
_Beaument_ and _Fletcher_, In their _Plays_ they are commonly Profligate
Persons that Swear, and even those are reprov'd for't. Besides, the Oaths
are not so full of Hell and Defiance, as in the Moderns.

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

And if Religion signifies nothing, (as I am afraid it does with some
People) there is Law, as well as Gospel against _Swearing_.  _3d Jac. 1
cap. 21._ is expresly against the _Playhouse_. It runs thus.

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

By this _Act_ not only direct Swearing, but all vain Invocation of the Name
of God is forbidden. This _Statute_ well executed would mend the _Poets_,
or sweep the _Box_: And the _Stage_ must either reform, or not thrive upon

_3dly_ Swearing in the _Playhouse_ is an ungentlemanly, as well as an
unchristian Practice. The _Ladies_ make a considerable part of the
_Audience_. Now Swearing before Women is reckon'd a Breach of good
Behaviour, and therefore a civil Atheist will forbear it. The custom seems
to go upon this Presumption; that the Impressions of Religion are strongest
in Women, and more generally spread. And that it must be very disagreeable
to them, to hear the Majesty of God treated with so little respect.
Besides: Oaths are a boistrous and tempestuous sort of Conversation;
Generally the effects of Passion, and spoken with Noise, and Heat. Swearing
looks like the beginning of a Quarrel, to which Women have an aversion: As
being neither armed by Nature, nor disciplin'd by Custome for such rough
Disputes. A Woman will start at a Soldiers Oath, almost as much as at the
Report of his Pistol: And therefore a well Bred Man will no more Swear,
than Fight in the Company of Ladies.

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

To begin with the _Mock-Astrologer_. In the First _Act_ the _Scene_ is a
_Chappel_; And that the Use of such Consecrated places may be the better
understood, the time is taken up in Courtship, Raillery, and ridiculing
Devotion. _Jacinta_ takes her turn among the rest. She Interrupts
_Theodosia_, and cries out: _why Sister, Sister----will you pray? what
injury have I ever done you that you should pray in my Company?_

_Wildblood_ Swears by _Mahomet_, rallies smuttily upon the other World, and
gives the preference to the Turkish Paradise[103]! This Gentleman to
incourage _Jacinta_ to a Complyance in Debauchery, tells her _Heaven is all
Eyes and no Tongue._[104] That is, it sees Wickedness but conceals it. He
Courts much at the same rate a little before. _When a Man comes to a great
Lady, he is fain to approach her with Fear, and Reverence, methinks there's
something of Godliness in't_.[105] Here you have the Scripture burlesqu'd,
and the Pulpit Admonition apply'd to Whoring.[106] Afterwards _Jacinta_ out
of her great Breeding and Christianity, swears by _Alla_, and _Mahomet_,
and makes a Jest upon Hell.[107] _Wildblood_ tells his Man that _such
undesigning Rogues as he, make a Drudge of poor Providence_. And _Maskall_
to show his proficiency under his Masters, replies to _Bellamy_, who would
have had him told a Lie.[108] _Sir upon the Faith of a Sinner you have had
my last Lie already. I have not one more to do me Credit, as I hope to be
saved Sir._

In the close of the _Play_, They make sport with Apparitions and Fiends.
One of the Devils sneezes, upon this they give him the Blessing of the
Occasion, and conclude _he has got cold by being too long out of the

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

  _No Tongue my Pleasure and my Pain can tell:
  'Tis Heaven to have thee, and without thee Hell._ [110]

_Polydor_ when upon the attempt to debauch _Monimia_, puts up this

  _Blessed Heaven assist me but in this dear Hour_: [111]

Thus the _Stage_ worships the true God in Blasphemy, as the _Lindians_ did
_Hercules_ by Cursing and throwing stones.[112] This _Polydor_ has another
Flight of Profaness, but that has got a certain _Protection_, and therefore
must not be disturb'd.

In the _Old Batchelour_, _Vain-love_ asks _Belmour_, _could you be content
to go to Heaven_?

_Bell. Hum, not immediatly in my Conscence, not heartily._[113]----This is
playing I take it with Edge-Tools. To go to Heaven in jeast, is the way to
go to Hell in earnest. In the Fourth _Act_, Lewdness is represented with
that Gaity, as if the Crime was purely imaginary, and lay only in ignorance
and preciseness. _Have you throughly consider'd (says Fondlewife) how
detestable, how Heinous, and how crying a Sin the Sin of Adultery is? have
you weighed I say? For it is a very weighty Sin: and, altho' it may
lie----yet thy Husband must also bear his part; For thy iniquity will fall
on his Head_.[114] I suppose this fit of Buffoonry and profaness, was to
settle the Conscience of young Beginners, and to make the Terrors of
Religion insignificant. _Bellmour_ desires _Lætitia to give him leave to
swear by her Eyes and her Lips_: He kisses the Strumpet, and tells her,
_Eternity was in that Moment_.[115] _Lætitia_ is horibly profane in her
Apology to her Husband; but having the _Stage-Protection_ of Smut for her
Guard, we must let her alone.[116] _Fondlewife_ stalks under the same
shelter, and abuses a plain Text of Scripture to an impudent Meaning.[117]
A little before, _Lætitia_ when her Intrigue with _Bellmour_ was almost
discover'd, supports her self with this Consideration. _All my comfort lies
in his impudence, and Heaven be prais'd, he has a Considerable
Portion_.[118] This is the _Play-house_ Grace, and thus Lewdness is made a
part of Devotion! Ther's another Instance still behind: 'Tis that of
_Sharper_ to _Vain-Love_, and lies thus.

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

In the _Double Dealer_, Lady _Plyant_ cries out _Jesu_ and talks Smut in
the same Sentence.[120] Sr. _Paul Plyant_ whom the Poet dub'd a Fool when
he made him a Knight, talks very Piously! _Blessed be Providence, a Poor
unworthy Sinner, I am mightily beholden to Providence_[121]: And the same
word is thrice repeated upon an odd occasion.[122] The meaning must be that
_Providence_ is a ridiculous supposition, and that none but Blockheads
pretend to Religion. But the Poet can discover himself farther if need be.
Lady _Froth_ is pleas'd to call _Jehu_ _a Hackney Coachman_.[123] Upon
this, _Brisk_ replies, _If Jehu was a Hackney Coachman, I am
answer'd----you may put that into the Marginal Notes tho', to prevent
Criticisms----only mark it with a small Asterisme and say----Jehu was
formerly a Hackney Coachman._ This for a heavy Piece of Profaness, is no
doubt thought a lucky one, because it burlesques the Text, and the Comment,
all under one. I could go on with the _Double Dealer_ but he'll come in my
way afterwards, and so I shall part with him at present. Let us now take a
veiw of _Don Sebastian_. And here the _Reader_ can't be long unfurnish'd.
_Dorax_ shall speak first.

    _Shall I trust Heaven
  With my revenge? then where's my satisfaction?
  No, it must be my own, I scorn a Proxy._[124]

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

  _As black as Hell, an other lucky saying!
  I think the Devils in me:----good again,
  I cannot speak one syllable but tends
  To Death or to Damnation._[125]

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

  _Not the last sounding could surprize me more,
  That summons drowsy Mortals to their doom,
  When call'd in hast they fumble for their Limbs:_[126]

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

To return to his _Plays_. In _Love Triumphant_, _Garcia_ makes _Veramond_
this Compliment:

  _May Heaven and your brave Son, and above all,
  Your own prevailing Genius guard your Age._[131]

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

Carl. _What Jew?_

Sanch. _Why the rich Jew my Father. He is gone to the Bosom, of_ Abraham
_his Father, and I his Christian Son am left sole Heir_.[132] A very
mannerly Story! But why does the Poet acquaint us with _Sanchos_ Religion?
The case is pretty plain: 'tis to give a lustre to his Profaness, and make
him burlesque St. _Luke_ with the better Grace. _Alphonso_ complains to
_Victoria_ that _Nature doats with Age_.[133] His reason is, because
Brother and Sister can't Marry as they did at first: 'Tis very well! We
know what _Nature_ means in the Language of Christianity, and especially
under the Notion of a Law-giver. _Alphonso_ goes on, and compares the
Possession of Incestuous Love to Heaven. Yes, 'tis _Eternity in

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

  _That Heaven reserves it for its proper Tast._[135]

This belike is the meaning of those Texts, _that God is good and Gracious,
and slow to anger, and does not willingly afflict the Children of Men_!
From expounding the Bible he goes to the _Common Prayer_. And as _Carlos_
interprets the _Office_ of _Matrimony_, For Better, for Worse, is _for
Virgin for Whore_;[136] And that the Reference might not be mistaken, the
Poet is careful to put the Words in _Italick_, and great Letters. And by
the way, He falls under the _Penalty_ of the Statute for Depraving the
_Common Prayer_.[137]

_Sancho_ upon reading a Letter which he did not like, cries _Damn it, it
must be all Orthodox_.[138] _Damn_ and _Orthodox_ clapt together, make a
lively Rant, because it looks like Cursing the _Creeds_. The most
extraordinary passage is behind; _Sancho_ was unhappily Married: _Carlos
tells him, For your Comfort, Marriage they say is Holy. Sancho_ replies:
_Ay, and so is Martyrdom as they say, but both of them are good for just
nothing, but to make an end of a Mans Life_.[139] I shall make no
Reflections upon This: There needs no Reading upon a Monster: 'Tis shown
enough by its own Deformity. _Love for Love_ has a Strain like this, and
therefore I shall put them together: _Scandal_ solicits Mrs. _Foresight_;
She threatens to tell her Husband. He replys, _He will die a Martyr rather
then disclaim his Passion_.[140] Here we have Adultery dignified with the
stile of Martyrdom: As if 'twas as Honourable to perish in Defence of
Whoring, as to dye for the Faith of Christianity. But these _Martyrs_ will
be a great while in burning, And therefore let no body strive to grace the
Adventure, or encrease the Number. And now I am in this _Play_ the Reader
shall have more. _Jeremy_ who was bred at the University, calls the Natural
Inclinations to Eating and Drinking, _Whoreson Appetites_. This is strange
Language! The _Manicheans_ who made Creation the work of the Devil, could
scarcely have been thus Coarse.[141] But the _Poet_ was _Jeremy's_ Tutor,
and so that Mystery is at an end. Sr. _Samson_ carries on the
Expostulation, rails at the Structure of Human Bodies, and says,[142]
_Nature has been Provident only to Bears, and Spiders_; This is the Authors
Paraphrase on the 139 _Psalm_; And thus he gives God thanks for the
Advantage of his Being! The _Play_ advances from one wickedness to another,
from the _Works_ of God, to the Abuse of his Word. Foresight _confesses
'tis Natural for Men to mistake_.[143] Scandal _replies, You say true, Man
will err, meer Man will err----but you are something more----There have
been wise Men; but they were such as you----Men who consulted the Stars,
and, were observers of Omens_----Solomon _was wise but how?----by his
judgment in Astrology._ 'Tis very well! _Solomon_ and _Foresight_ had their
Understandings qualified alike. And pray what was _Foresight_? Why an
_Illiterate Fellow_. _A pretender to Dreams, Astrology, Palmistry_ &c. This
is the _Poets_ account of _Solomon's_ Supernatural Knowledge![144] Thus the
wisest Prince is dwindled into a Gypsie! And the Glorious Miracle resolved
into Dotage, and Figure-flinging! _Scandal_ continues his Banter, and says,
the _wise Men of the East owed their Instruction to a Star; which is
rightly observ'd by_ Gregory _the Great in favour of Astrology_. This was
the Star which shone at our Saviour's Birth. Now who could imagine by the
Levity of the occasion, that the Author thought it any better than an
_Ignis Fatuus_, or _Sydrophel's_ Kite in _Hudibras_? Sr. _Sampson_ and the
fine _Angelica_, after some lewd raillery continue the Allegory, and drive
it up into Profaness. For this reason the Citation must be imperfect.

_Sr._ Samps. Sampson'_s a very good Name for----your_ Sampsons _were strong
Dogs from the Beginning_.[145]

Angel. _Have a care----If you remember the strongest_ Sampson _of your
Name, pull'd an old House over his Head at last_. Here you have the Sacred
History burlesqu'd, and _Sampson_ once more brought into the House of
_Dagon_, to make sport for the _Philistines_! To draw towards an end of
this _Play. Tattle_ would have carried off _Valentine_'s Mistress. This
later, expresses his Resentment in a most Divine manner! Tattle _I thank
you, you would have interposed between me and Heaven, but Providence has
laid Purgatory in your way_.[146] Thus Heaven is debas'd into an Amour, and
Providence brought in to direct the Paultry concerns of the _Stage!
Angelica_ concludes much in the same strain: _Men are generally Hypocrites
And Infidels, they pretend to Worship, but have neither Zeal, nor Faith;
How few like_ Valentine _would persevere unto Martyrdom? &c._[147] Here you
have the Language of the _Scriptures_, and the most solemn Instances of
Religion, prostituted to Courtship and Romance! Here you have a Mistress
made God Almighty, Ador'd with Zeal and Faith, and Worship'd up to
Martyrdom! This if 'twere only for the Modesty, is strange stuff for a Lady
to say of her self. And had it not been for the profane Allusion, would
have been cold enough in all Conscience.

The _Provok'd Wife_ furnishes the Audience with a Drunken Atheistical
Catch: 'Tis true this Song is afterwards said to be _Full of Sin and
Impudence_.[148] But why then was it made? This Confession is a miserable
_Salvo_; And the Antidote is much weaker than the Poyson: 'Tis just as if a
Man should set a House in a Flame, and think to make amends by crying
_Fire_ in the Streets. In the last _Act Rasor_ makes his Discovery of the
Plot against _Belinda_ in _Scripture_ phrase. I'le give it the _Reader_ in
the Authors Dialogue.

Belind. _I must know who put you upon all this Mischief._[149]

Rasor. _Sathan And his Equipage. Woman tempted me, Lust weaken'd,----And so
the Devil overcame me: As fell_ Adam _so fell I_.

Belind. _Then pray Mr._ Adam _will you make us acquainted with your_ Eve?

_Rasor_ unmasks _Madamoselle_ and says, _This is the Woman that tempted me:
But this is the Serpent_ (meaning Lady _Fanciful_) _that tempted the Woman;
And if my Prayers might be heard, her punishment for so doing should be
like the Serpents of old, &c._ This _Rasor_ in what we hear of him before,
is all Roguery, and Debauch: But now he enters in _Sackcloth_; and talks
like _Tribulation_ in the _Alchemist_. His Character is chang'd to make him
the more profane; And his Habit, as well as Discourse, is a Jest upon
Religion. I am forced to omit one Line of his Confession. The Design of it
is to make the _Bible_ deliver an obscene Thought: And because the Text
would not bend into a Lewd Application; He alters the words for his
purpose, but passes it for Scripture still. This sort of Entertainment is
frequent in the _Relapse_. Lord _Foplington_ laughs at the publick
Solemnities of Religion, as if 'twas a ridiculous piece of Ignorance, to
pretend to the Worship of a God. He discourses with _Berinthia_ and
_Amanda_ in this manner[150]: _Why Faith Madam,----Sunday is a vile Day, I
must confess. A man must have very little to do at Church that can give an
account of the Sermon._ And a little after: _is to mind what one should not
do. Lory_ tells young _Fashion, I have been in a lamentable Fright ever
since that Conscience had the Impudence to intrude into your Company_. His
Master makes him this Comfortable Answer. _Be at peace, it will come no
more:----I have kick'd it down stairs._ A little before he breaks out into
this Rapture. Now Conscience I defie thee![151] By the way we may observe,
that this young _Fashion_ is the _Poets_ Favorite.[152] _Berinthia_ and
_Worthy_, two _Characters_ of Figure, determine the point thus in defence
of Pimping.

Berinth. _Well, I would be glad to have no Bodies Sins to answer for but my
own. But where there is a necessity_----[153]

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

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

  --_What Slippery stuff are Men compos'd of?
  Sure the Account of their Creation's false,
  And 'twas the Womans Rib that they were form'd of._[155]

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

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

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

The Christian _Almeida_ when _Sebastian_ was in danger, Raves and Foames
like one Possess'd,

  _But is there Heaven, for I begin to doubt?[157]
  Now take your swing ye impious Sin unpunish'd,
  Eternal Providence seems over watch'd,
  And with a slumbring Nod assents to Murther._

In the next _page_, she bellows again much after the same manner. The
_Double Dealer_ to say the least of him, follows his Master in this Road,
_Passibus æquis_. Sr. _Paul Plyant_ one would think had done his part: But
the ridiculing _Providence_ won't satisfie all People: And therefore the
next attempt is somewhat bolder.

_Sr._ Paul. _Hold your self contented my Lady_ Plyant,----_I find Passion
coming upon me by Inspiration_.[158] In _Love Triumphant_, _Carlos_ is by
the Constitution of the _Play_ a Christian;[159] and therefore must be
construed in the sense of his Religion. This Man blunders out this horrible
expression. _Nature has given me my Portion in Sense with a P---- to her.
&c._ The _Reader_ may see the Hellish Syllable at Length if he pleases.
This Curse is borrow'd for _Young Fashion_ in the _Relapse_.[160] The
_Double Dealer_ is not yet exhausted. _Cynthia the Top Lady grows
Thoughtful._ Upon the question she relates her Contemplation. Cynth. _I am
thinking (says she) that tho' Marriage makes Man and Wife one Flesh, it
leaves them two Fools._[161] This Jest is made upon a Text in
_Genesis_,[162] and afterwards applyed by our Saviour to the case of
Divorse. _Love for Love_ will give us a farther account of this Authors
Proficiency in the _Scriptures_. Our Blessed Saviour affirms himself _to be
the Way, the Truth, and the Light, that he came to bear witness to the
Truth, and that his Word is Truth_. These expressions were remembred to
good purpose. For _Valentine_ in his pretended Madness tells _Buckram_ the
Lawyer; _I am Truth,----I am Truth----Who's that, that's out of his way, I
am Truth, and can set him right._[163] Now a _Poet_ that had not been
smitten with the pleasure of Blasphemy, would never have furnish'd Frensy
with Inspiration; nor put our Saviours Words in the Mouth of a Madman.
_Lady Brute_, after some struggle between Conscience and Lewdness, declares
in Favour of the later. She says the _part of a downright Wife is to
Cuckold her Husband_.[164] And tho' this is _against the strict Statute Law
of Religion, yet if there was a Court of Chancery in Heaven, she should be
sure to cast him_.[165]

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

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

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

_Terence_ does not run often upon this rock. 'Tis true _Chærea_ falls into
an ill Rapture after his Success.[171] _Chremes_ bids his Wife not tire the
Gods with Thanks:[172] And _Æschinus_ is quite sick of the Religious part
of the Weding.[173] These Instances; excepting his Swearing, are the most,
(and I think near all the) exceptionable Passages of this _Author_.

_Plautus_ is much more bold. But then his sally's are generally made by
_Slaves_ and _Pandars_.

This makes the Example less dangerous, and is some sort of extenuation. I
grant this imperfect excuse wont serve him always. There are some Instances
where his _Persons_ of better Figure are guilty of lewd Defences, Profane
Flights, and Sawcy Expostulation.[174] But the _Roman_ Deities were
_Beings_ of ill Fame, 'tis the less wonder therefore if the _Poets_ were
familiar with them. However, _Plautus_ has something good in him, and
enough to condemn the Practise. _Pleusides would gladly have had the Gods
changed the method of Things, in some Particulars. He would have had frank
good Humour'd People long live'd, and close-fisted Knaves die Young._ To
this _Periplectimenes_ Gravely answers, _That 'tis great Ignorance, and
Misbehaviour to Censure the Conduct of the Gods, or speak dishonorably of
them_.[175] In his _Pseudolus_ the Procurer _Ballio_ talks Profanely. Upon
which _Pseudolus_ makes this Reflection. _This Fellow makes nothing of
Religion, how can we trust him in other matters? For the Gods whom all
People have the greatest reason to fear, are most slighted by him._[176]

The Greek Tragedians are more staunch, and write nearer the Scheme of
Natural Religion. 'Tis true, they have some bold expressions: But then they
generally reprove the Liberty, and punish the Men. _Prometheus_ in
_Æschylus_ blusters with a great deal of Noise, and Stubborness.[177] He is
not for changing Conditions with _Mercury_: And chuses rather to be
miserable, than to submit even to _Jupiter_ himself. The _Chorus_ rebuke
him for his Pride, and threaten him with greater Punishment. And the _Poet_
to make all sure brings him to Execution before the end of the _Play_. He
discharges Thunder and Lightning at his Head; shakes his Rock with an
Earthquake, turns the Air into Whirl-wind, and draws up all the Terrors of
Nature to make him an example. In his _Expedition against Thebes_,
_Eteocles_ expects _Capaneus_ would be destroy'd for his Blasphemies.[178]
Which happen'd accordingly. On the other hand; _Amphiaraus_ being a person
of Virtue, and Piety, they are afraid least he should succeed. _For a
Religious Enemy is almost invincible._[179] _Darius_'s Ghost lays
_Xerxes_'s ruin upon the excess of his Ambition, _'Twas, because he made a
Bridge over the_ Hellespont, _used_ Neptune _contumeliously, and, thought
himself Superiour to Heaven._[180] This Ghost tells the _Chorus that the
Persian Army miscarried for the out-rages they did to Religion, for
breaking down the Altars, and plundering the Gods_.[181]

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

  [Greek: To t' antiphônei deinon arrêton t' epos,]

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

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

I grant _Hercules Oeteus_ in _Seneca_, swaggers at a strange Rhodomontading
rate. But the Conduct of this Author is very indifferent. He makes a meer
_Salamander_ of his _Hero_, and lets him declaim with too much of Length,
Curiosity and Affectation, for one in his Condition: He harangues it with
great plenty of Points, and Sentences in the Fire, and lies frying, and
Philosophizing for near a hundred Lines together. In fine, this Play is so
injudiciously manag'd, that _Heinsius_ is confident 'twas written by
neither of the _Seneca's_, but by some later Author of a lower _Class_. To
return to _Sophocle_'s _Trachiniæ_. _Hyllus_ reproaches the Gods with
Neglect, because they gave _Hercules_ no Assistance, and glances upon
_Jupiter_ himself.[187] This sally is not so thoroughly corrected as
formerly. 'Tis true the _Chorus_ make some little satisfaction immediately
after. They resolve all surprizes of Misfortune, all Revolutions of States
or Families, into the will and Permission of _Jupitur_. This by
implication, They make an argument for acquiescence. Besides, the Poet had
laid in a sort of caution against Misconstruction before. For the
_Messenger_ tells _Dejaneira_ that we ought not to Murmur at the Conduct of

  ----[Greek: Tou logou d' ou chrê Phthonon]
  [Greek: Gonai proseinai Zeus hotou praktôr phanê.]

This for a Heathen is something tho' not enough, _Cleomenes_'s Rant seems
an imitation of _Hyllus_, Only 'tis bolder, and has nothing of the rashness
of Youth to excuse it.[189] Besides _Sophocles_ throws in somewhat by way
of Preservative. Whereas in _Cleomenes_ the Boy _Cleonidas_ has the better
on the wrong side, and seems to carry the cause of Atheism against his
Father.[190] This _Scene_ of a _Famine_ Mr. _Dryden_ calls a Beauty; and
yet Methinks _Cleora_ is not very Charming! Her part is to tell you the
Child suck'd to no purpose.

  _It pull'd and pull'd but now but nothing came,
  At last it drew so hard that the Blood follow'd.
  And that Red Milk I found upon its Lips,
  Which made me swoon for Fear._[191]

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

                    ----_et quæ
  Desperes tractata nitescere posse relinquas._[192]

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

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

Upon the whole; The _Plays_ of _Æschylus_ and _Sophocles_ are formed upon
Models of Virtue: They joyn Innocence with Pleasure, and design the
Improvement, of the _Audience_.

In _Euripides's Bacchæ, Pentheus_ is pull'd in pieces for using _Bacchus_
with Disrespect. And the _Chorus_ observes that God never fails to punish
Impiety, and Contempt of Religion.[196] _Polyphemus_ blusters
Atheistically, and pretends to be as great as _Jupiter_: But then his Eye
is burnt out in the fifth Act.[197] And the _Chorus_ in _Heraclidæ_ affirm
it next to Madness not to worship the Gods. I grant he has some profane
Passages stand uncorrected, and what wonder is it to see a _Pagan_
Miscarry? _Seneca_, as he was inferiour in Judgment to the _Greeks_, so he
is more frequent, and uncautious, in his Flights of extravagance. His
Hero's and Heroines, are excessively bold with the Superior Beings. They
rave to Distraction, and he does not often call them to an account for't.
'Tis true _Ajax Oileus_ is made an Example for Blaspheming in a Storm. He
is first struck with Thunder, and then carried to the Bottom.[198] The
Modern _Poets_, proceed upon the Liberties of _Seneca_, Their Madmen are
very seldom reckon'd with. They are profane without Censure, and defie the
_Living God_ with success. Nay, in some respect they exceed even _Seneca_
himself. He flies out only under Impatience; And never falls into these
Fits without Torture, and hard Usage. But the _English Stage_ are
unprovok'd in their Irreligion, and Blaspheme for their Pleasure. But
supposing the _Theatres_ of _Rome_, and _Athens_ as bad as possible, what
Defence is all This? Can we argue from _Heathenism_ to _Christianity_? How
can the _practise_ be the same, where the _Rule_ is so very different? Have
we not a clearer Light to direct us, and greater Punishments to make us
afraid. Is there no Distinction between Truth and Fiction, between Majesty
and a Pageant? Must God be treated like an Idol, and the _Scriptures_
banter'd like _Homers Elysium_, and _Hesiods Theogonia_? Are these the
Returns we make Him for his Supernatural Assistance? For the more perfect
Discovery of Himself, the stooping of his Greatness, and the Wonders of his
Love. Can't we refuse the Happiness without affronting the Offer? Must we
add Contempt to Disobedience, and Out-rage to Ingratitude? Is there no
Diversion without Insulting the God that made us, the Goodness that would
save us, and the Power that can damn us? Let us not flatter our selves,
_Words_ won't go for Nothing. Profaness is a most Provoking Contempt, and a
Crime of the deepest dye. To break through the Laws of a Kingdom is bad
enough; But to make _Ballads_ upon the _Statute-Book_, and a Jest of
Authority, is much worse. Atheists may fancy what they please, but God will
_Arise and Maintain his own Cause_, and Vindicate his Honour in due time.

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


_The Clergy abused by the_ Stage.

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

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

To give some Instances of their Civility! In the _Spanish Fryer, Dominick_
is made a Pimp for _Lorenzo_;[199] He is call'd _a parcel of Holy Guts and
Garbage_, and said _to have room in his Belly for his Church steeple_.

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

At last _Dominick_ is discover'd to the Company, makes a dishonourable
_Exit_, and is push'd off the _Stage_ by the Rabble. This is great Justice!
The Poet takes care to make him first a Knave, and then an Example: But his
hand is not even. For Lewd _Lorenzo_ comes off with _Flying Colours_. 'Tis
not the Fault which is corrected but the Priest. The Authors Discipline is
seldom without a Biass. He commonly gives the _Laity_ the Pleasure of an
ill Action, and the _Clergy_ the Punishment.

To proceed. _Horner_ in his general Remarks upon Men, delivers it as a sort
of Maxim, _that your Church-man is the greatest Atheist_. In this Play
_Harcourt_ puts on the Habit of a Divine.[202] _Alithea_ does not think him
what he appears; but _Sparkish_ who could not see so far, endeavours to
divert her Suspicion. _I tell you (says he) this is Ned_ Harcourt _of_
Cambridge, _you see he has a sneaking Colledge look_.[203] Afterwards his
Character is sufficiently abused by _Sparkish_ and _Lucy_; but not so much
as by Himself.[204] He tells you in an _Aside_ _he must suit his Stile to
his Coat_. Upon this wise Recollection, He talks like a servile,
impertinent Fop,

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

  ----_is there not one
  Of all thy Tribe that's Honest in your School?
  The Pride of your Superiours makes ye Slaves:
  Ye all live Loathsome, Sneaking, Servile lives:
  Not free enough to Practise generous Truth,
  'Tho ye pretend to teach it to the World._[205]

After a little Pause for Breath, the Railing improves.

  _If thou wouldst have me not contemn thy Office,
  And Character, think all thy Brethren Knaves,
  Thy Trade a Cheat, and thou its worst Professour
  Inform me; for I tell thee Priest I'le know._[206]

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

  _Art thou then
  So far concern'd in't?----
  Curse on that formal steady Villains Face!
  Just so do all Bawds look; Nay Bawds they say;
  Can Pray upon Occasion; talk of Heaven;
  Turn up their Gogling Eye-balls, rail at Vice;
  Dissemble, Lye, and Preach like any Priest,
  Art thou a Bawd?_[207]

The _Old Batchelour_ has a Throw at the _Dissenting Ministers_. The _Pimp
Setter_ provides their Habit for _Bellmour_ to Debauch _Lætitia_. The
Dialogue runs thus.

Bell. _And hast thou Provided Necessaries?_

Setter. _All, all Sir, the large Sanctified Hat, and the little precise
Band, with a Swingeing long Spiritual Cloak, to cover Carnal Knavery,--not
forgetting the black Patch which Tribulation_ Spintext _wears as I'm
inform'd upon one Eye, as a penal Mourning for the----Offences of his
Youth_ &c.[208]

_Barnaby_ calls another of that Character Mr. _Prig_, and _Fondlewife_
carrys on the Humour lewdly in _Play-house Cant_; And to hook the _Church_
of _England_ into the Abuse, he tacks a _Chaplain_ to the End of the

_Lucy_ gives an other Proof of the _Poets_ good Will, but all little
Scurilities are not worth repeating.[210]

In the _Double Dealer_ the discourse between _Maskwell_ and _Saygrace_ is
very notable. _Maskwell_ had a design to cheat _Mellifont_ of his Mistress,
and engages the Chaplain in the Intrigue: There must be a _Levite_ in the
cafe; _For without one of them have a finger in't, no Plot publick, or
private, can expect to prosper_.[211]

To go on in the order of the _Play_.

_Maskwell_ calls out at _Saygraces door_, Mr. _Saygrace_ Mr. _Saygrace_.

The other answers, _Sweet sir I will but pen the last line of an Acrostick,
and be with you in the twingling of an Ejaculation, in the pronouncing of
an_ Amen. _&c._

Mask. _Nay good Mr._ Saygrace _do not prolong the time_, &c.

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

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

Saygr. _I have_, &c.

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

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

The Author of _Don Sebastian_ strikes at the _Bishops_ through the sides of
the _Mufti_, and borrows the Name of the _Turk_, to make the _Christian_
ridiculous. He knows the transition from one Religion to the other is
natural, the Application easy, and the Audience but too well prepar'd. And
should they be at a loss he has elsewhere given them a _Key_ to understand

  _For Priests of all Religions are the same._[212]

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

_Benducar_ speaks,

  ----_Churchmen tho' they itch to govern all,
  Are silly, woful, awkard Polititians,
  They make lame Mischief tho' they mean it well._

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

  _Their Intrest is not finely drawn and hid,
  But seams are coarsly bungled up and seen._[213]

This _Benducar_ was a rare Spokesman for a first _Minister_; And would have
fitted _John_ of _Leyden_ most exactly!

In the Fourth _Act_ the Mufti is _Depos'd_ and _Captain Tom_ reads him a
shrewd Lecture at parting. But let that pass:

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

Mufti. _I hope you will not be so barbarous to torture me. We may Preach
Suffering to others, but alas holy Flesh is too well pamper'd to endure
Martyrdom._[214] By the way, if flinching from _Suffering_ is a proof of
_Holy Flesh_, the _Poet_ is much a Saint in his Constitution, witness his
_Dedication_ of _King Arthur_.

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

  _Accurs'd be thou Grass-eating fodderd God!
  Accurs'd thy Temple! more accurs'd thy Priests!_[215]

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

We have much such another swaggering against Priests in _Oedipus_.

  _Why seek I Truth from thee?
  The smiles of Courtiers and the Harlots tears,
  The Tradesmens Oaths, and Mourning of an Heir,
  Are Truths to what Priests tell.
  O why has Priesthood privilege to Lie,
  And yet to be believ'd!_[216]

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

When _Ægeon_ brought the News of King _Polybus_'s Death, _Oedipus_ was
wonderfully surpriz'd at the Relation.

  _O all ye Powers is't possible? what, Dead!_[217]

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

  _Fell like Autumn Fruit that mellow'd long,
  Ev'n wondred at because he dropt no sooner._[218]

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

  _That so the Tempest of my joys may rise
  By just degrees, and hit at last the Stars._[219]

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

  _Know, be it known to the limits of the World_;

This is scarce Sence, be it known.

  _Yet farther, let it pass yon dazling roof
  The Mansion of the Gods, and strike them deaf
  With Everlasting peals of Thundring joy._

This Fustian puts me in mind of a _Couplet_ of _Taylors_ the _Water_ Poet,
which for the Beauty of the Thought are not very unlike.

  _What if A Humble Bee should chance to strike,
  With the But-End of an Antartick Pole._

I grant Mr. _Dryden_ clears himself of this _Act_ in his _Vindication_ of
the _Duke_ of _Guise_. But then why did he let these crude Fancies pass
uncorrected in his Friend? Such fluttering ungovern'd Transports, are
fitter for a Boys _Declamation_ then a _Tragedy_. But I shall trouble my
self no farther with this _Play_. To return therefore to the Argument in
Hand. In the _Provok'd Wife_ Sir _John Brute_ puts on the Habit of a
Clergyman, counterfeits himself drunk; quarrels with the _Constable_, and
is knock'd down and seiz'd. He rails, swears, curses, is lewd and profane,
to all the Heights of Madness and Debauchery: The _Officers_ and _Justice_
break jests upon him, and make him a sort of Representative of his

This is rare _Protestant_ Diversion, and very much for the Credit of the
_Reformation_! The Church of _England_, I mean the Men of Her, is the only
Communion in the World, that will endure such Insolences as these: The
_Relapse_ is if possible more singularly abusive. _Bull_ the Chaplain
wishes the Married couple joy, in Language horribly Smutty and
Profane.[221] To transcribe it would blot the Paper to much. In the next
_Page_ _Young Fashion_ desires _Bull_ to make hast to Sr. _Tun-belly_. He
answers very decently, _I fly my good Lord_.[222] At the end of this _Act
Bull_ speaks to the Case of _Bigamy_, and determines it thus. _I do confess
to take two Husbands for the Satisfaction of ---- is to commit the Sin of
Exorbitancy, but to do it for the peace of the Spirit, is no more then to
be Drunk by way of Physick; besides to prevent a Parents wrath is to avoid
the Sin of Disobedience, for when the Parent is Angry, the Child is
froward_: The Conclusion is insolently Profane, and let it lie: The spirit
of this Thought is borrow'd from Ben _Johnsons_ _Bartholomew-Fair_, only
the Profaness is mightily improved, and the Abuse thrown off the _Meeting
House_, upon the _Church_. The Wit of the _Parents being angry_, and the
_Child froward_, is all his own.[223] _Bull_ has more of this Heavy stuff
upon his Hands. He tells _Young Fashion_ _Your Worships goodness is
unspeakable, yet there is one thing seems a point of Conscience; And
Conscience is a tender Babe_. &c.[224]

These _Poets_ I observe when They grow lazy, and are inclined to Nonsence,
they commonly get a Clergy-man to speak it. Thus they pass their own
Dulness for Humour, and gratifie their Ease, and their Malice at once.
_Coupler_ instructs _Young Fashion_ which way _Bull_ was to be managed. He
tells him as _Chaplains go now, he must be brib'd high, he wants Money,
Preferment, Wine, and a Whore. Let this be procured for him, and I'll
warrant thee he speaks Truth like an Oracle_.[225]

A few Lines forward, the Rudeness is still more gross, and dash'd with
Smut, the common _Play-house_ Ingredient. 'Tis not long before _Coupler_
falls into his old Civilities. He tells _Young Fashion, Last Night the
Devil run away with the Parson of_ Fatgoose _Living_.[226] Afterwards
_Bull_ is plentifully rail'd on in down right _Billings-gate_: made to
appear Silly, Servile, and Profane; and treated both in Posture and
Language, with the utmost Contempt.[227]

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

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

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

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

  [Greek: Houneka ton Chrysên êtimês' arêtêra][228]
  [Greek: Atreidês.]

_Adrastus_ and _Amphius_ the Sons of _Merops_ a _Prophet_, commanded a
considerable extent of Country in _Troas_,[229] and brought a Body of Men
to King _Priam's_ Assistance.[230] And _Ennomus_ the Augur commanded the
Troops of _Mysia_ for the Besieged.

_Phegeus_ and _Idæus_ were the Sons of _Dares_ the Priest of _Vulcan_.[231]
They appear in an Equipage of Quality, and charge _Diomedes_ the third Hero
in the _Grecian_ Army. _Idæus_ after the Misfortune of the Combat, is
brought off by _Vulcan_. _Dolopion_ was _Priest_ to _Scamander_,[232] and
regarded like the God he _Belong'd_ to,

  [Greek: Theos d' hôs tieto dêmô.][233]

_Ulisses_ in his return from _Troy_, took _Ismarus_ by Storm, and makes
Prize of the whole Town, excepting _Maron_, and his Family. This _Maron_
was _Apollo's Priest_, and preserv'd out of respect to his Function: He
presents _Ulisses_ nobly in Gold, Plate, and Wine; And this Hero makes an
honourable Mention of him, both as to his Quality, and way of Living.[234]

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

To the Testimony of _Homer_, I shall joyn that of _Virgil_, who tho' He
follows at a great distance of Time, was an Author of the first Rank, and
wrote the same kind of Poetry with the other. Now _Virgil_ tho' he is very
extraordinary in his Genius, in the Compass of his Learning, in the Musick
and Majesty of his Stile; yet the exactness of his Judgment seems to be his
peculiar, and most distinguishing Talent. He had the truest Relish
imaginable, and always described Things according to _Nature_, _Custom_,
and _Decency_. He wrote with the greatest Command of _Temper_, and
_Superiority_ of good _Sense_. He is never lost in smoak and Rapture, nor
overborn with Poetick Fury; but keeps his Fancy warm and his Reason Cool at
the same time. Now this great Master of Propriety never Mentions any
_Priests_ without some _Marks_ of _Advantage_. To give some Instances as
they lie in Order.

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

  _Trojaque nunc stares Priamique arx alta maneres_.

This _Laocoon_ was _Neptunes_ Priest, and either Son to _Priam_, or Brother
to _Anchises_, who was of the Royal Family.[236] The next we meet with is
_Pantheus Apollo's_ Priest. He is call'd _Pantheus Otriades_, which is an
argument his Father was well known. His acquaintance with _Æneas_ to whose
House he was carrying his little Grandson, argues him to be a Person of
Condition.[237] _Pantheus_ after a short relation of the Posture of
Affairs, joyns _Æneas_'s little Handful of Men, charges in with him when
the Town was seiz'd, and fired, and at last dies Handsomly in the

The next is _Anius_ King of _Delos_, Prince and _Priest_ in one Person.

  _Rex Anius, rex idem hominum Phoebique Sacerdos._[239]

When _Æneas_ was outed at _Troy_, and in quest of a new Country, he came to
an Anchor at _Delos_; _Anius_ meets him in a Religious Habit, receives him
civilly, and obliges him with his _Oracle_.[240] In the Book now Mention'd
we have another of _Apollo's_ Priests, his name is _Helenus_, Son of
_Priam_ and King of _Chaonia_. He entertains _Æneas_ with a great deal of
Friendship, and Magnificence, gives him many material Directions, and makes
him a rich Present at parting. To this Prince if you Please we may joyn a
Princess of the same Profession; and that is _Rhea Silvia_ Daughter to
_Numitor_ King of _Alba_, and Mother to _Romulus_, and _Remus_. This Lady
_Virgil_ calls----_regina Sacerdos_ a Royal Priestess.[241] Farther. When
_Æneas_ made a Visit upon Business to the _shades Below_, He had for his
Guide, the famous _Sibylla Cumæa_, who Belong'd to _Apollo_.[242] When he
came thither amongst the rest of his Acquantance he saw _Polybætes_ a
Priest of _Ceres_. This _Polybætes_ is mention'd with the three Sons of
_Antenor_, with _Glaucus_, and _Thersilochus_, who Commanded in Cheif in
the _Trojan Auxiliaries_: So that you may know his Quality by his Company.
When _Æneas_ had passed on farther, he saw _Orpheus_ in _Elysium_: The Poet
calls him the _Thracian_ Priest. There needs not be much said of _Orpheus_;
He is famous for his skill in Musick, Poetry, and Religious
Ceremonies,[243] He was one of the Hero's of Antiquity, and a principal
Adventurer in the Expedition for the _Golden-Fleece_.

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

  _Quin & Marrubia venit de gente Sacerdos,
  Archippi regis missu fortissimus Umbro._

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

  _Te nemus Angitiæ, vitrea te Fucinus unda,
  Te liquidi flevere lacus._[244]

The _Potitij_, and the _Pinarij_ Mention'd _Æneid 8._[245] were as _Livy_
observes, chosen out of the first Quality of the Country, and had the
_Priesthood_ hereditary to their Family. To go on, _Æmonides_, and
_Chloreus_ make a glittering Figure in the _Feild_, and are very remarkable
for the Curiosity of their Armour, and Habit. _Æmonides_'s _Finery_ is
passed over in general.

  _Totus collucens veste atque insignibus armis._[246]

But the Equipage of _Chloreus_ is flourish'd out at Length, and as I
remember admired by _Macrobius_ as one of the Master peices of _Virgil_ in
Description. In short; He is all Gold, Purple, Scarlet, and
Embroydery;[247] and as rich as Nature, Art, and Rhetorick can make him. To
these I might add _Rhamnes_, _Asylas_, and _Tolumnius_, who were all
Persons of Condition, and had Considerable Posts in the Army.[248]

It may be these last were not strictly _Priests_. Their Function was rather
_Prophetick_. They interpreted the Resolutions of the Gods, by the voice of
Birds, the Inspection of Sacrifices, and their Observations of Thunder.
This made their Character counted Sacred, and their Relation to the Deity
particular. And therefore the _Romans_ ranged them in the _Order_ of the

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

I shall now go on to enquire what the Greek _Tragedians_ will afford us
upon the present Subject. There are but two _Plays_ in _Æschylus_ where the
_Ministers_ of the Gods are represented. The one is in his _Eumenides_, and
here _Apollo_'s _Priestess_ only opens the _Play_ and appears no more. The
other is in his _Seige_ of _Thebes_. In this Tragedy the _Prophet
Amphiaraus_ is one of the Seven Commanders against the _Town_. He has the
Character of a Modest, Brave Officer, and of one who rather affected to be
great in Action, than Noise.

In _Sophocle_'s _Oedipus Tyrannus_, _Jupiter's Priest_ has a short part. He
appears at the Head of an _Address_, and delivers the Harangue by the
King's Order. _Oedipus_ in his Passion treats _Tiresias_ ruggedly;[250]
_Tiresias_ replies with Spirit and Freedom; and plainly tell him he was
none of his _Servant_ but _Apollo_'s.

  [Greek: Ou gar ti soi zô doulos alla loxia][251]

And here we may observe that all _Oedipus_ his reproaches relate to
_Tiresias_'s person, there is no such Thing as a general Imputation upon
his Function: But the _English Oedipus_ makes the _Priesthood_ an
Imposturous Profession;[252] and rails at the whole _Order_. In the next
Tragedy, _Creon_ charges _Tiresias_ with subornation; and that he intended
to make a Penny of his Prince. The _Priest_ holds up his Character, speaks
to the ill Usage with an Air of Gravity, calls the King _Son_, and
foretells him his Misfortune.[253]

To go on to _Euripides_, for _Sophocles_ has nothing more. This Poet in his
_Phænissæ_ brings in _Tiresias_ with a very unacceptable report from the
_Oracle_. He tells _Creon_ that either his Son must die, or the City be
lost. _Creon_ keeps himself within Temper, and gives no ill Language. And
even when _Moenecius_ had kill'd himself, he neither complains of the Gods,
nor reproaches the _Prophet_.[254]

In his _Bacchæ_, _Tiresias_ is honourably used by _Cadmus_; And _Pentheus_
who threatned him, is afterwards punish'd for his Impiety.[255] In another
_Play_ _Apollo_'s _Priestess_ comes in upon a creditable account, and is
respectfully treated.[256] _Iphigenia_ _Agamemnon_'s Daughter is made
_Priestess_ to _Diana_; and her Father thought himself happy in her
Employment.[257] These are all the _Priests_ I remember represented in
_Euripides_. To conclude the antient _Tragedians_ together: _Seneca_ seems
to follow the Conduct of _Euripides_, and secures _Tiresias_ from being
outraged. _Oedipus_ carries it smoothly with him and only desires him to
out with the Oracle, and declare the Guilty Person. This _Tiresias_
excuses, and afterwards the Heat of the expostulation falls upon
_Creon_.[258] _Calchas_ if not strictly a _Priest_, was an _Augur_, and had
a Religious Relation. Upon this account _Agamemnon_ calls him _interpres
Deorum_; The Reporter of Fate, and the God's _Nuntio_; And gives him an
honourable Character.[259]

This Author is done; I shall therefore pass on to the _Comedians_. And
here, _Aristophanes_ is so declared an Atheist, that I think him not worth
the citing. Besides, he has but little upon the Argument: And where he does
engage it, the _Priests_ have every jot as good Quarter as the Gods.[260]
As for _Terence_, he neither represents any _Priests_, nor so much as
mentions them. _Chrysalus_ in _Plautus_ describes _Theotimus Diana's
Priest_, as a Person of Quality, and Figure.[261] In his _Rudens_ we have a
_Priestess_ upon the _Stage_, which is the only Instance in this
_Poet_.[262] She entertains the two Women who were wrecked, and is
commended for her hospitable Temper. The Procurer _Labrax_ swaggers that he
will force the Temple, and begins the Attack. _Demades_ a Gentleman, is
surprized at his Insolence, and threatens him with Revenge. The report of
so bold an attempt made him cry out. _Quis homo est tanta Confidentia; qui
sacerdotem andeat Violare?_[263] It seems in those Days 'twas very infamous
to affront a _Holy Character_, and break in upon the _Guards_ of Religion!
Thus we see how the Antient Poets behaved themselves in the Argument.
_Priests_ seldom appear in their _Plays_. And when they come 'tis Business
of Credit that brings them. They are treated like Persons of Condition.
They Act up to their Relation; neither sneak, nor prevaricate, nor do any
thing unbecoming their Office.

And now a word or two of the _Moderns_.

The famous _Corneille_ and _Moliere_, bring no _Priests_ of any kind upon
the _Stage_. The former leaves out _Tiresias_ in his _Oedipus_: Tho' this
Omission balks his Thought, and maims the _Fable_. What therefore but the
regard to Religion could keep him from the use of this Liberty? As I am
informed the same Reservedness is practis'd in _Spain_, and _Italy_: And
that there is no Theatre in _Europe_ excepting the _English_, that
entertains the _Audience_ with _Priests_.

This is certainly the right method, and best secures the Outworks of Piety.
The Holy Function is much too Solemn to be play'd with. Christianity is for
no Fooling, neither the _Place_, the _Occasion_ nor the _Actors_ are fit
for such a Representation. To bring the _Church_ into the _Playhouse_, is
the way to bring the _Playhouse_ into the _Church_. 'Tis apt to turn
Religion into _Romance_, and make unthinking People conclude that all
Serious Matters are nothing but _Farce_, _Fiction_, and _Design_. 'Tis true
the _Tragedies_ at _Athens_ were a sort of _Homilies_, and design'd for the
Instruction of the People: To this purpose they are all Clean, Solemn, and
Sententious. _Plautus_ likewise informs us that the _Comedians_ used to
teach the People Morality.[264] The case standing thus 'tis less suprizing
to find the _Priests_ sometimes Appear. The Play had grave Argument, and
Pagan Indulgence, to plead in its behalf. But our _Poets_ steer by an other
_Compass_. Their Aim is to _destroy_ Religion, their _Preaching_ is against
_Sermons_; and their Business, but Diversion at the best. In short, Let the
Character be never so well managed no Christian _Priest_ (especially,)
ought to come upon the _Stage_. For where the Business is an Abuse, and the
place a Profanation; the demureness of the Manner, is but a poor excuse.
Monsieur _Racine_ is an Exception to what I have observ'd in _France_. In
his _Athalia_, _Joida_ the _High-Priest_ has a large part. But then the
Poet does him Justice in his Station; he makes him Honest and Brave, and
gives him a shining Character throughout. _Mathan_ is another _Priest_ in
the same Tragedy. He turns Renegado, and revolts from God to _Baal_. He is
a very ill Man but makes a considerable Appearance, and is one of the Top
of _Athaliahs_ Faction. And as for the _Blemishes_ of his Life, they all
stick upon his own Honour, and reach no farther than his Person: In fine
the _Play_ is a very Religious Poem; 'Tis upon the Matter all _Sermon_ and
_Anthem_. And if it were not designed for the _Theatre_, I have nothing to

Let us now just look over our own Country-men till King _Charles_ the
Second. _Shakespear_ takes the Freedom to represent the _Clergy_ in several
of his _Plays_: But for the most part he holds up the _Function_, and makes
them neither Act, nor Suffer any thing unhandsom. In one Play or two He is
much bolder with the _Order_.[265] Sr. _Hugh Evans_ a _Priest_ is too
Comical and Secular in his Humour. However he understands his Post, and
converses with the Freedom of a Gentleman. I grant in _Loves Labour lost_
the _Curate_ plays the Fool egregiously; And so does the _Poet_ too, for
the whole _Play_ is a very silly one. In the History of Sr. _John
Old-Castle_, Sr. _John, Parson_ of _Wrotham_ Swears, Games, Wenches, Pads,
Tilts, and Drinks: This is extreamly bad, and like the Author of the
_Relapse_ &c. Only with this difference; _Shakespears_, Sr. _John_ has some
Advantage in his Character. He appears Loyal, and Stout; He brings in Sr.
_John Acton_, and other Rebels Prisoners. He is rewarded by the King, and
the Judge uses him Civilly and with Respect. In short He is represented
Lewd, but not Little; And the Disgrace falls rather on the Person, then the
Office. But the _Relapsers_ business, is to sink the Notion, and Murther
the Character, and make the Function despicable: So that upon the whole,
_Shakespear_ is by much the gentiler Enemy.

Towards the End of the _Silent Woman_, _Ben Johnson_ brings in a
_Clergy-man_, and a _Civilian_ in their _Habits_. But then he premises a
handsom Excuse, acquaints the _Audience_, that the _Persons_ are but
borrowed, and throws in a _Salvo_ for the Honour of either profession. In
the Third _Act_, we have another _Clergy-man_; He is abused by _Cutberd_,
and a little by _Morose_. But his Lady checks him for the ill Breeding of
the Usage. In his _Magnetick Lady_, _Tale of a Tub_, and _Sad Sheapherd_,
there are _Priests_ which manage but untowardly. But these _Plays_ were his
_last Works_, which Mr. _Dryden_ calls _his Dotages_.[266] This Author has
no more _Priests_, and therefore we'll take Leave.

_Beaumont_ and _Fletcher_ in the _Faithful Shepheardess_, _The False one_,
_A Wife for a Month_, and the _Knight of Malta_, give, us both _Priests_
and _Bishops_, part Heathen and part Christian: But all of them save their
Reputation and make a creditable Appearance. The _Priests_ in the _Scornful
Lady_, and _Spanish Curate_ are ill used. The first is made a Fool, and the
other a Knave. Indeed they seem to be brought in on purpose to make sport,
and disserve Religion. And so much for _Beaumont_ and _Fletcher_.

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

I shall now take Leave of the _Poets_, and touch a little upon History and

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

I. _Because of their Relation to the Deity._

II. _Because of the Importance of their Office._

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

I. _Upon the account of their Relation to the Deity._

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

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

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

_1st._ For the Jews. _Josephus_ tells us the Line of _Aaron_ made some of
the best Pedigrees, and that the _Priests_ were reckon'd among the
Principal Nobility.[267]

By the Old _Testament_ we are inform'd that the _High-Priest_ was the
Second Person in the Kingdom.[268] The Body of that _Order_ had Civil
Jurisdiction. And the _Priests_ continued Part of the Magistracy in the
time of our Saviour. _Jehoiada_ the _High-Priest_ was thought an Alliance
big enough for the Royal Family.[269] He Married the Kings Daughter; His
Interest and Authority was so great that he broke the Usurpation under
_Athalia_; and was at the Head of the Restauration. And lastly the
_Assamonean_ Race were both Kings and Priests.[270]

To Proceed. The _Ægyptian_  Monarchy was one of the most antient and best
polish'd upon Record. Here Arts and Sciences, the Improvment of Reason, and
the Splendor of Life had its first Rise. Hither 'twas that _Plato_ and most
of the Celebrated Philosophers travel'd for their Learning. Now in this
Kingdom the _Priests_ made no vulgar Figure. These with the Military Men
were the Body of the Nobility, and Gentry. Besides the Business of
Religion, the _Priests_ were the Publick _Annalists_ and kept the Records
of _History_, and _Government_. They were many of them bred in Courts,
formed the Education of their Princes, and assisted at their Councils.[271]
When _Joseph_ was Viceroy of _Ægypt_, and in all the height of his Pomp,
and Power, the King Married him to the Daughter of _Potipherah Priest_ of
_On_. The Text says _Pharaoh gave him her to Wife_.[272] This shows the
Match was deliberate Choice, and Royal Favour, no stooping of Quality, or
Condescensions of Love, on _Joseph_'s Side.

To pass on. The _Persian Magi_, and the _Druids_, of _Gaul_ were of a
Religious Profession, and consign'd to the Service of the Gods. Now all
these were at the upper End of the Government, and had a great share of
Regard and Authority.[273] The Body of the _Indians_ as _Diodorus Siculus_
reports is divided into Seven parts. The first is the _Clan_ of the
_Bramines_, the _Priests_, and Philosophers of that Country. 'This Division
is the least in Number, but the first in Degree. Their Privileges are
extraordinary. They are exempted from Taxes, and Live Independent of
Authority. They are called to the Sacrifices, and take care of Funerals;
They are look'd on as the Favourites of the Gods, and thought skillful in
the Doctrins of an other Life: And upon these accounts are largely
consider'd in Presents, and Acknowledgment. The _Priestesses_ of _Argos_
were so Considerable, that _Time_ is dated from them, and they stand for a
Reign in _Chronology_.[274] The Brave _Romans_ are commended by _Polybius_
for their Devotion to the Gods; Indeed they gave great Proof of their being
in earnest; For when thier Cheif Magistrates, their Consuls themselves, met
any of the _Vestals_, they held down their _Fasces_, and stoop'd their
_Sword_ and _Mace_ to Religion.[275]

The _Priest-hood_ was for sometime confin'd to the _Patrician_ Order, that
is to the Upper Nobility. And afterwards the _Emperours_ were generally
_High-Priests_ themselves. The Romans in distress endeavour'd to make
Friends with _Coriolanus_ whom they had banish'd before. To this purpose
they furnish'd out several _Solemn_ Embasayes. Now the Regulation of the
Ceremony, and the Remarks of the Historian;[276] plainly discover that the
_Body_ of the _Priests_ were thought not inferior to any other. One
Testimony from _Tully_ and I have done. 'Tis in his Harangue to the College
of the _Priests_.[277] _Cum multa divinitus, Pontifices, a majoribus
nostris inventa atque instituta sunt; tum nihil preclarius quam quòd vos
eosdem et Religionibus Deorum immortalium, & summe Rei publicæ præesse
voluerunt._ &c. _i. e. Amongst the many laudable Instances of our Ancestors
Prudence, and Capacity, I know nothing better contrived then their placing
your Order at the Helm, and setting the same Persons at the Head both of
Religion, and Government._ Thus we see what _Rank_ the _Priest-hood_ held
among the _Jews_, and how Nature taught the _Heathen_ to regard it. And is
it not now possess'd of as fair pretences as formerly? Is Christianity any
disadvantage to the Holy Office. And does the Dignity of a Religion lessen
the Publick Administrations in't? The _Priests of the most High God_ and of
_Idolatry_, can't be compared without Injury. To argue for the Preference
is a Reflection upon the _Creed_. 'Tis true the _Jewish Priest-hood_ was
instituted by God: But every Thing Divine is not of Equal Consideration.
_Realities_ are more valuable than _Types_; And as the Apostle argues, the
_Order_ of _Melchizedeck_ is greater than that of _Aaron_.[278] The Author,
(I mean the immediate one,) the Authorities, the Business, and the End, of
the _Christian Priest-hood_, are more Noble than those of the _Jewish_. For
is not _Christ_ greater than _Moses_, _Heaven_ better than the Land of
_Canaan_, and the _Eucharist_ to be prefer'd to all the _Sacrifices_, and
_Expiations_ of the _Law_? Thus the Right, and the Reason of Things stands.
And as for _Fact_, the Christian World have not been backward in their
Acknowledgments. Ever since the first Conversion of Princes, the
_Priest-hood_ has had no small share of Temporal Advantage. The _Codes_,
_Novels_, and _Church History_, are Sufficient Evidence what Sense
_Constantine_ and his Successors had of these Matters. But I shall not
detain the _Reader_ in remote Instances.

To proceed then to Times and Countries more generally known. The People of
_France_ are branched into three Divisions, of these the _Clergy_, are the
First. And in consequence of this Privilege, at the Assembly of the
_States_, they are first admitted to Harangue before the King.[279]

In _Hungary_ the _Bishops_ are very Considerable, and some of them great
Officers of _State_.[280] In _Poland_ they are _Senators_ that is part of
the Upper _Nobless_. In _Muscovy_ the _Bishops_ have an Honourable Station;
and the Present Czar is descended from the _Patriarchal_ Line.[281] I
suppose I need say nothing of _Italy_. In _Spain_ the _Sees_ generally are
better endowed than elswhere, and Wealth alwaies draws Consideration.[282]
The _Bishops_ hold their Lands by a Military Noble _Tenure_, and are
excused from Personal Attendance. And to come toward an end; They are Earls
and Dukes in _France_, and Soveraign Princes, in _Germany_.[283] In
_England_ the _Bishops_ are Lords of Parliament: And the _Law_ in plain
words distinguishes the _Upper House_ into the _Spiritual_ and _Temporal
Nobility_. And several _Statutes_ call the Bishops _Nobles_ by direct
Implication.[284] To mention nothing more, their _Heraldry_ is regulated by
_Garter_, and _Blazon'd_ by _Stones_, which none under the _Nobility_ can
pretend to. In this Country of ours, Persons of the First Quality have been
in _Orders_; To give an Instance of some few. _Odo_ Brother to _William_
the _Conquerour_ was _Bishop_ of _Baieux_, and Earl of _Kent_. King
_Stephens_ Brother was _Bishop_ of _Winchester_. _Nevill Arch-Bishop_ of
_York_ was Brother to the Great Earl of _Warwick_, and _Cardinal Pool_ was
of the Royal Family. To come a little lower, and to our own Times. And here
we may reckon not a few Persons of Noble Descent in Holy _Orders_. Witness
the _Berklyes_, _Comptons_, _Montagues_, _Crews_, and _Norths_; The
_Annesleys_, _Finches_, _Grayhams_ &c. And as for the Gentry, there are not
many good Families in _England_, but either have, or have had a
_Clergy-man_ in them,

In short; The _Priest-hood_ is the profession of a Gentleman. A _Parson_
notwithstanding the ignorant Pride of some People, is a Name of Credit, and
Authority, both in Religion, and _Law_. The _Addition_ of _Clerk_ is at
least equal to that of Gentleman. Were it otherwise the _Profession_ would
in many cases be a kind of Punishment. But the _Law_ is far from being so
singular as to make _Orders_ a Disadvantage to _Degree_. No, The Honour of
the Family continues, and the _Heraldry_ is every jot as safe in the
_Church_, as 'twas in the _State_. And yet when the _Laity_ are taken leave
of, not _Gentleman_ but _Clerk_ is usually written. This Custom is an
argument the Change is not made for the worse, that the Spiritual
Distinction is as valuable as the other; And to speak Modestly, that the
first _Addition_ is not lost, but Cover'd. Did the Subject require it, this
Point might be farther made good. For the stile of a higher Secular Honour
is continued as well with _Priest-hood_ as without it. A Church-man who is
either _Baronet, or Baron_, writes himself so, notwithstanding His
_Clerkship_. Indeed we can't well imagine the Clergy degraded from Paternal
Honour without a strange Reflection on the Country; without supposing
_Julian_ at the Helm, the _Laws_ Antichristian, and _Infidelity_ in the
very _Constitution_. To make the Ministers of Religion less upon the score
of their Function, would be a Penalty on the _Gospel_, and a contempt of
the God of Christianity. 'Tis our Saviours reasoning; _He that despises
you, despises Me, and he that Despises Me, Despises Him that sent me._[285]

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

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

If 'tis Objected that the _Clergy_ in _Plays_ are commonly _Chaplains_, And
that these _Belonging_ to Persons of Quality they were obliged to represent
them servile and submissive. To this I Answer

_1st._ In my former remark, that the _Stage_ often outrages the whole
_Order_, without regard to any particular Office. But were it not so in the

_2d._ Place, They quite overlook the Character, and mistake the Business of
_Chaplains_. They are no _Servants_, neither do they _Belong_ to any
_Body_, but God Almighty. This Point I have fully proved in another,
_Treatise_,[286] and thither I refer the _Reader_.


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

The Lines of Virtue and Vice are Struck out by Nature in very Legible
Distinctions; They tend to a different Point, and in the greater Instances
the Space between them is easily perceiv'd. Nothing can be more unlike than
the Original Forms of these Qualities: The First has all the sweetness,
Charms, and Graces imaginable; The other has the Air of a _Post_ ill Carved
into a _Monster_, and looks both foolish and Frightful together. These are
the Native Appearances of good and Evil: And they that endeavour to blot
the Distinctions, to rub out the Colours, or change the Marks, are
extreamly to blame. 'Tis confessed as long as the Mind is awake, and
Conscience goes true, there's no fear of being imposed on. But when Vice is
varnish'd over with Pleasure, and comes in the Shape of Convenience, the
case grows somewhat dangerous; for then the Fancy may be gain'd, and the
Guards corrupted, and Reason suborn'd against it self. And thus a
_Disguise_ often passes when the Person would otherwise be stopt. To put
_Lewdness_ into a Thriving condition, to give it an Equipage of Quality,
and to treat it with Ceremony and Respect, is the way to confound the
Understanding, to fortifie the Charm, and to make the Mischief invincible.
Innocence is often owing to Fear, and Appetite is kept under by Shame; But
when these Restraints are once taken off, when Profit and Liberty lie on
the same side, and a Man can Debauch himself into Credit, what can be
expected in such a case, but that Pleasure should grow Absolute, and
Madness carry all before it? The _Stage_ seem eager to bring Matters to
this Issue; They have made a considerable progress, and are still pushing
their Point with all the Vigour imaginable. If this be not their Aim why is
_Lewdness_ so much consider'd in Character and Success? Why are their
Favourites Atheistical, and their fine Gentleman debauched? To what purpose
is _Vice_ thus prefer'd, thus ornamented, and caress'd, unless for
Imitation? That matter of Fact stands thus, I shall make good by several
Instances: To begin then with their Men of Breeding and Figure.
_Wild-blood_ sets up for _Debauchery_, Ridicules Marriage, and Swears by
_Mahomet_.[287] _Bellamy_ makes sport with the Devil,[288] and _Lorenzo_ is
vitious and calls his Father _Bawdy Magistrate.[289] Horner_ is horridly
Smutty, and _Harcourt_ false to his Friend who used him kindly.[290] In the
_Plain Dealer_ _Freeman_ talks coarsely, cheats the Widdow, debauches her
Son, and makes him undutiful. _Bellmour_ is Lewd and Profane,[291] And
_Mellefont_ puts _Careless_ in the best way he can to debauch _Lady
Plyant_.[292] These _Sparks_ generally Marry up the Top Ladys, and those
that do not, are brought to no Pennance, but go off with the Character of
Fine Gentlemen: In _Don-Sebastian_, _Antonio_ an Atheistical Bully is
rewarded with the Lady _Moraima_, and half the _Muffty_'s Estate.
_Valentine_ in _Love for Love_ is (if I may so call him) the Hero of the
_Play_;[293] This Spark the _Poet_ would pass for a Person of Virtue, but
he speaks to late. 'Tis true, He was hearty in his Affection to _Angelica_.
Now without question, to be in Love with a fine Lady of 30000 Pounds is a
great Virtue! But then abating this single Commendation, _Valentine_ is
altogether compounded of Vice.[294] He is a prodigal Debauchee, unnatural,
and Profane, Obscene, Sawcy, and undutiful, And yet this Libertine is
crown'd for the Man of Merit, has his Wishes thrown into his Lap, and makes
the Happy _Exit_. I perceive we should have a rare set of _Virtues_ if
these _Poets_ had the making of them! How they hug a Vitious Character, and
how profuse are they in their Liberalities to Lewdness? In the _Provoked
Wife_, _Constant_ Swears at Length, solicits Lady _Brute_, Confesses
himself Lewd, and prefers Debauchery to Marriage. He handles the last
Sybject very notably and worth the Hearing. _There is_ (says he) _a poor
sordid Slavery in Marriage, that turns the flowing Tide of Honour, and
sinks it to the lowest ebb of Infamy. 'Tis a Corrupted Soil, Ill Nature,
Avarice, Sloth, Cowardize, and Dirt, are all its Product_.--But then
_Constancy (alias Whoring) is a Brave, Free, Haughty, Generous, Agent_.
This is admirable stuff both for the Rhetorick and the Reason![295] The
Character _Young Fashion_ in the _Relapse_ is of the same Staunchness, but
this the _Reader_ may have in another Place.

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

The fine Ladies are of the same Cut with the Gentlemen; _Moraima_ is
scandalously rude to her Father, helps him to a beating, and runs away with
_Antonio_.[296] _Angelica_ talks sawcily to her Uncle,[297] and _Belinda_
confesses her Inclination for a Gallant.[298] And as I have observ'd
already,[299] the Toping Ladies in the _Mock Astrologer_, _Spanish Fryar_,
_Country Wife_, _Old Batchelour_, _Orphan_, _Double Dealer_, and _Love
Triumphant_, are smutty, and sometimes Profane.

And was Licentiousness and irreligion, alwaies a mark of Honour? No; I
don't perceive but that the old _Poets_ had an other Notion of
Accomplishment, and bred their people of Condition a different way.
_Philolaches_ in _Plautus_ laments his being debauch'd; and dilates upon
the Advantages of Virtue, and Regularity.[300] _Lusiteles_ another Young
Gentleman disputes handsomly by himself against Lewdness. And the discourse
between him and _Philto_ is Moral, and well managed.[301] And afterwards he
lashes Luxury and Debauching with a great deal of Warmth, and Satir.[302]
_Chremes_ in _Terence_ is a modest young Gentleman, he is afraid of being
surpriz'd by _Thais_, and seems careful not to sully his Reputation.[303]
And _Pamphilus_ in _Hecyra_ resolves rather to be govern'd by Duty, than

_Plautus_'s _Pinacium_ tells her Friend _Panegyric_ that they ought to
acquit themselves fairly to their Husbands, tho' These should fail in their
Regards towards them.[305] For all good People will do justice tho' they
don't receive it. Lady _Brute_ in the _Provok'd Wife_ is govern'd by
different maxims. She is debauch'd with ill Usage, says _Virtue is an Ass,
and a Gallant's worth forty on't_.[306] _Pinacium_ goes on to another Head
of Duty, and declares that a Daughter can never respect her Father too
much, and that Disobedience has a great deal of scandal, and Lewdness
in't.[307] The Lady _Jacinta_ as I remember does not treat her Father at
this rate of Decency. Let us hear a little of her Behaviour. The _Mock
Astrologer_ makes the Men draw, and frights the Ladys with the Apprehension
of a Quarrel. Upon this; _Theodosia_ crys _what will become of us!_
_Jacinta_ answers, _we'll die for Company: nothing vexes me but that I am
not a Man, to have one thrust at that malicious old Father of mine, before
I go_.[308] Afterwards the old Gentleman _Alonzo_ threatens his Daughters
with a Nunnery. _Jacinta_ spars again and says, _I would have thee to know
thou graceless old Man, that I defy a Nunnery: name a Nunnery once more and
I disown thee for my Father_.[309] I could carry on the Comparison between
the old and Modern Poets somewhat farther. But this may suffice.

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

Mr. _Dryden_ in the _Preface_ to his _Mock-Astrologer_, confesses himself
blamed for this Practise. _For making debauch'd Persons his_ Protagonists,
_or chief Persons of the Drama; And, for making them happy in the
Conclusion of the Play, against the Law of Comedy, which is to reward
Virtue, and punish Vice_. To this Objection He makes a lame Defence. And

_1st._ _That he knows no such Law constantly observ'd in Comedy by the
Antient or Modern Poets._ What then? _Poets_ are not always exactly in
Rule. It may be a good Law tho' 'tis not constantly observ'd, some Laws are
constantly broken, and yet ne're the worse for all that. He goes on, and
pleads the Authorities of _Plautus_, and _Terence_. I grant there are
Instances of Favour to vitious young People in those Authors, but to this I

_1st._ That those _Poets_ had a greater compass of Liberty in their
Religion. Debauchery did not lie under those Discouragements of Scandal,
and penalty, with them as it does with us. Unless therefore He can prove
_Heathenism_, and _Christianity_ the same, his _precedents_ will do him
little service.

_2ly._ _Horace_ who was as good a judge of the _Stage_, as either of those
_Comedians_, seems to be of another Opinion. He condemns the obscenities of
_Plautus_, and tells you Men of Fortune and Quality in his time; would not
endure immodest Satir.[310] He continues, that Poets were formerly admired
for the great services they did. For teaching Matters relating to Religion,
and Government; For refining the Manners, tempering the Passions, and
improving the Understandings of Mankind: For making them more useful in
Domestick Relations, and the publick Capacities of Life.[311] This is a
demonstration that Vice was not the Inclination of the Muses in those days;
and that _Horace_ beleiv'd the chief business of a _Poem_ was, to Instruct
the Audience. He adds farther that the _Chorus_ ought to turn upon the
Argument of the _Drama_, and support the Design of the _Acts_. That They
ought to speak in Defence of Virtue, and Frugality, and show a Regard to
Religion. Now from the Rule of the _Chorus_, we may conclude his Judgment
for the _Play_. For as he observes, there must be a Uniformity between the
_Chorus_ and the _Acts_: They must have the same View, and be all of a
Piece. From hence 'tis plain that _Horace_ would have no immoral
_Character_ have either Countenance or good Fortune, upon the _Stage_. If
'tis said the very mention of the _Chorus_ shews the Directions were
intended for _Tragedy_. To this

I answer, that the Consequence is not good. For the use of a _Chorus_ is
not inconsistent with _Comedy_. The antient _Comedians_ had it.
_Aristophanes_ is an Instance. I know 'tis said the _Chorus_ was left out
in that they call the _New Comedy_. But I can't see the conclusiveness of
this Assertion. For _Aristophanes_ his _Plutus_ is _New Comedy_ with a
_Chorus_ in't.[312] And _Aristotle_ who lived after this Revolution of the
_Stage_, mentions nothing of the Omission of the _Chorus_. He rather
supposes its continuance by saying the _Chorus was added by the Government
long after the Invention of Comedy_.[313] 'Tis true _Plautus_ and _Terence_
have none, but those before them probably might. _Moliere_ has now reviv'd
them,[314] And _Horace_ might be of his Opinion, for ought wee know to the

_Lastly._ _Horace_ having expresly mentioned the beginning and progress of
_Comedy_, discovers himself more fully: He advises a _Poet_ to form his
Work upon the Precepts of _Socrates_ and _Plato_, and the Models of Moral
Philosophy. This was the way to preserve Decency, and to assign a proper
Fate and Behaviour to every _Character_.[315] Now if _Horace_ would have
his _Poet_ govern'd by the Maxims of Morality, he must oblige him to
Sobriety of Conduct, and a just distribution of Rewards, and Punishments.

Mr. _Dryden_ makes Homewards, and endeavours to fortifie himself in Modern
Authority. He lets us know that _Ben Johnson after whom he may he proud to
Err, gives him more than one example of this Conduct_;[316] _That in the_
Alchemist _is notorius_, where neither _Face_ nor his _Master_ are
corrected according to their Demerits. But how Proud soever Mr. _Dryden_
may be of an Errour, he has not so much of _Ben Jonson_'s company as he
pretends. His Instance of _Face &c._ in the _Alchemist_ is rather
_notorious_ against his Purpose then for it.

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

_Ben Johnson's_ _Fox_ is clearly against Mr. _Dryden_. And here I have his
own Confession for proof. He declares the _Poets end in this Play was the
Punishment of Vice, and the Reward of Virtue_.[319] _Ben_ was forced to
strain for this piece of Justice, and break through the _Unity of Design_.
This Mr. _Dryden_ remarks upon him: How ever he is pleased to commend the
Performance, and calls it an excellent _Fifth Act_.

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

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

  _Heaven helping me I'le hate the Course of Hell._

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

It seems then _Executions_ are only for _Greatness_; and _Quality_.
_Justice_ is not to strike much _lower_ than a _Prince_. _Private People_
may do what they _please_. They are too _few_ for _Mischief_, and too
_Little_ for _Punishment_! This would be admirable Doctrine for _Newgate_,
and give us a general _Goal-Delivery_ without more ado. But in _Tragedy_
(says the _Mock Astrologer_.) _the Crimes are likewise Horrid_, so that
there is a necessity for Severity and Example. And how stands the matter in
_Comedy_? Quite otherwise. There the _Faults are but the follies of Youth,
and the Frailties of Human Nature_.[321] For Instance. There is nothing but
a little Whoring, Pimping, Gaming, Profaness _&c_, And who could be so hard
hearted to give a Man any Trouble for This? Such Rigours would be strangely
Inhumane! A _Poet_ is a better natur'd Thing I can assure you. These little
Miscarrages _move Pity and Commiseration, and are not such as must of
necessity be Punish'd_.[322] This is comfortable Casuistry! But to be
Serious. Is Dissolution of Manners such a Peccadillo? Does a Profligate
Conscience deserve nothing but Commiseration? And are People damn'd only
for _Humane Frailties_? I perceive the Laws of Religion and those of the
_Stage_ differ extreamly! The strength of his Defence lies in this choice
Maxim, that the _Cheif End of Comedy is Delight_. He questions _whether
Instruction has any thing to do in Comedy_; If it has, he is sure _'tis no
more then its secondary end_: _For the business of the Poet is to make you
laugh_.[323] Granting the Truth of this Principle, I somewhat question the
serviceableness of it. For is there no Diversion to be had unless Vice
appears prosperous, and rides at the Head of Success. One would think such
a preposterous, distribution of Rewards, should rather shock the Reason,
and raise the Indignation of the _Audience_. To laugh without reason is the
Pleasure of Fools, and against it, of something worse. The exposing of
Knavery, and making _Lewdness_ ridiculous, is a much better occasion for
Laughter. And this with submission I take to be the End of _Comedy_. And
therefore it does not differ from _Tragedy_ in the End, but in the _Means_.
Instruction is the principal Design of both. The one works by Terror, the
other by Infamy. 'Tis true, they don't move in the same Line, but they meet
in the same point at last. For this Opinion I have good Authority, besides
what has been cited already.

_1st._ Monsieur _Rapin_ affirms 'That Delight is the End that Poetry aims
at, but not the Principal one. For Poetry being an Art, ought to be
profitable by the quality of it's own nature, and by the Essential
Subordination that all Arts should have to Polity, whose End in General is
the publick Good. This is the Judgment of _Aristotle_ and of _Horace_ his
chief Interpreter.[324] _Ben Johnson_ in his Dedicatory Epistle of his
_Fox_ has somewhat considerable upon this Argument; And declaims with a
great deal of zeal, spirit, and good Sense, against the Licentiousness of
the _Stage_. He lays it down for a Principle, 'That 'tis impossible to be a
good _Poet_ without being a good _Man_. That he (a good Poet) is said to be
able to inform Young Men to all good Discipline, and enflame grown Men to
all great Virtues &c.--That the general complaint was that the _Writers_ of
those days had nothing remaining in them of the Dignity of a _Poet_, but
the abused Name. That now, especially in Stage Poetry, nothing but
Ribaldry, Profanation, _Blasphemy_, all Licence of Offence to God and Man,
is practised. He confesses a great part of this Charge is over-true, and is
sorry he dares not deny it. But then he hopes all are not embark'd in this
bold Adventure for Hell. For my part (says he) I can, and from a most clear
Conscience affirm; That I have ever trembled to think towards the least
Profaness, and loath'd the Use of such foul, and unwash'd Bawdry, as is now
made the Food of the _Scene_.--The encrease of which Lust in Liberty, what
Learned or Liberal Soul does not abhor? In whole _Enterludes_ nothing but
the Filth of the Time is utter'd--with Brothelry able to violate the Ear of
a _Pagan_, and Blasphemy, to turn the Blood of a Christian to Water. He
continues, that the Insolence of these Men had brought the _Muses_ into
Disgrace, and made _Poetry_ the lowest scorn of the Age. He appeals to his
Patrons the _Universities_, that his Labour has been heretofore, and mostly
in this his latest Work, to reduce not only the antient Forms, but Manners
of the _Scene_, the Innocence and the Doctrine, which is the Principal End
of Poesy, to inform Men in the best Reason of Living.' Lastly he adds, that
'he has imitated the Conduct of the Antients in this _Play_, The goings out
(or Conclusions) of whose _Comedies_, were not always joyful but oft-times
the Bawds, the Slaves, the Rivals, ye and the Masters are multed, and
fitly, it being the Office of a _Comick Poet_ (mark that!) to imitate
Justice, and Instruct to Life _&c._' Say you so! Why then if _Ben Johnson_
knew any thing of the Matter, Divertisment and Laughing is not as Mr.
_Dryden_ affirms, the _Chief End_ of _Comedy_. This Testimony is so very
full and clear, that it needs no explaining, nor any enforcement from
Reasoning, and Consequence.

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

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

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

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

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

But I shall go on, and give the _Reader_ some other examples of Decency,
Judgment, and Probability. _Don Sebastian_ will help us in some measure.
Here the _Mufti_ makes a foolish Speech to the Rabble, and jests upon his
own Religion. He tells them, _tho' your Tyrant is a Lawful Emperour, yet
your Lawful Emperour is but a Tyrant,----That your Emperour is a Tyrant is
most Manifest, for you were born to be Turks, but he has play'd the Turk
with you._ And now is not this Man fit to Manage the _Alcoran_, and to be
set up for on Oracle of State? _Captain Tom_ should have had this Speech by
right: But the _Poet_ had a farther Design, and any thing is good enough
for a _Mufti_.

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

If we step to the _Spanish Fryar_ He will afford us a Flight worth the
observing. 'Tis part of the Addresses of _Torrismond_ to _Leonora_.

  _You are so Beautiful
  So wondrous Fair, you justifie Rebellion;
  As if that faultless Face could make no Sin,
  But Heaven by looking on it must forgive._

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

  _Great Nature break thy chain that links together
  The Fabrick of this Globe, and make a Chaos,
  Like that within my Soul._----[329]

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

Now then for a jest or two. _Don Gomez_ shall begin:[330] And here he'le
give us a Gingle upon the double meaning of a word.

_I think_, says _Dominick_ the Fryar, _it was my good Angel that sent me
hither so opportunely_. _Gomez_ suspects him brib'd for no creditable
business and answers.

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

These _Spaniards_ will entertain us with more of this fine Raillery.
Colonel _Sancho_ in _Love Triumphant_ has a great stroak at it. He says his
Bride _Dalinda_ is no more _Dalinda_, but _Dalilah_ the _Philistine_.[331]
This Colonel as great a Soldier as he is, is quite puzzled at a _Herald_.
He _thinks they call him_ Herod, _or some such Jewish Name_. Here you have
a good Officer spoil'd for a miserable jest.[332] And yet after all, this
_Sancho_ tho' he can't pronounce _Herald_, knows what 'tis to be
_Laconick_, which is somewhat more out of his way. _Thraso_ in
_Terence_[333] was a man of the same size in Sense, but for all that he
does not quibble. _Albanact_ Captain of the Guards,[334] is much about as
witty as _Sancho_. It seems _Emmeline_ Heiress to the Duke of _Cornwal_ was
Blind. _Albanact_ takes the rise of his Thought from hence; And observes
_that as Blind as she is, Coswald would have no blind Bargain of her_.
_Carlos_ tells _Sancho_ he is sure of his Mistress,[335] and _has no more
to do but to take out a License_.

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

Carlos replies, _Nay, you are_ Bent _enough in Conscience, but I have a_
Bent Fist _for Boxing_. Here you have a brace of Quibbles started in a Line
and a half. And which is worst of all, they come from _Carlos_, from a
_Character_ of Sense; And therefore the poet, not the _Soldier_, must
answer for them.

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

Enter _Raymond_ a Noble-man in the _Spanish Fryar_.[336]

  _O Vertue! Vertue! What art thou become?
  That men should leave thee for that Toy a woman,
  Made from the dross and refuse of a Man;
  Heaven took him sleeping when he made her too,
  Had Man been waking he had nee'r consented._

I did not know before that a Man's Dross lay in his _Ribs_; I believe
sometimes it lies Higher. But the Philosophy, the Religion, and the
Ceremony of these Lines, are too tender to be touched. _Creon_ a Prince in
_Oedipus_,[337] railes in General at the _Sex_, and at the same time is
violently in Love with _Euridice_. This upon the Matter, is just as
natural, as 'tis Civil. If any one would understand what the _Curse of all
tender hearted Women is, Belmour_ will inform him. What is it then? 'Tis
the _Pox_.[338] If this be true, the Women had need lay in a stock of ill
Nature betimes. It seems 'tis their only preservative. It guards their
Virtue, and their Health, and is all they have to trust to. _Sharper_
another Man of Sense in this _Play_, talks much at the same rate. _Belinda_
would know of him _where he got that excellent Talent of Railing_?

Sharp. _Madam the Talent was Born with me.----I confess I have taken care
to improve it, to qualifie me for the Society of Ladies._[339] _Horner_, a
Topping _Character_ in the _Country Wife_, is advised to _avoid Women, and
hate them as they do him_. _He Answers._

_Because I do hate them, and would hate them yet more, I'll frequent e'm;
you may see by Marriage, nothing makes a Man hate a Woman more than her
Constant Conversation._[340] There is still something more Coarse upon the
_Sex_ spoken by _Dorax_[341] but it is a privileged Expression, and as such
I must leave it. The _Relapse_ mends the Contrivance of the Satir, refines
upon the Manner, and to make the Discourse the more probable, obliges the
Ladies to abuse themselves. And because I should be loath to tire the
_Reader, Berenthia_ shall close the Argument. This Lady having undertook
the Employment of a _Procuress_, makes this remark upon it to her self.

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

Let us now see what Quarter the _Stage_ gives to _Quality_. And here we
shall find them extreamly free, and familiar. They dress up the _Lords_ in
Nick Names, and expose them in _Characters_ of Contempt. _Lord Froth_ is
explain'd a _Solemn Coxcomb_;[342] And _Lord Rake_, and _Lord Foplington_
give you their Talent in their Title.[343] Lord _Plausible_ in the _Plain
Dealer_ Acts a ridiculous Part, but is with all very civil. He tells _Manly
he never attempted to abuse any Person_, The other answers; _What? you were
afraid?_[344] _Manly_ goes on and declares _He would call a Rascal by no
other Title, tho' his Father had left him a Dukes_.[345] That is, he would
call a Duke a Rascal. This I confess is very much _Plain Dealing_. Such
Freedoms would appear but odly in Life, especially without Provocation. I
must own the _Poet_ to be an Author of good Sense; But under favour, these
jests, if we may call them so, are somewhat high Season'd, the Humour seems
overstrain'd, and the _Character_ push'd too far. To proceed. _Mustapha_
was selling _Don Alvarez_ for a Slave. The Merchant asks _what Virtues he
has_.[346] _Mustapha_ replies. _Virtues quoth ah! He is of a great Family
and Rich, what other Virtues would'st thou have in a Nobleman?_ Don
_Carlos_ in _Love Triumphant_ stands for a Gentleman, and a Man of Sense,
and out-throws _Mustapha_ a Bars Length. He tells us _Nature has given_
Sancho _an empty Noddle, but Fortune in revenge has fill'd his Pockets:
just a Lords Estate in Land and Wit_.[347] This is a handsom Compliment to
the Nobility! And my Lord _Salisbury_ had no doubt of it a good Bargain of
the _Dedication_.[348] _Teresa's_ general Description of a Countess is
considerable in its Kind: But only 'tis in no Condition to appear. In the
_Relapse_, Sir _Tunbelly_ who had Mistaken Young _Fashion_ for Lord
_Foplington_, was afterwards undeceiv'd; and before the surprize was quite
over, puts the Question, _is it then possible that this should be the true
Lord_ Foplington _at Last_? The Nobleman removes the scruple with great
Civility and Discretion! _Lord_ Fopl. _Why what do you see in his Face to
make you doubt of it? Sir without presuming to have an extraordinary
Opinion of my Figure, give me leave to tell you, if you had seen as many
Lords as I have done you would not think it Impossible A Person of a worse
Taille then mine might be a Modern Man of Quality._[349]

I'm sorry to hear _Modern Quality_ degenerates so much. But by the way,
these Liberties are altogether new. They are unpractised by the Latin
_Comedians_, and by the _English_ too till very lately, as the _Plain
Dealer_ observes.[350] And as for _Moliere_ in _France_, he pretends to fly
his Satir no higher than a Marquis.[351]

And has our _Stage_ a particular Privilege? Is their _Charter_ inlarg'd,
and are they on the same Foot of Freedom with the _Slaves_ in the
_Saturnalia_? Must all Men be handled alike? Must their Roughness be needs
play'd upon Title? And can't they lash the Vice without pointing upon the
_Quality_? If as Mr. _Dryden_ rightly defines it, a _Play ought to be a
just Image of Humane Nature_;[352] Why are not the Decencies of Life, and,
the Respects of Conversation observ'd? Why must the Customes of Countries
be Cross'd upon, and the Regards of Honour overlook'd? What necessity is
there to kick the _Coronets_ about the _Stage_, and to make a Man a Lord,
only in order to make him a Coxcomb. I hope the _Poets_ don't intend to
revive the old Project of Levelling and _Vote_ down the House of _Peers_.
In earnest, the _Play-house_ is an admirable School of Behaviour! This is
their way of managing Ceremony, distinguishing Degree, and Entertaining the
_Boxes_! But I shall leave them at present to the Enjoyment of their
Talent, and proceed to another Argument.


_Remarks upon_ Amphytrion, King Arthur, Don Quixote, _and the_ Relapse.


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

To begin with _Amphytrion_. In this _Play_ Mr. _Dryden_ represents
_Jupiter_ with the Attributes of the supream Being: He furnishes him with
Omnipotence, makes him the Creator of Nature, and the Arbiter of Fate, puts
all the Functions of Providence in his Hand, and describes him with the
Majesty of the true God.[353] And when he has put Him in this glorious
Equipage, he brings him out for Diversion. He makes him express himself in
the most intemperate Raptures:[354] He is willing to _Renounce_ his
_Heaven_ for his Brutality, and employ a whole _Eternity_ in Lewdness. He
draws his Debauch at its full Length, with all the Art, and Heightings, and
Foulness of Idea immaginable. This _Jupiter_ is not contented with his
success against _Amphitrion_, unless he brings _Alcmena_ into the
Confederacy, and makes her a Party _ex post Facto_. He would not have her
think of her _Husband_, but her _Lover_, that is, her _Whoremaster_. 'Tis
not the success, but the manner of gaining it which is all in all. 'Tis the
Vice which is the charming Circumstance. Innocence and Regularity, are
dangerous Companions; They spoil Satisfaction, and make every Thing
insipid! Unless People take care to discharge their Virtue, and clear off
their Conscience, their Senses will vanish immediately! For _Jupiter_, says
he,[355] would _owe nothing to a Name so dull as Husband_. And in the next

  _That very name of Wife And Marriage
  Is poyson to the dearest sweets of Love._[356]

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

  _Whether inspired with a diviner Lust,
  His Father got him_----[360]

This is down right Defiance of the Living God! Here you have the very
Essence and Spirit of Blasphemy, and the Holy Ghost brought in upon the
most hideous Occasion. I question whether the Torments and Despair of the
Damn'd, dare venture at such Flights as these. They are beyond Description,
I Pray God they may not be beyond Pardon too. I can't forbear saying, that
the next bad Thing to the writing these Impieties, is to Suffer them. To
return to _Amphitryon_. _Phoebus_ and _Mercury_ have _Manners_ assign'd
very disagreeable to their Condition. The later abating Propriety of
Language, talks more like a _Water-man_ than a Deity. They rail against the
Gods, and call _Mars_ and _Vulcan_ the _two Fools of Heaven. Mercury_ is
pert upon his Father _Jupiter_, makes jests upon his Pleasures, and his
Greatness, and is horribly smutty and profane.[361] And all this
Misbehaviour comes from him in his own shape, and in the sublimity of his
Character. Had He run Riot in the Disguise of _Sofia_, the Discourse and
the Person had been better adjusted, and the Extravagance more Pardonable.
But here the Decorum is quite lost. To see the _Immortals_ play such
Gambols, and the biggest Beings do the least Actions, is strangely
unnatural. An Emperour in the Grimaces of an Ape, or the Diversions of a
Kitten, would not be half so ridiculous. Now as Monsieur _Rapin_ observes,
without Decorum there can be no _probability_, nor without Probability any
true Beauty. Nature must be minded, otherwise Things will look forced,
tawdry, and chimerical. Mr. _Dryden_ discourses very handsomly on this
occasion in his _Preface_ to _Albion_ and _Albanius_.[362] He informs us,
_That Wit has been truly defin'd a propriety of Words and Thoughts.----That
Propriety of Thought is that Fancy which arises naturally from the
Subject._ Why then without doubt, the Quality, of Characters should be
taken care of, and great Persons appear like themselves. Yes, yes, all this
is granted by implication, and Mr. _Dryden_ comes still nearer to the
present case. He tells us, that _Propriety is to be observed, even in
Machines; And that the Gods are all to manage their Peculiar Provinces_. He
instances in some of their respective Employments; but I don't find that
any of them were to talk Lewdly. No. He plainly supposes the contrary. For
as he goes on, _If they were to speak upon the Stage it would follow of
necessity, that the Expressions should be Lofty, Figurative, and
Majestical_. It seems then their Behaviour should be agreeable to their
Greatness. Why then are not these Rules observ'd, in the _Machines_ of
_Amphitrion_? As I take it, Obscenity has not the Air of Majesty, nor any
Alliance with the _Sublime_. And as for the _Figurative_ Part, 'tis
generally of the same Cut with the _Lofty_: The Smut shines clear, and
strong, through the Metaphor, and is no better screen'd than the Sun by a
Glass Window. To use _Mercury_ thus ill, and make the God of Eloquence
speak so unlike himself is somewhat strange! But tho' the _Antients_ knew
nothing of it, there are Considerations above those of _Decency_. And when
this happens, _A Rule must rather be trespass'd on, than a Beauty left
out_. 'Tis Mr. _Dryden's_ opinion in his _Cleomenes_, where he breaks the
_Unity of Time_, to describe the _Beauty_ of a Famine.[363] Now Beauty is
an arbitrary Advantage, and depends upon Custom and Fancy. With some People
the Blackest Complexions are the handsomest. 'Tis to these _African_
Criticks that Mr. _Dryden_ seems to make his Appeal. And without doubt he
bespeaks their Favour, and strikes their Imagination luckily enough. For to
lodge Divinity and Scandal together; To make the Gods throw _Stars_, like
_Snow-balls_ at one another, but especially to Court in Smut, and rally in
Blasphemy, is most admirably entertaining! This is much better than all the
Niceties of _Decorum_. 'Tis handsomly contriv'd to slur the Notion of a
Superiour Nature, to disarm the Terrors of Religion, and make the Court
Above as Romantick as that of the _Fairies_. A Libertine when his
Conscience is thus reliev'd, and Atheism sits easie upon his Spirits, can't
help being grateful upon the Occasion. Meer Interest will oblige him to cry
up the Performance, and solicit for the _Poets_ Reputation! Before I take
leave of these _Machines_, it may not be amiss to enquire why the Gods are
brought into the _Spiritual Court_.[364] Now I suppose the Creditableness
of the Business, and the _Poets_ Kindness to those _Places_, are the
principal Reasons of their coming. However. He might have a farther Design
in his Head, and that is, to bring _Thebes_ to _London_, and to show the
Antiquity of _Doctors Commons_. For if you will believe _Mercury_, this
Conference between him and _Phoebus_ was held three thousand years
ago.[365] Thus _Shakespear_ makes _Hector_ talk about _Aristotles_
Philosophy,[366] and calls Sr. _John Old Castle_, _Protestant_.[367] I had
not mention'd this Discovery in Chronology, but that Mr. _Dryden_ falls
upon _Ben Johnson_, for making _Cataline give Fire at the Face of a Cloud_,
before Guns were invented.

By the Pattern of these pretended _Deities_, we may guess what sort of
_Mortals_ we are likely to meet with. Neither are we mistaken. For
_Phædra_, is bad enough in all Conscience, but _Bromia_ is a meer Original.
Indeed when Mr. _Dryden_ makes _Jupiter_, and _Jupiter_ makes the Women,
little less can be expected. So much for _Amphitrion_.

I shall pass on to _King Arthur_ for a word or two.[368] Now here is a
strange jumble and Hotch potch of Matters, if you mind it. Here we have
_Genii_, and _Angels_, _Cupids_, _Syrens_, and _Devils_; _Venus_ and St.
_George_, _Pan_ and the _Parson_, the Hell of Heathenism, and the Hell of
_Revelation_; A fit of Smut, and then a Jest about Original Sin. And why
are Truth and Fiction, Heathenism and Christianity, the most Serious and
the most Trifling Things blended together, and thrown into one Form of
Diversion? Why is all this done unless it be to ridicule the whole, and
make one as incredible as the other? His _Airy_ and _Earthy Spirits_
discourse of the first state of Devils, of their _Chief_ of their Revolt,
their Punishment, and Impostures. This Mr. _Dryden_ very Religiously calls
a _Fairy way of Writing, which depends only on the Force of
Imagination_.[369] What then is the Fall of the Angels a Romance? Has it no
basis of Truth, nothing to support it, but strength of Fancy, and Poetick
Invention? After He had mention'd Hell, Devils, _&c_. and given us a sort
of _Bible_ description of these formidable Things; I say after he had
formed his Poem in this manner, I am surprized to hear him call it a _Fairy
kind of Writing_. Is the History of _Tophet_ no better prov'd than that of
_Styx_? Is the Lake of _Brimstone_ and that of _Phlegeton_ alike dreadful?
And have we as much Reason to believe the Torments of _Titius_ and
_Prometheus_, as those of the Devils and Damn'd? These are lamentable
Consequences! And yet I can't well see how the _Poet_ can avoid them. But
setting aside this miserable Gloss in the _Dedication_, the Representation
it self is scandalously irreligious. To droll upon the Vengeance of Heaven,
and the Miseries of the Damn'd, is a sad Instance of Christianity! Those
that bring Devils upon the _Stage_, can hardly believe them any where else.
Besides, the Effects of such an Entertainment must needs be admirable! To
see Hell thus play'd with is a mighty Refreshment to a lewd Conscience, and
a byass'd Understanding. It heartens the Young Libertine, and confirms the
well-wishers to Atheism, and makes Vice bold, and enterprising. Such
Diversions serve to dispel the Gloom, and guild the Horrors of the _Shades
below_, and are a sort of Ensurance against Damnation. One would think
these _Poets_ went upon absolute Certainty, and could demonstrate a Scheme
of Infidelity. If they could, They had much better keep the Secret. The
divulging it tends only to debauch Mankind, and shake the Securities of
Civil Life. However, if they have been in the other World and find it
empty, and uninhabited, and are acquainted with all the Powers, and Places,
in Being; If they can show the Impostures of Religion, and the
Contradictions of Common Belief, they have something to say for themselves.
Have they then infallible Proof and Mathematick Evidence for these
Discoveries? No Man had ever the Confidence to say This; And if He should,
he would be but laughed at for his Folly. No Conclusions can exceed the
Evidence of their Principles; you may as well build a Castle in the Air, as
raise a Demonstration upon a Bottom of Uncertainty. And is any Man so vain
as to pretend to know the Extent of Nature, and the Stretch of Possibility,
and the Force of the Powers Invisible? So that notwithstanding the Boldness
of this _Opera_, there may be such a Place as Hell; And if so, a Discourse
about Devils, will be no _Fairy way of Writing_. For a _Fairy way of
Writing_, is nothing but a _History of Fiction_; A subject of Imaginary
Beings; such as never had any existence in Time, or Nature. And if as
Monsieur _Rapin_ observes, _Poetry_ requires a mixture of Truth and
_Fable_; Mr. _Dryden_ may make his advantage, for his _Play_ is much better
founded on Reality than He was aware of.

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

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

  _He trembles at the yawning Gulph of Hell,
  Nor dares approach the Flames least he should Singe
  His gaudy silken Wings.
  He sighs when he should plunge a Soul in Sulphur,
  As with Compassion touch'd of Foolish Man_.[370]

The answer is, _What a half Devil's he_.

You see how admirably it runs all upon the Christian Scheme! Sometimes they
are _Half-Devils_, and sometimes _Hopeful-Devils_, and what you please to
make sport with. _Grimbald_ is afraid of being _whooped through Hell at his
return_, for miscarrying in his Business. It seems there is great Leisure
for Diversion! There's _Whooping_ in Hell, instead of _Weeping_ and
_Wailing_! One would fancy Mr. _Dryden_ had Daylight and Company, when
these Lines were written. I know his Courage is extraordinary; But sure
such Thoughts could never bear up against Solitude and a Candle!

And now since he has diverted himself with the _Terrors_ of _Christianity_,
I dont wonder he, should treat those that Preach them with so much
Civility! enter _Poet_ in the Habit of a _Peasant_.

  _We ha' cheated the Parson we'el cheat him again,
  For why should a Blockhead have one in ten?
  For prating so long like a Booklearned Sot,
  Till Pudding, and Dumpling burn to pot._

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

Well! the Clergy must be contented: It might possibly have been worse for
them if they had been in his favour: For he has sometimes a very unlucky
way of showing his Kindness. He commends the _Earl of Leicester for
considering the Friend, more than the Cause_;[371] that is, for his
Partiality; The Marquess of _Halifax_ for _quitting the Helm, at the
approach of a Storm_;[372] As if Pilots were made only for fair Weather.
'Tis Presum'd these Noble Persons are unconcern'd in this Character.
However the _Poet_ has shown his skill in Panegyrick, and 'tis only for
that I mention it. He commends _Atticus_ for his Trimming, and _Tally_ for
his Cowardize, and speaks meanly of the Bravery of _Cato_.[373] Afterwards
he professes his Zeal for the Publick welfare, and is pleas'd to _see the
Nation so well secur'd from Foreign Attempts_ &c.[374] However he is in
some pain about the Coming of the _Gauls_; 'Tis possible for fear they
should invade the _Muses_, and carry the _Opera's_ into Captivity, and
deprive us of _the Ornaments of Peace_.

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


_Remarks upon Don Quixot, &c._

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

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

I. _His Profaness with respect to Religion and the_ Holy Scriptures.

II. _His Abuse of the Clergy._

III. _His want of Modesty and Regard to the Audience._

I. _His Profaness, &c._

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

  _Providence that formed the Fair
    In such a charming Skin,
  Their Outside made his only care,
    And never look'd within._[375]

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

  _Sleep and indulge thy self with Rest,
  Nor dream thou e're shalt rise again._[376]

His Third Song makes a jest of the _Fall_, rails upon _Adam_ and _Eve_, and
burlesques the Conduct of _God Almighty_ for not making Mankind over again.

  _When the World first knew Creation,[377]
  A Rogue was a Top-Profession,
  When there was no more in all Nature but Four,
  There were two of them in Transgression.

  He that first to mend the Matter,
  Made Laws to bind our Nature,
  Should have found a way,
  To make Wills obey,
  And have Modell'd new the Creature_.

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

  _Appear ye fat Feinds that in Limbo do groan,
  That were when in Flesh the same souls with his own:
  You that always in Lucifers Kitchin reside,
  'Mongst Sea-coal and Kettles, and Grease newly try'd:
  That pamper'd each day with a Garbidge of Souls,
  Broil Rashers of Fools for a Breakfast on Coals._

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

  _And as 'tis said a parlous Ass once spoke,
  When Crab-tree Cudgel did his rage provoke.
  So if you are not civil,----I fear
  He'el speak again.----_

In the second _Part_ the Devil is brought upon the _Stage_.[378] He cries
as _he hopes to be Saved_. And _Sancho warrants him a good Christian_.
Truly I think he may have more of Christianity in him than the Poet. For he
trembles at that God, with whom the other makes Diversion.

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

And here we are likely to meet with some passages extraordinary enough. For
to give Mr. _Durfey_ his due, when he meddles with Church men he lays about
him like a Knight Errant: Here his Wit and his Malice, are generally in
extreams, tho' not of the same Kind. To begin. He makes the Curate _Perez_
assist at the ridiculous Ceremony of _Don Quixots_ Knighting.[379]
Afterwards Squire _Sancho_ confessing his mistake to _Quixote_, tells him,
_Ah consider dear Sir no man is born wise_. And what if he was born wise?
He may be _Bred_ a Fool, if he has not a care. But how does he prove this
Memorable Sentence? Because a _Bishop is no more than another man without
Grace and Good Breeding_. I must needs say if the _Poet_ had any share of
either of these Qualities, he would be less bold with his Superiors; and
not give his Clowns the Liberty to droll thus heavily upon a solemn
_Character_. This _Sancho_ Mr. _Durfey_ takes care to inform us is _a dry
shrewd Country Fellow_, The reason of this Character is for the strength of
it somewhat surprising.[380] 'Tis because _he blunders out Proverbs upon
all Occasions, tho' never so far from the purpose_. Now if blundring and
talking nothing to the purpose, is an argument of _Shrewdness_; some
Peoples _Plays_ are very shrewd Performances. To proceed. _Sancho_
complains of his being married, because it hindred him from better offers.
_Perez_ the Curate is sorry for this Misfortune. _For as I remember_ says
he _'twas my luck to give_ Teresa _and you the Blessing_. To this _Sancho_
replies. _A Plague on your Blessing! I perceive I shall have reason to wish
you hang'd for your Blessing----Good finisher of Fornication, good
Conjunction Copulative._[381] For this irreverence and Profaness _Perez_
threatens him with Excommunication. _Sancho_ tells him, _I care not, I
shall lose nothing by it but a nap in the Afternoon._ In his Second Part,
_Jodolet_ a Priest is call'd a _Holy Cormorant_, and made to dispatch _half
a Turkey, and a Bottle of Malaga for his Breakfast_.[382] Here one Country
Girl chides another for her sawcyness. _D'ee_ (says she) _make a Pimp of a
Priest?_ _Sancho_ interposes with his usual shrewdness: _A Pimp of a
Priest, why is that such a Miracle?_ In the Second _Scene_ the Poet
Provides himself another Priest to abuse.[383] _Mannel_ the Steward calls
_Bernardo_ the Chaplain Mr. _Cuff-Cushion_, and tells him a _Whore is a
Pulpit he loves_.----In settling the _Characters Mannel_ is given out for
_a witty pleasant Fellow_. And now you see he comes up to Expectation. To
the Blind all _Colours_ are alike, and Rudeness, and Raillery are the same
thing![384] Afterwards, _Bernardo_ says _Grace_ upon the _Stage_; and I
suppose Prays to God to bless the Entertainment of the Devil. Before they
rise from Table, the _Poet_ contrives a Quarrel between _Don Quixot_ and
_Bernardo_. The Priest railes on the Knight, and calls him _Don Coxcomb_
&c. By this time you may imagine the Knight heartily Provok'd, ready to
buckle on his _Bason_, and draw out for the Combat, Let us hear his

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

At last he bids _Bernardo_ adieu in Language too Profane and Scandalous to
relate.[386] In the Fourth _Act_ His Song calls the Clergy _Black Cattle_,
and says _no Body now minds what they say_. I could alledge more of his
Courtship to the _Order_, but the _Reader_ might possibly be tired, and
therefore I shall proceed in the

_Third_, place to his want of Modesty, and Regard to the Audience. As for
Smut _Sancho_ and _Teresa_ talk it broad, and single sens'd, for almost a
page together.[387] _Mary_ the _Buxsom_ has likewise her share of this
Accomplishment. The first Epilogue is Garnish'd with a Couplet of it;[388]
_Marcella_ the Maiden Shepherdess raves in Raptures of Indecency; And
sometimes you have it mixt up with Profaness, to make the Composition the
stronger.[389] But this entertainment being no Novelty, I shall pass it
over; And the rather because there are some other Rarities which are not to
be met with else where.

Here he diverts the Ladies with the Charming Rhetorick of _Snotty-Nose,
filthy Vermin in the Beard, Nitty Jerkin, and Louse Snapper, with the
Letter in the Chamber-pot, and natural Evacuation_;[390] with an abusive
description of a Countess, and a rude story of a certain Lady, and with
some other varieties of this Kind, too coarse to be named. This is rare
stuff for Ladies, and Quality! There is more of _Physick_, than _Comedy_ in
such Sentences as these. _Crocus Metallorum_ will scarse turn the Stomack
more effectually. 'Tis possible Mr. _Durfey_ might design it for a
_Receipt_. And being Conscious the _Play_ was too dear, threw a Vomit into
the Bargain.[391] I wonder Mr. _Durfey_ should have no more regard to the
_Boxes_ and _Pitt_! That a Man who has _studied the Scenes of Decency and
Good Manners with so much Zeal_, should practise with so little Address!
Certainly _indefatigable Diligence, Care and Pains_, was never more
unfortunate![392] In his _third Part_, _Buxsome_ swears faster, and is more
scandalous, and impertinent, than in the other two. At these Liberties, and
some in _Sancho_, the Ladies took Check. This Censure Mr. _Durfey_ seems
heartily sorry for. He is _extreamly concern'd that the Ladies, that
Essential part of the Audience_, should think his Performance _nauseous and
undecent_.[393] That is, he is very sorry they brought their Wits, or their
Modesty along with them. However Mr. _Durfey_ is not so Ceremonious as to
submit: He is resolved to keep the Field against the Ladies; And endeavours
to defend himself by saying, _I know no other way in Nature to do the
Characters right, but to make a Romp, speak like a Romp, and a clownish
Boor blunder_ &c.[394]

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

But to remove from _Scenes of Decency_, to _Scenes_ of Wit. And here
_Mannel_ and _Sancho_, two _pleasant sharp Fellows_, will divert us
extreamly.[395] _Mannel_ in the Disguise of a Lady addresses the Dutchess
in this manner. _Illustrious Beauty----I must desire to know whether the
most purifidiferous Don_ Quixote _of the Manchissima, and his
Squireiferous_ Panca, _be in this Company or no_. This is the Ladies
speech! Now comes _Sancho_. _Why look you forsooth, without any more
Flourishes, the Governour_ Panca _is here, and Don_ Quixotissimo _too;
therefore most afflictedissimous Matronissima, speak what you willissimus,
for we are all ready to be your Servitorissimus_.[396]

I dare not go on, for fear of overlaying the _Reader_. He may cloy himself
at his Leisure. The _Scene_ between the _Taylor_ and _Gardiner_, lies much
in the same Latitude of Understanding.[397]

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

Mr. _Durfeys Epistles Dedicatory_ are to the full as diverting as his
_Comedies_. A little of them may not be amiss.

In his first, He thus addresses the _Dutches_ of _Ormond_. _'Tis Madam from
your Graces Prosperous Influence that I date my Good Fortune._ To _Date_
from time and Place, is vulgar and ordinary, and many a _Letter_ has
miscarried with it: But to do it from an _Influence_, is Astrological, and
surprizing, and agrees extreamly with the _Hemisphere of the
Play-house_.[398] These Flights one would easily imagine were the _Poor
Off-spring_ of Mr. _Durfey's Brain_, as he very judiciously phrases

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

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

          The Translation runs thus.

  _I like an Author that Reforms the Age;
  And keeps the right Decorum of the Stage:
  That always pleases by just Reasons Rule:
  But for a tedious Droll a Quibbling Fool,
  Who with low nauseous Baudry fills his Plays;
  Let him begone and on two Tressells raise
  Some_ Smithfield _Stage, where he may act his Pranks,
  And make_ Jack-puddings _speak to Mountebanks_.[401]


_Remarks upon the_ Relapse.

The _Relapse_ shall follow _Don Quixot_; upon the account of some Alliance
between them. And because this _Author_ swaggers so much in his _Preface_,
and seems to look big upon his Performance, I shall spend a few more
thoughts than ordinary upon his _Play_, and examine it briefly in the
_Fable_, the _Moral_, the _Characters_, _&c._ The Fable I take to be as

Fashion _a Lewd, Prodigal, younger Brother; is reduced to extremity: Upon
his arrival from his Travels, he meets with_ Coupler, _an old sharping
Match-maker_; _This Man puts him upon a project of cheating his Elder
Brother Lord_ Foplington, _of a rich Fortune_. _Young_ Fashion _being
refused a Summ of Money by his Brother, goes into_ Couplers _Plot, bubbles
Sir_ Tunbelly _of his Daughter, and makes himself Master of a fair Estate_.

From the Form and Constitution of the _Fable_, I observe

1st. That there is a _Misnommer_ in the Title. The _Play_ should not have
been call'd the _Relapse, or Virtue in Danger_: _Lovelace_, and _Amanda_,
from whose _Characters_ these Names are drawn, are Persons of Inferiour
Consideration. _Lovelace_ sinks in the middle of the _Fourth_ Act, and we
hear no more of him till towards the End of the _Fifth_, where he enters
once more, but then 'tis as _Cato_ did the Senate house, only to go out
again. And as for _Amanda_ she has nothing to do but to stand a shock of
Courtship, and carry off her Virtue. This I confess is a great task in the
_Play-house_, but no main matter in the _Play_.

The _Intrigue_, and the _Discovery_, the great Revolution and success,
turns upon _Young Fashion_. He without Competition, is the Principal Person
in the _Comedy_. And therefore the _Younger Brother_, or the _Fortunate
Cheat_, had been much a more proper Name. Now when a _Poet_ can't rig out a
_Title Page_, 'tis but a bad sign of his holding out to the _Epilogue_.

_2ly._ I observe the _Moral_ is vitious: It points the wrong way, and puts
the _Prize_ into the wrong Hand. It seems to make _Lewdness_ the reason of
_Desert_, and gives _Young Fashion_ a second Fortune, only for Debauching
away his First. A short view of his _Character_, will make good this
Reflection. To begin with him: He confesses himself a _Rake_, swears, and
Blasphemes, Curses, and Challenges his Elder Brother, cheats him of his
Mistress, and gets him laid by the Heels in a Dog-Kennel. And what was the
ground of all this unnatural quarrelling and outrage? Why the main of it
was only because Lord _Foplington_ refused to supply his Luxury, and make
good his Extravagance. This _Young Fashion_ after all, is the _Poets_ Man
of Merit. He provides, a _Plot_ and a Fortune, on purpose for him. To speak
freely, A Lewd Character seldom wants good Luck in _Comedy_. So that when
ever you see a thorough Libertine, you may almost swear he is in a rising
way, and that the _Poet_ intends to make him a great Man. In short; This
_Play_ perverts the End of _Comedy_: Which as Monsieur _Rapin_ observes
ought to regard Reformation, and publick Improvement. But the _Relapser_
had a more fashionable Fancy in his Head.[402] His _Moral_ holds forth this
notable Instruction.

_1st._ That all _Younger Brothers_ should be careful to run out their
Circumstances as Fast, and as Ill as they can. And when they have put their
Affairs in this posture of Advantage, they may conclude themselves in the
high Road to Wealth, and Success. For as _Fashion_ Blasphemously applies
it, _Providence takes care of Men of Merit._[403]

_2ly._ That when a Man is press'd, his business is not to be govern'd by
Scruples, or formalize upon Conscience and Honesty. The quickest Expedients
are the best; For in such cases the Occasion justifies the Means, and a
Knight of the _Post_, is as good as one of the _Garter_. In the

_3d._ Place it may not be improper to look a little into the _Plot_. Here
the _Poet_ ought to play the Politician if ever. This part should have some
stroaks, of Conduct, and strains of Invention more then ordinary. There
should be something that is admirable, and unexpected to surprize the
Audience. And all this Finess must work by gentle degrees, by a due
preparation of _Incidents_, and by Instruments which are probable.[404]
'Tis Mr. _Rapins_ remark, that without probability _every Thing is lame and
Faulty_. Where there is no pretence to _Miracle_ and _Machine_, matters
must not exceed the force of Beleif. To produce effects without proportion;
and likelyhood in the Cause, is Farce, and Magick, and looks more like
Conjuring than Conduct. Let us examine the _Relapser_ by these Rules. To
discover his _Plot_, we must lay open somewhat more of the _Fable_.

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

This is the Main of the Contrivance. The Counterturn in Lord _Foplingtons_
appearing afterwards, and the Support of the main _Plot_, by _Bulls_, and
_Nurses_ attesting the Marriage, contain's little of Moment. And here we
may observe that Lord _Foplington_ has an unlucky Disagreement in his
_Character_; This Misfortune sits hard upon the credibility of the Design.
Tis true he was Formal and Fantastick, Smitten with Dress, and Equipage,
and it may be vapour'd by his Perfumes But his Behaviour is far from that
of an Ideot.[405] This being granted, 'tis very unlikely this Lord with his
five Thousand pounds _per annum_, should leave the choise of his Mistress
to _Coupler_, and take her Person and Fortune upon _Content_. To court thus
blindfold, and by _Proxy_, does not agree with the Method of an Estate, nor
the Niceness of a _Beau_. However the _Poet_ makes him engage Hand over
Head, without so much as the sight of her Picture.[406] His going down to
Sir _Tun-belly_ was as extraordinary as his Courtship. He had never seen
this Gentleman. He must know him to be beyond Measure suspicious, and that
there was no Admittance without _Couplers_ Letter. This _Letter_ which was,
the Key to the Castle, he forgot to take with him, and tells you _'twas
stolen by his Brother Tam_. And for his part he neither had the Discretion
to get another, nor yet to produce that written by him to Sir
_Tun-belly_.[407] Had common Sense been consulted upon this Occasion, the
_Plot_ had been at an End, and the _Play_ had sunk in the Fourth _Act_. The
Remainder subsists purely upon the strength of Folly, and of Folly
altogether improbable, and out of _Character_. The _Salvo_ of Sir _John
Friendly's_ appearing at last, and vouching for Lord _Foplington_, won't
mend the matter. For as the _Story_ informs us, Lord _Foplington_ never
depended on this Reserve.[408] He knew nothing of this Gentleman being in
the Country, nor where he Lived. The truth is, Sir _John_ was left in
_Town_, and the Lord had neither concerted his journey with him, nor
engaged his Assistance.[409]

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

_4th_. Place touch briefly upon the _Manners_.

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

The fine _Berinthia_, one of the Top-Characters, is impudent and Profane.
_Lovelace_ would engage her Secrecy, and bids her Swear. She answers _I

_Lov._ By what?

Berinth. _By Woman._

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

Berinth. _By Man then._[412]

This Lady promises _Worthy_ her Endeavours to corrupt _Amanda_; and then
They make a Profane jest upon the Office.[413] In the progress of the
_Play_ after a great deal of Lewd Discourse with _Lovelace_, _Berinthia_ is
carried off into a Closet, and Lodged in a _Scene_ of Debauch.[414] Here is
Decency, and Reservedness, to a great exactness! Monsieur _Rapin_ blames
_Ariosto_, and _Tasso_, for representing two of their Women over free, and
airy.[415] These _Poets_ says he, _rob Women of their Character, which is
Modesty_. Mr. _Rymer_ is of the same Opinion: His words are these. _Nature
knows nothing in the Manners which so properly, and particularly
distinguish a Woman, as her Modesty.----An impudent Woman is fit only to be
kicked, and expos'd in Comedy._[416]

Now _Berinthia_ appears in _Comedy_ 'tis true; but neither to be _kick'd_,
nor _expos'd_. She makes a Considerable Figure, has good Usage, keeps the
best Company, and goes off without Censure, or Disadvantage. Let us now
take a Turn or two with Sir _Tun-belly's_ Heiress of 1500 pounds a year.
This Young Lady swears, talks smut, and is upon the matter just as
rag-manner'd as _Mary the Buxsome_. 'Tis plain the _Relapser_ copyed Mr.
_Durfey's_ Original, which is a sign he was somewhat Pinch'd. Now this
_Character_ was no great Beauty in _Buxsome_; But it becomes the Knights
Daughter much worse. _Buxsome_ was a poor Pesant, which made her Rudeness
more natural, and expected. But _Deputy Lieutenants_ Children don't use to
appear with the Behaviour of Beggars. To breed all People alike, and make
no distinction between a _Seat_, and a _Cottage_, is not over artful, nor
very ceremonious to the Country Gentlemen. The _Relapser_ gives _Miss_ a
pretty Soliloquy, I'll transcribe it for _the Reader_.

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

Sir _Tun-belly_ accosts Young _Fashion_ much at the same rate of
Accomplishment.[418] My Lord,----_I humbly crave leave to bid you Welcome
in a Cup of Sack-wine_. One would imagine the _Poet_ was overdozed before
he gave the _Justice_ a Glass. For _Sack-wine_ is too low for a _Petty
Constable_. This peasantly expression agrees neither with the Gentlemans
Figure, nor with the rest of his Behaviour. I find we should have a
Creditable _Magistracy_, if the _Relapser_ had the Making them. Here the
_Characters_ are pinch'd in Sense, and stinted to short Allowance. At an
other time they are over-indulged, and treated above Expectation.

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

_Y._ Fash. _Unless you are so kind to assist me in redeeming my Annuity, I
know no Remedy, but to go take a Purse_.

_L._ Fopl. _Why Faith_ Tam----_to give you my Sense of the Thing, I do
think taking a Purse the best Remedy in the World, for if you succeed, you
are releiv'd that way, if you are taken----you are reliev'd to'ther_.[420]

_Fashion_ being disappointed of a supply quarrels his Elder Brother, and
calls him _the Prince of Coxcombs_.[421]

_L._ Fopl. _Sir I am proud of being at the Head of so prevailing a party._

_Y._ Fash. _Will nothing then provoke thee? draw Coward._

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

This Drolling has too much Spirit, the Air of it is too free, and too
handsomly turn'd for Lord _Foplingtons_ Character. I grant the _Relapser_
could not aford to lose these Sentences. The Scene would have suffer'd by
the Omission. But then he should have contriv'd the matter so, as that they
might, have been spoken by Young _Fashion_ in _Asides_, or by some other
more proper Person. To go on. Miss _Hoyden_ sparkles too much in
Conversation. The _Poet_ must needs give her a shining Line or two,[422]
which serves only to make the rest of her dullness the more remarkable.
Sir. _Tun-belly_ falls into the same Misfortune of a Wit, and rallies above
the force of his Capacity.[423] But the place having a mixture of
Profaness, I shall forbear to cite it. Now to what purpose should a Fools
Coat be embroider'd? Finery in the wrong place is but expensive
Ridiculousness. Besides, I don't perceive the _Relapser_ was in any
Condition to be thus liberal. And when a _Poet_ is not overstock'd, to
squander away his Wit among his _Block-heads_, is meer Distraction. His men
of Sense will smart for this prodigality. _Lovelace_ in his discourse of
_Friendship_, shall be the first Instance. _Friendship_ (says he) _is said
to be a plant of tedious growth, its Root composed of tender_ Fibers, nice
in their Tast, _&c._ By this Description the Palate of a _Fiber_, should be
somewhat more _nice_ and distinguishing, then the _Poets_ Judgment. Let us
examin some more of his Witty People. Young _Fashion_ fancies by _Misses_
forward Behaviour, she would have a whole _Kennel_ of _Beaux_ after her at
_London_. And then _Hey to the Park, and the Play, and the Church, and the
Devil_.[424] Here I conceive the ranging of the Period is amiss. For if he
had put the _Play_, and the _Devil_ together, the Order of Nature, and the
Air of Probability had been much better observ'd.

Afterwards _Coupler_ being out of Breath in coming up stairs to _Fashion_,
asks him _why the ---- canst thou not lodge upon the Ground-floor_?[425]

_Y._ Fash. _Because I love to lye as near Heaven as I can._ One would think
a Spark just come off his Travels, and had made the _Tour_ of _Italy_ and
_France_, might have rallied with a better Grace! However if he lodg'd in a
_Garret_, 'tis a good _Local_ jest. I had almost forgot one pretty
remarkable Sentence of _Fashion_ to _Lory._[426] _I shall shew thee_ (says
he) _the excess of my Passion by being very calm_. Now since this
_Gentleman_ was in a vein of talking Philosophy to his Man, I'm sorry he
broke of so quickly. Had he gone on and shown him the _Excess_ of a Storm
and no Wind stirring, the Topick had been spent, and the Thought improv'd
to the utmost.

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

I should now examine the _Relapser's Thoughts and Expressions_, which are
two other Things of Consideration in a _Play_. The _Thoughts_ or
_Sentiments are the Expressions of the Manners, as Words are of the
Thoughts_.[430] But the view of the _Characters_ has in some measure
prevented this Enquiry. Leaving this Argument therefore, I shall consider
his _Play_ with respect to the

_Three Unities_ of Time, Place, and Action.

And here the _Reader_ may please to take notice, that the Design of these
Rules, is to conceal the Fiction of the _Stage_, to make the _Play_ appear
Natural, and to give it an Air of Reality, and _Conversation_.

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

The Second _Unity_ is that of _Place_. To observe it, the _Scene_ must not
wander from one Town, or Country to another. It must continue in the same
House, Street, or at farthest in the same City, where it was first laid.
The Reason of this Rule depends upon the _First_. Now the Compass of _Time_
being strait, that of _Space_ must bear a Correspondent Proportion. Long
journeys in _Plays_ are impracticable. The Distances of _Place_ must be
suited to Leisure, and Possibility, otherwise the supposition will appear
unnatural and absurd. The

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

_1st._ His _Play_ by modest Computation takes up a weeks Work, but five
days you must allow it at the lowest. One day must be spent in the First,
Second, and part of the Third _Act_, before Lord _Foplington_ sets forward
to Sir _Tun-belly_. Now the Length of the Distance, the Pomp of the
Retinue, and the Niceness of the Person being consider'd; the journey down,
and up again, cannot be laid under four days.[432] To put this out of
doubt, Lord, _Foplington_ is particularly careful to tell _Coupler_, how
concern'd he was not to overdrive _for fear of disordering his
Coach-Horses_. The Laws of _Place_, are no better observ'd than those of
_Time_. In the Third _Act_ the _Play_ is in _Town_, in the Fourth _Act_
'tis stroll'd Fifty Miles off, and in the Fifth _Act_ in _London_ again.
Here _Pegasus_ stretches it to purpose! This _Poet_ is fit to ride a Match
with Witches. _Juliana Cox_ never Switched a Broom stock with more
Expedition! This is exactly

  _Titus_ at _Walton Town_, and _Titus_ at _Islington_.

One would think by the probability of matters, the _Plot_ had been stolen
from Dr. _O----s_.

The _Poet's_ Success in the last _Unity_ of _Action_ is much the same with
the former. _Lovelace_, _Amanda_, and _Berinthia_, have no share in the
main Business. These Second rate _Characters_ are a detatched Body: Their
Interest is perfectly Foreign, and they are neither Friends, nor Enemies to
the _Plot_. _Young Fashion_ does not so much as see them till the Close of
the Fifth _Act_, and then they meet only to fill the _Stage_: And yet these
_Persons_ are in the _Poets_ account very considerable; Insomuch that he
has misnamed his _Play_ from the Figure of two of them. This strangness of
_Persons_, distinct Company, and inconnexion of Affairs, destroys the Unity
of the _Poem_. The contrivance is just as wise as it would be to cut a
Diamond in two. There is a loss of Lustre in the Division. Increasing the
Number, abates the Value, and by making it more, you make it less.

Thus far I have examin'd the _Dramatick_ Merits of the _Play_. And upon
enquiry, it appears a Heap of Irregularities. There is neither Propriety in
the _Name_, nor Contrivance in the _Plot_, nor Decorum in the _Characters_.
'Tis a thorough Contradition to Nature, and impossible in _Time_, and
_Place_. Its _Shining Graces_ as the Author calls them,[433] are
_Blasphemy_ and _Baudy_, together with a mixture of _Oaths_, and _Cursing_.
Upon the whole; The _Relapser's_ Judgment, and his Morals, are pretty well
adjusted. The _Poet_, is not much better than the _Man_. As for the
_Profane_ part, 'tis hideous and superlative.[434] But this I have
consider'd elsewhere. All that I shall observe here is, that the Author was
sensible of this Objection. His Defence in his _Preface_ is most wretched:
He pretends to know nothing of the Matter, and that _'tis all Printed_;
Which only proves his Confidence equal to the rest of his Virtues. To
out-face Evidence in this manner, is next to the affirming there's no such
Sin as _Blasphemy_, which is the greatest Blasphemy of all. His Apology
consists in railing at the _Clergy_; a certain sign of ill Principles, and
ill Manners. This He does at an unusual rate of Rudeness and Spite. He
calls them the Saints with Screw'd _Faces, and wry Mouths_. And after a
great deal of scurrilous Abuse too gross to be mention'd, he adds;[435] _If
any Man happens to be offended at a story of a Cock and a Bull, and a
Priest and a Bull-dog, I beg his Pardon_, &c. This is brave _Bear-Garden_
Language! The _Relapser_ would do well to transport his Muse to
_Samourgan_.[436] There 'tis likely he might find Leisure to lick his
_Abortive Brat_ into shape; And meet with proper Business for his Temper,
and encouragement for his Talent.


_The Opinion of_ Paganism, _of the_ Church, _and_ State, _concerning the_

Having in the foregoing _Chapters_ discover'd some part of the Disorders of
the _English Stage_; I shall in this Last, present the _Reader_ with a
short View of the Sense of _Antiquity_, To which I shall add some _Modern_
Authorities; From all which it will appear that _Plays_ have generally been
look'd on as the _Nurseries_ of _Vice_, the _Corrupters_ of _Youth_, and
the _Grievance_ of the _Country_ where they are suffer'd.

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

Under the _First_, I shall cite some of the most celebrated _Heathen
Philosophers_, Orators, and Historians; Men of the biggest Consideration,
for Sense, Learning, and Figure. The

_Second_, Shall consist of the _Laws_ and _Constitutions_ of _Princes, &c._

_Third_, Will be drawn from _Church-Records_, from _Fathers_, and
_Councils_ of unexceptionable Authority, both as to Persons, and Time.

_1st._ I shall produce some of the most celebrated Heathen Philosophers
_&c._ To begin with _Plato_. 'This Philosopher tells us that _Plays_ raise
the Passions, and pervert the use of them, and by consequence are dangerous
to Morality. For this Reason he banishes these Diversions his

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

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

_Tully_ crys out upon 'Licentious _Plays_ and _Poems_, as the bane of
Sobriety, and wise Thinking: That _Comedy_ subsists upon Lewdness, and that
Pleasure is the Root, of all Evil.'[441]

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

_Valerius Maximus_, Contemporary with _Livy_, gives much the same Account
of the rise of _Theatres_ at _Rome_. 'Twas Devotion which built them. And
as for the Performances of those Places, which Mr. _Dryden_ calls the
_Ornaments_, this Author censures as the Blemishes of _Peace_.' And which
is more, He affirms 'They were the Occasions of Civil Distractions; And
that the _State_ first Blush'd, and then Bled, for the Entertainment.[443]
He concludes the consequences of _Plays_ intolerable;[444] And that the
_Massilienses_ did well in clearing the Country of them. _Seneca_ complains
heartily of the Extravagance and Debauchery of the Age: And how forward
People were to improve in that which was naught. That scarce any Body would
apply themselves to the Study of Nature and Morality, unless when the
_Play-House_ was shut, or the Weather foul. That there was no body to teach
_Philosophy_, because there was no body to Learn it: But that the _Stage_
had _Nurseries_, and Company enough. This Misapplication of time and Fancy,
made Knowledge in so ill a Condition. This was the Cause the Hints of
Antiquity were no better pursued; that some Inventions were sunk, and that
Humane Reason grew Downwards rather than otherwise.[445] And elswhere he
avers that there is nothing more destructive to Good Manners then to run
Idling to see _Sights_. For there Vice makes an insensible Approach, and
steals upon us in the Disguise of pleasure.[446]

'_Tacitus_ relating how _Nero_ hired decay'd Gentlemen for the _Stage_,
complains of the Mismanagement;[447] And lets us know 'twas the part of a
Prince to releive their Necessity, and not to Tempt it. And that his Bounty
should rather 'have set them above an ill practise, than driven them

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

_Plays_, in the Opinion of the Judicious _Plutark_ are dangerous to corrupt
Young People; And therefore _Stage_ Poetry when it grows too hardy, and
Licentious, ought to be checkt.[449] This was the Opinion of these
Celebrated _Authors_ with respect to _Theatres_: They Charge them with the
Corruption of Principles, and Manners, and lay in all imaginable Caution
against them. And yet these Men had seldom any thing but this World in
their Scheme; and form'd their Judgments only upon Natural Light, and
Common Experience. We see then to what sort of Conduct we are oblig'd. The
case is plain; Unless we are little enough to renounce our Reason, and fall
short of Philosophy, and live _under_ the Pitch of _Heathenism_.

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

The first is _Ovid_, who in his Book _De  Arte Amandi_, gives his _Reader_
to understand that the _Play-House_ was the most likely Place for him to
Forage in. Here would be choice of all sorts: Nothing being more common
than to see Beauty surpriz'd, Women debauch'd, and Wenches Pick'd up at
these Diversions.

  _Sed tu præcique curvis venare Theatris,
  Hæc loca sunt voto fertiliora tuo.
  ---- ruit ad celebres cultissima Fæmina Ludos;
  Copia judicium sæpe morata meum est.
  Spectatum veniunt, veniunt Spectentur ut ipsæ;
  Ille locus casti damna pudoris habet._[450]

And afterwards relating the imperfect beginning of _Plays_ at the Rape of
the _Sabine_ Virgins, he adds,

  _Silicit exillo solennia more Theatra
  Nunc quoque formosis insidiosa manent._

This _Author_ some time after wrote the _Remedy_ of _Love_. Here he
pretends to Prescribe for Prudence, if not for Sobriety. And to this
purpose, He forbids the seeing of _Plays_, and the reading of _Poets_,
especially some of them. Such Recreations being apt to feed the
_Distemper_, and make the _Patient_ relapse.

  _At tanti tibi sit non indulgere Theatris
  Dum bene de cacuo Pectore cedat amor.
  Enervant animos Citharæ, Cantusque, lyraque
  Et vox, & numeris brachia mota suis.
  Illic assidue ficti saltantur amantes,
  Quid, caveas, actor, quid juvet, arte docet_.[451]

In his _De Tristibus_, He endeavours to make some Amends for his scandalous
_Poems_, and gives _Augustus_ a sort of _Plan_ for a Publick _Reformation_.
Amongst other Things, he advises the suppressing of _Plays_, as being the
promoters of Lewdness, and Dissolution of Manners.

  _Ut tamen hoc fatear ludi quoque semina præbent
  Nequitiæ, tolli tota Theatra jube._[452]

To the Testimony of _Ovid_, I could add _Plautus_, _Propertius_, and
_Juvenal_, but being not willing to overburthen the _Reader_, I shall
content my self with the _Plain-Dealer_ as one better known at _Home_.

This _Poet_ in his _Dedication_ to _Lady B_, some Eminent _Procuress_,
pleads the Merits of his Function, and insists on being Billeted upon _free
Quarter_. _Madam_ (says he) _I think a Poet ought to be as free of your
Houses, as of the Play-Houses: since he contributes to the support of both,
and is as necessary to such as you, as the Ballad-singer to the Pick-purse,
in Convening the Cullies at the Theatres to be pick'd up, and Carried to a
supper, and Bed, at your Houses._[453] This is franck Evidence, and ne're
the less true, for the Air of a Jest.

I shall now in the Second Place proceed to the _Censures_ of the _State_;
And show in a few Words how much the _Stage_ stands discouraged by the
_Laws_ of other Countrys and our own.

To begin with the _Athenians_.[454] This People tho' none of the worst
Freinds to the _Play-House_ 'thought a _Comedy_ so unreputable a
Performance, that they made a Law that no Judge of the _Ariopagus_ should
make one.'

The _Lacedemonians_,[455] who were remarkable for the Wisdom of their
_Laws_, the Sobriety of their _Manners_, and their Breeding of brave Men.
This _Government_ would not endure the _Stage_ in any Form, nor under any

To pass on to the _Romans_. _Tully_[456] informs us that their
_Predecessours_ 'counted all _Stage-Plays_ uncreditable and Scandalous. In
so much that any _Roman_ who turn'd _Actor_ was not only to be Degraded,
but likewise as it were disincorporated, and unnaturalized by the _Order_
of the _Censors_.

St. _Augustine_ in the same Book,[457] commends the _Romans_ for refusing
the _Jus Civitatis_ to _Players_, for seizing their Freedoms, and making
them perfectly Foreign to their _Government_.

We read in _Livy_[458] that the Young People in _Rome_ kept the _Fabulæ
Attellanæ_ to themselves. 'They would not suffer this Diversion to be
blemish'd by the _Stage_. For this reason, as the Historian observes,[459]
the _Actors_ of the _Fabulæ Atellanæ_ were neither expell'd their _Tribe_,
nor refused to serve in _Arms_; Both which Penalties it appears the _Common
Players_ lay under.'

In the Theodosian _Code_, _Players_ are call'd _Personæ inhonestæ_;[460]
that is, to _Translate_ it softly, Persons Maim'd, and Blemish'd in their
Reputation. Their _Pictures_ might be seen at the _Play-House_, but were
not permitted to hang in any creditable Place[461] of the _Town_, Upon this
_Text_ _Gothofred_ tells us the Function of Players was counted
scandalous[462] by the _Civil Law_, L. 4. And that those who came upon the
_Stage_ to divert the people, had a mark of Infamy set upon them. _Famosi
sunt ex Edicto._ [463]

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

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

_Many Godly Citizens, and other well disposed Gentlemen of_ London,
_considering that_ Play-Houses _and_ Dicing-Houses, _were Traps for Young
Gentlemen and others, and perceiving the many Inconveniencies and great
damage that would ensue upon the long suffering of the same, not only to
particular Persons but to the whole City; And that it would also be a great
disparagement to the Governours, and a dishonour to the Government of this
Honourable City, if they should any longer continue, acquainted some Pious
Magistrates therewith, desiring them to take some Course for the
suppression of Common_ Play-Houses, _&c. within the City of_ London _and
Liberties thereof; who thereupon made humble suit to Queen_ Elizabeth _and
her Privy Council, and obtain'd leave of her Majesty to thrust the Players
out of the City and to pull down all_ Play-Houses, _and_ Dicing-Houses
_within their Liberties, which accordingly was effected.[464] And the
Play-Houses in_ Grace-Church-street _&c. were quite put down and

I shall give a Modern Instance or two from _France_ and so conclude these

In the Year 1696. we are inform'd by a Dutch _Print_,[465] M. _L'
Archevéque appuyé_ &c. That the Lord Arch-Bishop 'support'd by the interest
of some Religious Persons at Court, has done his utmost to suppress the
_Publick Theatres_ by degrees; or at least to clear them of Profaness.'

And last Summer the _Gazetts_ in the _Paris Article_ affirm.[466] That the
King has 'order'd the _Italian Players_ to retire out of _France_ because
they did not observe his _Majesties Orders_, but represented immodest
_Pieces_, and did not correct their _Obscenities_, and indecent

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

And here to put an end to the Modern Authorities, I shall subjoyn a sort of
_Pastoral Letter_ publish'd about two years since by the Bishop of _Arras_
in _Flanders_. The _Reader_ shall have as much of it as concerns him in
both Languages.



_L'Illustrissime Et Reverendissime_



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

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

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

  _Guy Evéque d'Arras
           Et plus bas
         Par Monseigneur_


In English thus,

_An Order of the most Illustrious and most Reverend Lord Bishop of_ Arras
_against_ Plays.

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

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

From the general Unlawfulness of _Plays_, the Bishop proceeds to argue more
strongly against seeing them at times which are more particularly devoted
to Piety, and Humiliation: And therefore he strickly forbids his Diocess
the _Play-House_ in _Advent_, _Lent_, or under any publick _Calamity_. And
at last concludes in this Manner.

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

_Guy_ Bishop of _Arras_. &c.

I shall now in the Third Place, give a short account of the sense of the
_Primitive_ Church concerning the _Stage_: And first I shall instance in
her _Councils_.

The Council of _Illiberis_, or _Collioure_ in _Spain_, decrees,[468]

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

The first Council of _Arles_, runs thus,[469]

'Concerning _Players_, we have thought fit to Excommunicate them as long as
they continue to _Act_.'

The Second Council of _Arles_ made their _20th_ Canon to the same purpose,
and almost in the same words.[470]

The Third Council of _Carthage_, of which St. _Augustine_ was a Member,

'That the Sons of Bishops, or other Clergy-men should not be permitted to
furnish out Publick _Shews_, or _Plays_[472] or be present at them: Such
sort of Pagan _Entertainments_ being forbidden all the _Laity_. It being
always unlawful for all Christians to come amongst _Blasphemers_.

This last branch shews the _Canon_ was Principally levell'd against the
_Play-House_: And the reason of the Prohibition, holds every jot as strong
against the _English_, as against the _Roman Stage_.

By the 35th _Canon_ of this _Council_ 'tis decreed,

'That _Actors_ or others belonging to the _Stage_, who are either
_Converts_, or _Penitents_ upon a Relapse, shall not be denied Admission
into the Church.' This is farther proof, that _Players_ as long as they
kept to their Employment were bar'd _Communion_.

Another _African Council_ declares,[473]

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

The Second _Council_ of _Chaalon_ sets forth,[474]

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

I could cite many more Authorities of this Kind, but being conscious of the
Niceness of the _Age_, I shall forbear, and proceed to the Testimony of the

To begin with _Theophilus_ Bishop of _Antioch_, who lived in the Second

''Tis not lawful (says he)[475] for us to be present at the _Prizes_ or
your _Gladiators_, least by this means we should be _Accessaries_ to the
Murthers there committed. Neither dare we presume upon the Liberty of your
other _Shews_,[476] least our Senses should be tinctur'd, and disoblig'd,
with Indecency, and Profaness. The Tragical Distractions of _Tereus_ and
_Thyestes_, are Nonsense to us. We are for seeing no Representations of
Lewdness. The Stage-Adulteries of the _Gods_, and _Hero's_, are
unwarrantable Entertainments: And so much the worse, because the Mercenary
_Players_ set them off with all the Charms and Advantages of Speaking. God
forbid that _Christians_ who are remarkable for Modesty, and Reserv'dness;
who are obliged to Discipline, and train'd up in Virtue, God forbid I say,
that we should dishonour our Thoughts, much less our Practise, with such
Wickedness as This!'

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

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

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

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

'The _Censors_ whose business 'twas to take care of Regularity and
Manners,[479] look'd on these _Play-Houses_ as no other than _Batteries_
upon Virtue and Sobriety, and for this reason often pull'd them down before
they were well built, so that here we can argue from the _Precedents_ of
meer _Nature_, and plead the _Heathens_ against themselves. Upon this view
_Pompey_ the Great, when he built his _Dramatick_ Bawdy-House, clapp'd a
_Chappel_ a Top on't. He would not let it go under the Name of a
Play-House, but conven'd the people to a Solemn Dedication, and called it
_Venus's_ Temple; Giving them to understand at the same time that there
were _Benches_ under it for Diversion. He was afraid if he had not gone
this way to work, The _Censors_ might afterwards have razed the Monument,
and branded his Memory. Thus a Scandalous pile of Building was protected:
The Temple, cover'd the _Play-House_, and Discipline was baffled by
_Superstition_. But the Design is notably suited to the Patronage of
_Bacchus_[480] and _Venus_. These two Confederate Devils of Lust and
Intemperance, do well together. The very Functions of the _Players_
resemble their _Protectors_, and are instances of Service and
Acknowledgment. Their Motion is effeminate, and their Gestures vitious and
Significant: And thus they worship the Luxury of one _Idoll_, and the
Lewdness of the other.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_Minutius Felix_ delivers his Sense in these Words:[490]

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

St. _Cyprian_ or the Author _de Spectaculis_, will furnish us farther.

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

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

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

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

He has a great deal more upon this Subject in his _Epistles_ to _Donatus_
and _Eucratius_, which are undoubtedly genuine. The later being somewhat
remarkable, I shall Translate part of it for the _Reader_. [491]

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

_Lactantius_'s Testimony shall come next. This Author in his _Divine
Institutions_,[492] which he Dedicates to _Constantine_ the Great, cautions
the Christians against the _Play-House_, from the Disorder, and danger of
those places. For as he observes.

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

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

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

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

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

I shall pass over St. _Ambrose_,[495] and go on to St. _Chrisostome_. This
_Father_ is copious upon the Subject, I could translate some _Sheets_ from
him were it necessary. But length being not my Business, a few Lines may
serve to discover his Opinion. His _15 Homily ad Populum Antiochenum_, runs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One citation more from St. _Chrysostom_, and I take Leave. In the Preface
of his Commentary upon St. _John_'s Gospel speaking of _Plays_ and other
Publick _Shews_, he has these words.

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

St. _Hierom_ on the _1st_. Verse 32 _Psal._ makes this Exposition upon the

'Some are delighted with the Satisfactions of this World, some with the
_Circus_, and some with the _Theatre_: But the Psalmist commands every good
Man _to delight himself in the Lord_.----For as _Isaiah_ speaks, _woe to
them that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter_.' And in his
Epistles[496] he cautions the Ladies against having any thing to do with
the _Play-House_, against Lewd Songs, and Ill Conversation. Because they
set ill Humours at work, Caress the Fancy, and make pleasure a Conveyance
for Destruction.'

In the _6th._ Book of his Comentary on _Ezechiel_ he lets us
understand;[497] 'That when we depart out of _Ægypt_ we must refine our
Inclinations, and change our Delights into Aversion. And after some other
Instances, He tells us we must decline the _Theatres_, and all other
dangerous Diversions, which stain the Innocence of the Soul, and slip into
the _Will_ through the Senses.'

St. _Augustine_ in his _5th_. Epistle to _Marcellinus_ will afford us
something upon the same Argument.

'The prosperity of Sinners is their greatest Unhappiness. If one may say
so, They are most Punish'd when they are overlook'd. By this means their
bad Temper is encourag'd, and they are more inclin'd to be false to
themselves; And we know an Enemy _within_, is more dangerous than one
_without_. But the perverse Reasonings of the Generality, make different
Conclusions. They fancy the World goes wonderfully well when People make a
Figure. When a Man is a Prince in his Fortune, but a Begger in his Vertue;
Has a great many fine Things about him, but not so much as one good Quality
to deserve them. When the _Play-Houses_ go up, and Religion go's down. When
Prodigality is admir'd, and Charity laugh'd at. When the _Players_ can
revel with the Rich Man's purse, And the Poor have scarse enough to keep
Life and Soul together.----When God suffers these Things to flourish, we
may be sure he is most Angry. Present Impunity, is the deepest Revenge. But
when he cuts off the Supplies of Luxury, and disables the Powers of
Extravagance, then as one may say, he is mercifully severe.'

In his _1st._ Book _de consensu Evangelistarum_,[498] He answers an
objection of the _Heathens_, and comes up to the Case in Hand.

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

I could go on, much farther with St. _Augustine_, but I love to be as brief
as may be. I could likewise run through the succeeding _Centuries_, and
collect Evidence all along. But I conceive the best Ages, and the biggest
Authorities, may be sufficient: And these the _Reader_ has had already.
However, one Instance more from the _Moderns_ may not be amiss. _Didacus de
Tapia_ an eminent _Spaniard_, shall close the _Evidence_. This Author in
debating the Question whether _Players_ might be admitted to the
_Sacrament_, amongst other things encounters an Objection. Some People it
seems pretended there was some good to be learn'd at the _Play-House_. To
these, he makes this reply.

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

Thus I have presented the _Reader_ with a short View of the Sense of
_Christianity_. This was the opinion of the _Church_ for the first 500
Years. And thus she has Censured the _Stage_ both in _Councils_, and Single
_Authorities_. And since the Satir of the _Fathers_ comes full upon the
_Modern Poets_, their Caution must be applicable. The parity of the Case
makes their Reasons take place, and their Authority revive upon us. If we
are _Christians_, the _Canons_ of _Councils_, and the Sense of the
Primitive _Church_ must have a weight. The very Time is a good argument of
it self. Then the _Apostolical Traditions_ were fresh, and undisputed; and
the _Church_ much better agreed than she has been since. Then, Discipline
was in Force, and Virtue Flourish'd, and People lived up to their
_Profession_. And as for the _Persons_, they are beyond all exception.
Their _Station_, their Learning, and Sufficiency was very Considerable;
Their Piety and Resolution, extraordinary. They acted generously, and wrote
freely, and were always above the little Regards of Interest or Danger. To
be short; They were, as we may say the _Worthies_ of _Christendom_, the
Flower of Humane Nature, and the Top of their _Species_. Nothing can be
better establish'd, than the Credit of these _Fathers_: Their Affirmation
goes a great way in a proof; And we might argue upon the strength of their

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

But it may be objected, is the Resemblance exact between Old _Rome_ and
_London_, will the Paralel hold out, and has the _English Stage_ any Thing
so bad as the _Dancing_ of the _Pantomimi_? I don't say that: The _Modern
Gestures_ tho' bold and Lewd too sometimes, are not altogether so
scandalous as the _Roman_. Here then we can make them some little

And to go as far in their _Excuse_ as we can, 'tis probable their _Musick_
may not be altogether so exceptionable as that of the _Antients_. I don't
say this part of the Entertainment is directly vitious, because I am not
willing to Censure at Uncertainties. Those who frequent the _Play-House_
are the most competent Judges: But this I must say, the Performances of
this kind are much too fine for the _Place_. 'Twere to be wish'd that
either the _Plays_ were better, or the _Musick_ worse. I'm sorry to see
_Art_ so meanly Prostituted: Atheism ought to have nothing Charming in its
_Retinue_. 'Tis great Pity _Debauchery_ should have the Assistance of a
fine Hand, to whet the Appetite, and play it down.

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

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

_Tully_ does not carry the Speculation thus high: However, he owns it has a
weight in't, and should not be overlook'd.[501] He denies not but that when
the Musick is soft, exquisite, and airy, 'tis dangerous and ensnaring. He
commends the Discipline of the ancient _Greeks_, for fencing against this
Inconvenience. He tells us the _Lacedemonians_ fixt the number of Strings
for the Harp, by express _Law_. And afterwards silenc'd _Timotheus_,[502]
and seiz'd his Harp, for having One String above publick Allowance. To
return. If the _English Stage_ is more reserv'd than the _Roman_ in the
Case above mention'd: If they have any advantage in their _Instrumental_
Musick, they loose it in their _Vocal_. Their _Songs_ are often rampantly
Lewd, and Irreligious to a flaming Excess. Here you have the very _Spirit_
and _Essence_ of Vice drawn off strong scented, and thrown into a little
Compass. Now the _Antients_ as we have seen already were inoffensive in
this respect.

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Second Thing which I have to object against the _Stage_ is their
encouraging Revenge. What is more Common than Duels and Quarrelling in
their _Characters_ of Figure? Those Practises which are infamous in Reason,
_Capital_ in _Law_, and Damnable in Religion, are the Credit of the
_Stage_. Thus Rage and Resentment, Blood and Barbarity, are almost Deified:
Pride goes for Greatness, and _Fiends_ and _Hero's_ are made of the same
Mettal. To give Instances were needless, nothing is more frequent. And in
this respect the _French Dramatists_ have been to blame no less than the
_English_.[503] And thus the Notion of Honour is mistated, the Maxims of
Christianity despised, and the Peace of the World disturb'd. I grant this
desperate Custom is no _Original_ of the _Stage_. But then why was not the
Growth of it check'd? I thought the _Poets_ business had not been to back
false Reasoning and ill Practise; and to fix us in Frensy and Mistake! Yes.
They have done their endeavour to cherish the Malignity, and keep the
Disorder in Countenance. They have made it both the Mark, and the Merit of
a Man of Honour; and set it off with _Quality_, and Commendation. But I
have discours'd on this Subject elswhere,[504] and therefore shall pursue
it no farther.

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

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

And here I can't imagine how we can reconcile such Liberties with our
Profession. These Entertainments are as it were Litterally renounc'd in
_Baptism_. They are the _Vanities of the wicked World, and the Works of the
Devil_, in the most open, and emphatical Signification. _What Communion has
Light with Darkness, and what concord has Christ with Belial._[505] Call
you this Diversion? Can Profaness be such an irresistable Delight? Does the
Crime of the Performance make the Spirit of the Satisfaction, and is the
Scorn of Christianity the Entertainment of Christians? Is it such a
Pleasure to hear the _Scriptures_ burlesqu'd? Is Ribaldry so very obliging,
and _Atheism_ so Charming a Quality? Are we indeed willing to quit the
Privilege of our Nature; to surrender our _Charter_ of Immortality, and
throw up the Pretences to another Life? It may be so! But then we should do
well to remember that _Nothing_ is not in our Power. Our Desires did not
make us, neither can they unmake us. But I hope our wishes are not so mean,
and that we have a better sense of the Dignity of our _Being_. And if so,
how can we be pleas'd with those Things which would degrade us into Brutes,
which ridicule our _Creed_, and turn all our Expectations into _Romance_.

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

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


NOTES (In margin in the Original).[1] _Reflect upon_ Aristot. &c.

[2] _Eurip. Hippolit._

[3] _Hamlet._

[4] _Don Quixot._

[5] _Relapse._

[6] _Love for Love._

[7] _Mock Astrologer._

[8] _Old Batchelour._

[9] _Mock Astrologer. Country Wife. Cleomenes. Old Batchelour._

[10] _Plaut._

[11] _Cistellar._

[12] _Terent. Eunuch._

[13] _Asinar._

[14] _Cistellar._

[15] _Bacchid._

[16] _Casin._

[17] _Mercat. Act. 3._

[18] _Persa._

[19] _Trucul._

[20] _Persa._

[21] _Trinum._

[22] _Act. 2. 1._

[23] _Act. 2. 2._

[24] _Casin._

[25] _Mil. Glor._

[26] _Pers._

[27] _Trucul._

[28] _Cistellear. A. 1._

[29] _Ibid. A. 2._

[30] _Heauton._

[31] _Eunuch._

[32] _Love Triump._

[33] _Heauton. A. 5. 4._

[34] _Eunuch A. 5. 4. 5._ _Adelph. A. 2. 3._

[35] _Eunuch._

[36] _Casaub. Annot. in Curcul. Plauti._

[37] _De A te Poet._

[38] _Var. apud. Nonium._

[39] _Corn. Nep._

[40] _Arist. Lib. 4. de Mor. cap. 14._

[41] _Vit. Eurip. ed Cantab. 1694._

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

[43] _p. 14. Ed. Scriv._

[44] _Hippol._

[45] _Aristoph. Ran._

[46] [Greek: Choêphor.] _253, Ed. Steph._

[47] _Orest. 48. Ed. Cantab._

[48] [Greek: Eumen.] _305._

[49] _p. 79._

[50] [Greek: Hiket.] 340.

[51] _Don Sebast. p. 12._

[52] _Oedip. Tyran. Ed Steph._

[53] _Antig. 242. 244._

[54] _Ibid. 264._

[55] _Trach. 348._

[56] [Greek: Môria to Môron] _Ed. Cant. 241. 250. 252._

[57] _Ibid. 232. 233._

[58] _Androm. p. 303._

[59] _Iphig. in Aulid. p. 51._

[60] _Helen. 277, 278._

[61] _Mourning Bride. p. 36._

[62] _Spanish Fryar. Ep. Ded._

[63] _Troad. p. 146._

[64] _Plain Dealer. p. 21._

[65] _Provok'd Wife. p. 41._

[66] _Remarks upon Quixot._

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

[68] _Sat. 14._

[69] _p. 106._

[70] _Nub. p. 110._

[71] _Act. 5. p. 176._

[72] _Plat. Apol. Socrat._

[73] _Nub. p. 86._

[74] _Plut. A. 1. Sc. 2._

[75] _Ran. p. 188._

[76] _536. 538. 546._

[77] _542._

[78] _582._

[79] _Ibid._

[80] _602._

[81] _Eiren._ 616.

[82] _p. 142._ _p. 200._

[83] _242._

[84] _p. 244._

[85] _p._ [......] _p._ [......]

[86] _Ranæ_ _p. 186._ _p. 182._

[87] _p. 192, 194, 196._

[88] _Act 2. Sc. 6._

[89] _Ranæ p. 242._

[90] _Ranæ A. 1. Sc. 1. Concionat._

[91] _Ranæ p. 238._

[92] _p. 240._

[93] _p. 242. 244._

[94] 255. 267.

[95] _Discov. p. 700._

[96] _p. 701._

[97] _p. 706. 717._

[98] _Beauments_, &c. _Works_.

[99] _Ibid._

[100] _Ibid._

[101] _Theodore. Ed. Roven. Ep. Ded._

[102] _Gad for God._

[103] _p. 31._

[104] _p. 37._

[105] _p. 24._

[106] _Hebr. 12._

[107] _34. 36._

[108] _55._

[109] _59._

[110] _Orph. p. 20._

[111] _p. 31._

[112] _Lactan._

[113] _p. 19._

[114] _p. 28._

[115] _p. 31._

[116] _38._

[117] _p. 39._

[118] _p. 39._

[119] _Id. 49._

[120] _Double Dealer. 34._

[121] _36._

[122] _55._

[123] _p. 40._

[124] _Sebast. p. 9._

[125] _Id. p. 10._

[126] _p. 47._

[127] _Id. p. 83._  _Exod. 12, 13._

[128] _Ibid._

[129] _Ibid._

[130] _Ded. p. 51._

[131] _Love Triumph. p. 3._

[132] _Id. p. 11._

[133] _Id. p. 11._

[134] _p. 34._

[135] _58._

[136] _p. 62._

[137] _1st. Eliz. cap. 2._

[138] _p. 63._

[139] _p. 72._

[140] _Love for Love. p. 42._

[141] _26._

[142] _p. 27._

[143] _p. 47._

[144] _Vid. Person. Dram._

[145] _p. 80._

[146] _p. 91._

[147] _p. 92._

[148] _Prov. Wife p. 38._

[149] _Id. p. 77._

[150] _Relapse. p. 32, 33._

[151] _p. 44, 45._

[152] _Vid. Infra._

[153] _p. 51._

[154] _p. 96, 97._

[155] _Ibid._

[156] _p.91._

[157] _Don. Sebastian. p. 51._

[158] _Double Dealer. p. 19._

[159] _p. 17._

[160] _p. 44._

[161] _Double Dealer. p. 18._

[162] _Gen. 2. St. Math. 9._

[163] _Love, &c. p. 59, 61._

[164] _Provok'd Wife. p. 3._

[165] _p. 4._

[166] _p. 65._

[167] _Relapse. p. 19._

[168] _p. 96._

[169] _Eccles. 8. 11._

[170] _Gal. 6._

[171] _Eunuch._

[172] _Heauton. A. 5. 1._

[173] _Adelp. A. 5. 7._

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

[175] _Mil. Glor._

[176] _Pseud. A. 1. 3._

[177] _Prom. vinct. 57._

[178] _p. 92._

[179] _p. 101._

[180] [Greek: Pers.] _161._

[181] _164._

[182] _Ajax. Flagell._

[183] _Oedip. Tyran. p. 187._

[184] _p. 188._

[185] _Antig. p. 256._

[186] _Trach. p. [......]._

[187] _Trach. p. 375._

[188] _Trach. p. 340._

[189] _Cleom. p. 54._

[190] _Id. p. 55._

[191] _p. 54._

[192] _De Art. Poet._

[193] _Philoct. 402._

[194] _419._

[195] _p. 431._

[196] _Act. 2._

[197] _p. 295._

[198] _Agam. Act. 3._

[199] _20._

[200] _p. 37._

[201] _p. 23._

[202] _Country Wife p. 6._

[203] _p. 35._

[204] _Ibid._

[205] _p. 25._

[206] _p. 26._

[207] _Ibid._

[208] _Old Batch. p. 19, 20._

[209] _p. 27._

[210] _p. 41._

[211] _p. 71._

[212] _Absal. and Achi._

[213] p. 24.

[214] _p. 96._

[215] _p. 32._

[216] _Oedip. p. 38._

[217] _p. 43._

[218] _Ibid._

[219] _Ibid._

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

[221] _Relapse. p. 74._

[222] _p. 75._

[223] _p. 86._

[224] _p. 97._

[225] _89._

[226] _p. 94._

[227] _p. 95, 97, 105._

[228] Hom. _Il. [alpha]. p. 3. & dein. Ed. Screvel._

[229] _Il. B. p. 91._

[230] _Ibid. p. 92._

[231] _Il. E. p. 154, 155._

[232] _Il. E. p. 154, 155._

[233] _Ibid. p. 158._

[234] _Odyss. I p. 174, 181._

[235] _Ænid. 2._

[236] _Ruaus. in Loc._

[237] _Æneid 2._

[238] _Ibid._

[239] _Æneid. 3._

[240] _Ibid._

[241] _Ænead. 1st._

[242] _Æn. 6._

[243] _Ibid._

[244] _Æneid. 7._

[245] _Lib. 1._

[246] _Æneid. 10._

[247] _Æneid. 11._

[248] _Æneid. 9. 10. 11._

[249] _Guther. de jure veter. pontif._

[250] _Oedip. Tyr. p. 148._

[251] _Ibid. 169._

[252] _p. 38._

[253] _Antig. p. 250, 258._

[254] _Eurip. Phoeniss. p. 158, 159._

[255] _Bacch. Act. 1. Act. 4._

[256] _Jon. Act 5._

[257] _Iphig. in Aulid. & in Taur._

[258] _Oedip._

[259] _Troad. A. 2. p. 193._

[260] _Plut. Ran. Aves._

[261] _Bacchid. Act. 2. 5. 3._

[262] _Rud. A. 1. 5. A. 2. 3._

[263] _Act [......]_

[264] _Rud. A. 4. S. 7._

[265] _Measure for Measure._ _Much a do about Nothing._ _Twelf-Night._
_Henry 4th pt. 1st._ _Hen. 6. pt. 3d._ _Romeo and Juliet._  _Merry Wives of

[266] _Essay of Dramat. &c._

[267] _De Bell. Judaic._

[268] _Deut. 17. 9. 20. 2. Chron. 19. 8._

[269] _Math. 27. Act. 4.  Vid. seldon de Synedr._

[270] _Joseph._

[271] _Diod. Sic._

[272] _Gen. 41._

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

[274] _Lib. 6._

[275] _Ser. in Controv._

[276] _Dion. Halic._

[277] _Pro Dom. ad Pontif._

[278] _Hebr. 7._

[279] _Davila Filmers Freeholders Grand Inq._

[280] _Miræus De Statu Relig. Christ._

[281] _Fletchers Embassy._

[282] _Puffendorf Introduction à l'Histoire._

[283] _Heylins Cosgmog._

[284] _2, Hen. 8. cap.  22._ _26, Hen. 8 cap 2._ _1. Edw. 6. cap. 12, &c.

[285] _S. Luke 12._

[286] _Moral Essays._

[287] _Mock Astrol. p. 3, &c._

[288] _Mock Astrol. p. 57, 59._

[289] _Spanish Fryar. p. 61._

[290] _Country Wife. p. 25._

[291] _Old Batch._

[292] _Double Dealer. p. 34._

[293] _Love for Love p. 90._

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

[295] _p. 35._

[296] _Don Sebast._

[297] _Love for Love. p. 20._

[298] _Provok'd Wife. p. 64._

[299] _Chap. 1. & 2._

[300] _Mostel. A. 1. 2._ _Trinum. A. 2. 1. A. 2. 2._ _Enuch. A. 3. 3._
_Hecyr. A. 3. 4._

[301] _Trinum. A. 2. 1._

[302] _A. 2. 2._

[303] _Enuch. A. 3. 3._

[304] _Hecyr. A. 3. 4._

[305] _Stich A. 1. 1._

[306] _p. 3._

[307] _Stich. A. 1. 2._

[308] _p. 60._

[309] _Ibid._

[310] _De Art. Poet._

[311] _Ibid._

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

[313] _Libr. de Poet. cap. 5._

[314] _Psyche._

[315] _Ibid._

[316] _Pref. Mock. Astrol._

[317] _Ibid._

[318] _Ibid._

[319] _Essay of Dramatick Poetry. p. 28._

[320] _The London Prodigall._

[321] _Ibid._

[322] _Ibid._

[323] _Ibid._

[324] _Rapin Reflect. &c. p. 10._

[325] _Libr. 4. de Morib. cap. 14._

[326] _De Mor. Lib. 10, cap. 2._

[327] _Institut. Lib. 6; c. 3._

[328] _p. 32._

[329] _p. 52._

[330] _Spanish Fryar. p. 36._

[331] _p. 70._

[332] _p. 61._

[333] _Enuch._

[334] _King Arth. p. 2._

[335] _Love Trium. p. 26._

[336] _p. 47._

[337] _Oedip. p. 3._

[338] _Old Batch. p. 41._

[339] _p. 35._

[340] _p. 22._

[341] _Don. Sebast. p. 5._

[342] _Double Dealer. Person. Dram._ _Relapse._ _Provok'd Wife._ _p. 4. p.

[343] _Relapse._

[344] _p. 4._

[345] _p. 2._

[346] _Don Sebast. p. 16._

[347] _p. 17._

[348] _Don. Quix. part. 2. p. 37._

[349] _Relapse. p. 84._

[350] _p. 24._

[351] _L'Ombre de Moliere_

[352] _Essay Dram. poet. p. 5._

[353] _Amphit. p. 1, 2, 3, 8, 9._

[354] _p. 8. 17._

[355] _p. 18._

[356] _19._

[357] _Eunuch._

[358] _Euseb. præpar. Evang._

[359] _Ep. Ded._

[360] _p. 1._

[361] _p. 3, 16, etc._

[362] _p. 1._

[363] _Pref._

[364] _p. 1._

[365] _19._

[366] _Troil. and Cressid._

[367] _The Hist. of Sr. John Old Castle._

[368] _King Arthur._

[369] _Ep. Ded._

[370] _p. 6._

[371] _Ep. Ded. Don Sebast._

[372] _Ded. King Arthur._

[373] _Sebast. K. Arth._

[374] _Ibid._

[375] _Part 1st. p. 20._

[376] _p. 20._

[377] _p. 37._

[378] _p. 13._

[379] _Part. 1. p. 13._

[380] _Person. Dram._

[381] _p. 51._

[382] _p. 3._

[383] _p. 7._

[384] _p. 10._

[385] _p. 41._

[386] _p. 47._

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

[388] _pt. 2d. p. 60;_

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

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

[391] _Pref. pt. 3d._

[392] _Ibid._

[393] _Pref._

[394] _Ibid._

[395] _Person. Dram._

[396] _pt. 2d. p. 31._

[397] _p. 51._

[398] _Pref. pt. 1st._

[399] _Ibid._

[400] _pt. 3d._

[401] _p. 53._

[402] _Reflect, &c. p. 131._

[403] _Relapse. p. 19_

[404] _Reflect._ _p. 133._

[405] p. 27.

[406] _p. 79._

[407] _Ibid._

[408] _p. 81._

[409] _p. 83._

[410] _p. 59._

[411] _p. 11._

[412] _p. 47._

[413] _p. 51._

[414] _p. 74._

[415] _Reflect. p. 40._

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

[417] _p. 59._

[418] _p. 61._

[419] _p. 42._

[420] _p. 43._

[421] _p. 44._

[422] _p. 64. At top._

[423] _p. 85._

[424] _p. 64._

[425] _p. 94._

[426] _p. 15._

[427] _p. 99._

[428] _Ibid._

[429] _p. 100._

[430] _Rapin Reflect, &c._

[431] _Discourse des Trois Unitez. pt. 3d._

[432] _p. 88._

[433] _Pref._

[434] _see Chap. 2d._

[435] _Pref._

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

[437] _Plat. de Repub. Lib. 10. Euseb. Præpar. Evang._

[438] _Cyropæd. p. 34_

[439] _Polit. Lib. 7. c. p. 12._

[440] _Polit. Lib. 8._

[441] _Tusc. Quest. Lib. 4. De Leg. Lib. 1._

[442] _Dec. 1. Lib. 7._

[443] _Lib. 2. cap. 4._

[444] _cap. 6._

[445] _Natural Quest. Lib. 7. cap. 32._

[446] _Epist. 7._

[447] _Annal. Lib 14. cap. 14._

[448] _De Mor. German. cap. 19_

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

[450] _Lib. 1._

[451] _Remed. Amor._

[452] _Lib. 2._

[453] _Ep. Ded._

[454] _Plut. De Glor. Atheniens._

[455] _Plut. Lacon. Institut._

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

[457] _Lib. 2. cap. 29._

[458] _Dec. 1. Libr. 7._

[459] _Ab Histrionibus Pollui._

[460] _XV. Cod. Theod. Tit. vii. p.375._

[461] _in loco Honesto._

[462] _turpe munus._

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

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

[465] _Gazett Roterdam: Dec. 20. Paris._

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

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

[468] _Ann. 305._ _Can. 67._

[469] _Ann. 314. Can. 5._

[470] _Ann. 452._

[471] _Ann. 397. Can. 11._

[472] _Secularia spectacula, which manifestly comprehends the Stage._

[473] _Ann. 424. Can. 96_

[474] _Concil. Cabilon. Ann. 813. Can. 9._

[475] _Libr. 3. ad Autol._

[476] _Spectacula._

[477] _Chap. 38._

[478] _Chap. 3._

[479] _Ibid. Cap. 10._

[480] _The Play-houses were dedicated to Bacchus._

[481] _Ibid. cap. 15._

[482] _Ibid. cap. 22._

[483] _Ibid. cap. 23._

[484] _Ibid. cap. 26._

[485] _Ibid. cap. 27._

[486] _Ibid. cap. 28._

[487] _Ibid. cap. 29._

[488] _By Exorcisms_

[489] _Lib. 3. Pædag. Ann. 204. cap. 11._

[490] _Ann. 206._

[491] _Ad Eucrat._

[492] _Lib. 6. cap. 20._

[493] _Ibid. cap. 21._

[494] _Ibid. cap. 22._

[495] _In Psal. 119._

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

[497] _Chap. 20._

[498] _cap. 33._

[499] _Didac. &c. in D. Thom. p. 546._

[500] _De Repub. L. 4._

[501] _Cic. de Leg. L. 2._

[502] _A Famous Musician_

[503] _Vid. Corneille Cid, Cinna & Pompee._

[504] _Moral Essays._

[505] _2 Cor. 6. 14._

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Short View of the Immorality, and Profaneness of the English Stage - together with the Sense of Antiquity on this Argument" ***

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