Tranſcriber's note:

The errata have been applied. They appear in the text like this, and the explanation will appear when the mouſe pointer is moved over the marked paſſage. 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 [......].

Tranſcriber's note:

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.

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

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




Immorality, and Profaneneſs


Engliſh Stage,


With the Sence of Antiquity
upon this Argument,


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



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

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

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

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

March 5th. 16978.



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

The Sobriety of his Plays.

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

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

In the Old Batchelour, and Double Dealer.

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


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

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

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

His want of Modeſty, and Regard to the Audience.

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

The Stage Condemn'd by the Primitive Church.

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


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

The Litteral miſtakes the Reader is Deſired to Correct.

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

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

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



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



The Immodeſty of the Stage.

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

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

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

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

To argue the Matter more at large.

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


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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fabulæ huic operam date.

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

Non enim pertractate facta eſt

Neque ſpurcidici inſunt verſus immemorabiles.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nec immunda crepent ignominioſaque dicta.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Τὸ σωφρονεῖν τιμῶσα του βίου πλέον.

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

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


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

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

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

καί δό ξαν ἐσθλην ἐνβροτοῖς κομίζεται.

How becoming a Quality is Modeſty in all Places.

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

The Scholiaſt upon theſe verſes of Hippolitus.

Σοί τόν δε πλεκτὸν Στεφανον εξ ἀκηρά

Λειμῶνος, &c.

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

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

O my Almeria;

What do that Damn'd endure but to deſpair,

But knowing Heaven, to know it loſt for ever.

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

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

Are they not ſoothing ſoftneſs, ſinking Eaſe,

And waſting Air to this?

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

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

Which ſhot into my Breaſt now melt and chill me.

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

I chatter, ſhake, and faint with thrilling Fears.

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


——lower yet, down down;

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

——no more we'll lift our Eyes,

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

With Rivers of inceſſant ſcalding Rain.

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

Now when the Winters keener breath began

To Cryſtallize, the Baltick Ocean,

To glaze the Lakes, to bridle up the Floods,

And periwig with Snow the bald pate woods.

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

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

Γένοιτ ἀοιδὸς ἥτις ὑμνήσει κακὰ.

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

That loves to flouriſh on Debauchery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Ampulla, & ſeſquipedalia Verba.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such Paſſions, Such Expreſſions meet my Eye,

Such Wit untainted with Obſcenity.

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


——Fly far from hence.

All private taxes, immodeſt phraſes,

Whatever way but look like Vitious.

For wicked mirth, never true Pleaſure brings;

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

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

No Undermirth ſuch as does lard the Scene,

For Coarſe Delight, the Language here is clean.

And confident our Poet bad me ſay,

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

For which altho' dull Souls his Pen deſpiſe;

Who think it yet too early to be wiſe.

The Nobles yet will thank his Muſe, at leaſt

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

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

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

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

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



The Profaneſs of the Stage.

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

1ſt. Their Curſing and Swearing.

2dly. Their Abuſe of Religion and Holy Scripture.

1ſt Their Curſing and Swearing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

No Tongue my Pleaſure and my Pain can tell:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shall I truſt Heaven

With my revenge? then where's my ſatiſfaction?

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

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

As black as Hell, an other lucky ſaying!

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

I cannot ſpeak one ſyllable but tends

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

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

Not the laſt ſounding could ſurprize me more,

That ſummons drowſy Mortals to their doom,

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

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

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


May Heaven and your brave Son, and above all,

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

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

Carl. What Jew?

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What Slippery ſtuff are Men compos'd of?

Sure the Account of their Creation's falſe,

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


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

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

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

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

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

Now take your ſwing ye impious Sin unpuniſh'd,

Eternal Providence ſeems over watch'd,

And with a ſlumbring Nod aſſents to Murther.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Το τ' ἀντιφωνεὶ δεινὸν ἀρρητον τ' ἔπος,

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

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

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

——Τοῦ λόγου δ' ὀυ χρὴ Φθόνον

Γόναι προσεῖναι Ζεὺς ὅτου πράκτωρ φανῆ.

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

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

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

And that Red Milk I found upon its Lips,

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

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

——et quæ

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Clergy abuſed by the Stage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


——is there not one

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

The Pride of your Superiours makes ye Slaves:

Ye all live Loathſome, Sneaking, Servile lives:

Not free enough to Practiſe generous Truth,

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

After a little Pauſe for Breath, the Railing improves.

If thou wouldſt have me not contemn thy Office,

And Character, think all thy Brethren Knaves,

Thy Trade a Cheat, and thou its worſt Profeſſour

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

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

Art thou then

So far concern'd in't?——

Curſe on that formal ſteady Villains Face!

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

Can Pray upon Occaſion; talk of Heaven;

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

Diſſemble, Lye, and Preach like any Prieſt,

Art thou a Bawd?Ibid.[207]

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

Bell. And haſt thou Provided Neceſſaries?

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

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

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

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

To go on in the order of the Play.

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

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

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

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

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

Saygr. I have, &c.

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

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

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

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


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

Benducar ſpeaks,

——Churchmen tho' they itch to govern all,

Are ſilly, woful, awkard Polititians,

They make lame Miſchief tho' they mean it well.

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

Their Intreſt is not finely drawn and hid,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Accurs'd be thou Graſs-eating fodderd God!

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

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

We have much ſuch another ſwaggering againſt Prieſts in Oedipus.

Why ſeek I Truth from thee?

The ſmiles of Courtiers and the Harlots tears,

The Tradeſmens Oaths, and Mourning of an Heir,

Are Truths to what Prieſts tell.

O why has Prieſthood privilege to Lie,

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


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

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

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

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

Fell like Autumn Fruit that mellow'd long,

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

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

That ſo the Tempeſt of my joys may riſe

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

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

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

This is ſcarce Sence, be it known.

Yet farther, let it paſs yon dazling roof

The Manſion of the Gods, and ſtrike them deaf

With Everlaſting peals of Thundring joy.

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

What if A Humble Bee ſhould chance to ſtrike,

With the But-End of an Antartick Pole.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trojaque nunc ſtares Priamique arx alta maneres.

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

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

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

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

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


Quin & Marrubia venit de gente Sacerdos,

Archippi regis miſſu fortiſſimus Umbro.

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

Te nemus Angitiæ, vitrea te Fucinus unda,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


And now a word or two of the Moderns.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I. Becauſe of their Relation to the Deity.

II. Becauſe of the Importance of their Office.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are ſo Beautiful

So wondrous Fair, you juſtifie Rebellion;

As if that faultleſs Face could make no Sin,

But Heaven by looking on it muſt forgive.

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

Great Nature break thy chain that links together

The Fabrick of this Globe, and make a Chaos,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

O Vertue! Vertue! What art thou become?

That men ſhould leave thee for that Toy a woman,

Made from the droſs and refuſe of a Man;

Heaven took him ſleeping when he made her too,

Had Man been waking he had nee'r conſented.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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


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

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

That very name of Wife And Marriage

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

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


Whether inſpired with a diviner Luſt,

His Father got him——p. 1.[360]

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

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

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

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

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

He trembles at the yawning Gulph of Hell,

Nor dares approach the Flames leaſt he ſhould Singe

His gaudy ſilken Wings.

He ſighs when he ſhould plunge a Soul in Sulphur,

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

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


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

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

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

For why ſhould a Blockhead have one in ten?

For prating ſo long like a Booklearned Sot,

Till Pudding, and Dumpling burn to pot.

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

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

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



Remarks upon Don Quixot, &c.

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

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

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

II. His Abuſe of the Clergy.

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

I. His Profaneſs, &c.

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


Providence that formed the Fair

In ſuch a charming Skin,

Their Outſide made his only care,

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

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

Sleep and indulge thy ſelf with Reſt,

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

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

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

A Rogue was a Top-Profeſſion,

When there was no more in all Nature but Four,

There were two of them in Tranſgreſſion.

He that firſt to mend the Matter,

Made Laws to bind our Nature,

Should have found a way,

To make Wills obey,

And have Modell'd new the Creature.


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


Appear ye fat Feinds that in Limbo do groan,

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

You that always in Lucifers Kitchin reſide,

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

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

Broil Raſhers of Fools for a Breakfaſt on Coals.

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

And as 'tis ſaid a parlous Aſs once ſpoke,

When Crab-tree Cudgel did his rage provoke.

So if you are not civil,——I fear

He'el ſpeak again.——

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The Tranſlation runs thus.

I like an Author that Reforms the Age;

And keeps the right Decorum of the Stage:

That always pleaſes by juſt Reaſons Rule:

But for a tedious Droll a Quibbling Fool,

Who with low nauſeous Baudry fills his Plays;

Let him begone and on two Treſſells raiſe

Some Smithfield Stage, where he may act his Pranks,

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



Remarks upon the Relapſe.

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

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

From the Form and Conſtitution of the Fable, I obſerve

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

4th. Place touch briefly upon the Manners.

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

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

Lov. By what?

Berinth. By Woman.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Three Unities of Time, Place, and Action.

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

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

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

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

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

Titus at Walton Town, and Titus at Iſlington.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sed tu præcique curvis venare Theatris,

Hæc loca ſunt voto fertiliora tuo.

—— ruit ad celebres cultiſſima Fæmina Ludos;

Copia judicium ſæpe morata meum eſt.

Spectatum veniunt, veniunt Spectentur ut ipſæ;

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

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

Silicit exillo ſolennia more Theatra

Nunc quoque formoſis inſidioſa manent.

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


At tanti tibi ſit non indulgere Theatris

Dum bene de cacuo Pectore cedat amor.

Enervant animos Citharæ, Cantuſque, lyraque

Et vox, & numeris brachia mota ſuis.

Illic aſſidue ficti ſaltantur amantes,

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

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

Ut tamen hoc fatear ludi quoque ſemina præbent

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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




L'Illuſtriſſime Et Reverendiſſime



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

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

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

Guy Evéque d'Arras

Et plus bas

Par Monſeigneur



In Engliſh thus,

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

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

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

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

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

Guy Biſhop of Arras. &c.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


NOTES (In margin in the Original).

[1] Reflect upon Ariſtot. &c.

[2] Eurip. Hippolit.

[3] Hamlet.

[4] Don Quixot.

[5] Relapſe.

[6] Love for Love.

[7] Mock Aſtrologer.

[8] Old Batchelour.

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

[10] Plaut.

[11] Ciſtellar.

[12] Terent. Eunuch.

[13] Aſinar.

[14] Ciſtellar.

[15] Bacchid.

[16] Caſin.

[17] Mercat. Act. 3.

[18] Perſa.

[19] Trucul.

[20] Perſa.

[21] Trinum.

[22] Act. 2. 1.

[23] Act. 2. 2.

[24] Caſin.

[25] Mil. Glor.

[26] Pers.

[27] Trucul.

[28] Ciſtellear. A. 1.

[29] Ibid. A. 2.

[30] Heauton.

[31] Eunuch.

[32] Love Triump.

[33] Heauton. A. 5. 4.

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

[35] Eunuch.

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

[37] De A te Poet.

[38] Var. apud. Nonium.

[39] Corn. Nep.

[40] Ariſt. Lib. 4. de Mor. cap. 14.

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

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

[43] p. 14. Ed. Scriv.

[44] Hippol.

[45] Ariſtoph. Ran.

[46] Χοηφορ. 253, Ed. Steph.

[47] Oreſt. 48. Ed. Cantab.

[48] Ευμεν. 305.

[49] p. 79.

[50] Ἱκέτ. 340.

[51] Don Sebaſt. p. 12.

[52] Oedip. Tyran. Ed Steph.

[53] Antig. 242. 244.

[54] Ibid. 264.

[55] Trach. 348.

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

[57] Ibid. 232. 233.

[58] Androm. p. 303.

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

[60] Helen. 277, 278.

[61] Mourning Bride. p. 36.

[62] Spaniſh Fryar. Ep. Ded.

[63] Troad. p. 146.

[64] Plain Dealer. p. 21.

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

[66] Remarks upon Quixot.

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

[68] Sat. 14.

[69] p. 106.

[70] Nub. p. 110.

[71] Act. 5. p. 176.

[72] Plat. Apol. Socrat.

[73] Nub. p. 86.

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

[75] Ran. p. 188.

[76] 536. 538. 546.

[77] 542.

[78] 582.

[79] Ibid.

[80] 602.

[81] Eiren. 616.

[82] p. 142. p. 200.

[83] 242.

[84] p. 244.

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

[86] Ranæ p. 186. p. 182.

[87] p. 192, 194, 196.

[88] Act 2. Sc. 6.

[89] Ranæ p. 242.

[90] Ranæ A. 1. Sc. 1. Concionat.

[91] Ranæ p. 238.

[92] p. 240.

[93] p. 242. 244.

[94] 255. 267.

[95] Diſcov. p. 700.

[96] p. 701.

[97] p. 706. 717.

[98] Beauments, &c. Works.

[99] Ibid.

[100] Ibid.

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

[102] Gad for God.

[103] p. 31.

[104] p. 37.

[105] p. 24.

[106] Hebr. 12.

[107] 34. 36.

[108] 55.

[109] 59.

[110] Orph. p. 20.

[111] p. 31.

[112] Lactan.

[113] p. 19.

[114] p. 28.

[115] p. 31.

[116] 38.

[117] p. 39.

[118] p. 39.

[119] Id. 49.

[120] Double Dealer. 34.

[121] 36.

[122] 55.

[123] p. 40.

[124] Sebaſt. p. 9.

[125] Id. p. 10.

[126] p. 47.

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

[128] Ibid.

[129] Ibid.

[130] Ded. p. 51.

[131] Love Triumph. p. 3.

[132] Id. p. 11.

[133] Id. p. 11.

[134] p. 34.

[135] 58.

[136] p. 62.

[137] 1ſt. Eliz. cap. 2.

[138] p. 63.

[139] p. 72.

[140] Love for Love. p. 42.

[141] 26.

[142] p. 27.

[143] p. 47.

[144] Vid. Perſon. Dram.

[145] p. 80.

[146] p. 91.

[147] p. 92.

[148] Prov. Wife p. 38.

[149] Id. p. 77.

[150] Relapſe. p. 32, 33.

[151] p. 44, 45.

[152] Vid. Infra.

[153] p. 51.

[154] p. 96, 97.

[155] Ibid.

[156] p.91.

[157] Don. Sebaſtian. p. 51.

[158] Double Dealer. p. 19.

[159] p. 17.

[160] p. 44.

[161] Double Dealer. p. 18.

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

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

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

[165] p. 4.

[166] p. 65.

[167] Relapſe. p. 19.

[168] p. 96.

[169] Eccles. 8. 11.

[170] Gal. 6.

[171] Eunuch.

[172] Heauton. A. 5. 1.

[173] Adelp. A. 5. 7.

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

[175] Mil. Glor.

[176] Pſeud. A. 1. 3.

[177] Prom. vinct. 57.

[178] p. 92.

[179] p. 101.

[180] Περσ. 161.

[181] 164.

[182] Ajax. Flagell.

[183] Oedip. Tyran. p. 187.

[184] p. 188.

[185] Antig. p. 256.

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

[187] Trach. p. 375.

[188] Trach. p. 340.

[189] Cleom. p. 54.

[190] Id. p. 55.

[191] p. 54.

[192] De Art. Poet.

[193] Philoct. 402.

[194] 419.

[195] p. 431.

[196] Act. 2.

[197] p. 295.

[198] Agam. Act. 3.

[199] 20.

[200] p. 37.

[201] p. 23.

[202] Country Wife p. 6.

[203] p. 35.

[204] Ibid.

[205] p. 25.

[206] p. 26.

[207] Ibid.

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

[209] p. 27.

[210] p. 41.

[211] p. 71.

[212] Abſal. and Achi.

[213] p. 24.

[214] p. 96.

[215] p. 32.

[216] Oedip. p. 38.

[217] p. 43.

[218] Ibid.

[219] Ibid.

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

[221] Relapſe. p. 74.

[222] p. 75.

[223] p. 86.

[224] p. 97.

[225] 89.

[226] p. 94.

[227] p. 95, 97, 105.

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

[229] Il. B. p. 91.

[230] Ibid. p. 92.

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

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

[233] Ibid. p. 158.

[234] Odyſs. I p. 174, 181.

[235] Ænid. 2.

[236] Ruaus. in Loc.

[237] Æneid 2.

[238] Ibid.

[239] Æneid. 3.

[240] Ibid.

[241] Ænead. 1ſt.

[242] Æn. 6.

[243] Ibid.

[244] Æneid. 7.

[245] Lib. 1.

[246] Æneid. 10.

[247] Æneid. 11.

[248] Æneid. 9. 10. 11.

[249] Guther. de jure veter. pontif.

[250] Oedip. Tyr. p. 148.

[251] Ibid. 169.

[252] p. 38.

[253] Antig. p. 250, 258.

[254] Eurip. Phœniſs. p. 158, 159.

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

[256] Jon. Act 5.

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

[258] Oedip.

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

[260] Plut. Ran. Aves.

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

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

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

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

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

[266] Eſſay of Dramat. &c.

[267] De Bell. Judaic.

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

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

[270] Joſeph.

[271] Diod. Sic.

[272] Gen. 41.

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

[274] Lib. 6.

[275] Ser. in Controv.

[276] Dion. Halic.

[277] Pro Dom. ad Pontif.

[278] Hebr. 7.

[279] Davila Filmers Freeholders Grand Inq.

[280] Miræus De Statu Relig. Chriſt.

[281] Fletchers Embaſſy.

[282] Puffendorf Introduction à l'Hiſtoire.

[283] Heylins Coſgmog.

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

[285] S. Luke 12.

[286] Moral Eſſays.

[287] Mock Aſtrol. p. 3, &c.

[288] Mock Aſtrol. p. 57, 59.

[289] Spaniſh Fryar. p. 61.

[290] Country Wife. p. 25.

[291] Old Batch.

[292] Double Dealer. p. 34.

[293] Love for Love p. 90.

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

[295] p. 35.

[296] Don Sebaſt.

[297] Love for Love. p. 20.

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

[299] Chap. 1. & 2.

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

[301] Trinum. A. 2. 1.

[302] A. 2. 2.

[303] Enuch. A. 3. 3.

[304] Hecyr. A. 3. 4.

[305] Stich A. 1. 1.

[306] p. 3.

[307] Stich. A. 1. 2.

[308] p. 60.

[309] Ibid.

[310] De Art. Poet.

[311] Ibid.

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

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

[314] Pſyche.

[315] Ibid.

[316] Pref. Mock. Aſtrol.

[317] Ibid.

[318] Ibid.

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

[320] The London Prodigall.

[321] Ibid.

[322] Ibid.

[323] Ibid.

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

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

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

[327] Inſtitut. Lib. 6; c. 3.

[328] p. 32.

[329] p. 52.

[330] Spaniſh Fryar. p. 36.

[331] p. 70.

[332] p. 61.

[333] Enuch.

[334] King Arth. p. 2.

[335] Love Trium. p. 26.

[336] p. 47.

[337] Oedip. p. 3.

[338] Old Batch. p. 41.

[339] p. 35.

[340] p. 22.

[341] Don. Sebaſt. p. 5.

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

[343] Relapſe.

[344] p. 4.

[345] p. 2.

[346] Don Sebaſt. p. 16.

[347] p. 17.

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

[349] Relapſe. p. 84.

[350] p. 24.

[351] L'Ombre de Moliere

[352] Eſſay Dram. poet. p. 5.

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

[354] p. 8. 17.

[355] p. 18.

[356] 19.

[357] Eunuch.

[358] Euſeb. præpar. Evang.

[359] Ep. Ded.

[360] p. 1.

[361] p. 3, 16, etc.

[362] p. 1.

[363] Pref.

[364] p. 1.

[365] 19.

[366] Troil. and Creſſid.

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

[368] King Arthur.

[369] Ep. Ded.

[370] p. 6.

[371] Ep. Ded. Don Sebaſt.

[372] Ded. King Arthur.

[373] Sebaſt. K. Arth.

[374] Ibid.

[375] Part 1ſt. p. 20.

[376] p. 20.

[377] p. 37.

[378] p. 13.

[379] Part. 1. p. 13.

[380] Perſon. Dram.

[381] p. 51.

[382] p. 3.

[383] p. 7.

[384] p. 10.

[385] p. 41.

[386] p. 47.

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

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

[389] pt. 1ſt. p. 38. pt. 2d. p. 14.

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

[391] Pref. pt. 3d.

[392] Ibid.

[393] Pref.

[394] Ibid.

[395] Perſon. Dram.

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

[397] p. 51.

[398] Pref. pt. 1ſt.

[399] Ibid.

[400] pt. 3d.

[401] p. 53.

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

[403] Relapſe. p. 19

[404] Reflect. p. 133.

[405] p. 27.

[406] p. 79.

[407] Ibid.

[408] p. 81.

[409] p. 83.

[410] p. 59.

[411] p. 11.

[412] p. 47.

[413] p. 51.

[414] p. 74.

[415] Reflect. p. 40.

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

[417] p. 59.

[418] p. 61.

[419] p. 42.

[420] p. 43.

[421] p. 44.

[422] p. 64. At top.

[423] p. 85.

[424] p. 64.

[425] p. 94.

[426] p. 15.

[427] p. 99.

[428] Ibid.

[429] p. 100.

[430] Rapin Reflect, &c.

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

[432] p. 88.

[433] Pref.

[434] ſee Chap. 2d.

[435] Pref.

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

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

[438] Cyropæd. p. 34

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

[440] Polit. Lib. 8.

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

[442] Dec. 1. Lib. 7.

[443] Lib. 2. cap. 4.

[444] cap. 6.

[445] Natural Queſt. Lib. 7. cap. 32.

[446] Epiſt. 7.

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

[448] De Mor. German. cap. 19

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

[450] Lib. 1.

[451] Remed. Amor.

[452] Lib. 2.

[453] Ep. Ded.

[454] Plut. De Glor. Atheniens.

[455] Plut. Lacon. Inſtitut.

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

[457] Lib. 2. cap. 29.

[458] Dec. 1. Libr. 7.

[459] Ab Hiſtrionibus Pollui.

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

[461] in loco Honeſto.

[462] turpe munus.

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

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

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

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

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

[468] Ann. 305. Can. 67.

[469] Ann. 314. Can. 5.

[470] Ann. 452.

[471] Ann. 397. Can. 11.

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

[473] Ann. 424. Can. 96

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

[475] Libr. 3. ad Autol.

[476] Spectacula.

[477] Chap. 38.

[478] Chap. 3.

[479] Ibid. Cap. 10.

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

[481] Ibid. cap. 15.

[482] Ibid. cap. 22.

[483] Ibid. cap. 23.

[484] Ibid. cap. 26.

[485] Ibid. cap. 27.

[486] Ibid. cap. 28.

[487] Ibid. cap. 29.

[488] By Exorciſms

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

[490] Ann. 206.

[491] Ad Eucrat.

[492] Lib. 6. cap. 20.

[493] Ibid. cap. 21.

[494] Ibid. cap. 22.

[495] In Pſal. 119.

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

[497] Chap. 20.

[498] cap. 33.

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

[500] De Repub. L. 4.

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

[502] A Famous Muſician

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

[504] Moral Eſſays.

[505] 2 Cor. 6. 14.