Citation
The Collier controversy

Material Information

Title:
The Collier controversy a critical basis for understanding drama of the restoration period
Creator:
Popson, Joseph John, 1944-
Publication Date:
Language:
English
Physical Description:
vi, 163 leaves. : ; 28 cm.

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Audiences ( jstor )
Comic theater ( jstor )
Immorality ( jstor )
Morality ( jstor )
Playwriting ( jstor )
Poetics ( jstor )
Poetry ( jstor )
Theater ( jstor )
Theater criticism ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
English drama -- History and criticism -- Restoration, 1660-1700 ( lcsh )

Notes

Thesis:
Thesis--University of Florida.
Bibliography:
Bibliography: leaves 154-162.
General Note:
Typescript.
General Note:
Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
By Joseph John Popson

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of Florida
Holding Location:
University of Florida
Rights Management:
Copyright [name of dissertation author]. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
Resource Identifier:
022772959 ( ALEPH )
ADA8758 ( NOTIS )
14071683 ( OCLC )

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Full Text










COLLIER


CONTROVERSY:


A CRITICAL


BASIS FOR UNDERSTANDING DRAMA
OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD


JOSEPH JOHN


POP SON,


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO
THE UNIVERSITY


THE GRADUATE
OF FLORIDA


COUNCIL


IN PARTIAL


FULFILLMENT OF
DEGREE OF DOCTOR


THE REQUIREMENTS
OF PHILOSOPHY


FOR THE


UNIVERSITY


OF FLORIDA





































Joseph


J. Popson,


Copyright,


1974














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS


Of the many


people


who helped


me prepare


this


dissertation,


would


first


like


to thank


the Chairman


my Supervisory


Committee,


Professor


Aubrey


L. Williams.


Professor


Williams


not only


inspired


interest


in this


topic


and offered


valuable


criticism of


my work


it progressed,


but he has exemplified


what


me are the best


qualities


of teaching


and scholarship.


would


like


to thank


Professor


Melvyn


New,


first


interested


me in Restoration


and eighteenth-century


literature,


for his helpful


comments


on this


text


and throughout


stay


at the University


of Florida.


am grateful


to Father


Michael


Gannon


for serving


on my Supervisory


Committee


and taking


time


to read


comment


on my


dissertation.


for all his help


encouragement


during


the research


and writing


process


and for his time


spent


reading


the manuscript,


wish


to thank Professor


J. Ben Pickard.


Also


wish


to thank


Prof


essor


Ira Clark


for reading


the manuscript


and sitting


on my


oral


defense.


wish


to thank my


typist,


Ms. Oonagh


Kater,


Mr. Robert


Cody,


whose


help


in making


final


deadlines


is very


much


appreciated.


Finally,


am most


grat


eful to my wife,


Sandy.


Without


her heroic


efforts


at the typewriter,


help


in criticizing


my work,


and her interest


encouragement,


dissertation


would


be little more


than


note


cards


a shoe


box.


now

















TABLE OF CONTENTS


Page


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.................................................

ABSTRACT.........................................................

INTRODUCTION....... ........................ ........... .... .....

Notes..................................................


CHAPTER


I... .....................................................


THE CRITICAL GROUNDS--NO NEED TO SHIFT THEM


Notes..................................................


CHAPTER II............. .........................................


ARTISTRY AND JUDGMENT: TEACHING VIRTUE BY EXPOSING
VICE


Notes...... ........................ ..................


PERSUASION OF THE UNKNOWING: THE SUCCESS OF COLLIER'S
VIEW


Notes.... ... ............................ .............


CHAPTER IV...... ..................a ....... ........................


THE STAGE/WORLD METAPHOR: MORAL DESIGN OR PATTERN FOR
VICE?


Notes...................... ..........................


BIBLIOGRAPHY...... ............ ............... ... .. .. ..............a


CHAPTER III......................................................













Abstract
of the Universi


of Dissertation
tv of Florida i


Presented
n Partial


to the Graduate
Fulfillment of t


Council


he Requirements


for the Degr

THE COLLIER
BASIS FOR
OF THE


of Doctor


CONTROVERSY:
UNDERSTAND
RESTORATION


of Philosophy

A CRITICAL
NG DRAMA
PERIOD


Joseph J. Popson,

March, 1974


Chairman:


Major


Aubrey


Department:


Williams
English


response


to Jeremy


Collier's


attacks


on the Restoration


stage


came


a number


of excellent


defenses


which


provide


a critical


basis


understanding


the drama


of the Restoration


period.


The defenders,


inclu-


ding


such


playwrights


and critics


John


Dryden,


William


Congreve


John


Vanbrugh


Thomas


D'Urfey,


John


Dennis


Elkanah


Settle,


James


Drake,


John


Oldmixon,


and Edward


Filmer,


have


given


us a very


complete


source


critical


information


about


Restoration


drama.


Faced


with


Collier's


essen-


tially


Platonic


view


of the stage,


these


writers


recognized


that


there


were


abuses


of the drama,


but they


also


saw therein


a moral


value


which


they


maintained


was


a necessary


part


of its artistic


value.


Unlike many


modern


critics


who have


rejected


Collier,


and with


consideration


of moral-


in their views


of the plays,


these


defenders


answered


Collier


on grounds


that


were


once


moral


and artistic.


Historically,


then,


they were


asser-


ting


their


beliefs


that


the drama


should


(and


that


the best


of it still


did)


, Sir







as Collier


did in his Platonic


reaction


to evil,


they


felt


the plays


fered


just


choices


for all whose


understanding


and judgment


were


depraved.


counter


Collier


s apparent


influence


upon


those


understand


the plays


or even


attend


the theatre,


these


critics


questioned


his authority


as a judge


of the morality


in the plays.


While


consistently


maintaining


the moral


value


of most


of those


plays


he attacked,


they


posed


gross


errors


in reading and


argument.


Among


the faults


they


noted


were:


inaccurate


and misleading


quotations


evidence,


logical


fallacies


in his reasoning,


an improper


tone


for a clergyman


ostensibly


interested


in improving


plays


and playwrights,


and a basic misunderstanding


of the effects


of drama


on a Christian


audience which


was aware


of English


dramatic


tradition.


success


of Collier's


works


(and


of others which


attacked


stage


stage


defenders


during


the controversy)


or to the strength


was


not due


of Collier's


moral


poor


responses


position,


as many


critics


theatre


have


stated.


audience


Rather


and the


was


concurrent


due to the changing


activities


taste


of the societies


of the


for the


reformation


manners,


which


threatened


citizen


whose


actions


or oc-


cupations


not exemplify


the kind


of righteous


living


they


deemed


proper.


In their


objections


to Collier's


view


of the


stage,


the critics


and playwrights


argued


from


important


critical


tenets.


Enough


evidence


obvious


in their


responses


to show


that


they


were


very


conscious


of the


roots


of English


drama and


thus


saw the Restoration


stage


as a "little


world"


upon which


the dramas


man


were


represented


to entertain


and in-


ex-














INTRODUCTION


On January


1698


the Palace


of Whitehall


burned.


One week


later


Peter


the Great


of Russia


arrived


in England


to study


shipbuilding


and navigation


for several


months.


As the


year


progressed,


a New


East


India


Company was


chartered,


the London


Stock


Exchange


was


formed,


Captain


Thomas


Savery


invented


a "heat-engine,


the first


treaty


partitioning


Spain


was signed,


the Tories


won


a bitter


political


struggle


for control


of Parliament


William


Warburton


was


born,


Daniel


Defoe


s The Poor Man's Plea


was published,


Ned Ward


started


a periodical


called


London


Spy;


Vanities


Vices


of the Town


Exposed


View,


the Society


for Promoting


Christian


Knowledge was


formed,


and King


William delivered


A Proclamation


Preventing


Punishing


Immorality


Prophaneness.


With


the spring,


and in the midst


of all this


activity,


Jeremy


Collier


s A Short View of the


Immorality


Profaneness


of the


English


Stage


hit the


pres


ses.


Though


Collier's


book


was in one


sense


a result


and a reflection


of the reformation


temper


which


existed


at the end of the


century,


it also


marked


the beginning


a critical


controversy


about


the drama


which


raged,


with


all the fury


of the fire


at Whitehall,


well


into


the eighteenth


century


There


were


three


editions


of A Short View


before


year


ended


(five


editions,


in all,


were published,


plus


two reissues


1740) ,


one recent


scholar









To find


out what


beliefs


led Collier


to this


attack


on the


stage


and how


those


beliefs


conflicted


with


those


of his


opponents,


brief


look


at what


known


of this divine's


life


and writings


is in


order.


at Stow Qui


was probably


determined


in Cambridgeshire


that


from his

Jeremy w


birth


would


on September


follow


1650


his grandfather


and father


as a member


of the clergy.


2 He


was first


educated


father,


besides


being


a divine


and a linguist,


was master


a free


school


at Ipswich.


Collier


went


on to receive


B.A.


and M.A.


from


Cambridge


was


ordained


a deacon


in 1676


and a priest


in the follow-


year.


After


officiating


for a short


time


at the Countess


Dowager


of Dorset


he moved


on to


a small


rectory


at Ampton


in 1679


where


stayed


for six years.


His experience


there may


not have


been


too happy


for in his later moral


essay


"Upon


the Office


a Chaplain


" (1697)


points


out how


curates


and chaplains


have


suffered


from


lack


respect

essay h


and material


e "advocates


benefits.


higher


As Kathleen


salaries


Ressler


to improve


notes,


the learning


in this


status


of the profession,


poverty


exposes


them


to contempt


and 'scurvy


temptation.


Ampton may


It also


have


seems


led to his


logical


comments


that


Collier's


in support


experience


status


and material


wealth


for the clergy


in his anti-stage


writing


case


, the


year


1685


found


in London,


where


he was made


a lecturer


at Gray


Inn.


With


the chan


in monarchs


in 1688,


Collier


began


career


as a devoted


and outspoken non-juror.


His "Desertion Discuss 'd


(1688)










write


political


pamphlets


until


next


arrest


in 1692,


when


he and


another non-juring


clergyman


were


accused


of trying


to communicate with


the exiled


James


Though


he could


have


gone


free


on bail,


refused


to accept it because

jurisdiction. Thus,


that

until


would


have meant


released


upon


a recognition


the appeal


of William


of his friends,


spent


about


a week


in jail


penning


still


another


bitter


attack


on the


government


entitled


"Remarks


on the London


Gazette.


Nothing


is known


of Collier


again


until


1696


when


he and


two other


non-jurin


clergymen


(Cook


and Snatt)


granted


absolution


to Sir


John


Friend


and Sir William


Perkins

universe


at Tyburn.


Public


not only


and governmental


had Friend


and Perkins


outrage


been


at this w

convicted


'as almost

of plot-


ting


the assassination


of William,


they


had made


no public


confe


ssion.


The feeling was


that


Collier


and the other


priests,


therefore,


consider


the plotting


sinful.


While


Cook


and Snatt


were


arrested


eventually


outlawed.


convicted


legally


and released,


remained


Collier


outlawed


went


for the


into


rest


hidin


was


of his life.)


His concealment


not stop


him from publishing


"A Defence


of the


Absolution"


only


six days


after


execution.


When,


on the day


follow-


the execution


"the


two archbishops


and twelve


bishops


were


then


in London


forth


a 'Declaration'


condemning


the action


of the three


clergyme

and 'as


an open


insolent


affront


to the laws


and unprecedented


in the


both o

manner


f church


state,


and altogether


irre-


ular


in the thin


Collier needed


only


two weeks


to provide


further


reply


in his


own defense.


Quite


clearly


he had already










That


Collier


felt


the need


to have


his ideas


and talents


constantly


before


the public


is also


indicated


the more


than


fifty


works--ranging


from sermons,


translations


of Cicero


and Marcus


Aurelius,


and An


Ecclesiastical


History


of Great


Britain


to political


pamphlets,


stage


criticism,


and The Great


Historical,


Geographical,


Genealogical


Poetical


Dictionary--which


were


published


through


year


seems


of his


that


death


he must


(1726).


have


From


been


the number


supremely


variety


confident


of his works,


in his abilities.


even more


important


in understanding


criticism


of the


stage


is his


unbending


attitude


controversy.


His stubborn


persistence


in having


the last


word


in his


arguments


with


the Restoration


dramatists


causes


later


admirers


see him as


a heroic


figure.


Thomas


Babington


Macaulay,


for example,


says


that


"we believe


to be


as honest


courageous


a man


as ever


lived"


and that


"the


spirit


A Short View


"is truly


heroic.


Johnson,


too


sees


him as


a warrior who


"walked


out to battle,


and assailed


at once most


of the living writers,


from


Dryden


to Durfey,


" and


was victorious


because


of his "unconquerable


pertinacity.


Though


stature


as a warrior may


be questioned,


certainly


indication


seemed


that


to relish


ever


the pamphlet


conceded


wars


any point


he fought,


for which


and there


was


arguing.


A key


to his vision


of himself


as a steadfast moral


crusader


comes


in his Moral


Essays


where


says


that


"Fortitude


is the Guard


moral


Advantage


and the Being


of Truth


and Justice


subsists


upon


'Tis


not possible


for a Coward


to be


a good


man.


But apart


from










comments


on the nature


man,


must


that


feel


he exemplifies


that


group


of later


seventeenth-century


divines


whom


Allison


calls


the "'holy


living'


school.


" In his


study


of the changes


Englis


Christianity


during


the seventeenth


century,


Professor


Allison


concludes


that


"the


view


the Gospel


held


in the first


half


of the


century,


dogma


votional


which


"manifested


and morals


literature


a blend


, justification


that


was


of doctrine


and sanctification,


profoundly


and ethics,


Christian


and produced


and functionally


a de-


pastoral,


" had


undergone


a significant


change.


Thus


sees


a new view


the Gospel


held


some


influential


divines


in the second


half


of the


century:


later


view rent


the fabric


sote


riolo


and split


elements


became


almost


f religion
irrelevant


so radically


and ethics


that


became


doctrine
so harsh


to be cruel.


from


the Chri


There
stian


was an ineluctable


faith


earlier


movement
divines


away
towards


a moralism mas


querading


as faith.


The divines


introduced


this trend


towards


moralism


postulated


a fr


eedom of


will


in sinners


that


was of
sisted


larg


ian proportions.
Iv of exhortations


Their
to 1


remedy


for sin


a holy


life.


con-
11


This


emphasis


on the freedom


of the human


will


was also


coupled


with


Pelagian


deemphasis


of original


sin as a condition


man.


Among


"holy


living"


divines,


then,


came


to be treated


almost


exclusively


an action


rather


than


as a condition,


which,


since


was willful,


could


be controlled


by man.


Obviously,


what


this


could


lead


to--and


did lead


to in Collier,


and his potential


for moral


hink--was

living i


a glorification


f he willfully


of man's


avoided


nature


sources


vice


and sinful


action.


was not corrupt


but corruptible.










Citing


two of Collier's


Sermons


goes


on to explain


belief


that


"Will,


which


stronger


than


reason,


is impelled


to direct


motion;


plus


understanding,


it inten


sifies


the power


of the soul


which


is determined


towards


good


. [Thus


when


both


will


reason


combine


to embrace


God,


man


approaches


nearest


earthly


happiness.


Collier


says


in his


essay,


Of Religious


Temper,


that


"the


Essense of


future


Happiness


will


consist


in the Knowledge


and Love


of God.


Powers


of the Soul


be all reduced


to the Understanding,


and the


Will:


When


exerc


these


is'd


two Faculties,


in the most


perfect


are


fix'd


manner,


upon


then


the noblest


the Mind


Object,


is compleatly


Happy.


And,


while


he recognizes


the necessity


for divine


grace,


diminishes


the importance


of it:


as far


as we


can guess


at the


erations


Humane


Nature,
Motion,
for this


Honou
some


'tis
than


more
to be


reason,


entertaining
altogether


'tis


Cooperating


little


share


probable,


with


in making


to mount
passive i


God has


our own


our Rise:


allowed


his Assistances,


our selves


us the
having


happy.


freedom


of the will


gives man


the opportunity


to live


a happy


life


here


on earth--"Station


and Happiness


lies


every


ones


power:


Management


of the Will


determines


Precedency"17--and


earn


his way


heaven:


"For


tho'


a Man is born


into


this


World


with


his Mother's


Labour


, yet '


tis his


own


that


must


carry


to the other.


Ressler


also


points


out "Collier's


tendency


towards


a less


literal


more


modern


Pelagian?]


attitude


. in his


treatment


of the Fall


and the


Devil.


" She cites


a statement


in his


essay


"Of Goodness"


which


dimini-


. r -_ -.--


Ii


I


,t, ,,


,TTU I, ^ C-C-.-A










with


Trouble
noxious


Maker;
He was


to Pain,


was not supply'd


under


brought


a necessity


under


as formerly


of Labour;


the Force


without
was ob-


of Time,


Death
all,
State


and Diseases


this


SL rL L


was rather
r oar, "19


were


let loose


an Abatement


upon


Him.


of Happiness,


But after


than


This


essay


concentrates


on Adam's


prelapsarian


perfection,


not the Fall,


in di


scussing man


as a "Divine


Image


" which,


if kept


pure,


will


"natur-


ally"


draw


"God's


Favour.


This


combination


of Pelagian


tendencies


(emphasis


on man'


free


will


and a deemphasis


of original


sin)


leads


Collier


to view man


as capable


of living


a righteous


life,


even


of coming


close


per-


fiction.


says


for example,


that


"there


a Greatness


in Human


Nature


not to be over-awed


Death.


to be Possessed


of this


Quality


purpose,


is to live


well.


There


no such


Bravery


as that


a good


Chri


stian.


If people


would


"live


well"


and follow


"Golden


Rule,


he imagines


perfection


could


be achieved:


Things


would


look


as if the Millennium was


comment


or the Gates of Paradise


set


open.


What


inviolable


Friendship might


we then


expect,


what


Exactness


Commerce,


what


Easiness


in Conversation?


Want


would


be in


a great


Measure


removed,


and Envy


thrown


of Society:


nor


Thing


the Rich


as Fraud


The Poor would


starve


not


the Poor.


and Oppression;


steal


There


from


would


No Sallies


the Rich,
be no such
of Ambition,


no grasping


World.
Humours


What


what


at forbidden


Largeness


Peace


Greatn


of Mind,


in Families


ess,
what


to disturb


Harmony


and Kingdoms


Christendom would


no longer


be the S


cene


Confu


sion,


the Field


Devils:


of Blood,


There


would


and the Sport


no leading


of Infidel


into


Captivity;


no complaining
their Swords i:
Pruning-hooks:


n


in our Stree
.to Plow-shar


Nation


ts.
es,


would


Men might
and their


rise


then
Spears


against


beat
into
ation


neither
wnt l r1


r would they learn War any more. Then
rim rdnrnm 1-flcc WPtcn1 nin -tfchrtn nl cc 'c.


Justice


1ilrp


>4


out


,F M










man


(due


to the Fall)


as even


to imagine


such


paradisiacal


conditions


for earthly


creatures.


With


this view


man,


it is


not surprising when


Collier


quotes


Plato


to help


describe


a good man:


just


Person,


keeps

states


close


to the Rule


the Powers


above,


of Virtue,


can't


acts


but be lov'd


the best


them:


Precedents,


'Tis


and imi-


impossible


for the Gods


to overlook


a Man


so like


themselves:


To do this,


would


be in effect


to neglect


their


own Nature,


and disregard


the happ


Qualities


they


are possessed


'"23


This


Platonic


belief


about


imita-


ting


the Gods is


very


similar


to his


own view


of how man


can attain


virtue:


to resemble


God,


is the


Perfe


action


of Virtue;


'tis


doing


its Kind.
recommend


wisest
mention


our selves


and the Greatest
but one Advantage,


more


effectually


Action


We can't


to God Almighty,


than
Love


delighting


naturally


in the same Actions


arises


from


Likeness


which


he does.


Disposition.


Our Imitation


that


we value


of Another,
his Person,


an unques


and admire


tioned


Proof


his Choice;


which


lays
being


were,


a kind


an Obligation


same


engage


Temper with


his Inclinations


for a Return .
God Almighty,


to make


we do


us Happy.


While
cerned


we are thus affected,


about


a neglect


our Welfare,


upon his


own


can no more


than


Attribu


can deny
tes."24


uncon-


himself


This


link


to Plato


is only


part


a more


complex


connection


which


Pro-


fessor


Ressler


points


out in her study.


sees


Plato,


through


Cambridge


Platonists,


as the


source


for Collier


inner


certitude


his ideas


of free


will,


and his deemphasis


of the Fall


doctrine with


corollary


emphasis


on man's


divine


essence


, rather


than


the Pelagian


-Cl~~~~~~-, -' -- --- ---2 --hI -------


1 A- -t J A1 1


r i _


1


-1 -


1


_ ^ ..










would


have


been


for keeping man


out of the way


of those


sources


of evil


which


could


corrupt


his basically virtuous


nature.


Censorship would


necessary


if "good


living"


were


to flourish.


carry


Collier


s Platonism


one step


further--that


the danger


sees


in man's


imitation


of evil--it


is only necessary


turn


to A


Short


View


of the


Immorality


Profaneness


of the


English


26
Stage.


cites


Plato


early


in this


work


to make


the point


that


will


imitate whatever


human


behavior


they


see in a mimetic


repres-


entation.


This


belief


that


man


can only


benefit


from seeing


what


good


runs


counter


some


of the strongest


sentiments


expressed


obvious


Christian


writers,


such


as Milton


in Areopagitica:


Good


and evill


we know


in the field


of this


World


grow


up together


almost


inseparably;


and the knowledge


good


so involved


and interwoven


with


knowledge


of evill,


in so many


cunning


rese


mblances


hardly


to be
impose


discern'd,


sort


that


on Psyche
asunder,


can apprehend


that


those


confused


as an incessant


were


not


more


and consider


seeds


labour


intermixt.
vice with


which


to cull


all her


are


out,


baits


and seeming pleasures,


t ab


stain,


distin-


prefer


that


which


truly


better,


he is


true


wayfaring


Christian.


cannot


praise


a fugi-


tive
that


and cloister'd


never


sallies


vertue,
out and


unexerc


sees


is'd


unbreath'd,


adversary,


slinks
to be


out of


run for,


bring not


race,


not


innocence


where


without


into


dust


that


immortall


and heat.


the world,


we bring


garland


Assuredly we


impurit


much r
trial


father:


that
what


which


purifies


us is


trial,


is contrary.


Milton


feels


that


salvation


can only


won


through


temptation


and trial:


evil


must


be confronted,


recogni


and resisted;


and good must


chosen.


This


recognition


man


s fallen state


and his


necessity


-~~~~~~~~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ .-: ar -.e. -- a--C- .naa C l c- -4\


- -, n a 9 -


men


q


1


I


j-i- -.rY-


,,~uL


I I- -I


..~










Commonwealth


which


he had


imagined,


" and


"he knew


this


licencing


Poems


reference


and dependence


to many


other proviso's


there


down


in his fancied


republic,


which


in this


world


could


have no


place.


Collier


sees


Plato's


"fancied


republic"


as what


seventeenth-century


England might


if censorship


of the playwrights


were


effective.


refuses


to recognize man's


fallen


condition


and thus


feels


that


some


properties


of Plato


s "imagin'd"


world,


such


as a preservation


of man's


purity


banning


lewd


books


and entertainment,


were


possible


without


the other


"proviso' s"


which Plato


called


for.


seems


oppose


those


views


man,


expressed


by writers


like


Swift


which


emphasize


man's


post-lapsarian,


flawed


nature


and the necessity


a struggle


toward


salvation.


That


Collier


can argue


that


"such


Entertainment


[plays]


does


in effect


degrade


Human


Nature,


sinks


Reason


into


Appetite,


breaks


down


the Distinctions


between


and Beast,


only


emphasizes


impression


that man


innocent


and virtuous


before


encounters


repres-


entations


of vice.


This


Platonic


rejection


of all that


is evil


from


stage


repeated


throughout


A Short View


and in his later


responses


to his


critics.


In his remarks


about


D'Urfey's


Quixote,


for example,


suggests


that


"Beastliness


in Behaviour,


gives


a disparaging


Idea


Humane Nature,


and almost


makes


us sorry we


are of the


same


Kind.


these


reasons '


a Maxime


in Good


Breeding never


to shock


the Senses,


or Imagination.


In A Defence


of the Short View


(1699)


he responds


to Congreve


stating


that


"Lussious


Descriptions,


and Common


Places


set










Characters


of Immodesty


there


must


any such)


should


only


hinted


in remote


Language,


and thrown


off in Generals.


In his


ans-


to James


Drake


he cites


Plato


again


concerning


the dan


of imi-


stating what


one sees


on stage:


Plato


s Opinion


then


that


Diversions


of the Stage


are dangerous


to Temper


and Sobriety;


they


swell


Anger


and Desire


too much.


Tragedy


is apt


to make


Man boisterous,


and Comedy


Buffoons.


Thus


those Passions


are cherished


which


ought


be checked


Virtue


loses


ground,


and Reason


grows


precarious.


basic


contradiction


in Collier


s view


man


seen


when


he minimizes


the danger


of confrontin


God has


ment


evil


furnish


in his


every


and Apprehension:


false Coyn,


to take


a Test


Check


the side of


essay,


one of
We have


for Right


a gross


Truth.


an Apostle"


us with
a Touch


and Wrong,


Fallacy,


Suppose


read


a share


stone


against


a natural


and to encline


a Book


acuity


us to


in whi


there


are false Notions,


and Lectures


Immorality;


aside


either


to believe


Pleasure:
Doctrine,


am not at all forced


or follow


the Advice:


nor yet


behaviour.


there


to disquiet


If I


either


see


myself


a Man


for imitation


with


the Author's


an ill Thing,
or disturbing


what


Mis-


Necess


Head


about


that


which


is out of


my power


A Man


has Light


in his


Understanding,


and Liberty


in hi


Will.


He is Master


his Conduct,


and by


Grace


of God ma


preserve


himself


a tolerable


Innocence.


concurrence with


the Assi


Privil


stance


of Heaven,


of this


we may


Liberty
give


Laws


our Passions


, and brin


them


under


Management


Discipline.


So that


to keep


our selves


harmless


compos


there' s


no nee


of footing


it into


the Forest.


To this


point


in the


passage


Collier


consistent


with


his other


state-


ments


about


man's


potential


for leading


a righteous


life


because of


natural


attributes


free will


and understanding.


He also


presents


very


reasonable


position o:


n censorship,


which


is not at all consistent


wer










only


for great minds


like


own.


He feels


that


"this


design


[virtuous


living]


will


be better


pursu'd


staying


at Home;


exerting


Native


Strength,


informing


our Understanding,


and by


calling


in the


Aids


of Religion.


" Ultimately,


then,


(except


for himself)


it is


best


to keep


out of the way


of vice


and to know


only


good


one


to "live


well.


" The contradiction


between


Collier's


belief


that


virtuous


living


comes


easy


(through man's


free


will


and natural


goodnes


and his desire


to keep men


from


evil


(thereby


limiting


his free will)


never


resolved


in his


arguments.


Indeed,


the contradiction


only


lends


credence


to the


view


that


his conception


man


as virtuous


was possible


only with


concomitant

(by those a


desire


.s wise


for a society


as himself)


like


would


Plato


protect


s Republic


the people's


where censorship

virtue. But in


response


to his Platonism,


many


critics


and playwrights


were


quick


point


out the faults


in using


Plato


as an authority.


Like


Milton,


John


Dennis


emphasizes


that


"the


Commonwealth


of Plato


a mere


romantic


Notion


, with


which


human


Nature,


human


Life,


and, by


consequence,


Dramatick Poetry,


cannot


possibly


agree.


Edward


Filmer


quotes


from


Sidney's


Defence


of Poesie,


in which


Plato's


veneration


poetry


poets


in his Ion


is noted.


Sidney


feels


this


attitude


reflects


Plato


true


feelings.


But whatever


Plato


s true


thoughts,


certainly


Filmer


notation


at least


places


Collier


s use of


this


ancient


philosopher


proper


perspective.


danger


of Collier's


Platonism


to the drama


is suggested


Filmer's


observation


that


Collier would


have


a character


"fix


a Paper


our










with


inscribed messages


would


serve


purpose,


for,


in Collier's


view,


a Man


has been


Prophane


in general,


and then


punish


is somewhat


Intelligible;


To make


Example without


Instance,


of Dramatick Justice:


and Particularity,
But when he is su


iffer


a safe
'd to


his Distraction,


practice


before


the Company


the Punishment


comes


too late.


Such


Malefactors


infection


and kill


at their very


execution.


'Tis


much


safer


suffer.


are acted


to not to hear


Some


Vices


in some measure


them
wont
when


talk
bear
they


than


the namin
are heark


see them
g: They
n'd to.36


This


kind


comment


leads


Drake


to state


that


Collier


"is all along


Platonis t


in his


Philosophy"


and that


"The whole


scheme


and strain


the Platonick


Philosophy


is very


romantic


and whimsical,


and like


Author's


works,


favours


every


particular more


strongly


of Fancy


than


Judgment.


Collier's


Platonism manifested


itself


in expressions


of dis-


gust


at the evil


corruption


was forced


see and hear


on the


stage.


He was


sensitive


only


to the ability


of the wicked


and foolish


characters


to corrupt


an audience;


therefore,


he wished


their


actions


and language merely


spoken


of--labelled,


seen


or heard.


His attempt


to muffle


and finally


remove


plays


as a form


entertainment


shows


that


his understanding


himself


and other men


presupposed


that


innocence


not only


existed


but could


be preserved


men


were


cut off enough


from


the evils


of the world.


Instead


of accepting


each man


as sinful


capable


of redemption,


Collier,


like


Plato,


chose


to envision a


world


(city,


country)


where men


could


live


in purity,


protected


from


those


things


which


gone


farthest


"in Debauching


"the


Stage


. t-J


are


our


"J


1









a Christian


humanistic


(and


orthodox Anglican)


point


of view while


Collier


(and others,


like


George


Ridpath,


Arthur


Bedford,


and William


39
Law) demanded


censorship


on the


basis


of a moralism


that


was


both


Pelagian


and Platonic.















NOTES


1James


Immorali
Edition,


ty and
" Diss.


Thorpe,


Profaneness


Yale,


III,


"Jeremy


of the


Collier's


English


Stage


A Short View of the
(1698): A Critical


1969,


2Most


biographical


information


which


follows


comes


from


William Hunt's


Biography


eds.


piece


on Collie


Leslie Stephen


r in The
and Sir


Dictionary
Sidnev Lee


of Nat
(1921-2


ional


rpt.


London


Oxford


Univer


sity


Press


1937


-38)


797-803.


Collier's


says,


Seventeenth


Century


Studies,


second
Press,


series
1937),


ed. Robert


Shafer


(Princeton:


Prin


ceton


University


257.


See A Short View of the


English Stage (London,
the Short View of the
(London, 1699), pp. 70


1698), pp.
Profaneness


Immorality
83-84 & 127


and
-129


Immorality


Profanenes s


) and A
of the


Defence
English


f the
of
Stage


117.


5According


loss
king


of Engl
at the


ish prop
battle o


to the DNB,


erty


on the


London"


the subject


coast


Spain


this attack was
and the defeat o


, 798).


6DNB,


798.


York:


7Lives of the Poets,
Octagon Books, Inc.


ed. George
1967), II


Birkb


eck Hill


(1905


rpt.


220-221.


Co.,


1898)


8The Works of Lord
, IX, 378.


Macaulay


(London:


Longman,


Green,


9Lives,


Fortitude


(London,


parts


essay


1709)


and the 2nd edition


"Upon


Pride"


(part


says


Upon


have used


(1707)


that


Several


Moral


the 6th edition


t part 3
humility


Subjects
n (1709)


Collier


should


part
of


says


not keep


person


from striking


out at those


are wrong.


from Hooker


iThe Rise of
to Baxter (


Moralism:


New


York:


The
The


Proclam
Seabury


ation of the
Press, 1966),


Gospel
D. 192.


I / <


Jeremy


m


_


10.of


nnn










15Moral


Essays,


part


125.


Of Fortitude,


" Moral


Essays,


part


206.


"Of Envy,


" Moral


Essays,


part


119.


18,,
of the other


are:


part


Of the Value
references i


Life,


n the


part


" Moral


Moral Es
132-133;


sa:


ssay


ys


part


to t
3.


part


power


Some


the will


171-172 &


19Ressler,


196-197.


0Moral

1Ibid.,

2Ibid.,


success


says


part


10-11.


part


part


of the Apostles


92-93.


confess


: 11


Elsewhere


their


Collier


Design


was


speaks
noble


of the


beneficial
retrieve t


Paradi


siacal


Happiness


in the highest


Dignity
State,
(Moral E


egree:


Human Nature


and oblige


part


says


people,


For,


what


can be


, to bring


in their best


greater
World to


capac


than


cities


238-239).


3Ibid.,

4bid.,


that
This
Offs


stand


argues


pring


generous


part


part


Adversity


the Soul of
the Deity.


Inclination


, 175-176
. is


a Heavenly
Where su


can neglect


He also


to be


great


Extraction,


ch a Prize han
it? Who would


states
above


Of Fortitude"


Title


and is worthy
gs in View, w


not be


and Fortune.


of the


hat


Ambitious


such
This?


a Blessin


" (part


and endeavour


to rise


so great


a Perfection


, 223)


5pp.


180,


181,


183,


190-193


, 195,


197,


222-223,


230-231.


makes


Essays,


part


references


240-241


part


to man'


tendency


to imit


16 and to the danger


ate in Moral
of imitating


evil


on stage


in A Short View,


71 &


204.


(New


York:


27The Works of John Milton,
Columbia University Press,


Frank Allen


1931),


Patterson,


et al


310-311.


8Ibid.,


316.


29A Short View,


2 fl n r~ -


r& A


nA*











the need
passage,
through


33Moral
for "the


says,


Grace


his emphasis,
his own will,


part
God"


273-274.


and "the Ass


as in the Moral Essays
o remain innocent.


Though
instance


, is


Collier


mentions


of Heaven"


upon


man's


in this


ability,


34The
(Baltimore:


has a similar


(London,


1699)


Criti
Johns


comment
, PP.


cal Works of John
Hopkins University


t in The Antient
34-35.


Dennis
Press


Modern


, ed. E
, 1939)


;dward
. 169.


Stages


Niles H
James


Surveyed


ooker,
Drake


(London,


Defence


of Plays


(London,


1707)


70-71.


36Defence,


37Drake,


38A Short View,


preface.


39Allison


for the "'holy
193-194).


points


living


out that Jeremy


' school,


" had


Taylor,


a tremendous


the leading


impact


spokes-


on Law


. 16.


man















CHAPTER


THE CRITICAL


GROUNDS--NO


NEED TO


SHIFT


THEM


To understand


the drama


of the Restoration


it is


necessary


to examine


carefully


the controversy which


raged


over


the morality


the plays


and which


found


its most


prolific


and vocal


spokesman


Jeremy


Collier.


controversy would


be of little


importance


if it


not show most


convincingly


the importance


of morality


as an element


which must


be considered


serious


critical


examination


of that


art.


There


was


(and


still


much


disagreement


about


whether


the drama,


and especially


the comedy,


is moral


or immoral,


many


recent


critics


seem


to feel


the moral


issue


is not even


important


in understanding


plays.


Eric


Rothstein


calls


Restoration


comedy


"one


of the


most


vious


attempt


bastions


of aristocratic


to divorce


amorality.


art and morality,


says


John


that


Palmer,


"art


a confusing


not primarily


concern

Collier


own


with


on moral


terms


morality "

grounds


saying


that


and that


Norman


"if a play


Congreve

Holland


is true


"foolishly"

redefines m


to its


argues


oralit


purpose


with

in his


the pleasure


of understanding,


then


think


it cannot


be called


immoral


Thus,


can examine


the plays


without


taking


into


account


the moral


attitudes


of the


contemporary


playwrights


and critics


toward


the drama.


Rose A.


Zimbardo


sees


issue


of morality


in Restoration


comedy


as "an


extra-


literary


question.


Joseph


Wood


Krutch


claims


that


in contrast











destroy"


morality,


"neither were


they


engaged


any attempt


through


the employment


satire,


or by


other means


, to recommend


see the


plays


basi


cally


as amoral,


however,


to miss


not only what


the playwrights


felt


was the intention


of their


plays,


but that


aspect


of their vision


of the world


which


helped


provide


very


structure


or pattern


of those


plays.


is my position


that


complete

the moral

the moral


understanding


of the plays


issue at the heart

concerns of all tho


can be obtained


of the Collier

se interested


without


controversy,

in the art of


considering


for it reflects


writing plays.


What


many


of the modern


critics


have


failed


to emphasize


perhaps,


not believe)


is that


late


seventeenth-century


England


was


still


dominated


a Christian world-view,


focused


on the workings


of Provi-


dence


and the destiny


of human


souls.


As G.


R. Cragg


points


out in his


historical


analysis


of religious


thought


during


the Restoration


period,


view


of the world


which


been


fashioned


in the


early


perfect


centuries


logical


of the


Christian


precision


era and redu


great


schoolmen


still


widely


current.


"This


strange medley


of fact


and fable,
represented


truth


the world


and falsehood,


view


of the


of good


vast


and evil"


majority


of the


contemporaries


might


never


have


Newton.
lived, a


For many


even


them


fellows


Copernicus


of the Royal


Society
thought.


could
7


retain


strange


fragments


from


the older


ethical


perspectives


of this world-view have


been


related


to the


Augustan


humanists


Paul


Fussell;8


certainly many


of these


same


per-


spectives


also


apply


to the best


post-Restoration


writers.


Fussell


sees


sources


of eighteenth-century


humanism


in the "Christian


humanism


was










or man,

allied,


with


an assumption


and with a


vision


"that

of "ma


ethics


and expression


not primarily


are closely


as a maker


or even


knower,


but rather


as a moral


actor"9--seems


not only


reasonable


obvious


with


a proper


understanding of


their works.


Evidence


for this


ethical

number


perspective


among


of publications


the writers


concerned


with


seen


God's


in the nature


relationship


to man


and

and the


universe.


Besides


the works


of Milton


and Bunyan,


sermons


Barrow,


Tillotson,


South,


Stillingfleet,


Burnet,


and Bentley


and the


scientific


and theological


writings


of Ray,


Boyle,


and Newton


were


among


the most


popular


and influential


works


of the


age.


Irene


Simon


not only points


out the influence


sermons


on the educated


public


well


into


the eighteenth


century,


but also


shows


"the


printed


versions


alone have


a right


to be treated


as a branch


of literature"


and how


that


"any


ignores


account


these


of the


facts


temper


[about


or intellectual


the importance


climate


of the


of the sermons]


is there-


fore


bound


to be distorted.


Edward Arber


also


points


out that


was the reli


gious


people


first


and the Scientists


next,


that


made


fortunes


of the London


Book


Trade.


When


Arber


speaks


of "Writers


Pure


and Applied


Science,


" he


is referring


to the scientists


Cragg


discusses:


"The


leading


scientists


of the period


were


for the


most


part


earnest


Christians,


and they


continually


related


their


discoveries


religious


interpretation


of the world.


The works


of all these


writers


share


with


the best


Restoration


drama


what


Aubrey


Williams


calls


"the


Renaissance


Christian


vision of human


experience,


however










the Englishmen


of the


age.


Such


views


also place


the Restoration


play-


wrights


who,


as poets,


traditionally


have


been


seen


as especially


sen-


sitive


to man


s nature


and the ways


it might


be improved,


outside


spirit


of the


times,


engaged


in writing which


does


not interest


itself


with


the most


fundamental


attitudes


of the


age.


Removing


from


issue


of morality,


as Zimbardo


wishes


to do,


may simplify


analyses


but it does


not


produce


a purely


"literary"


discussion


of the


plays


Indeed,


there


are not


literary


and moral


issues


for the


seventeenth-century


poet;


there


are literary


issues


which


include


important


moral


issues


the times:


the conduct


man


on earth


it is related


to his salvation


and the role


of Providence


in man' s


life


and the workings


of the


universe.


The propensity


on the


part


of modern


critics


to divorce


Restoration


like


drama


John Palmer's


from


that


the moral


"Jeremy


vision


Collier


of the


invented


has produced


the moral


judgments


test.


contrary,


that


traditional


critical


theory which


existed


in England


(expressed


Sidney,


Jonson,


Rapin,


Rymer,


and Dryden,


among


others)


always


made


clear


the moral


value


of literature,


specifically


the drama.


What


Ben Ross


Schneider


calls


"the Aristotelian-Horatian


principle


utile dulci"


was


commonly


asserted


the playwrights


when


they


talked


of the intention


of their plays.


Thus,


when


Collier


attacked


stage,


he was


not setting


completely new


ground


rules for criticism,


were


responses


to his attack


nearly


so weak


as some


modern


critics


would


have


us think.


Without


any convincing


analysis


, for example,


nor










a competent d

"competent"),


fencee


of the dramatist"


with no mention


(though apparently


of John Dennis's


still


Usefulness


not

of the


Stage


(1698)


James


Drake


s The Antient


Modern


Stages Survey


(1699),


Edward


Filmer


s A Defence


of Plays


(1707)


or Elkanah


Settle'


A Defence


Dramatick Poetry


(1698)


and A Farther


Defence


Dramatic


Poetry


(1698).


He probably


fails


to note


these


because


they,


like


the defenses


of the


stage


during g


controversy,


Collier


Collier's


ground,


that


on the evaluation


art in


terms


rather


than


in spite


its moral


position.


difficulty


of evaluating


apart


from its


moral


intent


seen


in Palmer's


definition:


not primarily


concerned


with morality.


It is


not the aim or


business


of comedy


to improve


world.


When


we say


that


art is


not primarily


conc
(the
cone


erned


with morality,


exceptions


erned


with


prove


we mean


the rule)


beautifully


that


in most


an artist


expressing


cases


is first


something


has felt


or seen.


He endeavours


to give


local


habi-


station


a name


a piece


of life


imaginatively


realized.


art is fashioned


in the heat


desire
not the
it is t


see life


impulse


he impulse


shape


of a morals


and form.
t to improve


an artist


express


His impulse


world;
21


Palmer


does


seem


to be


sure


of his


contentions,


for he


finds


necessary


to qualify


his first


assertion


with


"the


exceptions


prove


the rule"


and later


states


that


"morality


is his [the


artist


subject,


though


it is


not his object.


" He also


says


that


"the


greatest


artists


are also


those who


have


contributed


most


to the morality


of the


Commonwealth,


" and


that


"morality


an accident


of the artist's


accom-


plishment,


though


it is


not the intention.


" His statements


not


only










unconsciously


obey.


" In fact,


since


he cites


no sources


for this


theory


of atti


Palmer


seems


to be doing what


he has accused


other


critical,


especially


Macaulay,


of doing:


looking


at the drama


of the


late seventeenth


century


through


eyes


(and


critical


values)


of his


own age.


The modern


critic,


just


as the seventeenth


and eighteenth-


century


critic,


mus t


deal


with


Collier within


context


of Collier's


age,


center


that


within


as a way


to view


context


life


a world


create


with


art (which


Christianity


in Palmer


at its


s own


words,


represents


"life


in shape


and form").


While


it is certain


that


many


of Collier's


uments


in A


Short


View


not focus


on important


issues


for all of the plays,


work


unleashed


a rash


of publications


which


give


us the most


complete


source


of critical


information about


drama


the Restoration.


reactions


to Collier's


arguments


indicate


that


no play


in the late


seventeenth


or early


eighteenth


centuries


could


neglect


a moral


function


escape


criticism.


There was


an expectation


the general


audience


and critics


(just


as in the earlier


drama


in England)


a point


of view


which


recognized


a world


contingent


upon


Divine


order


and which


flected


God's


just


rewards


and punishments


as part


of the moral


code.


Collier,


himself


at least


as he begins


his Short View,


suggests


such


a moral


purpose:


The Business


countenance


Humane


Plays
Vice;


Greatness,


is to recommend


shew


suddain


Virtue,


the Uncertainty


Turns


and
of


Fate,


the Unhappy


Conclusions


Violence


and Injustice:


"Tis


expose


Singularities


of Pride


and Fancy,


4-4 -4 4 .


re-


* 9 1


Ir MW 4


S










Filmer


point


out,


Collier went


on to condemn


stage


entirely.


Assuming,


as Johannes


Ballein


indicates,


that


he changed


his mind


about


stage


as he wrote his


treatise,


one point


at least


he actually


felt


the purpose of


stage


was moral.


This


opinion


certainly


finds


good


critical


company


during


the Restoration


period


(even


though


some


critics,


like


Thomas


Rymer,


are very


critical


contemporary


and,


times,


earlier


drama)


A reexamination


of the


contemporary


critical


responses


Collier


is necessary


criticism of


the drama.


in order


Sister


to establish


Rose Anthony's


a historical


catalogue


basis


of works


related


to the


controversy,


though


deficient


in critical


commentary


about

number


the works,


is extremely


responses.


From


useful


in understanding


various


defenses


types


of the Restoration


stage


she cites,


have


organized


three


groups


based


upon


closely


the defenders


could


be related


to Collier's


attack


in A


Short


View:


first


is made


of the


responses


of those


playwrights


were


attacked


y Collier;27


the second


includes


the reactions


of playwrights


defended


stage


though


not individually


attacked


Collier;


final


group


includes


defenses


of the


stage


individuals


were not


primarily


playwrights


or who


have


remained


anonymous.


Some


overlapping


exists


since


some


of the anonymous writers


have


been


important


play-


wrights


and also


since


Dennis


maj or


importance


least


today)


a critic,


not


a playwright.


placed


group


two,


however,


cause he


did write


six plays


which were


produced


during


the height









of critical


thought


about


the drama


even


though


each


group


stands


different


distance


from


Collier's


attack.


Though


Collier


chose


to attack Otway


Wycherley,


Dryden,


Congreve


D'Urfey


and Vanbrugh,


only


the last


four


responded.


Most


critics


feel


that


the defenses


offered


Congreve


D'Urfey,


Vanbrugh


ter's

case


are weak


judgment t


there


and that


of him.


Dryden


even agrees


But in all of these


are complications),


there


with


answers


a basic


Collier


(though


concern


in the lat-


in Dryden


for defending


the moral


value


of the


stage


and especially


the plays


Collier


attacked.


To fault


these


responses


because


they


do not


adequately


ans-


all of Collier's


assertions


seems


wrong,


for as G.


F. Lamb


states,


"Their


task was


an impossible


one.


He feels


that


Collier's


document


was not


"intended


to stimulate


reasoned


argument.


Its aim was


to heckle


and victimize


the dramatists


and players.


What


should


be noted


the assumptions


these writers


make


about


their


plays


and the kind


corrections


they


attempt


to bring


about


in Collier's


readings.


They


not as concerned


with


general


argument


about


immorality


and profaneness


as with


the specific


evidence


he draws


from


their plays.


Their


defen-


ses focus


on specific


characters


or passages


which


Collier


has misunder-


stood


or misrepresented.


Though


these


defenses


are obviously


limited,


however,


they


provide


the kind


of reply


the more


general


responses


to Collier


usually


lack,


that


proof


that


Collier


misused


his evidence


from


con-


temporary


plays.


They


stress


their


beliefs


in the moral


purpose of


4 -s -4 ,- -


wer


are


are


*


I .. I









delight,

asham'd


as well

of their


as to instruct:


Follies


or Faults,


as vicio

seeing


People


them expos


are made

'd in a ridi-


culous


their


manner,


Expence.


so are good People at


similarity


once


between


both warn'd


Congreve


and diverted


s definition


Dryden 's


earlier


comments


in his


often


partially


quoted


preface


to An


Evening's


Love:


the Mock Astrologer


(1671)


should


noted.


What


Professor


Krutch


sees


as Dryden's


flat


repudiation


of "any


responsi-


ability


of the dramatist


to point


a moral"35


is actually


only


part


explanation


based


upon


Dryden


premise


that


the poet's


is to work


cure


on folly,


and the small


imperfections


of mankind.


Although


this


preface


it does


clarifies


remove


moral


Dryden


s distinction


instruction


from


between


comic


tragedy


realm.


comedy


In fact,


Dryden


goes


some


trouble


to explain


that


instruction


results


from various


factors


in the play


acting


upon


the audience.


Vanbrugh,


while


he does


not


attempt


to define


comedy,


does


assert


that


"what


have


done


is in general


a Discouragement


to Vice


and Folly;


am sure


intended


and I


hope


have


performed


Likewise


, D'Urfey


affirms


about


that


"the


the "Plots


depression


and designs"


of Vice


of his plays


encouragement


are intend


of Virtue.


to bring


Whether


these


playwrights


accomplished


their


intended


ends


is still


a hot


critical


issue,


one important


prerequisite


for judgin


accom-


plishments


is an understanding


of the plays


themselves.


Their


responses


at least


offer not


only


evidence


for their


intentions


but important


corrections


to Collier's


readings


(which


will


be taken


up later)










The second


group


of defenses


includes


both


creative


works


(satiric


dialogues,


poems,


and plays)


and treatises


and letters


written


playwrights


not directly


attacked


Collier.


creative


works


this


group


are similar


to Dryden' s


Friend,


the Author


[Peter


Motteux]"


in their


rebuke


of Collier


as an overzealous


clergyman


misinformed


critical


authority


of the drama.


Collectively,


these


works


are most


important


in showing


the playwrights


felt


about


Collier's


char


ges,


though


they


offer


less


in the


of reasoned


critical


theory


about


the drama


than


do the argumentative


responses


of the


treatises.


Three


full-length


plays


deal


with


Collier


and his


stage


attacks:


Charles


Gildon's


Stage-Beaux


Toss'd


Banket


(1704)


Elkanah


Settle


The City


Ramble:


Play-House


Wedding


(1711),


and Colley


Gibber


s The Non-Juror


(1718).


Though


these


plays


apparently


had little


effect


(Gildon's


play was


not performed


and Gibber's


was


not directed


specific


ally


at Collier),


they


do indicate


a willingness


the other


poets


to put


their


energies


into


defending


stage.


Other


creative


exercises


include


Thomas


Brown' s


Letters


from the Dead to the


Living


(1702)


and A


Legacy


for the


Ladies


(1706)


Gildon' s


The Post-Man


Robb


of His Mail


(1719)


Granville's


epilogue


to Jew of


Venice


(1701)


Farquhar' s


humorous


piece,


The Adventures


Covent-Garden


(1698)


Motteux


poem,


"The Poet's


Character


of Himself"


(1698).


Though


all of these


responses


reflect


important


attitudes


poets


even


present


specific


comments


on the


controversy


its participants,


the most


useful


arguments


in favor


of the


stage










while others


are extended


treatises,


such


as Settle


s A Defence


Dramatick Poetry


(1698)


and Dennis's


Usefulness


of the Stage


(1698)


Again,


these


playwrights


consistently


emphasize


the moral


function


they


see for drama


in their critical


remarks.


Two important


aspects


of all


of these


responses


are the


outrage


the playwrights


feel


at Collier's


apparent


desire


to end all drama


in England


and their


fear


that


zeal


would


excite


others.


The fear


seems


to result


from


Collier


desire


to abolish


stage


using


a moral


argument.


These


writers


knew


importance


of the moral


conscience


of the people


and the king,


and though


they were


willing


to grant


that


abuses


existed,


they


could


accept


Collier's


conclusions


or much


of his evidence.


That


they


chose


argue


with


Collier


on moral


grounds


is not due


a lack


ability


argument


nor


an inability


to understand


the drama.


Rather,


they were


aware


that


viable


art form


in the late


seventeenth


early


eighteenth


centuries


must


have


a moral


base,


that


part


of the


artist's


vision.


power


What


rested


this


in his moral


meant


vision


for the dramatist


and the expression


was


an expectation


of that


audi-


ences


and readers


(and


certainly


critics


and other


dramatists)


decency


and recognizable


moral


patterns


or conditions


in their plays.


Gildon,


Indecencies


for example,


driven


says


from


that


the English


wou'd


Stage,


more


than my


glad


self,


see all


" but


he also


indicates


that


"the


of Man


can invent


no way


so efficacious,


Dramatic


Poetry


to advance


Virtue


and Wisdom.


In the epistle


dedicatory


to The


Patriot


(1703)


he explains


more


fully


"Dramatick


not









Folly,


and makes


them subservient


our improvement,


and by


that means


robs

that


Vice


our looser


reform


necessary


Hours.

but n


Peter


lot complete


Motteux,


likewise,


suppression,


indicates


"For


certainly


they


[plays]


might be of


very


great use,


not only for the


Diversion


Pleasure,


but also for the


correction


information


Mankind.


Farquhar


in A Discourse


Upon


Comedy


(170


is intent


upon


showing


that


the "End"


of comedy


is moral,


and that


if the English


authors


left


Vice


unpunish


Vertue


unrewarded,


Folly


unexpos'd,


or Prudence


unsuc-


cess


ful let them be


lash'd


some


purpose.


Elkanah


Settle


considers most


of Collier's


arguments


in de-


tail


and is


in agreement


with


Collier


s initial


desire


for a regulated


stage:


shall


that both
Choice of
retrench'


might


join


farther with


the Levity
Debauch'd


and mended:


be always


given


Mr. Colli


of Expression,
Characters, in


That
some


also


er, and heartily wish,
and the too frequent
our Comedies, were


the Prize


deserving


Vertue


the Comedy
that wins


and consequently,


our


Comedies


even


Fiction


self


might


be made


more


Instructive,


Poetick Ju


stice,


rewarding


success


in


and crowning
nhfl r m 45


L.Jl LeI LJ L/LaLL ra.


the Vertuous


Characters


with


But Settle


is quick


to show,


through


evidence


and critical


theory


wrong


Collier


has been


in his


judgment.


Besides


defending


plays


like


The Old


Bachelor,


Amphitryon,


and The


Relapse,


which


Collier


attacked,


says


that


tragedy's


chief


work


to raise


Compassion"


and explains


it is


, therefore,


instructive:


And what is
Distresses,
Fidelity or
Fictitious,


it we pity
Calmities
Love, &c.
Historick


there


and Ruins


represented
or Romantic


a tragedy]


Honour,
in some
Subject


, but the
Loyalty,


True


of the


Play?


I


d


"have


=










suffering


Virtue,


to the Treachery


whence


and by whom


it raises
or Tyranny


that


VT irt


our Aversions


in the Trag4edy,
tI ciif fer H46


V .JAL I. UL L .JAI.LJ


and Hate


from


Such


an attempt


to explain


the effects


tragedy


certainly


comes


from


a thoughtful


process


approach

of creating


to the ends


of drama


In trying


a writer


to explain


familiar with


Aristotle's


"pity"


terms


of instructive


religion,


which


most


Christians


would


certainly


understand,


one example


of the artistic


vision


of the Restoration


expressed.


In the same


Settle


explains


that


in comedy


the play-


wright


must


"range


the Town


. for the Follies,


the Vices


Vanities


and the Passions


of Mankind,


which


we meet


with


every


Day.


Then,


acting


as a "satyrist,


the playwright's


is to


expose


fools


on stage


improve


except


those whose


"Opticks"


are too


"perverse


and deprav' d"


to "see


themselves


there.


Finally,


John


Dennis


whose


defenses


rival


Collier's


attacks


in number,

the drama


adds


his critical


saying


"That


clout


the Drama


to the playwrights

, and Particularly


theories


Tragedy,


about

in its


Purity,


so far from


having


that


Effect


[encouragement


vice]


that


must


of necessity


make Man


Virtuous.


Dennis


careful


to note


that


the drama


had the potential


to "make


Men Virtuous,


but for him


and those


defending


stage,


this


potential


was enough


preserve


and its best


products:


must


are crept


into


acknowledge' d
our Theatres,


there


are Corruptions


for into what


Human


which


Inven-


tions


they


will


not Corruptions


insensibly


creep


into


cree
Reli


since


gion


which


it is plain


that


is of Divine


establi


Sq


9


shment;


r


but wouldd


. a


monstrous Con


clusion,
r









response


to Mr.


Collier's


Dissuasive


from the


Play-House


(1703),


Dennis


remarks


in An


Essay


on the


Opera


s After the


Italian


Manner


(1706)


show


that


his belief


in the necessity


and value


of the


stage was


a carefully


considered


critical


opinion


rather


than


a self-interested


outburst


response


severe


attack.


In asserting


the "Importance


of the Stage


to the Publick,


says


That
best


the Drama,


that


and instruct
but in Three


been


since


flourishing


ever


all reasonable


been


the World;


or Four


the World


States


invented,


that


it has


the bravest


egan,


of those


and that
Nations;


Diversions


once


never


Nations
in the


and that


to delight
flourished


that
most


have


a People


mus t


have


a very


Understanding,


good


before


share
they


of Virtue,
can receive


as well


among


as
them.


Dennis's


comments


about


man's


need


for diversion


and the relationship


between


patriotism


and drama


are more


complex


than


those


of the other


playwrights,


but like


the others


he constantly


notes


importance


moral


instruction


as a necessary


any play.


From


arguments


of these


playwrights


comes


what


should


considered


a fundamental


critical


standard


for Restoration


drama,


that


that


one major


purpose


of that


drama


is moral


instruction.


though


the expression


of these


arguments


was probably


encouraged


Collier,


as were


responses


of playwrights


Collier


attacked


directly,


there


no reason


to doubt


the sincerity


of the defenders,


as some


modern


critics


have.


Rather


than


assuming


that


these


critical


state-


ments


are


fabrications,


seems


more


reasonable


assume


that


they


are honest


evaluations


and proceed


see if they


are consistent


with


the world-view which


the best


poets


presented


in their


works.









The final


group


have


established


is perhaps


the most


Impor-


tant,


but because


of its


nature,


some


caution


will


necessary


in dis-


cussing


the works


included


here.


One problem arises


in that


this


group


is comprised


responses


from


anonymous


writers,


and also


from


known


critics


are not primarily


playwrights.


Obviously,


is possible


that


some


of the


anonymous


writers


are playwrights,


my assumption


is that


in those


cases


they


have


not wished


to be identified


in the


controversy


and therefore may


be evaluated


from


more


objective


stance


they


tried


to establish.


Also,


though John


Oldmixon,


James


Drake,


and Edward


Filmer wrote


plays


, they


certainly


could


not be


considered


major


playwrights


of the period


Of these


only


Filmer


puts


name


to his defense


of the


stage,


again


perhaps


indicating


the wish


of these


critics


to dissociate


themselves


from


the playwrights


in actin


as critics.


authors


of the remaining works


have


been


identified


and thus


seem


to fulfill


the criteria


for this


final


group.


Not only


do all the critics


in this


group


find


value


in the


drama,


but their


arguments


are consistent


with


those


of the playwrights


groups


one and


two while


going


beyond


many


of them


(Dennis' s


exceptions)


to suggest


important


critical


concepts


for understanding


the drama


of the Restoration.


The shortest


piece


of this


group


exposes,


but does


not develop,


important


critical


points.


Visits


from the


hades:


Dialogues


Serious,


Comical,


Political


(1704)


includes


as its


first


dialogue


a conversation


between Jo


Hains


s ghost


and Jeremy


are










dialogue


is that


stage


not responsible


for the vice


which


exists


in England:


If the Stage


People


was overturned,


wou'd not


as Vicious


question
as they


whether


are.


part
their


of the Kingdom


Proficiency


are Strangers


in Immorality


to the Theatre,


as large


a size


as the frequenters


Pravity woven


the Drama.


the Constitution


There


of Mankind,


is a


which


neither the
can expel.54


force


Religion


nor the Power


Precept


Here


the author


not only


counters


Collier's


assertion


that


stage


causes,


rather


than


reflects,


vice,


but he also


expresses


what


Fussell


has called


the Christian


humanists


belief


about


corrupt


nature


man.


Ironically,


as will


be shown


later,


Collier


seemed


to reject


the Christian


tenet


concerning


the flawed


nature


man,


while


this


defender makes


it clear


that


he is


very


much


aware


of man's


natural,


immoral


state.


More


important,


however,


is the expression


of confidence


in drama


as a way


to help


and improve man:


"Just


Plays


and good


Poets


are so far from


destructive


a public


Community,


that


they


hold


the Balance


of good


Manners


and dare


speak


when


the Pulpits


silent.


Another


earlier


response


to Collier


, The Stage


Acquitted


(1699),


makes


use of the dialogue


format


(between


Fairly


and Lovetruth)


focuses


on the roles


stage


and the pulpit


in providing moral


instruction.


The author


believes


that


"the


Stage


does


not


presume


stand


in Competition


with


the Pulpit,


in that


peculiar


and sacred


vantage


of teaching


the Mystery


of Faith,


but only


pretends


to be


a A-- I .3_ _


. ... r 1


are


-1 1


t- ^ A


1


m


L 1~-


1


A_ _










attempt


same,


to teach


men


the medium is


the way


to salvation.


different,


and this


Though


the message may


difference


justifies


need


for the


stage:


We have


an English


Proverb


a sort


Antichristian


Forewarn'd
barbarity


to deny


poor


heedless


unguarded


youth


so timely


a warning.


but,


say you


the Pulpit


will


give


this


warning


much


better,


and with


less danger.


That


is evidently


false,


for first


the Pulpit


barely


tells


that


there


such


things,


and that


they


are to be avoided,


leaves


draws


so many


in the dark what
you the picture


they


t


Characteristic marks,


:o the
by s


are while


life,
hewing


gives
their


practice


and their


dece


its,


their


Hypocrisies,


gaudy
that


outs


that


one


is not instructed


must


to know


3 very
'em wh


blind
ere-eve


indeed,


are seen;


avoid


their


them without


the Stage exposing
r imposition; for


so perfect


a de


their


'tis


Tricks


impos


scription


teaches


sible


of their


escape
roguer


ies.


This


passage


emphasizes


just


how moral


instruction


is achieved:


drawing


the "picture


to the life


of man's


vices


and follies.


likening


the ends


of both


stage


and pulpit


this


critic


is careful


give


to the preacher


the "serious


hours


to inculcate


[Pulpit


Doctrines,

present "u


" while


useful


reserving


precepts


the "hours


and examples


of pleasure

in the midst


for the


our


poet


diversion.


Other


arguments


concerning


the appearance


of vice,


opinions


Church


fathers,


and poetic


justice


are presented


in this


rather


lengthy


response


to Collier


and will


be referred


to in later


chapters.


very


similar


critical


stance,


though


presented


a much


briefer


form,


is the


anonymous,


Letter


to A.


Esq.


Concerning


Stage


(1698).


Here


the author


also


points


out that


certain


types


, forearm'd;


the Stage


are









or "the


Pleasures


of it;


both


of them are


to be kept


within


bounds,


both


subservient


to Religion.


" For the good


of the individual


as well


as the


state


says


that


"some


public


Exercise"


necessary


regu-


late


men's


passions.


For him,


the theatre


fulfills


this


purpose:


are there


structe


to Love,


and Fear within


measure,


how we may


and all this
stubbornness


by mov
will


men


without


ing Examples,
force its [si


debasing


which


Impres


our Souls;


spite
sions;


our own Fault


if th


are not lastin


certainly must


recommend


the Stage


to the


Vertuous


and Piety
of Vice,


can't


offended


and the insinuating


at the decent r
recommendation


eprovin


Vertue.


This


critic


goes


beyond mere


statements


praise


or blame


an ex-


planation


of how


the play


to work


on the emotions


of the audience,


making


it quite


obvious


that


each member


of that


audience


a respon-


sibilit


exercise


his moral


judgment while


seeing


the play


apply


what


he has learned


once


he leaves


the playhouse.


belief


the importance


of examples


on stage,


which


not only


reflect


life


provide

plays,


useful


guidance


is apparent


in hi


for the lives

s understanding


of those who

g of tragedy


see and read

and comedy:


short,


'tis


the Property


both


of Tragedy


and Comed


to instruct


Characters


in both


are to be Natural;


and the Persons


concern' d


in the


whole Action,


are to be such


whose


Vertues


ought


to deter


us from


imitating


their


Example.


" In making


this


statement


he has already


made


it clear


that


tragedy


proves


"that


Vice


never


goes


unpunished;


and that


true


Happiness


does


not


chiefly


consist


in the Enjoyment


of this


World,


while


comedy


exposes


"the


Faults


of Particular


Men in order


to correct


the Faults


of the Publick


. thro'


a fear


of bein


0


expos 'd.


O










and understanding


of the audience,


perhaps


because


he was meted


such


a small


quantity


of these


qualities


himself.


Another


anonymous


defender


of the


stage


stresses


the impor-


tance


of the


exposure


of "the measures


and folly"


of vices,


for "had


they


never


been


expos 'd,


they


had still


been


your


[audience's]


Darling


Companions,


tho' all


Pulpits


in Town


thunder'd


never


so loudly


against


them.


For as the Divine Herbert


says,


verse


may find him who


a Sermon


flies


And Turn Delight


into


Sacrifice.


opportunity


for instruction


apart


from


the pulpit


was based


upon


the recognition


that men


had need


for diversion


and pleasure


involving


stimulation,


within


limits,


of their


emotions.


Thus,


critics


stated


that


plays


could


supplement


sermons


providing


instructive


diversions,


and they


provided


extended


critical


arguments


showing


how instruction


took


place.


This


vindicator,


for example,


explains


the usefulness


of tragedy:


Which


so manifest,


that


wonder


ques


tion


the Intentions


can express


considers


Human


how well


Life,


the charms


Profit,
a well


adapted


and D


wrought


it is to
light.


Scene


livel


Represented?


The Motions


of the Actor


Charm


our Souls
Spirits,
but pleas


and mixes


so that


[sic]


with


we are carry'd


ing violence


into


our very


very


Blood


an irresistle


Passion


we behold.


What


Heart


can forbear


relenting


see an unfortunate


son,


some


unhappy


mistakes


his Conduct,


fall


into


irreparable Misfortunes?


This strikes


into


our Breasts


, by


a tender


insinuation


steals


into


Souls, a
us ready


nd draws a
to assist


Pity


from


all that


us;
we me


so conse
et with


quently making
in a like


Condition:
Miserable,


it teaches


when
cause


us to Judge


we see a small


heavy


Error


Misfortunes


Charitably


ignorantly
: it teacher


committed,
s us at


same


time


Caution,


and Circumspection


in the Manage-


men t


our selves.


who that


sees


a Vitious


Person


- -nr


one


can


our


I


T1t < t


* 1 -


*. 1 I


1 1 iTT '










reproves.


some


Darling


culousness


can forbear


Folly


tickles


exposed?
him into


blushing,
And tho'


that


sees


its ridi-


a laughter,


thne same
Guilt.62


time,


he feels


a secret


shame


for the


In detailing


the learning


process


of the audience,


this


critic


both


establishes


poetic


intent


expresses


a confidence


(not


shared


Collier)


in the moral


judgment


of that


audience.


As the


writer


of Some


Remarks


upon Mr.


Collier


s Defence


of his Short View of the


English


Stage


(1698)


states


appears


Mr. Collier


a very mean


Opinion


the Capacity


of the Audience,


when


he conceives


all the Poets


Flights


will


so far affect


them as


to practice


same;


like


Quixote,


cou'd


not read


Romances,


but he must


turn


Knight-Errant


John


Oldmixon


takes


Collier


to task


a series


of dialogues


entitled


Reflections


on the Stage,


and Mr.


Collyer's


Defence


of the


Short View


(1699).


Though many


of Oldmixon's


arguments


concern


specific


plays,


language


and characters


on the


stage


and the


nature


of Collier


attack


(all


of which


will


be taken


later)


he bases


his critical


theory


of drama


on moral


grounds.


After


allowing


that


there


is need


reform of


stage,


argues


that


the best


dramatic


art must


moral:


"This


is certain,


no Poet


ever


err'd


against


Manners


or Religion,


twas


at the


expence


of his Art;


those


who know nothing


of it can't


help


erring,


for which


reason


they


are not to be endur


But the


Masters


of the Science


will


observe


precepts


which


them


confine,


never


to please,


but in order


to instruct.


Oldmixon


also


translates


Moliere' s


preface


to L'Imposture


to represent


own feelings


about


*


--










their


defects.


'Tis


a great


mortification


to Vice


to be expos'd


to the


laughter


of the world.


can easily


enough


bear with


reproof,


can't


endure


raillery


and most


men


rather


be thought


wicked


than


ridiculous.


A somewhat


broader


defense


is Edward


Filmer's


A Defence


Plays


(1707)


which


includes


suggestions


for reforming


stage.


Filmer


, like


most


of the defenders,


admits


to "many


great


Abuses"


of the


stage,


but unlike


the other


defenders,


he gives


credit


to Collier


as "a


Person


great


Parts


and good


Learning"


and also


readily


admits


some


disagreement


with


Dennis


and Congreve


about


importance


of plays.


In addition,


agrees


with


Collier


(and


thereby


disagrees


with


at least


two other


defenders


of the


stage


in his desire


to keep


"anything


that


is either


Sacred


in it self,


or by


Custom appropriated


to sacred


Uses


" off


the Stage.


even


with


these


"softened"'


attitudes


toward


Collier


comes


down


hard


on the violent


attacks


which


he feels


unwarranted


in light


of his belief


in the moral


value


of the pl


ays:


concern


see the Stage


so violently


assaulted


on the


one hand,


so strangely


deserted


on the other,


was


that


which


first


tempted


me to


engage


in the Defence


a Diversion,


which


always


thought


might


so managed,


as to be


not only


innocent


but useful.


" He


goes


on to


point


out that


his disagreement


with


other


defenders


of the


stage


limited


allowed,


, for he is still


and tha t


the Opinion,


a Christian


that


Commonwealth


Plays


too;


very well


as a Diversion not


only


innocent


but instructive,


such


a one indeed,


as may


rather


con-


are


1 ,66











throughout


for the


importance


of "Stage-Discipline"


(poetic


justice)


as an artistic


tool


of the


poet


and a characteristic


of the plays


readily


recognized


the audience.


Had Collier


understood


"Stage-


Discipline,


" he


might


have


found


that


contemporary


plays


fulfilled


the moral


intent


he himself


saw for drama


in A Short View


James


Drake


presents


perhaps


the best


defense


of the


stage


in The


Antient


Modern


Stages


(1699).


Here


not only


refutes


many


of Collier's


arguments


and much


of his evidence,


he lays


down


some


of the


most


important


critical


tenets


of Restoration


drama.


He is


very


conscious


of the play


as a work


art created


the play-


wright


to fulfill


specific


artistic


purposes


He is also


well


aware


of the emotional


and intellectual


effects


of the play


upon


an audience,


assuming


that


the audience


is capable


of reacting


emotionally


and in-


tellectually.


agrees


with


the other


defenders


of the


stage


about


the moral


purpose


of plays


sees


"modern"


drama


as far


more


successful


at accomplishing


that


purpose


than


ancient


drama.


says


that


Collier


gives


the World


a false


alarm,


and endeavours


to set


upon
that


those as Subverters


have with


in their


service,


abundance


and rack'd


of Religion


art and
their


and Morality,
pains labour'd


Inventions


Weave


into


most


popular


diversions


and make


even


Luxury


and Pleasure


servient


and instrumental


to the establish
confirmation of


hment


of Moral


Virtuous


- __ -


Principle s,
j. *


Kesou ions.


and the


In trying


to show


that


many


of the modern


playwrights


achieved


this


moral


end,


Drake


carefully


distinguishes


between


tragedy,


. 1).


Surveyed












the moral


"Parts"


a play:


The Parts
of the Pla


and the


therefore
y appear,


Discou


rse.


a Play,


in which


are the Fable, the
Of these the Fable


the Morals
Characters,


Tragedy


especially
principal


purg


examples


Usurpation,


is the


Instrument


laying


the mi
Pride,


most


considerable


by which
before


serable


Cruelty,


the Passions


the Eyes


Catastrophe


. and the


are weeded


Spectators


Tyranny,


and Ambition,


crown
punish


suffering


the unjust


Virtue


with


Oppressors


cess


and Reward,


of it with


or to


Ruine


Destruction.


a similar


manner


comedy


corrects


"Knaves,


Misers,


Sots


, Coquets,


Fops


Jilts


and Cullies


. by


rendring


'em unsuccessful


, and submit-


ting


them


in her Fable,


to the Practices


and Stratagems


of others


after


such


a manner,


as to


expose


both


Knavery,


Vanity,


and Affectation,


in the conclusion,


or winding


" Drake


feels


that


the audience


will


heap


their


"Scorn


and Derision"


upon


these


vain,


affected


fools


seeing


ridiculous


they


appear


on stage.


In this


comedy


"stops


the contagion,


prevents


imitation


more


effectually


than


even


Philosophy


herself


"Fable"


(plot


or \story)


important


Drake because

he calls "the


was,


or ever


it employs

highest, a

can be made


poetic


justice


nd the most

of the Dram


expresses


serviceable


the "Moral


improvement


effort


that


throughout


which


ever

this


work


to show


that


the moral


aspect


of plays


is of


Modern


Extraction"


and particularly


part


of the tradition


of English


Drama,


and therefore


strongly


attempts


evident


prove


in the plays


what


says


Collier


attacks.


discounting


He is persistent


Collier


in his


, citing











Thus,


it is apparent


that


writers


in all three


of these


groups


chose


to recognize


the moral


purpose of


the drama


as basic


cri-


tical


understanding


of it.


Upon


this


point


their


defenses


agreed


with


Collier


troversy.


and established


contemporary


But for the defenders


of the


grounds


stage,


for the critical


the best


con-


playwrights


the Restoration


period


wove


their


Christian


ethic


into


the fabric


their


capable


plays


, to be enjoyed,


of judging


the beauty,


evaluated,


lasting


and used


quality,


those


and utility


were


of the


material.


That


the defenders


and Collier


(along


with


other


attackers)


parted


ways


comes


as no surprise


when


Collier's


arguments


and inter-


pretations


are examined


views


provided


ample


opportunity


for sharp


critical


reactions


which


should


further


our understanding


of those


"smutty"


Restoration


plays.














NOTES


therefore,


1Rather
perhaps


ironically,


less


there


interest


seems


to be


the moral


an acceptance


nature


of (and,


of tragedy.


However,


Eric


Rothstein's


recent


ideas


about


poetic


justice


in his book,


Restoration


Tragedy:


Form and


Process


of Change


(Madison:


University of Wisconsin Press,
of the moral perspective which


1967),
modern


exemplify
critics s


a rather


confusing view


ee in tragedy.


discussion


vances


see Aubrey


of Providence,
546-547.


Williams'


article,


and the Works


"Poetical


of William


Justi


Congreve,


the Contri-


ELH,


35(1968),


George


Farquhar


(New


York:


Twayne Publishers,


Inc.


, 1967),


Russell,


3The
Inc. ,


Comedy of
1962), p.


Manners


(1931;


rpt.


York:


Russell


282.


Wyche
1959)


The First
and Congrea


. 3-4


Modern


ve (


Holland


Comedies:


Cambridge,


also


cites


Mass.
modern


Signific
Harvard
critics


ance of Et
University


in his


her


Press


esti-


nation,


regard


Restoration


comedy


as amoral


259n.)


Malcolm Elwin,


Playgoer's


Handbook


to Restoration


Drama;


Henry


Adams


and B


axter


Hathaway,


"High


Dramatic


Comedy


in Terms


says


of the


Neoclassic


of Restoration


Practice,


Bartholow


11


8(1929)


V. Crawford,
: and Willard


Smith, Th
The Ethos


1971
Lamb


), p 4,
through


.e Nature


Comedy.


of Restoration


that
John


"the


Ross


Comedy


amoral


Palmer


(Urbana:


line


S. to Kathl


Schneider,


University


criticism


een


Lynch


runs


(The


says


of I
from


Social


in hi


llinois


book
Press


[Charles]


Mode


Restoration


Comedy,


York,


1926).


5Wycherley s


Satire
makes


(New
the s


Haven:


ame


kind


Yal
of


Drama: A Link in the
.e University Press, 1i


separation


between


,"'1


Development


965),
morals


English


1. L. C. Knights
and literary


criticism


in "Restoration


Comedy:


Reality


and the


Myth,


" Explor-


nations


Criti


(London,


cism,


1946


ed. John


); rpt
Loftis


in Restoration


(New


York:


Drama:


Oxford


Modern


University


Pres


ays in
s, 1966)


6Comedy


Conscience


, after the


Restoration


(1924;


rpt.


York:


Russell


& Russell,


1967)


Also


see p.


From Puritanism


RPl i i ntmi


Thoniht


within


tI l I


to the Age of Reason:
P Church of Enaland 1


A Study of
660 to 1700


Changes


I


,ondon:


Age;


I











9
Fussell,


pp. 11,


10Edward Arber


Number


vii.


for
Arber


Easter


says


Term,
that,


, The Term C
1711 A.D.,
based on the


atalogues,
III (London
writings,


1668-1709 A.D. with a
: Edward Arber, 1906),


the "Age


was


eminently


sober


one.


with much


The general
philosophical


11Irne


Tillotson,


Simon,


ecte


tone


of its books


Enquiry,

Three Re


ermons


and deep


-storation


(Paris:


was deeply


research

Divines:


Socidt6


religious;


into


Barr


Edition


mingled


Nature.


ow, South,
Les Belles


Lettres,


" 1967),


Arber,


III,


vii.


13Cragg,


From Puritanism


to the


Reason,


14Williams,


William


servation
Congreve


"Poetical
connection


demonstrate


Justice,


with


" 544.


argument


providential


Professor


that


Williams


makes


the works


order in human


event


that


is fully


analogous


to the greater world


of providential


order


insisted


upon
upon


not


only


contemporary


contemporary


literary


Anglican
critics


theologians


but also


as a fundamental


insisted


dramatic


principle.


Zimbardo,


been


press


ented


recently


An equally
Virginia Od


inaccurate


Bird


sall,


view


in


of morality
Wild Civilit


The En
Univer
heroes


do with


lish


sity
(and


Comic
Press,
heroin


Spirit
1970) ,


conventional


on the
p. 8.


"create
morals .


Restoration
She maintain


their


Stage
s that


own morality


Confronted


(Bloomington:
Restoration


which


with


Indiana
comic


has little


a world


which


lacks


sense


of cosmic


has committed


they make
orthodox


the authors


ment


with


itself


their


literary


orderlines
to civil


spirit


and abstract


zed forms


prevail.


and Chri


themselves
e Christian


stian


moral


largely


certainty


derivative


see a "new morality"


tradition


see as orthodox


world


-view negl


being


espoused


and which


and hollow,
outside


plays


an age fundamentally


ects


much


contemporary


which
agree-


evidence


and requires,


think,


creative


readings


the plays.


chneider,


viii.


Prof


essor


Schneider


points


out that


view
been
subj


Restoration


difficult


comedy


to fit "into


as repres


tentative


the existing


the Chri


structures


stian


ideas


ethic
on the


17palmer


18Schneider,


pp. 4-12.


, V,











20Palmer,

211bid.,


282.


288-289


291.


22A Short View of the
Together with a Sense of


Immorality
Antiquity


Profaneness


upon this


Argume


of the Engl
;nt (London,


Stage,
1698),


23The Campai
Works of John Dennis,
Hopkins University Pr
DD. 4-5.


gners
ed.
ess,


(London,


Edward
1939),


1698),


preface,


Hooker,


A Defence


Critical


(Baltimore:


of Plays


Johns


(London,


1707)


Jeremy


Heldt,


Collier


Chronological and


s Angri


Criti


ff auf de
cal Review


english


BUhne,


cited


the Appreciation


Condemnation


of the


Comic


Dramatists


of the Re


storation


and Oran


Periods


" Neophilologus


(1923),


(New


Haven


5The
: Ya


Critical


Univer


Works of
sity Pres


Thomas Rymer,
s, 1956), p.


Curt


Zimansky


6The


York:


Jeremy


Benj amin


Collier


Blom,


Stage


1966)


Controversy
296-297.


1698-1726


(1937


rpt.


criti


to Peter
preface


genia" (1
1700). D
and later
(London,


7Though
zes his


Motteux"
to Fables


1-41)


Dryden
attack


fixed


cient


not write


in each


a complete


of the following


to Beauty
nd Modern


in Fabl


'Urfey responded


in the
1709).


prologue
Congreve


in Distr
(London,


epilogue


in a rather
and epilogue


responded


long


wit


*ess


response
: "Poeti
(London,


1700),
to The


preface


to The
h his


"Cymon
Pilgrim


to The


Old Mode
Amendment s


to Colli


cal Epistle
1698), the


and Iphi-
(London,


Campaigners


and the New
of Mr. Collier's


False and


Imperfect


Citations


(London,


1698),


and Vanbrugh


answered


with


from


his A Short
Immorality


Vindication


Profaneness


"The


Rela


(London,


pse" and
1698).


"The


Provok


Wife,


28Peter


Motteux


responded


including


Father


Caffaro's


letter,


Dryden's
Himself,'
Distress.


"Poetical


and a criti
Charles Gi


Epistle,


own


cal prologue


Idon


defended


poem,


"The Poet's


and epilogue with


stage


in the


Chara
play


cter


Beauty


eface to Phaeton


(London, 1698)
dedicatory epi
of His Mail (L
The Usefulness


, The
style
ondon


Stage-B
to The P
, 1719).


of the Stage


eaux


'atriot (Londo


Dennis
(London,


in a Blanket
n, 1703), an


took


part


1698)


in the
Person


(London,


d The


1704),


Post-Man


Robb


controversy with


Quality's


Answer


to Mr.
Italian


Collier's


Letter


(London,


(London,
1706), a


1704),


An Essay


md The Stage


Defe


on the Operah
nded (London,


After
1726).


I *


a


ish


Manner


T:l 1 _


n-


1 1 'I *


^ r"


/"


II*


t


I


#--












1700).


Colley


Gibber


defended


stage


in the dedicatory


epistle


Love Makes a N


Love Makes apology
and An Apology


also


1718). Ge
of Venice
Adventures


(London,
Thomas


have
George


(London,


1700) ,


for the Life of Mr.
had Collier in mind
Granville sunoorted


(London,
of Coven


1702),


Brown


1701).
t Garden


L*
George F
(London


and the preface


struck


at Collier


the prologue


Colley


in
t

n


to Xerxes


Gibber


I his play


stage


ge Farquhar
ndon, 1698),
to The Twin
in Letters f


(London,


London,
1740);


Non-Juror


in the epilogue


defended


A Discourse
Rivals


from


stage
Upon


(London,


the Dead


1699),
he


(London,
to The Jew
in The
Comedy


1702).


to the


Living


(London,
Baker r


1702)


responded


and A Legacy
in the de


for the


dedicatory


Ladies


epistle


(London,


1706).


to An Act at


Thomas


Oxford


(London,


1704)


9The


A. H.
Stage
1698)


English


from the
addition,


1699);


(London,
of Plays


Esq.; C
(London,


Some


anonymous


Concerning


1698),


Remarks


Stage (
Shades


John


James


London,


the
The


defenses


of the


Stage (London,
Immorality of


Upon Mr.
1698),


(London,
Oldmixon


Drake


1699); a
(London,


Collier's


1704),


stage i
1698),


f the E
Defence


The Stage Ac
and Concio


responded


answered


nd Edward


in The
Filmer


include:


Vindication


Pulpit


English


Acquitted


Laici


in Reflection


Antient


tried


Letter to
ion of the
(London,


of His Short View of the
(London, 1699), Visits


(London,


s on the
Modern S


to correct


1704.


Stage (London,
tages Survey'd


Collier


in A


Defence


1707).


30"A Short


View


of Jeremy


Collier,


English,


7(1949)


31Congreve,


in his Amendments


of Mr.


Collier


s False and


Imper-


fect Citations,
Summers (London:


in The
The


Complete
Nonesuch


Works of Wi
Press, 1923),


William


III,


Congreve,


171,


says


ed. Montague


that


he has


Intention


Collier's


to examine


Book.


D'Urfey


all the Absurdities


spends


nearly


half


and Falsehoods
of his defense


in Mr.
in the


Campaigners


preface to The Camp
in his Vindication,


in The


discussing
Complete W


his play,


Works


Don Quixote.


of Sir John


Vanbrugh,


lanbrugh,
eds.


Bonamy


Dobr6e


and Geoffrey


Webb


(Bloomsbury:


The Nonesuch


1927),


195-196


feels


that


personal


morals


are in


question


and limits


his defense


defense


while


to those


saying


attacks
he will


on his plays.


not in his


And Dryden,


preface


to Fables,


who makes


in Dryden's


Dramatic
M. Dent


Poesy and other Critical
:Sons, Ltd., 1962), II,


Essays,


293,


says


ed. Geor


"Yet


Watson


were


(London:


not difficult


prove


that


many


places


and interpreted my words
not guilty."


into


he has


perverted


blasphemy


my meaning


and bawdry


an ing by
of which


losses,


were


32Dryden,


the "religious


though


lawyer"


answers


in his poetic


Collier
epistle


only


briefly,


to Motteux


criti


and then


cizes


defends


the moral


purpose


tragedy:











Tragedy"


(1679),


in E


says,


245-246,


and his preface


to Tyrannic


Love


(1670),


in Essays,


I. 138-139.


33Works,

34Essays


an accurate


III,


view


173.


146-147 &
Dryden's


His definition


151-152.


moral


continues


Also


intention


on 174.


important
in comedy


in arriving


is "The


Author's


Apology


for Heroic


Poetry


and Poetic


Licence,


in Essays,


199.


35Comedy

Essays

37Works,


Conscience,


, 152.


195.


3The


Campaigners,


preface,


39Though many


critics


have


identified


this


play


as Thomas


Brown's,
entation


Literature
Research,


James


copy


Fullerton Arnott


which


1559-1900


proves


Gildon


and John


to be


A Bibliography


William Robinson


the author.


(London:


cite


English


The Society


a pres-


Theatrical
for Theatre


1970),


example


is Farquhar's


The Adventures


Covent-Garden,


in Works,
the Stage"


207,


and mentions


refers


Collier,


to the "Battle


Vanbrugh,


between


Congreve,


the Church


Settle,


Dryden,


and Wycherley.


Dennis


Quality's
the zeal


Answer


Criti


to Mr.


and the danger


cal Works,
Collier's


of Collier


better


. Here,
(1704),


in The
Dennis


Person
attacks


of
both


s methods.


42Phaeton,

43Beauty i

4Works, I


preface.


Distress,


343.


45A Farther

46A Defence,


Defence


, p.


71-72.


Ibid.,


48Critical


Works,


153.


40An












51John
Houghton Mifflin
of Drama in the
pp. 238-239.


Harold Wils
Company, 1
Restoration


on, A
965),


Preface


p.


Period


Restoratio


Also,


(Bombay:


Sarup


Orient


n Drama
Singh,


Longmans,


(Boston:


The
196


Theory


52Oldmixon


(1700)


[this


was


wrote


an opera],


Amintas


(169


the first


8), The Grove or,
act of The Novelty


Love


s Paradice


(1697)


which


was entitled
Filmer wrote


called
Drake


The
wrote


U


the perform


Thyrsis:
The Unnat
unfortunate


A Pastoral,


ural


Brother


Couple


The Sham Lawyer;
since information


and The
(1697)


and used


or,
in Th


Governor


which


(1703).


Motteux


as the fourth


The Lucky
ie London I


Extravagan


Stage,


none


Cyprus
adapt


act of The
t (1697).


these


and
Novelty.


From
plays


could


be considered


successful.


53Evidence


controversy


for this


as an anonymo


view may
us critic


include
feeling


Settle's


that


attempt


positi


to enter
on as a


maj or


playwright


would


make


his defenses


look


less


ective


to the


reader.


54pp.


2-3.


55Fussell,


70ff.


6Visits,


57p.
p.


8Ibid.


, pp.


76-77


86-87.


18 &


60Ibid. ,
Ibid.,


Vindication


of the


Stage


(London,


1698)


62Ibid.,


25-26.


63p
p.


100 &


165.


write


like


Ibid.,
a good


167.


man


Oldmi


xon


because


also


says


"that


to instruct


a goo


as well


Poet


must


as please"


66Ibid., pp


139-140.


. 15.


I


C


64pp.











69Filmer,

70Ibid.,


preface


(The


entire


preface


is in italics,


which


have


removed


in my


quotations,)


71pp.


their
Poet


attempts


can't


offendin


117-118.


Drake


to follow nature


trespass
against t


against
e Laws


compares


points


Laws


poet


out,


Morality


and the painter


in part,
in this


that


nature,


"a Comick


without


own Art.


'mIbid.,

73Ibid.,

74Ibid.,


120 &

123 &


224.

122.


229-230.
















CHAPTER


ARTISTRY


JUDGMENT


TEACHING VIRTUE


BY EXPOSING


VICE


For Collier,


as for others,


the theatres


were


veritable


Syna-


gogues


of Satan,


to be entered


Christians


only


at the


greatest


risk


to their


souls.


Who would


dare


attend


these


gathering


places


of vice,


where


appearance,


language,


and actions


the characters,


not to


mention


the themes


enticing


them


the plays,


toward


were


sin and turning


intended


them away


to imperil


from


men's


God?


souls


What


danger


a playhouse


afforded:


a Place


seriousness


where


Impertinen


Thinking
t. Here


out of


our Reason


Doors,
is apt


surpri


our Caution


disarmed;


Here


Vice


stands


upon


Pres


cription,


and Lewdness


claims


Priv-


to Solicit.


Nay,


very


Parad


the Gaity,


and Pleasure


the Company,


not without


its dan


ger:


These
lively


Circumstances


Action,


height


and airy


Musick


with


Luscious


are very


Dialogue,


likely


to make


an unserviceable


Impression.


we sit in the


Seat
sion,
leave


of the


Scornfull,


Providence
us to the


and make


sure


we may


Government


Wikedness


will


of another


our Diver-


withdraw, a
Influence.


Collier's


Platonic


fear


that man


will


be "disarm'd"


and debauched


the playhouse


comes


partly


from not


knowing man


least


as the Chris-


tian


humanists


knew


him)


and partly


from not


understanding


the pl


ays.


He does


not


even


allow


the audience


same


ability


he feels


he has:


see,


to judge,


and to reject


the "evil"


stage.


reason,


probably,


is that


the audience was


not rejecting


stage


, for while


they


saw












From


these


critics


who could


judge


the plays,


a theory


drama


begins


emerge


in their


responses


to Collier's


attitudes


about


presentation


of characters


on stage.


These


responses


show


that


Collier's


thoughts


about


characterizations


as well


as his corollary


dis-


cus sons

religious


about


of the nature

aberrations w


Restoration


drama


of man


which


and Christian


have,


for nearly


morality


unfortunately,


three


are


dominated


centuries.


literary


much


Collier's


thinking

opinions


triggered


similar


and at times


even more


unorthodox views


of the


stage


from


pens


of journalist


George


Ridpath


and clergymen


Arthur


Bedford


and William Law


during


own


time.


influence


later


affected


critics


like


Samuel


Johnson


and Thomas


Macaulay


in their


reactions


Restoration


drama.


3 More


recently


critics


have


accepted


Collier's


label


of the plays


as immoral,


but have


either


tried


to justify


the immorality


(usually


as reflective


consideration

to Collier, a


of the times)


in understanding


11 of these reactions


or to dismiss


or evaluating


fail


as an unimportant


the plays.


to recognize


By yielding


the proper moral


purpose


observations


success


of the drama.


of character


(especially


Hopefully,


as related


examining

to immoral


Collier


or profane


language

nesses o

moral in


or actions)


f Collier'

tensions,


in light

dramatic


of the best


of his

theory


contemporary


critics,


and the strengths,


Restoration


playwrights


the weak-


including


will


be obvious.


In setting


out to


prove


that


"nothing


gone


farther


Debauching


the Age


than


the Stage-Poets,


and the Play-House,


" Collier












of Debauchery.


" Most


of his specific


examples


here


are women


forced


to "speak


Smuttily"


poets,


and thus


exhibit


the immodesty


which


he finds


so offensive.


Throughout


Short


View


he badgers


female


characters


and members


the audience,


as well


as actresses,


exhibiting


that


"Modesty"


which


says


"is the distinguishin


Virtue


of that


Sex,


serves


both


for Ornament


and Defence:


Mode


sty was


designed


Providence


as a Guard


to Virtue.


goes


on to call


desty


natural,


"wrought


into


the Mechanism of


the Body


as a kind


"Intuitive


knowledge,


" which


responds


to indecency


sudden


Instinct


and Aversion.


" To this


comment


Edward


Filmer


later


responded:


ever


looked


upon


great


Modesty


of the generality


our Women,


to have


been


the happy


Effect


rather


a pious,


careful,


wary


Education,


than


any thing


in the Contexture


of their


Bodies.


But Collier


observation


that


modesty


an instinctive


"Mechanism"


which


guards


natural


virtue


the danger


of the


women

stage.


is consistent

Ironically,


with hi

though,


.s view


his


of man's


view


nature


women


certain-


shows


no dependence on


the anti-feminist


attitudes


many


of the


Church


Fathers


are such


valuable


authorities


for him


later


in A


Short


View.


They


course,


saw women


as descendants


of Eve,


con-


sequently


closely


linked


to Satan


(through


deceit


and lust)


as instru-


mental


man's


fall.


But for Collier


the Fathers'


emphasis


on original


sin could


only weaken


position


that


women


are corrupted


theatre.


.1 1


C


1


- -r-


are


mo-


ml


m


t--


I*












women;


he is opposed


criticism


of people


of "Quality"


or men


the clergy.


In each


case


he is unable


see that


a playwright


only


be striking


at the


women


, people


of rank,


and clergymen who


foolish


or wicked.


His logic


leads


to conclude


that


stage


poets


"bring


Women


under


such


Misbehavior"


as to do "Violence


to their


Native Modesty"


and misrepresent


their


sex,


"give


Title


and Figure


Ill Manners


" and "attack


Religion


under


every


Form,


pursue


Priesthood


through


all the Subdivisions


of Opinion.


For Collier,


members


of the female


sex are disparaged


when


one of them


speaks


upon


stage.


Likewise,


a playwright


need


only


represent


one Lord


Foppington


for him


see the


entire


class


of noblemen


ridi-


culed


as fools.


As for the clergy


says


that


the playwrights


attack


not only


every


clergyman


every


religion,


but religion


and,


ultimately,


God himself.


Indeed,


this


eneralizing


of poetic


intent


part


of his


apparent


plan


win


a broad


following,


as the


next


chapter


will


attempt


to show.


grouping


those


sees


attacked \in


plays,


he hopes


arouse


a boycott


stage,


as well


as active


voices


to help


close


down


the theatres.


But when


he shows


these


groups


are abused,


does


not merely


focus


on the ill


manners


or immodesty


with


which


they


are represented.


Knowing


the value


his readers


place


upon


religion,


tries


to show


poets


go beyond


indecency


to immorality


pro-


fanity


in their


presentation


of characters.


Thus,


argues


they


bring


evil


on the


stage


for imitation


in order


to abuse


those


beliefs which


are


"Smuttily"












agreeing with


Collier


about


the value


(though


not


the inherence)


modesty


a woman:


For my


part


am wholly


of his


mind;


think


almost t


as valuable


a Woman


as in


a Clergyman


and had I


the ruling


of the Roast,


one should


neither


have


a Husband,


nor the


other


Benefice


without


But the "Relapser"1


goes


on to


that


Collier


fails


to explain Miss


Hoyden's


immodesty


in The


Relapse or


the reference


in The


Provok


Wife


which


seems


to discountenancee


Modesty


in Woman.


quotes


the questionable


passage


from


Provok


Wife--an


inter-


change


between Bellinda


and Lady


Brute


labelling women's


modesty


as af-


fectation


and seemingly


undesirable--in


an attempt


to clarify


position


and what


he felt


the audience's


reaction


would


After


pointing


out that


neither


of these


women


are over


Virtuous,


" and


there-


fore


less


modest


than


an ideal,


he shows


even


they


recognize


convey


to the audience


But lest


ideals


some


this


to be
part


in the

[that


imitated]


same


scenes


Bellinda


showed


of the Audience,


the value


and Lady
possibly


less


Brut


of modesty:

e are not


be mistaken


apprehensive


Right


and Wrong


at the same


their
'twas


Modesty,


than


Instant,


they


impossible


thing more


likely


That


lose


to put t
to make


rest,
(with
their


they


are put


the Men)
Charms:


Ladies


in mind


if th


ey quit
thought


in mind


em preserve


Again,


however,


Vanbrugh


(unlike


Collier)


assumes


that


the audience


will


be able


to understand


and judge


characters


for the ideas


which


they


present.


Similarly,


Congreve


defends


his portrayals


of Belinda


in The


Bachelor


and Miss


Prue


-a-..


Love for Love


effective


in showing


own


b- &^


Vj _J- %


UJ












the Impudence


one,


or the Affectation of


the other;


and whether


they


are not


both


ridiculed


rather


than


recommended.


Quite


obviously


feels


the audience


is capable


of understanding his


moral


intentions


even


though


Collier


sees


here


only


models


for immodesty


after which


women


of the audience will


pattern


their


behavior.


Of those


playwrights


directly


attacked


in A Short View,


Dennis


presents


Person


an excellent


Quality'


Answer


discussion


to Mr.


of women


Collier's


in his satiric


Letter,


letter,


Being


Disswasive


from the


Play-House


(1704).


In this


work


the "Person


daughter


calls


the theatre


the most


innocent


and valuable


diversion


which


town


affords


the ladies:


True,
which
think


Sir,


there


could


the Virtue


are


Passages


heartily wish


in some


were


out.


of the Ladies,


f our Plays,
But does he


frequent


Houses,


is so very weak,


as to be o'erthrown


Lusciousn


ess,


Entendres?


find


as he calls


What,


on the Stage,


have


a Scribler's


so many


great


so many noble


Examples
generous


Double
as we
Senti-


ments,
these


so accompli
no manner of


sh'd


Patterns


Power


rouze


Virtue;


have


, to strengthen


inflame


our Virtue?


happen


to find


themselves


infirm,


as this


worthy


S. let them,


our Theatres.


But I


Reformer
in God's


find


appears


Name,


no such


own that


keep


scandalous


ay from
Weakness


about


me.


can despise


a Fool


thinks


to entertain


me with


sordid


playing


on Words;


but at the


same


time


can be entertained


with


Wit and good


Sense,


more wit
be both


the Inno


pleas 'd


cence


and mov'd


of true writ


with


Humour;


the excellent


and I
Scenes


an Instructive


Tragedy:


Does


this


judicious


Person


really


believe,


that


the Conversations


which


we find


the World


are Virtue


and Purity


all?


The Food


of the


Mind,


like


that


of the Body,


not all of it fit for


Quality's"


can


_


__


--w











take
same


their


time


his noble


a Protestant


can secure


leaves
I would
Patrons


Nunnery


them.


of the Play-House.


advise


Collier


of the Reforming


for them,


For th


Club


But at the


rsuade


to erect


less


so strain


for nothing
are found


ly wea
can th


as to be warm'd


ever


stand


a meer


against


the real


painted


Flame


Fire
s of


how
Love?12


Here,


Dennis


clearly


defends


the women


attend


ays by


questioning


Collier


s limited


view


of how people


learn.


defense


not only


jects


Collier's


attitude


toward


women


in the audience


suggests


everyone


in the audience


can be moved


and instructed


rather


than


cor-


rupted


a play.


Responses


from


those writers


were


not primarily


playwrights


also


attacked


Collier's


attitudes


toward


women.


anonymous


author


Acquitted


(1699)


defends


the speech


and actions


women


stage:


"The Manners


our Stage


follows


the Manners


our Country,


no more


Immodest


in making


Women


talk


of Love


there,


than


are really


guilty


of Immodesty


in those


discourses


in Conversation.


Like


Vanbrugh's,


this


defense


is meant


to emphasize


the playwrights'


use


of the


women


stage


stage


in England,


becomes


as a mirror;


this


instructive


seeing


critic

through


is able


use


women


on stage


on and explain


of characters


as examples


how the


"Folly and


Falsehood"


are presented


to the audience,


not in bare


plain


the Sta


terms


and visible


when


which


ress,


you meet


wan t


a comment,


that


them


know


every day


in so


them


your


Conver


station,


inclinations


or in your
or practice;


Negotiations,


so that


after


in your


own


the Spectator


has been


shown


the lively


draught


of Folly


4 -. 4 4I 4


re-


and '


or Hearer


Stage


* *













degrade


the female


sex.


Such


characters


are there


to entertain


instruct


revelation


of all


too human


weakness


and folly.


James


Drake


also


discounts


Collier's


attack


on the playwrights


for allowing


their women


to act and speak


immodestly


on stage.


Collier


used


Rapin's


observation


that modesty


is the character


women


order


Drake


women


to emphasize


shows


what


Collier


on stage


using


monstrous


s reasoning


a statement


creatures


distorts


the playwrights


the effect


from Aristotle


similar


had created.


of immodest


to Rapin' s :


Aristotle


given


Characteristick


Courage


or Mark


or Valour


of distinction


as the
proper


the other


[men]


which


was a notion


so Antient,


and so universally


received,


that


most


Nations


have


given i
to it.
Manners
Cowards


a denomination


'tis


to represent


nor


from


the Sex,


no Solecism


sometimes


man


ever


as if peculiar


in Poetical


upon


think


the S
whole


tage


affronted


y it;


how near


soever


it might


touch


some


Individuals.


If the Poets


these


Women


of Liberty


the Representatives


to make


them Standards


their whole
to measure


Sex,


all the


or pretended


rest


the Sex wou'd


have


just


reason


to complain


abusive


a Misrepresentation.


'tis


just


contrary,
Vices of


the Sex has no Interest


any Individual,


either


in the Virtues


on the Stage,


or off


of it;


they


reflect


no honour


or disgrace


on the


Collective
Breeding o
Manners of


more


Body,


the Court


Billingsgate,


than


affect


the Neatness


the Nastiness


or are affected


and good
and ill
,~- 15


As Drake


argues,


the immodest


women


on stage


not represent


women


are not to be imitated;


rather,


they


are to be judged


as inferior


to those


standards


of decorum and


morality which


they


set off by


con-


1 a .9 1< r. 1


S11


'I .4


1


~












More


generally


concerned


with


people


of rank


than


with


women,


Collier


thought


that


the playwrights


should


"lash


the Vice


without


pointing


upon


the Quality,


" because


representing


them


as flawed


showed


a lack


proper


social


respect


was dangerous,


for the audience


would


then


imitate


the flaws.


Among


those


who took


issue


with


Collier's


comments


on the language


used


characters


, Vanbrugh


indi-


cates


that


Collier's


attack


on swearing


in his plays


is found


upon


philo


sophy


quite


different


from his


own,


Vanbrugh


is less concerned


with


"whether


such


Words


are entirely


justifiable


or not,


because


is sure


"That


People


of the Nicest


Rank


both


in their


Reli


ion and their


Manners


throughout


Christendom


use


Obviously,


the "Nicest


Rank"


does


not protect


individuals


from


the faults


of all


men.


Those who


thought


rank


could


remove


or mask


sin needed


to be reminded


that


their


fellow


Christians


scrutinized


speech


and actions


as well


as appearance


before


passing judgment.


Because


the audience


was largely


made


women


high


social


position


those wealthy


enough


to think


they


were)


the instructive


value


here


seems


clear:


the people


"quality"


must


not only


possess


social


rank


to be favorably


regarded;


they must


also


exhibit


those


qualities


which


befit


their


rank.


How-


ever,


as Congreve


suggests


Collier wishes


to protect


"Persons


Quality"


allowing neither


"their


Follies


nor their


Vices


to be


on stage.


Collier


s opinion


was


that


if people


of rank


appeared


foolish


or wicked,


the audience,


taking


them


as examples


men


ex-











further


expose


the vice


and lower


the audience's


opinion


of the vicious


characters


no matter what


their


rank.


As he replies


to Collier,


"When


Vice


shall


be allowed


as an Indication


of Quality


and good


Breeding,


then


also


in Quality:


pass


But till


a piece


then,


of good


humbly


Breeding


conceive,


to complement


that


expose


Vice


and ridi-


cule


will


altogether


do as well


For Congreve,


"Quality"


could


not hide


vice,


but through


exposure


on the


stage,


vice might


be turned


to virtue.


Speaking


for the playwrights,


John


Dennis


elaborates


upon


motives


for bringing


the nobility


upon


stage


for criticism:


a Lord


capable


of committing


Extravagancies


as well


as another


Man,


should


Collier


endeavour


to persuade


that


he is above


should


he would
he grows
tastick,
oblig'd


For since


hinder


imp ly,


that


extravagant,


from


bein


a Commoner may


but that


is altogether


to Mr. Collier


when


reclaimed?
be correct


a Lord


incorrigible.


any more


the bare Advantage


than
their


the Peer


rows


Unless


when
fan-


are we
s are.


Condition


makes


some


them


already


grow


almost


insupportable,


should


one endeavour


to add to their


Vanity


, by


exempting


them from


common


sure


Besid


Follies
most co


of the
nspicuo


since
Great
us and


Follies
are the
most co


to


fittest
ntagious


be exposed, t
, as being the


our Comick


resp
very


Poets


our Nobility more


well that


their


Titles


I dare
than th


illu


engage
ey do:


state


that
They


their


no Men
know


Merit,


and adorn


their


are such whose


Virtue;
Follies


but that
and whose


those whom


Vices render


they


expose,


their


Titl
more


ridiculous:


than


as well


falls


rest


as Vi


not


upon


And yet


of the


is pers


that


King


onal,


the Order of


they


expose


s Subjects.


and the
n out of


Satyr
which


them no


For Folly,
of Comedy
h the


1 -


* 1 Irfl


1


-1 1 n











For as the


greatest


and best


part


our Audience


are Quality,


we would make


our Comedies


Ins truc-


tive
Vices


in the exposing


at Wapping


of Vice,


to mend


we must


the Faults


not lash


at Westminster.


And as the


Instructive


Design


the Play must


look


as well


to the Cautioning


Virtue


from


ensnaring


Vice


Conv


it sel


a Person


ersation of V
f. Thus the
t and Honour,


rice,
Court


as [to] th
Libertine


and have
2 ve


all the


e lashing
must be


accom-


plishments


a Fine Gentleman.


many


of Collier's


opponents


suggest,


seems


odd that


a priest


would


defend


the privilege


of rank,


for as a Christian


leader,


he should


sume


men


capable


of sinful


actions


and speech.


Remarks


that


from


Collier misreads


critics


the effect


anonymous


a vicious


writers


or foolish


generally

character


agree

of rank


will


have


on an audience.


The author


of A Letter


H. Esq


. (1698),


for example,


tries


to show


that


the audience


is not swept


a feeling


that


"every


foolish Peer who


is brought


on the Stage"


mus t


seen


Reflection


of all


the Men of Condition":


'Tis
Vice


absurd


to make


in a particular


no distinction;


Man,


cou'd


as if


not be


a particular


expos


without


a designed


Reflection


on all who belong


to him.


ought


to touch


no bod


but whom


concerns;


and it


has its end,


it reclaims


where


was d


esign'd


prevents o
the Design


others,


of Comedy


shewing
23


the Dan


ger:


And this is


Thus,


far from serving


as model


representations


a class,


the Lord


Foppingtons


and Lady


Wishforts


were


seen


as disgusting,


and therefore


structive,


characters


Collier


s opponents.


Their mistakes


on stage


could


forewarn


those


susceptible


to similar


faults


while


showing others


1.'-


as-












seems


so sharp


it is difficult


to imagine


how Collier might


have


answered


effectively.


He begins


saying


that


Birth


or any


other


Chance


should make


a Lord


a Fool"


the other nobles


should


feel


guilty


or abused


unless


poets


"presume


to make


such


a one the


Representative


of his Order,


propose


him as


a common


Standard.


Drake


also


suggests


that


it would


be wrong


and dangerous


to "character-


too nearly


and particularly


of those


Noble


Persons.


But while
Persons,
pressing


singling
of what


self


Poet


and copies


upon


contents
closely


her in her


out Individuals


Quality


hims


after


private
from th


or Employment


elf with


Nature,
recesses


eign'd
without
and


herd,


soever,


in the representation,


fancies
let him


him-
spoil


the Picture


to be


by mending


blam'd


for the


the Original.
Resemblance.


For he only
If Men of


Honour
Virtues


a pretty


and Abilities


upon


sure


and Reverence


their
sign
that


cou'd


entail


Posterity,
of Personal


was


paid


their


then


Worth,


to the


Wisdom


a Title


wou'd


and the Respect


Founders


honourable


the heir


Families
one shou


ought


to follow


heir


the E


t'other


state
24


Collier was


incensed


that


a member


of the clergy


even


appears


on the stage,


especially


as a satirical


butt.


He devotes


an entire


chapter


of A Short View


an examination


of the abuses


of the clergy


on the


stage


, throughout


suggesting


that


the intention


and effect


showing


evil


or foolish men


of the cloth


to undermine


religion.


feels


that


"the


Holy


Function


the clergy]


is much


too Solemn


to be


play' d


with.


Christianity


is for


no Fooling,


neither


Place,


Occasion


nor


the Actors


are fit for such


a Representation.


To bring


Church


into


the Play-House.


is the


W y


to brine


the Play-House


into


, and


.. ,~


concerned













and Design.


" As he


sees


the playwrights'


"Aim


to destroy


Reli-


gion,


their


preaching


is against


Sermons.


response


Vanbrugh


cognizes


the "Holy


Function"


granting


that


the "Institution


of the


Clergy"


is "Both


in the Intention


and Capacity


most


effectual"


promoting


purpose


"the Practice


representing


of all Moral


the cler


Virtues.


gy through a


" But he


disguised


says


that


Sir John


Brute


(The


Provok


Wife,


was "to


the Audience


in mind,


that


there


were


Laymen


so wicked,


card


not what


they


did to bring


Religion


in Contempt,


were


therefore


always


ready


to throw


dirt


upon


Pilots


of it.


Obviously,


Vanbrugh


expects


the audience


to indict


the drunken Brute


(and


those


clergymen


would


similarly misuse


their


positions)


rather


than


religion,


the clergy,


or himself


as playwright.


Likewise,


deprecates

any Play e


such,


Congreve


anyone who


xpos 'd


his Character


has only


would


a Priest,


respect


ridicule th

as a Priest,


is ridiculous


for the office


ie priesthood:

and with an


will


of the clergy


Man has in


I intimation,


agree heartily


that


to condemn


both


the Play


and the Author.


am confident


no Man


can defend


such


Impiety;


and whoever


is guilty


of it,


Advice


to him


that


acknowledge


Congreve


his Error,


clarifies


that


the dramatic


repen t


of it and sin


intention


no more.


representing


clergymen


stage


by pointing


out what


Collier


should


have


been


keenly


aware


of--the


human


flaws


any man,


layman


or priest:


would


- -- --


ask Mr.


Collier whether


a Man,


I.--~~J -Ui- f


after
'--


re-


F%


" .. 1-1


L.


1











If he


found


to play


the Knave,


he is subject


to the Penalties


if he plays
the subject


of the Law,


the Fool,


Laughter


equally with


he is equally with


a Lay-man;
a Lay-fool,


Contempt.


this


Behaviour


the Man


becomes


alienated


from


the Priest;


separate


as such


very


Actions


far removed


are in their


from hi


own nature


function,


when


such


exposed,


a one


brought


the function;


on the S
the Man


tage,


the folly


ridiculed,


the Priest.


Such


sacred


a Character


Order


neither


esthood,


does


nor


neither


can asperse
does it at all


reflect


upon


as Ben


persons


Johnson


of the pious


observes


on the


and good


same


occas


Clergy:
ion from


Hierome,


where
Vice


Ubi generals
Ibi nullius e
the business


in general,


vitiis


sse
is


personae


expose


no particular


disputatio,


inj uriam,
and reprehend


person


ought


Folly


to take of-


fence.
Comedy


And
28


such business


is properly


the business


Congreve


asserts


not only


a Christian


humanist 's


view


man,


be


foolish


or vicious


no matter what


his office,


but also


a moral


purpose


exposing


flawed


clergymen


on stage.


even


uses


the twenty-sixth


of Religion"


to show


that


the church's


own laws


make


provisions


to locate,


and depose


"evil


Ministers.


Collier


s arguments


about


the clergy


reveal


both


inconsistencies


in logic


some


rather


unusual


views


man


for an apparently


devout


Christian.


priests


He spends


are different


ten


pages


from other


in A Short View


men


pointing


trying


to show


out "their


Relation


the Deity,


" "the


Importance


of their


Office,


" and


the "prescription


their


Privil


ege.


Thus,


while


he admits


that


"the


Clergy mismanage


"Article











though


"the


Clergy


have


their


Failings


sometimes


like others.


the Character


is still


untarnish'd.


The Men may


be Little


but the


Priests


are not


And therefore


like


other


People,


they


ought


to be


treated


their


best


Distinction.


He may


feel


this


a fine way


remove


the guilty


clergymen


from attack,


but he has


just


argued


length


that


the priests


are not


"like


other


People.


" First


seems


be saying


they


that


should not


the priests

be censured


are bette

. Then,


than


however


men not

. since


of the cloth;


evidence


thus,


contradicts


this


"fact"


in some


cases


he considers


the priests


equal


to other men--


though


they


still


must


be censured


and only


their


positive


attri-


butes


are to be represented.


implication


is that


men


are thus


to be judged


only


on their


"bes t


Distinction,


an attitude


Collier


certainly


forgets


when


evaluating


the playwrights.


A slightly


different


contradiction


appears


when


Collier


attempts


to defend


the clergy's


privilege


in his


Defence


of the Short


View.


In his reply


to Congreve


he explains


that


If you make


under
never


account
Civil,


the Man


a Knave,


the Imputation:


thought
Persons


ought


the Priest


a Fool


discreet


in Authority,


to be privileg'd


must


in his


in his Function.


whether


suffer


son,
Upon


will
this


Spiritual


from Abuse.


make


the Ministers


Laughter
renders


and
their


of Church
Contempt,
Commission


or State,
disables t


the subject


:heir


insignificant


Authority
32


But apparently


Collier was


confused


about


clergy


privilege,


for he later


defends


the acquisition


of "Riches


and Power"


the clergy


because


they


are so much


like most


men:











does


as ill with


a Priest,


as with


a Poet.


'Tis


to Sink


the Spirits,


to make


the Mind


grow


Anxious,


and Feeble


in the discharge


of Function.


Thus,


the images


of the priests


which


Collier


conveys


are contradictory:


image


depends


on a defense of


their


spiritual


nature which


should


keep


them


Immune


from


the critical


barbs


of other men;


the other


image


depends


on their very


human material


needs


and desires


which make


them


same


as other men.


Vanbrugh


focuses


on this


latter


image when


shows


how far


Collier


seems


to depart


from


some


obvious


Christian


amples


of self-denial


of worldly wealth


and position:


He is


Opinion,


That


Riches


and Plenty


Title


State an
Place fo
Apostles


d Dominion,


give


r it wherever


took


the thing


a Majesty
comes; Th


a


to Precept
t Christ a


the wrong Handle;


nd his
and that


the Pope and
in the Policy


his Cardinals


have


of Instruction.


much


That


refined


should


upon


a Vicar,


like St. John,


feed


on Locusts


and Wild


Honey,


Pari


wou'd


to cater


think


for them;


he had


and that


too ill


a taste


a Bishop,


who,


for himself,
like St.


Paul,
himself


should


decline


such an Ass


Temporal


Advice


Dominion,


wou'd


wou'd


shew


for nothing.


Congreve,


too,


says


that


own


respect


and admiration


for "many


Rever-


end Clergymen


now


living"


not due


to their


rank


or material


status


but to "their


Humility,


exceeded


their


their


Humanity,


Modesty;


their


their


exceeding Learning,


exemplary


Behaviour


which


in their


whole

Errors


Lives


and Conversations;


and Negligences,


their


their

father


Charitable C

y and tender


ensures,


of Youthfull


admonitions,


accom-


panyed


with


sweetness


of Behaviour;


and full


of mild


forcible


Perswasion.


one


ex-











with


the stage


also


saw problems


in his depiction


of the rights


privileges


clergymen.


Dennis,


like


Congreve,


emphasizes


"the way


a Clergyman

Advantages,


secure


which


himself


in him


from


is truly


Contempt,

ridiculous


is not to boa

but to shew


secular


his Meekness


and his Humility,


which


are true


Christian


Virtues.


The position


which


Collier


emphasizes


that


has elevated


they


the clergy


are still men


is depreciated


and certainly


James


not have


Drake,


as close


"Relation


to the Deity"


as A


Short View indicates.


suppose,


if Mr.


Collier's


Band


awry,


or his


Face


was dirty,


he would


use the


assistance


Glass
reject


to make


all right


use of


that


and clean.


which


then


might


same


does


office


for his mind,


management


and help
his Life?


to correct


case


the follies


is plain


to his


blind
should


their


own


see


failings,


Fault


and mad that


'his makes
exposing


call


the Cler


one else


the shewing any
y, as if thereby


only
Glass


they


shews


become


public,


our Faults


not considering


our selves


only;


that


other


people
its he


can see 'em


Ip.


wrong


proach,
than be


But Mr.
handle,


plainly
Collier,


looks


and had rather


taken


notice


and as readily


upon


a Fault
37


takes


a correct


should


every


tion


pass


without


thin


as a re-
unmended,


Again


again


Collier


shows


that


his understanding


of drama


is limited


to outra


at what


seems


to him a


portrayal


of evil.


Though


Collier's


hazy


critical


perception


of dramatic


purpose


be largely


behind


this


view


of the clergy


on the


stage,


Drake


suggests


that


Collier's


sense


of superiority


has allowed


to become


"the


first


bold


Mortal,


that


ever


pretended


to represent


person


of God Almighty


seriously.


This


me sounds


more


like


Blasphemy,


than


any thing


in the most


own












to affect men,


his observations were


not


isolated.


The anonymous


author


A Letter


H. Esq


Concerning


Stage


(1698)


points


out that


"'Tis


certain,


since


the Stage


has used


the Gown


freely,


and the Laity


have


not been


afraid


to look


into


their


Faults,


that


they


are more


humble,


and less


publicly vicious


This


defender


sees


not only


potential


for the


stage


but elaborates


on its


successes


ides


taught


their


them


Reforming


[clergymen]


Manners,


to speak


the S


English,


tage has
and preach


more


taught
their
short,


like Amb


them


Stile,


assa


dors


o argue
and Form


the Drunkenne


their


great


rationally,


their
Whorin


Master.


once


It has
mended


Sermons


Insolence,


Dulness
Stage,


that


have


has appear 'd


made


the Men


under
of the


a Black


same


Coat


Colour


on the


of it


keep


within


them with


appear


Bounds:


And that


the Representation,


in as differing


a Man might


they


a Form


have


as poss


not teize


endeavour' d
ible.


Collier's


vanity


insulated


him from


the education


which


this


critic


felt


stage


provided.


To correct


and guard against


mistakes,


however,


man


must


be humble


enough


to accept


the possibility


of his faults


discerning


enough


see them when


they


are presented


on stage.


Collier


and those


vigorously


supported


him,


often


seem neither


humble


discerning.


In Some


Remarks


upon Mr.


Collier's


Defence


of His Short


View


of the


English


Stage


(1698),


a vindicator


of Congreve


and Vanbrugh


takes


the position


that


good


clergymen,


like


good


kings,


need


not


fear


and have


not feared


the portrayal


an evil


priest


or prince


on stage:


"Why


not a good


Priest


see an ill


one


Characterized,


not be concerned,


nor












novels


of Spain


and Italy,


nations which


are most


under


"subjection


their


Ghostly


Fathers":


even


with


them


the Bad are exposed


reformations


and Amendments


came


from


scove


their


Fault


nor


can I


think


a Chaplain


Ridiculed


in such


more
city,


a Family


upon
than


several


as Sir Tunbelly's,


a sensible


Justice


Worthy


and learned


Clodpate


that


fill


Reflects
in that


in Epsom-Well
the Benches.


Capa-


does


upon


Through


his critical


spokesman,


Savage,


John


Oldmixon


justifies


the playwrights'


use of clergymen


on stage.


reasoning


corresponds


to almost


all of those who defended


the practice


A Poet


can't


set


a man


in the Stocks


for bein


drunk,


not break


an Officer


for being


a Coward,


nor fine


for Extortion,


neither


can he pull


the Gown


over


a disorderly


sons


ears;


but,


if he


can,


make
their


all asham'd


Characters


their


ridiculous.


faults,


Let a Cler


shewing
gy-man b


or a Rake,


a Pedant


or a Coxcomb,


he is


accountable


in the


puni


Poets


shment


can do


Court


is to


no more,


for his


expose him,


sometimes


Lewdness


and in many
so much.42


not


and Folly.


cases


Their
the Law


He feels


men


are taught


seeing


others


make


mistakes


which


they might


make


or have


already made.


Savage


comments


later


on Collier's


"sophistry"


in attacking


Clergy


the playwrights


be caught


on this


without


point:


concerning


have


their


seen


office


far the


or order


their

Clergy


ously


Quarrel


. and that


in general


as they


their


liv'd.


the Poet

treating


Through


never


those wh


the fear


intended

o deserve


of ridicule


to affront the

d it as scandal-


or the shame


recognition,


the clergymen


could modify


their


behavior


and thoughts.


this


wav a nlavwriaht


becomes


nart


a le islator work


through his


our


man


_ J


1 t:











of characters


and themes


(mainly


the evil


nature


of man)


on stage.


first


problem


an inability


see the play


as an artistic work,


distanced


Thus,


from


the artist


the thoughts


and the audience


and language


of the characters


emblematic


become


and allusive.


the thoughts


language


the playwrights


for him.


He lifts


passages


from


context,


examines,


and condemns


them as


profane,


with


no sense


that


he has dis-


turbed


Closely


an artistic


related


whole


to this


and thus


fault


distorted


is his Platonic


meaning


prejudice


amputations.


against


presentation


of evil


on stage.


This


prejudice


manifests


itself


in his


total


disgust


with


elements


of human nature


which


the playwrights


would


have


him witness


and thus


controls


his ideas


about


how man


can best


taught


to modify


his thoughts


and behavior.


In A Defence


of the Short View of the


Profaneness


Immoral-


ity of the


English


Stage


(1699)


he clearly


exposes


his first


problem.


Here,


sees


characterization


as an excuse,


a "pretence"


to justify


"profane


Sallies.


" He asserts


that


"'tis


the Poet


that


speaks


in the


Persons


of the S


tage


that


he who


makes


a Man Mad,


must


answer


his Distraction.


This


total


lack


of understanding of


the creative


process


runs


counter


to Congreve's


view


that


the playwright


creates


individuals


embody


traits


and ideas


sees


in life


around


him,


representatives


of and


spokesmen


for himself.


After


asserting


that


comedy must


expose


vice


and folly


portraying


"vicious


and foolish


Characters,


Congreve


desires


"that


it may not


be imputed


to the Per-












very


hard


that


a Painter


should


be believe' d


to resemble,


all the ugly


Faces


that


he draws.


In addition,


he remarks


that


"any


Expression


or Passage


cited


from any


Play"


Collier


cannot


be judged


"out


of its


proper


in that


Scene,


place


or alienated


alone,


from


the Character


and in his Mouth


alone,


which


can it have


it is spoken;


proper


true


Signification.


There


a conscious


distance


between


writer


and the characters


he draws,


and the artist


is in


part


dis-


tinguished


how well


his characters


fit the situations


or scenes


the play.


Dryden,


as if anticipating


Collier's


attacks


on him,


speaks


of what


poet


appropriately


treat


a play


so that


well


be conducing


to holiness


as to good


manners.


" He notes


that


he has


been


"charged


some


ignorant


and malicious


persons


with


no less


crimes


than


profaneness


and irreligion"


in his


play


Tyrannic


Love,


or the Royal


Martyr


(1670),


and he thus


answers


the charges,


made


mainly


against


Maximin,


the heathen


tyrant


in the play:


it be urged


that


a person


such principles


scoffs


any religion


ought


not to be


presented


the stage;
many wicked
Scriptures?


then


are


and profane


know


the lives


persons


it will


and sayings


recorded
answered


in the Holy


that


a due


use may


with


be made


a brand


of them;
infamy f


that


ixed


they
upon


are remembered


them


sea-marks


what
pose


other


for those
use have


as a pattern


behold


made


to be


them


Maximin?
imitated,


to avoid.


Have
whom


pro-


even


his impiety
punished.


to his


false


gods


have


so severely


Dryden


quite


clearly


expects


the audience


to understand


and learn


from












Art of


Painting


(1695)


he also


shows


different


from


Collier's


his view


man


and of


stage


characters.


He points


out that


idea
[and]


perf


section


little


in the characters


use


comedy


in portraits


and tragedy,


which


are never


to be made


perfect,


but always


be drawn


with


some


specks


frailty


and deficience


perfection


such


stage


-characters


consists


chiefly


their
their


likeness
original.


to the deficient
48


faulty nature,


which


It is in large


part


the depiction


of man's


nature,


in all its deformity


which


makes


the drama


both


instructive


and pleasing.


Other


playwrights


with


some


sense


of the artistic


importance


of presenting


Elkanah


like


a variety


Settle was


Vanbrugh


of characters


not directly


and Dryden


also


attacked,


pointing


into


he chose


out Collier's


the battle

to defend

imperfect


Though


writers

understand-


of their works.


In defending


Vanbrugh' s


choice


main


characters


in The


Relapse,


for example,


suggests


that


Collier


not expect
should be


that


the Chara


Virtuous:


A Compo


cters


sition


in the Comedy


that


kind


cannot
truly


well
reach


be made;
the whole


nor would


such


Instructive


a Comp


Ends


position


of the Drama.


Contraria


juxta


se posita magis


eluc


escunt,


very


great


Maxim,


The Foyl


sets


off the Diamond.


that


Foyl,


the Comedy,


I may


to make


venture
the Virtue


o say,
shine


is wanted


the brighter.


Settle


very


conscious


of the impact


a virtuous


character


can have


an audience,


but only


if the character


is presented


realistically


world


with


vices


to challenge


that


virtue.


The audience


interest will


focus


on the struggle


a character


like Amanda


(The


Relapse)


maintain


chastity.


effect


of the stru ele--Amanda'


success


U


U


L 1


L.J.












requires


presence


of vice,


as an abstract


concept,


but in the


of "the


World.


John


Oldmixon,


through


his critical


mouthpiece,


Savage


Reflections


on the


Stage


(1699)


affirms


the idea


poetic


justice


his defense


vice


on the


stage:


If Comedy


to correct


must


expose


and how


or actions:


would


can vitious


now


man


to make


to restore


oe expos
him act
Infamy o


d but by
his wick


words


ess,


the Pantomimes,


the Poets


to make


A man


must


have


talk


no other way


oose


not be punish'd


of dis


suitable


on the


covering
to his


Stage


him,


Character.


for nothing


A lewd
permit,


long
Poet


Fellow must


that


he ma


as he keeps
^__ __ 51


can L


err.


act his
suffer


to nature


part
for '
with


as far as d


t in the


this


ecency


will


end,


restriction,


Language


here


becomes


a way


of creating


a character who


"keeps


to nature"


and thus


recog


nizable


to the audience.


Like


Congreve,


Oldmixon


fur-


their


emphasizes


context


of language


in the play


askin


Collier:


Are there


not some p


passages


which


depend


entirely


on what went


before


and on the Character


persons


thing
have


spoke


but by
made th


'em?


the Character?


persons


they


can a man


judge


and all that


introduce,


ever writ


speak


according


to their


Characters.


Has not Milton


in the best


most


Reli


iours


gious
days,


Poem
made


that


has been


Devil


writ


since


our


of God Almighty?


who,
the
what


Sole
that
Author
went


reigning


should
guilty
before,


li


holds the T
.ht on this


of h
and


orrid


yranny


erse


Blasphemy,


consider 'd


Heaven.


would n
unless


ot think


read


spoke


A similar


Peter


attitude


Motteux


emerges


prefixed


in Father


to his Beauty


Francois


Distre


Caffero's

ss (1698).


letter,

Taking


which

a Thom-


pensions












without


Living

of evil


meeting with


in the world

is no necess


a thousand


necessitates

ary consequen


things


capable


a confrontation

ce. Likewise,


of exciting


with


evil,


he feels


the Passions.


but imitation


plays


are not


intended


to corrupt


the audience:


for tho they
and the like,


speak
'tis


Love,


not done


Hatred,


with


Ambition,


Revenge,


an Intention


exciting
are there


as wil
their


those
any


kinds
such s


1 infallibly
Minds.53


Passions


candalous


produce


such


in the Audience;


Circumstances


mischievous


nor


in them,
Effects


Additional


critics


in favor


of the presentation


of vice


stage


used


arguments


supporting


the ability


of the audience


to dis-


tinguish and


judge


properly


(rather


than


imitate


blindly)


based


upon


accuracy


the playwrights'


depiction


of the society


and 2)


argu-


ments


founded


primarily


upon


the artistic


necessity


of making


the play


a whole,


with


actions


and language


of each


character


logical


meaningful


to the unfolding


plot


and the ultimate


moral


intentions


the playwright.


James


Drake,


echoing


Congreve


and discussing


Collier's


misunderstanding


of Aristophanes,


explains


poet


not to be


identified


with


his characters:


The people


of Athens,


were


in these


matters


much


more


delicate,


niceness


than


to distinguish


Collier
justly


seems


between


to be,


had the


the Private


Sentiments
Poet. In
Characters


be frequently


of the Man,


this latter
belong'd t


necess


and the Publick


capacity


o him,


itated


almost


and he
to make


mus t


one's


of the


sorts


consequence


use of Thoughts


Expressions


very


contrary


to his


own proper


opinion.


The Athenians
of the Stage,


therefore


which


they


not lay


knew


these Liberties


nature


of those


Characters


which


he represented must


course


oblige


_











He later


criticizes


Collier's


reasoning


because


"Mr.


Collier


knows,


that


business


Comedy


is to


instruct


example;


and he mistakenly


imagines,


that


these


ought


to be Examples


for Imitation.


" Drake,


how-


ever,


feels


that


Comedy


presents


only


examples


caution,


not imi-


station.


He points


out Collier's


fear


that


since


poets


"Beauties"


and "Blemishes"


within


a work


or a character,


"Folks"


will


be tempted


the Deformities"


as well


as the admirable


qualities.


But Drake


feels


that


"the


Understanding


our Youth


so very


depress 'd


but they


can very


readily


distinguish


between


the obvious


Beauties,


and Defects


a Character,


are not to be fool'd


like


Dottrels


into


a vicious


reformation


sity


Imitation.


many


representing


Even


Edward


contemporary


evil


plays,


and foolish


Filmer,


agreed


carefully

characters


to the need


explained

acting an


neces-


d speaking


appropriately.


Presented


with


an accurate


depiction


of these


characters,


the audience,


then,


would


not be "judging


without


Process,


and condemning


without

Indeed,


Proof; w

justice,


rhich


is certainly


rendered


greatest


the audience


upon


Injustice


imaginable.


the characters


or by


playwrights


through


"Stage-Discipline"t


(poetic


justice),


was the key


sound


artistic


creation.


For Filmer,


the best


plays


were


those


which


involved


the audience,


through


the characters,


a process


of evalua-


tion;


the audience


could


then


understand


the moral


which


was not


only


part


of the


art,


but the basis


for the


art.


Against


these


justifications


for the


presentation


of evil


on i n nn i n T1 --Ti o i ni 1r n n L ri L I r-1 II I I* I i i ri l I I I I -j i-


-, 1-


nm 1 f -


"ape


-----A


t1 -


- -


rvl11to


T^, :e J- 4-1 A-u


.... I t


o t" or















NOTES


Second


Defence


of the Short View of the


Prophaneness


Immorality


Bedford ba
Abuse and
Concerning


Danger


of the Ch
(London,
Butolph's


of the

Ridpa


rrage
Effec


d


English


Stage


th's The Stage
the public with


ts of the Stage
Profaneness of


of Stage Plays


ristian
1711); a
Aldgate


(London,


Religion


nd A


(London,


Condemn' d


Serious


(London,


1700),


first


Reflect


1705)


the Playhouse(London,
1706); A Serious Rem


(London,


ermon


(London,


tage-Entertainment


Preached


1730).


Fully


Demonstr


1719); The G


reat


appeared


late in 1698.


ons on the Scandalous
Second Advertisement


1705);


ionstran


Abuse


The Evil
ce in Beh
of Music


alf


in the Parish-Church of St.
r's The Absolute Unlawfulness
*ated first appeared in 1726.


. ,


year


Collier's


death,


was reprinted


throughout


century.


3Joh


in both


"Comic


nson,
Dramat


in The Lives of the English
ists of the Restoration" and


Poets
The


, and Macaulay,
History of England,


show


respect


for Collier


and many


of his


views.


4John


Russell &


ssell,


cument,


'almer,
Inc..


MLR,


Comedy


Manners


-277


24),


150;


Maxmillian


(1913;


York:


. Stoll,
E. Novak


Literature
"The Artist


and the Cl


Coll


ergyman:


ege English,


Congreve,
(1969),


Collier


, and the World


the Play,


556.


A Short


View


of the Immorality


and Profaneness


of the


English


Stage (London, 1698), p.


6Ibid.,


7A Defence


of Plays,


(London


1707)


A Short View,


, 17 &


110.


Dobrde


9The Corn
and Geoffrey


plete
Webb


Works of Sir
(Bloomsbury:


John
The


Vanbrugh
Nonesuch


eds.,
ress,


Bonamy
1927),


196.


101bid.,


197.


Summers


11The
(London:


Complete
The No:


n


Works of Wil
suchh Press,


liam


1923),


greve,


III,


ed., Montague


175.


,











15The Antient
287-288.


and Modern


Stages


Survey


(London,


1699)


16A Short View,


17Works,


175.


197-198.


fense


18That
realism


Vanbrugh 's


rather


than


comment


here


as a moral


been


judgment


seen mainly


ased


upon


as a de-
realistic


observation,


indicate


effect


Collier


has had


on more


recent


critics


who have


dealt


with


controversy.


19Works,


177.


0Ibid.


21Critical


Works,


, 182.


. 89-90.

. 7-8.


persons
comedy


of
as b


unnatural.
Chattels c


long


as his


beyond hi
Judgment"


stages,
quality,
eing "of
In fact


. 365-366


espec
sound


, "Fool


the Stage"
"Appetites
discretion,
pp. 234-236)


ially
Sense


Drake


gentlemen, s
and perfect


of what


as well


are strong


and make


Quality


had earlier made


should


not be


Morals,
soever


as a "Gentleman


and irregular


him act


against


point


that


represent


for this


are proper


would
Goods


of Wit and Honour"


enough,


the Convi


to hurry


action


Short View,


6Works,

7Works,

8bid..


123-124.


202-203.


III,


191.


189-190.


9Ibid


reads:


enquiry


that


have


just


"'it


be made


190-191.
oertaineth


evil


know


Judgment


Mini
their
osed.


n part
to the


sters:


Offences


this


article,


Discipline
And that th


and finally


as Congreve
the Church,


accused


bein


found


quotes
that
those
Guilty


30p.


127.











33
33Ibid.,

34Works,


35Works, I

36Critical


117.

202-203.


II,


193.


Works,


37Stages

38Ibid.,


. 344-345.


346.


39p.
p.


Ibid.,


41p.
p.n


Short View


42
Reflections on the Stage,
(London, 1699), pp. 65-66.


and Mr.


Collyer's


Defence


of the


43Ibid.,


44p.


113.


108.


45Works,

46Ibid.


IIL 173.


Dramatic


Watson


(London:


Poesy


J. M. Dent


and Other


Sons,


Ltd.,


Critical


162) ,


Essays,
139-140.


ed. Georg
He also


suggests


method


of teaching


the audience: "


only


maintain,


against


enemies


stage,


that


patterns


piety,


decently


represented


and equally


be of


harmony


removed


excellent


words


solemn music,


lively


images


the soul;
hears, is
celestial,


which


from


use to


we elevate


which


extremes


second


the mind


is inarticulate


of piety,
h while i


struck at


and is wound


adorned


.t is charmed


same


time


superstition


precepts
o a sense


poesy,
action,


with


up insensibly


does


and profaneness,


our religion.


of devotion,
in churches;


through


a silent
a secret


into


senses


what


veneration


the practice


as our
and by
allure


sees


things


of that


admires" (139).


48Ibid.,


184.


49He


says


in the


same


preface


that


in comedy,


worst


like-


187.


47"0f


w












Oldmixon


also


stresses


that


a poet


must


show


audience


a character


deserves


punishment


116-117)


52Ibid.,


11-12.


XXV,.


of the
Concern


54
Some Remn
English Stage
ing the Stage


rks Upon Mr. C
(London, 1698)


(London,


'ollier


s Defence


and A


Lett


of his Short View
er to A. H. Esq.;


1698)


ages


327-328.


561bid.,

57Filmer,


pp.

pp.


270-272.


36 &


I


a:















CHAPTER


PERSUASION


OF THE


UNKNOWING


SUCCESS


OF COLLIER'S


VIEW


It might


be asked


two twentieth-century


critics


could


look


back at


the Collier


controversy


and draw


opposing


conclusions


about


Collier's


Collier


impact


on the drama.


and his followers


is it possible


little more


than


that


"temporary


F. Lamb


nuisances"


finds


to the


stage,


while


E. E. Stoll


suggests


that


"all


Jeremy


Collier


. had


appeal


to the old faith--their


faith


still--and


Congreve


Vanbrugh


were


routed,


and the


stage


1 To


purged"


arrive


some


reason


for this disagreement,

of Collier's arguments


and thus

the chan


an evaluation of

ges in the drama


the


success


as well


or failure


as the


popu-


larity


of Collier's


works


should


be considered.


Also,


it should


stressed


that


whatever


popularity


Collier's


views


have


achieved


among


some,


peatedly


his fallacious


methods


and accurately


argument


exploded


and his conclusions


contemporary


critical


were


re-


replies.


And because much


of his


popularity


depended


upon


his image


as an expert


on moral


reform,


these


replies


questioned


sincerity


as a reformer


and his authority


as a jud


of morality


in the drama.


Two questions


arise


when


trying


to understand


Collier'


impact


on the


stage.


Why,


for nearly


forty


years


after


the restoration


Charles


II and the theatre,


there


no significant


censure


of the


drama?


And how


can a work


like A Short View


suddenly


appear


was


I_












social


changes


occurring


in England,


especially


in London.


Some


of the


changes


would have


been


obvious


in the theatre


audiences,


who probably


bought


Collier's


treatise


and followed


the controversy with


interest.


Emmett

years


L. Avery

from 1660


and Arthur


-1700


H. Scouten


"essentially,


point o

appears


ut that

that b


during


oth


the forty


the audience


and its taste


altered


In 1660


spectators


were


principally


moderately


progressed,


cultured,


well-educated


and especially


after


persons.


Charles'


S. '."2


reign,


"the


As the


middle


century


classes,


citizens


, gentlemen,


and ladies,


the apprentices


even


servants


formed


a larger


portion


of the audience.


John


Loftis


is even more


specific

changing


in identifying


taste


the merchants


the audience.


as the most


These merchal


influential

nts were be


group


coming


increasingly wealthy


greater


in number--especially


in and around


London--as


had made


century


their money


drew


from


a close.


trade


a group


and industry,


of newly


could


rich,


afford


high-priced


admission


to the theatres


and occupi


seats


earlier


reserved


only


for landed


gentry


and members


of the


court


circle.


this


group


no way


of instantly


attaining


the knowledge


of literary


and dramatic


traditions


which


the people


of fashion


were


expected


possess.


Economically,


they


gained


status,


but their


lack


taste


and judgment


forced many


of the better


playwrights


to "lose"


this


part


of their


audience.


John


Dennis


is extremely


conscious


of this


new


element


in the audience


in A Large


Account


of the Taste in


Poetry,











Dancing,


in Love with


and the delightful


their


diversions


sports,


of Jack Pudding


encourage


. [are


these noble Pastimes


still]


still


upon


the Stage.


He also


devotes


much


of his letter


a comparison


between


contemporary


audiences


and those


immediately


following


the Res-


toration.


He finds


that


"the


taste


of England


for Comedy


. was


certainly much


better


in the Reign


of King


Charles


the Second,


than


is at present.


For it


was then


extremely


good,


and is


now


excessively


bad.


" In drawing


this


conclusion,


presents


two important


"Maxims" :


First,
taste


That


then


for Comedy,


there
when


is among any
a very consid


People
erable


a good


part


an Audience
and when th
themselves,


are qu
ey who


alified to judge
are not qualified


are influenced


for themselves


to judge


the authority


of those


are rightly


among


qualified.


any People


a bad


Secondly,


taste


that


for Comedy,


then


when


there
very


few of an Audience


are qualify'd


to judge


for them-


selves,


authority


and when


rest


those who


are influenced


are not rightly


qualified


He then


goes


on to state


that,


under


Charles,


the first


maxim


held,


while


presently


the second


true.


His proof


involves


an explanation


of those


qualifications


necessary


to judge


poetry,


qualifications


which


the good


poet


critic


must


share,


for "no


man


can judge


Beautiful


imagination


in another without


some


degree


of it in himself":


And as for the


judging


rightly


thin


without


Judgment,
philosophy


that


a contradiction


and a knowled


terms.


World


are necessary


a Comick


Poet,


for his


formin


Characters;


an acquaintance


with


best


Authors


among


the Antients


and Modern
and Grace


a true


s, be requisite
of the Dialogue


judgment t


of th


for the


why,


ese,


attaining


then


same


for the


Learning


the Viva
forming
and the


city


same


Experience


are necessary.


lastly,


if a Poet











this


or no,


must


enter


into


those


Passions and


Humours


In some


quently ou
avocations


proportionable


to have
Business


mind


and from


degree,


free


conse-


from all


all real


vexatious


assions.


Thus,


to be able


pass


accurate


judgment


upon


a play


, one had


pos-


sess


all of the following


some measure:


lively,


a warm,


a strong


imagination,


and a solid


and piercing


judgment,


" "a


knowledge


of things


. because


the ultimate


end of


Comedy


to instruct,


to instruct

"Leisure" a


all,


nd "Serenit


knowledge

y. The


of the World

reason Dennis


and of


sees


Mankind,


" and


considerable


part"


of the audience


of the Restoration


years


possessing


these


qualities


while


"in the


present


Reign


very


in an Audience"


have


them is


because


"Humane


Nature


[has]


decay


since


the Reign


of Charles


Second.


" Rather,


suggests


that


"the


faculties


of the Soul,


like


parts


of the Body,


receive


nourishment


from


use,


and derive


skill


well


as they


do force and


vigour


from


exercise.


If Dennis's


observation--that


this


new


class


of theatre-goers


helped


eclipse


qualified


judgment


of the pi


ays--is


accurate,


those


in the audience


could


be influenced


the thesis


of A


Short View


would


have


increased


1698.


This


is not to


that


merchants


took


over


the audience,


but as a developing


source


of wealth


(and


thus


theatre


revenue)


they were making


themselves


recognized.


though


small


percentage


shopkeepers)


of all merchants


attended


the theatre,


(both


those


wealthy


tradesmen


not seeing


or reading


poorer

g plays


1 __ _~ I












fact,

the s


according


itage


one


leads men,


anonymous


through an


spokesman

excitement


for the

of their


mercantile position,

imaginations, from


"the


People

Trade


Fatique


this


and Engagement


is a Mischief


requiring


Industry


of Business


. And


to be dreaded


and Application,


among


a trading


to the last


that


the Mind


sent


Degree:

to it


and engag'd


in it.


What


many


merchants


imagined


about


plays


perhaps


needed

man of


only


the c


the virulent

loth, no matt


confirmation

er his lack


a seemingly


of political


honest


popularity


and informed

at the


time.


James


Drake seems


to have


this


type


of merchant


in mind


when he


suggests


that


Collier


uses


his assured


attack


to influence


people


"whose


Fears


of this


are Stronger


body


than


of readers


their


for his


Judgments.


attacks


That


not


Collier was


assured,


but his


conscious


argu-


ments


and point


view were


far more


creditable


to them


than


to the


playwrights.


having


proper


tools


to understand,


judge,


appreciate


the performances


or published


versions


for themselves,


these


readers


of A Short View would


have


been


only


too willing


to accept


Collier


s vision


stage


corruption.


But perhaps


even more


significant


in accounting


for the sudden


popularity


of anti-stage


publications


are the societies


for the refor-


nation


manners


which


began


to form shortly


after


1688.


As Dudley


R. Bahlman


points


out,


two great waves


of enthusiasm for


the for-


mation


of these


societies


rolled


across


England


during


the 1690


Bahlman


accounts


for this


spirit


of reformation


part,


a reaction


shun'd











in that


time


been


a challenge


to both


churchmen


and dissenters.


Popery meant


tyranny,


while


protes-


tantism was


the bulwark of


traditional


rights


liberties
a stubborn


of Englishmen.


defiance


Therefore,


James'


rule


one way


was


to show


to thrown


churches


and chapels


of England.


wave


piety


that


resulted


from


disappear with


persist
mation


activities


this


form


accession


and manifested


societies


itself


resi


stance


William
not only


for reformation


other organize


nations


and Mary; it
in the for-


but in the


as well.


purpose


of the societies


for the reformation


manners


was not


only


to preach


against


the immorality


and profaneness


which


they


felt


had engulfed


England,


encourage


new


laws


and bring


to prosecution


those


breaking


to inform


against


existing


those


laws.


groups


who appeared


guilty


would march


of public


out like


cursing,


an army


swearing,


drunkenness,


or profanation


of the Lord's


day.


Their


hope,


not unlike


Plato


s in The


Republic


or Collier's


in A Short


View,


was


create


moral


paradi


through


the enforcement


of laws.


The version


para-


dise


brought


on by


this


"army


of reform"


caused


even


ministers


like


John


Ryther


to


so far for
the local


natural


reforming


society


depravity


pray


man


"that


as to tell


there


be in


many,


very many,


a reformation,


effect of


conversion,


that


we may


live


see that


joyful


when


profaneness,


banished
goodness


out of
shall


irreligion,


land;


flour


and immorality


and godliness,


shing,


spreading,


shall


religion an
prevailing


and in prospering


condition


everywhere.


These


Platonic


(and


Pelagian)


characteristics


of the movement


go totally


unnoticed


its members,


however,


for Bahlman


points


out that


William Bisset,


in hi


Plain


English


(London


1704) ,


elt that












"may be
please;


as secretly wicked,


we won't


force


them


lewd,
(they


and worldly


need


not


fea


as they
r it)


a heavenly mind,


liking.


civil


we would


upon


Earth


much


less


oblige


to Heaven


them


against


poss


and let their neighbors


ible)


live


their
to be
them


a quiet
honesty.


peaceful


life


in all


godliness


concentrated


effort


was made


remove


appearance


of evil


from


daily


life,


just


as Collier wished


remove


evil


characters,


language,


actions


from


stage.


This


being


done,


was supposed


England


would


be cleansed


of its vice


and wickedness;


Bisset,


obviously


saw a


fallacy


in this


kind


of attitude.


In addition


to the societies


zealous


concern


with


appear-


ance


of evil,


their


composition


would


have made


them particularly


ceptive


to Collier's


arguments.


They


were made


of individuals


felt


that


all of their members


were


virtuous,


untainted


the sins


they


were


fighting


Unlike


the other


societies--the


Society


for the


Promotion


of Chris


tian Knowledge,


the Society


for Propagating


the Gospel


in Foreign Parts,


and the religious


societies--the


societies


for the


reformation


manners


were not


strictly


Anglican.


And as Bahlman


says,


"they were


critics


of Church


and the State,


since


they


felt


neither


enforced

religious


the laws against

societies "were


immoralit

composed


Also,


primarily


both


the reform and


of tradesmen


some


apprentices,


who like


the wealthier merchants,


would


have


known


little


of literary


and dramatic


tradition


even


less


contemporary


plays.


Though,


as dissenters


and Anglicans,


these


reformers


not share


re-











understanding


as well


as his acquaintance


with


authorities


on the


stage


could


easily


have


convinced


the unknowing.


After


all,


not only


the end--


the abolition


of immorality


and prosecution--were


and profaneness--but


same


for Collier


the means--censorship


and the reform societies.


There


to link

motion


is further


the popularity

of Christian Kn


evidence


of Collier's


owledge


which

works


group


Professor


with


Bahlman


Scouten


the Society


says


has found

for the Pro-


between


religious


societies


and the reform societies


in its zeal as a reforming


force


among


the people).


Scouten


finds


evidence


in the minutes


of the


SPCK


that


they


purchased


at least


two hundred


copies


of Mr.


Collier


Dissuasive


from the


Play-House


(1703)


to be distributed.


Also


recorded


are large

passed ou


purchases


t at coffee


other


house


anti-stage


s, churches,


literature

and other


which


gathering


the society


places.


Scouten


does


not claim


to have


surveyed


all the records


SPCK,


nor is


it likely


that


all of their


purchases


tracts


and pamphlets


were


recorded,


but what


he has noted


indicates


a specific


interest


SPCK


in the


controversy


and a considerable


financial


investment


to help


keep


the anti-stage


material


rolling


off the


presses.


It certainly


seems


likely


that


more


active


more


numerous


reforming


societies


used


this


same


tactic


mass


purchase


and distribution


of anti-stage


works


to help


in their


battle


against


public


vice.


If this


is true,


Collier's


popularity


is probably


due less


a demand


a large


number


of readers


than


to the propagandistic


use by


the societies


cnn-I C


-a mr^T-


c nut f-n 4 t.nT c n r o fhr


at rchirrr


nrcc ao or


T.t-i c~hi ri f


rTn 1 ,t


ammll












works


little


effect


on the existence


of theatres


and the continued


popularity


of plays


which


were


attacked


a matter


of record.


The publication


of Collier's works


kept


pace


with


activities


of the reform


societies,


some


of his


opponents


had harsh


words


these


societies.


Thomas


Brown,


for example,


in his Letters


from the


Dead to the


Living


(first


published


in 1702),


describes


the societies


troops
serve


of informers,


God for


sistence.


both


Thi


churches,


sinners,


who are maintained


gain, and
s noble so
fanaticks


knights


ferret
city


as well


of the


out whor
consists


post,


perjury,
for sub-


of divines


as orthodox
and knights


saints
of th


elbow,


and they


are not


more


unanimously


against


morality
practice;


suffer


in their


information,


avoid


none


no sins


one


than


for it in their


in themselves


else.


These


and will


worthy


gentlemen,
Office, an


for promoting


some


such


honest


interest
place, p


of the Crown-


ick


harmless


words
twenty


out of plays


pound


exposing
cheating,


former,
without
cases wi


a week


pride,


, to indict


of them,


vanity,


and other


who
consi


.pes


the players


if th


hypocrisy,


darling


owe them a
derable of


ey can,
usury,


vices


grudge,
ferings;
ects.16


not to be
for money


and squeeze
for their
oppression,


master
appeals


re-


in these


off all def


In the epilogue


to The


Stage-Beaux


Toss


Blanket


(1704)


Gildon


also


comes


down


on the reformers,


among


whom


he numbers


Collier:


Gentlemen,


more


Each


briefly


for others


Man wou'd


save


himself


this
than


piously


he thinks


has been


our selves
reform his


not worth


our Fault,


have


Thought.


Neighbour;


his Labour


With
And


When


Zeal


and Sin


grow more


'tis
vice


at once we're


Wicked


a blessed Age,


walks


cheek


as we grow


strangely warm
Reform'd.


and blessed


jowl


with


Nation,


Reformation.


short,


let each Man's


Thoughts


first


look


at home,


And then


to Foreign


Reformations


roam.


I.


A--_ r _


-- 1 T-


TF l l1 +-b0 1n1 l f


___^ I


sn TI


K T"I *_t^ r


OCa I-' mnr C^T i~r c y _> Tf i











Reverend


Henry


Sacheverall


delivered


a caustic


sermon


against


societies


for the reformation


manners,


which


saw as a direct


threat


to the Church


of England:


[Our


random


religion]


upon


officiously


does


bare
into


not oblige


surmise


their


us to


and suspicion,


lives


secret


charge men


or to


affairs


and to invade
jurisdiction


their private


which


we have


rights


no title


usurping


to j


ustify,


with
upon


a rude
'em as


air of superiority


privy-couns


ellors


to obtrude
and dogmati


ourselves


cally


censure,


rebuke,


don't


or advise


belong


our neighbor's


neither


procee


lie under


dings
verge


that


our cognizance.


Whatever


godly


and fallacious


losses


such
ille


trouble


some


wasps


inquisitors


are doubtless
encroaching,


that


cast


erect
upon


the unwarrentable


impertinent,


themselves


their
fects


and meddling


into


action,


they


an idle


curiosity


It is
pride,


carry


slandering,


in short


the base


censoriousness,


on the bles


sperlng,


product


and sanctified


work of ref
backbiting,


ill-nature,


leen


formation by
and tale-b


spiritual


, pretending


lying,
hearing,


most


tically


express
styled t


character


he grand


of the devil,


accuser


the b


who is empha-
rv r~% 4- ftr w L .


SL C L


C: J Lr


Though


a Whig


administration


convicted


Sacheverell


opposing


refor-


mation,


he became


a popular


hero,


and his conviction


was the


issue


which


brought


the Tories


back


power


in the elections


of 1710.


Bahlman

cities


points

after


out,


1710


one could

for their


easily

ability


forget


the existence


arouse


public


of the


enthusiasm


so-

had


been


dealt


a fatal


blow.


That


Collier


sensed


the opposition


to the reform societies


be indicated


the date


of his last


claimed


contribution


to the


controversy,


Farther


Vindication


of the Short View of the


Profaneness


Immorality


of the


English


Stage,


published


in 1708.


The coinci-


__











noteworthy when


viewed


in light


of remarks


made


some


of the


stage


defenders.


author


of A


Vindication


of the Stage


(1698)


for example,


feels


that


Collier


not see virtue


as its


own reward;


rather,


suggests


"that


the Fifty


Pounds


a greater


influence


with


than


the stab


suppose


he should


give


to Vice


and Debauchery.


Thomas


Brown


also


speaks


of the lucrative


results


of Collier's


appeal


"fana-


ticks


presented


bountiful


rewards;


the nonjuror,


and misers


one .. laid


and extortioners


out threescore


pounds


gave


. [


him

for]


Impression


A Short View]


to distribute


among


the saints


that


zealous


for God and


mammon


at the


same


time,


Gildon


too thinks


of the main


results


of Collier's


writings


was


that


a great


deal


Money


what


he writ


against


Plays.


These


responses


to Collier's


motives


probably


overstate


concern


money,


but it is also


fact


that


large


sales


of his


works


were


due to the reform


societies


and that


when


they


became


less


active


so did his publications.


In addition


to the timing


of his writing


persistence


answering


stage


defenders


shows


how much


he wished


to keep


anti-stage


position


before


uncommitted


or sympathetic


readers.


After


success


of A Short View,


he waited


only


responses


from


Congreve


and Vanbrugh


before


rekindling


the reforming


fires


with


his Defence


of the Short


View


of the


Profaneness


Immorality


of the


English


Stage,


(1699).


apparent


strategy was


to have


the last


word


after


extensive


defense


stage


so that


the readers


would


feel


he had countered


are


one











Farther


Vindication


(1708);


he also


used


the occasion


of the storm in


1703


to publish Mr.


Collier


s Dissuasive


from the


Playhouse


(1703)


probably


Some


Thoughts


Concerning


the Stage in a
.- -


Letter


to a Lady


(1704)


It made


no difference


that


his defenses


A Short View were


essentially


repetitious


of initial


arguments


or that


they


avoided


or confused


important

important


considerations

rhetorically w


brought


'as that


up by


have


opponents.


the final


word,


What

that


seems

the necessity


for closing


the theatres


conclude


the reflections


of those


readers


were


following


controversy.


Closely


associated


with


the timing


persistence


of Collier's


attacks


is their


tone,


for it


too takes


into


account


the audience


to whom


the works


were


directed.


Ostensibley,


was


directing


his views


at the


playwrights


in order


to reform


their


writing,


reader


soon


recog-


nizes


he means


trying


raise


far beyond


a public


reform.


outcry


Like


against


the reform


stage


societies,


and eventually


draw


the law down


upon


actors,


playwrights


and theatres.


To stir


Christian


readers


were


not


familiar with


the plays


or the authorities


which


cites,


he had


convey


a feeling


of moral


outrage.


Thus,


tone


livid.


not merely


forceful,


One example


but indignant,


seen


in his reaction


emotionally


incensed,


to Vanbrugh


s The


even


Relapse


in A Short View:


am quite


tired


with


these wr


etched


Sentences.


The sight


willing


indeed is


to shew


horrible,
However


and I


they


am almost


shall


un-


produced


like Malefactors,


not for Pomp,


but Execution.


I r S


-


1 *1 i l


a


\ n ir n e, n r4 I a SA n n 4 n I.- j- a a n ^- n a a a I n a p. rt a r- *-%











than


Insolence


be better
executed!
the Blood,


shown,


and Atheism?


nor


Nature made


for such


Aversion


Resentment


more


the Ferment


occas


ions


can never


reasonably
and Rising


as This.


what


unhappy


Times


are we


fallen!


The Oracles


of Truth,


the Laws of
are Laught


Omnipotence, and
at and despis'd!26


the Fate


of Eternity


If this


reverend


critic


could


so outraged


at Vanbrugh's


lines,


cer-


tainly


the reader


of A Short View who


not know


the play


or was


unsure


of his


own


judgment


about


have


felt


the necessity


to share


Collier's


resentment.


After


all,


more


than


decorum is


at stake;


Christianity


itself


is being


"Hooted


off the Stage.


tone


could


become


even more


virulent,


as when


reacts


to the examples


of blasphemy


sees


in The


Relapse,


Provok' d


Wife,


and Love for Love:


They


[these


examples]


look


reekin


as it


were


from


Pandaemonium


and almost


smell


Fire and Brimstone.


This


wonder,
turned


an Eruption


the smoak
the Air to


of Hell with


of it has


Plagye


a witness


not darkened


and Poyson!


almost


the S


These


are out-


rageous
Revenge;


sink


Provocation
To exhaust


the Island


in t-


s; Enough


to arm all


the Jud ments,
ha CSn, 7


LLL .1-- tea I


Nature


of Heaven,


This


fury


is even more


amazing


in light


of the


sources


he cites,


for it


has taken


some


ingenious


extrapolation


see "intolerable


Abuses"


"outrageous


Provocation"


of the Christian


religion


in plays


whose


language


patterns


suggest


just


the opposite.


ster


Rose Anthony


sees


"his


vitriolic


sentences"


as "the


outcome


a temper maddened


what


he considered


indecency


and profanity.


" She does


feel


that


"occasionally,


too,


these


liberty


blunted


his judgment"


but that


many













not,


the impassioned


condemnation


functions


as a rhetorical


conclusion


to his


arguments


he is relying


on emotional


persuasion


to weld


together


the citations


from


the plays


and the catastrophic


threat


to religion


which


says


the plays


pose.


He need


not spend


time


proving


poetic


intent


or even


that


his examples


indeed


are a moral


threat,


for the


emotion


sweeps


other


considerations


reason


aside.


But the


especially


tone


in the form


outrage


of rhetorical


accentuated

questions.


one of

using


sarcasm

sarcasm


appears


confident


that


he is unquestionably


correct


in his criticism.


tone


most


used


when


he is speaking


about


specific


plays


or play-


wrights,


as when


comments


on Dryden 's


King Arthur:


Here


we have


Devils;
The Hell
A fit of
And why


Genii,


Venus and St. G
of Heathenism,


Smut,


are Truth


and Angels,


orge, Pan
and the He


and then


a Jest


and Fiction,


about


Cupids,


Syrens


and the Pars


, and
on,


Revelation;


Original


Sin.


Heathenism


Christianity,


the most


Serious


and the


most


Trifling


Things


blended


ether,


and thrown


onto


one Form


of Diversion


is all this done


unless


it be


ridicule
other?29


the whole


and make


one as incredible


as the


course


Collier


sees


no possible


reason


for Dryden 's


use of these


characters


and settings


except


to ridicule


Christianity,


but he provides


no proof.


sarcasm


He merely


rage


continues


and personal


his questioning until


incriminations


tone


of Dryden.


goes


naive


from


reader


could


become


involved


in the castigation,


never


questioning


its validity.


is not surprising


that


Collier's


diction


tone


drew


*1 1


c% V r, ln 1 1nr i 4 nli 4- r. n A


AnF n .- A v n r


;e


n. +-C/


I


vnnC *n


r :,


nnrl n-v^ /I/ ^I /^


n- 4 n i r jn


b" < V it h











is too much


given


to horse-play


in his


raillery,


comes


to battle


like


a dictator


from


the plough.


will
up;
good


not say
but I am
manners


I S


The zeal of God's house has eaten him
iure it has devoured some part of his


and civility.


It might


also


be doubted


whether


were


his function


altogether


to rake


into


zeal which
the rubbish


prompted h
of ancient


modern


plays;


to better


and Ari


a divine might


purpose


stophanes,


me, so it might


than


whose


have


employed


in the nastiness


examples,


possibly


supg0
0n


as they
sed that


his pains
Plautus
excuse not


read


them not


without


some


pleasure.


The other


playwrights


were


no less


conscious


of Collier


s outrageous


tone,


as Thomas


D'Urfey


indicates


in his preface


to The


Campaigners


(1698):


Good


"instead


Nature,


of reproving us


gives


with


us the basest


a Pastorly


language,


Mildness,


and with


Charity


the most


scurillous


mouth.


expressions,


Congreve


sometimes


too produces


raging


even


"a Sample


some


foaming


of this


at [the]


Gentleman's


Figures"


and then


reflects


upon


them:


Methinks


hear


pronounce '


em every


time


behold


even
and I


they


in the Print.


find


he that


are almost


In short,


will


speak


Noisy


they


and Turbulent,
are Contagious


of them,


is in


great


danger
use all


were


to speak


this


like


Vehemence


to Preach,


to make


a Noise,


them.


But why


in a written


grant
that


it might
he might


does


Mr. Collier


Arguement?


necessary


sure


to be


heard:
is never
Mild.32


But why
Outrage


all this Passion upon
ous; and Christianity


Paper


is ever


Judgment
Meek and


With


a reference


to St. Chrysostom's


description


of the mildness


of the


prophets,


Congreve


goes


on to suggest


sarcastically


that


Collier's


bel-


lowing


was perhaps


inspired


the Devil


rather


than


the Holy


Ghost.


might


better


have


mentioned


the rhetorical


effectiveness


of these


passion-


JU


,











attacks,


is not unlikely


that


these e


sounds


found


their way


groups


of non-readers,


either


through


sermons


or informal


gatherings.


These


harangues


could


doubtless


arouse


the sleepiest


attendant


a meeting


hosted


the reform


societies.


These


comments


those


playwrights


attacked


in A Short View


are supplemented


remarks


from


other


defenders


of the


stage


also


very


interested


in Collier


s moral


authority.


Though


his position


as an active


non-juror


verifies


his label


as a Christian,


tone


his anti-stage


works,


like


his Platonic


view


of evil,


created


questions


in the minds


of his contemporaries


about


those


ethical


characteristics


they


felt


a model


Christian,


especially


a clergyman,


should


exhibit.


anonymous


writer


Some


Remarks


upon Mr.


Collier's


Defence


of His Short View of the


English


Stage


(1698),


for example,


first


says


that


Collier


rails


"with


a gust


the Christian


Religion


never


inspired"


he "forgets


the noblest


gift


of Heaven,


Charity;


proudly


Judges


and Condemns,


finds


Guilty


or Absolves


own Authority.


Likewise


, John


Dennis


feels


that


"Mr. Collier


so far from having


shewn


in his Book


[A Short View]


either


the Meekness


a true


Christian,


or the Humility


an exemplary


Pastor,


that


he has neither


the Reasoning


a Man


of Sense


in it,


nor the Style


a Polite


Man,


nor


the Sincerity


a Honest


Edward


Filmer


Man,


nor


the Humanity


and Elkanah


Settle make


a Gentleman,

similar obs


or a Man of


.ervations


Letters.

as does


Charles


Gildon,


says


in defense


of Congreve:


are











Congreve's


Name,


Assert


that


the impious


design


which


this


Author


from his


has coin'd


thought,


out of his


and where


own


there


head,


any way


was far
to think


well
both


of a Man,


a Chris


that
tian,


ought


and an ho


certainly to
4-, M^ 36


nIti L


Mail.


be taken,


Even


Collier


himself,


without


realizing


the self-incriminating


accuracy


of his


comment,


says


that


"Railing


a mean,


and unchristian


Talent,


and oftentimes


a sign


of a desperate


Cause,


and a desperate


Conscience.


That


Collier's


techniques


argument


have


been


generally


passed


over


modern


critics


accept


"moral


position,


be indicative


of the


rhetorical


effectiveness


rage


sarcasm


in the


tone


of any moral


argument


one


to why


he used


them.


But those


contemporaries


questioned


that


tone


argued


that


was not


an expert


on morality


in the


drama,


and that


his "railing"


should


not lend


credence


to his authority.


Perhaps


one of the main


reasons


for Collier's


employment


such


rhetoric


was that


it conveniently


thwarted


the reader's


concen-


tration


on his


use of evidence


and the logic


of his


arguments.


mentioned


in the last


chapter,


the defenders


of the


stage were


quick


obj ect


to Collier


s criticism of


language


and actions


in the plays


without


reference


to character


or context.


This


misuse


of evidence


compounded


by misleadin


and inaccurate


quotations


as well


as comments


about


passages


never


cited.


Congreve makes


"False


Imperfect


Citations"


clear when


he points


out such


things


as a partial


quotation


from


The Old


Bachelor,


which misrepresents


Bellmour


s attitude


about


salvation,


or a misquotation


from


The Double-Dealer,


which makes


was




Full Text

THE COLLIER CONTROVERSY: A CRITICAL
BASIS FOR UNDERSTANDING DRAMA
OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD
by
JOSEPH JOHN POPSON, III
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
1974

\
Joseph J. Popson, III
Copyright, 1974

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Of the many people who helped me prepare this dissertation,
I would first like to thank the Chairman of my Supervisory Committee,
Professor Aubrey L. Williams. Professor Williams not only inspired my
interest in this topic and offered valuable criticism of my work as
it progressed, but he has exemplified what to me are the best qualities
of teaching and scholarship. I would like to thank Professor Melvyn
New, who first interested me in Restoration and eighteenth-century
literature, for his helpful comments on this text and throughout my
stay at the University of Florida. I am grateful to Father Michael
Gannon for serving on my Supervisory Committee and taking time to read
and comment on my dissertation. And for all his help and encouragement
during the research and writing process and for his time spent reading
the manuscript, I wish to thank Professor J. Ben Pickard. Also I wish
to thank Professor Ira Clark for reading the manuscript and sitting in
on my oral defense. I wish to thank my typist, Ms. Oonagh Kater, and
Mr. Robert Cody, whose help in making final deadlines is very much
appreciated. Finally, I am most grateful to my wife, Sandy. Without
her heroic efforts at the typewriter, her help in criticizing my work,
and her interest and encouragement, my dissertation would be little more
now than note cards in a shoe box.
iii

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Page
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS iii
ABSTRACT v
INTRODUCTION 1
Notes 15
CHAPTER 1 18
THE CRITICAL GROUNDS--NO NEED TO SHIFT THEM
Notes 42
/
CHAPTER II 49
ARTISTRY AND JUDGMENT: TEACHING VIRTUE BY EXPOSING
VICE
Notes 74
CHAPTER III 78
PERSUASION OF THE UNKNOWING: THE SUCCESS OF COLLIER'S
VIEW
Notes 107
CHAPTER IV 112
THE STAGE/WORLD METAPHOR: MORAL DESIGN OR PATTERN FOR
VICE?
Notes 147
BIBLIOGRAPHY 154
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH 163
IV

Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE COLLIER CONTROVERSY: A CRITICAL
BASIS FOR UNDERSTANDING DRAMA
OF THE RESTORATION PERIOD
by
Joseph J. Popson, III
March, 1974
Chairman: Aubrey Williams
Major Department: English
In response to Jeremy Collier's attacks on the Restoration stage
came a number of excellent defenses which provide a critical basis for
understanding the drama of the Restoration period. The defenders, inclu¬
ding such playwrights and critics as John Dryden, William Congreve, Sir
John Vanbrugh, Thomas D'Urfey, John Dennis, Elkanah Settle, James Drake,
John Oldmixon, and Edward Filmer, have given us a very complete source of
critical information about Restoration drama. Faced with Collier's essen¬
tially Platonic view of the stage, these writers recognized that there were
abuses of the drama, but they also saw therein a moral value which they
maintained was a necessary part of its artistic value. Unlike many modern
critics who have rejected Collier, and with him any consideration of moral¬
ity in their views of the plays, these defenders answered Collier on grounds
that were at once moral and artistic. Historically, then, they were asser¬
ting their beliefs that the drama should (and that the best of it still did)
instruct and delight the audience. In explaining how the stage functioned,
they felt that the representation of "evil" on stage (in the actions and
speeches of characters) was not only proper but necessary if the audience
was to know and value "good." Rather than seeing the dangers of imitation
v

as Collier did in his Platonic reaction to evil, they felt the plays of¬
fered just choices for all whose understanding and judgment were not
depraved.
To counter Collier's apparent influence upon those who did not
understand the plays or even attend the theatre, these critics questioned
his authority as a judge of the morality in the plays. While consistently
maintaining the moral value of most of those plays he attacked, they ex¬
posed his gross errors in reading and argument. Among the faults they
noted were: inaccurate and misleading quotations of evidence, logical
fallacies in his reasoning, an improper tone for a clergyman ostensibly
interested in improving plays and playwrights, and a basic misunderstanding
of the effects of drama on a Christian audience which was aware of English
dramatic tradition. The success of Collier's works (and of others which
attacked the stage during the controversy) was not due to poor responses
by stage defenders or to the strength of Collier's moral position, as many
critics have stated. Rather it was due to the changing taste of the
theatre audience and the concurrent activities of the societies for the
reformation of manners, which threatened any citizen whose actions or oc¬
cupations did not exemplify the kind of righteous living they deemed
proper.
In their objections to Collier's view of the stage, the critics
and playwrights argued from important critical tenets. Enough evidence is
obvious in their responses to show that they were very conscious of the
roots of English drama and thus saw the Restoration stage as a "little
world" upon which the dramas of man were represented to entertain and in¬
struct. For them, the features of variety, pageantry, and Providential
testing and justice, so important in Elizabethan drama, were still recog¬
nized as parts of those moral designs which Collier could see only as
patterns for vice.
vi

INTRODUCTION
On January 4, 1698 the Palace of Whitehall burned. One week
later Peter the Great of Russia arrived in England to study shipbuilding
and navigation for several months. As the year progressed, a New East
India Company was chartered, the London Stock Exchange was formed,
Captain Thomas Savery invented a "heat-engine," the first treaty
partitioning Spain was signed, the Tories won a bitter political
struggle for control of Parliament, William Warburton was born, Daniel
Defoe's The Poor Man's Plea was published, Ned Ward started a periodical
called The London Spy; the Vanities and Vices of the Town Exposed to
View, the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge was formed, and King
William delivered A Proclamation for Preventing and Punishing Immorality
and Prophaneness. With the spring, and in the midst of all this
activity, Jeremy Collier's A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness
of the English Stage hit the presses. Though Collier's book was in one
sense a result and a reflection of the reformation temper which existed
at the end of the century, it also marked the beginning of a critical
controversy about the drama which raged, with all the fury of the fire
at Whitehall, well into the eighteenth century. There were three
editions of A Short View before the year ended (five editions, in all,
were published, plus two reissues by 1740), and one recent scholar
estimates conservatively that "by his death, in 1^26, somewhere between
75 and 100 books, pamphlets, and articles resulted directly from the
influence of the Short View."-*-
1

2
To find out what beliefs led Collier to this attack on the
stage, and how those beliefs conflicted with those of his opponents, a
brief look at what is known of this divine's life and writings is in
order. It was probably determined from his birth on September 23, 1650
at Stow Qui in Cambridgeshire that Jeremy would follow his grandfather
2
and father as a member of the clergy. He was first educated by his
father, who besides being a divine and a linguist, was master of a free
school at Ipswich. Collier went on to receive his B.A. and M.A. from
Cambridge and was ordained a deacon in 1676 and a priest in the follow¬
ing year. After officiating for a short time at the Countess Dowager
of Dorset's, he moved on to a small rectory at Ampton in 1679, where he
stayed for six years. His experience there may not have been too happy,
for in his later moral essay "Upon the Office of a Chaplain" (1697) he
points out how the curates and chaplains have suffered from lack of
respect and material benefits. As Kathleen Ressler notes, in this
essay he "advocates higher salaries to improve the learning and status
of the profession, for poverty exposes them to contempt and 'scurvy
temptation.'"3 It also seems logical that Collier's experience at
Ampton may have led to his comments in support of status and material
wealth for the clergy in his anti-stage writings.^ In any case, the
year 1685 found him in London, where he was made a lecturer at Gray's
Inn.
With the change in monarchs in 1688, Collier began his career
as a devoted and outspoken non-juror. His "Desertion Discuss'd" (1688)
caused such irritation in the government that he was imprisoned at
Newgate for several months, though never brought to trial. The stay in
prison only hardened his opposition to William III, and he continued to

3
write political pamphlets until his next arrest in 1692, when he and
another non-juring clergyman were accused of trying to communicate with
the exiled James II. Though he could have gone free on bail, he refused
to accept it because that would have meant a recognition of William's
jurisdiction. Thus, until released upon the appeal of his friends, he
spent about a week in jail penning still another bitter attack on the
government entitled "Remarks on the London Gazette.Nothing is known
of Collier again until 1696 when he and two other non-juring clergymen
(Cook and Snatt) granted absolution to Sir John Friend and Sir William
Perkins at Tyburn. Public and governmental outrage at this was almost
universal, for not only had Friend and Perkins been convicted of plot¬
ting the assassination of William, they had made no public confession.
The feeling was that Collier and the other priests, therefore, did not
consider the plotting sinful. While Cook and Snatt were arrested and
eventually convicted and released, Collier went into hiding and was
outlawed. (He legally remained outlawed for the rest of his life.)
His concealment did not stop him from publishing "A Defence of the
Absolution" only six days after the execution. When, on the day follow¬
ing the execution "the two archbishops and twelve bishops who were then
in London put forth a 'Declaration' condemning the action of the three
clergymen as 'an open affront to the laws both of church and state,'
and 'as insolent and unprecedented in the manner and altogether irre¬
gular in the thing,Collier needed only two weeks to provide yet a
further reply in his own defense. Quite clearly he had already de¬
veloped that quality of self-assured insistence of his views which
caused Samuel Johnson to say admiringly that "he was formed for a
controvertist."7

4
That Collier felt the need to have his ideas and talents
constantly before the public is also indicated by the more than fifty
works—ranging from sermons, translations of Cicero and Marcus
Aurelius, and An Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain to political
pamphlets, stage criticism, and The Great Historical, Geographical,
Genealogical, and Poetical Dictionary—which were published through the
year of his death (1726). From the number and variety of his works, it
seems that he must have been supremely confident in his abilities. But
even more important in understanding his criticism of the stage is his
unbending attitude in controversy. His stubborn persistence in having
the last word in his arguments with the Restoration dramatists causes
his later admirers to see him as a heroic figure. Thomas Babington
Macaulay, for example, says that "we believe him to be as honest and
courageous a man as ever lived" and that "the spirit of" A Short View
"is truly heroic.Johnson, too, sees him as a warrior who "walked
out to battle, and assailed at once most of the living writers, from
Dryden to Durfey," and was victorious because of his "unconquerable
pertinacity."9 Though his stature as a warrior may be questioned, he
certainly seemed to relish the pamphlet wars he fought, and there is no
indication that he ever conceded any point for which he was arguing.
A key to his vision of himself as a steadfast moral crusader
comes in his Moral Essays where he says that "Fortitude is the Guard of
moral Advantage, and the Being of Truth and Justice subsists upon it. .
. . 'Tis not possible for a Coward to be a good man."^ But apart from
his self-righteous confidence (dangerously close to arrogant pride), a
general view of man emerges from Collier's theological writings which
carries over to his criticism of the stage. But before citing his

5
comments on the nature of man, I must say that I feel he exemplifies
that group of later seventeenth-century divines whom C. F. Allison
calls the "'holy living' school." In his study of the changes in
English Christianity during the seventeenth century, Professor Allison
concludes that "the view of the Gospel held in the first half of the
century," which "manifested a blend of doctrine and ethics, Christian
dogma and morals, justification and sanctification, and produced a de¬
votional literature that was profoundly and functionally pastoral," had
undergone a significant change. Thus, he sees a new view of the Gospel
held by some influential divines in the second half of the century:
The later view rent the fabric of soteriology and split
the elements of religion so radically that doctrine
became almost irrelevant and ethics became so harsh as
to be cruel. There was an ineluctable movement away
from the Christian faith of the earlier divines towards
a moralism masquerading as faith.
The divines who introduced this trend towards
moralism postulated a freedom of will in sinners that
was of Pelagian proportions. Their remedy for sin con¬
sisted largely of exhortations to lead a holy life.H
This emphasis on the freedom of the human will was also coupled with a
Pelagian deemphasis of original sin as a condition of man. Among the
"holy living" divines, then, sin came to be treated almost exclusively
"as an action rather than as a condition," which, since it was willful,
could be controlled by man.12 Obviously, what this could lead to—and
did lead to in Collier, I think—was a glorification of man's nature
and his potential for moral living if he willfully avoided sources of
vice and sinful action. Man was not corrupt but corruptible.
Professor Ressler, in her study of Collier's Moral Essays,
finds that "it is Collier's intense interest in the moral life of man
that partially leads him to assert roundly the doctrine of Free Will."12

6
Citing two of Collier's Sermons (VI, II) she goes on to explain his
belief that "Will, which is stronger than reason, is impelled to direct
motion; plus understanding, it intensifies the power of the soul which
is determined towards good .... [Thus,] when both will and reason
combine to embrace God, man approaches nearest earthly happiness."-*-^
Collier says in his essay, "Of Religious Temper," that "the Essense of
future Happiness will consist in the Knowledge and Love of God. The
Powers of the Soul may be all reduced to the Understanding, and the
Will: When these two Faculties, are fix'd upon the noblest Object,
and exercis'd in the most perfect manner, then the Mind is compleatly
Happy."15 And, while he recognizes the necessity for divine grace, he
diminishes the importance of it:
Now as far as we can guess at the Operations of Humane
Nature, 'tis more entertaining to mount by our own
Motion, than to be altogether passive in our Rise: And
for this reason, 'tis probable, God has allow'd us the
Honour of Cooperating with his Assistances, and having
some little share in making our selves happy.16
The freedom of the will gives man the opportunity to live a happy life
here on earth—"Station and Happiness lies in every ones power: The
Management of the Will determines Precedency"^—and to earn his way to
heaven: "For tho' a Man is born into this World with his Mother's
Labour, yet 'tis his own that must carry him to the other."18 Ressler
also points out "Collier's tendency towards a less literal and more
modern [Pelagian?] attitude ... in his treatment of the Fall and the
Devil." She cites a statement in his essay "Of Goodness" which dimini¬
shes the effects of original sin:
"[Adam] was not thrown into a Dungeon, condemn'd to
Darkness, and exposed to Starving and Stench. 'Tis
granted, He was sadly reduced; the Communication with
Heaven was cut off; He lost the honour of conversing

7
with his Maker; He was not supply'd as formerly without
Trouble; He was under a necessity of Labour; He was ob¬
noxious to Pain, brought under the Force of Time, and
Death and Diseases were let loose upon Him. But after
all, this was rather an Abatement of Happiness, than a
State of Misery."19
This essay concentrates on Adam's prelapsarian perfection, not the Fall,
in discussing man as a "Divine Image" which, if kept pure, will "natur¬
ally" draw "God's Favour."^0
This combination of Pelagian tendencies (emphasis on man's
free will and a deemphasis of original sin) leads Collier to view man
as capable of living a righteous life, and even of coming close to per¬
fection. He says, for example, that "there is a Greatness in Human
Nature not to be over-awed by Death. The way to be Possessed of this
Quality to purpose, is to live well. There is no such Bravery as that
of a good Christian."21 If people would "live well" and follow the
"Golden Rule," he imagines perfection could be achieved:
Things would look as if the Millennium was commenc'd,
or the Gates of Paradise set open. What inviolable
Friendship might we then expect, what Exactness in
Commerce, what Easiness in Conversation? Want would
be in a great Measure remov'd, and Envy thrown out
of Society: The Poor would not steal from the Rich,
nor the Rich starve the Poor. There would be no such
Thing as Fraud and Oppression; No Sallies of Ambition,
no grasping at forbidden Greatness, to disturb the
World. What Largeness of Mind, what Harmony of
Humours, what Peace in Families and Kingdoms ....
Christendom would no longer be the Scene of Confusion,
the Field of Blood, and the Sport of Infidels and
Devils: There would be no leading into Captivity;
no complaining in our Streets. Men might then beat
their Swords into Plow-shares, and their Spears into
Pruning-hooks: Nation would not rise against Nation,
neither would they learn War any more. Then Justice
would run down like Water, and Righteousness like a
mighty Stream: Then People would strive for nothing
more than to oblige each other."22
Certainly no Christian humanist could so mistake the natural depravity

8
of man (due to the Fall) as even to imagine such paradisiacal conditions
for earthly creatures.
With this view of man, it is not surprising when Collier
quotes Plato to help him describe a good man: "'A just Person, who
keeps close to the Rule of Virtue, acts by the best Precedents, and imi¬
tates the Powers above, can't but be lov'd by them: 'Tis impossible
for the Gods to overlook a Man so like themselves: To do this, would
be in effect to neglect their own Nature, and disregard the happy
Qualities they are possess'd of.'"23 This Platonic belief about imita¬
ting the Gods is very similar to his own view of how man can attain
virtue:
Now to resemble God, is the Perfection of Virtue;
'tis doing the wisest, and the Greatest Action in
its Kind. To mention but one Advantage, We can't
recommend our selves more effectually to God Almighty,
than by delighting in the same Actions which he does.
Love naturally arises from Likeness of Disposition.
Our Imitation of Another, is an unquestioned Proof
that we value his Person, and admire his Choice; which
lays a kind of an Obligation for a Return .... By
being of the same Temper with God Almighty, we do as
it were, engage his Inclinations to make us Happy.
While we are thus affected, he can no more be uncon¬
cerned about our Welfare, than he can deny himself; or
put a neglect upon his own Attributes.
This link to Plato is only part of a more complex connection which Pro¬
fessor Ressler points out in her study.^5 She sees Plato, through the
Cambridge Platonists, as the source for Collier's "'inner certitude,'"
his ideas of free will, and his deemphasis of the Fall doctrine with the
corollary emphasis on man's divine essence, rather than the Pelagian in¬
fluences which Allison sees active in the late seventeenth century.
Both sources, it seems to me, can be valid when assessing Collier's
view of the stage, for the Pelagianists, like Plato in The Republic,

9
would have been for keeping man out of the way of those sources of evil
which could corrupt his basically virtuous nature. Censorship would be
necessary if "good living" were to flourish.
To carry Collier's Platonism one step further—that is, to
the danger he sees in man's imitation of evil—it is only necessary to
turn to A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English
2 6
Stage. He cites Plato early in this work (p. 5) to make the point that
men will imitate whatever human behavior they see in a mimetic repres¬
entation. This belief that man can only benefit from seeing what is
good runs counter to some of the strongest sentiments expressed by
obvious Christian writers, such as Milton in Areopagitica:
Good and evill we know in the field of this World grow
up together almost inseparably; and the knowledge of
good is so involv'd and interwoven with the knowledge
of evill, and in so many cunning resemblances hardly
to be discern'd, that those confused seeds which are
impos'd on Psyche as an incessant labour to cull out,
and sort asunder, were not more intermixt. ... He
that can apprehend and consider vice with all her baits
and seeming pleasures, and yet abstain, and yet distin¬
guish, and yet prefer that which is truly better, he is
the true wayfaring Christian. I cannot praise a fugi¬
tive and cloister'd vertue, unexercis'd & unbreath'd,
that never sallies out and sees her adversary, but
slinks out of the race, where that immortall garland is
to be run for, not without dust and heat. Assuredly we
bring not innocence into the world, we bring impurity
much rather: that which purifies us is triall, and
triall is by what is contrary.27
Milton feels that salvation can only be won through temptation and trial
evil must be confronted, recognized, and resisted; and good must be
chosen. This recognition of man's fallen state and his necessity for
confronting vice (and therefore, part of his own nature) is certainly
in opposition to Plato's view of man in The Republic, but as Milton
points out, Plato's laws censoring poets were meant "peculiarly to that

10
Commonwealth which he had imagin'd," and "he knew this licencing of
Poems had reference and dependence to many other proviso's there set
down in his fancied republic, which in this world could have no place.
Collier sees Plato's "fancied republic" as what seventeenth-century
England might be, if censorship of the playwrights were effective. He
refuses to recognize man's fallen condition and thus feels that some
properties of Plato's "imagin'd" world, such as a preservation of man's
purity by banning lewd books and entertainment, were possible without
the other "proviso's" which Plato called for. He seems to oppose those
views of man, expressed by writers like Swift, which emphasize man's
post-lapsarian, flawed nature and the necessity of a struggle toward
salvation. That Collier can argue that "such Entertainment [plays] . . .
does in effect degrade Human Nature, sinks Reason into Appetite, and
breaks down the Distinctions between Man and Beast," only emphasizes his
impression that man is innocent and virtuous before he encounters repres-
29
entations of vice.
This Platonic rejection of all that is evil from the stage is
repeated throughout A Short View and in his later responses to his
critics. In his remarks about D'Urfey's Don Quixote, for example, he
suggests that "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 Máxime in Good Breeding never to shock the Senses,
or Imagination."30 In A Defence of the Short View (1699) he responds
to Congreve by stating that "Lussious Descriptions, and Common Places of
Lewdness are unpardonable.. They affront the virtuous, and debauch the
unwary, and are a scandal to the Country where they are suffer'd. The
pretence of Nature, and Imitation, is a lamentable Plea. . .
All

11
Characters of Immodesty (if there must be any such) should only be
hinted in remote Language, and thrown off in Generals.in his ans¬
wer to James Drake he cites Plato again concerning the danger of imi¬
tating what one sees on stage: "Tis Plato's Opinion then that the
Diversions of the Stage are dangerous to Temper and Sobriety; they
swell Anger and Desire too much. Tragedy is apt to make Man boisterous
and Comedy Buffoons. Thus those Passions are cherish'd which ought to
be check'd, Virtue loses ground, and Reason grows precarious."-^ But a
basic contradiction in Collier's view of man is seen when he minimizes
the danger of confronting evil in his essay, "Of an Apostle":
God has furnish'd every one of us with a share of Judg¬
ment and Apprehension: We have a Touchstone against
false Coyn, a Test for Right and Wrong, a natural Faculty
to take Check at a gross Fallacy, and to encline us to
the side of Truth. Suppose I read in a Book in which
there are false Notions, and Lectures of Immorality; I
may lay it aside at my Pleasure: I am not at all forc'd
either to believe the Doctrine, or follow the Advice:
No, nor yet to disquiet myself with the Author's Mis¬
behaviour. If I see a Man do an ill Thing, what Necessity
is there either for imitation, or disturbing my Head about
that which is out of my power? A Man has Light in his
Understanding, and Liberty in his Will. He is Master of
his Conduct, and by the Grace of God may preserve himself
in a tolerable Innocence. By the Privilege of this Liberty,
in concurrence with the Assistance of Heaven, we may give
Laws to our Passions, and bring them under Management and
Discipline. So that to keep our selves harmless and
compos'd, there's no need of footing it into the Forest. ^3
To this point in the passage Collier is consistent with his other state
ments about man's potential for leading a righteous life because of his
natural attributes of free will and understanding. He also presents a
very reasonable position on censorship, which is not at all consistent
with his other statements.. To indicate how uncomfortable he probably
was with the idea of free choice in reading matter, his next phrase
hedges and indicates that the power of good judgment may be reserved

12
only for great minds like his own. He feels that "this design [virtuous
living] will be better pursu'd by staying at Home; by exerting our
Native Strength, by informing our Understanding, and by calling in the
Aids of Religion." Ultimately, then, (except for himself) it is best
to keep out of the way of vice and to know only good if one is to "live
well." The contradiction between Collier's belief that virtuous living
comes easy (through man's free will and natural goodness) and his desire
to keep men from evil (thereby limiting his free will) is never resolved
in his arguments. Indeed, the contradiction only lends credence to the
view that his conception of man as virtuous was possible only with his
concomitant desire for a society like Plato's Republic, where censorship
(by those as wise as himself) would protect the people's virtue. But in
response to his Platonism, many critics and playwrights were quick to
point out the faults in using Plato as an authority. Like Milton, John
Dennis emphasizes that "the Commonwealth of Plato is a mere romantick
Notion, with which human Nature, and human Life, and, by consequence,
Dramatick Poetry, cannot possibly agree.Edward Filmer quotes from
Sidney's Defence of Poesie, in which Plato's veneration of poetry and
poets in his Ion is noted. Sidney feels this attitude reflects Plato's
true feelings. But whatever Plato's true thoughts, certainly Filmer's
notation at least places Collier's use of this ancient philosopher in
proper perspective.
The danger of Collier's Platonism to the drama is suggested
by Filmer's observation that Collier would have a character "fix a Paper
O C
on his Forehead" as a label to tell what type of person he was. Filmer
refers of course to Collier's concept of safe dramatic characterization.
Dialogue and actions would mean little in a Collier production; statues

13
with inscribed messages would serve his purpose, for, in Collier's view,
To say a Man has been Prophane in general, and then to
punish him is somewhat Intelligible; To make him an
Example without Instance, and Particularity, is a safe
way of Dramatick Justice: But when he is suffer'd to
Act his Distraction, and practice before the Company,
the Punishment comes too late. Such Malefactors are
infectious, and kill at their very execution. 'Tis
much safer to not to hear them talk, than to see them
suffer. . . . Some Vices wont bear the naming: They
are acted in some measure when they are hearkn'd to. °
This kind of comment leads Drake to state that Collier "is all along a
Platonist in his Philosophy" and that "The whole scheme and strain of
the Platonick Philosophy, is very romantick and whimsical, and like our
Author's works, favours in every particular more strongly of Fancy than
Judgment."37
Collier's Platonism manifested itself in expressions of dis¬
gust at the evil and corruption he was forced to see and hear on the
stage. He was sensitive only to the ability of the wicked and foolish
characters to corrupt an audience; therefore, he wished their actions
and language merely spoken of—labelled, not seen or heard. His attempt
to muffle and finally remove plays as a form of entertainment shows that
his understanding of himself and other men presupposed that innocence
not only existed but could be preserved if men were cut off enough from
the evils of the world. Instead of accepting each man as sinful and
capable of redemption, Collier, like Plato, chose to envision a world
(city, country) where men could live in purity, protected from those
things which had gone farthest "in Debauching the Age": "the Stage
Poets, and Play-House."38
With this short view of Collier it may be easier to see how
the critics in support of the stage could see the drama as moral, from

14
a Christian humanistic (and orthodox Anglican) point of view while
Collier (and others, like George Ridpath, Arthur Bedford, and William
39
Law) demanded censorship on the basis of a moralism that was both
Pelagian and Platonic.

NOTES
Ajames Thorpe, III, "Jeremy Collier's A Short View of the
Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage (1698): A Critical
Edition," Diss. Yale, 1969, p. v.
O
Most of this biographical information which follows comes
from William Hunt's piece on Collier in The Dictionary of National
Biography, eds. Sir Leslie Stephen and Sir Sidney Lee (1921-22; rpt.
London: Oxford University Press, 1937-38), IV, 797-803.
O
J"Jeremy Collier's Essays," Seventeenth Century Studies,
second series, ed. Robert Shafer (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1937), p. 257.
^See A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the
English Stage (London, 1698), pp. 83-84 & 127-129 and A Defence of
the Short View of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage
(London, 1699), pp. 70 & 117.
^According to the DNB, the subject of this attack was "the
loss of English property on the coast of Spain and the defeat of the
king at the battle of London" (IV, 798).
6DNB, IV, 798.
7Lives of the Poets, ed. George Birkbeck Hill (1905; rpt.
New York: Octagon Books, Inc., 1967), II, 220-221.
^The Works of Lord Macaulay (London: Longman, Green, and
Co., 1898) , IX, 378.
^Lives, II, 221.
10"0f Fortitude," Essays Upon Several Moral Subjects, part
4, 1st ed. (London, 1709). I have used the 6th edition (1709) of
parts 1 & 2 and the 2nd edition (1707) of part 3. Collier says in
his essay "Upon Pride" (part 1, 3) that humility should not keep a
person from striking out at those who are wrong.
•^The Rise of Moralism: The Proclamation of the Gospel
from Hooker to Baxter (New York: The Seabury Press, 1966), p. 192.
12Ibid. , p. 202.
â– ^Ressler, p. 185.
â– ^Ibid., p. 186.
15

16
23Moral Essays, part 4, 125.
16"of Fortitude," Moral Essays, part 4, 206.
17"0f Envy," Moral Essays, part 2, 119.
â– ^"Of the Value of Life," Moral Essays, part 2, 27. Some
of the other references in the Moral Essays to the power of the will
are: part 1, 19; part 2, 41 & 132-133; part 3, 171-172 & 276.
â– ^Ressler, pp. 196-197.
^Moral Essays, part 4, 10-11.
21lbid., part 2, 33.
22
Ibid., part 4, 92-93. Elsewhere, Collier speaks of the
success of the Apostles: "I confess, their Design was noble and
beneficial in the highest Degree: For, what can be greater than to
retrieve the Dignity of Human Nature, to bring the World to a
Paradisiacal State, and oblige People, in their best capacities of
Happiness?" (Moral Essays, part 3, 238-239).
23Ibid., part 4, 49.
2^Ibid., part 1, 175-176. He also states in "Of Fortitude"
that "to stand Adversity . . . is to be great above Title and Fortune.
This argues the Soul of a Heavenly Extraction, and is worthy of the
Offspring of the Deity. Where such a Prize hangs in View, what
generous Inclination can neglect it? Who would not be Ambitious of
such a Blessing, and endeavour to rise up to so great a Perfection as
This?" (part 4, 223).
25pp. 180, 181, 183, 187, 190-193, 195, 197, 222-223, 228,
230-231.
28He makes references to man's tendency to imitate in Moral
Essays, part 1, 240-241 and part 2, 16 and to the danger of imitating
evil on stage in A Short View, pp. 71 & 204.
2 7
The Works of John Milton, ed. Frank Allen Patterson, et al
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1931), IV, 310-311.
28Ibid., 316.
2^A Short View, p. 6.
30Ibid., p. 205.
33p. 10.
32A Second Defence of the Short View of the Prophaneness
and Immorality of the English Stage (London, 1700), p. 17.

17
-^Moral Essays, part 3, 273-274. Though Collier mentions
the need for "the Grace of God" and "the Assistance of Heaven" in this
passage, his emphasis, as in the Moral Essays, is upon man's ability,
through his own will, to remain innocent.
^The Critical Works of John Dennis, ed. Edward Niles Hooker,
I (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1939), 169. James Drake
has a similar comment in The Antient and Modern Stages Survey1d (London,
(London, 1699), pp. 34-35.
->->A Defence of Plays (London, 1707), pp. 70-71.
-^Defence, p. 16.
Drake, p. 97.
OO
A Short View, preface.
39
Allison points out that Jeremy Taylor, the leading spokes¬
man for the "'holy living' school," had a tremendous impact on Law
(pp. 193-194).

CHAPTER I
THE CRITICAL GROUNDS—NO NEED TO SHIFT THEM
To understand the drama of the Restoration it is necessary
to examine carefully the controversy which raged over the morality of
the plays and which found its most prolific and vocal spokesman in
Jeremy Collier. The controversy would be of little importance if it
did not show most convincingly the importance of morality as an element
which must be considered in any serious critical examination of that
art. There was (and still is) much disagreement about whether the drama,
and especially the comedy,-*- is moral or immoral, but many recent critics
seem to feel the moral issue is not even important in understanding the
plays. Eric Rothstein calls Restoration comedy "one of the most ob¬
vious bastions of aristocratic amorality."^ John Palmer, in a confusing
attempt to divorce art and morality, says that "art is not primarily
concerned with morality" and that Congreve "foolishly" argues with
Collier on moral grounds. Norman Holland redefines morality in his
own terms by saying that "if a play is true to its purpose, the pleasure
of understanding, then I think it cannot be called immoral."^ Thus, he
can examine the plays without taking into account the moral attitudes
of the contemporary playwrights and critics toward the drama. Rose A.
Zimbardo sees the issue of morality in Restoration comedy as "an extra¬
literary question."'* Joseph Wood Krutch claims that in contrast to
literary tradition, Restoration "poets were not interested in morality
either one way or the other." Though he does not believe, as Collier
does, that they are "actively engaged in any systematic attempt to
18

19
destroy" morality, "neither were they engaged in any attempt through
the employment of satire, or by any other means, to recommend it."6
To see the plays basically as amoral, however, is to miss
not only what the playwrights felt was the intention of their plays,
but that aspect of their vision of the world which helped provide the
very structure or pattern of those plays. It is my position that no
complete understanding of the plays can be obtained without considering
the moral issue at the heart of the Collier controversy, for it reflects
the moral concerns of all those interested in the art of writing plays.
What many of the modern critics have failed to emphasize (or, perhaps,
do not believe) is that late seventeenth-century England was still
dominated by a Christian world-view, focused on the workings of Provi¬
dence and the destiny of human souls. As G. R. Cragg points out in his
historical analysis of religious thought during the Restoration period,
The view of the world which had been fashioned in the
early centuries of the Christian era and reduced to
perfect logical precision by the great schoolmen was
still widely current. "This strange medley of fact
and fable, of truth and falsehood, of good and evil"
represented the world view of the vast majority of the
contemporaries of Newton. For many of them Copernicus
might never have lived, and even fellows of the Royal
Society could retain strange fragments from the older
thought.^
The ethical perspectives of this world-view have been related to the
O
Augustan humanists by Paul Fussell, certainly many of these same per¬
spectives also apply to the best post-Restoration writers. Fussell sees
the sources of eighteenth-century humanism in the "Christian humanism of
the English Renaissance," including Milton and Locke. To see the best
writers of the Restoration as humanists--with an "immoderate love of
'humane learning,'" with a belief in the paradoxical and flawed nature

20
of man, with an assumption "that ethics and expression are closely
allied," and with a vision of "man not primarily as a maker or even a
knower, but rather as a moral actor"®—seems not only reasonable but
obvious with a proper understanding of their works. Evidence for this
ethical perspective among the writers may be seen in the nature and
number of publications concerned with God's relationship to man and the
universe.'*'® Besides the works of Milton and Bunyan, the sermons of
Barrow, Tillotson, South, Stillingfleet, Burnet, and Bentley and the
scientific and theological writings of Ray, Boyle, and Newton were
among the most popular and influential works of the age. Irhne Simon
not only points out the influence of sermons on the educated public
well into the eighteenth century, but also shows how "the printed
versions alone have a right to be treated as a branch of literature"
and how "any account of the temper or intellectual climate of the age
that ignores these facts [about the importance of the sermons] is there¬
fore bound to be distorted."â– *â– "*" Edward Arber also points out that "it
was the religious people first, and the Scientists next, that made the
fortunes of the London Book Trade.When Arber speaks of "Writers on
Pure and Applied Science," he is referring to the scientists Cragg
discusses: "The leading scientists of the period were for the most part
earnest Christians, and they continually related their discoveries to a
religious interpretation of the world." The works of all these
writers share with the best Restoration drama what Aubrey Williams
calls "the Renaissance Christian vision of human experience, however
pale and faint it may have turned."'*'^ To say, as many critics have,
that the drama, and especially the comedy, lacks any moral concern,
denies the existence of the Christian ethic as basic to the lives of

21
the Englishmen of the age. Such views also place the Restoration play¬
wrights, who, as poets, traditionally have been seen as especially sen¬
sitive to man's nature and the ways it might be improved, outside the
spirit of the times, engaged in writing which does not interest itself
with the most fundamental attitudes of the age. Removing the plays
from the issue of morality, as Zimbardo wishes to do, may simplify the
analyses, but it does not produce a purely "literary" discussion of the
plays. Indeed, there are not literary and moral issues for the
seventeenth-century poet; there are literary issues which include the
important moral issues of the times: the conduct of man on earth as
it is related to his salvation and the role of Providence in man's life
and the workings of the universe.
The propensity on the part of modern critics to divorce
Restoration drama from the moral vision of the age has produced judgments
like John Palmer's that "Jeremy Collier invented the moral test. "-*-7 On
the contrary, that traditional critical theory which existed in England
(expressed by Sidney, Jonson, Rapin, Rymer, and Dryden, among others)
always made clear the moral value of literature, specifically the drama.
What Ben Ross Schneider calls "the Aristotelian-Horatian principle of
utile dulcí" was commonly asserted by the playwrights when they talked
18
of the intention of their plays. Thus, when Collier attacked the
stage, he was not setting completely new ground rules for criticism, nor
were the responses to his attack nearly so weak as some modern critics
would have us think.^ Without any convincing analysis, for example,
Palmer sees Congreve's and Vanbrugh's responses to Collier as ineffectual
because they accept Collier's standard as a basis for argument. He
also sees A Vindication of the Stage (1698) as the "nearest approach to

22
a competent defence of the dramatist" (though apparently still not
"competent"), with no mention of John Dennis's The Usefulness of the
Stage (1698), James Drake's The Antient and Modern Stages Survey'd
(1699), Edward Filmer's A Defence of Plays (1707), or Elkanah Settle's
A Defence of Dramatick Poetry (1698) and A Farther Defence of Dramatick
Poetry (1698). He probably fails to note these because they, like all
the defenses of the stage during the controversy, met Collier on
Collier's ground, that is, on the evaluation of art in terms of, rather
than in spite of, its moral position. The difficulty of evaluating art
apart from its moral intent may be seen in Palmer's definition:
Art is not primarily concerned with morality. It is
not the aim or business of comedy to improve the
world. . . . When we say that art is not primarily
concerned with morality, we mean that in most cases
(the exceptions prove the rule) an artist is first
concerned with beautifully expressing something he
has felt or seen. He endeavours to give local habi¬
tation and a name to a piece of life imaginatively
realised. His art is fashioned in the heat of a
desire to see life in shape and form. His impulse is
not the impulse of a moralist to improve the world;
it is the impulse of an artist to express it. 21-
Palmer does not seem to be sure of his contentions, for he
finds it necessary to qualify his first assertion with "the exceptions
prove the rule" and later states that "morality is his [the artist's]
subject, though it is not his object." He also says that "the greatest
artists are also those who have contributed most to the morality of the
Commonwealth," and that "morality is an accident of the artist's accom¬
plishment, though it is not the intention." His statements not only
seem to hedge on the relationship of morality and art, but they contra¬
dict all the contemporary criticism I have located and therefore his
own observation that "the poet's work [is] conditioned by the period
in which he lives, the moral laws which his moods and characters

23
unconsciously obey." In fact, since he cites no sources for this
theory of att, Palmer seems to be doing what he has accused other
critics, especially Macaulay, of doing: looking at the drama of the
late seventeenth century through the eyes (and critical values) of his
own age. The modern critic, just as the seventeenth and eighteenth-
century critic, must deal with Collier within the context of Collier's
age, that is, within the context of a world with Christianity at its
center as a way to view life and create art (which in Palmer's own
words, represents "life in shape and form").
While it is certain that many of Collier's arguments in A
Short View do not focus on important issues for all of the plays, the
work unleashed a rash of publications which give us the most complete
source of critical information about drama of the Restoration. The
reactions to Collier's arguments indicate that no play in the late
seventeenth or early eighteenth centuries could neglect a moral function
and escape criticism. There was an expectation by the general audience
and critics (just as in the earlier drama in England) of a point of view
which recognized a world contingent upon Divine order and which re¬
flected God's just rewards and punishments as part of the moral code.
Collier, himself, at least as he begins his Short View, suggests such
a moral purpose:
The Business of Plays is to recommend 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.22
Of course, as defenders like Thomas D'Urfey, John Dennis, and Edward

24
Filmer point out, Collier went on to condemn the stage entirely.^3
Assuming, as Johannes Ballein indicates, that he changed his mind about
the stage as he wrote his treatise, at one point at least he actually
felt the purpose of the stage was moral. This opinion certainly finds
good critical company during the Restoration period (even though some
critics, like Thomas Rymer, are very critical of contemporary and, at
times, earlier drama).25
A reexamination of the contemporary critical responses to
Collier is necessary in order to establish a historical basis for any
criticism of the drama. Sister Rose Anthony's catalogue of works
related to the controversy, though deficient in critical commentary
about the works, is extremely useful in understanding the types and
number of responses.^6 From the various defenses of the Restoration
stage she cites, I have organized three groups based upon how closely
the defenders could be related to Collier's attack in A Short View: the
first is made up of the responses of those playwrights who were attacked
by Collier; ' the second includes the reactions of playwrights who
O O
defended the stage though not individually attacked by Collier, the
final group includes defenses of the stage by individuals who were not
O Q
primarily playwrights or who have remained anonymous. Some overlapping
exists since some of the anonymous writers may have been important play¬
wrights and also since Dennis's major importance (at least today) is as
a critic, not a playwright. I placed him in group two, however, be¬
cause he did write six plays which were produced during the height of
the controversy, aligning his interests more closely with the play¬
wrights'. This grouping should prove useful in establishing the most
valuable defenses of the stage. What will be shown is a consistency

25
of critical thought about the drama even though each group stands at a
different distance from Collier's attack.
Though Collier chose to attack Otway, Wycherley, Dryden,
Congreve, D'Urfey, and Vanbrugh, only the last four responded. Most
critics feel that the defenses offered by Congreve, D'Urfey, and
Vanbrugh are weak and that Dryden even agrees with Collier in the lat¬
ter's judgment of him. But in all of these answers (though in Dryden's
case there are complications), there is a basic concern for defending
the moral value of the stage and especially the plays Collier has
attacked. To fault these responses because they do not adequately ans¬
wer all of Collier's assertions seems wrong, for as G. F. Lamb states,
"Their task was an impossible one." He feels that Collier's document
was not "intended to stimulate reasoned argument. Its aim was to heckle
and victimize the dramatists and players.What should be noted are
the assumptions these writers make about their plays and the kind of
corrections they attempt to bring about in Collier's readings. They are
not as concerned with his general argument about immorality and profaneness
as with the specific evidence he draws from their plays.Their defen¬
ses focus on specific characters or passages which Collier has misunder¬
stood or misrepresented.
Though these defenses are obviously limited, however, they
provide the kind of reply the more general responses to Collier usually
lack, that is, proof that Collier had misused his evidence from the con¬
temporary plays. They all stress their beliefs in the moral purpose of
the drama, with Congreve going to somewhat elaborate lengths to define
and defend comedy. In explaining Aristotle he states that "Men are to
be laugh'd out of their Vices in Comedy; the Business of Comedy is to

26
delight, as well as to instruct: And as vicious People are made
asham'd of their Follies or Faults, by seeing them expos'd in a ridi¬
culous manner, so are good People at once both warn'd and diverted at
their Expence." A similarity between Congreve's definition and
Dryden's earlier comments in his often partially quoted preface to An
Evening’s Love: or the Mock Astrologer (1671) should be noted. What
Professor Krutch sees as Dryden's flat repudiation of "any responsi-
o tr
bility of the dramatist to point a moral', is actually only part of an
explanation based upon Dryden's premise that the poet's job is to work
"a cure on folly, and the small imperfections of mankind."36 Although
this preface clarifies Dryden's distinction between tragedy and comedy,
it does not remove moral instruction from the comic realm. In fact,
Dryden goes to some trouble to explain how that instruction results
from various factors in the play acting upon the audience. Vanbrugh,
while he does not attempt to define comedy, does assert that "what I
have done is in general a Discouragement to Vice and Folly; I am sure
I intended it, and I hope I have performed it." Likewise, D'Urfey
affirms that the "Plots and designs" of his plays are intended to bring
about "the depression of Vice and encouragement of Virtue."38 Whether
these playwrights accomplished their intended ends is still a hot
critical issue, but one important prerequisite for judging the accom¬
plishments is an understanding of the plays themselves. Their responses
at least offer not only evidence for their intentions but important
corrections to Collier's readings (which will be taken up later) and
his assumptions about drama. The value of these defenses surely should
not be dismissed by any critic who hopes to interpret accurately the
plays of the Restoration.

27
The second group of defenses includes both creative works
(satiric dialogues, poems, and plays) and treatises and letters written
by playwrights not directly attacked by Collier. The creative works in
this group are similar to Dryden's "To My Friend, the Author [Peter
Motteux]" in their rebuke of Collier as an overzealous clergyman and a
misinformed critical authority of the drama. Collectively, these works
are most important in showing how the playwrights felt about Collier's
charges, though they offer less in the way of reasoned critical theory
about the drama than do the argumentative responses of the treatises.
Three full-length plays deal with Collier and his stage attacks:
Charles Gildon's Stage-Beaux Toss'd in a Banket (1704),^9 Elkanah
Settle's The City Ramble: or, Play-House Wedding (1711), and Colley
Cibber's The Non-Juror (1718). Though these plays apparently had little
effect (Gildon's play was not performed and Cibber's was not directed
specifically at Collier), they do indicate a willingness by the other
poets to put their energies into defending the stage. Other creative
exercises include Thomas Brown's Letters from the Dead to the Living
(1702) and A Legacy for the Ladies (1706), Gildon's The Post-Man Robb'd
of His Mail (1719), Granville's epilogue to Jew of Venice (1701),
Farquhar's humorous piece, The Adventures of Covent-Garden (1698), and
Motteux's poem, "The Poet's Character of Himself" (1698).
Though all of these responses reflect important attitudes of
the poets, and even present specific comments on the controversy and
its participants,^ the most useful arguments in favor of the stage
come from the prose treatises of the playwrights. Some of these are
prefaces or dedicatory epistles, such as Gildon's preface to Phaeton
(1698) and Susanna Centlivre's preface to The Perjured Husband (1700),

28
while others are extended treatises, such as Settle's A Defence of
Dramatick Poetry (1698) and Dennis's The Usefulness of the Stage (1698).
Again, these playwrights consistently emphasize the moral function they
see for drama in their critical remarks. Two important aspects of all
of these responses are the outrage the playwrights feel at Collier's
apparent desire to end all drama in England and their fear that his
zeal would excite others.^ The fear seems to result from Collier's
desire to abolish the stage by using a moral argument. These writers
knew the importance of the moral conscience of the people and the king,
and though they were willing to grant that abuses existed, they could
not accept Collier's conclusions or much of his evidence. That they
chose to argue with Collier on moral grounds is not due to a lack of
ability in argument nor to an inability to understand the drama. Rather,
they were aware that any viable art form in the late seventeenth and
early eighteenth centuries must have a moral base, that part of the
artist's power rested in his moral vision and the expression of that
vision. What this meant for the dramatist was an expectation by audi¬
ences and readers (and certainly by critics and other dramatists) of
decency and recognizable moral patterns or conditions in their plays.
Gildon, for example, says that "No Man wou'd be more glad to see all
Indecencies driven from the English Stage, than my self," but he also
indicates that "the Wit of Man can invent no way so efficacious, as
Dramatic Poetry, to advance Virtue and Wisdom.in the epistle
dedicatory to The Patriot (1703) he explains more fully how "Dramatick
Poetry" is "the most effectual Way, the Wit of Man can invent for the
Advancement of Virtue; It attraques a Man in his Gayer hours, by gener¬
ous Instructions, convey'd with Pleasure; turns our Diversions from

29
Folly, and makes them subservient to our improvement, and by that means
robs Vice of our looser Hours." Peter Motteux, likewise, indicates
that reform is necessary but not complete suppression, "For certainly
they [plays] might be of very great use, not only for the Diversion and
Pleasure, but also for the correction and information of Mankind.
Farquhar, in A Discourse Upon Comedy (1702), is intent upon showing that
the "End" of comedy is moral, and that if the English authors "have left
Vice unpunish'd, Vertue unrewarded, Folly unexpos'd, or Prudence unsuc¬
cessful . . . let them be lash'd to some purpose.
Elkanah Settle considers most of Collier's arguments in de¬
tail and is in agreement with Collier's initial desire for a regulated
stage:
I shall join farther with Mr. Collier, and heartily wish,
that both the Levity of Expression, and the too frequent
Choice of Debauch'd Characters, in our Comedies, were
retrench'd, and mended: That also the Prize in the Comedy
might be always given to some deserving Vertue that wins
it; and consequently, our Comedies, even Fiction it self,
might be made more Instructive, By Poetick Justice, in
rewarding and crowning the Vertuous Characters with the
Success in the Drama.
But Settle is quick to show, through evidence and critical theory, how
wrong Collier has been in his judgment. Besides defending plays like
The Old Bachelor, Amphitryon, and The Relapse, which Collier had
attacked, he says that tragedy's "chief work is to raise Compassion"
and explains how it is, therefore, instructive:
And what is it we pity there [in a tragedy], but the
Distresses, Calmities and Ruins of Honour, Loyalty,
Fidelity or Love, &c. represented in some True or
Fictitious, Historick or Romantick Subject of the Play?
Thus Virtue, like Religion by its Martyrdom, is rendred
more shining by its Sufferings, and the Impression we
receive from Tragedy, is only making us in Love with
Virtue, (for Pity is a little kin to Love) and out of
Love with Vice; for at the same time we pity the

30
suffering Virtue, it raises our Aversions and Hate
to the Treachery or Tyranny in the Tragedy, from
whence and by whom that Virtue suffers!
Such an attempt to explain the effects of tragedy certainly comes from
a thoughtful approach to the ends of drama by a writer familiar with
the process of creating it. In trying to explain Aristotle's "pity"
in terms of instructive religion, which most Christians would certainly
understand, one example of the artistic vision of the Restoration is
expressed. In the same way Settle explains that in comedy the play¬
wright must "range the Town . . . for the Follies, the Vices, the
Vanities and the Passions of Mankind, which we meet with every Day."
Then, acting as a "satyrist," the playwright's job is to expose the
fools on stage and improve all except those whose "Opticks" are too
"perverse and deprav'd" to "see themselves there.
Finally, John Dennis, whose defenses rival Collier's attacks
in number, adds his critical clout to the playwrights' theories about
the drama by saying "That the Drama, and Particularly Tragedy, in its
Purity, is so far from having that Effect [encouragement of vice], that
it must of necessity make Man Virtuous.Dennis is careful to note
that the drama had the potential to "make Men Virtuous," but for him
and those defending the stage, this potential was enough to preserve it
and its best products:
It must be acknowledg'd there are Corruptions which
are crept into our Theatres, for into what Human Inven¬
tions will not Corruptions creep, since it is plain that
they insensibly creep into Religion which is of Divine
establishment; but 'twould be a monstrous Conclusion,
that because of the Corruptions of the Church of Rome,
reveal'd Religion ought to be suppressed, and men to
turn Deists or Atheists.^
Though both of these comments come in the context of heated criticism
of Collier (the first, in response to A Short View; the second, in

31
response to Mr. Collier1s Dissuasive from the Play-House (1703), Dennis's
remarks in An Essay on the Opera1s After the Italian Manner (1706) show
that his belief in the necessity and value of the stage was a carefully
considered critical opinion rather than a self-interested outburst in
response to severe attack. In asserting the "Importance of the Stage
to the Publick," he says
That the Drama, of all reasonable Diversions, is the
best that has ever been invented, at once to delight
and instruct the World; that it has never flourish'd
but in Three or Four of the bravest Nations that have
been since the World began, and that in the most
flourishing States of those Nations; and that a People
must have a very good share of Virtue, as well as
Understanding, before they can receive it among them.^0
Dennis's comments about man's need for diversion and the relationship
between patriotism and drama are more complex than those of the other
playwrights, but like the others he constantly notes the importance of
moral instruction as a necessary end to any play.
From the arguments of these playwrights comes what should be
considered a fundamental critical standard for Restoration drama, that
is, that one major purpose of that drama is moral instruction. And
though the expression of these arguments was probably encouraged by
Collier, as were the responses of playwrights Collier attacked directly,
there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of the defenders, as some
modern critics have.-’I Rather than assuming that these critical state¬
ments are fabrications, it seems more reasonable to assume that they
are honest evaluations and proceed to see if they are consistent with
the world-view which the best poets presented in their works. The
moral intentions related in the criticism of these contemporary drama¬
tists also helps us understand why Collier's judgments of the plays were
so erroneous.

32
The final group I have established is perhaps the most impor¬
tant, but because of its nature, some caution will be necessary in dis¬
cussing the works included here. One problem arises in that this group
is comprised of responses from anonymous writers, and also from known
critics who are not primarily playwrights. Obviously, it is possible
that some of the anonymous writers are playwrights, but my assumption
is that in those cases they have not wished to be identified in the
controversy and therefore may be evaluated from the more objective
stance they tried to establish. Also, though John Oldmixon, James
Drake, and Edward Filmer wrote plays, they certainly could not be
considered major playwrights of the period.^2 of these only Filmer
puts his name to his defense of the stage, again perhaps indicating
the wish of these critics to dissociate themselves from the playwrights
in acting as critics.The authors of the remaining works have not
been identified and thus seem to fulfill the criteria for this final
group.
Not only do all the critics in this group find value in the
drama, but their arguments are consistent with those of the playwrights
in groups one and two while going beyond many of them (Dennis's are
exceptions) to suggest important critical concepts for understanding
the drama of the Restoration. The shortest piece of this group exposes,
but does not develop, important critical points. Visits from the Shades
or, Dialogues Serious, Comical, and Political (1704) includes as its
first dialogue a conversation between Jo Hains's ghost and Jeremy
Collier. Hains was the actor who had gotten into the controversy
earlier by writing the prologue and epilogue to Farquhar's Love and a
Bottle (1699). One important observation his ghost makes in this

33
dialogue is that the stage is not responsible for the vice which
exists in England:
If the Stage was overturn'd, I question whether the
People wou'd not be as Vicious as they are. The 3d.
part of the Kingdom are Strangers to the Theatre, yet
their Proficiency in Immorality is of as large a size
as the frequenters of the Drama. . . . There is a
Pravity woven in the Constitution of Mankind, which
neither the force of Religion nor the Power of Precept
can expel.^
Here the author not only counters Collier's assertion that the stage
causes, rather than reflects, vice, but he also expresses what Fussell
has called the Christian humanists' belief about the corrupt nature of
man.55 Ironically, as will be shown later, Collier seemed to reject
the Christian tenet concerning the flawed nature of man, while this
defender makes it clear that he is very much aware of man's natural,
immoral state. More important, however, is the expression of confidence
in drama as a way to help and improve man: "Just Plays and good Poets
are so far from destructive to a publick Community, that they hold up
the Balance of good Manners, and dare speak when the Pulpits are
silent.
Another earlier response to Collier, The Stage Acquitted (1699),
makes use of the dialogue format (between Fairly and Lovetruth) and
focuses on the roles of the stage and the pulpit in providing moral
instruction. The author believes that "the Stage does not presume to
stand in Competition with the Pulpit, in that peculiar and sacred ad¬
vantage of teaching the Mystery of Faith, but only pretends to be
subservient to it in the other arm of the Pulpit's duty, the Improvement
and Regulation of our Manners. "57 It is not a matter of the playwright
replacing the preacher but of the playwright aiding the preacher in his

34
attempt to teach men the way to salvation. Though the message may be
the same, the medium is different, and this difference justifies the
need for the stage:
We have an English Proverb, Forewarn1d, forearm'd;
'tis a sort of Antichristian barbarity to deny poor
heedless unguarded youth so timely a warning. Oh
but, say you the Pulpit will give this warning much
better, and with less danger. That is evidently false,
for first the Pulpit barely tells you that there are
such things, and that they are to be avoided, but
leaves you yet in the dark what they are . . . while
the Stage draws you the picture to the life, gives
you so many Characteristic marks, by shewing their
practice and their deceits, their Hypocrisies, and
gaudy outsides, that one must be very blind indeed,
that is not instructed to know 'em where-ever they
are seen; the Stage exposing their Tricks teaches to
avoid their imposition; for 'tis impossible to escape
them without so perfect a description of their rogueries.
This passage emphasizes just how moral instruction is achieved: by
drawing the "picture to the life" of man's vices and follies. In
likening the ends of both stage and pulpit this critic is careful to
give to the preacher the "serious hours to inculcate its [Pulpit's]
Doctrines," while reserving the "hours of pleasure" for the poet to
present "useful precepts and examples in the midst of our diversion.
Other arguments concerning the appearance of vice, the opinions of
Church fathers, and poetic justice are presented in this rather lengthy
response to Collier and will be referred to in later chapters.
A very similar critical stance, though presented in a much
briefer form, is the anonymous, A Letter to A. H. Esq.; Concerning the
Stage (1698). Here the author also points out that certain types of
wickedness cannot decently be reproved from the pulpit but are best
corrected through precept and example on the stage. He is insistent
about the danger of man's "minding too much the Business of the World"

35
or "the Pleasures of it; both of them are to be kept within bounds, and
both subservient to Religion." For the good of the individual as well
as the state he says that "some publick Exercise" is necessary to regu¬
late men's passions. For him, the theatre fulfills this purpose:
We are there instructed to Love, Hate, and Fear within
measure, how we may be men without debasing our Souls;
and all this by moving Examples, which in spite of
stubbornness, will force its [sic] Impressions; and
'tis our own Fault if they are not lasting. This
certainly must recommend the Stage to the Vertuous;
and Piety can't be offended at the decent reproving
of Vice, and the insinuating recommendation of Vertue.-^
This critic goes beyond mere statements of praise or blame to an ex¬
planation of how the play is to work on the emotions of the audience,
making it quite obvious that each member of that audience has a respon¬
sibility to exercise his moral judgment while seeing the play and to
apply what he has learned once he leaves the playhouse. His belief in
the importance of examples on stage, which not only reflect life but
provide useful guidance for the lives of those who see and read the
plays, is apparent in his understanding of tragedy and comedy: "In
short, 'tis the Property both of Tragedy and Comedy to instruct: The
Characters in both are to be Natural; and the Persons concern'd in the
whole Action, are to be such whose Vertues ought to deter us from
imitating their Example." In making this statement he has already made
it clear that tragedy proves "that Vice never goes unpunished; and that
true Happiness does not chiefly consist in the Enjoyment of this World,"
while comedy exposes "the Faults of Particular Men in order to correct
the Faults of the Publick . . . thro' a fear of being expos'd."60 The
moral effect of the play was every bit as important to this critic as
to Collier; Collier, however, had far less confidence in the judgment

36
and understanding of the audience, perhaps because he was meted out
such a small quantity of these qualities himself.
Another anonymous defender of the stage stresses the impor¬
tance of the exposure of "the measures and folly" of vices, for "had
they never been expos'd, they had still been your [audience's] Darling
Companions, tho' all the Pulpits in Town had thunder'd never so loudly
against them. For as the Divine Herbert says, A verse may find him who
a. Sermon flies, And Turn Delight into a. Sacrifice. The opportunity
for instruction apart from the pulpit was based upon the recognition
that men had need for diversion and pleasure involving stimulation,
within limits, of their emotions. Thus, critics stated that plays could
supplement the sermons by providing instructive diversions, and they
provided extended critical arguments showing how instruction took place.
This vindicator, for example, explains the usefulness of tragedy:
Which is so manifest, that I wonder anyone can
question it, who considers how well adapted it is to
the Intentions of Human Life, Profit, and Delight.
Who can express the charms of a well wrought Scene
lively Represented? The Motions of the Actor Charm
our Souls, and mixes [sic] with our very Blood and
Spirits, so that we are carry'd by an irresistless,
but pleasing violence into the very Passion we behold.
What Heart can forbear relenting to see an unfortunate
Person, for some unhappy mistakes in his Conduct, fall
into irreparable Misfortunes? This strikes deep into
our Breasts, by a tender insinuation steals into our
Souls, and draws a Pity from us; so consequently making
us ready to assist all that we meet with in a like
Condition: it teaches us to Judge Charitably of the
Miserable, when we see a small Error ignorantly committed,
may be the cause of heavy Misfortunes; it teaches us at
the same time Caution, and Circumspection in the Manage¬
ment of our selves. And who that sees a Vitious Person
severely Punish'd, will not tremble at Vice? . . . and if
Tragedy scares us out of our Vices, Comedy will no less
shame us out of our Follies. Tragedy, like a severe
Master, keeps a heavy hand over us; but Comedy, like an
indulgent Parent, mixes something to please when it

37
reproves. Who can forbear blushing, that sees
some Darling Folly expos'd? And tho' its ridi¬
culousness tickles him into a laughter, yet at
the same time, he feels a secret shame for the
Guilt.62
In detailing the learning process of the audience, this critic both
establishes poetic intent and expresses a confidence (not shared by
Collier) in the moral judgment of that audience. As the writer of Some
Remarks upon Mr. Collier's Defence of his Short View of the English
Stage (1698) states, "It appears Mr. Collier has a very mean Opinion of
the Capacity of the Audience, when he conceives all the Poets Flights
will so far affect them as to practice the same; like Don Quixote, who
cou'd not read Romances, but he must turn Knight-Errant."62
John Oldmixon takes Collier to task in a series of dialogues
entitled Reflections on the Stage, and Mr. Collyer's Defence of the
Short View (1699). Though many of Oldmixon's arguments concern specific
plays, language and characters on the stage, and the nature of Collier's
attack (all of which will be taken up later), he bases his critical
theory of drama on moral grounds. After allowing that there is need for
reform of the stage,6/t he argues that the best dramatic art must be
moral: "This is certain, no Poet ever err'd against Manners or Religion,
but 'twas at the expence of his Art; those who know nothing of it can't
help erring, for which reason they are not to be endur'd. But the
Masters of the Science will observe its precepts which them confine,
never to please, but in order to instruct.Oldmixon also translates
Moliere's preface to L'Imposture to represent his own feelings about the
function of comedy. In part, Moliere states that "'the most excellent
treatises of Morality, are often less powerful than the strokes of
Satyr. Nothing reproves the greatest part of Mankind more than pointing

38
their defects. 'Tis a great mortification to Vice to be expos'd to the
laughter of the world. One can easily enough bear with reproof, but
can't endure raillery, and most men had rather be thought wicked than
ridiculous. ' "66
A somewhat broader defense is Edward Filmer's A Defence of
Plays (1707), which includes suggestions for reforming the stage.
Filmer, like most of the defenders, admits to "many great Abuses" of the
stage, but unlike the other defenders, he gives credit to Collier as "a
Person of great Parts, and good Learning" and also readily admits some
disagreement with Dennis and Congreve about the importance of plays.67
In addition, he agrees with Collier (and thereby disagrees with at least
two other defenders of the stage^) in his desire to keep "anything
that is either Sacred in it self, or by Custom appropriated to sacred
Uses" off the Stage.69 gut even with these "softened" attitudes toward
Collier, he comes down hard on the violent attacks which he feels are
unwarranted in light of his belief in the moral value of the plays:
"My concern to see the Stage so violently assaulted on the one hand, and
so strangely deserted on the other, was that which first tempted me to
engage in the Defence of a Diversion, which I always thought might be
so managed, as to be not only innocent but useful." He goes on to
point out that his disagreement with other defenders of the stage is
limited, for he is still "of the Opinion, that Plays may very well be
allow'd, and that in a Christian Commonwealth too; as a Diversion not
only innocent, but instructive, such a one indeed, as may rather con¬
tribute very much to the Promotion of Virtue, than any way countenance
or incourage Vice."^ Because Filmer believes that the "great and
chief End [of plays] ever was, and still is, Instruction," he argues

39
throughout for the importance of "Stage-Discipline" (poetic justice)
as an artistic tool of the poet and a characteristic of the plays
readily recognized by the audience. Had Collier understood "Stage-
Discipline," he might have found that the contemporary plays fulfilled
the moral intent he himself saw for drama in A Short View (p. 1).
James Drake presents perhaps the best defense of the stage
in The Antient and Modern Stages Survey'd (1699). Here, he not only
refutes many of Collier's arguments and much of his evidence, he lays
down some of the most important critical tenets of Restoration drama.
He is very conscious of the play as a work of art created by the play¬
wright to fulfill specific artistic purposes.^ He is also well aware
of the emotional and intellectual effects of the play upon an audience,
assuming that the audience is capable of reacting emotionally and in¬
tellectually. He agrees with the other defenders of the stage about
the moral purpose of plays and sees "modern" drama as far more successful
at accomplishing that purpose than ancient drama. He says that Collier
gives
the World a false alarm, and endeavours to set 'em
upon those as Subverters of Religion and Morality,
that have with abundance of art and pains labour'd
in their service, and rack'd their Inventions to
Weave 'em into the most popular diversions and make
even Luxury and Pleasure subservient and instrumental
to the establishment of Moral Principles, and the
confirmation of Virtuous Resolutions.
In trying to show that many of the modern playwrights had
achieved this moral end, Drake carefully distinguishes between tragedy,
which attempts to control the passions, and comedy, which works on vice,
folly, and affectation. He explains tragedy and comedy by discussing

40
the moral "Parts" of a play:
The Parts therefore of a Play, in which the Morals
of the Play appear, are the Fable, the Characters,
and the Discourse. Of these the Fable (in Tragedy
especially) is the most considerable . . . and the
principal Instrument by which the Passions are weeded
and purg'd, by laying before the Eyes of the Spectators
examples of the miserable Catastrophe of Tyranny,
Usurpation, Pride, Cruelty, and Ambition, &c. and to
crown suffering Virtue with Success and Reward, or to
punish the unjust Oppressors of it with Ruine and
Destruction.
In a similar manner comedy corrects "Knaves, Misers, Sots, Coquets,
Fops, Jilts and Cullies ... by rendring 'em unsuccessful, and submit¬
ting them in her Fable, to the Practices and Stratagems of others,
after such a manner, as to expose both Knavery, Vanity, and Affectation,
in the conclusion, or winding up." Drake feels that the audience will
heap their "Scorn and Derision" upon these vain, affected fools by
seeing how ridiculous they appear on stage. In this way comedy "stops
the contagion, and prevents the imitation more effectually than even
Philosophy herself."^3 The "Fable" (plot or 'story) is important to
Drake because it employs poetic justice and expresses the "Moral," which
he calls "the highest, and the most serviceable improvement that ever
was, or ever can be made of the Drama.His effort throughout this
work is to show that the moral aspect of plays is of "Modern Extraction"
and particularly part of the tradition of English Drama, and therefore
strongly evident in the plays Collier attacks. He is persistent in his
attempts to prove what he says by discounting Collier, citing and
explaining his own examples, and stressing fundamental principles of
drama. As this sample of his ideas shows, there was no way to separate
good art from moral art, for the foundation of good art was Christian
morality.

41
Thus, it is apparent that writers in all three of these groups
chose to recognize the moral purpose of the drama as basic to any cri¬
tical understanding of it. Upon this point their defenses agreed with
Collier and established the contemporary grounds for the critical con¬
troversy. But for the defenders of the stage, the best playwrights of
the Restoration period wove their Christian ethic into the fabric of
their plays, to be enjoyed, evaluated, and used by those who were
capable of judging the beauty, lasting quality, and utility of the
material. That the defenders and Collier (along with other attackers)
parted ways comes as no surprise when Collier's arguments and inter¬
pretations are examined; his views provided ample opportunity for sharp
critical reactions which should further our understanding of those
"smutty" Restoration plays.

NOTES
â– 'â– Rather ironically, there seems to be an acceptance of (and,
therefore, perhaps less interest in) the moral nature of tragedy.
However, Eric Rothstein's recent ideas about poetic justice in his book,
Restoration Tragedy: Form and the Process of Change (Madison: The
University of Wisconsin Press, 1967), exemplify a rather confusing view
of the moral perspective which modern critics see in tragedy. For a
discussion see Aubrey Williams' article, "Poetical Justice, the Contri¬
vances of Providence, and the Works of William Congreve," ELH, 35(1968),
541 & 546-547.
2
George Farquhar (New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1967),
p. 58.
^The Comedy of Manners (1931; rpt. New York: Russell &
Russell, Inc., 1962), p. 282.
4
The First Modern Comedies: The Significance of Etherege,
Wycherley and Congreve (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1959), pp. 3-4. Holland also cites modern critics who, in his esti¬
mation, regard Restoration comedy as amoral (p. 259n.): Malcolm Elwin,
The Playgoer1s Handbook to Restoration Drama; Henry H. Adams and Baxter
Hathaway, Dramatic Essays of the Neoclassic Age; Bartholow V. Crawford,
"High Comedy in Terms of Restoration Practice," PQ, 8(1929); and Willard
Smith, The Nature of Comedy. Ben Ross Schneider, Jr. says in his book,
The Ethos of Restoration Comedy (Urbana: University of Illinois Press,
1971), p. 4, that "the amoral line of criticism runs from [Charles]
Lamb through John Palmer ... to Kathleen Lynch (The Social Mode in
Restoration Comedy, New York, 1926).
^Wycherley1s Drama: A Link in the Development of English
Satire (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1965), p. 1. L. C. Knights
makes the same kind of separation between "'morals'" and literary
criticism in "Restoration Comedy: The Reality and the Myth," Explor¬
ations (London, 1946) ; rpt. in Restoration Drama: Modern Essays in
Criticism, ed. John Loftis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966)
p. 4.
£
°Comedy and Conscience, after the Restoration (1924; rpt. New
York: Russell & Russell, 1967), p. 44. Also see p. 86.
^From Puritanism to the Age of Reason: A Study of Changes in
Religious Thought within the Church of England 1660 to 1700 (London:
Cambridge University Press, 1966), p. 91.
8
The Rhetorical World of Augustan Humanism: Ethics and
Imagery from Swift to Burke (London: Oxford University Press, 1965),
pp. 3-10.
42

43
^Fussell, pp. 11, 5, 8, 9, & 7.
â– ^Edward Arber, The Term Catalogues, 1668-1709 A.D. with a
Number for Easter Term, 1711 A.D., III (London: Edward Arber, 1906),
vii. Arber says that, based on the writings, the "Age was eminently a
sober one. The general tone of its books was deeply religious; mingled
with much philosophical Enquiry, and deep research into Nature."
Pirene Simon, Three Restoration Divines: Barrow, South,
Tillotson, Selected Sermons (Paris: Société d'Edition "Les Belles
Lettres," 1967), I, i, v, iv.
12Arber, III, vii.
1 q
Cragg, From Puritanism to the Age of Reason, p. 99.
â– ^Williams, "Poetical Justice," 544. Professor Williams makes
this observation in connection with his argument that the works of
William Congreve demonstrate "a providential order in human event that
is fully analogous to the greater world of providential order insisted
upon not only by contemporary Anglican theologians but also insisted
upon by contemporary literary critics as a fundamental dramatic
principle."
â– ^Zimbardo, p. 1. An equally inaccurate view of morality has
been presented recently by Virginia Odgen Birdsall, in Wild Civility:
The English Comic Spirit on the Restoration Stage (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1970), p. 8. She maintains that Restoration comic
heroes (and heroines) "create their own morality, which has little to
do with conventional morals .... Confronted with a world which lacks
any sense of cosmic orderliness and abstract moral certainty and which
has committed itself to civilized forms largely derivative and hollow,
they make their spirit prevail." To see a "new morality" outside
orthodox literary and Christian tradition being espoused in plays which
the authors themselves see as orthodox in an age fundamentally in agree¬
ment with the Christian world-view neglects much contemporary evidence
and requires, I think, creative readings of the plays.
â– ^Schneider, p. viii. Professor Schneider points out that his
view of Restoration comedy as representative of the Christian ethic has
been difficult to fit "into the existing structures of ideas on the
subj ect."
l^Palmer, p. 5.
â– ^Schneider, pp. 4-12.
19
Palmer, pp. 7-9 & 284-285. Krutch, Comedy and Conscience,
pp. 122-124 & 127ff. Also, Krutch, ed., "Preface to The Campaigners
(1698)," Publications of the Augustan Reprint Society, 3rd series, No. 12
(March, 1948), intro., pp. 1-4. Charles Stonehill, ed., The Complete
Works of George Farquhar (Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press, 1930), II, 443n

44
“^Palmer, pp. 280 & 282.
2iIbid., pp. 288-289 & 291.
22
A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English
Stage, Together with a Sense of Antiquity upon this Argument (London,
1698), p. 1.
2 2
The Campaigners (London, 1698), preface, p. 2; The Critical
Works of John Dennis, ed. Edward Niles Hooker, I (Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins University Press, 1939), 146; A Defence of Plays (London, 1707),
pp. 4-5.
Q /
4Jeremy Collier' s Angrif f auf de englishe Btihne, cited by W.
Heldt, "A Chronological and Critical Review of the Appreciation and
Condemnation of the Comic Dramatists of the Restoration and Orange
Periods," Neophilologus, 8 (1923), 46.
2-’The Critical Works of Thomas Rymer, ed. Curt A. Zimansky
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956), p. 18.
2^The Jeremy Collier Stage Controversy 1698-1726 (1937; rpt.
New York: Benjamin Blom, 1966), pp. 296-297.
27
Though Dryden did not write a complete response to Collier,
he criticizes his attack in each of the following: "Poetical Epistle
to Peter Motteux" prefixed to Beauty in Distress (London, 1698), the
preface to Fables Ancient and Modern (London, 1700), "Cymon and Iphi-
genia" (11. 1-41) in Fables, and the epilogue to The Pilgrim (London,
1700). D'Urfey responded in a rather long preface to The Campaigners
and later in the prologue and epilogue to The Old Mode and the New
(London, 1709). Congreve responded with his Amendments of Mr. Collier's
False and Imperfect Citations (London, 1698), and Vanbrugh answered
with his A Short Vindication of "The Relapse" and "The Provok'd Wife,"
from Immorality and Profaneness (London, 1698).
2^Peter Motteux responded by including Father Caffaro's letter,
Dryden's "Poetical Epistle," his own poem, "The Poet's Character of
Himself," and a critical prologue and epilogue with his play, Beauty in
Distress. Charles Gildon defended the stage in the preface to Phaeton
(London, 1698), The Stage-Beaux Toss'd in a Blanket (London, 1704), the
dedicatory epistle to The Patriot(London, 1703), and The Post-Man Robb’d
of His Mail (London, 1719). Dennis took part in the controversy with
The Usefulness of the Stage (London, 1698), A Person of Quality's Answer
to Mr. Collier's Letter (London, 1704), An Essay on the Operaos After the
Italian Manner (London, 1706), and The Stage Defended (London, 1726).
Elkanah Settle showed his support for the stage with A Defence of
Dramatick Poetry (London, 1698), A Farther Defence of Dramatick Poetry
(London, 1698) , and The City-Ramble (London, 1711). Susanna Centlivre
spoke briefly to Collier and other unqualified critics of the stage in
the preface, prologue, and epilogue to The Perjured Husband (London,

45
1700). Colley Cibber defended the stage in the dedicatory epistle to
Love Makes a Man (London, 1700), the prologue to Xerxes (London, 1699),
and An Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber (London, 1740); he
also may have had Collier in mind in his play, The Non-Juror (London,
1718). George Granville supported the stage in the epilogue to The Jew
of Venice (London, 1701). George Farquhar defended the stage in The
Adventures of Covent Garden (London, 1698), A Discourse Upon Comedy
(London, 1702), and the preface to The Twin Rivals (London, 1702).
Thomas Brown struck at Collier in Letters from the Dead to the Living
(London, 1702) and A Legacy for the Ladies (London, 1706). Thomas
Baker responded in the dedicatory epistle to An Act at Oxford (London,
1704).
^The anonymous defenses of the stage include: A Letter to
A. H. Esq. ; Concerning the Stage (London, 1698), A Vindication of the
Stage (London, 1698), The Immorality of the English Pulpit (London,
1698), Some Remarks Upon Mrâ–  Collier's Defence of His Short View of the
English Stage (London, 1698), The Stage Acquitted (London, 1699), Visits
from the Shades (London, 1704), and Concio Laici (London, 1704. In
addition, John Oldmixon responded in Reflections on the Stage (London,
1699) ; James Drake answered in The Antient and Modern Stages Survey1d
(London, 1699) ; and Edward Filmer tried to correct Collier in A Defence
of Plays (London, 1707).
^®"A Short View of Jeremy Collier," English, 7(1949), 271.
n 1
J Congreve, in his Amendments of Mr. Collier1s False and Imper¬
fect Citations, in The Complete Works of William Congreve, ed. Montague
Summers (London: The Nonesuch Press, 1923), III, 171, says that he has
"no Intention to examine all the Absurdities and Falsehoods in Mr.
Collier's Book." D'Urfey spends nearly half of his defense in the
preface to The Campaigners discussing his play, Don Quixote. Vanbrugh,
in his Vindication, in The Complete Works of Sir John Vanbrugh, eds.
Bonamy Dobrée and Geoffrey Webb (Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press, 1927),
I, 195-196, feels that his personal morals are in question and limits
his defense to those attacks on his plays. And Dryden, who makes a
defense while saying he will not in his preface to Fables, in Dryden's
Of Dramatic Poesy and other Critical Essays, ed. George Watson (London:
J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1962), II, 293, says "Yet it were not difficult
to prove that in many places he has perverted my meaning by his glosses,
and interpreted my words into blasphemy and bawdry of which they were
not guilty."
32
Dryden, though he answers Collier only briefly, criticizes
the "religious lawyer" in his poetic epistle to Motteux and then defends
the moral purpose of tragedy:
The moral part at least we may divide,
Humility reward, and punish pride:
Ambition, Int'rest, Avarice accuse:
These are the Province of a Tragic Muse. (11. 27-30)
This purpose is also stated in Dryden's "The Grounds of Criticism in

46
Tragedy" (1679), in Essays, I, 245-246, and his preface to Tyrannic
Love (1670), in Essays, I. 138-139.
33
Works, III, 173. His definition continues on 174.
•^Essays, I, 146-147 & 151-152. Also important in arriving
at an accurate view of Dryden's moral intention in comedy is "The
Author's Apology for Heroic Poetry and Poetic Licence," in Essays, I,
199.
35
Comedy and Conscience, p. 43.
•^Essays, I, 152.
^Works, I, 195.
38
The Campaigners, preface, p. 3.
39
Though many critics have identified this play as Thomas
Brown's, James Fullerton Arnott and John William Robinson cite a pres¬
entation copy which proves Gildon to be the author. English Theatrical
Literature 1559-1900: A Bibliography (London: The Society for Theatre
Research, 1970), p. 46.
4^An example is Farquhar's The Adventures of Covent-Garden,
in Works, II, 207, which refers to the "Battle between the Church and
the Stage" and mentions Collier, Vanbrugh, Congreve, Settle, Dryden,
and Wycherley.
41
Dennis, Critical Works, I, 309. Here, in The Person of
Quality's Answer to Mr. Collier's Letter (1704), Dennis attacks both
the zeal and the danger of Collier's methods.
/ o
zPhaeton, preface.
/ ^
JBeauty in Distress, p. ix.
44Works, II, 343.
4^A Farther Defence, p. 63.
4^A Defence, pp. 71-72.
^Ibid. , pp. 80 & 82.
^Critical Works, I, 153.
49Ibid., 309.
50Ibid., 382.

47
33John Harold Wilson, A Preface to Restoration Drama (Boston:
Houghton Mifflin Company, 1965), p. 120. Also, Sarup Singh, The Theory
of Drama in the Restoration Period (Bombay: Orient Longmans, 1963),
pp. 238-239.
tr n
J^01dmixon wrote Amintas (1698), The Grove or, Love's Paradice
(1700) [this was an opera], the first act of The Novelty (1697) which
was entitled Thyrsis: A Pastoral, and The Governor of Cyprus (1703) .
Filmer wrote The Unnatural Brother (1697) which Motteux adapted and
called The Unfortunate Couple and used as the fourth act of The Novelty.
Drake wrote The Sham Lawyer; or, The Lucky Extravagant (1697). From
the performance information in The London Stage, none of these plays
could be considered successful.
s ^
JJEvidence for this view may include Settle's attempt to enter
the controversy as an anonymous critic, feeling that his position as a
major playwright would make his defenses look less objective to the
reader.
34pp. 2-3.
33Fussell, pp. 8 & 70ff.
•^Visits} p. 9.
57p. 82.
58Ibid. , pp. 76-77 & 86-87.
59pp. 18 & 17.
\
8<9Ibid., pp. 16 & 15.
61
A Vindication of the Stage (London, 1698), p. 15.
62Ibid., pp. 25-26.
63P. 9.
64PP- 97, 100 & 165.
83Ibid., p. 167. Oldmixon also says "that a good Poet must
write like a good man, because he is to instruct as well as please"
(p. 88).
66Ibid., pp. 139-140.
87pp. 2-3.
ft Q
POThe Stage Acquitted, p. 69 and A Vindication of the Stage,
p. 13.

48
^Filmer, p. 64.
70lbid., preface (The entire preface is in italics, which I
have removed in my quotations,) & p. 3.
73pp. 117-118. Drake compares the poet and the painter in
their attempts to follow nature and points out, in part, that "a Comick
Poet can't trespass against the Laws of Morality in this nature, without
offending against the Laws of his own Art."
72Ibid., pp. 120 & 224.
73Ibid., pp. 123 & 122.
74Ibid., pp. 229-230.

CHAPTER II
ARTISTRY AND JUDGMENT: TEACHING VIRTUE BY EXPOSING VICE
For Collier, as for others, the theatres were veritable Syna¬
gogues of Satan, to be entered by Christians only at the greatest risk
to their souls. Who would dare attend these gathering places of vice,
where the appearance, language, and actions of the characters, not to
mention the themes of the plays, were intended to imperil men's souls
by enticing them toward sin and turning them away from God? What
danger a playhouse afforded:
[It is] a Place where Thinking is out of Doors, and
Seriousness Impertinent. Here our Reason is apt to
be surpris'd and our Caution disarm'd; Here Vice
stands upon Prescription, and Lewdness claims Priv¬
ilege to Solicit. Nay, the very Parade, the Gaity,
and Pleasure of the Company, is not without its danger:
These Circumstances heightned with Luscious Dialogue,
lively Action, and airy Musick are very likely to make
an unserviceable Impression. ... If we sit in the
Seat of the Scornfull, and make Wikedness our Diver¬
sion, Providence we may be sure will withdraw, and
leave us to the Government of another Influence.1
Collier's Platonic fear that man will be "disarm'd" and debauched at
the playhouse comes partly from not knowing man (at least as the Chris¬
tian humanists knew him) and partly from not understanding the plays.
He does not even allow the audience the same ability he feels he has:
to see, to judge, and to reject the "evil" stage. The reason, probably,
is that the audience was not rejecting the stage, for while they saw
evil presented there, their judgment, like the playwrights', could
separate good from evil; the baby need not go out with the dirty bath
water.
49

50
From these critics who could judge the plays, a theory of
drama begins to emerge in their responses to Collier's attitudes about
the presentation of characters on stage. These responses show that
Collier's thoughts about characterizations as well as his corollary dis¬
cussions of the nature of man and Christian morality are literary and
religious aberrations which have, unfortunately, dominated much thinking
about Restoration drama for nearly three centuries. Collier's opinions
triggered similar and at times even more unorthodox views of the stage
from the pens of journalist George Ridpath and clergymen Arthur Bedford
and William Law during his own time.^ His influence later affected
critics like Samuel Johnson and Thomas Macaulay in their reactions to
O
Restoration drama. More recently critics have accepted Collier's label
of the plays as immoral, but have either tried to justify the immorality
(usually as reflective of the times) or to dismiss it as an unimportant
consideration in understanding or evaluating the plays.^ By yielding
\
to Collier, all of these reactions fail to recognize the proper moral
purpose and success of the drama. Hopefully, by examining Collier's
observations of character (especially as related to immoral or profane
language or actions) in light of his contemporary critics, the weak¬
nesses of Collier's dramatic theory and the strengths, including the
moral intentions, of the best Restoration playwrights will be obvious.
In setting out to prove that "nothing has gone farther in
Debauching the Age than the Stage-Poets, and the Play-House," Collier
says he will first examine "the Rankness and indecency of their [the
poets'] Language.But before he begins any examination of language,
he cites characters from no fewer than ten plays as a "large Collection

51
of Debauchery." Most of his specific examples here are women who are
forced to "speak Smuttily" by the poets, and thus exhibit the immodesty
which he finds so offensive. Throughout A Short View he badgers female
characters and members of the audience, as well as actresses, for not
exhibiting that "Modesty" which he says "is the distinguishing Virtue
of that Sex, and serves both for Ornament and Defence: Modesty was
design'd by Providence as a Guard to Virtue."^* He goes on to call mo¬
desty natural, "wrought into the Mechanism of the Body" as a kind of
"Intuitive knowledge," which responds to indecency "by sudden Instinct
and Aversion." To this comment Edward Filmer later responded: "I ever
looked upon the great Modesty of the generality of our Women, to have
been the happy Effect rather of a pious, careful, and wary Education,
than of any thing in the Contexture of their Bodies."^ But Collier's
observation that modesty is an instinctive "Mechanism" which guards the
natural virtue of women is consistent with his view of man's nature and
the danger of the stage. Ironically, though,' his view of women certain¬
ly shows no dependence on the anti-feminist attitudes of many of the
Church Fathers who are such valuable authorities for him later in A
Short View. They, of course, saw women as descendants of Eve, and con¬
sequently closely linked to Satan (through deceit and lust) as instru¬
mental in man1s fall. But for Collier the Fathers' emphasis on original
sin could only weaken his position that women are corrupted by the
theatre.
These comments on the modesty of woman reveal one aspect of
Collier's theory of drama: strict social decorum in stage presentations.
Not only is he against presentations which are offensive to the ears of

52
women; he is opposed to any criticism of people of "Quality" or men of
the clergy. In each case he is unable to see that a playwright may
only be striking at the women, people of rank, and clergymen who are
foolish or wicked. His logic leads him to conclude that the stage
poets "bring Women under such Misbehavior" as to do "Violence to their
Native Modesty" and misrepresent their sex, "give Title and Figure to
Ill Manners," and "attack Religion under every Form, and pursue the
Priesthood through all the Subdivisions of Opinion."® For Collier, all
members of the female sex are disparaged when any one of them speaks
"Smuttily" upon the stage. Likewise, a playwright need only represent
one Lord Foppington for him to see the entire class of noblemen ridi¬
culed as fools. As for the clergy, he says that the playwrights attack
not only every clergyman of every religion, but religion and, ultimately,
God himself. Indeed, this generalizing of poetic intent is part of his
apparent plan to win a broad following, as the next chapter will attempt
to show. By grouping those he sees attacked \in plays, he hopes to
arouse a boycott of the stage, as well as active voices to help close
down the theatres. But when he shows how these groups are abused, he
does not merely focus on the ill manners or immodesty with which they
are represented. Knowing the value his readers place upon religion, he
tries to show how the poets go beyond indecency to immorality and pro¬
fanity in their presentation of characters. Thus, he argues they bring
evil on the stage for imitation in order to abuse those beliefs which
Christians hold sacred or holy.
Of the poets Collier attacks directly, Congreve and Vanbrugh
make similar defenses of their "immodest" women. Vanbrugh begins by

53
agreeing with Collier about the value (though not the inherence) of
modesty in a woman: "For my part I am wholly of his mind; I think 'tis
almost as valuable in a Woman as in a Clergyman; and had I the ruling
of the Roast, the one shou'd neither have a Husband, nor the t'other a
Benefice without it."^ But the "Relapser" goes on to say that Collier
fails to explain Miss Hoyden's immodesty in The Relapse or the reference
in The Provok'd Wife which seems to "discountenance Modesty in Woman."
He quotes the questionable passage from The Provok'd Wife—an inter¬
change between Bellinda and Lady Brute labelling women's modesty as af¬
fectation and seemingly undesirable—in an attempt to clarify his own
position and what he felt the audience's reaction would be. After
pointing out that neither of these women are "over Virtuous," and there¬
fore less modest than an ideal, he shows how even they recognize and
convey to the audience in the same scenes the value of modesty:
But lest this [that Bellinda and Lady Brute are not
ideals to be imitated] show'd possibly be mistaken
by some part of the Audience, less apprehensive of
Right and Wrong than the rest, they are put in mind
at the same Instant, That (with the Men) if they quit
their Modesty, they lose their Charms: Now I thought
'twas impossible to put the Ladies in mind of any
thing more likely to make 'em preserve it.-'-®
Again, however, Vanbrugh (unlike Collier) assumes that the audience will
be able to understand and judge characters for the ideas which they
present.
Similarly, Congreve defends his portrayals of Belinda in The
Old Bachelor and Miss Prue in Love for Love as effective in showing the
audience what is and is not proper moral action. He leaves it to "the
Judgment of any impartial Reader, to determine whether they [Belinda
and Miss Prue] are represented so as to engage any Spectator to imitate

54
the Impudence of one, or the Affectation of the other; and whether they
are not both ridiculed rather than recommended."-'--'- Quite obviously he
feels the audience is capable of understanding his moral intentions
even though Collier sees here only models for immodesty after which the
women of the audience will pattern their behavior.
Of those playwrights not directly attacked in A Short View,
Dennis presents an excellent discussion of women in his satiric letter,
The Person of Quality's Answer to Mr. Collier's Letter, Being a
Disswasive from the Play-House (1704). In this work the "Person of
Quality's" daughter calls the theatre the most innocent and valuable
diversion which the town affords the ladies:
True, Sir, there are Passages in some of our Plays,
which I could heartily wish were out. But does he
think the Virtue of the Ladies, who frequent Play-
Houses, is so very weak, as to be o'erthrown by the
Lusciousness, as he calls it, of a Scribler's Double
Entendres? What, have so many great Examples as we
find on the Stage, so many noble and generous Senti¬
ments, so accomplish'd Patterns of Virtue; have all
these no manner of Power to rouze, to strengthen and
inflame our Virtue? . . .
If any of my Sex happen to find themselves so
infirm, as this worthy Reformer appears to own that
he is . . . let them, in God's Name, keep away from
our Theatres. But I find no such scandalous Weakness
about me. I can despise a Fool who thinks to entertain
me with his sordid playing on Words; but at the same
time can be entertain'd with Wit and good Sense, and
more with the Innocence of true writ Humour; and I can
be both pleas'd and mov'd with the excellent Scenes
of an Instructive Tragedy: Does this judicious Person
really believe, that the Conversations which we find in
the World are Virtue and Purity all? The Food of the
Mind, like that of the Body, is not all of it fit for
Nourishment. But strong Virtue, like strong Nature,
knows how to discern and separate, to reject the Bad,
to assimulate the Good, by which it is fed and sup¬
ported. If any of my sex have the scandalous Weakness
to have their Virtue and their Honour endanger'd by
the Folly of Double Entendres, I would advise them to

55
take their leaves of the Play-House. But at the
same time I would advise Mr. Collier to persuade
his noble Patrons of the Reforming Club to erect
a Protestant Nunnery for them, for nothing less
can secure them. For they who are found so strange¬
ly weak as to be warm'd by a meer painted Fire, how
can they ever stand against the real Flames of Love?ü
Here, Dennis clearly defends the women who attend plays by questioning
Collier's limited view of how people learn. His defense not only re¬
jects Collier's attitude toward women in the audience but suggests how
everyone in the audience can be moved and instructed rather than cor¬
rupted by a play.
Responses from those writers who were not primarily playwrights
also attacked Collier's attitudes toward women. The anonymous author of
The Stage Acquitted (1699) defends the speech and actions of women on
the stage: "The Manners of our Stage follows the Manners of our Country,
and 'tis no more Immodest in making Women talk of Love there, than they
are really guilty of Immodesty in those discourses in Conversation.
Like Vanbrugh's, this defense is meant to emphasize the playwrights'
use of the stage as a mirror; by seeing the women on stage as examples
of women in England, this critic is able to go on and explain how the
stage becomes instructive through its use of characters: "Folly and
Falsehood" are presented to the audience,
not in bare terms, which want a comment, but in so
plain and visible a dress, that you know them off
the Stage when you meet them every day in your
Conversation, or in your Negotiations, in your own
inclinations or practice; so that after the Spectator
or Hearer has been shown the lively draught of Folly
and Falsehood on the Stage, he must know it where-
ever he meets if, and avoid it both in himself and
others, if he be capable of Correction.!^
Vicious or foolish women on stage are not there for imitation or to

56
degrade the female sex. Such characters are there to entertain and
instruct by revelation of all too human weakness and folly.
James Drake also discounts Collier's attack on the playwrights
for allowing their women to act and speak immodestly on stage. Collier
used Rapin's observation that modesty is the character of women in
order to emphasize what monstrous creatures the playwrights had created.
Drake shows how Collier's reasoning distorts the effect of immodest
women on stage by using a statement from Aristotle similar to Rapin's:
Aristotle had given Courage or Valour as the
Characteristick or Mark of distinction proper to
the other Sex [men], which was a notion so Antient,
and so universally receiv'd, that most Nations have
given it a denomination from the Sex, as if peculiar
to it. . . . Yet 'tis no Solecism in Poetical
Manners to represent Men sometimes upon the Stage as
Cowards; nor did any man ever think the whole Sex
affronted by it; how near soever it might touch some
Individuals.
If the Poets set up these Women of Liberty for
the Representatives of their whole Sex, or pretended
to make them Standards to measure all the rest by,
the Sex wou'd have just reason to complain of so
abusive a Misrepresentation. But 'tis just the
contrary, the Sex has no Interest in the Virtues or
Vices of any Individual, either on the Stage, or off
of it; they reflect no honour or disgrace on the
Collective Body, any more than the Neatness and good
Breeding of the Court affect the Nastiness and ill
Manners of Billingsgate, or are affected by 'em.^
As Drake argues, the immodest women on stage do not represent all women
and are not to be imitated; rather, they are to be judged as inferior
to those standards of decorum and morality which they set off by con¬
trast. But only when the wicked and foolish women are shown in all
their variety can the audience be furnished with an accurate moral basis
for their judgment both in and out of the theatre.

57
More generally concerned with people of rank than with women,
Collier thought that the playwrights should "lash the Vice without
pointing upon the Quality," because representing them as flawed showed
a lack of proper social respect and was dangerous, for the audience
would then imitate the flaws.^ Among those who took issue with
Collier's comments on the language used by characters, Vanbrugh indi¬
cates that Collier's attack on swearing in his plays is founded upon a
philosophy quite different from his own. Vanbrugh is less concerned
with "whether such Words are entirely justifiable or not," because he
is sure "That People of the Nicest Rank both in their Religion and their
-I -J
Manners throughout Christendom use 'em."1 Obviously, the "Nicest Rank"
does not protect individuals from the faults of all men. Those who
thought rank could remove or mask sin needed to be reminded that their
fellow Christians scrutinized speech and actions as well as appearance
before passing judgment. Because the audience was largely made up of
men and women of high social position (or those wealthy enough to think
they were), the instructive value here seems clear: the people of
"quality" must not only possess social rank to be favorably regarded;
they must also exhibit those qualities which befit their rank. How¬
ever, as Congreve suggests, Collier wishes to protect "Persons of
Quality" by allowing neither "their Follies nor their Vices to be ex¬
pos'd" on stage.^ Collier's opinion was that if people of rank
appeared foolish or wicked, the audience, taking them as examples of
how to live, would then imitate the sinful traits in their own lives.
Congreve, however, felt that the audience could recognize vice and
judge those characters who exhibited it. The actions of the play would

58
further expose the vice and lower the audience's opinion of the vicious
characters, no matter what their rank. As he replies to Collier, "When
Vice shall be allowed as an Indication of Quality and good Breeding,
then it may also pass for a piece of good Breeding to complement Vice
in Quality: But till then, I humbly conceive, that to expose and ridi-
20
cule it, will altogether do as well." For Congreve, "Quality" could
not hide vice, but through exposure on the stage, vice might be turned
to virtue.
Speaking for the playwrights, John Dennis elaborates upon the
motives for bringing the nobility upon the stage for criticism:
If a Lord is capable of committing Extravagancies
as well as another Man, why should Mr. Collier
endeavour to persuade him that he is above it? Or
why should he hinder him from being reclaim'd? Unless
he would imply, that a Commoner may be corrected when
he grows extravagant, but that when a Lord grows fan-
tastick, he is altogether incorrigible. Nor are we
oblig'd to Mr. Collier any more than the Peers are.
For since the bare Advantage of their Condition makes
some of them already grow almost insupportable, why
should any one endeavour to add to their Vanity, by
exempting them from common Censure?
Besides, since Follies ought to be exposed, the
Follies of the Great are the fittest, as being the
most conspicuous and most contagious. . . .
For our Comick Poets, I dare engage that no Men
respect our Nobility more than they do: They know
very well that their Titles illustrate their Merit,
and adorn their Virtue; but that those whom they expose,
are such whose Follies and whose Vices render their
Titles ridiculous: And yet that they expose them no
more than the rest of the King's Subjects. For Folly,
as well as Vice, is personal, and the Satyr of Comedy
falls not upon the Order of Men out of which the
ridiculous Characters are taken, but upon the Persons
of all Orders who are affected with the like Follies.21
Elkanah Settle argues similarly in his Defence of Dramatick Poetry (1698)

59
For as the greatest and best part of our Audience
are Quality, if we would make our Comedies Instruc¬
tive in the exposing of Vice, we must not lash the
Vices at Wapping to mend the Faults at Westminster.
And as the Instructive Design of the Play must
look as well to the Cautioning of Virtue from the
ensnaring Conversation of Vice, as [to] the lashing
of Vice it self. Thus the Court Libertine must be
a Person of Wit and Honour, and have all the accom-
22
plishments of a Fine Gentleman.
As many of Collier's opponents suggest, it seems odd that a priest would
defend the privilege of rank, for as a Christian leader, he should as¬
sume all men capable of sinful actions and speech.
Remarks from critics and anonymous writers generally agree
that Collier misreads the effect a vicious or foolish character of rank
will have on an audience. The author of A Letter to A. H. Esq. (1698),
for example, tries to show that the audience is not swept by a feeling
that "every foolish Peer who is brought on the Stage" must be seen as
"a Reflection of all the Men of Condition":
'Tis absurd to make no distinction; as if a particular
Vice in a particular Man, cou'd not be expos'd without
a design'd Reflection on all who belong to him. It
ought to touch no body but whom it concerns; and it
has its end, if it reclaims where it was design'd, and
prevents others, by shewing the Danger: And this is
the Design of Comedy.23
Thus, far from serving as model representations of a class, the Lord
Foppingtons and Lady Wishforts were seen as disgusting, and therefore in¬
structive, characters by Collier's opponents. Their mistakes on stage
could forewarn those susceptible to similar faults while showing others
what they already looked like to the judging eyes of the world.
James Drake concludes his comments to Collier by examining the
clergyman's accusation of rude treatment of the nobility. Drake's logic
â– 

60
seems so sharp it is difficult to imagine how Collier might have
answered him effectively. He begins by saying that "if Birth or any
other Chance shou'd make a Lord of a Fool" the other nobles should not
feel guilty or abused unless the poets "presume to make such a one the
Representative of his Order, and propose him as a common Standard."
Drake also suggests that it would be wrong and dangerous to "character¬
ize too nearly and particularly any of those Noble Persons."
But while the Poet contents himself with feign'd
Persons, and copies closely after Nature, without
pressing upon her in her private recesses, and
singling out Individuals from the herd, if any Man,
of what Quality or Employment soever, fancies him¬
self concern'd in the representation, let him spoil
the Picture by mending the Original. For he only
is to be blam'd for the Resemblance. If Men of
Honour and Abilities cou'd entail their Wisdom and
Virtues upon their Posterity, then a Title wou'd be
a pretty sure sign of Personal Worth, and the Respect
and Reverence that was paid to the Founders of
honourable Families ought to follow the Estate, and
the heir of one shou'd be heir of t'other.^
Collier was incensed that a member of the clergy even appears
on the stage, especially as a satirical butt. He devotes an entire
chapter of A Short View to an examination of the abuses of the clergy
on the stage, throughout suggesting that the intention and effect of
showing evil or foolish men of the cloth is to undermine religion. He
feels that "the Holy Function [of the clergy] is much too Solemn to be
play'd with. Christianity is for no Fooling, neither Place, the
Occasion nor the Actors are fit for such a Representation. To bring the
Church into the Play-House, is the way to bring the Play-House into the
Church. Tis apt to turn Religion into Romance; and make unthinking
People conclude, that all Serious Matters are nothing but Farce, Fiction

61
and Design.11 As he sees it, the playwrights' "Aim is to destroy Reli-
O C
gion, their preaching is against Sermons." In response Vanbrugh re¬
cognizes the "Holy Function" by granting that the "Institution of the
Clergy" is "Both in the Intention and Capacity the most effectual" in
promoting "the Practice of all Moral Virtues." But he says that his
purpose in representing the clergy through a disguised Sir John Brute
(The Provok1d Wife, IV, i), was "to put the Audience in mind, that there
were Laymen so wicked, they car'd not what they did to bring Religion
in Contempt, and were therefore always ready to throw dirt upon the
9 A
Pilots of it." Obviously, Vanbrugh expects the audience to indict
the drunken Brute (and those clergymen who would similarly misuse their
positions) rather than religion, the clergy, or himself as playwright.
Likewise, Congreve has only respect for the office of the clergy and
deprecates anyone who would ridicule the priesthood: "If any Man has in
any Play expos'd a Priest, as a Priest, and with an intimation, that as
such, his Character is ridiculous: I will agree heartily to condemn both
the Play and the Author. I am confident no Man can defend such an
Impiety; and whoever is guilty of it, my Advice to him is, that he
acknowledge his Error, that he repent of it and sin no more."27 But
Congreve clarifies the dramatic intention of representing clergymen on
the stage by pointing out what Collier should have been keenly aware
of—the human flaws of any man, layman or priest:
I would ask Mr. Collier whether a Man, after
he receiv'd holy Orders, is become incapable of
either playing the Knave, or the Fool?
If he is not incapable, it is possible that
some time or other his Capacity may exert it self
to Action.

62
If he is found to play the Knave, he is subject
to the Penalties of the Law, equally with a Lay-man;
if he plays the Fool, he is equally with a Lay-fool,
the subject of Laughter and Contempt.
By this Behaviour the Man becomes alienated from
the Priest; as such Actions are in their own nature
separate and very far remov'd from his function, and
when such a one is brought on the Stage, the folly is
exposed, not the function; the Man is ridicul'd, and
not the Priest.
Such a Character neither does nor can asperse
the sacred Order of Priesthood, neither does it at all
reflect upon the persons of the pious and good Clergy:
For as Ben. Johnson observes on the same occasion from
St. Hierome,
Ubi generalis est de vitiis disputatio,
Ibi nullius esse personae injuriam,
where the business is to expose and reprehend Folly and
Vice in general, no particular person ought to take of¬
fence. And such business is properly the business of
Comedy.^8
Congreve asserts not only a Christian humanist's view of man, who may be
foolish or vicious no matter what his office, but also a moral purpose
for exposing flawed clergymen on stage. He even uses the twenty-sixth
"Article of Religion" to show that the church's own laws make provisions
to locate, try, and depose "evil Ministers."^9
Collier's arguments about the clergy reveal both inconsistencies
in logic and some rather unusual views of man for an apparently devout
Christian. He spends ten pages in A Short View trying to show how
priests are different from other men by pointing out "their Relation to
the Deity," "the Importance of their Office," and the "prescription for
their Privilege."^ Thus, while he admits that "the Clergy mismanage
sometimes," he denies that a mere layman, least of all a playwright, can
censure them. But he goes too far in his defense of the clergy and con¬
tradicts the main distinction he has tried to establish. He says that

63
though "the Clergy may have their Failings sometimes like others. . . .
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."^ He may feel this is a fine way
to remove the guilty clergymen from attack, but he has just argued at
length that the priests are not "like other People." First he seems to
be saying that the priests are better than men not of the cloth; thus,
they should not be censured. Then, however, since evidence contradicts
this "fact" in some cases, he considers the priests equal to other men—
though they still must not be censured and only their positive attri¬
butes are to be represented. The implication is that all men are thus
to be judged only on their "best Distinction," an attitude Collier
certainly forgets when evaluating the playwrights.
A slightly different contradiction appears when Collier
attempts to defend the clergy's privilege in his Defence of the Short
View. In his reply to Congreve he explains that
If you make the Man a Knave, the Priest must suffer
under the Imputation: And a Fool in his Person, will
never be thought discreet in his Function. Upon this
account Persons in Authority, whether Spiritual or
Civil, ought to be privileg'd from Abuse. To make
the Ministers of Church or State, the subj ect of
Laughter and Contempt, disables their Authority, and
renders their Commission insignificant.^^
But apparently Collier was confused about clergy privilege, for he later
defends the acquisition of "Riches and Power" by the clergy because they
are so much like most men:
Are not the Clergy of the same Humane Nature with
other People? Have they not the same Necessities
for this World, and the same Conscience and Dis¬
cretion to use it? Generally speaking, Poverty

64
does as ill with a Priest, as with a Poet. 'Tis
apt to Sink the Spirits, to make the Mind grow
Anxious, and Feeble in the discharge of Function.^
Thus, the images of the priests which Collier conveys are contradictory:
one image depends on a defense of their spiritual nature which should
keep them immune from the critical barbs of other men; the other image
depends on their very human material needs and desires which make them
the same as other men. Vanbrugh focuses on this latter image when he
shows how far Collier seems to depart from some obvious Christian ex¬
amples of self-denial of worldly wealth and position:
He is of Opinion, That Riches and Plenty, Title,
State and Dominion, give a Majesty to Precept, and cry
Place for it wherever it comes; That Christ and his
Apostles took the thing by the wrong Handle; and that
the Pope and his Cardinals have much refin'd upon 'em
in the Policy of Instruction. That shou'd a Vicar,
like St. John, feed on Locusts and Wild Honey, his
Parish wou'd think he had too ill a taste for himself,
to cater for them; and that a Bishop, who, like St.
Paul, shou'd decline Temporal Dominion, wou'd shew
himself such an Ass, his Advice wou'd go for nothing.^
Congreve, too, says that his own respect and admiration for "many Rever¬
end Clergymen now living" is not due to their rank or material status
but to "their Humility, their Humanity, their exceeding Learning, which
is yet exceeded by their Modesty; their exemplary Behaviour in their
whole Lives and Conversations; their Charitable Censures, of Youthfull
Errors and Negligences, their fatherly and tender admonitions, accom-
panyed with all sweetness of Behaviour; and full of mild yet forcible
O C
Perswasion.
Collier's belief that the clergy was being abused on the stage
found a poor reception with far more than the playwrights he attacked
in A Short View. Other playwrights and critics less closely connected

65
with the stage also saw problems in his depiction of the rights and
privileges of clergymen. Dennis, like Congreve, emphasizes "the way for
a Clergyman to secure himself from Contempt, is not to boast of secular
Advantages, which in him is truly ridiculous, but to shew his Meekness
and his Humility, which are true Christian Virtues."^ The position to
which Collier has elevated the clergy is depreciated by James Drake, who
emphasizes that they are still men and certainly do not have as close a
"Relation to the Deity" as A Short View indicates.
I suppose, if Mr. Collier1s Band hung awry, or his
Face was dirty, he would use the assistance of a
Glass to make all right and clean. Why then does he
reject the use of that which might do the same office
for his mind, and help him to correct the follies and
management of his Life? The case is plain, he is
blind to his own Faults, and mad that any one else
should see 'em. This makes him call the shewing any
of their failings, exposing the Clergy, as if thereby
only they become publick, not considering that the
Glass shews our Faults to our selves only; other
people can see 'em plainly and as readily without
its help. But Mr. Collier, who takes every thing by
the wrong handle, looks upon a correction as a re¬
proach, and had rather a Fault should pass unmended,
than be taken notice of.^
Again and again Collier shows that his understanding of drama is limited
to outrage at what seems to him a portrayal of evil. Though Collier's
hazy critical perception of dramatic purpose may be largely behind this
view of the clergy on the stage, Drake suggests that Collier's own
sense of superiority has allowed him to become "the first bold Mortal,
that ever pretended to represent the person of God Almighty seriously.
This to me sounds more like Blasphemy, than any thing in the most
profane Poet.
Drake may not have been exactly correct in evaluating Collier's
self-concept, but as a critic trying to explain how drama was designed

66
to affect men, his observations were not isolated. The anonymous author
of A Letter to A. H, Esq; Concerning the Stage (1698) points out that
"'Tis certain, since the Stage has used the Gown freely, and the Laity
have not been afraid to look into their Faults, that they are more
OQ
humble, and less publickly vicious."0^ This defender sees not only
potential for the stage but elaborates on its successes:
Besides their Reforming of Manners, the Stage has
taught them [clergymen] to speak English, and preach
more like Ambassadors of their great Master. It has
taught them to argue rationally, and at once mended
their Stile, and Form of their Sermons .... In
short, the Drunkenness, Whoring, Insolence, and
Dulness that has appear'd under a Black Coat on the
Stage, have made the Men of the same Colour of it
keep within Bounds: And that a Man might not teize
them with the Representation, they have endeavour'd
to appear in as differing a Form as possible. u
Collier's vanity insulated him from the education which this critic felt
the stage provided. To correct and guard against mistakes, however, a
man must be humble enough to accept the possibility of his faults and
discerning enough to see them when they are presented on stage. Collier,
and those who vigorously supported him, often seem neither humble nor
discerning.
In Some Remarks upon Mrâ–  Collier's Defence of His Short View
of the English Stage (1698), a vindicator of Congreve and Vanbrugh takes
the position that good clergymen, like good kings, need not fear and have
not feared the portrayal of an evil priest or prince on stage: "Why
may not a good Priest see an ill one Characterised, and not be concern'd,
since even Mr. Collier and ten thousand Instances allow, that failings
are incident to them as well as to the rest of human Kind?" He goes on
to note how "abominable Stories of the Monks and Friars" are found in

67
novels of Spain and Italy, nations which are most under "subjection to
their Ghostly Fathers":
Yet even with them the Bad are exposed; all our
reformations and Amendments came from discovery of
their Faults; nor can I think a Chaplain Ridiculed
in such a Family as Sir Tunbelly1s, Reflects any
more upon a sensible and learned Man in that Capa¬
city, than Justice Clodpate in Epsom-Wellg, does upon
several Worthy Men that fill the Benches.41
Through his critical spokesman, Savage, John Oldmixon justifies
the playwrights' use of clergymen on stage. His reasoning corresponds
to almost all of those who defended the practice:
A Poet can't set a man in the Stocks for being drunk,
not break an Officer for being a Coward, nor fine a
man for Extortion, neither can he pull the Gown over
a disorderly Parsons ears; but, if he can, he may
make 'em all asham'd of their faults, by shewing
their Characters ridiculous. Let a Clergy-man be a
Fop or a Rake, a Pedant or a Coxcomb, he is accountable
in the Poets Court for his Lewdness and Folly. Their
punishment is to expose him, and in many cases the Law
can do no more, sometimes not so much. ^
He feels men are taught by seeing others make mistakes which they might
make or have already made. Savage comments later on Collier's "sophistry"
in attacking the playwrights on this point: "We have seen how far the
Clergy may be laught at, without concerning their office or order in
their Quarrel . . . and that the Poets never intended to affront the
Clergy in general, by their treating those who deserv'd it as scandal-
/ O
ously as they liv'd." Through the fear of ridicule or the shame of
recognition, the clergymen could modify their behavior and thoughts. In
this way a playwright becomes in part a legislator working through his
art for the improvement of'those who witness his creations.
Collier seems to have two major problems with the presentation

68
of characters and themes (mainly the evil nature of man) on stage. His
first problem is an inability to see the play as an artistic work,
distanced from the artist and the audience yet emblematic and allusive.
Thus, the thoughts and language of the characters become the thoughts
and language of the playwrights for him. He lifts passages from context,
examines, and condemns them as profane, with no sense that he has dis¬
turbed an artistic whole and thus distorted meaning by his amputations.
Closely related to this fault is his Platonic prejudice against the
presentation of evil on stage. This prejudice manifests itself in his
total disgust with elements of human nature which the playwrights would
have him witness and thus controls his ideas about how man can best be
taught to modify his thoughts and behavior.
In A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immoral¬
ity of the English Stage (1699) , he clearly exposes his first problem.
Here, he sees characterization as an excuse, a "pretence" to justify
"profane Sallies." He asserts that "'tis the Poet that speaks in the
Persons of the Stage; And that he who makes a Man Mad, must answer for
his Distraction."^ This total lack of understanding of the creative
process runs counter to Congreve's view that the playwright creates
individuals who embody traits and ideas he sees in life around him, not
representatives of and spokesmen for himself. After asserting that
comedy must expose vice and folly by portraying "vicious and foolish
Characters," Congreve desires "that it may not be imputed to the Per-
swasion or private Sentiments of the Author, if at any time one of these
vicious Characters in any of his Plays shall behave himself foolishly,
or immorally in Word or Deed. I hope I am not yet unreasonable; it were

69
very hard that a Painter should be believ'd to resemble, all the ugly
Faces that he draws.in addition, he remarks that "any Expression
or Passage cited from any Play" by Collier cannot be judged "out of its
proper Scene, or alienated from the Character by which it is spoken; for
in that place alone, and in his Mouth alone, can it have its proper and
true Signification.'0 There is a conscious distance between the
writer and the characters he draws, and the artist is in part dis¬
tinguished by how well his characters fit the situations or scenes of
the play.
Dryden, as if anticipating Collier's attacks on him, speaks
of what the poet may appropriately treat in a play so that it may "as
well be conducing to holiness as to good manners." He notes that he has
been "charged by some ignorant and malicious persons with no less crimes
than profaneness and irreligión" in his play Tyrannic Love, or the Royal
Martyr (1670), and he thus answers the charges, made mainly against
\
Maximin, the heathen tyrant in the play:
If it be urged that a person of such principles who
scoffs at any religion ought not to be presented on
the stage; why then are the lives and sayings of so
many wicked and profane persons recorded in the Holy
Scriptures? I know it will be answered that a due
use may be made of them; that they are remembered
with a brand of infamy fixed upon them; and set as
sea-marks for those who behold them to avoid. And
what other use have I made of Maximin? Have I pro¬
posed him as a pattern to be imitated, whom even for
his impiety to his false gods I have so severely
punished.^‘
Dryden quite clearly expects the audience to understand and learn from
the justice meted out to such an evil character.
In his preface to his translation of Déí Arte Graphical the

70
Art of Painting (1695), he also shows how different from Collier's is
his view of man and of stage characters. He points out that the
idea of perfection is of little use in portraits . . .
[and] in the characters of comedy and tragedy, which
are never to be made perfect, but always be drawn with
some specks of frailty and deficience .... The
perfection of such stage-characters consists chiefly in
their likeness to the deficient faulty nature, which is
their original.
It is in large part the depiction of man's nature, in all its deformity,
49
which makes the drama both instructive and pleasing.
Other playwrights with some sense of the artistic importance
of presenting a variety of characters also got into the battle. Though
Elkanah Settle was not directly attacked, he chose to defend writers
like Vanbrugh and Dryden by pointing out Collier's imperfect understand¬
ing of their works. In defending Vanbrugh's choice of main characters
in The Relapse, for example, he suggests that Collier
not expect that All the Characters in the Comedy
should be Virtuous: A Composition of that kind
cannot well be made; nor would such a Composition
truly reach the whole Instructive Ends of the Drama.
Contraria juxta se posita magis elucescunt, is a
very great Maxim, The Foyl sets off the Diamond.
And that Foyl, I may venture to say, is wanted in
the Comedy, to make the Virtue shine the brighter. "*0
Settle is very conscious of the impact a virtuous character can have on
an audience, but only if the character is presented realistically in a
world with vices to challenge that virtue. The audience interest will
focus on the struggle a character like Amanda (The Relapse) has to
maintain her chastity. The effect of the struggle—Amanda's success and
Worthy's conversion—may then serve as an instructive conclusion to the
action. Because temptation is recognizable, even to the most virtuous
members of the audience, the temptation must appear realistic; to do so

71
requires the presence of vice, not as an abstract concept, but in the
persons of "the gay World."
John Oldmixon, through his critical mouthpiece, Savage, in
Reflections on the Stage (1699) , affirms the idea of poetic justice in
his defense of vice on the stage:
If Comedy is to correct Vice, it must expose it,
and how can vitious man be expos'd but by his words
or actions: now to make him act his wickedness,
would be to restore the Infamy of the Pantomimes, and
the Poets have no other way of discovering him, but
to make him talk loosely, suitable to his Character.
A man must not be punish'd on the Stage for nothing.
A lewd Fellow must act his part as far as decency will
permit, that he may suffer for 't in the end, and as
long as he keeps to nature with this restriction, the
Poet can't err.^
Language here becomes a way of creating a character who "keeps to nature"
and thus is recognizable to the audience. Like Congreve, Oldmixon fur¬
ther emphasizes the context of language in the play by asking Collier:
Are there not some passages which depend entirely
on what went before 'em, and on the Character of the
persons who spoke 'em? How can a man judge of the
thing but by the Character? and all that ever writ
have made the persons they introduce, speak according
to their Characters. Has not Milton in the best and
most Religious Poem that has been writ since our
Saviours days, made his Devil say of God Almighty?
Sole reigning holds the Tyranny of Heaven. And
who, that should light on this Verse, would not think
the Author guilty of horrid Blasphemy, unless he read
what went before, and consider'd who spoke it.52
A similar attitude emerges in Father Francois Caffero's letter, which
Peter Motteux prefixed to his Beauty in Distress (1698). Taking a Thom-
istic position throughout, the Father feels that we cannot condemn "those
Actions and Words which may by accident raise the Passions, . . . for we
cannot walk a Step, read a Book, enter a Church, or live in the World,

72
without meeting with a thousand things capable of exciting the Passions."
Living in the world necessitates a confrontation with evil, but imitation
of evil is no necessary consequence. Likewise, he feels plays are not
intended to corrupt the audience:
for tho they speak of Love, Hatred, Ambition, Revenge,
and the like, 'tis not done with an Intention of
exciting those kinds of Passions in the Audience; nor
are there any such scandalous Circumstances in them,
as will infallibly produce such mischievous Effects in
their Minds.55
Additional critics in favor of the presentation of vice on
stage used 1) arguments supporting the ability of the audience to dis¬
tinguish and judge properly (rather than imitate blindly) based upon
the accuracy of the playwrights' depiction of the society and 2) argu¬
ments founded primarily upon the artistic necessity of making the play
a whole, with the actions and language of each character logical and
meaningful to the unfolding plot and the ultimate moral intentions of
54
the playwright. James Drake, echoing Congreve and discussing Collier s
misunderstanding of Aristophanes, explains how the poet is not to be
identified with his characters:
The people of Athens, who were in these matters much
more delicate, than Mr. Collier seems to be, had the
niceness to distinguish justly between the Private
Sentiments of the Man, and the Publick one's of the
Poet. In this latter capacity almost all sorts of
Characters belong'd to him, and he must of consequence
be frequently necessitated to make use of Thoughts and
Expressions very contrary to his own proper opinion.
The Athenians therefore did not lay these Liberties
of the Stage, which they knew the nature of those
Characters which he represented must of course oblige
him to, as blemishes either in his Faith or Morals,
to his Charge. Had Mr. Collier been Master of as much
Understanding and Justice, as these Heathens, not only
Aristophanes, but our English Poets too had met with a
fairer Adversary, and found civiller and honester
treatment.55

73
He later criticizes Collier's reasoning because "Mr. Collier knows,
that the business of Comedy is to instruct by example; and he mistakenly
imagines, that these ought to be Examples for Imitation." Drake, how¬
ever, feels that Comedy presents only examples for caution, not imi¬
tation. He points out Collier's fear that since the poets mix "Beauties"
and "Blemishes" within a work or a character, "Folks" will be tempted to
"ape the Deformities" as well as the admirable qualities. But Drake
feels that "the Understanding of our Youth is not so very depress'd and
low; but they can very readily distinguish between the obvious Beauties,
and Defects of a Character, and are not to be fool'd like Dottrels into
a vicious Imitation.Even Edward Filmer, who agreed to the need for
reformation of many contemporary plays, carefully explained the neces¬
sity for representing evil and foolish characters acting and speaking
appropriately. Presented with an accurate depiction of these characters,
the audience, then, would not be "judging without Process, and condemning
without Proof; which is certainly the greatest Injustice imaginable."57
Indeed, justice, rendered by the audience upon the characters or by the
playwrights through "Stage-Discipline" (poetic justice), was the key to
sound artistic creation. For Filmer, the best plays were those which
involved the audience, through the characters, in a process of evalua¬
tion; the audience could then understand the moral which was not only
part of the art, but the basis for the art.
Against these justifications for the presentation of evil on
stage, Collier could only repeat his fearful, Platonic cry. In it there
was a warning of imminent doom, which found ready ears among those who
knew or cared little about the drama.

NOTES
3 A Second Defence of the Short View of the Prophaneness and
Immorality of the English Stage (London, 1700), p. 36.
2
Ridpath's The Stage Condemn’d first appeared late in 1698.
Bedford barraged the public with Serious Reflections on the Scandalous
Abuse and Effects of the Stage (London, 1705); A Second Advertisement
Concerning the Profaneness of the Playhouse(London, 1705) ; The Evil and
Danger of Stage Plays (London, 1706); A Serious Remonstrance in Behalf
of the Christian Religion (London, 1719); The Great Abuse of Musick
(London, 1711) ; and A Sermon Preached in the Parish-Church of St.
Butolph's Aldgate (London, 1730). Law's The Absolute Unlawfulness of
the Stage-Entertainment Fully Demonstrated first appeared in 1726, the
year of Collier's death, and was reprinted throughout the century.
^Johnson, in The Lives of the English Poets, and Macaulay,
in both "Comic Dramatists of the Restoration" and The History of England,
show respect for Collier and many of his views.
^John Palmer, The Comedy of Manners (1913; rpt. New York:
Russell & Russell, Inc., 1962), pp. 276-277; E. E. Stoll, "Literature
No 'Document,'" MLR, XIX (1924), 150; Maxmillian E. Novak, "The Artist
and the Clergyman: Congreve, Collier, and the World of the Play,"
College English, XXX (1969), 556.
^A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the
English Stage (London, 1698), p. 2.
^Ibid., pp. 4 & 11.
^A Defence of Plays, (London, 1707), p. 16.
^A Short View, pp. 9, 17 & 110.
9The Complete Works of Sir John Vanbrugh, eds., Bonamy
Dobrée and Geoffrey Webb (Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press, 1927), I, 196.
10Ibid., 197.
â– ^The Complete Works of William Congreve, ed., Montague
Summers (London: The Nonesuch Press, 1923), III, 175.
-^The Critical Works of John Dennis, ed. Edward Niles Hooker,
I (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1939), 317-318.
13p. 72.
3^Ibid., pp. 124-125.
74

75
l^xhe Antient and Modern Stages Survey1d (London, 1699),
pp. 287-288.
Short View, p. 175.
17Works, I, 197-198.
■^That Vanbrugh's comment here has been seen mainly as a de¬
fense of realism, rather than as a moral judgment based upon realistic
observation, may indicate the effect Collier has had on more recent
critics who have dealt with the controversy.
19Works, III, 177.
20Ibid.
^Critical Works, I, 182.
22pp. 89-90.
23 7 8
pp. 7-8.
2 A
stages, pp. 365-366. Drake had earlier made the point that
persons of quality, especially gentlemen, should not be represented in
comedy as being "of sound Sense and perfect Morals," for this would be
unnatural. In fact, "Fools of what Quality soever are proper Goods and
Chattels of the Stage" as well as a "Gentleman of Wit and Honour" as
long as his "Appetites are strong and irregular enough, to hurry him
beyond his discretion, and make him act against the Conviction of his
Judgment" (pp. 234-236).
23A Short View, pp. 123-124.
26Works, I, 202-203.
27Works, III, 191.
28Ibid., 189-190.
29
Ibid. , 190-191. In part this article, as Congreve quotes
it, reads: '"it appertaineth to the Discipline of the Church, that
enquiry be made of evil Ministers: And that they be accused by those
that have knowledge of their Offences; and finally being found Guilty
by just Judgment be deposed.'"
30p. 127.
31Ibid., p. 139.
3?
A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immoral¬
ity of the English Stage (London, 1699), p. 70.

76
33Ibid., p. 117.
34Works, I, 202-203.
35Works, III, 193.
38Critical Works, I, 187.
37Stages, pp. 344-345.
38Ibid., p. 346.
39P. 6.
40t,
41p. 12.
A 2
Reflections on the Stage, and Mr. Collyer's Defence of the
Short View (London, 1699), pp. 65-66.
43Ibid., p. 113.
44p. 108.
45Works, III, 173.
46Ibid.
47"Of Dramatic Poesy" and Other Critical Essays, ed. George
Watson (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 162), I, 139-140. He also
suggests his method of teaching the audience: "I only maintain, against
the enemies of the stage, that patterns of piety, decently represented
and equally removed from the extremes of superstition and profaneness,
may be of excellent use to second the precepts of our religion. By the
harmony of words we elevate the mind to a sense of devotion, as our
solemn music, which is inarticulate poesy, does in churches; and by the
lively images of piety, adorned by action, through the senses allure
the soul; which while it is charmed in a silent joy of what it sees and
hears, is struck at the same time with a secret veneration of things
celestial, and is wound up insensibly into the practice of that which it
admires"(139).
48Ibid., II, 184.
49
He says in the same preface that in comedy, the worst like¬
nesses of men should be presented in order to produce laughter and to
instruct the vulgar, "who are never well amended till they are more than
sufficiently exposed" (II, 185).
3<3A Farther Defence of Dramatick Poetry (London, 1698) , pp.
64-65.

77
â– ^p. 54. Oldmixon also stresses that a poet must show the
audience why a character deserves punishment (pp. 116-117).
52Ibid. , pp. 11-12.
53
p. XXIV.
"^Some Remarks Upon Mr. Collier's Defence of his Short View
of the English Stage (London, 1698), p. 9 and A Letter to A. H. Esq.;
Concerning the Stage (London, 1698), pp. 7 & 9.
•^Stages, pp. 327-328.
56Ibid. , pp. 270-272.
^^Filmer, pp. 36 & 71.

CHAPTER III
PERSUASION OF THE UNKNOWING: THE SUCCESS OF COLLIER'S VIEW
It might be asked how two twentieth-century critics could look
back at the Collier controversy and draw opposing conclusions about
Collier's impact on the drama. How is it possible that G. F. Lamb finds
Collier and his followers little more than "temporary nuisances" to the
stage, while E. E. Stoll suggests that "all Jeremy Collier . . . had to
do was appeal to the old faith—their faith still—and Congreve and
Vanbrugh were routed, and the stage purged"?^ To arrive at some reason
for this disagreement, and thus an evaluation of the success or failure
of Collier's arguments, the changes in the drama as well as the popu¬
larity of Collier's works should be considered. Also, it should be
stressed that whatever popularity Collier's views have achieved among
some, his fallacious methods of argument and his conclusions were re¬
peatedly and accurately exploded by the contemporary critical replies.
And because much of his popularity depended upon his image as an expert
on moral reform, these replies questioned his sincerity as a reformer
and his authority as a judge of morality in the drama.
Two questions arise when trying to understand Collier's impact
on the stage. Why, for nearly forty years after the restoration of
Charles II and the theatre, is there no significant censure of the
drama? And how can a work like A Short View suddenly appear and go
through five editions while spawning other equally hostile attacks by
opponents of the stage? Certainly an answer to both of these questions
would have to be that the timing of the publication took advantage of
78

79
social changes occurring in England, especially in London. Some of the
changes would have been obvious in the theatre audiences, who probably
bought Collier's treatise and followed the controversy with interest.
Emmett L. Avery and Arthur H. Scouten point out that during the forty
years from 1660-1700 "essentially, it appears that both the audience
and its taste altered .... In 1660 the spectators were principally
moderately cultured, well-educated persons. . . ."2 As the century
progressed, and especially after Charles' reign, "the middle classes,
citizens, gentlemen, and ladies, the apprentices, and even servants
formed a larger portion of the audience."^ John Loftis is even more
specific in identifying the merchants as the most influential group in
changing the taste of the audience.^* These merchants were becoming
increasingly wealthy and greater in number—especially in and around
London—as the century drew to a close. As a group of newly rich, who
had made their money from trade and industry, they could afford the
high-priced admission to the theatres and occupied the seats earlier
reserved only for landed gentry and members of the court circle. But
this group had no way of instantly attaining the knowledge of literary
and dramatic traditions which the people of fashion were expected to
possess. Economically, they had gained status, but their lack of taste
and judgment forced many of the better playwrights to "lose" this part
of their audience. John Dennis is extremely conscious of this new
element in the audience in A Large Account of the Taste in Poetry, and
the Causes of the Degeneracy of It (1702). He does not merely point out
that "these People, who in their original obscurity, could never attain
to any higher entertainment than Tumbling and Vaulting and Ladder

80
Dancing, and the delightful diversions of Jack Pudding . . . [are still]
in Love with their old sports, and encourage these noble Pastimes still
upon the Stage.He also devotes much of his letter to a comparison
between contemporary audiences and those immediately following the Res¬
toration. He finds that "the taste of England for Comedy . . . was
certainly much better in the Reign of King Charles the Second, than it
is at present. For it was then extremely good, and is now excessively
bad." In drawing this conclusion, he presents two important "Maxims":
First, That then there is among any People a good
taste for Comedy, when a very considerable part of
an Audience are qualified to judge for themselves,
and when they who are not qualified to judge for
themselves, are influenced by the authority of those
who are rightly qualified. Secondly, that then there
is among any People a bad taste for Comedy, when very
few of an Audience are qualify'd to judge for them¬
selves, and when the rest are influenced by the
authority of those who are not rightly qualified.
He then goes on to state that, under Charles, the first maxim held,
while presently the second is true. His proof involves an explanation
of those qualifications necessary to judge good poetry, qualifications
which the good poet and critic must share, for "no man can judge of a
Beautiful imagination in another without some degree of it in himself":
And as for the judging rightly of any thing without
Judgment, that is a contradiction in terms. And if
philosophy and a knowledge of the World are necessary
to a Comick Poet, for his forming his Characters; if
an acquaintance with the best Authors among the Antients
and Moderns, be requisite for the attaining the Vivacity
and Grace of the Dialogue; why, then for the forming
a true judgment of these, the same Learning and the same
Experience are necessary. And lastly, if a Poet had
need to have his mind free, that he may the more
thoroughly enter'into the concerns of the Theatre, and
put on the Passions and Humours of his different Charac¬
ters, so as to make them by turns his own; why the
Spectator, that he may judge whether the Author does

81
this or no, must enter into those Passions and
Humours in some proportionable degree, and conse¬
quently ought to have his mind free from all
avocations of Business, and from all real vexatious
Passions.
Thus, to be able to pass accurate judgment upon a play, one had to pos¬
sess all of the following in some measure: "a lively, and a warm, and
a strong imagination, and a solid and piercing judgment," "a knowledge
of things . . . because the ultimate end of Comedy is to instruct, and
to instruct all," "a knowledge of the World and of Mankind," and
"Leisure" and "Serenity." The reason Dennis sees "a considerable part"
of the audience of the Restoration years possessing these qualities
while "in the present Reign very few in an Audience" have them is not
because "Humane Nature [has] decay'd since the Reign of Charles the
Second." Rather, he suggests that "the faculties of the Soul, like the
parts of the Body, receive nourishment from use, and derive skill as
well as they do force and vigour from exercise.
If Dennis's observation—that this new class of theatre-goers
had helped eclipse qualified judgment of the plays—is accurate, those
in the audience who could be influenced by the thesis of A Short View
would have increased by 1698. This is not to say that the merchants
took over the audience, but as a developing source of wealth (and thus
theatre revenue) they were making themselves recognized.^ And though a
small percentage of all merchants (both wealthy tradesmen and poorer
Q
shopkeepers) attended the theatre, those not seeing or reading plays
probably would have been even more influenced by an anti-stage treatise
like Collier's. After all, what value (especially moral value) could
there be in spending time, energy, and money away from business? In

82
fact, according to one anonymous spokesman for the mercantile position,
the stage leads men, through an excitement of their imaginations, from
"the Fatique and Engagement of Business .... And among a trading
People this is a Mischief to be dreaded and shun'd to the last Degree:
Trade requiring Industry and Application, that the Mind be sent to it
and engag'd in it."9 What many merchants imagined about plays perhaps
needed only the virulent confirmation of a seemingly honest and informed
man of the cloth, no matter his lack of political popularity at the
time. James Drake seems to have this type of merchant in mind when he
suggests that Collier uses his assured attack to influence people "whose
Fears are Stronger than their Judgments."^ That Collier was conscious
of this body of readers for his attacks is not assured, but his argu¬
ments and point of view were far more creditable to them than to the
playwrights. Not having the proper tools to understand, judge, or
appreciate the performances or published versions for themselves, these
readers of A Short View would have been only too willing to accept
Collier's vision of stage corruption.
But perhaps even more significant in accounting for the sudden
popularity of anti-stage publications are the societies for the refor¬
mation of manners which began to form shortly after 1688. As Dudley
W. R. Bahlman points out, two great waves of enthusiasm for the for¬
mation of these societies rolled across England during the 1690's.^
Bahlman accounts for this spirit of reformation as, in part, a reaction
to the threat of Catholicism:
The reformation of manners was but one aspect
of a religious revival which had begun in the brief
reign of James II. The threat of Roman Catholicism

83
in that time had been a challenge to both churchmen
and dissenters. Popery meant tyranny, while protes-
tantism was the bulwark of the traditional rights and
liberties of Englishmen. Therefore, one way to show
a stubborn defiance of James' rule was to throng the
churches and chapels of England. The wave of piety
that resulted from this form of resistance did not
disappear with the accession of William and Mary; it
persisted and manifested itself not only in the for¬
mation of societies for reformation but in the
activities of other organizations as well.
The purpose of the societies for the reformation of manners was not
only to preach against the immorality and profaneness which they felt
had engulfed England, but to encourage new laws and bring to prosecution
those breaking existing laws. The groups would march out like an army
to inform against those who appeared guilty of public cursing, swearing,
drunkenness, or profanation of the Lord's day. Their hope, not unlike
Plato's in The Republic or Collier's in A Short View, was "to create a
moral paradise" through the enforcement of laws. The version of para¬
dise brought on by this "army of reform" caused even ministers like
John Ryther to
so far forget the natural depravity of man as to tell
the local reforming society to pray "that there may
be in many, very many, a reformation, the effect of
conversion, that we may live to see that joyful day
when profaneness, irreligión, and immorality shall be
banished out of the land; and godliness, religion and
goodness shall be flourishing, spreading, prevailing,
and in prospering condition everywhere."
These Platonic (and Pelagian) characteristics of the movement
did not go totally unnoticed by its members, however, for Bahlman points
out that William Bisset, in his Plain English (London, 1704), felt that
the societies "were not trying to save the souls of wicked men at all,"
which as Christians, they should have been doing. Bisset, speaking
sarcastically for the societies, interprets their aims by saying that men

84
"may be as secretly wicked, lewd, and worldly as they
please; we won't force them (they need not fear it)
to a heavenly mind, much less to Heaven against their
liking. But we would oblige them (if possible) to be
civil upon Earth and let their neighbors live by them
a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and
hones ty."12
The concentrated effort was made to remove the appearance of evil from
daily life, just as Collier wished to remove evil characters, language,
and actions from the stage. This being done, it was supposed England
would be cleansed of its vice and wickedness; Bisset, obviously, saw a
fallacy in this kind of attitude.
In addition to the societies' zealous concern with the appear¬
ance of evil, their composition would have made them particularly re¬
ceptive to Collier's arguments. They were made up of individuals who
felt that all of their members were virtuous, untainted by the sins
they were fighting. Unlike the other societies—the Society for the
Promotion of Christian Knowledge, the Society for Propagating the Gospel
in Foreign Parts, and the religious societies—the societies for the
reformation of manners were not strictly Anglican. And as Bahlman says,
"they were critics of Church and the State," since they felt neither had
enforced the laws against immorality. Also, both the reform and
religious societies "were composed primarily of tradesmen and some
apprentices,' who like the wealthier merchants, would have known little
of literary and dramatic tradition and even less of contemporary plays.
Though, as dissenters and Anglicans, these reformers did not share
Collier's non-juring position with respect to William, they were as zeal¬
ously active in sniffing about for sources of smut. Where any basis for
a critical judgment of the drama was lacking, Collier's seeming

85
understanding as well as his acquaintance with authorities on the stage
could easily have convinced the unknowing. After all, not only the end—
the abolition of immorality and profaneness—but the means--censorship
and prosecution—were the same for Collier and the reform societies.
There is further evidence which Professor Scouten has found
to link the popularity of Collier's works with the Society for the Pro¬
motion of Christian Knowledge (a group Bahlman says lay between the
religious societies and the reform societies in its zeal as a reforming
force among the people). Scouten finds evidence in the minutes of the
SPCK that they purchased at least two hundred copies of Mr. Collier's
Dissuasive from the Play-House (1703) to be distributed. Also recorded
are large purchases of other anti-stage literature which the society
passed out at coffee houses, churches, and other gathering places.-*-^
Scouten does not claim to have surveyed all the records of SPCK, nor is
it likely that all of their purchases of tracts and pamphlets were
recorded, but what he has noted indicates a specific interest by the
SPCK in the controversy and a considerable financial investment to help
keep the anti-stage material rolling off the presses. It certainly
seems likely that the more active and more numerous reforming societies
used this same tactic of mass purchase and distribution of anti-stage
works to help in their battle against public vice.15 If this is true,
Collier's popularity is probably due less to a demand by a large
number of readers than to the propagandistic use by the societies of
copies passed out to citizens wishing only a morning at church, a cup
of coffee, or a walk. Whether many of the recipients of these works
read them and believed the arguments cannot be ascertained. That the

86
works had little effect on the existence of theatres and the continued
popularity of plays which were attacked is a matter of record.
The publication of Collier's works kept pace with activities
of the reform societies, and some of his opponents had harsh words for
these societies. Thomas Brown, for example, in his Letters from the
Dead to the Living (first published in 1702), describes the societies as
troops of informers, who are maintain'd by perjury,
serve God for gain, and ferret out whores for sub¬
sistence. This noble society consists of divines of
both churches, fanaticks as well as orthodox saints
and sinners, knights of the post, and knights of the
elbow, and they are not more unanimously against im¬
morality in their information, than for it in their
practice; they avoid no sins in themselves, and will
suffer none in any one else. . . . These worthy
gentlemen, for promoting the interest of the Crown-
Office, and some such honest place, pick harmless
words out of plays, to indict the players and squeeze
twenty pound a week of them, if they can, for their
exposing pride, vanity, hypocrisy, usury, oppression,
cheating, and other darling vices of the master re¬
formers, who owe them a grudge, not to be appeas'd
without considerable offerings; for money in these
cases wipes off all defects.46
In the epilogue to The Stage-Beaux Toss'd in a_ Blanket (1704), Gildon
also comes down on the reformers, among whom he numbers Collier:
Gentlemen, briefly this has been our Fault,
We more for others than our selves have Thought.
Each Man wou'd piously reform his Neighbour;
To save himself he thinks not worth his Labour.
With Zeal and Sin at once we're strangely warm'd,
And grow more Wicked as we grow Reform'd.
Oh! 'tis a blessed Age, and blessed Nation,
When vice walks cheek by jowl with Reformation.
In short, let each Man's Thoughts first look at home,
And then to Foreign Reformations roam.
If all the Fools and Knaves met here to Day,
Wou'd their own Faults and Follies first Sur^y,
We need not fear their Censures of the Play.
But not until 1709 did the attacks on the reform societies produce con¬
crete and lasting results. It was on August 15 of that year that the

87
Reverend Henry Sacheverall delivered a caustic sermon against the
societies for the reformation of manners, which he saw as a direct
threat to the Church of England:
[Our religion] does not oblige us to charge men at
random upon bare surmise and suspicion, or to pry
officiously into their lives and secret affairs,
and to invade their private rights by usurping a
jurisdiction which we have no title to justify, or
with a rude air of superiority to obtrude ourselves
upon 'em as privy-counsellors and dogmatically censure,
rebuke, or advise in our neighbor's proceedings that
don't belong to us, neither lie under the verge of
our cognizance. Whatever godly and fallacious glosses
such troublesome wasps that erect themselves into
illegal inquisitors may cast upon their action, they
are doubtless the unwarrentable effects of an idle,
encroaching, impertinent, and meddling curiosity ....
It is in short the base product of ill-nature, spiritual
pride, censoriousness, and sanctified spleen, pretending
to carry on the blessed work of reformation by lying,
slandering, whispering, backbiting, and tale-bearing,
the most express character of the devil, who is empha¬
tically styled the grand accuser of the brethern.
Though a Whig administration convicted Sacheverell of opposing refor¬
mation, he became a popular hero, and his conviction was the issue which
brought the Tories back to power in the elections of 1710. And as
Bahlman points out, one could easily forget the existence of the so¬
cieties after 1710, for their ability to arouse public enthusiasm had
been dealt a fatal blow.^
That Collier sensed the opposition to the reform societies
may be indicated by the date of his last claimed contribution to the
controversy, A Farther Vindication of the Short View of the Profaneness
and Immorality of the English Stage, published in 1708. The coinci¬
dence of the weakening of the societies (and, thus, their purchasing
power) and the cessation of Collier's anti-stage works is even more

88
noteworthy when viewed in light of remarks made by some of the stage
defenders. The author of A Vindication of the Stage (1698), for example,
feels that Collier did not see virtue as its own reward; rather, he
suggests "that the Fifty Pounds had a greater influence with him, than
the stab he suppos'd he should give to Vice and Debauchery."^ Thomas
Brown also speaks of the lucrative results of Collier's appeal: "fana-
ticks presented the nonjuror, and misers and extortioners gave him
bountiful rewards; one . . . laid out threescore pounds . . . [for] the
impression [of A Short View], to distribute among the saints, that are
zealous for God and mammon at the same time,"zz Gildon too thinks one
of the main results of Collier's writings was that he "got a great deal
23
of Money by what he writ against Plays." These responses to Collier's
motives probably overstate his concern for money, but it is also fact
that large sales of his works were due to the reform societies and that
when they became less active so did his publications.^
In addition to the timing of his writings, his persistence in
answering stage defenders shows how much he wished to keep the anti-stage
position before uncommitted or sympathetic readers. After the success
of A Short View, he waited only for responses from Congreve and Vanbrugh
before rekindling the reforming fires with his Defence of the Short View
of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage, &c. (1699). His
apparent strategy was to have the last word after any extensive defense
of the stage so that the readers would feel he had countered any ob¬
jections to his position. He answered James Drake with A Second Defence
of the Short View of the Prophaneness and Immorality of the English Stage,
&c. (1700); Edward Filmer's A Defence of Plays (1707) prompted his A

89
Farther Vindication (1708); he also used the occasion of the storm in
1703 to publish Mr. Collier's Dissuasive from the Playhouse (1703) and
probably Some Thoughts Concerning the Stage in a. Letter to a_ Lady (1704).
It made no difference that his defenses of A Short View were essentially
repetitious of initial arguments or that they avoided or confused
important considerations brought up by his opponents. What seems
important rhetorically was that hr; have the final word, that the necessity
for closing the theatres conclude the reflections of those readers who
were following the controversy.
Closely associated with the timing and persistence of Collier's
attacks is their tone, for it too takes into account the audience to whom
the works were directed. Ostensibley, he was directing his views at the
playwrights in order to reform their writing, but any reader soon recog¬
nizes he means to go far beyond reform. Like the reform societies, he
is trying to raise a public outcry against the stage and eventually
draw the law down upon actors, playwrights, and theatres. To stir
Christian readers who were not familiar with the plays or the authorities
which he cites, he had to convey a feeling of moral outrage. Thus, his
tone is not merely forceful, but indignant, emotionally incensed, even
livid. One example may be seen in his reaction to Vanbrugh's The Relapse
in A Short View:
I am quite tired with these wretched Sentences.
The sight indeed is horrible, and I am almost un¬
willing 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

90
than Insolence and Atheism? Resentment can never
be better shown, nor Aversion more reasonably
executed! 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!26
If this reverend critic could be so outraged at Vanbrugh's lines, cer¬
tainly the reader of A Short View who did not know the play or was
unsure of his own judgment about it may have felt the necessity to share
Collier's resentment. After all, more than decorum is at stake;
Christianity itself is being "Hooted off the Stage."
And his tone could become even more virulent, as when he
reacts to the examples of blasphemy he sees in The Relapse, The Provok'd
Wife, and Love for Love:
They [these examples] look reeking as it were from
Pandaemonium, 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 Plagye and Poyson! These are out¬
rageous Provocations; Enough to arm all Nature in
Revenge; To exhaust the Judgments, of Heaven, and
sink the Island in the Sea!27
This fury is even more amazing in light of the sources he cites, for it
has taken some ingenious extrapolation to see "intolerable Abuses" and
"outrageous Provocation" of the Christian religion in plays whose
language and patterns suggest just the opposite. Sister Rose Anthony
sees "his vitriolic sentences" as "the outcome of a temper maddened by
what he considered indecency and profanity." She does feel that
"occasionally, too, these liberties blunted his judgment" but that many
of his outbursts were justified.28 Rather than blunting his judgment,
I see the rage resulting from his judgment of the plays. Feigned or

91
not, the impassioned condemnation functions as a rhetorical conclusion
to his arguments; he is relying on emotional persuasion to weld together
the citations from the plays and the catastrophic threat to religion
which he says the plays pose. He need not spend time proving poetic
intent or even that his examples indeed are a moral threat, for the
emotion sweeps other considerations of reason aside.
But the tone of outrage is accentuated by one of sarcasm,
especially in the form of rhetorical questions. By using sarcasm he
appears confident that he is unquestionably correct in his criticism.
The tone is most used when he is speaking about specific plays or play¬
wrights, as when he comments on Dryden's King Arthur:
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 onto one Form
of Diversion" Why is all this done unless it be to
ridicule the whole and make one as incredible as the
other
Of course Collier sees no possible reason for Dryden's use of these
characters and settings except to ridicule Christianity, but he provides
no proof. He merely continues his questioning until the tone goes from
sarcasm to rage and personal incriminations of Dryden. The naive reader
could become involved in the castigation, never questioning its validity.
It is not surprising that Collier's diction and tone drew
harsh reactions from the playwrights and other defenders of the stage.
Almost all of them criticized Collier's fury, and a number of them
seemed genuinely shocked by the divine's lack of control. Dryden, in
his preface to Fables Ancient and Modern (1700), for example, says that
Collier

92
is too much given to horse-play in his raillery, and
comes to battle like a dictator from the plough. I
will not say, The zeal of God's house has eaten him
up; but I am sure it has devoured some part of his
good manners and civility. It might also be doubted
whether it were altogether zeal which prompted him to
his function to rake into the rubbish of ancient and
modern plays; a divine might have employed his pains
to better purpose than in the nastiness of Plautus
and Aristophanes, whose examples, as they excuse not
me, so it might be possibly supposed that he read
them not without some pleasure. u
The other playwrights were no less conscious of Collier's outrageous
tone, as Thomas D'Urfey indicates in his preface to The Campaigners
(1698): "instead of reproving us with a Pastorly Mildness, Charity and
Good Nature, [he] gives us the basest language, and with the most
scurillous expressions, sometimes raging and even foaming at [the]
mouth."31 Congreve too produces "a Sample of some of this Gentleman's
Figures" and then reflects upon them:
Methinks I hear him pronounce 'em every time I
behold 'em, they are almost Noisy and Turbulent,
even in the Print. In short, they are Contagious;
and I find he that will speak of them, is in great
danger to speak like them. But why does Mr. Collier
use all this Vehemence in a written Arguement? If
he were to Preach, I grant it might be necessary for
him to make a Noise, that he might be sure to be
heard: But why all this Passion upon Paper? Judgment
is never Outrageous; and Christianity is ever Meek and
Mild.32
With a reference to St. Chrysostom's description of the mildness of the
prophets, Congreve goes on to suggest sarcastically that Collier's bel¬
lowing was perhaps inspired by the Devil rather than the Holy Ghost. He
might better have mentioned the rhetorical effectiveness of these passion¬
ate outbursts in the context of an argument which relies heavily on
emotional persuasion. If Congreve could "hear" Collier pronouncing his

93
attacks, it is not unlikely that these sounds found their way to groups
of non-readers, either through sermons or informal gatherings. These
harangues could doubtless arouse the sleepiest attendant at a meeting
hosted by the reform societies.
These comments by those playwrights attacked in A Short View
are supplemented by remarks from other defenders of the stage who are
also very interested in Collier's moral authority. Though his position
as an active non-juror verifies his label as a Christian, the tone of
his anti-stage works, like his Platonic view of evil, created questions
in the minds of his contemporaries about those ethical characteristics
they felt a model Christian, especially a clergyman, should try to
exhibit. The anonymous writer of Some Remarks upon Mr. Collier's
Defence of His Short View of the English Stage (1698), for example,
first says that Collier rails "with a gust the Christian Religion never
inspired"; he "forgets the noblest gift of Heaven, Charity; proudly
Judges and Condemns, finds Guilty or Absolves by his own Authority."33
Likewise, John Dennis feels that "Mr. Collier is so far from having
shewn in his Book [A Short View], either the Meekness of a true Christian,
or the Humility of an exemplary Pastor, that he has neither the Reasoning
of a Man of Sense in it, nor the Style of a Polite Man, nor the Sincerity
of a Honest Man, nor the Humanity of a Gentleman, or a Man of Letters.
o c
Edward Filmer and Elkanah Settle make similar observations, as does
Charles Gildon, who says in defense of Congreve:
If he [Collier] had been that Good Christian, or that
Honest Man he wou'd be thought, he shou'd have shewn
more Candor and Charity, than to put the worst, and
most scandalous Construction on any Gentleman of
Honour and Probity's Meaning; for I dare, in Mr.

Congreve1s Name, Assert that the impious design which
this Author has coin'd out of his own head, was far
from his thought, and where there is any way to think
well of a Man, that way ought certainly to be taken,
both by a Christian, and an honest Man.^^
Even Collier himself, without realizing the self-incriminating accuracy
of his comment, says that "Railing is a mean, and unchristian Talent,
and oftentimes a sign of a desperate Cause, and a desperate Conscience."37
That Collier's techniques of argument have been generally passed over by
modern critics who accept his "moral" position, may be indicative of the
rhetorical effectiveness of rage and sarcasm in the tone of any moral
argument and one key to why he used them. But those contemporaries who
questioned that tone argued that he was not an expert on morality in the
drama, and that his "railing" should not lend credence to his authority.
Perhaps one of the main reasons for Collier's employment of
such rhetoric was that it conveniently thwarted the reader's concen¬
tration on his use of evidence and the logic of his arguments. As
mentioned in the last chapter, the defenders of the stage were quick to
object to Collier's criticism of language and actions in the plays
without reference to character or context. This misuse of evidence was
compounded by misleading and inaccurate quotations as well as comments
about passages never cited. Congreve makes his "False Imperfect
Citations" clear when he points out such things as a partial quotation
from The Old Bachelor, which misrepresents Bellmour's attitude about
salvation, or a misquotation from The Double-Dealer, which makes it
appear that Cynthia ridicules marriage.38 Similarly, Vanbrugh, D'Urfey,
and Settle (in defense of Vanbrugh and Dryden), among others, point to
specific instances of Collier's manipulation of quotations. Collier s
most common defense for omitting evidence which he says damns various

95
playwrights is that it is "too Lewd to be quoted." In fact, when the
defenders quote these lines, however, they not only look tame next to
many of Collier's, but suggest the quality of mind which could detect
(or create) the "smut" so obvious to this prying divine.
Even more critically revealing than his misuse of citations,
though, are his explanations of evidence, his organization of chapters,
and his dependence upon logical fallacies to construct convincing
rhetoric. He does not restrict himself to contemporary writers but
makes use of whatever writers and ages appear to lend credence to his
position. He tries to show, for example, how the ancient, heathen poets
were more decent in their use of language and action than English play¬
wrights who had the benefit of Christianity. But he does not attempt
to analyze the ancient plays to find reasons why a writer like Terence
did not "so much as touch upon an ill Subject before" women. Rather,
he chooses to intuit the intentions of the poets from what h_e says is
not in the plays, mainly indecent language. An indication of Collier's
peculiar imagination at work creating evidence about the moral natures
and intentions of the poets comes in his reference to Sophocles'
Antigone. He asks the reader to imagine, as he obviously has done, what
Haemon and Antigone might have done had Sophocles brought "these two
Lovers upon the Stage together.It never occurs to him that Sophocles
might have had some reason (perhaps related to plot or staging), other
than preventing an exhibition of concupiscence, for not allowing these
"lovers" on stage together. Thus, his proof that the heathen plays were
more innocent than the English (especially contemporary) plays rests not
on objectively gathered evidence, but on his own assertions: first,

96
that there is less smut and indecency in ancient plays and second, that
the ancient poets' intentions were more moral.
One key to Collier's arguments, then, is his commentary on
evidence (or what he calls evidence), as may be seen even more clearly
when he provides an actual passage from the dedication to Aureng-Zebe
as proof of Dryden's abuse of religion and scripture: "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." Collier makes no attempt to
place the statement into context, which would have shown it to be an
explanation of how men are changeable. (Dryden goes on to indicate why
he might change the conclusion of his play.) Instead, Collier sees
this as an example of "horrid Suppositions": "The meaning is, he
[Dryden] suspects our Souls are nothing but Organic 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!"^^ Collier's interpre¬
tation is preposterous. Dryden has mentioned nothing of souls in his
statement and only suggests that the body and mind are "nearer allied"
than most learned men feel, not that "our Souls are nothing but our
Bodies." That this kind of blatant distortion exists in Collier's anti¬
stage writings may be indicative of his inability to understand any work
or his desire to deceive his readers about the intentions of the Restor¬
ation playwrights. In either case, he might have benefitted from what
Dryden says just two sentences before the passage Collier quotes:
The most judicious writer is sometime mistaken after
all his care; but the hasty critic, who judges on a
view, is full as liable to be deceived. Let him first

97
consider all the arguments which the author had, to
write this, or to design the other, before he arraigns
him of a fault; and then perhaps, on several thoughts,
he will find his reason oblige him revoke his censure.^
An examination of Collier's later defenses of A Short View shows he had
few "second thoughts" and that "his reason seldom obliged him to revoke
his censure."
Another example of his interpretation of evidence comes in
Chapter IV when he evaluates poetic justice in Restoration drama. His
reasoning here is supposed to be inductive, but he states flatly before
presenting any evidence that the aim of the "Stage-Poets" is to eradicate
"the Lines of Virtue and Vice," putting "Lewdness into a Thriving con¬
dition" and creating an atmosphere where pleasure is absolute and atheism
is admired. With this "objective" introduction he then spend» two pages
citing the "Men of Breeding and Figure" from nine plays.^ His assum¬
ption, based upon his opinion of persons of quality, is that these
characters are designed for imitation by the audience and that they do
not change in the course of the plays. He treats them all as a group,
devoting to each a few sentences, at most, which he feels provide suf¬
ficient evidence to convince his readers. He then confidently makes his
inductive leap: "To sum up the Evidence. A Fine Gentleman, is a fine
Whoring, Swearing, Smutty, Atheistical Man. The conclusion shows
Collier blindly "leaping" over proofs of the evidence he has cited, but
the pattern looks logical. What he fails to do here, and in general
throughout his attacks when he uses specific plays, is 1) to provide a
large enough sample of evidence for the sweeping conclusions he draws
and 2) to guarantee the truth of his evidence.

98
But misinterpretation of evidence is not limited to the plays.
In Chapter VI — "The Opinion of Paganism, o_f the Church, and State,
concerning the Stage"—Collier proves a master at assembling authorities
against the stage, but as James Drake says, "he presumes upon the ignor¬
ance of the Readers, and imposes arbitrarily and magisterially what sense
he pleases upon every thing, and despotically coins Citations, which
he forces upon 'em for genuine, upon no better warrant than his own Will
and Pleasure.Like his earlier use of ancient playwrights, Collier's
use of "the most celebrated Heathen Philosophers, Orators, and Histor¬
ians seems to invalidate his statements to Dryden and Congreve. He
tells Dryden, for example, that unless "he can prove Heathenism, and
Christianity the same," his use of Plautus and Terence as dramatic
authorities "will do him little service.He later repeats that "there
is no Arguing from Heathanism to Christianity" in his answer to Congreve's
Amendments.^ His dependence upon "Heathen" authorities here becomes even
more significant when the reader realizes that the validity of his later
citations from the early Church Fathers (in Chapter VI) depends upon a
condemnation of all ancient plays and playwrights. But his use of these
authorities is not only self-contradictory; Elkanah Settle observes that
he makes highly selective references to less than ten authorities out of
hundreds he might have cited. This omission of a large enough sample
again suggests the weakness of his arguments against the stage. In
addition, of those authorities Collier cited Settle objects to his
interpretation of Plutarch,^ and says that Ovid does not object to
the stage; rather, he exposes practices (picking up women) related to
"the Pit, Box and Galleries."
Significantly, Collier has omitted

99
passages immediately preceding those he cited where Ovid tells his young
libertine to also "forage the Temples of the Gods; for he may find the
same Game to fly at there too."^9 Collier avoided this reference because,
as Settle mentions, the logic of his argument would then have required
the closing of churches as well as theatres. John Dennis questions all
of Collier's references to ancient authorities and argues most convin¬
cingly against his use of Livy and Valerius Maximus, accusing him of
misrepresenting and misquoting what these two writers said. In both
instances it seems the references are not to tragedy or comedy but to
"the Rudeness of the Ludi Fescennini" and to "The Combats of the Gladia¬
tors."^® Similarly, James Drake shows how Collier "allows himself a
very Christian latitude" in his "rare Paraphrasing" of Livy and Valerius
Maximus.
When Collier moves to "the Censures of the State" upon the
theatres, his evidence continues to be questioned by defenders of the
stage. Drake and Dennis, the two critics who deal most specifically
with Collier's sources, spend a number of pages citing and translating
references Collier had paraphrased to advantage, but the most inter¬
esting ones to Englishmen involve the statutes under Elizabeth and James.
As a recent critic, Benjamin Hellinger, points out, these laws
are directed against rogues and sturdy beggars and
are part of a series of Elizabethan anti-vagabond
laws. Collier completely misrepresents the intent
of this legislation. He probably knew full well that
at the time these laws were enacted the acting com¬
panies were coming directly under the protection of
the crown. The capital punishment which Collier
strongly implies is meted out to actors who do not
"give over" is in fact only for dangerous rogues who
have returned to England without permission after
suffering transportation out of the realm.^2

100
To imply an anti-stage bias by either Elizabeth or James by citing these
statutes is to assume that those who read his arguments knew nothing of
the development of English drama. Since defenders of the stage did
recognize Collier's false implications here, the citation is further
confirmation that Collier was not interested in convincing and reforming
the playwrights; his hope was for an uninformed but zealous and volatile
S3
public which could force the theatres to close.
Collier's citations from Church Councils and Fathers present
further examples of his misuse of evidence. Indicative of his method
of dealing with these authorities is his source for them. James Thorpe
III has noted that Collier's "display of learning in patristic writings
and church history was fraudulent" because most of the information
comes from Armaud de Bourbon's Traité de la comedia et des spectacles,
selon la tradition de 1'Eglise, tireé des Conciles et des Saints
Pbres. 1669.^ Though the defenders of the stage did not recognize
this source, they did accuse Collier of misinterpreting his evidence.
Those who responded to Collier felt the use of the Fathers' reactions
to the ancient theatre was irrelevant, for as Settle says,
Our Plays are no Heathen Compositions; our
Authors and Auditors profess one Faith; our Stage
lies under no Ecclesiastical Reprimand from the
Fathers of our Church: In short we have so many
favourable Aspects, and all that Weight on our side,
in ballance between 'em, enough to silence even
Calumny itself.55
Collier not only minimizes the distinction between Restoration and
ancient drama, but as Drake points out, translates some words in such
a way that "the unlearned Reader might perhaps be induc'd to believe,
that the Father's [here, Tertullian] quarrel lay against Lincolns-Inn-
Fields, and Covent-Garden."56 Critics like Dennis and Drake were also

101
quick to remind Collier that the Fathers were reacting principally to
those activities of the ancient theatre, such as gladiator combats,
chariot races, and pantomimes, which were brutal, lewd, and idolatrous.
In countering these objections Collier had to argue even more emphatically
that the Fathers did not really distinguish among the various types of
entertainment; indeed, most of them were strongly opposed to any type of
diversion.
But this ascetic characteristic of the Fathers opened Collier's
use of them as authorities to further charges. When he quotes "the
Author cle Spectaculis" as counseling against any pleasure except reading
in the scriptures,^ Edward Filmer questions the Fathers' concept of
man's nature:
All our Time, say these good Fathers, is little enough
for the great Work of our Salvation; we should be
perpetually reading the holy Scriptures, bewailing
our Sins, deprecating the Horrors of Hell, or meditating
on the Joys of Heaven. This, say they, is true Pleasure,
this ought to be the only Employment, the only Delight of
a good Christian. Very true; all this we should do, were
we able; or did God require it as indispensably necessary
to Salvation. But alas! we are weak and frail, and God
is infinitely good and merciful. He knoweth whereof we
are made, he remembreth that we are but Dust; and there¬
fore will not require more at our Hands than we are able
to perform.58
Filmer enforces this essentially Thomistic point of view by quoting a
prelate of the Church of England and Bishop Sanderson as favoring lawful
diversions, such as plays. He could also have made reference to Father
Caffero's letter, as Peter Motteux did in the published version of his
play, Beauty in Distress (1698), which uses St. Thomas (as well as
Alexander ab Alexandro and St. Antonious, Archbishop of Florence), to
counter the ascetic opposition of many of the Fathers to worldly

102
pleasure.Likewise, Elkanah Settle found that the duties of a
Christian suggested by St. Chrysostom and St. Jerome (through Collier)
overlooked man's weaknesses'
These Precepts of the Psalmist and the Apostle,
are indeed the highest Duty of Christianity. But as
we are but Men, 'tis a Duty too weighty to lye upon
Humane Weakness, without any Intervals of some lighter
Alleviations of the Cares and Labours of Life. Were
Life to be intirely divided between the Prayer-book,
the Psalter and the Plough, Rejoycing in God is that
Exercise of Piety, requiring so Intent and Exalted a
Meditation, that the weakness of Humane Nature would
hardly be able to keep up the Soul on so sublime a
flight, without flagging her Wing, and Devotion so
severely tyed to the Alter, I fear, would make but
a very lean Sacrifice.60
But Settle's reminder of the "weakness of Humane Nature" would have had
even more force had he pointed out Collier's inconsistency in using the
asceticism of the Church Fathers as evidence. For he might have shown
that while in Chapter VI of A Short View Collier wishes man (and
certainly clergymen) to deny those things of this world, such as the
stage, he had in other places defended the clergy's acquisition of
"Riches and Power" on earth.61 The only resolution to this kind of
contradiction is an admission of Collier's attempt to manipulate evi¬
dence persuasively. He is able to present a sweeping and continuous
stream of Christian authorities whose attitudes, as he quotes and para¬
phrases them, denounce any pleasures of this world, which certainly
include the stage. Collier means to establish a religious tradition
for his own outrage to reinforce the emotional impact of his thesis;
bludgeoning a reader's guilt about what is sinful with warnings from
the Church Fathers seems to obviate any concern on his part with proving
the validity of his evidence.

103
Collier organizes not only his evidence but his critical
comments in order to minimize any rational questioning of his arguments.
He does this mainly by leading the reader away from evidence he has
cited with a series of questions, almost always related to the moral
consequences of the "immoral" practices he has been making reference
to. This movement to the frightening ends which a sinner (actor,
actress, playwright, or theatre-goer) must surely meet takes advantage
of the fears of his reader. As might be expected, this tactic is
coupled with the outrage and sarcasm mentioned earlier to provide a
stirring indication of just how dangerous the stage is. A good example
of his rhetorical management occurs at the end of Chapter II on "The
Profaneness of the Stage" in A Short View. He cites examples of pro¬
fanity from ancient plays, then shows his disgust when he shifts,
without evidence, to "the Modern Poets, [who] 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." Still with no
evidence he goes on to build his case by emotional implication:
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? ... Is there no Diversion without
Insulting the God that made us, the Goodness that
would save us, and the Power that can damn us? Let
us not flatter our selves, Words won't go for Nothing.
Profaness is a most Provoking Contempt, and a Crime
of the deepest dye. To break through the Laws of a
Kingdom is bad enough; but to make Ballads upon the
Statute-Book and a Jest of Authority, is much worse.
Atheists may fancy what they please, but God will
Arise and Maintain his own Cause, and Vindicate his
Honour in due time.hi?
To enforce the threat of God's punishment, he states in the next and

104
concluding paragraph of the chapter that "Profaness" is "grating to
Christian Ears, dishonourable to the Majesty of God .... And in a
Word, It_ tends to no point, unless it be to . . . teach the Language of
the Damn'd."
Not only is the reader led to conclusions which brand the stage
and playwrights sinful, but these conclusions usually encompass sweeping
generalizations which obliterate any moral distinctions among the plays.
Any reaction to Collier's argument, then, is greatly affected by the way
he concludes sections (on plays, playwrights, or authorities), chapters,
and the work itself with the catastrophic effects to be expected from
contemporary drama. Thus, after nearly three-hundred pages of a "short"
view, he leaves the reader with a final vision of the stage:
It cherishes those Passions, and rewards those Vices,
which 'tis the business of Reason to discountenance.
It strikes at the Root of Principle, draws off the
Inclinations from Virtue, and spoils good Education:
Tis the most effectual means to baffle the Force of
Discipline, to emasculate peoples Spirits, and Debauch
their Manners. How many of the Unwary have these
Syrens devour'd? And how often has the best Blood
been tainted with this Infection? What Disappointment
of Parents, what Confusion in Families, and What
Beggery in Estates have been hence occasion'd? And
which is still worse, the Mischief spreads dayly, and
the Malignity grows more envenom'd. The Feavour works
up towards Madness, and will scarcely endure to be
touch'd.63
After this look at Collier's rhetorical tactics, it should be
obvious that he did not expect reasoned reactions to his arguments.
But when his contemporary critics did analyze his logic, faults and
contradictions were apparent. To see more closely some of his logical
fallacies it is only necessary to cite a few examples. In discussing
Dryden's Amphitryon he points out that Dryden said he departed from the
plan of Plautus and Moliére because "the difference of our Stage from

105
the Roman and the French did so require it.11 But he does not let Dry-
den explain that difference; instead he provides the explanation him¬
self, as well as some interesting reasoning:
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 unusual Degree: And
therefore the Diet must be dress'd to the Palate
of the Company.64
Collier reasons in a circle, for to be debauched the town must once have
been innocent, and being innocent, would have required innocent plays
from the playwrights if his premise that the playwrights had to answer
the "Palate" of the audience is granted. Faced with these demands by
the audience, how could Dryden have produced immoral and profane plays
to debauch that audience? Collier continues his argument by using a
non sequitur as "proof" that Dryden designed his play to satisfy the
"Scepticks" he had created.^5 He also often begs the question, as in
misrepresenting Dryden's statement about delight being the "Chief End
of Comedy." In the process of citing the statement and arguing its
consequences, he falsely restates Dryden's position in a premise to his
proposition:
If Delight without Restraint, or Distinction, without
Conscience or Shame, is the Supreme 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.
Dryden had not implied anything like "Arbitrary Pleasure" or "Delight
without Restraint," but Collier states this condition as if Dryden, and
indeed all contemporary playwrights, were only concerned with pleasure
in the comedies they wrote.

106
Even though the defenders of the stage caught many of his
errors, Collier kept coming back to the attack, providing his less
perceptive readers with more fallacies and righteous insistence. James
Drake summarizes Collier's method and establishes the basis for the
success his works had:
Mr. Collier whose business all thro his Book is
Invective, not Argument, lays himself forth with all
the Pomp of Formal Eloquence, and Vehemence of
Expression, that he is able, to aggravate the crime,
and amplifie the guilt of the Poets not to prove it.
He is more sollicitous to possess his Reader, than
to convince him, and for that reason lets slip the
circumstance of proof as not very material, because
he found it wou'd tye him up to strict Argument, and
close Reasoning, which is not for his purpose, and
insists upon the General charge of Debauchery and
Impiety; which allowing him all the Liberties of De¬
clamation and Harangue, give him ample Field-room to
publish and display his Parts, and his Malice together;
which he does most egregiously, and Flourishes most
triumphantly. Never did learned Recorder insult poor
Culprit in more formidable Oratory, than he does the
Poets.^
It is no wonder that men like Drake, Dryden, pongreve, Vanbrugh, Settle,
and Filmer probably became frustrated in trying to burst Collier's
balloon of popularity, however accurate their critical darts: It seemed
to rise into the eighteenth century with an endless supply of the
divine's reforming air and was kept aloft by such other sources of heated
wind as Ridpath, Bedford, and Law.

NOTES
^G. F. Lamb, "A Short View of Jeremy Collier," English, 7
(1949), 274-275; E. E. Stoll, "Literature No 'Document,'" Modern Lan¬
guage^ Review-, 19(1924), 149.
^The London Stage 1660-1800, Part 1: 1660-1700, ed. William
Van Lennep (Carbondale, Ill." Southern Illinois University Press, 1965),
clxxiv.
2 The London Stage 1660-1800, Part 2_: 1700-1729, ed. Emmett
L. Avery (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1960),
clx.
4
Comedy and Society from Congreve to Fielding (Stanford,
Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1959), pp. 14-17.
^The Critical Works of John Dennis, ed. Edward Niles Hooker,
I (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1939), 293.
6Ibid., 289-291.
^Loftis, p. 17.
O
Ibid., pp. 18-19. From available evidence, Loftis suggests
that a small percentage of the total population attended the theatres.
o
The Occasional Paper, Vol. Ill, No. ix, of Plays and
Masquerades (London, 1719), p. 6. His remarks about the ill effects of
the stage on business continue for the next six pages.
~^The Antient and Modern Stages Survey'd (London, 1699),
epistle dedicatory.
^The Moral Revolution of 1688. Yale Historical Publications.
The Wallace Noteseen Essays, No. 2 (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1957) , pp. 19 & 23.
12Ibid., pp. 67, 22-23, 41 & 43.
"^Ibid. , pp. 69-70.
"^"The S.P.C.K. and the Stage," Theatre Notebook, 11 (1957),
pp. 61-62.
■'■■’in this connection, it is interesting to note the number of
publications by Arthur Bedford (see n. 2, Chap. II) while he was head
of the Bristol society.
107

108
^^8th ed. (London, 1744), pp. 46-47.
^This entire passage was in italics. Gildon also criticizes
the societies in The Post-Man Robb'd of His Mail (London, 1719), pp. 32,
35, 38 and 329.
1 8
x Bahlman, pp. 94-95. Dennis makes a connection between the
timing of publications by Collier, Bedford, and Law and threatened
Jacobite revolt and concludes: "Now all these Attacks upon the Stage
have been Attacks upon the Government, and those three worthy Persons
seem to me to have been at the Beck of some certain Superiors, and
always ready at their Command to divert the People of Great Britain
from their real Danger, by giving them Alarms in a wrong Place" (Critical
Works, II, 321).
1 9
Bahlman, p. 97.
20
It also seems significant that only seven anti-stage works
were published between 1710 and 1726, the year of Collier's death and
William Law's initial onslaught. Of these, only Bedford's The Great
Abuse of Musick (1711) was published before 1718, perhaps indicating
how much of the market had been due to the societies.
^Ipp. 3-4. The fifty pounds is also referred to in Gildon's
The Stage-Beaux, pp. 27 & 34, and in The Stage Acquitted where Fairly
says, "There is a party, that in spight of Truth, Judgment, and good
Sense, cry up Mr. Collier's Book .... [But in time] the Town will
reflect, as we have done, of the real and undoubted use of the Stage,
and agree that Mr. Collier had better have shewn more candour and
honesty, and not preferr'd 501. and buffoonry to good sense and honesty"
(pp. 85-86).
^Letters, p. 46.
21post-Man, p. 213.
2^In addition to Professor Scouten's findings about the SPCK's
purchases (n. 19 above), John Oldmixon, in The History of England (p. 192)
reveals that several wealthy men sent Collier money when A Short View
was published.
25
Graham D. Harley, "A Note on the Jeremy Collier Stage
Controversy," N & Q, 18(1971), 44-46.
9 f)
zoA Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English
Stage (London, 1698), p. 80. Two articles written in the 1940's discuss
Collier's style in relation to the contemporary comments of Father John
Constable, whose Reflections Upon Accuracy of Style (London, 1731) was
actually written in part about Collier at the height of the controversy
in 1703. Helen Maxwell Hooker, in "Father John Constable on Jeremy
Collier," PQ, 23(1944), 375-378, quotes Constable about Collier's
writing: "'These concise Sentences, these short Cuts, these continual
Metaphors, and that which I call the Tic-Tac, of an Antithesis, strikes

109
indeed at first, but will seldom bear the test of a reflection'" (376).
William K. Wimsatt, Jr., in "Father John Constable on Collier," PQ, 24
(1945), 119-122, adds Constable's comments that Collier's style was
"'a new set of words and phrases,' 'short and smart,' 'gay,' metaphorical,
and pedantic, and those who affected it made an 'ungrounded pretense of
writing to the humour of the Age,' though as a matter of fact 'such
vicious methods' were 'far from being the humour of the age.'" It is
Wimsatt's own observation that "Whether derived from Rymer or not,
Collier's style shares with Rymer's the element of 'humour and bluff
force,' as Spingarn has described it, 'the scolding tone, the short
sentences, the colloquial contradictions of speech, the proverbial
phrases . . . the imagery ... of the shop and street"' (119).
^A Short View, pp. 84-85. Other examples of rage occur on
the following pages: 95, 162, 179, 184, 186-187, 281, 283, 285-288.
^The Collier Stage Controversy, pp. 296-297.
2^A short View, p. 188.
•^Dryden's "Of Dramatic Poesy" and other Critical Essays, ed.
George Watson (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1962), II, 293. Dryden
also refers to Collier in "Cymon and Iphigenia," in The Poetical Works
of John Dryden, eds. Joseph Warton, John Warton and others (London:
George Routledge and Sons, 1867), p. 278:
In malice witty, and with venom fraught,
He makes me speak the things I never thought
Compute the gains of his ungovern'd zeal;
Ill suits his cloth the praise of railing well.
A clue to Wycherley's apparent failure to respond to Collier may be
found in his posthumous Collection of Maxims and Moral Reflections:
"The Rage and Choller of our Enemies, instead of begetting the like in
us, should be a Cure for it, and make us pity them rather for Madmen,
than revenge our selves on them for Enemies; since they are our Seconds
in being our Foes, and weaken themselves by endeavouring to be too strong
for us" (The Complete Works of William Wycherley, ed. Montague Summers
(Soho: The Nonesuch Press, 1924), IV, 141).
O I
J (London, 1698), p. 2. D'Urfey also accuses Collier of
"Stubborn Will" (pp. 12-13).
-^Amendments of Mr. Collier's False and Imperfect Citations,
in The Complete Works of William Congreve, ed. Montague Summers (London:
The Nonesuch Press, 1923), III, 180-181.
~^The Usefulness of the Stage, in The Critical Works, I, 147.

110
15
Edward Filmer, A Defence of Plays (London, 1707), p. 74.
Elkanah Settle, A Defence of Dramatick Poetry (London, 1698), p. 118.
O £
°Phaeton (London, 1698), preface.
o 7
'A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immor-
ality of the English Stage (London, 1699), pp. 4-5.
•^Amendments, in Works, III, pp. 181-182 & 184-185.
39
John Vanbrugh, A Short Vindication of the Relapse and the
Provok'd Wife (London, 1698), in The Complete Works of Sir John Vanbrugh,
eds. Bonamy Dobrée and Geoffrey Webb (Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press,
1927), I, 207. D'Urfey, p. 23. Settle, Defence, p. 108ff., and A
Farther Defence of Dramatick Poetry (London, 1698), passim.
4,7 A Short View, p. 29.
4^Ibid., p . 68.
A 2
John Dryden, ed. George Saintsbury (New York: N.P., N.D.),
I, 342. In Dryden's letter to Peter Mottreux—which prefaces Beauty in
Distress (London, 1698)—he blames Collier and critics like him by
noting that
When to common sense they give the lie,
And turn distorted words to blasphemy,
They give the scandal; and the wise discern,
Their glosses teach an age, too apt to learn.
(11. 11-14)
43
The Mock Astrologer, The Spanish Friar, The Country Wife,
The Old Bachelor, The Double Dealer, Don Sebastian, Love for Love, The
Provok1d Wife, and The Relapse are all treated on pages 142-143.
44A Short View, p. 143.
45p. 329.
^A Short View, pp. 148-149.
47A Defence, pp. 84-85.
4®Settle, Defence, p. 24. James Thorpe, III, in his disser¬
tation, "Jeremy Collier's A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness
of the English Stage (1698): A Critical Edition,” Diss. Yale, 1969,
p. 237, also ways that Collier misrepresents Plutarch here, for the
reference comes from a discussion by several characters who are sugges¬
ting appropriate after-dinner entertainment. One character says new
comedy would be good but not old comedy or tragedy. Another character
considers low farce inappropriate, but there is no reference to the
theatre.

Ill
¿q
^Settle, Defence, pp. 28-29. Also, James Drake, pp. 55-57.
-^Critical Works, I, 173-174.
33Drake, pp. 44-48.
c o
"A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the
English Stage, by Jeremy Collier: A Critical Edition," Diss. NYU, 1970,
p. 294.
53
Settle, Defence, pp. 67-68. To show Queen Mary's favorable
attitude toward the stage (and the church's), Settle quotes William
Payne's sermon on the death of the queen.
“^Thorpe, p. 252.
“^Settle, Defence, p. 67; Drake, pp. 21-22; Dennis, Critical
Works, I, 189; Filmer, p. 151.
^^Drake, p. 30.
^^A Short View, pp. 261-264.
33pp. 141-142.
59
Dennis, Critical Works, I, 193, invokes St. Thomas in point¬
ing out the lawfulness of drama; D'Urfey, in The Campaigners, pp. 7-8,
cites Reverend Thomas Randolf's defense of the stage in The Muses
Looking Glass; and the anonymous author of The Stage Acquitted, pp. 87-90,
cites St. James in opposition to the necessity of leading an ascetic
life.
^Defence, pp. 69-70.
^Defence of the Short View, p. 117.
k^A Short View, pp. 94-96.
63Ibid., pp. 287-288.
^Ibid., p. 182.
^3He says, "To what purpose else does Jupiter appear in the
shape of Jehovah? Why are the incomunicable 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 (p. 182)?" Of course there may be many reasons for
Dryden's characterization of Jupiter, but Collier falsely assumes there
can only be one intention, and that it is evil.
^Ibid., pp. 163-164.
67
p. 139.

CHAPTER IV
THE STAGE/WORLD METAPHOR:
MORAL DESIGN OR PATTERN FOR VICE?
In the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries men
like Stephen Gosson, William Rankins, John Rainoldes, and William Gager
attacked the stage and those associated with it for moral abuses which
they said it propagated. To its defense came Thomas Heywood with An
Apology for Actors in 1612. Significantly, he prefaced the treatise
with a poem:
The world's a Theater, the earth a Stage,
Which God, and nature doth with Actors fill,
Kings have their entrance in due equipage,
And some there parts play well and others ill.
The best no better are (in this Theater,)
Where every humor's fitted in his kinde,
This a true subiects acts, and that a Traytor,
The first applauded, and the last confin'd
This plaies an honest man, and that a knaue
A Gentle person this, and he a clowne
One man is ragged, and another braue.
All men haue parts, and each man acts his owne.
Some Citizens, some Soldiers, borne to aduenter,
Sheepheards and Sea-men; then our play's begun,
When we are borne, and to the world first enter,
And all finde Exits when their parts are done.
If then the world a Theater present,
As by the roundnesse it appeares most fit,
Built with starre-galleries of hye ascent,
In which Iehoue doth as spectator sit.
And chief determiner to 'applaud the best,
And their indeuours crowne with more then merit.
But by their euill actions doomes the rest,
To end disgrac't whilst others praise inherit.
He that denyes then Theaters should be,
He may as well deny a world to me.
As Frances A. Yates points.out, the controlling metaphor here asserts
that "Heywood sees the cosmic theatre as the great moral testing ground
on which all men play the parts of their lives in the presence of God."^
112

113
Just as the world could be seen as a theatre with God serving as both
judging audience and Divine Dramatist, the theatre was seen as a
microcosm of the world, dramatizing the actions of men through the
judging perspective of the playwright. Yates' book, Theatre of the
World, in fact tries to show how the theatres during and after Shakes-
peare--especially The Globe—were architecturally designed to reflect
this cosmic metaphor, which the playwrights felt was basic to their
drama. Thomas B. Stroup, who has traced the development of this
metaphor and discussed its importance in English drama from 1585 to
1642, suggests that the concept of cosmic drama existed before and after
the cycle plays: "The Fathers of the Church as well as the Neoplatonists
and Renaissance humanists, repeating a classical metaphor, had likened
the world to a stage on which the Christian is tested."^ He shows that
the metaphor was repeated by St. Augustine, St. Chrisostom, Sir Thomas
More, Erasmus, Sir Philip Sidney, Roger Asham, and John Donne among
many others in pointing out man's relation to God.^ For these men, and
more importantly for the playwrights of Elizabethan England, the meta¬
phor meant a way of depicting man's position in God's divine plan, of
dramatically portraying the struggle (with its warnings and promises)
toward salvation. Ann Righter explains the importance of the image for
Elizabethans:
The play, holding a mirror up to nature, was bound
to reflect the reality represented by its audience.
Yet this audience was also forced to recognize the
encroachments of illusion upon its own domain . . .
[some] playgoers carried the language and gestures
of the drama away with them at the conclusion of
the performance, for use in the world outside.
Most important of all, beyond these specific habits
lay a profound awareness of the play metaphor which

114
seems to have been one of the characteristics of the
period. In sermons and song-books, chronicles and
popular pamphlets, Elizabethans were constantly
being reminded of the fact that life tends to imitate
the theatre.^
Righter goes on to say that the playwrights used the metaphor to suggest
such things as "the nature of deceivers, the splendour of man's life and
its transience, the inexorability of Fortune, or the character of
Fortune, or the character of individual moments of time."® Harriet B.
Hawkins also points out that "the idea that the world itself was God's
theater gave cosmic significance to the contemporary [Elizabethan] stage,"
especially in showing that the dissembling or feigning on stage "was
analogous to the feigning inherent in ordinary life, and that it was
also a highly significant feigning that could reveal truth and thus
teach men in the 'theatre of the world' of their own nature.Though
Stroup feels that the playwrights' use of this concept to pattern their
plays began to fade as the seventeenth century wore on and was probably
"pretty well lost to later ages," he shows that Milton and Bunyan both
employed the metaphor.® Also, there seems to be both critical and
dramatic evidence that the metaphor survived through the Restoration
period and that the best dramatists were able to make excellent use of
the same devices—though at times modified—which Stroup discusses. For
example, Aubrey Williams has noted that "from the beginning to the end
of that century [the 17th] one finds the image of God the Divine Play¬
wright almost every place one turns in Anglican discourse on the divine
Q
governance of the world." As with Elizabethan dramatists, the Restor¬
ation playwrights could thus use a metaphor which had remained a
commonplace for readers and audiences through its use in sermons and

115
other apologetic literature. To support the artistic applications of
the concept of the Theatrum mundi, Professor Williams shows how the
metaphor functions similarly for literary men and divines, especially
when it is applied to explanations of poetic and Providential justice.10
Though he emphasizes references in Rymer, Dennis, and of course, Con¬
greve, the use and understanding of the metaphor is pervasive among
the critics and the playwrights of the Restoration period. Indeed, as
an examination of the contributions to the Collier controversy should
reveal, the playwrights and critics were well aware of the important
moral function served by seeing the world as a stage and the stage as a
microcosm, including the corollary conditions of variety, pageantry,
and Providential testing, reward, and punishment.
To see how important the concept of cosmic drama was to the
plays after the Restoration, comments by those playwrights directly
attacked by Collier are revealing. In the preface to An Evening1s Love:
or the Mock Astrologer (1671), which Collier included in his "evidence"
of Dryden's immoral purposes,^ Dryden says that "Comedy consists,
though of low persons, yet of natural actions and characters; I mean
such humours, adventures, and designs as are to be found and met with in
I O
the world." In a critical piece prefixed to The Rival Ladies (1664),
he notes the relationship between the stage and the world while question¬
ing the creation of a play: "For the stage being the representation of
the world, and the actions in it, how can it be imagined that the picture
of human life can be more exact than life itself?" Such comments may
seem insignificant unless it is noted that they occur in context with
observations about how a playwright creates and structures a play.

116
Related to other comments by Dryden about the nature of English drama
(including its variety and Providential order and justice), which I
will cite later, it seems clear that the metaphor of the stage as a
microcosm was a functional premise for Dryden's playwriting.
Thomas D'Urfey adds another dimension to the metaphor by
quoting a passage from Thomas Randolf's The Muses Looking Glass about
a "Country Lass" who kept her hands clean because she could see them,
but allowed her face to become filthy until:
"At last, within a Pail, for Country Lasses
Have oft you know, no other Looking-glasses,
She view'd her dirty Face, and doubtless would
Have blush'd, if through so much dirt she could.
At last, within the Water, that I say,
That shew'd the Dirt, she wash'd the Dirt away.
So Comedies, as Poets still intend 'em,
Serve first to shew your faults, and then to mend 'em.
Even though D'Urfey's artistic talents may be questionable, his use of
Randolph's metaphor of the stage as a mirror image of the world shows
that he is conscious of the playwright's intentions as an artist. The
suggestion of a "Looking-Glass" enforces even more strongly the concept
of the play as an image, a product of the playwright's perception of
the world as it is modified by his imagination. This metaphoric link
strengthens the association of the playwright and God as creators of
man's drama: the playwright's microcosmic creation reflecting the macro¬
cosm of God's work. In A Short Vindication Vanbrugh, too, says that
"The Stage is a Glass for the World to view itself in; People ought
therefore to see themselves as they are; if it makes their Faces too
Fair, they won't know they are Dirty, and by consequence will neglect
to wash 'em."^
Vanbrugh has not brought up this image as a second

117
thought to slap back at Collier, for his prologue to The Provok'd Wife
(1697) begins with the same use of the metaphor:
Since 'tis the Intent and Business of the Stage,
To Copy out the Follies of the Age;
To hold to every Man a Faithful Glass,
And shew him of what Species he's an Ass.16
Congreve reveals his view of the stage as a "little world"
when arguing about the types of characters which should be represented
on stage. He indicates that just because "the Stage is the Image of
the World," strict arithmetic correlations—such as Collier made about
the women in The Double Dealer (1647)^—are not valid. Quite obviously,
Congreve feels the stage reflects the world, not in exact ratios, but in
artistic proportions which best deliver a pleasing moral to the
audience.16 As he has Mr. Betterton say in the prologue to The Mourning
Bride (1697) :
To please and move has been our Poet's Theme,
Art may direct, but Nature is his aim;
And Nature miss'd, in vain he boasts his Art,
For only Nature can affect the Heart.19
Though Wycherley apparently made no specific response to
Collier, his poem, "To a Vain, Young Courtier; Occasion'd by his Speak¬
ing Contemptibly of the Players" (1728), not only defends the stage but
uses the stage/world metaphor in so doing:
Why are harsh Statutes 'gainst poor Players made,
When Acting is the Universal Trade?
The World's but one wide Scene, our Life the Play
And ev'ry Man an Actor in his Way:
In which he, who can act his ill Part well,
Does him, who acts a good one ill, excell,
Since it is not so much his Praise, whose Part
Is best, but His, who acts it with most Art.
No matter what our Task, if well 'tis done;
20
But most Men act Parts which are least their own.
Wycherley again uses the metaphor in "A Collection of Maxims and Moral

118
Reflections" (also published as part of The Posthumous Works in 1728)
shortly after explaining the nature of censorious men: "Every Man is a
Player on the Stage of the World, and acts a different Part from his
own natural Character, more to please the World, as more he cheats it"
(LXXIX).^! In both of these references Wycherley focuses on the very
same quality of "feigning" which Professor Hawkins emphasizes in con-
nection with the use of the metaphor on the Elizabethan stage. In an
age where the stage/world metaphor had supposedly faded from use, there
it is.
A number of playwrights not directly attacked by Collier
defended the stage, and their references to the stage/world metaphor
support the view that it was a commonplace, functioning premise of those
writing for the stage. In the dedication prefixed to The Twin Rivals,
for example, George Farquhar says that just "as Prologues introduce
Plays on the Stage, so Dedications usher them into the great Theatre of
the World." John Dennis uses the metaphor while questioning Collier's
motives for opposing the stage in The Person of Quality1s Answer to Mr.
Collier's Letter, Being a Disswasive from the Play-House (1704):
His Motive perhaps may be human Policy, but it can
never be Charity; or perhaps 'tis Spleen, or Covetous¬
ness, or Pride, or Arrogance, or Fear. I say Fear,
Sir. For has not Mr. Collier Reason to apprehend the
Stage as well as Hypocrites of the foremention1d
Characters? For is it not evident, that at the same
time that he is setting up for a First-Rate Reformer,
he has shewn the World, that he is but a Fifth-Rate
Comedian? And while he pretends to condemn Acting
upon the Stage, is Acting a Part upon the Stage of
the World so aukwardly and so ridiculously, that all
who are furnish'd with common Sense have found it to
be Comedy?"^
In stressing the importance of action in drama Dennis again finds the

119
metaphor appropriate: "The Drama is action itself, and it is action
alone that is able to excite in any extraordinary manner the curiosity
of mankind. What News is the Question now adays ev'ry moment, but
people by that question demand what is done, and not what is said upon
25
the Great Stage of the World." Thomas Baker answers Collier and
other critics of the stage by pointing out that
Plays were ever counted the Genuine History of
the Age; and if their Opposers wou'd have innocent
Entertainments, and leave Posterity Honourable Examples
for Imitation and Instruction, 'tis but each amending
himself; then not only the Little but this Great
Theatre of Life, will be so Reform'd, and in a State
more suitable to wish, than probable to hope. Nay, I
appeal to the most Zealous and Severe, if they can
charge one Play with any thing in Representation, which
is not to be found in Life. b
Elkanah Settle defines comedy as "the Representation of
Humane Life in a lower class of Conversation; we visit the Palace for
Tragedy, and range the Town for Comedy, viz. for the Follies, the Vices,
the Vanities, and the Passions of Mankind, which we meet with every
Day."27 Charles Gildon speaks to all "Pseudo Critics" who, like
Collier, would damn "the best of Dramatic Poets" for the wrong reasons.
What these poets do well, and must continue to do despite the criticism,
is form their ideas of drama "from experience and the study of Men."28
Gildon still sees drama in terms of the stage/world metaphor some
eighteen years later when he advocates plays as a diversion, for in them
"you have an Image of Life, its Passions, and its Humours, that give
us, whilst they divert us, most excellent Lessons, and such as glide
gently into the Heart in the Vehicle of Pleasure."29 Finally, George
Granville begins his comedy, The Jew of Venice (1701), by having the

120
ghost of Dryden refer to the theatre audience as "This radiant Circle."
To complete his use of the metaphor Granville closes with an epilogue
aimed directly at the Collier controversy:
Each in his turn, the Poet and the Priest,
Have view'd the Stage, but like false Prophets guess'd:
The Man of Zeal in his Religious Rage
Would silence Poets, and reduce the Stage.
The Poet rashly, to get clear, retorts
On Kings the Scandal, and bespatters Courts.
Both err; for without mincing, to be plain,
The Guilt is yours of every Odious Scene.
The present time still gives the Stage its Mode,
The Vices which you practice, we explode:
We hold the Glass, and but reflect your Shame,
Like Spartans, by exposing, to reclaim.
The Scribler, pinch'd with Hunger, writes to Dine,
And to your Genius must conform his Line;
Not lewd by Choice, but meerly to submit;
Would you encourage Sense, Sense would be writ.^^
In the comments of stage defenders who were not primarily
playwrights or who have remained anonymous there is also employment of
the stage/world metaphor. The author of A Vindication of the Stage
(1698), for example, tells Collier to "remember that Plays are the
Glasses of Human Actions, and reflect the true Images of the People;
as you see the errors of your Complexion by a view in a Glass, so in
the Play-House you see the meanness and folly of your Vices, and by
beholding the frightful Image, you grow asham'd, and perhaps may Reform.
He expands on the usefulness of this microcosm when he explains that
comedy "discovers to us the daily Affairs we meet with in the World . .
[and] shame[s] us out of our Follies":
Comedy is also useful to instruct in our Dealings
in the World; when we see a Friend False and Treach¬
erous, this teaches us to stand upon our Guard, and
be very cautious whom we trust; when we see a Young
Gentleman Ruin'd by the Subtile and Deluding Arts
of some Cunning Courtezan, it bids us beware of the
like Danger.33
i,32

121
Similarly, the author of The Stage Acquitted (1699) points out how
vices and the deceitfully vicious can be exposed, for "the Stage draws
Q /
you the Picture to the life." Indeed, the poet
hunts vice and folly through all their various forms,
chases them from all their covers, follows them through
all their doubles, to procure as much as possible,
and consistent with the depravity of our Natures,
the happiness of Mankind. It wou'd require a Volume
to instance in all the particulars, in which the
Poets are beneficial to the world in their Theatrical
Representations; where they present a glass, a mirrour
of Truth, to see their Deformities in, as well as
Beauty; they shew the world as it is, that you may
know how to direct your self in all states; for if
it were not drawn as it is, it could be of no use,
nor could any true measures of Conduct be taken from
it.35
Heydeggar's Letter to the Bishop of London (1724) applies the image to
masquerades rather than to plays:
The World, itself, excuse the Phrase, is
A Ball; where, mimick Shapes and Faces,
The Judgment of our Senses cheat,
And Fashion favours the Deceit:
Where from Fifteen to Sixty Three,
Fond of Dissembling, all agree.
In one continu'd Mummery.36
James Drake, in perhaps the most complete critical response
to A Short View, uses the metaphor a number of times, especially when
defending the presentation of vicious or foolish characters on stage.
With respect to persons of quality, for example, he says: "if Birth or
Preferment be no sufficient Guard to a weakly Virtue or Understanding.
If Title be no security against the usual Humane Informities; I see no
reason, why they mayn't as well appear together upon the lesser Stage
of the Theatre, as upon the grand one of the World."37 He responds to
Collier's accusation that the stage debauches society by using the
metaphor and adding the mirror image to show how the stage reflects the
world:

122
Mr. Collier observes abundance of Licentiousness and
Impurity in the world, and is resolv'd to lay it all at
the doors of the Theatres. He sees up and down a great
number of figures like those that are expos'd upon the
Stage, and he wisely concludes, that the Models must
needs be taken from thence, and that these men are but
the Players apes, which is directly contrary to the Truth.
For these are the Originals, of which those upon the Stage
are but the Copies, the Images, which that, like a Glass,
reflects back upon 'em.
The stage/world metaphor is also obvious when Drake, again using the
mirror image, examines the general function of drama:
For Dramatick Poetry, like a Glass, ought neither to
flatter, nor to abuse in the Image which it reflects,
but to give them their true colour and proportion, and
is only valuable for being exact. If therefore any
man dislikes the Figures, which he sees in it, he
finds fault with Nature, not the Poet, if those Pictures
be drawn according to the life; and he might as justly
snarl at the wise Providence which governs the world,
because he meets more ugly Faces than handsome ones,
more Knaves and Fools than Honest and Wise men in it,
and those too, generally more prosperous and fortunate.^
The metaphor itself is even used by a number of critics who
attacked the stage, though their views of the moral effect of the stage's
imitation of the world were obviously quite different from the views of
stage defenders.^ Thus, Richard Burridge finds the stage no place to
learn "Moral Precepts"; rather, here there is "no less than a Combination
of all the Vices in the World.Jacques Bénigne Bossuet (Bishop of
Meaux) sees the stage more specifically as an image of the world:
For it is the World with it's Pomps, and Vanities, and
wicked Charms, which our Plays represent and recommend
to us. As therefore in the World, which is the Original,
all things are full of Sensuality, and Curiosity, Os¬
tentation, and Vanity and Pride; so in the Stage, which
is the Copy, these things abound and reign. And the
Effect of the Theatre must needs be to make us Fond of
these things, because the only End it pursues is to
promote Pleasures, and render the Representation of
these things Entertaining and Delightful to us.^2

123
Quite obviously Bossuet does not see the stage as criticizing or ridi¬
culing the vices of the world, but neither does he see the stage as
the main cause of them as Collier does. Rather, he is aware of the
traditional application of the stage/world metaphor, though he discounts
any moral intention or effect of its use on the modern stage (the French
stage of 1694). Ironically, another enemy of the stage uses the meta¬
phor in presenting what he thinks is a poor reason for attending the
theatre in A Letter to a Lady Concerning the New Play House (1706).
The passage occurs when the anonymous author of this letter imagines
that the "Lady" will ask,
What Harm is there, or can there be, in seeing those
things acted upon the Stage, which, while we live
in the World, and converse among Men, we can't but
see acted every Day upon the great Stage or Theatre
of the World? And there is certainly no more than
this in seeing a Play; for we see nothing at the
Playhouse, but what we see every Day in walking the
Streets; A Play is but a Picture, which therefore we
may certainly look upon as innocently as upon the
thing which it is the Picture of; and while we
disapprove the Action or thing Represented, we may
be pleas'd with the Art and Skill of the Painter.
And indeed after all the noise and clamour that has
been of late Years rais'd against Plays, and all the
Complaints that have been made of the Looseness and
Immorality of the Stage, the worst Plays that have
been acted . . . are but true Pictures and lively
Representations of the things that are seen every
Day and every where; and there's nothing worse ever
to be seen within the Playhouse, than is to be seen
without.
The writer's response to this defense of the stage emphasizes the ascetic
duty of a good Christian to avoid sin and wickedness whenever possible,
though it is sometimes impossible to avoid the "Swearing, Blasphemy,
Prophaneness, and filthy Communication" of the world. But with plays
there is a difference, for "it is our own Fault only if we choose to

124
see and hear such things when we may avoid it; and to go out of our way
on purpose to see and hear such things.But William Wycherley would
have seen corrective purpose in choosing to see the world represented
on stage, as he says in his posthumous poem, "To a Vain, Young Courtier":
Thus in the World, as on the Stage, we see
Men act, unlike themselves, in each Degree.
But Twixt the World and Stage, this Difference lies,
Play'rs to reform us wear a known Disguise;
We no such warrantable End can boast,
But still are Hypocrites at others' Cost.
To shame us from the Trade, the Cheats they play,
We, when we most pretend to serve, betray.
In Justice to ourselves, then, let's forbear.
To censure; and our Brother-Strolers spare.^
Thus, moral implications of the stage/world metaphor much like those
suggested by Thomas Heywood in his An Apology for Actors (1612) are
repeated in Wycherley's defense of actors and the stage more than a
century later. And the metaphor was not merely a figure of speech.
In discussing the ways Elizabethan dramatists used the stage/
world metaphor in their plays, Professor Stroup presents chapters en¬
titled "Encompassing Actions," "The Pageant of the World," "The Places
of Action in Elizabethan Plays," and "The Characters: Orders and
Degrees." Each of the chapters emphasizes that the Elizabethan stage
reflected the cosmos by presenting a variety of actions (or plots),
ritualistic pageants, places, and characters. He sees the actions as
"spheres of action" which on stage center upon "the sphere of the indi¬
vidual, who is himself a microcosm" and move out to "the sphere of
private affairs, the sphere of public affairs, the sphere of world af¬
fairs, and the sphere of spiritual affairs."^6 Though Professor Stroup
feels this variety of correspondences in plots becomes severely limited
with the later plays he treats, he uses Dryden—through Neander's comment

125
in An Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668)—to explain how "the scheme
explains . . . the concentric spheres of the Ptolemaic system." It
seems rather odd that a concept no longer useful to dramatists should
be so well explained by one of the most important dramatists of the
Restoration period. The explanation comes when English plots are com¬
pared to those of the French:
And this leads me to wonder why Lisideius and
many others should cry up the barrenness of the
French plots above the variety and copiousness of
the English. Their plots are single; . . . ours,
besides the main design, have under-plots or
by-concernments of less considerable persons and
intrigues, which are carried on with the motion of
the main plot; just as they say the orb of the fixed
stars, and those of the planets, though they have
motions of their own, are whirled about by the motion
of the primum mobile, in which they are contained.
That similitude expresses much of the English state;
for if contrary motions may be found in nature to
agree, if a planet can go east and west at the same
time, one way by virtue of his own motion, the other
by the force of the First Mover, it will not be
difficult to imagine how the under-plot, which is
only different, not contrary to the great design,
may naturally be conducted along with it. ^
Dryden's words suggest his understanding of the playwright's function
in the "great design" of the play as compared to the function of the
Divine Dramatist, the "First Mover," in the design and operation of the
48
universe.
In addition to various "encompassing actions," Professor
Stroup emphasizes the importance of variety in places and characters if
the stage is to reflect the world. He feels that by changing scenes
within the plays, by using various historical periods and settings for
the plays, and by attempting "in each play to suggest the orders and
degrees of mankind, the whole of the social order, reaching from crown

126
to clown, from highest to lowliest servant," the Elizabethan play¬
wrights were patterning their plays after their view of the world in
order to entertain and instruct their audiences.^ As further evidence
that the Restoration playwrights used the stage/world metaphor in
patterning their plays, the participants in the Collier controversy
seem very conscious of this tradition in English drama and espouse this
necessity for variety in their critical comments. Thus Dryden speaks
of the poet's job of constructing a play from history in his preface
to An Evening's Love (1671): "and, since no story can afford characters
enough for the variety of the English stage, it follows that it is to
be altered and enlarged with new persons, accidents, and designs, which
will almost make it new.He criticizes Davenant's heroic play, The
Seige of Rhodes, for lacking "the fulness of a plot, and the variety of
characters to form it as it ought. "51-
Others involved in the stage controversy show a similar atti¬
tude toward variety in the plays. Elkanah Settle, for example, in A
Farther Defence of Dramatick Poetry (1698), argues that
the Subjects of our English Tragedies are generally
the whole Revolutions of Governments, States or
Families, or those great Transactions; [and] that our
Genius of Stage-poetry can no more reach the Heights
that can please our Audience, under his [Corneille's]
Unity Shackles, then an Eagle can soar in a Hen-coop. . . .
the French can content themselves with the sweets
of a single Rose-bed; and nothing less then the whole
Garden, and the Field round it, will satisfie the
English.52
In addition to the need for this variety in types of and sources for
English tragedy, Settle believes that "Here our Audience[s] expect a
little Variety, viz. some change of Scene."55
He feels, like Dryden,

127
that there "must be Under-plots, and considerable ones too, possibly
big enough to justle the Upper-plot, to support a good English Play."54
Likewise, George Farquhar explains the intention of an English play in
A Discourse upon Comedy (1702), by pointing out the variety represented
in the audience :^5
An English Play is intended for the Use and Instruction
of an English Audience, a People not only separated
from the rest of the World by Situation, but different
also from other Nations as well in the Complexion
and Temperament of the Natural Body, as in the
Constitution of our Body Politick: As we are a
Mixture of many Nations, so we have the most
unaccountable Medley of Humours among us of any
People upon Earth; these Humours produce Variety
of Follies, some of 'um unknown to former Ages;
these new Distempers must have new Remedies, which
are nothing but new Counsels and Instructions.56
Thus, he feels the particular variety of the English audience requires
a purpose (Utile) for the English dramatist different from that for any
other dramatist, ancient or modern. To achieve this purpose, Farquhar
suggests what means (Dulce) the playwright must employ:
\
Then what sort of a Dulce, (which I take for the
Pleasantry of the Tale; or the Plot of the Play)
must a Man make use of to engage the Attention of
so many different Humours and Inclinations: Will
a single Plot satisfie every body? ... To make
the Moral Instructive, you must make the Story
diverting; the Spleenatick Wit, the Beau Courtier,
the heavy Citizen, the fine Lady, and her fine
Footman, come all to be instructed, and therefore
S 7
must all be diverted.
He goes on to say that the English playwright of 1702 must look to the
plays of "Shakespear, Johnson, Fletcher," and other English playwrights
for models. Quite clearly his own attitudes about variety of repres¬
entation seem to be derived from the Elizabethan view of the stage as
a microcosm.

128
Thomas D'Urfey makes brief reference to the same necessity
for variety of plot when he says that a play presents "a Story not only
intricate and difficult to be contriv'd, but divertive and full of
Variety."58 James Drake focuses thus on the range of characters to be
presented in a play:
The Characters therefore must neither be too
general, nor too singular, one loses the distinction,
the other makes it monstrous, we are too familiar
with that to take notice of it, and too unacquainted
with this to acknowledge it to be real. But betwixt
these there is an almost infinite variety; some
natural and approaching to Generals, as the several
Ages of the World, and of Life, Sexes and Tempers;
some Artificial, and more particular, as the vast
Varieties and Shapes of Villany, Knavery, Folly.
Affectation and Humour, &c_. All these are within
the Poet's Royalty, and he may summon 'em to attend
him, whenever he has occasion for their service.
Yet tho these make up perhaps the greatest part of
Mankind, he is not fondly to imagine, that he has
any Authority over the whole, or to expect homage
from any of 'em, as the Publick Representatives of
their Sex.59
Finally, John Dennis sets about to show how modern comedy
pleases and instructs more than ancient comedy by saying that both of
these ends can best be achieved through the Ridiculum (that which is
laughable). He points out that in modern comedy more pleasure is afforded
the audience because
there is a greater Variety of it [Ridiculum] in the
Incidents, and in the Characters, and that Variety
must make it the more delightful. For a Uniformity
in this Case takes away from the Surprize, and without
Surprize the Ridiculum cannot subsist. And besides,
that the Moderns have a greater Variety both of
Characters and Fables, they have a greater Variety of
Style. . . . [For example] look into the Plain-Dealer,
and you shall find as many Styles in it, as there are
Characters. For Manly, Freeman, Plausible, Olivia,
Novel, Elisha, the Widow Blackacre and Jerry, have

129
each of them a different Dialect, which, besides the
Variety, must be farther delightful, because 'tis an
exact Imitation of Nature.
Dennis here links the importance of variety in events and characters to
the accurate representation of the world on the stage. He reemphasizes
the need for variety when he states that comedy instructs not only
through its characters, "but if it instructs [also] by its Fable and
Action, as certainly it ought to do, why then the Ridiculum must be in
the Incidents which are parts of the Action . . . chiefly in the
Catastrophe, which ought to be the most instructive Part of the Fable,
and to make the strongest Impresión."^0 Thus, he can conclude, with
respect to the Ridiculum, that "the Moderns having greater Variety of
it, both in their Persons and Action, the Instruction in the Modern
Comedy must be the more extensive, besides, that the Variety of Action
and Incidents must make our Catastrophes more surprizing, and consequently
more ridiculous.
\
To represent effectively the world on the stage the playwright
had to concern himself not only with the variety of actions, scenes, and
characters but with what Professor Stroup refers to as "the world's
pageant." He shows how the tradition of pageantry in English life and
thought was reflected on stage throughout the development of English
drama (at least until 1642).^2 He indicates that the "devices and
materials" which the playwrights used to represent this pageantry "con¬
sist of formal entrances and exits, various types of processions or
formal movements of characters, often military in design, and of cere-
monies of ceremonious actions, or ritual.These aspects of "cosmic
pageant" were "basic to the chronicle and history plays—and to the high

130
tragedies as well. They are a little less obvious in romantic and
tragi-comedy and still less in domestic tragedy and comedy, though
seldom entirely absent.I would argue that this tradition of repres¬
enting the pageantry of the world (as represented in English life) on
stage did not end in 1642. Indeed, the importance of many of the
ceremonies probably gained renewed meaning with the restoration of a
king in 1660, thus making their representation on stage even more
significant. The plays performed during the period reveal that the
pageant of the world was expressed not only in the many revivals and
adaptions of Elizabethan and ancient plays but also in the heroic
drama, the tragedies, the operatic plays (including adoptions from
Shakespeare), and many of the comedies. Dryden, in fact, emphasizes
the necessity for using military pageantry on stage in 0f_ Heroic Plays:
An Essay (1672) :
To those who object [to] my frequent use of
drums and trumpets, and my representations of battles,
I answer, I introduced them not on the English stage.
Shakespeare used them frequently; and though Jonson
shows no battle in his Catiline, yet you hear from
behind the scenes the sounding of trumpets, and the
shouts of fighting armies. But I add farther: that
these warlike instruments, and even the representations
of fighting on the stage, are no more than necessary
to produce the effects of an heroic play; that is,
to raise the imagination of the audience, and to
persuade them, for the time, that what they behold
on [in?] the theatre is really performed.65
Dryden certainly seems to wish his audience to see the correspondence
between the sweeping actions on stage and those in the world.
But it is perhaps most difficult to see how "the pageant of
the world" is expressed in the comedies of the Restoration which have
been analyzed mainly for their "wit" or
"manner" by modern critics.

131
Though many devices of pageantry should not be expected in these
comedies, since their English antecedents had fewer devices than the
serious drama, one which stands out is the institution of marriage.
The plays are not so much occupied with the ceremony of the wedding as
with the rituals of courtship and betrothal in preparation for the
£' t'
marriage. In objection to those critics who have found the play¬
wrights' treatment of marriage "cynical" in Restoration drama, P. F.
Vernon suggests that the dramatists attacked those "grotesque, "unnatural1
unions" which are no more than "matrimonial bargains." This typical
marriage of convenience, which is usually arranged by parents or "mer¬
cenary relatives,"
is attacked as a discredited commercial contract
which yoked together, without regard for human
feelings, young and old, intelligent and stupid,
sensitive ladies and miserly businessmen; all
unions without affection, whose only possible
fruits were mutual distrust, possessive tyranny,
jealousy and contempt. There seems no doubt that,
with rare exceptions, the dramatists expected
their audience to recognise in the disastrous
marriages, which they held up to ridicule, the
contemporary marriage of convenience.67
As Professor Vernon points out, these marriages of convenience were "the
norm in real life," but the dramatists almost without fail present them
as something disgusting, to be rejected by any person concerned with
future harmony and happiness. In opposition to these marriages, where
cuckolding is the rule, are those marriages (usually of the protagonists)
which conclude or are suggested at the conclusion of so many Restoration
comedies and which have the expressed love and honest understanding of
f) ft
both partners as their bases. But modern critics have consistently
failed to see this; instead, they seem inclined toward Collier's opinion
that "The Stage Poets make Libertines their Top Characters, and give them

132
Success in their Debauchery.Collier explains what he means by
citing various libertine-heroes and delineating their characters. Of
Congreve's Valentine in Love for Love he says:
"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. He is a prodigal Debauchee,
unnatural, and Profane, Obscene, Sawcy, and undutiful.^
What Collier (and anyone who agrees with his reading) fails to recog¬
nize is that Valentine, like many heroes in Restoration comdey, changes
from a "prodigal Debauchee" who is "unnatural" to a plain-dealing lover,
desiring the natural state of a marriage based upon honesty and selfless
love.^ Professor Vernon explains this attitude about marriage in most
Restoration comedies:
Usually the dramatists try to demonstrate that
the promiscuity of the libertine cannot be successful
as a way of living because it is 'unnatural'. The
libertine cannot live happily by his philosophy
because it fails to take into account the 'natural'
desire of human kind for a permanent emotional
relationship with a member of the opposite sex based
on more than mere lust. In practice the rake
discovers that all his cynical theories can do
nothing to stop him falling in love.^
This ritual of betrothal on stage was important because it
reflected its equally important ritual counterpart in the world. As
an aspect of the pageant of life, marriage was one of the key moments
in determining the happiness of man, and that happiness was a direct
result of the motives which were exposed during courtship and betrothal./J
As Thomas Brown observes in Amusement VII, "Marriage," in his Amusements
Serious and Comical, Calculated for the Meridian of London (1700), those
who approached marriage only for the divertisement of the "ceremony" of

133
courtship, or who went to matchmakers who had "an admirable talent for
matching conditions, families, trades and estates; in short every
thing, except humours and inclinations." would find no happiness. He
does think "'tis possible for those that marry to be happy," but only
if marriage is properly defined:
you must call it trucking or bartering, and not
marrying, to take a woman merely for her fortune,
and reckon her perfections by the number of pounds
she is like to bring with her. Nor is it to marry
but to please one's self, to choose a wife as we
do a tulip, merely for her beauty. It is not to
marry, but to dote at a certain age, to take a young
woman only for the sake of her company. What is it
then to be married? Why, 'tis to choose with circum¬
spection and deliberation, by inclination, and not by
interest, suc^ a woman as will choose you after the
same manner.
Such observations of marriage come from Brown's observations of the
"world" of London life; the very same observations of good and bad
marital motives are presented on the Restoration stage as entertainment
and moral instruction. Thus, pageantry, even as it is modified in the
comedies, is joined with the continued sense of the need for variety
to become central considerations in the drama's depiction of the world.
It only remains to show the importance of poetic justice in reinforcing
the moral intentions of the Restoration dramatists in reflecting the
larger stage productions of the Divine Dramatist.
In discussing the relationship of the Elizabethan stage to the
world, Professor Stroup suggests that the dramatists consciously used
what he calls "a testing pattern" to structure their plays. He maintains
that this pattern
involves the trial or proving of a man. The play
often takes something of its shape from the testing

134
force of Providence operating within the characters
of men, whether the characters ride Fortune's wheel,
are frustrated by a flaw, or achieve by maturation
of mind recognition and then accept their suffering.
As the protagonist moves in pageant and encompassing
actions across the stage of the world he is proved,
like Job or Jonah, and in his proving he undergoes
a testing. Often, and in the tragedies especially,
this proving follows the pretty well-recognized
pattern of Christian tests. Divine Providence does
not appear in proper person, though in tragedy it
often sends ghostly agents to direct or provide the
conflict. But it may, and especially so in comedy,
send a vicar in the guise of the king or duke or
simply the judge who settles the conflict and metes
out justice, rewards, and punishments, in the last
scene.7 5
In the plays which observe this pattern, then, "God is director of the
play and final arbiter at the denouement." Tragedies may show a pro¬
tagonist passing his test, and thus saved; while comedies may show a
protagonist (or others) punished for failing; what will be obvious is
a kind of Providential justice which may not have been an exact reflection
of the real world, but which most people believed to be a condition of the
hereafter. The importance of the concept of Divine Providence in the
lives of the people and in the literature cannot be overstated. As Pro¬
fessor Henry Hitch Adams points out, "One of the notions most useful to
pamphleteers, writers of homiletic treatises, and playwrights was that
Divine Providence intervened in the lives of men to assure the operations
of divine justice." In focusing on the applications of Providential
justice in tragedy, Professor Adams sees the dramatist using
interventions of Divine Providence to show direct
operations of what he understands as the will of
God. When he dispenses poetic justice, a playwright
acts as a god in a microcosm of his own creation.
When he employs operations of Divine Providence,
a playwright gives his interpretation of the will
of God. In both the dramatic and nondramatic

135
literature of the time, Divine Providence is employed
to punish vice, to prevent crime against an innocent
person, and to reveal criminals to the agencies of
human justice.^
Though Professors Stroup and Adams trace the concept of Pro¬
vidential justice in patterning plays only to the closing of the
theatres in 1642, it was still very important in the drama after the
restoration of Charles II, as may be seen in the remarks of the play¬
wrights and critics involved in the Collier controversy. From these
remarks it seems obvious that what prevailed in the best drama was the
Christian world-view of a God-centered, contingent universe. The stage
still functioned as a place where the poet consciously used poetic
justice in the actions of his characters to suggest the Providential
justice imposed by the Divine Dramatist in the larger worlds of life and
afterlife. Professor Williams has indicated the importance of "poetical
justice" and "the contrivances of Providence" in the works of William
Congreve,77 and he has suggested the pervasiveness of the "testing
pattern" in other Restoration and eighteenth-century drama. Professor
Schneider, in his study of Restoration comedies, observes that well over
half of the comedies he considers exhibit a testing pattern (employed
by the heroines) which shows "how much the man will sacrifice for love."79
He also emphasizes the importance of poetical justice in structuring
these plays in order to "tell us what we ought to be" as well as what
we are.80 That this reflection of Providential justice would have been
expected and understood by viewers and readers of the drama seems assured
from the common occurrence of the concept (especially in connection with
the stage/world metaphor) in contemporary sermons and apologetics as

136
well as the drama.The relationship is seen clearly by the critic
who apparently coined the term "poetic justice," Thomas Rymer, in a
statement about Sophocles and Euripides:
finding in History, the same end happen to the
righteous and to the unjust, vertue often opprest,
and wickedness on the Throne: they saw these par¬
ticular yesterday-truths were imperfect and unproper
to illustrate the universal and eternal truths by
them intended. Finding also that this unequal dis¬
tribution of rewards and punishments did perplex
the wisest, and by the Atheist was made a scandal
to the Divine Providence. They concluded, that
a Poet must of necessity see justice exactly ad-
ministred, if he intended to please.^2
He later goes on to point out that the audience may be affected by a
tragedy "by observing that constant order, that harmony and beauty of
Providence, that necessary relation and chain, whereby the causes and
effects, the vertues and rewards, the vices and their punishments are
proportion'd and link'd together; how deep and dark soever are laid the
Springs, and however intricate and involv'd are their operations.
Though Collier seems to recognize the value of employing
poetic justice—for he cites Jonson and Rapin in support of it and even
mentions Falstaff as an example of Shakespeare's use of it®^—it is his
position that the "Malefactors are cherished and rewarded by the Modern
Stage," that the contemporary "Stage Poets make their Principal Persons
Vitious, and reward them at the End of the Play.He selects numerous
examples where h£ finds a perversion of poetic justice, most of them in
the plays of Dryden. Dryden, however, seems to agree with Rymer about
the nature of and necessity for poetic justice, while seeing it as a
tradition best employed in English drama: "the punishment of vice and
reward of virtue are the most adequate ends of tragedy, because most

137
conducing to good example of life. Now pity is not so easily raised
for a criminal . . . as it is for an innocent man, and the suffering
of innocence and punishment of the offender is of the nature of English
tragedy." He also provides a more exact explanation of how poetic
justice may be shown in tragedy, for part of its function
is to reform manners by delightful representation
of human life in great persons, by way of dialogue.
If this be true, then not only pity and terror are
to be moved as the only means to bring us to virtue,
but generally love to virtue and hatred to vice;
by shewing the rewards of one, and punishments of
the other; at least by rendering virtue always
amiable, though it be shown unfortunate; and vice
detestable, tho' it be shown triumphant.
Specifically, he defends the "poetical justice" meted out in Don
Sebastian (1690),^ as well as in his comedy An Evening's Love: or the
Mock Astrologer (1671). As if anticipating Collier's attack (though not
his deliberate omissions), he says that in comedy neither he nor "better
poets" attempt to show "libertinism amiable": "we make not vicious
persons happy, but only as Heaven makes sinners so; that is, by reclaim¬
ing them first from vice. For so 'tis supposed they are, when they
resolve to marry; for then enjoying what they desire in one, they cease
to pursue the love of many."^
Congreve also defends the poetic justice he has observed in
constructing The Mourning Bride, when he answers Collier:
The Reader has seen his Charge against the Mourning
Bride, and is a Judge of the Justness and Strength of
it. I confess I have not much to say in Commendation
of any thing that I have Written: But if a fair¬
dealing-man, or a candid Critick, and examin'd that
Tragedy, I fancy that neither the general Moral
contain'd in the two Last Lines; nor the several
particular Morals interwoven with the success of
every principal Character, would have been overseen
by him.

138
The Reward of Matrimonial Constancy in
Almería, of the same Virtue, together with filial
Piety and Love to his Country in Osmin; the Punishment
of Tyranny in Manuel, of Ambition in Gonzalez, of
violent Passions, and unlawful Love in Zara: These
it may be were Parts of the Poem as worthy to be
observed, as one or two erroneous Expressions; and
admit they were such, might in some measure have
aton'd for them.91
Vanbrugh likewise indicates his moral intentions in The Relapse by
assuring Collier that Young Fashion is not the "Author's Favourite";
indeed, the mercenary marriage which Collier sees as a reward for Young
Fashion, Vanbrugh seems to view as just punishment, for "he has help'd
him to a Wife, who's likely to make his Heart ake: But I suppose Mr.
q o
Collier is of Opinion, that Gold can never be bought too dear."'^ But
Vanbrugh's major defense comes in his explanation of what Professor
Stroup refers to as "the testing pattern" of the play. He first explains
how his plan was to move the reformed Loveless from the relative safety
of "Solitude and Retirement" to the many dangers of the town. Thus,
Loveless's fall is something he "design'd for a natural Instance of the
frailty of Mankind, even in his most fixt Determinations; and for a mark
upon the defect of the most steady Resolve, without that necessary
Guard, of keeping out of Temptation."93 in addition, he says he has
imposed the same test upon Amanda, whose virtue not only triumphs over
the lustful intentions of Worthy, but produces a conversion in him,
which is characterized by peace, order and a love and respect for virtue.9^
As Vanbrugh observes, Collier discounts any importance in this con¬
clusion, but it is quite clearly the result of a moral pattern which
Stroup sees as central in English drama from its beginnings.
Vanbrugh's position is reenforced by Elkanah Settle, one of

139
the other playwrights who responded to Collier. He first takes up the
issue of the distribution of justice in the Lord Foppington-Young
Fashion plot of The Relapse and points out that Young Fashion goes far
in testing his brother's "Reason, Justice or Pity" before resorting to
Coupler's plan. He also suggests that Lord Foppington's pride and
vanity as well as his
unnatural Inhumanity to his own Brother, and all the
other Vices of his Character, ought to be punish'd,
with all the Insults, Defeats, Disappointments and
Shame, that the Dramatick Justice can heap upon
him, through the whole Play. But as no over-reach
or defeat in Comedy can well be performed, but by
some Fraud or Cheat or other; and consequently he
that carries on the Cheat cannot reach to the full
heights of a perfect Character, viz. wholly un¬
blemish'd; however 'tis the work of the Poet in that
Case to raise those just Provocations for every
such Insult, and lay that reasonable Ground for every
such Cheat, especially in the prosperous Characters
of the Comedy; that their Successes, in the Catastrophe
of the Play, may seem the Reward of some Virtue
and Justice even in the Cheat himself, comparative
to the Vice and Injustice they punish.
But Settle does not stop with "Young Fashion's supplanting his
Brothers pretensions"; he feels there is "another piece of Poetick Jus¬
tice in carrying off the Young Heiress:"
For when the Young Hoyden is thus snared into Wedlock,
not by any ignoble rascally Imposter, but a Young
Gentleman, at least of equal birth and Quality with
her; the other part of the Delusion, viz. his being a
Younger Brother, and a Man of no Estate, seems but an
honest Dramatick over-reach, impos'd upon so sordid
and avaricious a Character, so over-cautious a Coxcomb
as her Father Sir Tunbelly: Nor is the Young Lady her
self, under the meaness of her rustick Education, so
Exalted a Character; but that Young Fashion may fairly
and innocently carry the Prize, without one murmuring
Word, or envying Eye from the severest Critick in the
whole Audience. 6
Indeed, Settle might have gone so far as Vanbrugh in suggesting the

140
potential problems Hoyden poses for Young Fashion: this "reward" of
marriage may produce horns instead of happiness when this country wife's
desires begin to encounter other men. Settle does, however, explain how
well poetic justice functions in this less important and more comic plot
of the play. When he brings up the Amanda-Loveless plot, he finds the
same kind of testing pattern which Vanbrugh sees as crucial to moral
instruction:
Virtue cannot very well be wrought up to any Dramatick
Perfection, nor sparkle with any considerable
Brightness and Beauties, unless it stands a Temptation,
and surmounts it. We have a Proverbial Saying, that
will hardly allow that Woman to be truly chaste, that
has never been try'd. This I am sure, the noblest
Triumphs of Virtue are made by the Assaults it can
resist and conquer .... [The poet's] Characters of
Virtue must come forth into the gay World, with Levity,
Vanity, nay Temptation itself, all round them. They
must go to the Court, the Ball, the Masque, the Musick-
Houses, the Dancing-Schools, nay to the very Prophane
Play-Houses themselves, (to speak in Mr. Collier's
Dialect;) and yet come off unconquer'd. These are the
Virtues that, to be Instructive to an Audience, are
what should tread the Stage.^ ,
Thus just rewards can only come after a character has been tested, and
the testing on stage is patterned after the same testing which man under¬
goes in the world.
In his response to A Short View, Charles Gildon shows how
concerned he is with the audience's impression of Providence as defined
by the poet's employment of poetic justice on stage:
No unfortunate Character ought to be introduc'd on
the Stage, without its Humane Frailties to justifie
its Misfortunes: For unfortunate Perfection, is the
Crime of Providence, and to offer at that, is an
Impiety a Poet ought never to be guilty of; being
directly opposite to his duty of Rewarding the
Innocent, and punishing the Guilty; and by that
means, to establish a -just notion of Providence in
98
its most important Action, the Government of Mankind.

141
Gildon's understanding of poetic justice is further amplified in The
Complete Art of Poetry (1718) , where he supports Dennis in his Spec-
tator arguments with Addison; Gildon quotes Dennis's views with appar-
99
ently complete agreement. Those views, which Dennis also presents
when responding to Collier in The Usefulness of the Stage (1698), express
clearly the artistic and moral motives of the artist in using poetic
justice on stage to mirror the Providential justice at work on the
larger stage of life. Thus, after stating that "1. The Being of a
God. 2. Providence. 3. Immortality of the Soul. 4. Future Rewards
and Punishments" are, for the poet "and particularly the Tragick Poet,"
the "very Foundations of his Art," Dennis says:
Poetick Justice would be a Jest if it were not an
Image of the Divine, and if it did not consequently
suppose the Being of a God and Providence. It
supposes too the Immortality of the Soul, and future
Rewards and Punishments .... Now this supposition
of a future State, is very just and reasonable. For
since Passions in their Excesses are the Causes of
most of the Disturbances that happen in the World,
upon a Supposition of a future State, nothing can
be more just, than that the Power which governs the
World, should make sometimes very severe Examples
of those who indulge their Passions; Providence
seems to require this. But then to make involuntary
Faults capital, and to punish them with the last
Punishment, would not be so consistent with the
Goodness of God, unless there were a Compensation
hereafter. For such a Punishment would
be too rigorous, but cruel and extravagant.
But Dennis recognizes some difficulties in the dramatist's use of poetic
justice, for though the "Poet is himself the Creator" of "dramatical
Persons," the justice he dispenses on stage is not an exact "Represen¬
tation of the Justice of the Almighty." For in the world if there is
"not always an equal Distribution of Affliction and Happiness," man,

142
being immortal, "will find a Compensation in Futurity for any seeming
Inequity in his Destiny here. But the Creatures of a Poetical Creator
are imaginary and transitory; they have no longer Duration than the
Representation of their respective Fables; and consequently, if they
offend, they must be punish'd during that Representation."^®^- In
drawing all of these considerations together, then, Dennis states what
he conceives to be the "Duty of every Tragick Poet":
[that is,] by an exact Distribution of a Poetical
Justice, to imitate the Divine Dispensation, and to
inculcate a particular Providence. 'Tis true indeed
upon the Stage of the World the Wicked sometimes
prosper, and the Guiltless suffer. But that is
permitted by the Governour of the World, to shew
from the Attribute of his infinite Justice that there
is a Compensation in Futurity, to prove the Immortal¬
ity of the Human Soul, and the Certainty of future
Rewards and Punishments. But the Poetical Persons
in Tragedy exist no longer than the Reading or the
Representation; the whole Extent of their Entity
is circumscribed by those; and therefore during that
Reading or Representation, according to their
Merits or Demerits, they must be punish'd or rewarded.
If this is not done, there is no impartial Distribution
of Poetical Justice, no instructive' Lecture of a
particular Providence, and no Imitation of the Divine
in?
Dispensation.
It is difficult to imagine a clearer statement of the moral function of
poetic justice in the dramatist's view of the stage as a "little world."
Other voices raised in defense of the stage also asserted the
importance of poetic justice in the drama. The anonymous author of
The Stage Acquitted (1699), for example, recognizes that "it has been
already by divers Authors made appear, that as the end of the Drama is
the Correction, punishment of Vice, and reward of Virtue, the purgation
of our passions, &c_. . . . there is no better human way to that end." He
later goes on to defend Charles I for allowing drama on Sunday on the

143
grounds that it "tended to the confirmation of the Doctrine of the day"
in part because of "the lively examples represented before our Eyes, of
Vice punished and Virtues rewarded."103 John Oldmixon states that true
justice can only be impressed upon an audience by showing what actions
and beliefs bring about the rewards and punishments provided by the
playwright. He also defends the justice employed in two plays Col¬
lier attacked: Dryden's Don Sebastian and Congreve's The Mourning Bride
Similarly, another anonymous spokesman for the stage defends Vanbrugh's
use of poetic justice in The Provok'd Wife against Collier's assertion
"that Sir John Brute is not punish'd enough. Truly, I think, his whole
character is one of continual Punishment; and I wou'd no more chuse Sir
John's Circumstances for the pleasure of his Libertinism, than I wou'd
Mr. Collier's for the pleasure of Lashing on't."^®6
Finally, Dr. James Drake joins the list of contemporaries who
found poetical justice essential in the moral design of the plays by
\
linking the concept to the fable or plot. His view, shared by others
in the controversy,directly contradicts Professor Eric Rothstein's
feeling that there is a "depreciation of the plot" as a major concern
in Restoration tragedy. Drake says:
The Parts therefore of a Play, in which the
Morals of the Play appear, are the Fable, the
Characters, and the Discourse. Of these the Fable
(in Tragedy especially) is the most considerable,
being (according to Aristotle) the Primum Mobile
by which all the other parts are acted and govern'd,
and the principal Instrument by which the Passions
are weeded and purg'd, by laying before the Eyes of
the Spectators examples of the miserable Catastrophe
of Tyranny, Usurpation, Pride, Cruelty, and Ambition,
&c. and to crown suffering Virtue with Success and
Reward, or to punish the unjust Oppressors of it
with Ruine and Destruction.109
105

144
Drake then evaluates a number of plays by examining how poetic justice
works to convey a moral understanding. He sees Sophocles' Oedipus as
instructive in the ways of God, for viewers will see "that the Will of
Heaven is not to be disputed by Mortals, how severe soever, even to
Injustice, the Conditions of it may seem to us; and that whoever sets
up his own Wisdom in opposition to it, shall in that Presumption meet
both his Crime and his Punishment." He later defends the moral of the
fable in Hamlet by saying that "nothing in Antiquity can rival this Plot
for the admirable distribution of Poetick Justice." That moral for him
is "That the Greatness of the Offender does not qualify the Offense, and
that no Humane Power, or Policy are a sufficient Guard against the Im¬
partial Hand, and Eye of Providence, which defeats their wicked purposes,
and turns their dangerous Machinations upon their own heads." Drake
singles out King Lear, Timón of Athens, and Macbeth as among other
tragedies by Shakespeare which "are Moral and Instructive" before moving
on to defend Otway's The Orphan from Collier's abuse. He then describes
how Dryden's Don Sebastian presents "a very Religious Moral, and consonant
to the Tenour of the 2d Commandment shews, that the Punishment of Mens
crimes, shall extend not only to their own persons, but if unrepented
shall reach their Posterity likewise." As for Congreve's The Mourning
Bride he has special praise, for "the Fable of this Play is one of the
most just, and regular that the Stage, either Antient or Modern, can
boast of. I mean, for the distribution of Rewards, and Punishments. For
no virtuous person misses his Recompence, and no vitious one escapes
Vengeance." Even in comedy, which he feels does not require the strict
observance of poetic justice, he finds the contemporary dramatists have

145
generally taken those characters of wit and sense from a debauched
condition "to a solemn Resolution of Reforming at last." And in any
case, whatever success this character achieves in comedy, it is not due
to his imperfection or "Licentiousness, but to the Wit and Sense, or
other good Qualities, which are predominant in the Character. "HO
Clearly, then, the critics and playwrights who defended the
stage in the Collier controversy saw the Restoration stage as a "little
world" upon which the dramas of man were represented to entertain and
instruct. For them, the features of variety, pageantry, and Providential
testing and justice, so important in Elizabethan drama, were still
recognized as parts of those moral designs which Jeremy Collier could
see only as patterns for vice.
Hopefully what has emerged from this discussion of the Collier
controversy is a better critical basis for understanding the drama of the
Restoration period. It should be clear that those critics who defended
the stage recognised that there were abuses, but they also saw therein a
moral value which they maintained was an essential part of its artistic
value. Thus, unlike many modern critics who have rejected Collier and
with him any consideration of morality, they answered Collier on grounds
that were at once moral and artistic. In explaining how the stage func¬
tioned, they felt that the representation of "evil" on the stage (in
the actions and speeches of characters) was not only proper but necessary
if the audience was to know and admire "good." Rather than seeing the
dangers of imitation as Collier did in his Platonic reaction to evil,

146
I
they felt the plays offered just choices for all whose understanding and
judgment were not depraved. In addition, they exposed Collier's gross
errors in reading and argument, while consistently asserting the value
of the plays he attacked. Enough evidence is obvious in the criticism
of the controversy to assume that the dramatists consciously patterned
their plays to represent a world where man is tested in much as he is
tested under the eye and judgment of the Divine Dramatist.

NOTES
-'-Theatre of the World (Chicago: Chicago University Press,
1969), p. 164. With an emphasis on the architectural sources of Eliza¬
bethan theatres, Professor Yates says that "abroad, churches and cathedrals
were being built to express the religious spirit in neoclassical archi¬
tecture. In England perhaps only the public theatre was able to share to
some extent in this movement and to anticipate the English neoclassical
church architecture of the future" (p. 168).
2
Ibid., p. 168. Also see Thomas B. Stroup, Microcosmos: The
Shape of the Elizabethan Play (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press,
1965), pp. 34-35 & 46.
3
Stroup, p. 5.
^Ibid., pp. 8-16.
“^Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play (London: Chatto &
Windus, 1964), p. 83.
^Ibid., p. 84.
7'"All the World's a Stage' Some Illustrations of the Theatrum
Mundi," Shakespeare Quarterly, 17(1966), 174-175.
^Stroup, pp. 41 & 21.
\
9
"Poetical Justice, the Contrivances of Providence, and the
Works of William Congreve," ELH, 35(1968), 550. Also, see the following
articles by Williams: "The 'Utmost Tryal' of Virtue and Congreve's
Love for Love," Tennessee Studies in Literature, 17(1972) , 4-5 and "The 'Just
Decrees of Heav'n' and Congreve's Mourning Bride," in Congreve Consider'd:
Papers Read at a_ Clark Library Seminar, December _5, 1970 (Los Angeles:
William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, 1971), pp. 5-8.
-^Williams, "Poetical Justice," 551-554.
A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English
Stage (London, 1698), pp. 148-149.
"Of Dramatic Poesy" and other Critical Essays, ed. George
Watson (London: J. M. Dent & Sons, Ltd., 1962), I, 146.
l3Ibid., I, 2.
-*-^The Campaigners: ov_ the Pleasant Adventures at Brussels
(London, 1698), preface, p. 8.
147

148
-'-'’The Complete Works of Sir John Vanbrugh, eds. Bonamy Dobrée
and Geoffrey Webb (Bloomsbury: The Nonesuch Press, 1927), I, 206.
16Ibid., 113.
Short View, p. 12.
18
The Complete Works of William Congreve, ed. Montague Summers
(London: The Nonesuch Press, 1923), III, 175. Congreve continually
defends an accurate depiction of characters on stage, telling Collier
that "when Men neither sneak, nor prevaricate, nor do any thing unbecom¬
ing their Office in the World, they ought not to be expos'd at all in
Comedy; for the Characters expos'd there, should be of those only, who
misbehave themselves" (III, 197).
19Ibid., II, 193.
2®The Complete Works of William Wycherley, ed. Montague
Summers (Soho: The Nonesuch Press, 1924), IV, 241.
21Ibid., 117.
22
See n. 7 above.
O O
The Complete Works of George Farquhar, ed. Charles Stonehill
(London: The Nonesuch Press, 1930), I, 285.
24
The Critical Works of John Dennis, ed. Edward Niles Hooker,
I (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1939), 313-314.
25Ibid., 280.
2^An Act at Oxford (London, 1704), epistle dedicatory.
22A Defence of Dramatick Poetry (London, 1698), p. 80.
28
Love's Victim: or, the Queen of Wales (London, 1701),
preface.
29The Post-Man Robb'd of His Mail (London, 1719), p. 216.
20
He may be thinking of Dryden specifically here, since The
Pilgrim (1700) had recently been published, and the epilogue, in part,
says of Collier that
He tells you, that this very moral age
Received the first infection from the stage;
But sure, a banished court, with lewdness fraught,
The sees of open vice, returning, brought.
Thus lodged (as vice by great example thrives),
It first debauched the daughters and the wives.
London, a fruitful soil, yet never bore
So plentiful a Crop of horns before.

149
Thus did the thriving malady prevail;
The court its head, the poets but the tail. (The Works
of John Dryden, eds., Sir Walter Scott
and George Saintsbury, VIII (Edinburgh:
William Paterson, 1884), 502.)
31
I have reversed the italicized and unitalicized words.
32t
15.
33
34
Ibid., p. 26.
p. 77.
35
Ibid., p. 81. This author later explains how the microcosm
of the stage can be edifying to the spectators, for "The Stage sets
before their Eyes what Folly and Falsehood are, not in bare terms, which
want a comment, but in so plain and visible a dress, that you know them
off the Stage when you meet them every day in your Conversation, or in
your Negotiations, in your own inclinations or practice; so that after
the Spectator or Hearer has been shown the lively draught of Folly and
Falsehood on the Stage, he must know it where-ever he meets it, and
avoid it both in himself and others, if he be capable of Correction
(pp. 124-125).
36r
5.
~^The Antient and Modern Stages Survey1d (London, 1699) , p. 291.
Drake also used the metaphor in his preface to Thomas Brown's A Legacy
for the Ladies, or Characters of the Women of the Age (London, 1705) :
"It was his [Brown's] fortune to appear upon the Stage of the World when
Fears and Jealousies had sour'd the Peoples Blood" (xii).
-^Stages, p. 272. Drake also defends the comic dramatists by
saying that whatever "is so common and obvious in the World, can't be
unnatural upon the Stage, but by using it improperly" (p. 237).
39
Ibid., pp. 118-119. Similarly, Drake defends Plautus and
Terence: "They have copyed faithfully from Nature, and their Draughts
come incomparably near the Life. No outrage is done to the Original, by
enlarging or contracting the Features, in order to entertain the Audience
with Monsters or Dwarfs, but Humane Life is depicted in its true and just
Proportion. If therefore the Images, which their Plays reflect, displease
any froward [sic] Cynic, the Fault is in the Face, not the Glass which
gives a true representation; and he quarrels with Providence, whose
Creatures Mankind is, if he dislikes the sight" (pp. 243-244).
^Consistent with Collier's Platonic view that the stage
brought about the wickedness of the age are his comments in A Short View: •
The English stage "has not so much as the poor plea of a Precedent, to

150
which most other ill Things may claim a pretence. 'Tis mostly meer
Discovery and Invention: A new World of Vice found out, and planted
with all the Industry imaginable" (pp. 54-55). Far from reflecting
the world then, the stage, for Collier, created "a new World of Vice"
with which to debauch the age.
4 â– '"A Scourge for the Play-Houses: Or, the Character of the
English-stage (London, 1702), p. 9.
42
43
Maxims and Reflections upon Plays (London, 1699), p. 66.
p. 5.
44T... r
Ibid., p. 6.
45Works, IV, 241-242.
4^Stroup, p. 41.
47
Essays, I, 58-59.
4^In discussing the relationship between God and his ministers
on earth, Dryden describes the "providential designs" almost as plots,
and he notes how God directs "all manner of events on earth" (Essays,
II, 89).
49
50
Stroup, p. 178; also pp. 119-177 (passim)
Essays, I, 155; see also II, 49.
-’llbid., I, 158. Dryden also says that "Tragedy is the
miniature of human life; an epic poem is the draught at length" (II, 226).
52
53
p. 32.
Ibid., p. 35.
54
Ibid.
“’"’Farquhar echoes Dryden's passage on "the primum mobile" when
he says, "In all Productions either Divine or Humane, the final Cause is
the first Mover" (Works, II, 335) in discussing the origins of comedy.
~^Works, II, 337.
57Ibid., 338.
-^The old Mode and the New (London, 1709), dedication.
59
Stages, pp. 289-290.

151
^Critical Works, I, 224-225.
f) 1
^Ibid., 226. Obviously, by "more ridiculous" Dennis means
more able to be laughed at and thus more pleasing and instructive.
62
Stroup, pp. 88-118, passim*
63Ibid., p. 116.
64Ibid., p. 89.
^Essays, I, 162. It is interesting that Stroup thinks
Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra is the best example of the pageant
of the world in Elizabethan drama (p. 99); this provides for some
speculation that Dryden's All for Love might capture much of that same
pageant also.
F. Vernon, in his article, "The Marriage of Convenience
and the Moral Code of Restoration Comedy," Essays in Criticism, 12 (1962)
says that not only Restoration comedies but heroic dramas and tragedies
are almost always concerned in some way with the proper arrangements for
marriage (374-375).
67
'Ibid., 375-376. There may also be a ritualistic aspect in
matchmaking, for it does reflect part of the pageant of life, and in
the plays brings order to those matches justly made.
6 8
°Ben Ross Schneider, The Ethos of Restoration Comedy (Urbana:
University of Illinois Press, 1971), pp. 55-59. Also, Yvonne Bonsall
Shafer in "The Proviso Scene in Restoration Comedy," Restoration and
Eighteenth-century Theatre Research, 9, no. 1(1970), says that the
proviso scene was not cynical, but "was basically a serious attempt to
form a union which would last, and which would allow liberty to both
parties without leading to a corruption of their relationship" (9).
69
A Short View, table of contents. He maintains this position
in answering Vanbrugh in A Defence of the Short View (1699) , pp. 125-126.
7^A Short View, p. 142.
^Schneider, pp. 183-190; Williams, "'Utmost Tryal,"' 12-16.
72377-378.
73John Dennis, of course, links man's desire for happiness to a
way of reflecting the order and harmony with which God regulates the uni¬
verse. One important way for man to reach a state of happiness, and thus
be in tune with God's grand design is through the stage, as Dennis at¬
tempts to show (Critical Works, I, 148ff). While Dennis probably saw
instructive examples in both the disorder created by marriages and
courtships based on deceit, profit, lust, etc. and the harmony suggested

152
by relationships founded on love and honesty; a critic like the author
of Occasional Paper, III, ix (1719) saw only an abuse of marriage on
stage, which meant an inversion of the "Order of Things" and promised
to "throw all into Disorder and Confusion" (14).
74
Amusements Serious and Comical and Other Works, ed. Arthur
L. Hayward (London: George Routledge 4 Sons, Ltd., 1927), pp. 49-50.
^Stroup, pp. 179-180.
^English Domestic Or, Homiletic Tragedy 1575 to 1642 (New
York: Columbia University Press, 1943), p. 2.
^"Poetical Justice," passim.
^"'Utmost Tryal,'" 3 & 17, n. 5.
^p. 172. Out of 83 plays, "49 heroines in these plays test
their lovers."
80
Ibid., p. 182. Schneider also says that "libertines do not
marry in the end. If they did it would be unjust, especially poetically
unjust, for them to marry the splended kind of woman usually matched
with the hero of Restoration comedy" (p. 143). His point is that the
heroes of Restoration comedy are not libertines but "generous" men who,
finally, deserve the heroines.
^Williams, "Poetical Justice," 547.
8 2
The Critical Works of Thomas Rymer, ed. Curt A. Zimansky
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1956). p. 22.
83Ibid., p. 75.
8¿tA Short View, pp. 154 & 157-159.
83A Second Defence of the Short View of the Prophaneness and
Immorality of the English Stage (London, 1700), p. 80 & A Short View,
p. 140.
^A Short View, pp. 100, 148, 152, 164 & 210.
^Essays, I, 218.
88
Ibid., 213. Other similar references to poetic justice in
his reply to Rymer are found on pp. 216, 217 and 219. See also "The
Grounds of Criticism in Tragedy" (Essays, I, 245-246).
^Essays, II, 48.
90
Ibid., I, 152.

153
91Works, III, 181.
92Works, I, 199.
93Ibid., 212.
94Ibid., 213-214.
95A Farther Defence, pp. 10-11.
96Ibid., p. 12
92Ibid., pp. 64-65.
98
Phaeton or, the Fatal Divorce (London, 1698), preface.
"i, 188-196.
^^Critical Works, I, 183. See also p. 230.
101Ibid., II, 20-21.
102Ibid., 49.
103pp. 44-45 & 56-57.
3^4Maxims, pp. 54 & 116-117.
lO^Ibid., pp. 14-15.
1 06
u Some Remarks upon Mrâ–  Collier1s Defence of His "Short View"
(London, 1698), p. 16.
3^Some of those who show the same special regard for the
primary moral implications of "Fable: are Rymer, Critical Works, p. 108;
Dryden, Essays, I, 59; Gildon, Post-Man Robb'd, pp. 44-45; Farquhar,
Works, II, 336; Filmer, Defence, p. 50ff. Even the author of The
Occasional Paper, III, ix (opposing the stage) calls the plot "the
Master-Wheel of this elegant Machine," the play. And Drake goes so far
as to say that the modern playwrights introduced "Poetic Justice upon
the Stage," and "they were the first that made it their constant aim to
instruct, as well as please by the Fable" (p. 229).
1 08
Restoration Tragedy: Form and the Process of Change (Madi¬
son: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1967), pp. 15-16.
^9Stages, pp. 121-122.
â– 'â– '^Ibid. , pp. 144-145, 204-205 (These two passages were in
italics), 210, 215, 270-271.

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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH
Joseph John Popson, III was born in East Cleveland, Ohio
on August 19, 1944. He attended public schools in Cleveland and
graduated from Maynard Evans High School in Orlando, Florida in 1962.
He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University
of Florida in 1967. He next attended Florida State University as a
graduate teaching assistant in English and received his Master of Arts
degree in 1969. While working on his Ph.D. at the University of
Florida, he was a graduate assistant in English (1969-1972) and an NDEA
fellow (1973). Presently, he is an Assistant Professor of English at
Macon Junior College in Macon, Georgia. He and his wife, Sandy, were
married in 1967 and have one boy, Joe-Joe.
163

I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Aubrey L. Williams
Graduate Research Professor
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
. , ihi
Melvyn New>
Associate Professor of English
I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it
conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is
fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the
degree of Doctor of Phil oso phy.
Michael V. Gannon
Associate Professor of Religion
This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the
Department of English in the College of Arts and Sciences and to
the Graduate Council, and was accepted as partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
March 1974
Dean, Graduate School

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
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