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a vice which calls for the higher censures of religion. Dodsley's Toy Shop is an excellent and useful satire.
The excess to which the study of Physiognomy has been carried by some, is very successfully ridiculed in the Physiognomical Travels of J. C. A. Musæus, written in German, and translated by Anne Plumptre; and the same subject, if I recollect rightly, is well introduced in the comedy of False Colours. The prevailing study of Botany is ridiculed in the Opera of The-Lukers; but it appears to me, that the author, perhaps, intending to be forcible, has degenerated into coarseness,
Blair, in his Lectures, vol. iii. p. 371. says of Moliere, that he " is always the satirist only of vice and folly. He has selected a great variety of ridiculous characters peculiar to the times in which he lived, and he has generally placed the ridicule justly. He pose sessed
he is full of mirth and pleasantry; and his pleasantry is always innocent. His comedies in verse, such as the Misunthrope and Tartuffe, are a kind of dignified comedy, in which vice is exposed, in the style of elegant and polite satire. In his prose comedies, though there is abundance of ridicule, yet there is never any thing found to offend a modest ear, or to throw contempt on sobriety and virtue."
B. b. p. 63. I. 14. Some instances of this kind are given in the Notes to Discourse II. see Note B b. p. 133. and Note I. p. 156.
Bishop Horne, in his Essays and Thoughts, Article A’it, says, He who sacrifices Religion to Wit, like the people mentioned by Ælian, worships a fly, and offers up an ox to it.”
C. p. 66. An excellent passage in Bishop Horne's Discourse on The Duty of Contending for the Faith, is too apposite to be omitted in this place:
“ While zeal is recommended, let not charity be forgotten. They are by no means incompatible. Who more zealous than the great Apostle of the Gentiles? And where can be found a brighter example of charity? Boldly confuting and reproving false doctrines and corrupt practices; but ever ready to devote himself for the welfare of those, among whom they prevailed. After his own example he directed others to be aanbevortes EV ayann, to “ speak the truth in love; (Ephes. iv. 15.) so to maintain truth, as not to violate charity. A golden precept, worthy to be engraven on the
hearts of all who may be called forth to “ contend for the faith ;" that they may do honour to their cause by the arguments proposed, and no dishonour to themselves by the manner of proposing them. The weight of the reasons will not be at all diminished by the courteousness of the address : in its effects it will be much increased. Mankind care not to be driven; they must be led into al truth. It was the method practised by the Apostles; it should be practised by their successors. Thus, and thus only, they are to "heap coals of fire on the heads” of their opponents. The dross will separate, and the metal flow pure. Logic should be used without acrimony; and wit, if it be used at all, tempered with good humour, so as not to exasperate the person who is the object of it; and then, we are sure, there is no mischief done.” (Vol. of XVI. Sermons. Discourse XIV.
“ Wit under the influence of passion degenerates into malignity, as salt exposed to violent heats will turn sour and bitter." Horne's Essays, &c. Art. Nature, sect 31. See also Note A. of this Discourse, p. 197.
In Hamond's Precepts, lately published and edited by Dr. Plumptre, the Dean of Gloucester, there are some excellent rules on Jesting and Scoffing, which I shall transcribe:
“ Harmless jesting and wit is a good cordial against a consumption of the spirits ; so that it is not unlawful, and trespass not in quantity, quality or season ; that it be also without offence, and void of scurrility. It requires however some skill, and much caution to know how to understand the use of this tool.
It may be good to jest, or make a jest; but not to make a trade of jesting.
Wanton jests, or obscene ones, do make fools laugh, but wise men frown. As we are civilized Englishmen, let us not be naked savages in our discourse.
Relate not another man's profane or wicked jest with delight; for thus
do adopt the same, and make it, as it were, your own. Profane and foolish jests will come without sending for. Let not your jests be like mummies, made of dead men's flesh ; to wrong the memory of the departed.
Scoff not al the natural defects of any one. The old proverb is, it is cruelty to beat a cripple with his own crutches. Jeer not any man for his profession, however poor he be, if honest.
Mock not a cobler for his black thumbs, is the old saying. Ungodly revilings are to be held the language of the devil, and serve only to stir up strife.
Play not with edged tools, as wit and jesting are: but especially have a care never to make a joke of religion, or what belongs to it.
See that your jokings be such as may not grind the credit, or wound the reputation of your friend.-Hazard not your friend for a joke. Let your discourse be always without offence; and be rather silent than speak to any bad purpose, or to none at all. Observe the saying,
Play with me; but let it be play.
Jest with me; but hurt me not. Let your jests be sparingly used, and such as tend unto good fellowship; so as to distress not the feelings of those on whom you pass them.” p. 151.
Cowper, in various parts of his Poems, has some excellent remarks on wit :
Wit, undistinguishing, is apt to strike
And even virtue, so unfairly match'd,
be prick'd or scratch'd.
may be caught by either head or tail ; Forcibly drawn from many a close recess, They meet with little pity, no redress; Plung'd in the stream, they lodge upon the mud, Food for the famish'd rovers of the flood. All zeal for a reform, that gives offence To peace and charity, is mere pretence: A bold remark; but which, if well applied, Would humble many a tow'ring poet's pride. Perhaps the man was in a sportive fit, And had no other play-place for his wit; Perhaps enchanted with the love of fame, He sought the jewel in his neighbour's shame; Perhaps--whatever end he might pursue, The cause of virtue could not be his view. At ev'ry stroke wit flashes in our eyes; The turns are quick, the polish'd points surprise, But shine with cruel and tremendous charms, That, while they please, possess us with alarms: So have I seen, (and hasten'd to the sight With all the wings of holiday delight) Where stands that monument of ancient pow'r, Nam'd with emphatic dignity-the tow's,
Guns, halberts, swords, and pistols, great and small,
Account them implements of mischief still. Long as this extract is, I have inserted it, on account of its being not only an Essay upon Satire, but also a specimen of wit in itself.
A story, in which native humour reigns,
Is sparkling Wit the world's exclusive right,
Ditto. p. 66. Such was the wit of Aristophanes on the Grecian Stage, and of him who was called the English Aristophanes, Foote. Almost all his pictures are personal, and some of his ridicule is very coarse and revolting. Dr. Hey, in his Lectures, gives a very just estimate of Foote's talents : “ He has a festivity, which is very enlivening, and he knew prevailing manners so well, as to ridicule them very happily; but he was too ignorant of religion to ridicule even its abuses with propriety. When he ridicules abuses of the scriptural doctrines concerning the influence of the Holy Spirit,