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all the calm Impulses of Religion, unaffecting and infipid.
For what are all the Subjects the Poets have chosen to write on, but Luft, (which they miscal Love?) Revenge, (which they dignify with the specious Title of Honour,) Murders, Rapes, Incest, and the like? And these with their whole Skill they adorn with all the Allurements of Numbers and Language that Wit and Wickedness can supply. You have your self averr'd, that Poetry is the Product of AMuence and Ease; but a Christian Life is a Life perfectly oppofite to Ease ; 'cis a Life of Morrification and SelfDenial; a perpetual Warfare against the World, the Fles, and the Devil; an Enemy, to that lazy Tranquillity and Indolence that muft give a Relish to Poetry, as well as a Rife to it.
Nor are these my Sentiments only; we find the Primitive Fathers of the Church as zealous against it, cas Words can express. If you will not regard me a filly Woman, will you take Norice of Tertullian, St. Cyril, St. Cyprian, St. Clement of Alexandria, St. ChrySoftom, and St. Austin, the last of whom begs God Pardon for having in his Tūjih readeven Virgii himself, with Sentiments of Pleafire. Nay, the viene sy Jesuits, (for some Religion well followed is better than none) even in these latter Ages, and in the darkest State of Popery in Spain, discover a handsom Zeal against that part of it called Dramatick, as Pedra de Gu man, Campanella, and some others. · But, that you may not think, that I have nothing but Names to urge, mere Authorities without-Reasong Jet what is brought by Lactantius fatisfy you to the contrary. The Comick Fable (says he) brings nothing to your Confideration, but the Debauching of Virgins, or the Intrigues of Women of a scandalous Character: And the more excellent the Poet is, the deeper the Impr.ffrons are : made on the Hearers. The Fineness and Elegance of the : Expression, fix these Zlings in the Minds of the Audience. .
And Tragedy brings nothing else before you, but Parricides, Incests, and other Wickedness, in all their Pomp and Magnificence.
But if this touch you not, as the Reproaches of those whom Religion had made its Eneinies, hear Plato himself a Heathen Philosopher: He tells uisg that Frand, Rapine, and all Manner of Violence, are con manded or countenanced by the Poets, and that by Precedents and Examples drawn from the Gods themselves. Thus is Mercury made the God of Stealing; and how undutifully does Jupiter himself deal with his father? What Piques, Feuds, and domestick Quarrels among the Gods in Heaven? God is never to be represented (fays this admirable Philofopher) wheiher in Songs or in Tragedy, otherwife than Juftz Good, and Gracious, and on no Account to be said to be the Author of Evil. Thus Homer, your idolized Homer, is guilty, when he tells you of two Vessels in Jupiter's Cellar of Gifts, to be bestowed on human Kind; one full of Good, the other full of Evil, and that he generally delights to mix them.
of the fame Kind is the Broil and Controversy among the Gods, put to the Arbitration of Jupiteit and Themis.
Nor must God be represented as rlisguising himself, and putting on fevera] Shapes, to carry on fome Cheat and Imposture; or indeed, be capable of any Change, Paslion, or Perturbation. Nor is the lying Dream sent by Jupiter to Agamemnon, to be excused: So fenfi. ble was even a Heathen Philosopher of the Alures.
nu fälle Notions of the Deity, which were spread by the Poets.
But this Conduct of the Poets touch'd not only the Philosophers; some of their own Tribe and Fraternity, out of Envy, Revenge, or some other Motive, have laid open the Crimes and Guilt of others. Thus I find that Aristophanes, as I have seen him quoted, accuses Euripides for bringing out the Stage
Phedra's, Stenobaa's, and such like wicked Strumpets å and that he taught by his Exp:ressions, Scepticism, or an universal Doult of all things the most évident and certain that are, which made the Way, easy to Athe.. ism: That he farther,. by Worels; infinuated the Use of Equivocation, and justified Perjury.
My Tongue did Swear, my Mind" was never Sworn.
If these were the Faults of your Euripides, Homer, and the rest, how have the Moderns improv'd them in their Wickedness? Look into our Beaumont, Fletcher: And what are their Plays, but a general Butchery and Brothe), where every one is murdered or debauched ? No Character so sacred, but is there prophaned: And if the Atherians made Kings unfortunate under a Democrafy; they make them wicked under a Monarchy, Wicked do I fay; nay, abandoned, more profligate, and less reasonable, than Nature ever produced in any Climate, or any Age... :
What are the King and No King, the Maid's Tragedys Rollo, and the rest of their celebrated Plays, but unnatural and unnecessary Murders, and exceflive and ille cestuous Lyft? What are most, if not all of our Comedies, but downriglit Obscenenefsimpudeutly offer'd to the View of Ladies of Virtue and Honour, and Men of the first Quality ?
But not to confine my self to the Stage in my Aca cusations of Poetry; what are their other Parts of this Loafted Art, bint Excursions into Fólly, Luxury, Lust, and Profaneness! Cast but your Eye into your Misceilanies, nothing but vain Love, Deifying your... Mistresses, and Debauching ihe very Holy Scriptures then selyes, to your vile Purposes; And this is most evident in Cowley himself, in that part of his Poems called his Miffress; thoá Reverenc Prelate has enzdeavour'd to wash that Poet white, to no Purpose, in my poor Opinion, since he has rather contaminated himself in the Defence, than justify'd his Friend. Buc I. would believe, that. this. Life of Comley: was
written ibefore that worthy, Divine was entered into Orders.
But quitting the Impiery of Poetry, which, I think, is beyond Controversy, I would fain know, in what lies its Excellence; a miserable Jingle of Words, and Sounds of no Mamer of Use or Advantage to human Kind. All other Arts are of Use in Life; this pretends only to Pleasure, and that a very - Weak and faint one, in my opinion, and produces so little Regard and Arlvantage in the general Esteem of the World, that the needy Professors of this divine · Art, as you call it, are the most scandalous and de
fpis'd of the Creation: Idle, lazy, indolent Things, whose Hearls are so full of foolis Points, quaint Expreslions, and Jingle of Sounds, that there is no Room left in them for Prudence, Reason, and a necessary Care of themselves.
Custom has: indeed fix'd the Poets in the Schools, for the Use of Boys; but then one would think, that when they are arrived at Man's Eftate, they should cease to play the Child, and quit Poetry and Verse, as they do Tau and Chuck-Farthing. I wish indeed the Schools used our Children to better Books; for these often fix themselves so in their Heads, in their tender Years, that they cannot get off the Folly all their Lives after, to che Ruin of many a hopeful Youth, that might else have thriven in the World, and have been useful iu bis Generation, to the Support of himself and his family, by some honest Employment : Whereas, being now bewitch?d with Poetry, he is vilely rontent to be a Slave to some one or more Booksellers, which wretched Maintenance iş, perhaps, helped out a little now and then by a fordid Alirs, got by flattering some worthless great Man, who, tho he be fonil of the Adulation, will yet be inore generous to his Mistress, or his Valet de Chambre, than to one of these inspired Sons of Apollo.
· For shame then (O Laudrn) fince the World juftly allows you Sense and Understanding, and your ACquaintance know you have Religion, espouse no more a Trifle, a peftiferous Trifle, which is evidently opposite to both; that can afford as little real Pleasure, as Profit, and is fo evidently destructive of Religion and Morality.
Here Eusebia made an End; and after a little Pause, Morifina, in the most graceful Manner in the World, thus began, addressing her self to Eufebia.
Oh! My Eufebia, (faid The) you began your Invective against the most harmonious Art in the World, · with so much Harmony, that you ravished my Soul up to, nay, I think, above the third Heaven, where I viewed about me in the vast extended Space, Myriads of luminous Bodies turning round on their own Axesy and as inany Turbillions, or Whirlings of their fea veral depending Planets moving round them in a wonderful and constant Order, setting forth the Omnipotence, Goodness, Bounty, and Wisdom, of that eternal Poet, or Creator, who designed, produced, and formed the harmonious Poem of the Universe, But in this not knowing it your felf, you exerted the Poet in the great and glorious Images of those Miracles, which you set before us. I confess, that there is no Object more capable of satisfying the large Appetite, and restless Defire of the human Soul, whose extensive Faculties nothing feems able to fill, but that Supream Being that fills the universal Space, that is, God. · Certainly, there is no Body that is capable of thinking justly, or that can raise his Thought above the transitory Goods of this sublunary World ; ac least, I am confident, that there is none of this Company who is not of Opinion, that the Considerations of Religion, its Duties, its Rewards, and the like, are the chief, if not the only Satisfaction, they can receive, without any Wearisomness or Sa. tiety. But then, these sublime Speculations, which