Item of the Day: A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage, &c.
Full Title: A Defence of the Short View of the Profaneness and Immorality of the English Stage, &c. Being a Reply to Mr. Congreve’s Amendments, &c. And to the Vindication of the Author of the Relapse. By Jeremy Collier. London: Printed for S Keble, R. Sace, and N. Hindmarsh, 1699.
Mr. Congreve and the Author of Relapse, being the most eager Complainants, and Principals in the Dispute, I have made it my choice to satisfie them. As the Volunteers, they will find themselves affected with the Fortune of their Friends; and besides, I may probably have an opportunity of speaking farther with them hereafter.
Notwithstanding the singular Management of the Poets and the Play-House, I have had the satisfaction to perceive, the Interest of Virtue is not altogether Sunk, but that Conscience and Modesty have still some Footing among us. This consideration makes me hope a little farther Discovery of the Stage may not be unacceptable. The Reader then may please to take notice, that The Plot and no Plot swears at length, and is scandalously Smutty and Profane. The Fool in Fashion for the first four Acts is liable to the same Imputation: Something in Swearing abated, Caesar Borgia, and Love in a Nunnery, are no better Complex’d than the former. As lastly. Limberhan, and the Soldier’s Fortune, are meer prodigies of Lewdness and Irreligion. If this general Accusation appears too hard, I am ready to make it good. ‘Twere easy to proceed to many other Plays, but possibly this Place may not be so proper to enlarge upon the Subject.
Some of the Stage-Advocates pretend my Remarks on their Poetry are foreign to the Business. On the contrary, I conceive it very defensible to disarm an Adversary, if it may be, and disable him from doing Mischief.
To expose that which would expose Religion, is a warrantable way of Reprizals. Those who Paint for Debauchery, should have the Fucus pull’d off, and the Coarseness underneath discover’d. The Poets are the Aggressors, let them lay down their Arms first. We have suffer’d under Silence a great while; If we are in any fault, ‘tis because we began with them no sooner.