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The Truth In My Lies By Ivy Smoak

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The Truth in My Lies by Ivy Smoak

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PART I. OF the end and efficacy of Satire. The love of glory and fear of shame universal, ver. 29. This passion, implanted in man as a spur to virtue, is generally perverted, v. 41. And thus becomes the occasion of the greatest follies, vices, and miseries, v. 61. It is the work of Satire to rectify this passion, to reduce it to its proper channel, and to convert it into an incentive to wisdom and virtue, v. 89. Hence it appears that Satire may influence those who defy all laws human and divine, v. 99. An objection answered, v. 131.

PART II. Rules for the conduct of Satire. Justice and truth its chief and essential property, v. 169. Prudence in the application of wit and ridicule, whose province is, not to explore unknown, but to enforce known truths, v. 191. Proper subjects of Satire are the manners of present times, v. 239. Decency of expression recommended, v. 255. The different methods in which folly and vice ought to be chastised, v. 269. The variety of style and manner which these two subjects require, v. 277. The praise of virtue may be admitted with propriety, v. 315. Caution with regard to panegyric, v. 319. The dignity of true Satire, v. 331.

1st, By the general tenor of his essays on Enthusiasim, and the freedom of wit and humour, it appears that his principal design was to recommend the way of ridicule, (as he calls it) for the investigation of truth, and detection of falsehood, not only in moral but religious subjects.

2dly, It appears no less evident, that, in the course of his reasonings on this question, he confounds two things which are in their nature and consequences entirely different. These are ridicule and good-humour: the latter acknowledged by all to be the best mediator in every debate; the former no less regarded by most, as an embroiler and incendiary. Though he sets out with a formal profession of proving the efficacy of wit, humour, and ridicule, in the investigation of truth, yet, by shifting and mixing his terms, he generally slides insensibly into mere encomiums on good-breeding, chearfulness, urbanity, and free enquiry. This indeed keeps something like an argument on foot, and amuses the superficial reader; but to a more observant eye discovers a very contemptible defect, either of sincerity or penetration.

Hence it follows, that the way of ridicule, of late so much celebrated, is in fact no more than a species of eloquence; and that too the lowest of all others: so Tully justly calls it, tenuissimus ingenii fructus. It applies to a passion, and therefore can go no farther in the investigation of truth, than any of those arts which tend to raise love, pity, terror, rage, or hatred in the heart of man. Consequently, his Lordship might have transplanted the whole system of rhetoric into his new scheme, with the same propriety as he hath introduced the way of ridicule itself. A hopeful project this, for the propagation of truth!

As this seems to be the real nature of ridicule, it hath been generally discouraged by philosophers and divines, together with every other mode of eloquence, when applied to controverted opinions. This discouragement, from what is said above, appears to have been rational and just: therefore the charge laid against divines with regard to this affair by a zealous admirer of Lord Shaftsbury (see a note on the Pleasures of Imagination, Book III.) seems entirely groundless. The distinction which the same author hath attempted with respect to the influence of ridicule, between speculative and moral truths, seems no better founded. It is certain that opinions are no less liable to ridicule than actions. And it is no less certain, that the way of ridicule cannot determine the propriety or impropriety of the one, more than the truth or falsehood of the other; because the same passion of contempt is equally engaged in both cases, and therefore, as above, reason only can examine the circumstances of the action or opinion, and thus fix the passion on its proper objects.

Upon the whole, this new design of discovering truth by the vague and unsteady light of ridicule, puts one in mind of the honest Irishman, who apply'd his candle to the sun-dial in order to see how the night went.

THe first thing that presented it selfe to the sight, was a rich Ornament that enclosed the Scaene; in the upper part of which were great branches of Foiage growing out of leaves and huskes, with a Coronice at the top; and in the midst was placed a large Compartiment composed of Grotesk work, wherein were Harpies with Wings and Lyons clawes, and their hinder parts converted into leaves and branches; over all was a broken Frontispice, wrought with krowles and masque heads of Children, and within this a Table adorn'd with a lesser Compartiment, with this Inscription, COELVM BRITANNICVM. The two sides of this Ornament were thus ordered: First, from the ground arose a square Basement, and on the Plinth stood a great vaze of gold, richly enchased, and beautified with Sculptures of great Releine, with frutages hanging from the upper-part; At the foot of this sate two youths naked, in their naturall colours, each of these with one arme supported the Vaze, on the cover of which stood two young women in Draperies, arme in arme, the one figuring the [Page 174] glory of Princes, and the other Mansuetude: their other armes bore up an Ovall, in which, to the Kings Majesty was this Imprese, A Lyon with an Imperiall Crown on his head; the word, Animum subpectore forti: On the other side was the like Composition, but the designe of the Figures varied; and in the Ovall on the top, being borne up by Nobility and Fecundity, was this Imprese to the Queenes Majesty, A Lilly growing with branches and leaves, and three lesser Lillies springing out of the Stem; the word, Semper inclita Virtus: Al this Ornament was heightned with Gold, and for the Invention, and various composition was the newest and most gracious that hath beene done in this place. 041b061a72

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