Printer Friendly

The Scriblerian stage and page: Three Hours After Marriage, Pope's "minor" poems, and the problem of genre-history.

Standard accounts of literary history posit a reorientation, at the beginning of the eighteenth century, from the play to the novel, exteriority to interiority, public to private. Scholars describe a new set of ontological priorities, privileging an intensive, focused mode of accessing information--best facilitated by a printed page--over and against a notion of the world in which reality is performatively produced and communally experienced. I would like to contest this history, and to do so by way of a rather unlikely text for the task: the epitomically "Scriblerian" comedy Three Hours After Marriage (1717), written by John Gay with collaboration from John Arbuthnot and Alexander Pope. The unlikeliness of this counterexample stems from the traditional construal of the Scriblerians (Pope, Gay, Arbuthnot, and Swift) (1) as pursuing a quintessentially print-based strategy of satire--creating typographically elaborate tomes; becoming the first writers to make a living from the print market; and chastising "bad" uses of print and encouraging others. (2) I want to demonstrate, however, that Three Hours After Marriage in fact valorizes an improvisatory and performative mode of interpreting the world in addition to a more "reading"-based mode. That is, in this play of disguises, cunning, and quick changes, "meaning" derives not only from the diligent design and decipherment of surfaces, but from dynamic processes of transformation and performativity. Yet neither is the play simply a celebration of theater over text: rather, I will argue--with reference as well to a few of Pope's so-called"minor" poems from the same period--that Three Hours ultimately privileges a (literally--as we will see) "bastardized" mode of art, combining the fixed and the metamorphic, the textual and the oral, the abstract and the embodied. In this way, Three Hours After Marriage proposes a new genre that allows for the "printification" of drama, the "performativization" of print.

I. The Problematization of Genre in Three Hours After Marriage

The melding of media that I am here ascribing to Three Hours After Marriage does not accord with the reigning narratives of genre history. In English Dramatic Form, Laura Brown concludes that late-seventeenth-century drama, hampered by its baggage of ideology and theatrical convention, found itself unable to address a new world-order: the Enlightenment's emerging realist epistemology, along with an increasingly democratic ethos and the capitalist values of an ever-more bourgeois and imperialist Britain, all favored the novel. (3) Significantly, these same changes could be said to have favored print as well, with its emphasis on documented, cross-indexable information, affordable popular editions, and an ever-more commercially driven market for broadsides, periodicals, and books of all kinds. J. Paul Hunter likewise emphasizes many of the same cultural shifts in his depiction of an eighteenth-century literature that "no longer ... trusted ... group reactions" one that believed that "the route to influence was a private and subjective one, to be found only in private converse between a fixed book and the response of an individual reader, deciding silently and alone." (4) All of these changes favored the page over the stage.

However, Three Hours, though written long after the peak of the Restoration Theater and well into the period of the novel's "rise," (5) ultimately privileges an epistemology very different from that described by Brown and Hunter: Three Hours suggests, indeed, that we can most effectively navigate our world not only by "reading" reality, but also by staging, mimicking, and feigning it. Yet neither does the play constitute a mere throwback to the libertine performativity of the Restoration; rather, it sets out to explore the very boundaries of both print and performance.

Such avant-gardism might seem unlikely given the premise of Three Hours, which seems to embody the libertine convention: two rakes attempt to sleep with the devious Susannah Townley within three hours after her marriage to the crusty Doctor Fossile, thus cuckolding him even before the union has been consummated. But, as we will see, the very conventionality of the plot serves Three Hours' larger investigation of genre, working indeed as a kind of parody. For Three Hours is, in many ways, about the cliches of dramatic writing and the rules, official or unofficial, by which it runs.

One of the primary ways that the play examines and explodes dramatic cliche is via the figure of Doctor Fossile's niece, the would-be dramatist Phoebe Clinket. Although scholars have long deemed Clinket merely as a misogynistic lampoon of women writers and of bad writers in general, (6) the character also serves to initiate Three Hours' complex interrogation of genre. Specifically, Clinket's creative output actually manifests a comprehensive interweaving of theater and textuality. For example, famously, the would-be playwright's serving-maid, Prue, bears Clinket's writing-desk on her back, a spectacular detail that highlights drama's writerly, textual aspect: as Clinket thinks of new ideas for the stage, she immediately sets to writing them; and the intense physical presence of the writing-desk emphasizes a newborn play's embeddedness in the paraphernalia of paper, ink, pens (Clinket appears with an ink-stained headdress and with quills sticking out of her hair), crossed-out words, second and third drafts. (7) On the other hand, in her first line of dialogue Prue compares her burden to "a Raree-Show" (1.73), drawing attention to the theatrical component of textuality: after all, Clinket's pens, inks, and papers are all turned to theatrical props as she employs them before our eyes; dramatically, the materials introduce her character. This double-status of the dramatic text as writerly object and staged production is again emphasized when Clinket, having had her works thrown into the fire by an exasperated Fossile, loudly mourns the loss of "half an Epilogue" but also of "three Copies of recommendatory Verses! and two Greek Mottos!" (1.568, 573)--thus conceiving of her work on the one hand as oratory and public presentation (the "Epilogue" is the moment at which the actors acknowledge the audience and solicit approbation of their skills) and, on the other, as a collection of shuffleable, interchangeable scraps of paper inserted by the printer upon publication.

With Phoebe Clinket, then, Three Hours begins to thematize the two ontological modes of the drama; bur the play then proceeds explicitly to play theater and text off of one another, tracing the process by which each mode is actually engaged in a constant struggle to overtake the other. The play does this by correlating each of the two modes with a different set of characters and characteristics--connecting textuality, I would argue, with Fossile and his colleagues (and hence, as we will see, with a sterile conservationism and curatorialism) while linking performativity with Townley and her lovers (and thereby with a prolific and sexualized promiscuity). As each set of characters attempts to gain power over the other, so too the ontological elements that they represent come to clash and collide; it is this interaction that supplies the play's comic foundation, motors its primary turns of plot, and underlies its ending, which, I will contend, finally celebrates overtly the "bastardization" of genre that, insistently, if implicitly, has constituted the very center of the play.

II. The Textualization of Theater, and the Theatricalization of Text

The "collision" of modes that I have been describing takes place perhaps most visibly through the figure of Doctor Fossile, whose main pursuit, throughout the plot, can be summarized as an attempt to flatten transitory actions into readable surfaces--in other words, making theater into text. This attempt can be seen in Fossile's obsession with symbols and signs, a belief that everything can be "put into writing," as it were, and that, if he simply examines a surface with enough care, he can discern the truth of a situation.

Most of these truths are sexual in nature. For example, Fossile yearns for a "visible Token" by which to obtain news of a woman's "Defloration" (2.63): "Why are there no external Symptoms ... of the Loss of Virginity but a big Belly? Why has not Lewdness its Tokens like the Plague?" In other words, Fossile longs for a stable physical sign by which to know of a momentary event ("defloration") or even attitude ("lewdness" or, later, "shame"; 2.470)--to convert these ephemeral comportments into stable textual emblems (like the inky blotches on the bodies of Black Death victims). He wishes in particular, of course, for the ability to see or read his own wife's infidelity, and later believes he has gained this ability in the form of a liquid promising to produce a rash on the faces of non-virgins: Plotwell, posing as a European doctor, offers Fossile the use of his "Touch stone of Virginity" which causes "de large red Spot [to] appear upon de Cheek; which me call de spot of Infamy" (2.306-7). Of course, the result is that while Townley continues to execute outrageous stratagems under his nose, Fossile stands futilely "por[ing] upon her Cheek" (2.440).

But not only does Fossile wish that women's sexual experiences could be registered visually; he wants to put the act of sex itself into service as a kind of document. Thus, he urges Townley to consummate her marriage with him so that no one may "dispute [his] Title to [her] Person" and so that their matrimony will receive its "Sear" (1.18). Indeed, all of Fossile's desire for Townley could be said to derive from a desire to rewrite, to re-sign, to reseal, a specific document, namely his Will. As he explains upfront, he wishes to disinherit his niece. Indeed, in Townley's (and the reader's/audience's) very first introduction to Clinket, Fossile announces, "In a former Will I had left her my Estate; but I now resolve that Heirs of my own Begetting shall inherit" (1.69-71). He accordingly speaks of his marriage in terms of the production of heirs: he postpones the couple's bedtime until ten o'clock, "an Hour, if Astrology is not fallible, successful in Generation" (1.57), and equates marital joy/pleasure with fertility: "How happy shalt thou make me! thou shalt bring me the finest Boy" (3.329-30). Indeed, the notion of conjugal sex as text--as providing a sealed contract and "title" to Townley's person, but also as producing an addendum crucial to the reordering of his other estate papers--is an ideal whose centrality in the play becomes most obvious, ironically, in its collapse. As we will see, the catastrophe of the play, from Fossile's perspective, consists not only in his having married a wife that is no wife, but in his receipt of an heir that is no heir.

Yet Fossile's struggle to convert profligate practices into decipherable documents arguably comes to its dramatic (and comedic) climax in an earlier scene, when Fossile and his fellow scholars come upon the disguised rakes Plotwell and Underplot, and proceed doggedly to pursue hieroglyphic meanings in what are, in fact, the very embodiments of theatricality. The rakes' disguises--that of a mummy and a crocodile--are linked specifically, in the play, to theatrical contexts: they have been borrowed from "the Play-house" (3.32), and the young men imagine themselves being "proclaim'd at a Show of Monsters, by the Sound of a Glass-Trumpet," or being "given to a Mountebank" (3.79, 83). But of course, the scholars immediately fall to scrutinizing their surfaces (literally: they study "... the Visage.... the Face"; 3.126-31), and compare the costumed figures to Fossile's other curiosities, many of which, as we will see, constitute specifically textual treasures. Significantly, moreover, the scholars' discussion of the mummy's superficies in particular ultimately centers on the question of his sex--a "Bloom upon the Face" supposedly indicates a female mummy, whereas a certain "Formation of the Muscular Parts of the Visage" points to a male. But despite (or, actually, because of) this consideration of the mummy's sex-as-text, the scholars remain oblivious to the kinetic sexuality just below, ready to burst its plaster casing. The scientists' acts of reading thus attempt to turn Plotwell's spectacularly copulativistic sex drive into a scrupulously separatory sexonomy--to transform dynamic carnality into dogmatic categorization.

Meanwhile, however, Townley and her accomplices are engaged in an equal and opposite effort to adapt and metamorphose texts for their own performative--and sexually prolific--purposes. Just as Fossile wants to reduce sexual desire and sexual acts to documents, Townley manipulates documents improvisationally so as to maximize the possibilities for spontaneous and unregulated sexuality--all the while maintaining a (fragile) facade

of respectability. As we learn from the very first scene, Townley has procured her hasty marriage to Fossile by way of a "Blank License" a predrafted form that can be filled in, and manipulated ad libitum. Such licenses are "wonderful commodious," Townley marvels: all one has to do is "produce ... a Warrant" (1.5-7). But warrants become, in Townley's hands, unlimited and unfixed: in the play's final scene, a rival Warrant appears, testifying to Townley's previous marriage to another man (3.531). The conspicuously artificial ending that this latter Warrant provides--instantaneously dissolving all of Fossile's authority over Townley at just the moment when her guilt becomes indisputable (through the discovery of her bastard child)--exposes these legal documents as arbitrary: unconnected to reality, their power amounts to nothing bur mutual cancellation.

But, as we soon see, not only does Townley escape, and expose, the confines of the written word, she actively performs them away. When Fossile intercepts a letter from Plotwell, Townley instantly reinterprets it, line by line (1.241-64), metamorphosing "Person" (here referring to a bawd) into "Parson"--"only a Word mis-spell'd!"--and feminine to masculine: when Fossile objects to the idea that this "Parson" is a "She," Townley explains, ludicrously, "the Welsh always say Her instead of His." Moreover, just as Fossile has his collaborators in his attempt to textualize performance, Townley is joined in her endeavour to revise performatively the written word: enlisted into a reading of Clinket's play, she and Plotwell together rescript the lines--Clinket complains they "perplex the Drama with Speeches Extempore" (1.352)--in order to convey encoded information to each other (Townley reports Fossile's plans to remove her from the sexual dangers of London, and Plotwell pledges to follow her, all in the melodramatic diction of Clinket's lovers: "But Haemon, ah, I fear / To Morrow's Eve will hide me in the Country"--"Through all the Town, with diligent Enquiries, I sought my Pyrrha"; 1.346-50). Again the concluding triumph is one of the body over the "Manuscript" of "Syllable[s]" (340, 348); Plotwell kisses Townley, in defiance not only of the play as written, but of the institutional boundaries of dramatic literature: "Fye, Mr. Plotwell," exclaims Clinket, "this is against all the Decorum of the Stage; I will no more allow the Libertinism of Lip-Embraces than the Barbarity of Killing" (355-56). Indeed, Clinket suggests, such lustiness defies the very codes and systems of civilization (descending into "barbarity").

Finally, Townley's suitors join in on Townley's performativization of texts by activizing their costumed bodies--transferring their significatory power away from the outer layers that Fossile pores over, and putting them to use not as inspectable surfaces, but as implicatory symbols. Thus, although the rakes initially vie to impress Townley with their costumes' surface-beauties ("See how I am embroider'd with Hieroglyphicks"--"Consider my beautiful Row of Teeth"; 88-90), their referents stray further and further from the immediately visible, shifting to the metaphorical and the potential (and the sexual)--"My erect Stature"--"My long Tail" (93-94)--until at last they offer to abandon the costumes' readable object-hood altogether, in favor of pure (sexualized) action: "Take me out of my Shell, Madam, and I'll make you a Present of the Kerner"--"Then I must be upon a Level with him, and be uncrocodird!" (96-99).

Thus Three Hours traces the textualization of performed action and the performativization of texts, but, crucially, I think, avoids aligning itself unequivocally with either mode. For neither set of characters entirely wins our sympathies. Fossile and his colleagues in the "textual" camp ultimately come across as blind and impotent; but the modus operandi of Townley and her "performative" faction proves equally empty.

As we have already begun to see, textuality is consistently linked to sterility and petrification--indeed, with fossilization: Fossile's medical practice relies on rocks and minerals; he has promised Lady Longfort his "Eagle-stone" (2.215), and the Sailor in the final act associates him with "Oyster-shells and Pebble-stones" (3.352). His virgin-proving-potion is specifically stone-based: it is called the "Lapis Lydius Virginitatis, or Touchstone of Virginity" (2.301), and is explicitly disassociated from imagination and animation: when Clinket fears that the drops will influence "the Virgin's Dreams, Thoughts, and private Meditations" Fossile reassures her, "They do not affect the motus Primo-primi ... only Actualities, Niece" (2.472-75). Most importantly, Fossile's prized examples of "actual" textuality are chiseled engravings; thus he cherishes a piece of Noah's journal from the flood, "hewn of a Porphyry Pillar in Palmyra" (3.121-25), along with "a Fragment of Seth's Pillar." (8)

But, at the opposite extreme, Clinket and her collaborators threaten the world of the play with anarchy and amorality; their modus operandi privileges desire, not love. Of course, one could claim that "love" has no place in this play, which, after all, pushes libertine comedy to its crudest extreme--except that the play itself reinforces such an ideal in its final moments: when (as we will examine in more detail below) Townley's bastard child appears on the scene in act 3, a humanistic note is also gently introduced, preparing for a final tableau in which Fossile stands baffledly but acceptantly "caress [ing]" the child in his arms (3.552).

III. Bastardized Genres

Perhaps what the play could be said to endorse, then, is not theatricality as an exclusive category that rivals textuality, but rather those elements of theatricality that allow for generic fluidity and epistemological experimentation. Thus, much of what Three Hours emphasizes about theatricality is specifically its ability to interrogate categories: for example, Plotwell and Underplot's costumes play to Fossile's zoological and archaeological interests, of course, but both costumes also embody states of in-betweenness--between earth and sea, between life and death. As the play's Epilogue points out, the Crocodile "reaps the Blessings of his double Nature" living alternately "on Land or Water" (11. 10-12), while the Mummy, "Dead as he seem'd.... had sure signs of Life" (16). Both manifest an ability to transcend even the most elemental boundaries. Likewise, just as the specific kind of theatricality represented by the rakes' costumes is a theatricality of transformation or hybridity, so too Clinket's proposed play posits a mid-deluvian, topsy-turvy world, in which cattle swim, whales perch in trees, clouds and oceans change places. Indeed, the flood and fluidity of Clinket's imagined theater allows for the transformation of stone itself--which, as we have seen, serves in Three Hours as a symbol for solidity and permanence, and, in particular, the solidity and permanence of print-based modes of representation. After Deucalion and Pyrrha "[throw] Stones ... behind them" in Clinket's first act, we learn, these stones become metamorphosed into "almost all the Persons of [the] Second Act" (1.478-79). Here, even stone (and, by extension, the print world values that it has come to be associated with) takes on protean--and, indeed, procreative--powers. Crucially, then, the kind of theatricality being represented in both of the above examples is one that does not trample textuality, but rather brings it to life--turning hieroglyphed or hieroglyphable surfaces (mummy, stones) into living, breathing presences.

In its celebration of a hybridized, theatrico-textual mode of art, then, Three Hours After Marriage profoundly complicates our usual account of the eighteenth century's privileging of page over stage. Indeed, the account is only further complicated by the fact that the play was written at least in part by Pope--known specifically for his investment in the print medium, for his obsessive involvement in the details of his books' publication. (9) Indeed, Pope seemed to want to purge print itself of any vestigial performativity: he anchored Shakespeare's work in a scholarly edition, while issuing monumentalizing collections of his own poems. Meanwhile, he was joined in this project of literary stabilization by Swift, who famously advocated for the fixing and rigidifying of language in his "Proposal for ... Correcting the English Tongue." (10) Such mockery by both writers of the ephemerality and faddishness that print can foster--the almanac, the pamphlet attack, the scandal-mongering news brief, the esoteric treatise, the dubious travelogue, the outlandish autobiography--came to define the Scriblerian ethos. (This same ethos extended, notably, to the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus, which, like Three Hours After Marriage, was also coauthored by Arbuthnot.) (11) But in the end, I would argue, Three Hours actually continues many elements of the Scriblerian print-based project, effecting not a generalizing condemnation of reading as an epistemological mode, but rather a critique of the kinds of reading that refuse to incorporate an interactive, performative way of encountering the text.

IV. The Scientific versus the Somatic

As scholars have often pointed out, the primary mode of reading to which the Scriblerians objected was what they saw as a kind of "scientific" approach to texts; indeed, their animosity toward such practices obviously informs Three Hours' depiction of Doctor Fossile. Thus according to C. O. Brink, the underlying reason for Pope's hostility toward the classicist Richard Bentley (who comes in for mockery in the satire Sober Advice from Horace as well as the Dunciad) was that Bentley relocated questions of literary interpretation from "culture to science, the science being the new classical scholarship and criticism." (12) Miriam Starkman likewise notes that "Bentley as critic would not have provoked so much nor so acerbic satire had he not been 'scientific' in his criticism. It is in satire of Bentley's attempts to methodize and systematize classical learning that he is ridiculed as ... a dealer in ... indices and compendiums" (13) Texts should be appreciated as cultural artifacts rather than scientific specimens, imbibed as humanistic wholes rather than minced into alphabetized indices.

Interestingly, though, this protest against "scientific" kinds of reading is, in many ways, a protest against print culture itself: arguably, the print medium both originates out of, and enables, the methods and thought patterns of scientific inquiry. Thus Walter Ong contends that "modern science" was a "consequence" of print, because "what is distinctive of modern science is the conjuncture of exact observation and exact verbalization" made possible by a text that no longer depends on scribal copyists for replication. (14) Furthermore, "the availability of carefully made, technical prints ... implemented such exactly worded descriptions," and "technical prints and technical verbalization reinforced and improved each other" (15) Finally, the "sense of closure" that print encourages--"a sense that what is found in a text has been finalized, has reached a state of completion"--likewise promotes "analytic philosophical or scientific work" the kinds of investigations that can confidently base themselves on a seemingly comprehensive set of information. (16) Likewise, Julie Stone Peters describes the "overlapping histories" of science and print as "institutional structures": "'Modern' natural history relies on ... print to disseminate, for example, the graphs and engravings crucial to it; print as a trade ... improves its technology with the help of science." (17)

Thus an attack on scientific uses of printed texts would seem to be an attack on print culture itself; and perhaps, at moments, it is. But certainly for authors who utilized the technologies of print as gleefully as Pope, Swift, and Gay (whose 1716 poem Trivia was playfully indexed and annotated), such an attack seems deeply paradoxical. And yet, upon further consideration, the historical connection between science and print need not automatically preempt any attempt to conceive of these two sets of cultural practices within separate spheres. Indeed, it is by understanding their institutional intertwinedness that we can better appreciate the vast scope of any project aiming to "de-scientificize" the world of print: to attempt such a project constitutes a reimagining of the very epistemological core of print culture.

Some initial gestures toward such a reimagining can be seen in Pope's poetry, where, at various crucial moments, the paradigm of "science" in relation to texts, becomes replaced by the paradigm of the corporeal, of the body in motion. Of course, this is the same dichotomy with which we became familiar in Three Hours After Marriage, in which Fossile's attempts at defining, evidencing, and taxonomizing clash with Townley's (et al.) fast-moving physical antics. However, in Three Hours, as we have seen, Fossile's scientism aligns itself with textuality, while Townley's physicality integrates theatricality; Pope's poems, in contrast, propose a textuality that embraces, fits itself to, and takes on, the human form.

One of the works positing this somatically antiscientific textuality is the Dunciad. Thus in the passage below, Pope condemns critic's "microscopic" mode of reading specifically by invoking the body:
 The critic Eye, that microscope of Wit,
 Sees hairs and pores, examines bit by bit:
 How parts relate to parts, or they to whole,
 The body's harmony, the beaming soul,
 Are things which Kuster, Burman, Wasse shall see,
 When Man's whole frame is obvious to a Flea. (18)


While the body often serves in Pope's and Swift's poetry to manifest the decayed, debased, or debauched (one thinks of the grotesque body of the Goddess Dulness in the Dunciad, or Swift's dressing-room poems), here, in its role as science's foil, the body takes on positive connotations--suggesting an ethical imperative in regard to reading practices; that is, the object of the Critic's Eye (the text) is figured not simply as a dead lump of tissue that can be dissected, but as a living presence--a body with an innate "harmony" of parts, which perfectly reflects and directs the beams of its "soul."

This ethical element becomes clearest, I think, in Pope's other major poem about "correct" forms of reading and knowledge--the Essay on Criticism--where the poet declares,
 I know there are, to whose presumptuous Thoughts Those freer
 Beauties, ev'n in Them [i.e., the Ancients] seem Faults: Some
 Figures monstrous and mis-shap'd appear, Consider'd singly, or
 beheld too near, Which, but proportion'd to their Light, or Place,
 Due Distance reconciles to Form and Grace. (19)


Here again, misreading is equated with microscopic reading (beholding texts "too near") or taxonomic reading ("singly"); and, again, to read in this way is to impede their natural (divine?) "Grace" (174), to hamper the "free[dom]" inherent in certain kinds of beauties (170). This emphasis on the freedom of the well-proportioned body seems particularly important for our purposes, because the textual body that the Essay portrays is, specifically, a kinetic, mobile body, a body that performs. Thus in a later passage, explaining what characterizes true Wit in literature, the poet explains:
 In wit, as Nature, what affects our Hearts
 Is not th' Exactness of peculiar Parts;
 'Tis not a Lip, or Eye, we Beauty call,
 But the joint Force and full Result of all.
 (243-46)


When we reduce a body to its parts, we limit it to inert, monosyllabic fragments ("Lip" "Eye"); contrastingly, we can be affected as whole beings ourselves (in "our Hearts") only when we consider the human form as something with active, dynamic "Force" a force that is "joint" (a word that can mean both "joined" [whole, combined] and "jointed" [articulated so as to enable mobility, movement]). (20) We respond most powerfully, then, to a complete body with the ability to do, to perform, to act on and interact with its environment, to spring vividly upon us ("Result" here invokes its root, resultare, "to spring," "to leap back"). (21)

Crucially, then, each of the above passages imagines an ideal model of textuality as on.e that is comprehensively corporeal, over and against the taxonomizing, taxidermizing influences of a more "scientific" model of thought. But, most crucially, the corporeality in question is an active one, performative in its physicality. In other words, these passages imagine a print world epistemology that is not only somatic versus scientific, but which actually uses that somaticism as a bridge to a full-fledged theatricality. Thus they posit a new epistemology of print that draws on an entirely separate paradigm--one of the physical, the kinetic, but also the oral, the communal, the interactive, the participatory.

Perhaps the notion of a "theatrical" text does not, at first, seem so very anti-Scriblerian: after all, one could say that the Scriblerians' most print-dependent texts--the Dunciad, A Tale of a Tub, Gay's Trivia--do put on quite a spectacle: pompous title pages declaim a tome's contents in imposing font; dashes and asterisks mischievously draw a curtain over a scene; margin notes and footnotes point us to jokes we may have missed; readers' testimonies are paraded before us. But such a claim uses the term theatrical rather limitedly, as a synonym for "showy" or simply "visual" My argument goes farther, and will claim--as I have already been suggesting--that these authors' texts engaged with a theatricality beyond that of visuality. Rather, I will demonstrate--with reference to a group of so-called "minor" poems by Pope--that they also engaged with a specifically oral or performance culture, and can be seen to propose a model of authorship that is interlocutive, apostrophizing, metamorphic.

The real importance of these "minor" poems to my argument, then, is that they begin to sketch more fully an alternative print epistemology that breaks free of the usual paradigms with which print is aligned--the modern, the authoritative, the technological--and instead draws upon the cultural practices relating to the theater, namely the oral, the shape-shifting, the ritualistic. Likewise, what these texts outline, I think, is the very same hybridized, bastardized genre being proposed in Three Hours After Marriage, a mode of literature that blends textuality and theatricality in what I see as an attempt to reattach both art forms to human realities and desires. (22)

V. Theatrico-textuality in Pope's "Minor" Poems of 1716-17

At the time that he was collaborating on the writing of Three Hours After Marriage (produced in 1717), Pope wrote a number of poems--including the prologue to Three Hours--that take remarkable pleasure not just in a theatrics of self-presentation (as many of his texts can be said to do) but also in a theatrics of the noisy, the garrulous, the communal. This aspect of the poems becomes all the more remarkable given that Pope composed them in the same year that his first collected Works appeared--a veritable masterstroke of print culture savvy and aesthetics. As James McLaverty explains, the Works strategically used formats, engravings, and size to align Pope's work with his Homer translations, thus laying claim to modern-classic status. (23) But if Pope published his Works as a kind of monument (in the words of McLaverty and of Maynard Mack), (24) his other poems written in the same year represent a kind of impish undermining of this beautiful object.

The "minor" poems of 1716-17 constitute a considerable group, almost all of which experiment with oral or performance culture roots in the way I have been describing; although their exact dating is uncertain, the 1716-17 poems could be said to include the poems "To Mr. John Moore, Author of the Celebrated Worm-Powder" "A Roman Catholick Version of the First Psalm, For the Use of a Young Lady" "Sandys's Ghost: Or a Proper New Ballad on the New Ovid's Metamorphosis," "The Court Ballad," and" Verses Sent to Mrs. T. B. with his Works. By an Author" as well as other various "Epigrams" and "occasional" verses. (25) Several of these, as is already clear from the titles, take a quasi-ballad or "song" ("psalm") form, which was highly unusual for Pope; (26) moreover, as we will see, several of them address an audience directly, and several play with the idea of a participatory or shifting authorship.

Notably, the group also includes the prologue to Three Hours After Marriage, and indeed it is this piece that may provide the best "prologue" to the other poems of the period: beginning with a series of literary and authorial classifications, the piece initially seems to be presenting itself as a labor of definition, distinction, and defense, in line with the scientific language used by Fossile or his colleague Possum; however, by the end, the speaker has proposed a reconsideration of literature not as a set of categories (as the work of a "wit" versus a "fool") but as a gesture, a pose, a costume to be worn and discarded.

The prologue begins by seeming to cement critical categories: thus although the first lines deem the "Rules [by which] ... Authors are judg'd" to be "strange" and "capricious" (1), their immediate concern is not to dismiss these rules, bur rather to help us follow them correctly: "Fools are only laugh'd at, [while] Wits are hated," the speaker complains (4); in other words, he wants not to obliterate the distinctions between "Fool" and "Wit," but to make sure we apply them correctly. However, the next set of lines hint at a more fluid conception of literary production: for example, we are told that when bad playwrights shift the blame onto the French writers whose work they've adapted, their defense falls flat, because
 Wit, like Wine, from happier Climates brought,
 Dash'd by these Rogues, turns English common Draught.

 (13-14)


In other words, far from possessing a stable essence, a play changes according to its changing surroundings. Thus, while the speaker excoriates a critical milieu that can't appreciate true wit when it sees it, he also suggests that wit is a volatile, fickle substance, something that can be all-too-easily transformed into its opposite. (27)

Finally, the prologue ends with a portrayal of authorship that, far from maintaining the image of author as distant, lofty, and authoritative (a conception encouraged by the print medium and indeed a conception that Pope himself cultivated in his Works), instead depicts authorship as just another (theatrical) role or "Character" (25), easily slipped on and off like a mask, and available to anyone in turn--writer, critic, or reader. Thus the speaker first invites the audience to "fit your selves--like Chaps in Monmouth-street" to the "Sizes and ... Shapes" of the figures on the stage, for "Poets make Characters as Salesmen Cloaths" (25). But the costume metaphor then becomes linked to the poet himself, as the speaker holds up a "Fool's Cap" (a jester's cap or cap with long ears attached):
 Gallants look here, this Fool's-Cap has an Air--Goodly
 and smart,--with Ears of Issachar.
 Let no One Man engross it, or confine:
 A common Blessing! now 'tis yours, now mine.
 Poets in all Ages, had the Care
 To keep this Cap, for such as will, to wear;
 Our Author has it now, for ev'ry Wit
 Of Course resign'd it to the next that writ:
 And thus upon the Stage 'tis fairly thrown,
 Let him that takes it, wear it as his own.

 (33-38)


Here the fool's cap, or author's cap, like a speech-act (a "Blessing"), changes according to the context in which it is used, just like a line of dialogue spoken on a stage. Thus neither literature itself nor practices of literary authorship can be fitted into print technology's promise of solidity and regulation; rather, poetry and poethood shift their shapes and escape stable or singular definition.

Like the prologue, several other poems written by Pope in this period invoke an oral, immediate presence, rather than maintaining the distance of a more "bookly" authority; indeed, as mentioned above, several of the poems either are titled as ballads or otherwise take a ballad form, a form that, I would argue, Pope uses quite specifically not just to invoke oral culture, but to satirize (the conventional uses of) print culture. "To Mr. John Moore, Author of the Celebrated Worm-Powder" (1716) provides a rich example of this strategy. Not just another of Pope's satires against science, the poem specifically mocks the scientific aspirations of print as a medium, and, crucially, it does so by way of its orally inflected form.

"To Mr. John Moore" might be most basically summarized as a satire on our attempts to impose culture onto nature, to install order in the world over and against the brute energies of reproduction and decay: "How much, egregious Moor [sic], are we / Deceiv'd by Shews and Forms! / Whate'er we think, whate'er we see, / All Humankind are Worms" (4). Thus despite all of Mr. Moore's (dubious) "Skill" (29),"learn[ing]" (33), and "Art" (35), the "Fops" the "Flatterer[s]," the "Beaus" the "Physicians," and "Statesmen" of the world (17, 21, 23, 24, 25) nonetheless remain defenseless against the sheer force of mortality, entropy, mess. That is, even the most aestheticized, politicized, cosmeticized, pharmacologized, and bureaucratized of humankind all ultimately started from, are containers for, and will turn back into, worms--if they weren't already in the first place: "Ev'n Button's Wits to Worms shall turn, / Who Maggots were before" (39-40).

Even more precisely, though, the poem suggests that these vermicious life forces thwart our attempts not just to create order in the world, but to print order onto it. Known to Londoners through prolific advertisements in the contemporary newspapers, (28) Moore's worm-powder can in some ways be seen as a symbol of print itself. His advertisements would have appeared alongside countless other attempts by marketers at the time to sell proprietary remedies, and these remedies arguably came to epitomize the commercial aspect of the print medium: as Jill Campbell writes, advertisements "for books and other printed matter" joined ads for "patent medicines" as the "two categories of commercial notices" that together constituted the "mainstays of advertising columns" (29) The link was economic, but must also have come to permeate the public's associative consciousness: according to Roy Porter, "Printers [also] acted as distributors of medicines, typically selling them from their offices or bookshops ... even delivering them, through their agents and newsboys, with the newspapers themselves." (30) Thus I would argue that Pope's jab at Moore--who is referred to in the title, after all, the "Author" of the celebrated worm-powder--could be read as a jab at the arrogance of the print medium with which the powder would have been inextricably linked--at print's claims of imperviousness to the contingencies that threaten an embodied voice, at its belief that, improving on the fragility of a song, a recitation, a performance, print can preserve our experiences in tidy, reproducible, standardized blocks of type. Just as Moore promises to halt the corrosion of the flesh, print pretends to halt the corrosion of those forms of memory and expression that remain dependent upon the body. Pope's poem satirizes the medium that promoted both illusions as part of one unified financial strategy.

Finally, what clinches the satire is arguably the poem's orally inflected form. With its use of abab quatrains, combined with direct apostrophe ("Ah Moore!" [29] and "O learned Friend of Abchurch-Lane" [33]) the piece suggests a song or ballad. The suggestion clearly spoke to Pope's contemporaries, who reprinted "To Mr. John Moore" in collections such as The Musical Miscellany, The Merry Musician, The Vocal Miscellany, and Vocal Melody. (31) Thus the poem itself, though printed, gestures toward the limitations of the medium; moreover, in its considerable afterlife in "Musical" and "Vocal" miscellanies, "To Mr. John Moore" contributes to a seemingly paradoxical industry: an industry that was using print technology to sustain the very oral/aural culture that print was (allegedly) rendering obsolete. Notably, in his more "official" productions, Pope consistently derided such orally oriented uses of the press, famously satirizing Ambrose Philips, for example, for his folksily dictioned pastorals. Of course, it was Pope's rival-pastorals, the neoclassical mirror images to Philips's rusticated versions, that headed up Pope's Works of 1717. (32) Thus "To Mr. John Moore" presents a seeming exception--but ultimately, I think, a complicating and enriching addendum--to Pope's ideas about print and its uses.

The last of the 1716-17 poems I am going to examine here arguably constitutes the most self-conscious reconsideration, on Pope's part, of the complex relationship between print-culture on the one hand and performative, voiced, embodied cultural forms on the other. Like the prologue to Three Hours or "To Mr. John Moore," "Verses Sent to Mrs. T. B. with his Works" also posits modes of art and artisthood that defy the usual print world conventions, and mocks as illusory print's promises of authority and orderliness. Unlike the first two, however, "Verses" takes as its overt focus Pope's own printed masterpiece, the 1717 Works--the very achievement that established and confirmed Pope's identity as a virtuoso of the print medium. Of course, "Verses" belongs to a long tradition of poems written to or about a poet's own work: one thinks of Ben Jonson's "To My Book" Edmund Spenser's "To His Booke" or Robert Herrick's poem of the same title, all of which offer, to varying degrees, both aspersions against, and aspirations for, the strange little object they are sending into the world. All of these poems consider the effects of print and publication. But it seems to me that Pope's piece differs in its specific juxtaposition of print with performance. That is, the poem points up the peculiarly static form of "print world" theatrics--the visual pomp and architectural grandeur involved in creating a volume like the Works--while defining, over and against that model, a brand of theatricality that is quintessentially performative, voiced, and embodied.

"Verses" begins by depicting the kinds of theatricality in which a printed text can participate--that is, for the most part, a purely "visual" form of theater--and investigates the effectiveness of these. At first the speaker leaves room for the possibility that, while an artwork that depends solely on its visual impact is necessarily limited in its effectiveness, nonetheless a printed text could succeed in conveying meaning if a reader were to look at it in right way. Thus the speaker suggests that the reason the Works (or, as the poem refers to it, "the Book") is ignored--left to lie forlornly on T. B.'s chair, "neglected" and never "rais[ing] a Thought" (8), is that T. B. knew it "by the bare Outside only" (2). That is, presumably if T. B. were to look inside, the text's value would immediately strike her. However, the next lines acknowledge that even a more thorough perusal does not guarantee appreciation: "(Whatever was in either Good, / Not look'd in, or, not understood)" (3-4). With its crucial, pitiless "or," the couplet admits that looking and understanding are not equatable--cannot be linked by any conjunction so intimate as a "therefore," a "thus" or an "and."

In fact, not only do the Book's visual assets not ensure its success; its visual presence actually seems to serve as a distraction from its meaning: once the Book is finally, explicitly "See[n]" (10), it is seen only as an object, a mere deadweight ("See there! you're always in my Way!" 10), or perhaps--only slightly better--just another pretty face ("I like this Colour, I profess!" 12). Indeed, this pathetic little object does not appear to possess even exchange value, to say nothing of its inherent worth; it seems that T. B. would have preferred cash: "That Red is charming all will hold, / I ever lov'd it--next to Gold" (14). Printed books, the poem thus suggests, can only ever exist as a visual medium, and yet this very visuality nullifies their power.

But "Verses" also offers a solution--namely, for the Book to come to life, to enter an oral field of apostrophe and dialogue, to be called into interlocutory subjecthood rather than visual objecthood. Thus while the poem ends in an affirmation of the Works' ornate surfaces--"The gaudy Dress will save the Fool" (22)--the claim remains disingenuous. Rather, the poem--impatient with the Book's mute, motionless tableau--offers its own voluble and active theatricality, into which it soon proceeds to enfold the Book as well. Nor does "Verses" perform its role discreetly: throughout, the lines delightedly drip with mock chivalry, striking their pose of self-effacement with high-flying flourish. Ultimately, then, what "save[s]" the imperiled book in this poem is not a costume alone (red-morocco though it may be) but rather the multidimensional theatricality enacted by the poem itself.

The first component of the poem's theatricality is its "oral" nature. This element may seem less apparent than in a poem like "To Mr. John Moore," with its ballad form, or the prologue to Three Hours, which is obviously intended to be vocalized: "Verses" is in couplet-form rather than the more ballad-evoking abab quatrains, and is, after all, "Sent"--as a letter, in a parcel--rather than spoken. Nonetheless, the poem is in tetrameters (not Pope's trademark heroic couplets), and thus creates a more singsong rhythm; it apostrophizes its addressees directly (starting with Mrs. T. B.), thereby invoking a conversational setting; and it includes snippets of what we might call dramatic dialogue, incorporating T.B's (imagined) exclamations in a voice that remains distinct from the speaker's "own" language, and thus sustains a sense of multiple characterization and interchange.

The poem's true feat of theater, however, lies not in its orality bur rather in the "use" to which it puts its oral interjections: namely, through the use of performative interpellations--i.e., of speech-acts that call to an entity and therefore render it "present" to the poem, as an entity imagined to be capable of hearing and perhaps talking back. That is, in two progressive stages, "Verses" calls the Book into a kind of personhood, first as a kind of double or shadow for the author, and, then, second, in its own right, as the author's partner in conversation--displacing, indeed, the official (and, we might say, "real-life") interlocutor of the poem, T. B. (whom we could imagine to be Pope's friend Teresa Blount).

At first the Book only "approximates" the status of living creature, reaching it via simile only: the speaker tells us that it is "like its Author" (1). The Book is gradually promoted, however, from being "like" the writer to becoming blurred with him as a conscious conversation partner, and, finally, replacing him outright. The promotion of the Book to the status of potentially heeding interlocutor takes place, interestingly, at the moment when T. B. first speaks. That is, at the same moment that T. B. emerges as a linguistic rival to the speaker/Author (the poem's title informs us that the two are one and the same), she simultaneously introduces the Book as yet another potential rival--addressing it as if she expects a response: "See there! you're always in my Way!" (10). Moreover, because of the grammatical ambiguity created by the initial simile, the "you" of this line can refer to either the Book or the Author; thus, any agency won by the Book at this point represents a loss of agency for the Author.

But this uncomfortably shared linguistic agency of Author and Book soon shifts over to the Book alone, when the speaker/Author declares, "She keeps thee, Book! I'll lay my Head" (19). The Book has now definitively reached the status of addressee ("thee, Book!"); meanwhile, the Author "lay[s] his Head" as if to sleep now that the book has awakened into life.

And indeed, arguably the "Author" never speaks again: each of the final three lines of the poem could be read as either a quotation or a kind of gnomic aphorism:
 What? throw away a Fool in Red:
 No, trust the Sex's sacred Rule;
 The gaudy Dress will save the Fool.

 (20-22)


Line 20 still seems to be half-quoting T. B. (or some similar recipient of a pretty red book); and certainly the use of italics recalls her voice (all of her lines so far have been in italics) or at least suggests quotation in general (Pope often used italics for this purpose). But while line 20 cannot be attributed with full confidence, lines 21 and 22 are almost impossible to pin down. We might initially see them as simply a final piece of parting advice from Author to Book ("No, trust the ... Rule!"). But the advice seems too abstracted to belong to the speaker/Author that we have come to know: semi-detached from the world of the poem, these lines have left T. B. far behind, instead making proclamations about "the Sex" as a whole. In any case, the final line (i.e., the "Rule" itself) is indisputably a quotation. Bur again, attribution is impossible: we could assign it--if we agree to adopt the poem's own bewildering vagueness--to "the Sex"; even more amorphously, we might trace it to some sort of transcendent, sanctified source (after all, it is a "sacred" Rule).

Perhaps these last two lines work best if we do not attempt to see them as continuous with the rest of the poem, but rather as a gesture most familiar to us from the drama: namely, as the rhyming couplet at the end of an act. That is, just as in a play, when a character steps to the front of the stage and sums up the action in a kind of abstracted adage or punch line, this final couplet is not spoken "from within" the narrative situation, but rather comments upon it. (William Wycherley's Country Wife provides some typical examples, as with "Who for his business from his wife will run, / Takes the best care to have her business done"; or "The gallant treats presents, and gives the ball; / But 'tis the absent cuckold pays for all." (33) In both instances the speaker is not speaking to another character in the play, and is not even speaking "in character" per se, but rather addresses the audience as a kind of "chorus" just at the very border of the play's fiction.) In other words, perhaps the end of "Verses" represents not the parting words of the poem's speaker/Author to T. B., or to his Book, but rather an actor's wink to the audience, a dramatic exposure of the poem's generic frame. The speaker/Author has disappeared, the Book has come to life, and the poem takes a bow for performing such a marvelous magic trick.

This group of poems by Pope, then, combined with my reading of Three Hours After Marriage, suggest that while eighteenth-century literature was becoming ever-more concerned with the world of print and reading, the period's understanding of print did not exclude categories of theatricality, or see print and theater as mutually exclusive. Rather, I think we can begin to outline an eighteenth-century conception of print-based literature that embraced orality and performativity, and adopted techniques from these other modes so as to create a kind of hybrid medium.

VI. "The Child cries"

Of course, the very symbol of this hybridity can be found in the tiny but troublesome child at the end of Three Hours After Marriage--who indeed embodies a crystallization of transgression and (literally) bastardization. Ultimately, I want to argue, it is this child and the values associated with him that "triumph" in the end of the play. For, as we have noted, this is a play in which there emerges no real winner or loser: Townley's apparent goal in the play has been to achieve the security of marriage while avoiding its distinct unsexiness; but this plan fails spectacularly when her first husband, a sea captain, claims precedence, and her adulterous suitors are exposed. On the other hand, Townley also escapes any real punishment and remains free from Fossile's grasp. Meanwhile, Fossile's aim of acquiring an "heir of his own begetting" (and thus to disinherit his niece) fails just as badly; yet, as he stands with Townley's baby in his arms, he himself declares, "Fossile[,] thou didst want Posterity: Here behold thou hast it" (3.550-51). Thus it remains impossible to say who or what Three Hours "rewards" in its final scene--unless we consider the baby, and what he represents, as the true object of the play's loyalties.

Part of what the child represents could be described as the importance of keeping language tethered to an embodied experience. For example, as Fossile and his colleague Doctor Possum discuss who should take responsibility for the child, detailing the "Five ... Proofs" distinguishing "Legitimation" from "Filiation" (Possum explains that the former is necessary to the latter "but not e contra"), their jargony jangling is interrupted by the infant's reminder--inarticulate and yet incontestable--of the urgent reality at hand: "The Child cries" (413).

But the child's insistence on a physical reality amidst verbality is not simply an endorsement of the corporeal over the book-bound quibbling of Fossile and his colleagues. Recall that Townley and her suitors use physicality as a kind of trump to Fossile's world of catalogues, indexes, and documentation; but the play does not seem to endorse this strategy. Indeed, the physical drives of Townley and the rakes seem to point only toward a kind of anarchy: we are relieved at the end that Townley is reined in, at least temporarily. Like the worms overpowering Moore's worm-powder, she and her collaborators make a mockery of any attempt to impose order onto a messy world; Three Hours does not seem to accept this level of nihilism. Instead, the play puts forth the child as a symbol of a kind of corporeality that is still in keeping with some fundamental level of civilization. That is, on the one hand the baby expresses the basic, animal needs of the body (his cry, at least to Fossile's ears, is a cry of hunger: Fossile immediately calls for "Water-Pap"; 415). But the child also helps to repair the damage that the body and its hungers--in this case, Townley's voracious sexuality--have inflicted upon the spirit: taking the baby in his arms, Fossile relinquishes his sexual jealousy, concluding, "What must be, must be.... What signifies whether a Man beget his Child or not?" (556-57).

Of course, such a statement on Fossile's part demonstrates a momentary relinquishing of his desire to gain mastery not just over Townley, but also over the legalistic and literalistic minutiae with which he has crowded his life. In other words, while the baby exerts a moderating force on the active, embodied antics of Townley and the rakes--on their theatrical (indeed, "meta-theatricar") libertinism--he also helps to temper Fossile's obsession with the documentative, definitional ambitions deriving from print culture. Thus this child represents a kind of temporary coming together of the two modes. Though Fossile and Townley part ways, the child provides an abiding link between them, belonging genetically to one, adoptively to the other. As such the child testifies to a union--of persons, of modes--that, while appearing to be an utter mismatch, nonetheless proved surprisingly fruitful.

Moreover, what I hope to have suggested in the above pages is that this cross-breeding of print and performance not only bears fruit for the retrospective reader, but also struck eighteenth-century writers as a fascinating possibility. That is, by mixing the two modes, authors could explore new ways of thinking about the powers and limitations of different genres, about the ways that cultural forms--whether theatrical or textual, communal or private, embodied or inscribed--affect the way we perceive and interact with our world. Thus in Three Hours After Marriage and the poems that Pope wrote during that play's period of emergence, we find a group of texts that are actively problematizing the relationship between page and stage, pushing each mode to its limits, and mixing the two together. These texts suggest, I think, that the eighteenth-century literary imagination--rather than simply seeing print and performance as mutually exclusive--may have delighted in the notion of the two modes' volatile coexistence.

University of Rochester

NOTES

(1) The original group also included Thomas Parnell and Robert Harley, Earl of Oxford; Henry Fielding is usually considered a kind of heir to the Scriblerian sensibility. (See Charles Kerby-Miller's critical introduction to John Arbuthnot, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Thomas Parnell, and Robert Hartley, Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus, ed. Charles Kerby-Miller [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988].)

(2) As Kerby-Miller writes, "The first direct move toward the formation of the Scriblerus Club was made in October 1713, when Pope approached Swift with a proposal that they and their friends collaborate on a burlesque monthly periodical in which follies in learning and criticism would be satirized in ironic reviews that depreciated works of merit and cried up the productions of Grub Street" (14). See also Marlon B. Ross, "Authority and Authenticity: Scribbling Authors and the Genius of Print in Eighteenth-Century England," in The Construction of Authorship: Textual Appropriation in Law and Literature, ed. Martha Woodmansee and Peter Jaszi (Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 1994).

(3) Laura Brown, English Dramatic Form, 1660-1760: An Essay in Generic History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981), 289.

(4) J. Paul Hunter, "The World as Stage and Closet" in British Theatre and the Other Arts, 1660-1800, ed. Shirley Strum Kenny (Washington, D.C.: Folger Shakespeare Library, 1984), 286.

(5) Scholars generally date the Restoration theater as having ended around 1700; Aphra Behn's Oroonoko was published in 1688; Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe appeared in 1719.

(6) For a reading of Clinket as a commentary on female playwriting, and for a summary of past reactions to this figure, see Lisa A. Freeman, Character's Theater: Genre and Identity on the Eighteenth-Century Stage (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2002), 67-72.

(7) John Gay (et al.), Three Hours After Marriage, in Dramatic Works, vol. 1, ed. John Fuller (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983), 1.72. As this citation reflects, the play is not divided into scenes, but rather acts and line numbers. All references are to this edition and cited parenthetically in the text.

(8) The Pillars of Seth were apparently two pillars created by the descendants of Seth and inscribed with scientific discoveries and inventions, with the idea of preserving this knowledge in the face of a fire and flood predicted by Adam.

(9) See David Foxon, Pope and the Early Eighteenth-Century Book Trade, rev. and ed. James McLaverty (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1991). See also James McLaverty, Pope, Print and Meaning (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

(10) Jonathan Swift, "A Proposal for Correcting, Improving, and Ascertaining the English Tongue;' in Prose Works of Jonathan Swift, vol. 4, ed. Herbert Davis (Oxford: Shakespeare Head, 1939-68).

(11) See n. 1, above.

(12) C. O. Brink, English Classical Scholarship: Historical Reflections on Bentley, Porson, and Housman (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985), 59.

(13) Miriam Starkman, Swift's Satire on Learning in "A Tale of a Tub" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1950), 85.

(14) Walter Ong, Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (New York: Methuen, 1982), 125.

(15) Ibid., 127.

(16) Ibid., 132.

(17) Julie Stone Peters, "The Novelty; or, Print, Money, Fashion, Getting, Spending, and Glut" in Cultural Readings of Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Theatre, ed. J. Douglas Canfield and Deborah C. Payne (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995), 171. See also Elizabeth Eisenstein's discussion of the relationship of print to scientific innovation in The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 520-635.

(18) Alexander Pope, The Dunciad, ed. James Sutherland (New Haven: Yale University Press [Twickenham edition], 1963), B.4.233-38.

(19) An Essay on Criticism, in Pastoral Poetry and An Essay on Criticism, ed. E. Audra and Aubrey Williams (New Haven: Yale University Press [Twickenham edition], 1961), ll. 169-74. All citations are from this edition and are cited parenthetically in the text.

(20) OED, s.v. "joint" [a], definitions 1 and 5; and "joint" [n], def.1.

(21) Ibid., s.v. "result" [v].

(22) Certainly scholarship on Scriblerianism emphasizes these attitudes; thus, Brean Hammond describes Pope's self-appointed role as "a conduit of opposition to some of the major cultural tendencies that he saw as prevalent in his period: professionalization of writing, increasing literary production, literary production undertaken by socially inappropriate individuals ... [,] patronization of worthless writers, hybridization, and debasement of literary forms" (Professional Imaginative Writing in England: Hackney for Bread [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997], 10). Likewise, Peter Stallybrass and Allon White explain Pope's objection to the "dunce" writers of the period as an objection to their "act of mediation": "[Pope's targets] occupy a taboo-laden space between the topographical boundaries which mark off the discrete sites of high and low culture. They transgress domains, moving between fair, theatre, town and court, threatening to sweep away the literary and social marks of difference at the very point where such differences are being widened.... The social and aesthetic interfusion of high and low has its counterpart at the linguistic level where a grotesque hybridization threatens to subvert the distinction between words and genres." As Stallybrass and White admit, Pope did not--could not--steer completely clear of such hybridization. But in their account, "mess" and "Chaos" sneak up on Pope, like a repressed obsession; Staltybrass and White make no allowance for a deliberate, willing engagement on Pope's part with intergeneric interfusion (Peter Stallybrass and Allon White, The Politics and Poetics of Transgression [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1986], 113-15).

(23) Pope, Print, and Meaning, 46-47.

(24) Ibid., 46; Maynard Mack, Alexander Pope: A Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), 333.

(25) I am basing the poems' dates on the work done by the Twickenham editors; the poems are reprinted, with their publication dates and possible composition dates, in an order that attempts to reproduce their original chronology, in Minor Poems, ed. Norman Ault and John Butt (New Haven: Yale University Press [Twickenham edition], 1964).

(26) Other than the pieces written in this period, I believe only "Duke upon Duke ... an excellent new Ballad" (1720) and "The Discovery ... An Excellent New Ballad" (1726) explicitly announce themselves as such.

(27) "To dash" means "to destroy," "to ruin" (OED def. 6), and this sense seems in keeping with Pope's larger point here, but also, more specifically to Pope's metaphor, it can mean "to splash (water or liquid)" (3b), or "to ... dilute with some (usually inferior) admixture" (5a). Yet the word also refers literally to the act of writing--"to put down on paper, throw off, write, or sketch" (8), "to draw a dash through (writing); to strike out, cancel, erase, efface" (9); thus the dash-work described here can be seen to refer, simultaneously, to Pope's analogy--to wine as a metaphor for a play--and yet also back to the playwriting itself, i.e., in abandonment of the metaphor. Pope is at once changing writing into wine and back again. In this way he does not simply describe the ways that a literary work can change shape, but (performatively) demonstrates such shape-shifting in action, albeit on a miniature scale.

(28) See the Twickenham editors' commentary in Minor Poems, p. 163.

(29) Jill Campbell, "Domestic Intelligence: Newspaper Advertising and the Eighteenth-Century Novel," Yale Journal of Criticism, 15 (2002): 251-91 (256).

(30) Health for Sale: Quackery in England, 1660-1850 (New York: Manchester University Press, 1989), 116. See also pp. 8-9, 44, and 47.

(31) See the Twickenham editors' commentary in Minor Poems, p. 163.

(32) See The Works of Alexander Pope (London: printed by W. Bowyer for Bernard Lintot, 1717).

(33) William Wycherley, The Country Wife, ends of act 2 and act 3. See The Four Plays of William Wycherley, ed. W. R. Chadwick (The Hague: Mouton, 1975).
COPYRIGHT 2009 www.wmich.edu/compdr
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Mannheimer, Katherine
Publication:Comparative Drama
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 22, 2009
Words:10448
Previous Article:Dumb reading: the noise of the mute in Jonson's Epicene.
Next Article:"Whom seek ye, sirs?": the logic of searching in the York Herod and the Magi.
Topics:

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters