Notes on English Verse Satire

Notes on English Verse Satire

Notes on English Verse Satire

Notes on English Verse Satire

Excerpt

The satirist holds a place half-way between the preacher and the wit. He has the purpose of the first and uses the weapons of the second. He must both hate and love. For what impels him to write is not less the hatred of wrong and injustice than a love of the right and just. So much he shares with the prophet. But he seeks to affect the minds of men, not by the congruities of virtue, but by the incongruities of vice, and in that he partakes of the wit. For as laughter dispels care by showing that as one thing is, so all may be, absurd, so it attacks wickedness by robbing it of its pretensions. Let wrong be purely serious, and Don Quixote with lantern-jaws will find it impregnable as the windmill. But let Falstaff ride at it, and he will lead home captive a dozen giants in Lincoln green. This much then is certain, that the satirist shakes the foundations of the Kingdom of Hell by showing it to be a kingdom of nonsense. He will allow nothing to be serious except the right, and that will always be able to afford a smile.

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