Yet Chesterfield, whose polished pen inveighs
'Gainst laughter, fought for freedom to our Plays;
Unchecked by Megrims of patrician brains,
And damning Dulness of Lord Chamberlains.
Repeal that act! again let Humour roam
Wild o'er the stage—we've time for tears at home;360
Let Archer plant the horns on Sullen's brows,
And Estifania gull her "Copper" spouse;
The moral's scant—but that may be excused,
Men go not to be lectured, but amused.
- His speech on the Licensing Act [in which he opposed the Bill], is reckoned one of his most eloquent efforts.
[The following sentences have been extracted from the speech which was delivered:—
"The bill is not only an encroachment upon liberty, it is likewise an encroachment on property. Wit, my lords, is a sort of property; it is the property of those who have it, and too often the only property they have to depend on. . . .
"Those gentlemen who have any such property are all, I hope, our friends; do not let us subject them to any unnecessary or arbitrary restraint. . . .
"The stage and the press, my lord, are two of our outsentries; if we remove them, if we hoodwink them, if we throw them into fetters, the enemy may surprise us. Therefore I must now look upon the bill before us as a step for introducing arbitrary power into this kingdom."
Lord Chesterfield's sentiments with regard to laughter are contained in an apophthegm, repeated more than once in his correspondence: "The vulgar laugh aloud, but never smile; on the contrary, people of fashion often smile, but seldom or never laugh aloud."—Chesterfield's Letters to his Godson, Oxford, 1890, p. 27.]
- [Archer and Squire Sullen are characters in Farquhar's play (1678-1707), The Beaux' Stratagem, March 8, 1707.]
- Michael Perez, the "Copper Captain," in [Fletcher's] Rule a Wife and Have a Wife [licensed October 19, 1624].