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The Merry-Thought: or the Glass-Window and Bog-House Miscellany Parts 2, 3 and 4   By:

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[Transcriber's Note:

The texts cited use a variety of long and short dashes, generally with no relationship to the number of letters omitted. For this e text, short dashes are shown as separated hyphens, while longer dashes are shown as connected hyphens:

D n Molley H ns for her Pride.

Groups of vertical braces } represent a single brace encompassing three in one case, four rhymed lines.]

The Augustan Reprint Society

THE MERRY THOUGHT:

or, the Glass Window and Bog House MISCELLANY.

Parts 2, 3, and 4 (1731 ?)

Introduction by MAXIMILLIAN E. NOVAK

Publication Number 221 222 WILLIAM ANDREWS CLARK MEMORIAL LIBRARY University of California, Los Angeles 1983

GENERAL EDITOR

David Stuart Rodes, University of California, Los Angeles

EDITORS

Charles L. Batten, University of California, Los Angeles George Robert Guffey, University of California, Los Angeles Maximillian E. Novak, University of California, Los Angeles Nancy M. Shea, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library Thomas Wright, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

ADVISORY EDITORS

Ralph Cohen, University of Virginia William E. Conway, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library Vinton A. Dearing, University of California, Los Angeles Phillip Harth, University of Wisconsin, Madison Louis A. Landa, Princeton University Earl Miner, Princeton University James Sutherland, University College, London Norman J. W. Thrower, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library Robert Vosper, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library John M. Wallace, University of Chicago

PUBLICATIONS MANAGER

Nancy M. Shea, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

CORRESPONDING SECRETARY

Beverly J. Onley, William Andrews Clark Memorial Library

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Frances Miriam Reed, University of California, Los Angeles

INTRODUCTION

In an address to the American Society for Eighteenth Century Studies at the 1983 annual meeting, Roger Lonsdale suggested that our knowledge of eighteenth century poetry has depended heavily on what our anthologies have decided to print. For the most part modern anthologies have, in turn, drawn on collections put together at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the next, when the ideal for inclusion was essentially that of "polite taste." The obscene, the feminine, and the political were by general cultural agreement usually omitted. Lonsdale is not the only scholar questioning the basis of the canon; indeed, revisionism is fast becoming one of the more ingenious and useful parlor games among academics. Modern readers are no longer so squeamish about obscenity nor so uncomfortable with the purely personal lyric as were the editors at the end of the eighteenth century. And we are hardly likely to find poetry written by women objectionable on that score alone. In short, the anthologies we depend upon are out of date.

Among the works that would never have been a source of poems for the canon, and one mentioned by Lonsdale, was the collection of verse published in four parts by J. Roberts beginning in 1731, The Merry Thought: or, the Glass Window and Bog House Miscellany , commonly known simply as The Bog House Miscellany . Its contemporary reputation may be described as infamous. James Bramston, in his The Man of Taste (1733), mentioned it as an example in poetry of the very opposite of "good Taste" (ARS 171 [1975], 7). Polite taste, of course, is meaningful only if it can define itself by what it excludes, and nothing could be in worse taste than a collection of pieces written on windows, carved in tables, or inscribed on the walls of Britain's loos.

Just as the compilers of a modern work, The Good Loo Guide , were parodying a well known guide book to British restaurants, so the unknown authors of The Merry Thought had some notion, however discontinuous, of parodying the nation's polite literature... Continue reading book >>




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