Volltext: A history of caricature and grotesque in literature and art

and Art. 
betray his identity. Thus all three, Buiy, VVa1pe, and Overdo, are placed 
in the Itocks at the fame time; but Wafpe, by a clever trick, efcapes, and 
leaves the Puritan and the juftice confined together, the one looking upon 
himfelf as a martyr for religion's fake, the other rather glorying in 
liilferiiig through his difinteretted zeal for the common good. They, 
too, after a while make their efcape through an accidental overfight of 
their keepers, and mix again with the mob. The women, likewife, have 
been feparated from their male companions, have fallen among lharpers 
and bullies, been made drunk, and efcaped but narrowly from Hill worfe 
difaiters. They all finally meet before the puppet-ihow, which has Iixed the 
attention of Cokes, and there juftice Overdo difcovers himfelf. Such are 
the materials of Ben Jonfon's " Bartholomew Fair," the bulieft and mott 
amuting of plays. It is faid, when iirlt acted, to have given great fatitl 
faction to king James, by the ridicule thrown upon the Puritans, and it 
continued to be a favourite comedy when revived after the Reftoration. 
" The Alchemift," by the fame author, preceded " Bartholomew 
Fair," by four years, and was defigned as a fatire upon a clafs ofitnpottors 
who, in that age, were among the greateft pefts of fociety, and were 
inftrnments, one way or other, in the greateft crimes of the day. " The 
Alchemitt" belongs, alfo, to the pure Englilh comedy, but its plot is more 
timple and drama than that of " Bartholomew Fair." It involves events 
which.may have occurred frequently, at periods when the metropolis was 
from time to time expofed to the vicifiitndes of the plague. On one of 
thefe occalions, Lovewit, a London gentleman, obliged to quit the metropolis 
I11 order to avoid the plague, leaves his town houfe to the charge of one 
man-fervant, Face, who proves difhoneft, atlbciates himfelf with a rogue 
named Subtle, and an immoralwoman named Dol Common,and introduces 
them into the houfe, which is made the batis for their fubfequent opera- 
tions. Subtle atfumes the character of a magician and alchemitt, while 
D01 a6ts various female parts, and Face goes about alluring people into 
their fnares. Among their dupes are a knight who lives upon the town, 
two Engliih Puritans from Amtterdam, a lawyer's clerk, a tobacco man, 
a young country fquire, and his fitter dame Pliant, a widow. The various 
intrigues in which thefe individuals are involved, ihow us the way in 
3 c which


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