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date: 26 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

When Mr. Smirke; or, the Divine in Mode appeared in May 1676 it outraged the Anglican establishment. Branded a ‘sheet so seditious and defamatory to Christian Religion’, the authorities moved swiftly to have it suppressed. Yet while Marvell’s authorship was common knowledge, no action was taken against anyone but the publisher, Nathaniel Ponder, who was briefly detained in the Gatehouse. To date there has been no satisfactory scholarly account of the genesis of Mr. Smirke or the puzzling government reaction. This chapter revisits the origins of Mr. Smirke, examining newly discovered archival materials and bibliographical evidence to illuminate the circumstances of its printing and publication, and, with it, Marvell’s seeming immunity. It also reconsiders Marvell’s relationship with Sir Edward Harley and the significance of his Puritan politics by way of underlining the implausibility of the allegation that Marvell was somehow denigrating Christianity in Mr. Smirke.

Keywords: bishops, Church councils, history of the book, politics of religion, satire, toleration

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