Marvell, Nicolas Chorier, and the Earl of Rochester: State Satire and Pornography in the Dissenting Academies
journal contributionposted on 24.04.2018, 13:12 by Martin Dzelzainis
This paper examines the reception of Marvellian state satire by the nonconformist community and, in particular, by Charles Morton’s dissenting academy at Newington Green during the early 1680s. These revelations surfaced during a bitter pamphlet controversy in the early years of the eighteenth century between Samuel Wesley senior (a former pupil at the academy, who had taken Anglican orders) and Samuel Palmer, a nonconformist divine. Wesley, it transpired, was familiar not only with the satires of Marvell (whom he wished to emulate), but with two highly influential pieces of early modern pornography: Nicolas Chorier’s Aloisaæ Sigeaæ Toletanæ Satyra Sotadica, and the burlesque drama, Sodom, sometimes attributed to the Earl of Rochester (though Wesley casts doubt upon this). The Wesley-Palmer exchange also illuminates the transmission and reproduction of these materials – importantly, in the case of the state satires, before the Glorious Revolution made possible their print publication in the series of Poems on Affairs of State. Unexpected as this configuration of texts is, it suggests that Marvellian state satire and pornography were, to borrow a phrase from Robert Darnton, the forbidden best-sellers of pre-Revolutionary England.