James Miller, Of Politeness, an Epistle


James Miller, Of Politeness


  • Intro

    James Miller is not well known today but in his own lifetime was celebrated as a popular dramatist, prolific poet, and translator of comedies by the famous French playwright, Molière. Also less well known today is the poetic form used here, the verse epistle (or letter); in its own time, however, this revival from ancient Greek literature was very fashionable, much used by the more enduring poet, Alexander Pope.


    Of Politeness, an Epistle was first published, in the form of a slim pamphlet, in 1738.  The poem satirises contemporary behaviour in ‘polite’ society by ridiculing the absurdity of a series of typical characters of the times.  In the excerpt shown here his target is a spoiled nobleman’s 'Mammy’s Darling' who has all the privileges of high social status, wealth and education but only manages to become 'Half Clown, half Prig, half Pedant, and half Sot' by the end of it.

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