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Essay upon Wit (1711)
- The Inclinations of Men, in this their degenerate State, carry them with great Force to those voluptuous Objects, that please their Appetites and gratify their Senses; and which not only by their early Acquaintance and Familiarity, but as they are adapted to the prevailing Instincts of Nature, are more esteem'd and pursu'd than all other Satisfactions. As those inferior Enjoyments, that only affect the Organs of the Body are chiefly coveted, so next to these, that light and facetious Qualification of the Mind, that diverts the Hearers and is proper to produce Mirth and Alacrity, has, in all Ages, by the greatest Part of Mankind, been admir'd and applauded. No Productions of Human Understanding are receiv'd with such a general Pleasure and Approbation, as those that abound with Wit and Humour, on which the People set a greater Value, than on the wisest and most instructive Discourses. Hence a pleasant Man is always caress'd above a wise one, and Ridicule and Satyr, that entertain the Laughers, often put solid Reason and useful Science out of Countenance. The wanton Temper of the Nation has been gratify'd so long with the high Seasonings of Wit and Raillery in Writing and Conversation, that now almost all Things that are not accommodated to their Relish by a strong Infusion of those Ingredients, are rejected as the heavy and insipid Performances of Men of a plain Understanding and meer Masters of Sense.