Appalled by Beasts and Nudities in London

D'Urfey, Thomas. Collin’s Walk through London and Westminster, a poem in Burlesque. Written by T.D. Gent.

❧ London: Printed for Rich. Parker and the Unicorn under the Royal Exchange in Cornhill, and Abel Roper near the Devil-Tavern in Fleet-street, 1690. In English. 174 × 110 mm (6.85 × 4.33 in.). 8vo. [16], 207, [1] pp. Catchword on A8, beneath the errata, is mondays” and appears itself to be an erratum. Illustrated bookplate of Allan D. Macdonald on front pastedown. Early owner’s name on title page: Rob[ert] Tyrnkist [Turnquist?].” Very Good. Bound in tree calf with gilt ornamental border; ornate gilt tooling on spine; red leather title and date labels. All edges gilt. Gilt tooled turn-ins. Marbled end papers. Joints rubbed but a bright and sturdy binding. Pages toned and an ink stain on A8v.

A poem, divided into four cantos, satirizing the political and religious divisions in England following the Glorious Revolution of 1688. The first canto introduces Collin, a tenant farmer from the country, and Major, Collin’s landlord, go on a journey to London. Major, a Jacobite, aims to convince Collin of the errors of his Whiggish tendencies and promises to pay for all expenses; Collin, seeking to collect on a debt, agrees to go (“I must own the pleasingst Duty / Is, when Religion’s mixt with Booty”).

In the second canto, the travelers enter London at Temple Bar. Collin is appalled at the Effigies Of Savage Beasts, and Nudities” he sees on the streets, mixing Shameful things with Holy.” Some of Collin’s revulsion seems directed toward promiscuity, even signs of homosexuality, as at this point D’Urfey provides a lengthy footnote on what he refers to as the pleasant Custom of the Ethiopians” in which women wore revealing clothing to dissuade sodomy. The next day, in the third canto, Collin and Major visit Westminster and Parliament. In the final canto, on their last day in the metropolis, Collin and Major visit a theater. The text is followed by endnotes in which D’Urfey explicates references made in the text, such as an allusions to Don Quijote (“Tilt with the Wind-mills, is so obvious to every one, that it would be impertinent to note it further”), buildings in London, and legal statutes.

Collin’s Walk is a fine example of the urban odyssey” genre, in which city life was at its most visible and paradigmatic to the town traveler in its streets” (Corfield). D’Urfey states in his preface that the poem is meant to lampoon fanatic Whigs and Jacobites alike. His chief disdain appears to be for the city itself, in which, he laments, every Illiterate Mechanick, that has but Stock enough to purchase a Dish of Coffee, has the Liberty, and as he thinks the Ability to judge of Politicks as well as the best of them that sit at the Helm.”

In addition to coffee houses, D’Urfey also lambasted newspapers as The Scandalous Mint of False News … , which in this Town is always naturally so catching, that its infection spreads like Tetter upon the ill blooded Vulgar.” Despite his low opinion of the urban masses, D’Urfey is best remembered today for his innovations in the ballad opera, a form with roots in street entertainment. Several of his songs were used in one of the most enduring examples of the genre, John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera.

Collin’s Walk is dedicated to Peregrine Osborne, Earl of Dandy, 2nd Duke of Leeds. Osborne was also a Tory and among the nobles who abandoned James ii and pledged allegiance to William iii following the Glorious Revolution. English short title catalogue R20081.


Corfield, Penelope J. Walking  the City Streets: The Urban Odyssey in Eighteenth-Century England.” Journal of Urban History, 16, 1990, pages 132–74.


In stock

Stock Code: 1436B17 Collection: Catalogue:


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