This chapter focuses on state satire, which covers satire concerned with national, political, and religious questions, and was played for higher stakes on a larger board. Even more so than the Town, the Restoration state was never a settled entity. The utility, let alone the sanctity, of monarchical government remained a subject of debate and nowhere more than in the writings of the lampooners. While learning useful lessons from the court tradition, state lampooners were in touch with much older traditions of verse critique and with the memories of earlier conflicts that these transmitted: its world had not begun de novo in 1660. In this respect, state satire falls under a particular arc of the circumference of the ‘state poem’, it being under that title that bowdlerized versions of Restoration political verse of all kinds were published in printed anthologies from the late 1690s onward. This wider genre embraces the licensed as well as the clandestine: much of Dryden’s pre-1688 verse can be so characterized.
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