Character of a Certain Ugly Old Priest
London: [n.p.], 1684. Pamphlet, probably an excerpt removed from a collection of works. Title page and first page loose. 20 pp. 12mo. (4 ¾ x 7 ½ in.) Moderate chipping at edges and corners, and foxing on verso, as well as small open and closed tears. Notes from a previous bookseller on the title page. Primarily a reading copy. Item #4706
John Oldham (b.1653 – d.1683) was a British poet and satirist well regarded in his day but now mostly forgotten by history, whose works challenged the politics, morals and manners of the Restoration. This scathing character study presents a priest so grotesque that he sleeps with his ears tied around the top of his head like a nightcap.
The grandson of a famous anti-papist, and son of a Protestant preacher, Oldham turned his wit against many of his contemporaries—perhaps most avowedly against the Jesuit community. At a moment in history, and in English culture, when religion, politics, and print were in flux, Oldham was a key agent of change through his humor. He died at the age of 30 from smallpox the year before this work was published.