Page:Books Condemned to be Burnt - James Anson Farrer.djvu/132

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116
Books Condemned to be Burnt.

regard to the Quakers, one of his books being called A Looking Glass for George Fox, the Quaker, and other Quakers, wherein they may See Themselves to be Right Devils. There is no reason to believe Muggleton to have been a conscious impostor; only in an age vexed to madness by religious controversy, religious madness carried him further than others. An asylum would have met his case better than the sentence of the Old Bailey, which condemned him to stand for three days in the pillory at the three most eminent places in the City, his books to be there in three lots burnt over his head, and himself then to be imprisoned till he had paid a sum of £500 (1676). But this did not finish the man, for in 1681 he wrote his Letter to Colonel Phaire, the language of which is perhaps unsurpassed for repulsiveness in the whole range of religious literature. Muggleton's writings in short read as a kind of religious nightmare. In their case the fire was rather profaned by its fuel than the books honoured by the fire.