Any browser stumbling on this title with snappy stories and belly busters in mind is in for a bit of a shock. It is a most scholarly examination of the forms of wit consciously employed and continuously examined by the poets, playwrights and critics of the century designated in the title, in addition to the published materials prepared for an audience, Mr. Milburn has also analyzed the correspondence and the diaries of the period. The result is a critical history of a special taste and method in the context of a given time. And the time was rich in the creation of a literary vocabulary to describe the techniques and devices which artists, conversationalists and commentators sought to use effectively (and, some thought, to abuse). Examples from the works of Dryden, Pope, Swift, Fielding, et al, are used at every point to illustrate the various styles of wit identified and discussed. The eight chapters of this one-of-its-kind book are each summarized, as a good lecture should be, and the book is easy to follow, especially if the reader's grasp of English literature is fresh and strong.