"No Praying, It Spoils Business"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: One of the two great tragedies by the best of the Restoration dramatists is Venice Preserved, or A Plot Discovered, frequently called "the last of the Elizabethan plays," written in somber blank verse appropriate to its typical Elizabethan theme. Critics see in it the influence of several Shakespearean plays: The Merchant of Venice, Julius Caesar, and Othello. Because of its emotional appeal, it is probably the most frequently revived of the Restoration tragedies. Part of its popularity lay in its parallel to the many plots of the times of Charles II, when it was introduced. Jaffeir, married to the daughter of a senator of Venice, hates him and is willing to conspire with his friend Pierre against Venice and its governors. In Act II, Pierre enlists the aid of his old love, Aquilina, a courtesan, begging her to extract state secrets from her present love, the Senator Antonio. In Scene II, Pierre and Jaffeir meet on the Rialto. Pierre's mention of the honesty of animals underscores the dishonesty of most of the characters in this play. "Mechanick" (modern Mechanical) implies that he prays automatically or from force of habit, which brings the response that there are more important things to do now, especially since prayer does not bring results.

Speak, who goes there?
A dog, that comes to howl
At yonder Moon. What's he that asks the Question?
A friend to dogs, for they are honest Creatures,
And ne'er betray their masters; never fawn
On any that they love not. Well met, friend
The same. Oh Pierre! Thou art come in season,
I was just going to pray.
Ah, that's mechanick.
Priests make a trade on 't, and yet starve by it too:
No praying, it spoils business, and time's precious.
. . .