The successors of the Mohocks added blasphemy to riot. Smollett attributes the profaneness and profligacy of the period to the demoralization produced by the South Sea Bubble; and Clubs were formed specially for the indulgence of debauchery and profaneness. Prominent among these was "the Hell-fire Club," of which the Duke of Wharton was a leading spirit:—
"Wharton, the scorn and wonder of our days,
Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise.
Born with whate'er could win it from the wise,
Women and fools must like him, or he dies.
Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke,
The club must hail him master of the joke."—Pope.
So high did the tide of profaneness run at this time, that a Bill was brought into the House of Lords for its suppression. It was in a debate on this Bill that the Earl of Peterborough declared, that though he was for a Parliamentary King, he was against a Parliamentary religion; and that the Duke of Wharton pulled an old family Bible out of his pocket, in order to controvert certain arguments delivered from the episcopal bench.
Club Life of London Vol. I