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would be farther convinced that he meant the treasurer, may know him by his ensigns in the following line:
He raised his azure wand.
His sitting on the mast of a vessel shows his presiding over the South-Sea trade. When Ariel assigns to his sylphs all the posts about Belinda, what is more clearly described than the treasurer's disposing of all the places in the kingdom, and particularly about her majesty? But let us hear the lines:
Ye spirits, to your charge repair, The fluttering fan be Zephyretta's care; The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign, And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine: Do thou, Crispissa, tend her fav'rite lock.
He has here particularised the ladies and women of the bedchamber, the keeper of the cabinet, and her majesty's dresser, and impudently given nicknames to each. To put this matter beyond all dispute, the sylphs are said to be wondrous fond of place, in the canto following, where Ariel is perched uppermost, and all the rest take their places subordinately under him.
Here again T cannot but observe the excessive malignity of this author, who could not leave the character of Ariel without the same invidious stroke which he gave him in the character of the baron before:
Amaz'd, confus'd, he saw his pow'r expir'd,
being another prophecy that he should resign his
places place, which it is probable all ministers do, with a sigh.
At the head of the gnomes he sets Umbriel, a dusky melancholy sprite, who makes it his business to give Belinda the spleen; a vile and malicious suggestion against some grave and worthy minister. The vapours, phantoms, visions, and the like, are the jealousies, fears, and cries of danger, that have so often affrighted and alarmed the nation. Those who are described, in the house of spleen, under those several fantastical forms, are the same whom their ill— willers have so often called the whimsical.
The two foregoing spirits being the only considerable characters of the machinery, I shall but just mention the sylph, that is wounded with the scissars at the loss of the lock; by whom is undoubtedly understood my lord Townshend, who at that time received a wound in his character for making the barrier-treaty, and was cut out of his employment upon the dissolution of it: but that spirit reunites, and receives no harm; to signify that it came to nothing, and his lordship had no real hurt by it.
But I must not conclude this head of the characters without observing, that our author has run through every stage of beings in search of topicks for detraction. As he has characterised some persons under angels and men, so he has others under animals and things inanimate: he has even represented an eminent clergyman as a dog, and a noted writer as a tool. Let us examine the former:
But Shock, who thought she slept too long,
By By this Shock, it is manifest he has most audaciously and profanely reflected on Dr. Sacheverell, who leapt up, that is, into the pulpit, and awakened Great Britain with his tongue, that is, with his sermon, which made so much noise, and for which he has been frequently termed by others of his enemies, as well as by this author, a dog. Or perhaps, by his tongue may be more literally meant his speech at his trial, since immediately thereupon, our author says, her eyes opened on a billet-doux. Billet-doux being addresses to ladies from lovers, may be aptly interpreted those addresses of loving subjects to her majesty, which ensued that trial.
The other instance is at the end of the third canto:
Steel did the labours of the gods destroy,
Here he most impudently attributes the demolition of Dunkirk, not to the pleasure of her majesty, or of her ministry, but to the frequent instigations of his friend Mr. Steele. A very artful pun, to conceal his wicked lampoonry!
Having now considered the general intent and scope of the poem, and opened the characters, I shall next discover the malice which is covered under the episodes, and particular passages of it.
The game at ombre is a mystical representation of the late war, which is hinted by his making spades the trump; spade in Spanish signifying a sword, and being yet so painted in the cards of that nation, to which it is well known we owe the original of our cards. In this one place indeed he has unawares paid
a coma compliment to the queen and her success in the war; for Belinda gets the better of the two that play against her, viz. the kings of France and Spain.
I do not question but every particular card has its person and character assigned, which, no doubt, the author has told his friends in private; but I shall only instance in the description of the disgrace under which the duke of Marlborough then suffered, which is so apparent in these verses:
Ev'n mighty Pam, that kings and queens o'erthrew,
And that the author here had an eye to our modem transactions, is very plain, from an unguarded stroke toward the end of this game:
And now, as oft in some distemper'd state,
After the conclusion of the war, the publick rejoicings and thanksgivings are ridiculed in the two following lines:
The nymph, exulting, fills with shouts the sky,
Immediately upon which there follows a malicious insinuation, in the manner of a prophecy (which we have formerly observed this seditious writer delights in) that the peace should continue but a short time, and that the day should afterward be cursed, which was then celebrated with so much joy:
Sudden these honours shall be snatch'd away,
As the game at ombre is a satirical representation of the late war, so is the tea-table that ensues, of the council-table, and its consultations after the peace. By this he would hint, that all the advantages we have gained by our late extended commerce, are only coffee and tea, or things of no greater value. That he thought of the trade in this place, appears by the passage, which represents the sylphs particularly careful of the rich brocade; it having been a frequent complaint of our mercers, that French brocades were imported in great quantities. I will not say he means those presents of rich gold stuff suits, which were said to be made her majesty by the king of France, though I cannot but suspect that he glances at it.
Here this author (as well as the scandalous John Dunton) represents the ministry, in plain terms, taking frequent cups,
And frequent cups prolong the rich repast;
for it is manifest he meant something more than common coffee, by his calling it,
Coffee that makes the politician wise;
and by telling us, it was this coffee, that
Sent up in vapours to the baron's brain
I shall only farther observe, that it was at this table the lock was cut off; for where but at the councilboard should the barrier treaty be dissolved?
The ensuing contentions of the parties upon the loss of that treaty, are described in the squabbles following the rape of the lock; and this he rashly expresses without any disguise,
All side in parties