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KEY TO THE LOCK:
PROVING BEYOND ALL CONTRAD:CTION THE DANGEROUS TENDENCY OF A LATE POEM,
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK,
GOVERNMENT AND RELIGION.
Written in the Year 1714.
KEY TO THE LOCK.
oINCE this unhappy division of our nation into parties, it is not to be imagined how many artifices have been made use of by writers to obscure the truth, and cover designs which may be detrimental to the public. In particular, it has been their custom of late to vent their political spleen in allegory and fable. If an honest believing nation is to be made a jest of, we have a story of John Bull and his wife: if a treasurer is to be glanced at, an ant with a white straw is introduced; if a treaty of commerce is to be ridiculed, it is immediately metamorphosed into a tale of count Tariff.
But if any of these malevolents have a small talent in rhime, they principally delight to convey their malice in that pleasing way; as it were gilding the pill, and concealing the poison under the sweetness of numbers.
It is the duty of every well-designing subject to prevent, as far as he can, the ill consequences of such pernicious treatises; and I hold it mine to warn the public of a late poem entitled, the Rape of the Lock; which I shall demonstrate to be of this nature.
It is a common and just observation, that, when the meaning of any thing is dubious, one can no way better judge of the true intent of it, than by considering who is the author, what is his character in general, and his disposition in particular.
H 3 Now
Now that the author of this poem is a reputed papist.. is well known; and that a genius so capable of doing service to that cause may have been corrupted in the course of his education by Jesuits or others, is justly very much to be suspected; notwithstanding that seeming coolness and moderation, which he has been (perhaps artfully) reproached with by those of his own persuasion. They are sensible, that this nation is secured by good and wholesome laws to prevent all evil practices of the church of Rome; particularly the publication of books, that may in any sort propagate that doctrine: their authors are therefore obliged to couch their designs the deeper; and though I cannot aver the intention of this gentleman was directly to spread popish doctrines, yet it comes to the same point if he touch the government: for the court of Rome knows very well, that the church at this time is so firmly founded on the state, that the only way to shake the one, is, by attacking the other.
What confirms me in this opinion is "an accidental discovery I made of a very artful piece of management among his popish friends and abettors, to hide his whole design upon the government, by taking all the characters upon themselves.
Upon the day that this poem was published, it was my fortune to step into the Cocoa-tree, where a certain gentleman was railing very liberally at the author, with a passion extremely well counterfeited, for having (as he said) reflected upon him in the character of Sir Plume. Upon his going out, I inquired who he was, and they told me he was a Roman catholick knight.
I was the same evening at Will's, and saw a circle