Abbildungen der Seite

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 fiuttering fan be Zephyretta's care;
The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign;
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine:

Do thou, Crispissa, tend her favorite lock. He has here particularised the ladies and women of the bed-chamber, the keeper of the cabinet, and her majesty's dresser; and impudently given nicknames to each. To put this matter beyond 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 I 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 :

Amazed, confused, he saw his power expired;

Resign'd to fate, and with a sigh retired : being another prophecy that he should resign his 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 vapors, 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 scissors 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 on 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 topics 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,
Leap'd up, and waked his mistress with his tongue.
'Twas then, Belinda, if report say true,
Thy eyes first open'd on a billet-doux.

By this Shock it is manifest he has most audaciously and profanely reflected on Dr. Sacheverel, who leaped 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 thereon, 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 labors of the gods destroy,
And strike to dust the imperial towers of Troy ;

Steel could the works of mortal pride confound,

And hew triumphal arches to the ground. 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 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 mow'd down armies in the fights of Lu;-
Sad chance of war, now destitute of aid,

Falls undistinguish'd And that the author here had an eye to our modern transactions, is very plain, from an unguarded stroke towards the end of this game :

And now, as oft in some distemper'd state,
On one nice trick depends the general fate.

After the conclusion of the war, the public rejoicings and thanksgivings are ridiculed in the two following lines :

The nymph, exulting, fills with shouts the sky;

The walls, the woods, and long canals reply. Immediately on 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 afterwards be cursed, which was then celebrated with so much joy :

Sudden these honors shall be snatch'd away,

And cursed for ever this victorious day. As the game at ombre is a satirical representation of the late war, so is the tea-table that ensues, of the counciltable, 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 vapors to the baron's brain

New stratagems I shall only farther observe, that it was at this table the lock was cut off; for where, but at the council-board, should the barrier-treaty be dissolved ?

The ensuing contentions of the parties, on 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-and here you have a gentleman who sinks beside the chair:'-a plain allusion to a noble lord, who lost his chair of president of the council.

I come next to the bodkin, so dreadful in the hand of Belinda; by which he intimates the British sceptre, so revered in the hand of our late august princess. His own note on this place tells us, he alludes to a sceptre; and the verses are so plain, they need no remark :-

The same, his ancient personage to deck,
Her great great-grandsire wore about his neck
In three seal rings, which, after melted down,
Form'd a vast buckle for his widow's gown :
Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew;
The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew;
Then in a bodkin graced her mother's hairs,

Which long she wore, and now Belinda wears. An open satire on hereditary right! The three seal rings plainly allude to the three kingdoms.

These are the chief passages in the battle, by which, as hath before been said, he means the squabble of parties. On this occasion he could not end the description without testifying his malignant joy at those dissensions, from

« ZurückWeiter »