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which he forms the prospect that both should be disappointed; and cries out with triumph, as if it were already accomplished ;
Bebold how oft ambitious aims are cross'd,
The lock at length is turned into a star, or the old barrier-treaty into a new and glorious peace. This, no doubt, is what the author, at the time he printed this poem, would have been thought to mean; in hopes by that compliment to escape the punishment for the rest of this piece. It puts me in mind of a fellow, who concluded a bitter lampoon on the prince and court of his days with these lines :
God save the king, the commons, and the peers ;
Whatever this author may think of that peace, I imagine it the most extraordinary star that ever appeared in our hemisphere ;—a star, that is to bring us all the wealth and gold of the Indies; and from whose influence, not Mr. John Partridge alone, (whose worthy labors this writer so ungenerously ridicules) but all true Britons may, with no less authority than he, prognosticate the fate of Louis'in the restraint of the exorbitant power of France, and the fall of Rome' in the triumphant condition of the church of England.
We have now considered this poem in its political view, wherein we have shown, that it hath two different walks of satire; the one in the story itself, which is a ridicule on the late transactions in general; the other in the machinery, which is a satire on the ministers of state in particular. I shall now show, that the same poem, taken in another light, has a tendency to popery, which is secretly insinuated through the whole.
In the first place, he has conveyed to us the doctrine of guardian angels and patron saints in the machinery of his sylphs, which being a piece of popish superstition that hath been exploded ever since the reformation, he would revive under this disguise. Here are all the particulars which they believe of those beings, which I shall sum up in a few heads :
1. The spirits are made to concern themselves with all human actions in general.
2. A distinct guardian spirit or patron is assigned to each other person in particular :
Of these am I, who thy protection claim,
3. They are made directly to inspire dreams, visions, and revelations :
Her guardian sylph prolong'd her balmy rest;
4. They are made to be subordinate in different degrees, some presiding over others : so Ariel has his several underofficers at command :
Superior by the head was Ariel placed. 5. They are employed in various offices, and each hath his office assigned him :
Some in the fields of purest ether play,
6. He hath given his spirits the charge of the several parts of dress; intimating thereby, that the saints preside over the several parts of human bodies. They have one
saint to cure the toothache, another the gripes, another the gout, and so of the rest :
The fluttering fan be Zephyretta's care,
The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign, &c. 7. They are represented to know the thoughts of men :
As on the nosegay in her breast reclined,
He watch'd the ideas rising in her mind. 8. They are made protectors even to animal and irrational beings :
Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock.
So St. Antony presides over hogs, &c.
9. They are made patrons of whole kingdoms and provinces :
Of these the chief the care of nations own. So St. George is imagined by the papists to defend England, St. Patrick Ireland, St. James Spain, &c. Now, what is the consequence of all this? By granting that they have this power, we must be brought back again to pray to them.
The toilet is an artful recommendation of the mass and pompous ceremonies of the church of Rome: the un, veiling of the altar, the silver vases on it, being robed in white as the priests are on the chief festivals, and the head uncovered, are manifest marks of this :
A heavenly image in the glass appears;
To that she bends -'plainly denotes image worship.
The goddess, who is decked with treasures, jewels, and the various offerings of the world, manifestly alludes to the
lady of Loretto : you have perfumes breathing from the incense-pot in the following line :
And all Arabia breathes from yonder box. The character of Belinda, as we take it in this third view, represents the popish religion, or the whore of Babylon; who is described in the state this malevolent author wishes for, coming forth in all her glory on the Thames, and overspreading the whole nation with ceremonies :
Not with more glories in the ethereal plain
Launch'd on the bosom of the silver Thames. She is dressed with a cross on her breast, the ensign of popery, the adoration of which is plainly recommended in the following lines :
On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore,
Which Jews might kiss, and infidels adore. Next he represents her as the universal church, according to the boasts of the papists :
And like the sun, she shines on all alike. After which he tells us,
If to her share some female errors fall,
Look on her face, and you ’ll forget them all. Though it should be granted some errors fall to her share, look on the pompous figure she makes throughout the world, and they are not worth regarding. In the sacrifice following you have these two lines :
For this, ere Phæbus rose, he had implored
Propitious Heaven, and every power adored. In the first of them he plainly hints at their rising to
matins; in the second, by adoring every power,' the invocation of saints.
Belinda's visits are described with numerous wax-lights, which are always used in the ceremonial part of the Romish worship :
-- Visits shall be paid on solemn days,
The lunar sphere he mentions, opens to us their purgatory, which is seen in the following line:
Since all things lost on earth are treasured there.
It is a popish doctrine, that scarce any person quits this world, but he must touch at purgatory in his way to heaven; and it is here also represented as the treasury of the Romish church: nor is it much to be wondered at, that the moon should be purgatory, when a learned divine hath in a late treatise proved the sun to be hell.*
I shall now, before I conclude, desire the reader to compare this key with those on any other pieces, which are supposed to have been secret satires on the state, either ancient or modern; in particular, with the keys to Petronius Arbiter, Lucian's True History, Barclay's Argenis, and Rabelais's Garagantua; and I doubt not he will do me the justice to acknowlege, that the explanations here laid down, are reduced as naturally, and with as little violence, both from the general scope and bent of the work, and from the several particulars : furthermore, that they are every way as consistent and undeniable, every way as candid, as any modern interpretation of either party on the conduct and writings of the other : and I appeal to the most eminent and able state decipherers
* Rev. Dr. Swinden.