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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 topics for detraction. As he has characterized 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 wak'd 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 thereupon, our author says, her eyes opened on a billet-doux. Billet-doux being addresses to ladies from lovers, may be aptly interpreted those ad
dresses 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,
And strike to dust th' 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. Steel. 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 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,
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;
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 afterwards 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 representa tion 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
up in vapours to the baron's brain
I shall only further 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, 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
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 upon 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)
An open satire upon 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. Upon this occasion he could not end the description without testifying his ma