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alliance of France, which he satirically calls romances: hinting thereby, that these promises and protestations were no more to be relied on than those idle legends. Of these he is said to build an altar; to intimate that the foundation of his schemes and honours was fixed upon the French romances abovementioned.
A fan, a garter, half a pair of gloves.
One of the things he sacrifices is a fan; which, both for its gaudy show and perpetual fluttering, has been held the emblem of woman: this points at the change of the ladies of the bedchamber. The garter alludes to the honours he conferred on some of his friends; and we may, without straining the sense, call the half pair of gloves a gauntlet, the token of those military employments, which he is said to have sacrificed to his designs. The prize, as I said before, means the treasury, which he makes his prayer soon to obtain, and long to possess.
The pow'rs gave ear, and granted half his pray’r,
In the first of these lines he gives him the treasury, and in the last suggests, that he should not long possess that honour.
That Thalestris is the duchess of Marlborough, appears both by her nearness to Belinda, and by this author's malevolent suggestion that she is a lover of War.
To arms, to arms, the bold Thalestris cries : but more particularly by several passages in her speech
to Belinda upon the cutting off the lock, or treaty. Among Among other things she says, “ was it for this you “bound your locks in paper durance?” Was it for this so much paper has been spent to secure the barrier treaty 2
Methinks, already I your tears survey;
This describes the aspersions under which that good princess suffered, and the repentance which must have followed the dissolution of that treaty; and particularly levels at the refusal some people made to drink her majesty's health.
Sir Plume (a proper name for a soldier) has all the circumstances that agree with prince Eugene:
Sir Plume, of amber snuffbox justly vain,
'Tis remarkable, this general is a great taker of snuff, as well as towns; his conduct of the clouded cane gives him the honour which is so justly his due, of an exact conduct in battle, which is figured by his cane or truncheon, the ensign of a general. His “earnest eye,” or the vivacity of his look, is so particularly remarkable in him, that this character could be mistaken for no other, had not the author purposely obscured it by the fictitious circumstances of a “round unthinking face.”
Having now explained the chief characters of his human persons (for there are some others that will hereafter fall in by the by, in the sequel of this discourse) I shall next take in pieces his machinery, wherein the satire is wholly confined to ministers of
The sylphs and gnomes at first sight appeared to me to signify the two contending parties of this nation; for these being placed in the air, and those on the earth, I thought agreed very well with the common denomination, high and low. But as they are made to be the first movers and influencers of all that happens, it is plain they represent promiscuously the heads of parties; whom he makes to be the authors of all those changes in the state, which are generally imputed to the levity and instability of the British nation.
This erring mortals levity may call:
Oh blind to truth ! the sylphs contrive it all.
But of this he has given us a plain demonstration; for, speaking of these spirits, he says in express terms,
——The chief the care of nations own,
And here let it not seem odd, if in this mysterious way of writing, we find the same person, who has before been represented by the baron, again described in the character of Ariel; it being a common way with authors, in this fabulous manner, to take such a liberty. As for instance, I have read in St. Evremont, that all the different characters in Petronius, are but Nero in so many different appearances. And in the key to the curious romance of Barclay's Argenis, both Poliarchus and Archombrotus mean only
the king of Navarre. We observe, in the very beginning of the poem, that Ariel is possessed of the ear of Belinda; therefore it is absolutely necessary, that this person must be the minister who was nearest the queen. But whoever would
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
which he gave him in the character of the baron before :
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 se– veral fantastical forms, are the same whom their illwillers 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,