Page:Poems of Anne Countess of Winchilsea 1903.djvu/73

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

INTRODUCTION Ixix ���make the application too minutely exact. In two important respects Phoebe Clinket does not even remotely suggest Lady Winchilsea. The supposed tragedy is, in its theme and in the substance and style of the quoted passages, entirely unlike any work of hers. It would better serve as a travesty of some passages in Dryden's heroic tragedies. And then, again, Ardelia was as averse to any public presentation of her plays as Phoebe Clinket was eager for it. The impas- sioned "Advertisement" to Love and Innocence, written years before the appearance of Pope's farce, is as genuine a personal appeal as was ever buried away in a manuscript. Even after the lapse of years, even if her plays had admirable dramatic qualities, one would hardly feel at liberty to put them on the stage in the face of such a protest. And every other indication in Ardelia's poems or prose writings emphasizes her spirit of self -depreciation, her morbid shrink- ing from any but the most intimate and friendly audience. Hence the satire is in this, its chief point, wide of the mark. Many minor points, however, could easily be made to apply. Lady Winchilsea's learning, her devotion to literary pur- suits, her fecundity in verse, her irritable shrinking from adverse criticism, her determined opposition to amatory themes, her preference for divine and moral songs, her detestation of the modern stage, are traits that tally with the burlesque portrait. The story of the " standish in every room," if not a malicious invention of Pope's, would of course be most wittily burlesqued by the desk strapped to the maid's back, and would be sufficient to locate the char- acter, but the story itself rests only on the doubtful authority of Pope. �But in so far as the character did suggest Lady Winchil- sea to hearers or readers, it was an intolerable affront. J5he was made not merely ridiculous, butodious. _ Swift's treat- menroTMary Astell as Madonella in the Toiler papers, and ��� �