The Baroque in English Neoclassical Literature

By J. Douglas Canfield | Go to book overview

12
Montagu: Surrogately Meant

LIKE BEHN, LADY MARY WORTLEY MONTAGU IS A FINE AND UNDERrated poet. In her own right. That is, she is often studied in conjunction with her nemeses, Swift and Pope. And indeed, her “The Reasons that Induc’d Dr S to write a Poem call’d the Ladey’s Dressing room” (written between 1732 and 1734) and “Verses Address’d to the Imitator of… Horace” (1733) are excellent, witty rejoinders. Like Finch, she is best when she deploys the baroque wit of ventriloquizing, damning her subjects out of their own mouths. Here is Swift in dialogue with, not a lady in whose dressing room he wanders alone and curious, but Betty, milady’s lady-in-waiting, into whose dressing room he has bribed admittance for sexual favors. The dean has failed to perform:

He swore, the Fault is not [in] me.
Your damn’d Close stool so near my Nose,
Your Dirty Smock, and Stinking Toes
Would make a Hercules as tame
As any Beau that you can name.

The nymph grown Furious roar’d by God
The blame lyes all in Sixty odd
And scornfull pointing to the door
Cry’d, Fumbler see my Face no more.
With all my Heart I’ll go away
But nothing done, I’ll nothing pay.
Give back the Money—How, cry’d she,
Would you palm such a cheat on me!
For poor 4 pound to roar and bellow,
Why sure you want some new Prunella.

(HG)

Part of the baroque wit here is that Montagu1 turns Swift’s poetic metier of Hudibrastics, often with brilliant interlocution, upon

-154-

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The Baroque in English Neoclassical Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 7
  • Foreword 9
  • Acknowledgments 13
  • Introduction 15
  • List of Abbreviations 21
  • 1 - Milton: Mysteriously Meant 25
  • 2 - Cavendish and Philips: Metaphysically Meant 34
  • 3 - Waller and Etherege: Materially Meant 42
  • 4 - Dorset and Sedley: Mischievously Meant 50
  • 5 - Buckingham and Rochester: Reflexively Meant 63
  • 6 - Behn: Paradoxically Meant 77
  • 7 - Dryden: Cryptically Meant 91
  • 8 - Killigrew and Finch: Ventriloquently Meant 107
  • 9 - Rowe and Pope and Tonson/Gildon and Curll: Parasitically Meant 117
  • 10 - Pope: Metaphorically Meant 125
  • 11 - Pope: Mockingly Meant 143
  • 12 - Montagu: Surrogately Meant 154
  • 13 - Swift: Eccentrically Meant 164
  • 14 - Gay and Fielding: Absurdly Meant 174
  • Concluding Meditation 188
  • Appendix Poems Less Readily Available 193
  • Notes 217
  • List of Secondary Works Cited 235
  • Index 243
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