PREFACE TO DON JUAN
intention, and the weakest in intellect, that ever tyrannized over a country. It is the first time indeed, since the Normans, that England has been insulted by a minister (at least) who could not speak English1), and that Parliament permitted itself to be dictated to in the language of Mrs. Malaprop 2).
Of the manner of his death little need be said, except that, if a poor Radical had cut his throat, he would have been buried in a cross-road, with the usual appurtenances of the stake and mallet *). But the Minister was an elegant lunatic—a sentimental suicide; he merely cut the 'carotid artery' (blessings on their learningf), and lo! the pageant, and the Abbey4), and 'the syllables of dolour % yelled forth' by the newspapers, and the harangue of the coroner«) in an eulogy over the bleeding body of the deceased (an Antony worthy of such a Caesar), and the nauseous and atrocious cant of a degraded crew of conspiratois against all that is sincere and honourable. In his death he was
f. An allusion to the first two kings of the House of Hanover, George I. and George II., of whom the first could not speak English at all, whereas the second spoke it with a marked German accent.
2. Personage in a comedy by Sheridan, The /?/vafc(1775). Mrs. Malaprop is fond of using learned words, but she invariably chooses wrong ones, e.g, 'Now don't attempt to extirpate yourself from the matter' instead of exculpate.
3. Down to the end of the nineteenth century (1882) it was Iegal to bury suïcides in a cross-road with a stake driven through the body. A mallet is a wooden hammer. Such a burial is described by Thomas Hardy (see no. I here) in a tale (The Grove by the HandposQ occurring in the collection A Changed Man and Other Tales.
4. the pageant and the Abbey: public and solemn burial with a religious service in Westminster Abbey, the church where the greatest personages of English history have been buried.
5. dolour [dotar]: a poetical word for 'sorrow.'
6. coroner: official (usually a doctor) presiding over the jury that must inquire into the cause of death in the case of persons who are supposed to have died by violence or accident.
England in the 19th Cent. I.