chapter  2
30 Pages

‘The Jakes of Genius’: The Nature of the Midwife

This chapter discusses the nature and stylistic methods of the political engagement within the Midwife. It illustrates by example the accuracy of J. G. A. Pocock's lament that the word "Tory" and the word "reactionary" fail to do justice to the ambivalence of contemporary political thought. One can find Mrs. Midnight declaring in chorus with Boling broke that 'while there are Parties in the State, there can be no true Patriot Policy'. Nothing in the Midwife illustrates this 'anti-French and anti-aristocratic' attitude better than Smart's own poem in Hudibrastic couplets, 'The Bag-wig and the Tobacco-pipe', anonymously published in the third number of the magazine. Jacobitism then, was by no means a dead letter in 1751, and the presence of 'The Little Lighter man' in the Midwife certainly attests to that fact. Indeed, the personal history of Bolingbroke, whose ideas we have seen smart promulgating in the Midwife, was intimately bound up with jacobitism.