NOTES ON ISSUE 5: ALLUSIONS
it increased and multiplied
This phrase recalls Genesis 9:1: "And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."
the Bank Dragon keeping watch over the treasures of the mine
Mrs. Sparsit is implicitly compared to the dragon Ladon, a beast in Greek mythology who watches over the golden apples of the Hesperides.
it having been clearly ascertained by philosophers that in this is comprised the whole duty of man
The Practice of Christian Graces; or, The Whole Duty of Man was a religious work, popularly referred to by its subtitle, written in 1659. It was reprinted frequently throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and was still in print (in several editions) in the nineteenth century.
took her classical features downstairs again, and entered the board-room in the manner of a Roman matron going outside the city walls to treat with an invading general
This passage alludes to Shakespeare's play Coriolanus, in which Volumnia, the title character's mother, goes out to ask her son to spare Rome. The parallel here is far from exact and is perhaps even ironic, but it underlines Mrs. Sparsit's comic role in the novel.
cutting the throats of the Graces
In Greek mythology, the three Graces—Aglaia, Thalia, and Euphrosyne—represent charm, beauty, and happiness.