Page images
PDF
EPUB

a French book call'd Le Comte de Gabalis, which both in its title and size is so like a Novel, that many of the Fair Sex have read it for one by mistake. According to these Gentlemen, the four Elements are inhabited by Spirits, which they call Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders. The Gnomes or Dæmons of Earth delight in mischief; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the Air, are the best condition'd creatures imaginable. For they say, any mortals may enjoy the most intimate familiarities with these gentle Spirits, upon a condition very easy to all true Adepts, an inviolate preservation of Chastity.

As to the following Canto's, all the passages of them are as fabulous, as the Vision at the beginning, or the Transformation at the end ; (except the loss of your Hair, which I always mention with reverence.) The Human persons are as fictitious as the Airy ones; and the character of Belinda, as it is now manag'd, resem bles you in nothing but in Beauty, .

If this Poem had as many Graces as there are in your Person, or in your Mind, yet I could never hope it 1hould pass thro' the world half so Uncensur'd as You have done. But let its fortune be what it will, mine is happy enough, to have given me this occasion of ası suring you that I am, with the truet esteem,

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

THE

RAPE of the LOCK,

Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;

Sed juvat hoc precibus me tribuisse tuis. MART.

CANTO I.

[ocr errors]

HAT dire offence from am'rous causes

springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I fing---This verse to CARYL, Muse! is due;
This ev’n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:

NOTES. It appears by this Motto, that the following Poem was written or published at the Lady's request. But there are some further circumstances not unworthy relating. Mr. Caryl (a Gentleman who was Secretary to Queen Mary, wife of James II. whose fortunes he followed into France, Author of the Co. medy of Sir Solomon Single, and of several translations in Dryden's Miscellanies) originally proposed the subject to him in a view of putting an end, by this piece of ridicule, to a quarrel that was risen between two noble Families, those of Lord Petre and of Mrs Fermor, on the trifling occasion of his having cut off a lock of her hair. The Author sent it to the Lady, with whom he was acquainted; and she took it so well as to give about copies of it. That first sketch, (we learn from one of his Letters) was written in less than a fortnight, in 1711. in two Canto's only, and it was so printed ; first, in a Miscellany of Bern. Ling

Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,

5 If She inspire, and He approve my lays.

Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel A well-bred Lord t'affault a gentle Belle? O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor’d, Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord? IO In tasks so bold, can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty Rage?

Sol thro' white curtains shot a tim'rous ray, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day:

VARIATIONS
VER, IT, 12. It was in the first editions,

And dwells sạch rage in softest bofoms then,

And lodge fuch daring Souls in little Men? P.
VER. 13. etc. Stood thus in the firft Edition,

Sol thro' white curtains did his beams difplay,
And ope'd those eyes which brighter shone than they;
Shock juft had giv’n himself the rousing fhake,
And Nymphs prepar'd their Chocolate to take ;
Thrice the wrought Nipper knock'd against the ground,
And Atriking watches the tenth hour resound, P.

NOTES. tot's, without the name of the Author, · But it was received fo well, that he made it more confiderable the next year by the addition of the machinery of the Sylphs, and extended it to five Canto's. We Thall give the reader the pleafure of seeing in what manner these additions were inserted, so as to seem not to be added, but to grow out of the Poem. See Notes, Cant. I, x 19, etc. P.

This insertion he always esteemed, and juftly, the greatest effort of his kill and art as a Poet.

Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake,
And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: 16
Thrice rung the bell,the slipper knock'd the ground,
And the press'd watch return'd a silver sound.
Belinda still her downy pillow prest,
Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy rest:
'Twas He had fummon'd to her filent bed
The morning dream that hover'd o'er her head,

2 1

NOTES. Ver. 22. Belinda flil, etc.] All the verses from hence to the end of this Cantò were added afterwards. P.

VER. 20. Her Guardian Sylph] When Mr. Pope had pro · jected to give this Poem its present form, he was obliged to find it with its Machinery. For as the subject of the Epic Poem consists of two parts, the metaphysical and the civil; so this mock epic, which is of the satiric kind, and receives its grace from a ludicrous imitation of the other's pomp and folemnity, was to have the same division of the subject. And, as the civil part is intentionally debased by the choice of an insignificant action: so should the metaphysical, by the use of some very extravagant system. A rule, which tho' neither Boileau nor Garth have been careful enough to attend to, our Author's good fense would not suffer him to overlook. And that sort of Machinery which his judgment taught him was only fit for his use, his admirable invention supplied. There was but one System in all nature which was to his purpose, the Rosicrufian Philosophy; and this, by the well directed effort of his imagination, he presently seized upon. The fanatic Alchemists, in their search after the great secret, had invented a means altogether proportioned to their end. It was a kind of Theological-Philosophy, made up of almoft equal mixtures of Pagan Platonisin, Christian Quietism, and the Jewish Cabbala; a composition enough to fright Reason from human commerce. This general system, he tells us, he took as he found it in a little French tract called, Le Comte de Gabalis. This book is written in Dialogue, and is a delicate and very ingeni

A Youth more glitt'ring than a Birth-night Beau, (That ev’n in slumber, caus’d her cheek to glow). Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay, 25 And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say..

Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care Of thousand bright Inhabitants of Air ! If e'er one Vision touch thy infant thought, Of all the Nurse and all the Priest have taught;. Of airy. Elves by moonlight shadows seen, The silver token, and the circled

green, Or virgins visited by Angel-pow’rs, With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly

flow'rs;

31

NOTES: ous piece of raillery of the Abbe Villiers, upon that invisible sect; of which the stories that went about at that time, made a great deal of noise at Paris. But, as in this fatirical Dialogue, Mr. P. found several whimsies, of a very high mysterious kind, told of the nature of these elementary beings, which were very unfit to come into the machinery of such a sort of poëm, he has with great judgment omitted them; and in their stead, made use of the Legendary stories of Guardian Angels, and the Nursery Tales of the Fairies; which he has artfully accommodated to the rest of the Roficrufian System. And to this, (unless we will be fo uncharitable to believe he intended to give a needless scandal) we must suppose he referred, in these two lines,

If e'er one Vifion touch'd thy infant thought,
Of all the nurse, and all the

priest have taught. Thus, by the most beautiful invention imaginable, he has contrived, that, as in the serious Epic, the popular belief supports the Machinery; so, in his mock Epic, the Machinery should be contrived to dismount philofophic pride and arrogance,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »