« 上一頁繼續 »
MRS. ARABELLA FERMOR.
T will be in vain to deny that I have fome regard for this piece, fince I dedicate it to You. Yet you may bear me witness, it was intended only to divert a few young Ladies, who have good fenfe and good humour enough to laugh not only at their fex's little unguarded follies, but at their own. But as it was communicated with the air of a fecret, it foon found its way into the world. An imperfect copy having been offered to a Bookfeller, you had the good-nature for my fake to confent to the publication of one more correct: This I was forced to, before I had executed half my defign, for the Machinery was entirely wanting to complete it.
The Machinery, Madam, is a term invented by the Critics, to fignify that part which the Deities, Angels, or Dæmons, are made to act in a Poem: For the ancient Poets are in one refpect like many modern Ladies: let an action be never so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance. These Machines I determined to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Roficrufian doctrine of Spirits.
I know how difagreeable it is to make use of hard words before a Lady; but 'tis so much the concern of a Poet to have his works understood, and particularly by your Sex, that you must give me leave to explain two or three difficult terms.
The Roficrufians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The beft account I know of them is in a French book called Le Comte de Gabalis, which, both
in its title and fize, 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, whofe habitation is in the Air, are the best-conditioned creatures imaginable. For they fay, any mortals may enjoy the moft intimate familiarities with thefe gentle Spirits, upon a condition very easy to all true Adepts, an inviolate prefervation of Chastity.
As to the following Cantos, all the paffages of them are as fabulous as the Vision at the beginning, or the Transformation at the end; (except the lofs of your hair, which I always mention with reverence.) The Human perfons are as fictitious at the Airy ones: and the character of Belinda, as it is now managed, refembles you in nothing but in Beauty.
If this Poem had as many Graces as there are in your Perfon, or in your Mind, yet I could never hope it fhould pass through the world half so uncenfured as You have done. But let its fortune be what it will, mine is happy enough, to have given me this occafion of affuring you that I am, with the trueft efteem,
Your most obedient, bumble Servant,
Let Wreaths of Triumph now my Temples twine, The Victor cryd, the glorious Prize is mine.
of the Sec
RAPE of the LOCK.
a Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;
'HAT dire offence from am'rous caufes fprings, What mighty contests rife from trivial things, I fing-This verfe to CARYL, Muse! is due: This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view: Slight is the fubject, but not fo the praise, If She infpire, and He approve my lays.
a It appears by this Motto, that the following Poem was written or published at the Lady's request. But there are fome further circumftances not unworthy relating. Mr. Caryl (a gentleman who was Secretary to Queen Mary, wife of James II. whofe fortunes he followed into France, author of the Comedy of Sir Solomon Single, and of feveral tranflations in Dryden's Mifcellanies) originally propofed the fubject to him, in a view of putting an end, by this piece of ridicule, to a quarrel that was rifen between two noble families, thofe of Lord Petre and of Mrs. Fermor, on the trifling occafion of his having cut off a lock of her hair. The Author fent it to the Lady, with whom he was acquainted; and she took it fo well as to give about copies of it. That firft sketch, (we learn from one of his Letters) was written in less than a fortnight, in 1717, in two Cantos only, and it was fo printed; first, in a Miscellany of Bern. Lintot'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 Cantos. We fhall give the reader the pleasure of feeing in what manner these additions were inferted, fo as to feem not to be added, but to grow out of the Poem. See Notes, Canto I. ver. 19.
This infertion he always efteemed, and juftly, the greateft effort of his kill and art as a Poet.