ePub 版

Say what ftrange motive, Goddefs! could compel A well-bred Lord t' affault a gentle Belle? O fay what stranger caufe, yet unexplor'd, Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord? In tasks fo bold, can little men engage, And in foft bofoms dwells fuch mighty rage? Sol thro' white curtains shot a tim❜rous ray, And ope'd thofe eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs gave themselves the rouzing shake, 15 And fleepless lovers, juft at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the flipper knock'd the ground, And the prefs'd watch return'd a filver found. Belinda ftill her downy pillow preft,

Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy reft:


VER. II, 12. It was in the first editions,

And dwells fuch rage in fofteft bofoms then,
And lodge fuch daring fouls in little men?
VER. 13. etc. Stood thus in the first edition,

Sol thro' white curtains did his beams difplay,
And ope'd thofe eyes which brighter fhone than they ;
Shock juft had giv'n himself the roufing shake,
And Nymphs prepar'd their Chocolate to take;
Thrice the wrought flipper knock'd against the ground,
And ftriking watches the tenth hour refound.


[ocr errors]



Vrn. 19. Belinda ftill, etc.] All the verfes from hence to the end of this Canto were added afterwards..

VER. 20. Her guardian Sylph] When Mr. Pope had projected to give this Poem its prefent form, he was obliged to find it with its Machinery. For as the fubject of the Epic Poem confifts of two parts, the metaphyfical and the civil, fo this mock-epic, which is of the fatiric kind, and receives its grace from a ludicrous imitation of the other's pomp and folemnity, was to have the fame divifion of the fabject, And, as the civil part is intentionally debafed by the choice of an infignificant action; so should the metaphyfical, by the use of fome very extravagant fyftem. A rule which, though neither Boileau nor Garth have been careful enough

"Twas He had fummon'd to her filent bed
The morning dream that hover'd o'er her head.
A Youth more glitt'ring than a birth night beau,
(That ev'n in flumber caus'd her cheek to glow)
Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay,
And thus in whifpers faid, or feem'd to fay.

Fairest of mortals, thou diftinguith'd care
Of thousand bright Inhabitants of Air!
If e'er one Vision touch thy infant thought,
Of all the Nurfe and all the Prieft have taught;



to attend to, our Author's good fense would not suffer him to overlook. And that fort of Machinery which his judgment taught him was only fit for his ufe, his admirable invention fupplied. There was but one fyftem in all nature which was to his purpose, the Rofcrufian Philofopby; and this, by the well-directed effort of his imagination, he prefently feized upon. The fanatic Alchemifts, in their fearch after the great fecret, had invented a means altogether proportioned to their end. It was a kind of Theological Philofophy, made up of almoft equal mixtures of Pagan Platonism, Chriftian Quietiim, and the Jewith Cabbala; a compofition enough to fright reafon from human commerce. This general fyftem, he tells us, he took as he found it in a little French tract, called Le Comte de Cabalis. This book is written in dialogue, and is a delicate and very ingenious piece of raillery of the Abbé Villiers, upon that invifible fect, of which the ftories that went about at that time made a great deal of noise at Paris. But as, in this fatirical Dialogue, Mr. P. found feveral whimfies, of a very high mysterious kind, told of the nature of these elementary beings, which were very unfit to come into the machinery of fuch a fort of poem, he has with great judgment omitted them: and in their stead, made ufe of the Legendary ftories of Guardian Angels, and the Nursery Tales of the Fairies; which he has artfully accommodated to the reft of the Roficrufian Syftem. And to this, (unless we will be fo uncharitable to believe he intended to give a needless scandal) we muft fuppofe he referred, in these two lines:

If e'er one Vision 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 ferious Epic, the popular belief fupports the Machinery; fo, in his mock-epic, the Machinery fhould be con trived to difmount philofophic pride and arrogance,

Of airy Elves by moonlight fhadows feen,
The filver token, and the circled green,
Or virgins vifited by Angel-powers,


With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs;
Hear and believe! they own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some fecret truths, from learned pride conceal'd,
To Maids alone and Children are reveal'd:
What tho' no credit doubting Wits may give?
The Fair and Innocent fhall ftill believe.
Know then, unnumber'd Spirits round thee fly,
The light Militia of the lower sky :
Thefe, tho' unfeen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the Box, and hover round the Ring.
Think what an equipage thou haft in air,
And view with scorn two Pages and a Chair.
As now your own, our beings were of old,
And once inclos'd in Woman's beauteous mould;
Thence, by a foft tranfition, we repair.
From earthly vehicles to these of air.
Think not, when Woman's tranfient breath is fled,.
That all her vanities at once are dead;
Succeeding vanities fhe ftill regards,


And tho' the plays no more, o'erlooks the cards..
Her joy in gilded Chariots, when alive,
And love of Ombre, after death furvive.



VER. 47. As now your own, etc.] He here forfakes the Roficrufian fyftem; which, in this part, is too extravagant even for Poetry; and gives a beautiful fiction of his own, on the Platonic Theology of the continuance of the paffions in another state, when the mind, before its leaving this, has not been purged and purified by philofophy, which furnishes an occafion for much useful fatire,


Quæ gratia currûm

VER. 54, 55.

A morumque fuit vivis, quæ cura nitentes

P.fcere equos, eadem fequiturtel ure repofos. Virg. Æn. vi,

[ocr errors]

For when the Fair in all their pride expire,
To their firft Elements their Souls retire :
The fprites of fiery Termagants in Flame
Mount up, and take a Salamander's name.
Soft yielding minds to Water glide away,
And fip, with nymphs, their elemental tea.
The graver Prude finks downward to a Gnome,
In fearch of mifchief ftill on Earth to roam.
The light Coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair,
And sport and flutter in the fields of Air.

Know farther yet; whoever fair and chaste
Rejects mankind, is by fome Sylph embrac'd:
For, fpirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease,
Affume what fexes and what fhapes they please..
What guards the purity of melting Maids,
In courtly balls, and midnight mafquerades,"
Safe from the treach'rous friend, the daring fpark,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark,
When kind occafion prompts their warm defires, 75
When mufic foftens, and when dancing fires?
'Tis but their Sylph, the wife Celestials know,
Tho' Honour is the word with Men below.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


Some nymphs there are, too confcious cf their face,
For life predeftin'd to the Gnomes embrace. 80
These fwell their profpects and exalt their pride,
When offers are difdain'd, and love deny'd:
Then gay ideas croud the vacant brain,


While Peers, and Dukes, and all their fweeping train,
And Garters, Stars, and Coronets appear,


And in foft founds, Your Grace falutes their ear.

VER. 68. is by fome Sylph embrac'd:] Here again the Author refumes a tenet peculiar to the Roficrufian fyftem. But the principle, on which it is founded, was by no means fit to be employed in fuch a fort of poem.

'Tis thefe that early taint the female foul,
Inftruct the eyes of young Coquettes to roll,
Teach infant cheeks a bidden blush to know,
And little hearts to flutter at a Beau.

Oft, when the world imagine women ftray,
The Sylphs thro' myftic mazes guide their way,
Thro' all the giddy circle they pursue,
And old impertinence expel by new.
What tender maid but must a victim fall
To one man's treat, but for another's ball ?
When Florio speaks, what virgin could withstand,
If gentle Damon did not fqueeze her hand?
With varying vanities, from ev'ry part,
They fhift the moving Toy-fhop of their heart;
Where wigs with wigs, with fword-knots fword-knots

Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive.
This erring mortals Levity may call,
Oh blind to truth! the Sylphs contrive it all.
Of thefe am I, who thy protection claim,
A watchful fprite, and Ariel is my name.
Late, as I rang'd the cryftal wilds of air,
In the clear Mirror of thy ruling Star
I faw, alas! fome dread event impend,
Ere to the main this morning fun descend;
But heav'n reveals not what, or how, or where:
Warn'd by the Sylph, oh pions maid, beware!
This to difclofe is all thy guardian can :
Beware of all, but moft beware of Man!

[ocr errors]





VER. 108. In the clear Mirror] The language of the Platonists, the writers of the intelligible world of fpirits, etc.

VER. 113. This to difclofe, etc.] There is much pleasantry in the ecnduct of this fcene. The Roficrufian doctrine was delivered only to Adepts, with the utmost caution, and under the moft folema


« 上一頁繼續 »