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Say what ftrange motive, Goddess! could compet
Sol thro' white curtains shot a tim❜rous ray,.
Thrice rung the bell, the flipper knock'd the ground,
Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy rest: 20
VER. 11, 12. It was in the first editions,
And dwells fuch rage in fofteft bosoms then,
VER. 13. etc. Stood thus in the first edition,
Sol thro' white curtains did his beams difplay,
And Nymphs prepar'd their Chocolate to take;
Thrice the wrought flipper knock'd against the ground,
VIR. 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 imi tation 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 metaphysical, 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
to attend to, our Author's good fenfe would not fuffer 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 system in all nature which was to his purpose, the Roficrufian 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 Jewish 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 thefe 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 ftead, made ufe of the Legendary stories of Guardian Angels, and the Nurfery Tales of the Fairies; which he has artfully accommodated to the reft of the Roficrifian Syftem. And to this, (unless we will be fo uncharitable to believe he intended to give a needlefs fcandal) we must 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 con trived, 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 shadows feen,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs;
Thefe, tho' unfeen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the Box, and hover round the Ring.
And once inclos'd in Woman's beauteous mould;
From earthly vehicles to these of air.
Think not, when Woman's tranfient breath is filed, That all her vanities at once are dead;
Succeeding vanities fhe ftill regards,
And tho' the plays no more, o'erlooks the cards.
And love of Ombre, after death furvive.
VER. 47. As now your own, etc.] He here forfakes the Roficru fian 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 fate, when the mind, before its leaving this, has not been purged and purified by philofophy, which furnishes an occafion for much useful fatire,
VER. 54, 55.
Quæ gratia currûm
A morumque fuit vivis, quæ cura nitentes
P.fcere equos, eadem fequiturtel ure repofos. Virg. Æn. vi,
For when the Fair in all their pride expire,
Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their face,
For life predeftin'd to the Gnomes embrace.
These fwell their profpects and exalt their pride,
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 prin ciple, 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 soul,
Oft, when the world imagine women stray,
And old impertinence expel by new.
When Florio fpeaks, what virgin could withftand,
They shift the moving Toy-shop of their heart;
Where wigs with wigs, with fword-knots fword-knots
Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive.
But heav'n reveals not what, or how, or where:
Warn'd by the Sylph, oh pions maid, beware!
Beware of all, but most beware of Man!
VER. 108. In the clear Mirror] The language of the Platonis, the writers of the intelligible world of fpirits, etc.
VER. 113. This to disclose, etc.] There is much pleasantry in the écnduct of this fcene. The Roficrufian doctrine was delivered.only. to Adepts, with the utmost caution, and under the moft folema