Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

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 Rosicrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book, called · 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 salaman. ders. The gnomes, or demons of earth, delight in mischief: but the sylphs, whose habitation is ini the air, are the best-conditioned creatures imaginable; for, they say, any mortal 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 cantos, all the passages of them are as fabulous as the vision at the beginping, 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 managed, resembles you in nothing but in beanty.

If this poem had as many graces as there are in your person, or in yonr mind, yet I could never hope it should pass throrigh the world half so uncensured as you have done. But let its fortune be what it will, mine is happy enough, to have given me this occasion of assuring you that I ain, with the truest esteem, Madam, Your most obedient, humble servant,

A. POPE. VOL. Í.

[ocr errors][merged small]

Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;
Sed juvat, boc precibus me tribuisse tuis.

MART.

CANTO 1. What dire offence from amorous causes springs, What mighty contests rise from trivial things, I sing—This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due: . This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view : Slight is the snbject, but not so the praise, If sbe inspire, and he approve my lays.

Say what strange motive,!goddess ! could compel A well-bred lord to' assault a gentle belle? O say wbat stranger cause, yet upexplord, Could make a gentle belle reject a lord? In tasks so bold can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such migbty rage?

Sol through white curtains shot a timorous ray, And op'd those eyes that must eclipse the day. Now lap-dogs give themselves the rouzing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper kpock'd the ground, And the press'd watch return'd a silver sound. Belinda still ber downy pillow press'd, Her guardian sylph prolong'd the balmy rest : 'Twas he had sunimon'd to ber silent bed The morning-dream that hover'd o'er her bead :

A youth more glittering than a birthnight beau,
(That ev'n in slumber caus’d her cheek to glow)
Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay,
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'd tly 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 heavenly flow'rs;
Hear and believe! thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some sacred truths, from learned pride conceald,
To maids alone and children are reveal'd;
What though no credit doubting wits may give,
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Know then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly,
The light militia of the lower sky:
These, thongh unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring.
Think what an equipage thou hast 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 soft transition, we repair
From earthly vehicles to those of air.
Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled,
That all her vanities at once are dead;
Succeeding vanities she still regards,
And, though she plays no more, o'erlooks the cards.
Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive,
And love of ombre, after death snrvive.

For when the fair in all their pride expire,
To their first elements their souls retire:
The sprites of fiery termagants in flame
Mount up, and take a salamander's name.
Soft yielding minds to water glide away,
And sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea.
The graver prude sinks downward to a gnome,
In search of mischief still on earth to roam.
The light coquettes in sylphs aloft repair,
And sport and futter in the fields of air.

• Know further yet; whoever fair and chaste
Rejects mankind, is by some sylph embrac'd:
For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease
Assume what sexes and what shapes they please.
What guards the purity of melting maids,
In courtly balls, and midnight masquerades,
Safe from the treacherous friend, the daring spark,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark ;
When kind occasion prompts their warm desires,
When music softens, and when dancing fires ?
'Tis but their sylph, the wise celestials know,
Though honour is the word with men below.

Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their For life predestin'd to the gnomes' embrace. [face, These swell their prospects, and exalt their pride, When offers are disdain’d, and love denied : Then gay ideas crowd the vacant brain, While peers, and dukes, and all their sweeping train, And garters, stars, and coronets appear, And in soft sounds, “your Grace” salates their ear. 'Tis these that early taint the female soul, Instruct the eyes of young coquettes to roll, Teach infant checks a bidden blush to know, And little hearts to flutter at a beau,

Oft, when the world imagine women stray, The sylphs through mystic mazes guide their way; Through 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, It gentle Damon did not squeeze her hand? With varying vanities, from every part, They shift the moving toyshop of their heart; Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots sword

knots strive, Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive. This erring mortals levity may call; Oh, blind to truth! the sylphs contrive it all.

• Of these am I, who thy protection claim, A watchful sprite, and Ariel is my name. Late as I rang'd the crystal wilds of air, In the clear mirror of thy ruling star, I saw, álas! some dread event impend, Ere to the main this morning sun descend, But Heav'n reveals not what, or how, or where: Warn'd by thy sylph, O pious maid, beware! This to disclose is all thy guardian can: Beware of all, but most beware of man ! He said ; when Shock, who thought she slept

too long, Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue. “'Twas then, Belindą, if report say true,

Thy eyes first open'd on a billet-doux;
Wounds, charms, and ardours, were no sooner read,
But all the vision yanish'd from thy head.

And now, unveil'd, the toilet stands display'd, Each silver vase in mystic order laid,

« ПредишнаНапред »