« ПредишнаНапред »
Mrs. ARABELLA FERMOR.
for this piece, since I dedicate it to you. Yet you may bear me witness, it was intended only to divert a few young Ladies, who have good sense 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 secret, it soon found its way into the world. An imperfect copy having been offered to a Bookseller, you had the good-nature for my fake to consent to the publication of one more correct: This I was forced to, before I had executed half my design, 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 respect like many modern Ladies: let an a&ion be never so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmoft importance. These Machines I determined to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Rosicrufian doctrine of Spirits.
I know how disagreeable 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 Rosicrusians are a people I must bring you ago quainted wich. 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 miftake. According to these Gentlemen, the foạr elements are inhabited by Spirits which they call Sylpbs, 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-conditioned creatures ima. ginable. 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 in. violate preservation of Chastity.
As to the following Cantos, 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 fi&itious at the Airy ones : and the character of Belinda, as it is now managed, refembles you in nothing but in Beauty.
If this poem bad as many Graces as there are in your Person, or in your Mind, yet I could never hope it should pass through 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 am, with the truest esteem,
Your most obedient, bumble Servant,
Let Wreaths of Friumph nav my Templestmine, The Victor cryd, the gloriouś Prize is mine.
Shape of the Lock
RAPE of the LOCK.
* Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos ;
CAN TO I.
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
a It appears by this Motto, that the following Poem was written or published at the Lady's request. But there are fome further cir. cumstances 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 Comedy 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 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 first sketch, (we learn from one of his Letters) was written in less than a fortnight, in 1711, 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 so well, that he made it more considerable the next year, by the addition of the machinery of the Sylphs, and extended it to five Cantos. We shall give the reader the pleasure of seeing in what manner these additions were inserted, so as to feem not to be added, but to grow out of the Poem. See Notes, Canto I, ver. 19.
This insertion he always esteemed, and juftly, the greatest effort of his skill and art as a Puet.