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Say what ftrange motive, Goddess! could compet A well-bred Lord t' assault a gentle Belle ? O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd, Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord ?
10 In talks fo bold, can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage?
Sol thro' white curtains shot a tim'rous ray, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs gave themselves the rouzing shake, 15 And seepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock’d the ground, And the press’d watch return'd a silver sound, Belinda ftill her downy pillow prest, Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy reft:
VARIATIONS, VIR. IT, 12. It was in the first editions,
And dwells such rage in fofteft bosoms then,
And lodge such daring souls in little men?
Sol thro' white curtains did his beams display,
Thrice the wrought Nipper knock'd against the ground,
NOTE . VIR. 19. Belinda fill, etc.). All the verses 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 subject of the Epic Poem confifts of two parts, the metapbysical and the civil, so this mock-epic, which is of the fatiric kind, and receives its grace from a ludicrous imji tation of the other's pomp and folemnity, was to have the same divifion of the fabject. And, as the civil part is intentionally debased by the choice of an insignificant a&tion ; lo should the metapbysical, by the use of fome very extravagant system. A rule which, ihough neither Boileay nor Garth have been carefulenough
'Twas He had fummon'd to her filent bed The morning dream that hover'd o'er her bead. A Youth more glitering than a birth night beau, (That ev'n in slumber caus'd her cheek to glow) Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay, 25 And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say.
Fairest of mortals, thou diftinguilh'd care Of thousand bright Inhabitants of Air ! If e'er one Vision touch thy infant thought, Of all the Nurfe and all the Priest have taught; 30
to attend to, our Author's good sense would not suffer him to overlook. And that fort of Machinery which his judgment taught him was only fit for his use, his admirable invention supplied. There . was but one system in all nature which was to his purpose, the Rofcrufian Pbilosopby; and this, by the well-directed effort of his imagination, he presently seized upon. The fanatic Alchemists, in their search after the great secret, had invented a means altogether proportioned to their end. It was a kind of Theological Philosophy, made up of almost equal mixtures of Pagan Platonism, Chrif. tian Quietism, and the Jewish Cabbala; a composition enough to fright reason from human commerce. This general system, 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 invisible feet, of which the stories that went about at that time made a great deal of noise at Paris. But as, in this satirical Dialogue, Mr. P. found feveral whimsies, of a very high mysterious kind, told of the nature of these elementary beings, which were very unfit to come into the machinery of such a sort of poem, he has with great judgment omitted them: and in their stead, made use of the Legendary stories of Guardian Angels, and the Nursery Tales of the Fairies; which he has artfully accommodated to the reft of the Rosicrufian System. And to this, (unless we will be fo uncharitable to believe he intended to give a needless scandal) we muft fuppose he referred, in these two lines :
If e'er one Vision touch'd thy infant thought,
Thus, by the most beautiful invention imaginable, he has costa trived, that, as in the ferious Epic, the popular belief fupports the Machinery; fo, in his mock-epic, the Machinery should be con. drived to difmouat philofophic pride and arrogance,
Of airy Elves by moonlight shadows feen,
45 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 these of air.
50" Think not, when Woman's transient breath is filed, That all her vanities at once are dead; Succeeding vanities the fill regards, And tho' the plays no more, o'erlooks the cards. Her joy in gilded Chariots, when alive,
55 And love of Ombre, after death survive.
VER. 47. As not 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 passions in another state, whep the mind, before its leaving this, has not been purged and purified by philusophy, which furnishes an occafion for much useful satire,
Quæ gratia currûm
For when the Fair in all their pride expire,
graver Prude finks downward to a Gnome,
Know farther yet ; whoever fair and chaste Rejects mankind, is by some Sylph embrac'd : For, spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease, Affume what sexes and what shapes they please., 70 What guards the purity of melting Maids, In courtly balls, and midnight masquerades, Safe from the treach'rous friend, the daring spark, The glance by day, the whisper in the dark, When kind occafion prompts their warm desires, 75 When mufic softens, and when dancing fires ? 'Tis but their Sylph, the wise Celestials know, Tho' Honour is the word with Men below.
Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their face, For life predestin'd to the Gnomes embrace. 80 These swell their profpects and exalt their pride, When offers are disdain'd, and love deny'd: Then
ideas croud the vacant brain, While Peers, and Dukes, and all their sweeping train, And Garters, Stars, and Coronets appear, 85 And in soft sounds, Your Grace falutes their ear.
VER. 68. is by fome Sylpb embrac'd:] Here again the Author resumes a tenet peculiar to the Rosicrusian system. But the prix. ciple, on which it is founded, was by no means fit to be employed in such a sort of poem,
'Tis these that early taint the female soul,
of these am I, who thy protection claim, 105
VIR. 108. In the clear Mirror] The language of the Platonists, the writers of the intelligible world of spirits, etc.
VER. 1!3. This to disclose, etc.] There is much pleasantry in the écnduct of this scene. The Rosicrusian doctrine was delivered. only. to Adepts, with the utmost caution, and under the most folema