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THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
CLOSE by those meads, for ever crown'd with
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising tow'rs,
Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom 5
Snuff, or the fan, supply each pause of chat,
Ver. 11, 12. Originally in the first edition,
Ver. 1. Close by those meads,] The first edition continues from this line to ver. 24 of this Canto.
In various talk the chearful hours they past,
Meanwhile, declining from the noon of day, The sun obliquely shoots his burning ray; The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang that jury-men may dine; The merchant from th' Exchange returns in peace, And the long labours of the Toilet cease. Belinda now, whom thirst of fame invites, Burns to encounter two advent'rous Knights, At Ombre singly to decide their doom; And swells her breast with conquests yet to come. Straight the three bands prepare in arms to join, Each band the number of the sacred Nine. Soon as she spreads her hand, th' aërial guard Descend, and sit on each important card: First Ariel perch'd upon a Matadore, Then each according to the rank they bore; For Sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race, Are, as when women, wond'rous fond of place. Behold, four Kings, in majesty rever'd, With hoary whiskers and a forky beard; And four fair Queens whose hands sustain a flow'r, Th' expressive emblem of their softer pow'r; 40 Four Knaves in garbs succinct, a trusty band; Caps on their heads, and halberts in their hand;
Ver. 22. And wretches hang] From Congreve. Warton.
Ver. 24. And the long labours of the Toilet cease.] All that follows of the game at Ombre, was added since the first edition, till ver. 105, which connected thus,
Sudden the board with cups and spoons is crown'd.
And party-colour'd troops, a shining train,
The skilful Nymph reviews her force with care: Let Spades be trumps! she said, and trumps they
Now move to war her sable Matadores, In show like leaders of the swarthy Moors. Spadillio first, unconquerable Lord!
Led off two captive trumps, and swept the board. As many more Manillio forc'd to yield,
And march'd a victor from the verdant field.
And mow'd down armies in the fights of Lu,
Ver. 53. Him Basto follow'd,] The magnificent and majestic style in which this game of cards is described, artfully and finely heightens the ridicule. Warton.
Ver. 65. Belinda yield;] It is finely contrived that she should be victorious; as it occasions a change of fortune in the dreadful
His warlike Amazon her host invades,
Th' imperial consort of the crown of Spades.
The Baron now his Diamonds pours apace! 75
In heaps on heaps; one fate o'erwhelms them all.
loss she was speedily to undergo, and gives occasion to the Poet to introduce a moral reflection from Virgil, which adds to the pleasantry of the story. In one of the passages where Pope has copied Vida, he has lost the propriety of the original, which arises from the different colours of the men, at Chess.
Thus, when dispers'd, a routed army runs, &c.
"Non aliter, campis legio se buxea utrinque
The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts, And wins (oh shameful chance!) the Queen of Hearts. At this, the blood the Virgin's cheek forsook, A livid paleness spreads o'er all her look; She sees, and trembles at th' approaching ill, Just in the jaws of ruin, and Codille. And now (as oft in some distemper'd State) On one nice Trick depends the gen'ral fate: An Ace of Hearts steps forth: The King unseen 95 Lurk'd in her hand, and mourn'd his captive Queen: He springs to vengeance with an eager pace, And falls like thunder on the prostrate Ace. The nymph exulting fills with shouts the sky; The walls, the woods, and long canals reply. 100 Oh thoughtless mortals! ever blind to fate, Too soon dejected, and too soon elate.
Ver. 95. An Ace of Hearts steps forth :] Nothing can exceed Pope's powers of description, as displayed in this game of Cards. His mock-heroic paintings of the Kings, their ensigns, and characters, are inimitable. Warton in his Essay, speaking of Windsor Forest, says, descriptive Poetry was by no means the shining talent of Pope. Of rural objects Pope was not an able describer, as he could not be an accurate observer; but in description of scenes taken from artificial Life, his powers are very manifest. This distinction should be always attended to, in estimating Pope's poetical Bowles.
It is of no importance whether the materials are derived from real or artificial life, from objects of nature or of art; from the external, or the intellectual world. It is the use that the writer makes of them which determines his claim to the title of a poet.
"Nescia mens hominum fati sortisque futuræ ;
Et servare modum, rebus sublata secundis !