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Say what ftrange motive, Goddefs! could compel A well-bred Lord t' affault a gentle Belle? O fay what stranger caufe, yet unexplor'd, Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord? In tasks fo bold, can little men engage, And in foft bofoms dwells fuch mighty rage? Sol thro' white curtains shot a tim❜rous ray, And ope'd thofe eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs gave themselves the rouzing shake, 15 And fleepless lovers, juft at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the flipper knock'd the ground, And the prefs'd watch return'd a filver found. Belinda ftill her downy pillow preft,
Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy reft:
VER. II, 12. It was in the first editions,
And dwells fuch rage in fofteft bofoms then,
Sol thro' white curtains did his beams difplay,
Vrn. 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 imitation 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 metaphyfical, 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
Fairest of mortals, thou diftinguith'd care
to attend to, our Author's good fense would not suffer 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 fyftem in all nature which was to his purpose, the Rofcrufian 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 Jewith 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 these 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 stead, made ufe of the Legendary ftories of Guardian Angels, and the Nursery Tales of the Fairies; which he has artfully accommodated to the reft of the Roficrufian Syftem. And to this, (unless we will be fo uncharitable to believe he intended to give a needless scandal) we muft fuppofe 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 contrived, 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 fhadows feen,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs;
And tho' the plays no more, o'erlooks the cards..
VER. 47. As now your own, etc.] He here forfakes the Roficrufian 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 state, when the mind, before its leaving this, has not been purged and purified by philofophy, which furnishes an occafion for much useful fatire,
Quæ gratia currûm
VER. 54, 55.
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,
Know farther yet; whoever fair and chaste
Some nymphs there are, too confcious cf their face,
While Peers, and Dukes, and all their fweeping train,
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 principle, 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 foul,
Oft, when the world imagine women ftray,
Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive.
VER. 108. In the clear Mirror] The language of the Platonists, the writers of the intelligible world of fpirits, etc.
VER. 113. This to difclofe, etc.] There is much pleasantry in the ecnduct of this fcene. The Roficrufian doctrine was delivered only to Adepts, with the utmost caution, and under the moft folema