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Distrustful sense with modest caution speaks,
But where's the man, who counsel can bestow,
Not dully prepossess'd, nor blindly right;
Tho' learn'd, well-bred; and tho' well-bred, sincere;
Who to a friend his faults can freely show,
The mighty Stagirite first left the shore,
Spread all his sails, and durst the deeps explore;
Yet judg'd with coolness, tho' he sung with fire;
His Precepts teach but what his works inspire.
They judge with fury, but they write with phlegm:
Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire, And bless their Critic with a Poet's fire. An ardent Judge, who zealous in his trust, With warmth gives sentence, yet is always just; Whose own example strengthens all his laws; And is himself that great Sublime he draws. Thus long succeeding Critics justly reign'd, Licence repress'd, and useful laws ordain'd. Learning and Rome alike in empire grew; And Arts still follow'd where her Eagles flew; From the same foes, at last, both felt their doom, 685 And the same age saw Learning fall, and Rome. With Tyranny, then Superstition join'd, As that the body, this enslav'd the mind; Much was believ'd, but little understood, And to be dull was constru'd to be good; A second deluge Learning thus o'er-run, And the Monks finish'd what the Goths begun. At length Erasmus, that great injur'd name,
(The glory of the priesthood, and the shame!) Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barb'rous age, And drove those holy Vandals off the stage.
But see! each Muse, in LEO's golden days,
But soon by impious arms from Latium chas'd,
Yet some there were, among the sounder few
To him the wit of Greece and Rome was known,
And ev'ry author's merit, but his own.
Such late was Walsh-the Muse's judge and friend, Who justly knew to blame or to commend;
To failings mild, but zealous for desert;
Not free from faults, nor yet too vain to mend.
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK
DEDICATION TO MRS. ARABELLA FERMOR
MADAM,—It will be in vain to deny that I have some regard 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 sex'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 offer'd to a Bookseller, you had the good-nature for my sake to consent to the publication of one more correct: This I was forc'd 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 signify 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 action be never so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance. These Machines I determin'd to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Rosicrucian 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 Rosicrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book call'd 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 Salamanders. The Gnomes or Dæmons of Earth delight in mischief; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the air, are the best-conditioned creatures imaginable. 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 inviolate preservation of Chastity. As to the following Cantos, all the passages of them are as tabuious 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 fictitious as the Airy ones; and the character of Belinda, as it is now manag'd, resembles you in nothing but in Beauty.
If this Poem had 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 Uncensur'd 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, MADAM, your most obedient, Humble Servant, A. POPE.
Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;
Sed juvat, hoc precibus me tribuisse tuis.-Mart.
WHAT dire offence from am'rous causes springs,