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This just behind Belinda's neck he spread,
As o'er the fragrant steams she bends her head.
Swift to the Lock a thousand sprites repair,
A thousand wings, by turns, blow back the hair ;
And thrice they twitch'd the diamond in her ear;
Thrice she look'd back, and thrice the foe drew near.
Just in that instant anxious Ariel sought
The close recesses of the virgin's thought.
As on the nosegay in her breast reclin'd,
He watch'd th’ ideas rising in her mind,
Sudden he view'd, in spite of all her art,
An earthly lover lurking at her heart. 6
Amaz'd, confus’d, he found his power expir'd,
Resign'd to fate, and with a sigh retir'd.
The Peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide,
T” inclose the Lock; now joins it, to divide.
E'en then, before the fatal engine clos'd,
A wretched sylph too fondly interpos'd;
Fate urg'd the shears, and cut the sylph in twain
(But airy substance soon unites again);
The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
From the fair head FOR EVER AND FOR EVER !
Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,
And screams of horror rend the affrighted skies.
Not louder shrieks to pitying heaven are cast,
When husbands, or when lap-dogs breathe their last !
Or when rich China vessels, fall’n from high,
In glittering dust and painted fragments lie!
“Let wreaths of triumph now my temples twine
(The victor cried), the glorious prize is mine!
While fish in streams, or birds delight in air,
Or in a coach-and-six the British fair,
As long as Atalantis shall be read,
Or the small pillow grace a lady's head,
While visits shall be paid on solemn days,
When numerous wax-lights in bright order blaze,
While nymphs take treats, or assisnations give, .
So long my honor, name, and praise shall live !"
1 All but the Sylph, with careful thoughts opprest,
Th’ impending woe sat heavy on his breast. He had appeared to Belinda in a dream, and warned her against a lover.
? Superior by the head was Ariel plac’d.—Pope's fairy region, compared with Shakspeare's, was what a drawing-room is to the
universe. To give, therefore, to the sprite of the Rape of the Lock the name of the spirit in the Tempest was a bold christening. Prospero's Ariel could have puffed him out like a taper. Or he would have snuffed him up as an essence by way of jest, and found him flat. But, tested by less potent senses, the sylph species is an exquisite creation. He is an abstract of the spirit of fine life; a suggester of fashions; an inspirer of airs; would be cut to pieces rather than see his will contradicted ; takes his sta. tion with dignity on a picture-card ; and is so nice an adjuster of claims, that he ranks hearts with necklaces. He trembles for a petticoat at the approach of a cup of chocolate. The punishments inflicted on him when disobedient have a like fitness. He is to be kept hovering over the fumes of the chocolate ; to be transfixed with pins ; clogged with pomatums, and wedged in the eyes of bodkins. Only (with submission) these punishments should have been made to endure for seasons, not “ agcs.” A season is an age for a sylph. Does not a fine lady, when she dislikes it, call it - an eternity ?”
3 With singing, laughing, ogling, AND ALL THAT.- Imagine a common-place poet (if some friend had written the rest of this couplet) trying to find a good pointed rhyme for the word “chat.” How certain he would have been not to think of this familiar phrase, precisely because he was in the habit of using it in daily par. lance :-how certain, out of an instinct of dulness, to avoid his own conventional language, on the only occasion which could render it original.
• She dearly pays for Nisus' injur'd hair.-Nisus, the father of Scylla, and king of Megaris, had a lock in his hair, on the preservation of which depended the fate of his capital. Minos be. sieged the capital. Scylla fell in love with the besieger, cut off the lock, and was changed into a bird by the gods. See the story in Ovid, at the beginning of Book the Eighth.
6 An earthly lover lurking at her head.-He had warned her against it in a dream.
o As long as “ Atalantis” shall be read.—A book of fashionable scandal written by Mrs. Manly. Marmontel, in his translation of the Rape of the Lock (generally a very close and correct one), has confounded it with the Atlantis of Bacon; concluding, per.
haps, according to the opinion then prevailing in Paris, that “philosophy” was a fashionable study with the belles of London.
TROUBLES FROM BAD AUTHORS.
(From the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.)
Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued I said :
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages ! nay, 't is past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets, through iny grot they glide.
By land, by water, they renew the charge;
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge.
No place is sacred, not the church is free,
Eo'n Sunday shines no Sabbath day to me:
Then from the mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy! to catch me-just at dinner time.
Is there a parson, much bemus'd in beer,
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk, foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?
Is there, who, lock'd from ink and paper, scrawls
With desperate charcoal round his darken'd walls?
All fly to Twitnam, and in humble strain
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain.
Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws,
Imputes to me and my dam n'd works the cause :
Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elore,
And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.
Friend to my life! (which did you not prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song),
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove?
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma! either way I 'm sped;
If foes they write, if friends, they read me dead.
Seiz'd and ty'd down to judge, how wretched I !
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie:
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace ;
And to be grave, exceeds all power of face.
I sit with sad civility! I read
With honest anguish, and an aching head;
And drop at last, but in unwilling ears,
This saving counsel, “ Keep your piece nine years."
“ Nine years !” cries he, who, high in Drury Lane,
Lulld by soft zephyrs through the broken pane,
Rhymes e'er he wakes, and prints before term ends,
Oblig'd by hunger, and request of friends :
“ The piece, you think, is incorrect? Why take it;
I'm all submission ; what you'd have it, make it.”
Three things another's modest wishes bound,
My friendship, and a prologue, and ten pound.
Pitholeon sends to me: “ You know his grace;
I want a patron : ask him for a place.”
Pitholeon libellid me—“ But here's a letter
Informs you, sir,'t was when he knew no better.
Dare you refuse him ? Curll invites to dine,
He'll write a journal, or he'll turn divine.”
Bless me! a packet.—“'T is a stranger sues,
A virgin tragedy, an orphan muse."
If I dislike it, “ furies, death, and rage !"
If I approve, “ Commend it to the stage.”
There (thank my stars), my whole commission ends,
The players and I are luckily, no friends.
Fir'd that the house reject him, “'Sdeath! I'll print it,
And shame the fools-Your interest, sir, with Lintot.”
“ Lintot, dull rogue ! will think your price too much :">
“ Not, sir, if you revise it, and retouch.”
All my demurs but double his attacks :
At last he whispers, “ Do; and we go snacks.”
Glad of a quarrel, straight I clap the door ;
“ Sir, let me see your works, and you no more.”
7 Then from the Mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy to catch me, just at dinner-time. The precincts of the Mint, in those days, included a jail for debtors. It was shabby of the poor devils of authors to take advantage of the poet's dinner-hour; but was it quite magnani. mous in the poet to say so ? If his father had not left him an independence, he might have found even himself hard pushed sometimes for a meal. Pope was a little too fond of taking his pecuniary advantages for merits. He did not see (so blind respecting themselves are the acutest satirists) that this inability
to forego a false ground of superiority originated in an instinct of weakness.
8 Curll invites to dine.-Curll was the chief scandalous bookseller of that time.
CHARACTERS AND RULING PASSIONS.
CHARACTER OF THE DUKE OF WHARTON.
Manners with fortunes, humors turn with climes,
Tenets with books, and principles with times.
Search then the Ruling Passion : there, alone,
The wild are constant, and the cunning known;
The fool consistent, and the false sincere;
Priests, princes, women, no dissemblers here.
This clue once found, unravels all the rest,
The prospect clears, and Wharton stands confest.
Wharton the scorn and wonder of our days,
Whose ruling passion was the lust of praise :
Born with whate’er could win it from the wise,
Women and fools must like him, or he dies :
Though wondering senates hung on all he spoke,
The club must hail him master of the joke.
Shall parts so various aim at nothing new ?
He'll shine a Tully and a Wilmot too.
Then turns repentant, and his God adores,
With the same spirit that he drinks and whores :9
Enough if all around him but admire,
And now the punk applaud, and now the friar.
Thus with each gift of nature and of art
And wanting nothing but an honest heart;
Grown all to all, from no one vice exempt;
And most contemptible, to shun contempt ;
His passion still to covet general praise ;
His life, to forfeit it a thousand ways;
A constant bounty, which no friend has made;
An angel tongue, which no man can persuade ;
A fool, with more of wit than half mankind;
Too rash for thought, for action too refin'd
A tyrant to the wife his heart approves ;
A rebel to the very king he loves;