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THE

RAPE OF THE LOCK,

AN HEROI-COMICAL POEM.
Written in the year 1712»

TO MRS. ARABELLA FERMOR.

Madam,

"I T 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 offered to a bookseller, you had the good-nature for my sake to consent to the publication of one more correct. This I was forced 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 demons, are made to act in a poem: for the ancient poets are in one respect like many modern ladies; let an action be ever so trivial in itself, they always make it appear of the utmost importance. These machines I determined to raiw on a very new and odd foundation, the Kosicrusian doctrine of spirits.

I know how disagreeable it is to make use of hard words before a lady; but it is 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 Rosicrusians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book called 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 demons of earth, delight in mischief; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the air, are the best conditioned creatures imaginable; for, they say, any mortal 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 fabulous 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 managed, resembles you in nothing but in beauty.

If this poem had as many graces as there arc in your person or in your mind, yet I could never hope it should pass through the world half so uncensured as you have done. But let its fortune be what it will, mine is happy enough to have given me this occasion of assuring yon, that I am, with the truest esteem,

Madam,

Your most obedient, humble servant,
A. POPE.

THE

RAPE OF THE LOCK.

Nolueram, Belinda, tnos violare capillos;
Sed juvat, hoc precibus me tribuisse tuis.

MART.

CANTO I.

WHAT dire offence from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I sing; this verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:
This ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
If she inspire, and he approve my lays.

Say 'what strange motive, goddess! could compel
A well-bred lord to t' assault a gentle belle?
O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd,
Could make a gentle belle reject a lord?
In tasks so bold, can little men engage?
And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage?

Sol through white curtains shot a timorous ray, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock'd the ground, And the press'd watch retum'd a silver sound. Belinda still her downy pillow prest, Her guardian Sylph prolong'd the balmy rest: 'Twas he had summon'd to her silent bed The morning dream that hover'd o'er her head.

A youth more glittering than a birth-night bean
(That ev'n in slumber caus'd her cheek to glow)
Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay,
And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say:
* Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care
Of thousand bright inhabitants of air f
If e'er one vision touch'd thy infant thought.
Of all the nurse and all the priest have taught;
Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen,
The silver token, and the circled green,
Or virgins visited by angel-powers.
With golden crowns and wreaths of heavenly flowers;
Hear, and believe! thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some secret truths, from learned pride conceal'd,
To maids alone and children are reveal'd;
What, though no credit doubting wits may give,
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Know then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly.
The light militia of the lower sky:
These, though unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ling.
Think what an equipage thou hast in air,
And view with scorn two pages and a chair.
As now your own, our beings were of old,
And once enclos'd in woman's beauteous mould;
Thence, by a soft transition, we repair
From earthly vehicles to those of air.
Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled,
That all her vanities at once are dead:
Succeeding vanities she still regards,
And though she plays no more, o'erlooks the cards.
Her joy tu gilded chariots, when alive,
And love of ombre, after death survive.
For when the fair in all their pride expire.
To their first elements their souls retire;
The sprites of fiery termagants in flame
Mount up, and take a Salamander's name.
Soft yielding minds to water glide away,
And sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea.

The graver prude sinks downward to a Gnome,
In search of mischief still on earth to roam.
The light coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair,
And sport and flutter in the fields of air.

Know farther yet; whoever fair and chaste
Rejects mankind, is by some Sylph embrac'd:
For, spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease
Assume what sexes and what shapes they please.
What guards the purity of melting maids,
In courtly balls, and midnight masquerades,
Safe from the treacherous friend, the daring spark,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark,
When .kind occasion prompts their warm desires,
When music softens, and when dancing fires?
'Tis but their Sylph, the wise celestials know,
Though honour is the word with men below.

* Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their

face,

For life predestin'd to the Gnomes embrace.
These swell their prospects, and exalt their pride.
When offers are disdain'd, and love denied:
Then gay ideas crowd the vacant brain, *
While peers, and dnkes, and all their sweeping
train,

And garters, stars, and coronets appear,
And in soft sounds,1 your grace' salutes their ear.
Tis these that early taint the female soul,
Instruct the eyes of young coquettes to roll.
Teach infant cheeks a bidden blush to know,
And little hearts to flutter at a bean.

* Oft, when the world imagine women stray. The Sylphs through mystic mazes guide their way, Through all the giddy circle they pursue,

And old impertinence expel by new.

What tender maid but must a victim fall

To one man's treat, but for another's ball?

When Florio speaks, what virgin could withstand,

If gentle Damon did not squeeze her hand?

With varying vanities, from every part,

They shift the moving toy-shop of their heart;

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