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RAPE OF THE LOCK,
AN HEROI-COMICAL POEM.
TO MRS. ARABELLA FERMOR.
"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,
Your most obedient, humble servant,
RAPE OF THE LOCK.
Nolueram, Belinda, tnos violare capillos;
WHAT dire offence from amorous causes springs,
Say 'what strange motive, goddess! could compel
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
The graver prude sinks downward to a Gnome,
Know farther yet; whoever fair and chaste
* Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their
For life predestin'd to the Gnomes embrace.
And garters, stars, and coronets appear,
* 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;