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Cio che in sumtna qua giu perdesti mai,
It is very remarkable, that the poet had the boldness to place among these imaginary treasures, the famous deed of gift of Constantine to Pope Silvester. "If (says he) I may be allowed to say this,
Questo era il dono (se pero dir lece)
It may be observed in general, to the honour of the poets, both ancient and modern, that they have ever been some of the first who have detected and opposed the false claims, and mischievous usurpations, of superstition and slavery. Nor can this be wondered at, since these two are the greatest enemies, not only to all true happiness, but to all true genius.
The denouement, as a pedantic disciple of Bossu would call it, of this poem, is well conducted. What is become of this important Lock
* Orlando Furioso. Cant, xxxiv.
Of Hair? It is made a constellation with that of Berenice, so celebrated by Callimachus. As it rises to heaven,
The sylphs behold it kindling as it flies,*
And pleas'd pursue its progress through the skies.
One cannot sufficiently applaud the art of the poet, in constantly keeping in the reader's view", the machinery of the poem, to the very last. Even when the Lock is transformed, the sylphs, who had so carefully guarded it, are here once again artfully mentioned, as finally rejoicing in its honourable transformation.
In reading the Lutrin, I have always been struck with the impropriety of so serious a conclusion as Boileau has given to so ludicrous a poem. Piety and Justice are beings rather too awful to have any concern in the celebrated Desk. They appear as much out of place and season, as would the archbishop of Paris in his pontifical robes in. an harlequin entertainment.
* Cant. v. ver. 131.
Pope does not desert his favourite Lock, even* after it becomes a constellation; and the uses he assigns to it are, indeed, admirable, and have a reference to the subject of the poem:
This the beau monde shall from the Mall survey,*
This is at once, Dulce Loqtji,- and Ridere DeCorum.
<QJpon the whole, I hope it will not be thought an exaggerated panegyric to say, that the Rape or Thje Lock is the Best Satire extant; that
it contains the truest and liveliest picture of mo
lantry, and of a thorough knowledge of the world; and, indeed, he had nothing, in his carriage and deportment, of that affected singularity, which has induced some men of genius to despise, and depart from, the established rules of politeness and civil life. For all poets have not practised the sober and rational advice of Boileau:
Que les vers ne soient pas votre eternel emploi:
Our nation can boast also, of having produced one or two more poems of the burlesque kind, that are excellent; particularly the Splendid Shilling, that admirable copy of the solemn irony of Cervantes, who is the father and unrivalled model of the true mock-heroic: and the Muscipula, written with the purity of Virgil, whom the author so perfectly understood, and with the pleasantry of Lucian: to which I cannot forbear adding, the Scribleriad of Mr.
* L'Art Poetique, Chant, iv.
Cambridge,* the Machine Gesticulantes of Addison, the Hobbinol of Somerville, and the Trivia of Gay.
Jf some of the most candid among the French critics begin to acknowledge, that tbey have produced nothing, in point of Sublimity and MaJesty, equal to the Paradise Lost, Ave may also venture to affirm, that, in point of Delicacy, Elegance, and fine-turned Raillery, onwhichj they have so much valued themselves, they have' produced nothing equal to the Rape Of The; Lock. It is in this composition Pope principally j
R 2 appears
* This learned and ingenious writer hath made a new remark, in his preface, worth examination and attention. He says, that in first reading the four celebrated mock-heroic j poems, he perceived they had all some radical defect. That j at last he found, by a diligent perusal of Don Quixote, that Propriety was the fundamental excellence of that work. That all the Marvellous was reconcileable to Probability, as the author lead his hero into that species of absurdity only, which it; was natural for an imagination heated with the continual reading of books of chivalry to fall into. That the want of attention to this, was the fundamental error of those poems. For with what Propriety do Churchmen, Physicians, Beaux, and Belles, or Booksellers, in the Lutrin, Dispensary, Rape of the Lock, and Dunciad, address themselves to heathen Gods, offer sacrifices, consult oracles, or talk the language of Homer, and of the heroes of antiquity?