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Mrs. Arabella Fermqr,
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 fense and good humour enough to laugh not onjy 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 fore'd to, before I had executed half my design, for the Machinery was entirely wanting to compleat 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 foun-? dation, the Rosicrusian 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 Rosicrusians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is \t\ a French book call'd I*e 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 or Earth delight in mischief; but the Sylphs, whose habitation is in the Air, are the best conditions creatures imaginable. For they fay, 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 Canto's, all the passages of them are as fabulous, as the Vision at the beginning, or the Transformation at the end j (except the loss of your Hair, which I always mention with reverence.) The Human persons arc as fictitious as the Airy ones; and the character of Belinda, as it is now managed, rcsem-. bles 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 thro' the world half so Uncenfur'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,
Xou,r mojl obedient, Humble Servant,
RAPE of the LOCK,
fNolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;
Sed juvat hoc prccibus me tribuisse tuis. Mart.
TTTHAT dire offence from am'rouscauses
* * springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
* It appears by this Motto, that the following Poem was written or published at the Lady's request. But there are some further circumstances not unworthy relating. Mr. Caryl (a Gentleman who was Secretary to Queen Mary, wife of James II. whose fortunes he followed into France, Author of the Comedy of Sir Solomon Single, and of several translations in Drydcn's Miscellanies) originally proposed the subject to him in a view of putting an end, by this pifece of ridicule, to a quarrel that was risen between two noble Families, those of Lord Petre arid of Mrs Fermor, on the trifling occasion of his having cut off a lock of her hair. The Author sent it to the Lady, with whom he was acquainted; and she took it so well as to give about copies of it. That first (ketch, (we learn from one of his Letters) was written in less than a fortnight, in 1711. in two Canto's only, and it was so printed; first, in a Miscellany of Bern. Lin*
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 t'assault a gentle Belle? O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd, Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord? 10 In tasks so bold, can little men engage, And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty Rage?
Sol thro' white curtains (hot a tim'rous ray, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day;
Ver, Ii, 12. It was in the first editions,
Ver. 13. etc. Stood thus in the first Edition,
Notes. tot's, without the name of the Author, But it was received so well, that he made it more considerable the next year by the addition of the machinery of the Sylphs, and extended it to five Canto's. We shall give the reader the pleasure of seeing in what manner these additions were inserted, so as to seem not to be added, but. to grow out of the Poem. See Notes, Cant. 1. ^ 19, etc. P.
This insertion he always esteemed, and justly, the greatest effort of his flij< and art as a Poet..
Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake,
Ver. 22. Belinda Jlill, €tc] All the verses from hence to the end of this Canto were added afterwards. P.
Ver. 20. Her Guardian Sylph] When Mr. Pope had projected to give this Poem its present form, he was obliged to find it with its Machinery. For as the subject of the Epic Poem consists of two parts, the metaphysical and the civil; so this mock epic, which is of the satiric kind, and receives its grace from a ludicrous imitation of the other's pomp and solemnity, was to have the fame division of the subject. And, as the civil part is intentionally debased by the choice of an insignificant action: so should the metaphysical^ by the use of some very extravagant system. A rule, which tho' neither Boileau nor Garth have been careful enough to attend to, our Author's good fense would not suffer him to overlook. And that sort of Machinery which his judgment taught him was only fit for his use, his admirable invention supplied. There was but one System in all nature which was to his purpose, the Rosicrusan Philosophy; and this, by the well directed effort of his imagination, he presently seized upon. The fanatic Alchemists, in their search after the great secret, had invented a means altogether proportioned to their end. It was a kind of Theological-Philosophy, made up of almost equal mixtures of Pagan Platonisin, Christian Quietism, and the Jewish Cabbala; a composition enough to fright Reason from human commerce. This general system, he tells us, he took as he found it in a little French tract called, Le Comte dtGabalis. This book is written in Dialogue, and it a delicate and very ingeni