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Slight is the fubject, but not fo the praise,
VER, 11, 12. It was in the first editions,
And dwells fuch rage in fofteft bosoms then,
Sol thro' white curtains did his beams difplay,
tot's, without the name of the Author, But it was received fo well, that he made it more confiderable the next year by the addition of the machinery of the Sylphs, and extended it to five Canto's. We fhall give the reader the pleasure of feeing in what manner thefe additions were inferted, fo as to feem not to be added, but to grow out of the Poem. See Notes, Cant. I. 19, etc. P.
This infertion he always efteemed, and juftly, the greatest effort of his fki and art as a Poet.
Now lap-dogs give themselves the roufing shake, And fleepless lovers, juft at twelve, awake: 16 Thrice rung the bell, the flipper knock'd the ground, And the prefs'd watch return'd a filver found. Belinda ftill her downy pillow preft,
Her guardian SYLPH prolong'd the balmy rest: "Twas He had fummon'd to her filent bed The morning dream that hover'd o'er her head,
VER. 22. Belinda ftill, etc.] All the verfes from hence to the end of this Cantò were added afterwards. P.
VER. 20. Her Guardian Sylph] When Mr. Pope had pro. jected to give this Poem its prefent form, he was obliged to find it with its Machinery. For as the fubject of the Epic Poem confifts of two parts, the metaphyfical and the civil; fo this mock epic, which is of the fatiric kind, and receives its grace from a Judicrous imitation of the other's pomp and folemnity, was to have the fame divifion of the subject. And, as the civil part is intentionally debafed by the choice of an infignificant action: so should the metaphyfical, by the ufe of fome very extravagant fyftem. A rule, which tho' neither Boileau nor Garth have been careful enough to attend to, our Author's good fenfe would not suffer him to overlook. And that fort of Machinery which his judgment taught him was only fit for his ufe, his admirable invention fupplied. There was but one Syftem in all nature which was to his purpose, the Reficrufian Philofophy; and this, by the well directed effort of his imagination, he presently feized upon. The fanatic Alchemifts, in their fearch after the great fecret, had 'invented a means altogether proportioned to their end. It was a kind of Theological-Philofophy, made up of almoft equal mixtures of Pagan Platonifin, Chriftian Quietifm, and the Jewish Cabbala; a compofition enough to fright Reafon from human commerce. This general fyftem, he tells us, he took as he found it in a little French tract called, Le Comte de Gabalis. This
A Youth more glitt'ring than a Birth-night Beau,
The filver token, and the circled green,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs;
ous piece of raillery of the Abbe Villiers, upon that invifible fect, of which the stories that went about at that time, made a great deal of noise at Paris. But, as in this fatirical Dialogue, Mr. P. found several whimfies, of a very high myfterious kind, told of the nature of these elementary beings, which were very unfit to come into the machinery of fuch a fort of poem, he has with great judgment omitted them; and in their ftead, made ufe of the Legendary ftories of Guardian Angels, and the Nursery Tales of the Fairies; which he has artfully accommodated to the reft of the Roficrufian System. And to this, (unless we will be fo uncharitable to believe he intended to give a needless scandal) we must fuppofe he referred, in these two lines,
If e'er one Vifion touch'd thy infant thought, Of all the nurse, and all the priest have taught. Thus, by the most beautiful invention imaginable, he has contrived, that, as in the ferious Epic, the popular belief supports the Machinery; fo, in his mock Epic, the Machinery fhould be contrived to difmount philofophic pride and arrogance.
Hear and believe! thy own importance know, 35
VER. 47. As now your own, etc.] He here forfakes the Rofi+ crufian fyftem; which, in this part, is too extravagant even for Poetry; and gives a beautiful fiction of his own, on the Platonic Theology of the continuance of the paffions in another flate, when the mind, before its leaving this, has not been purged and purified by philofophy; which furnishes an occafion for
Succeeding vanities fhe ftill regards,
And tho' fhe plays no more, o'erlooks the cards.
Know farther yet; whoever fair and chaste Rejects mankind, is by fome Sylph embrac'd : For Spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease Affume what fexes and what shapes they please.
V ́ER. 54, 55.
VIR. 68. is by fome Sylph embrac'd] Here again the Author refumes a tenet peculiar to the Roficrufian fyftem. But the principle, on which it is founded, was by no means fit, to be employed in fuch a sort of poem.
Virg. En. vi. P