« السابقةمتابعة »
or moral kind, where the object is to impress some serious or important truth. Thus when Piety retires to the heights of the Alps, the professors of Religion quarrel respecting the merest trifles; but when she returns, and consults with Themis, or Justice, their disputes are extinguished. Pope, who had originally published his Poem in two Cantos, not only saw the necessity of enlivening it by poetical imagery, but he saw at the same time, the impropriety of resorting either to the divinities of the ancients, or the allegories of the moderns for that purpose ; and having, as he informs us, fortunately met with a French book, called Le Comte de Gabalis, in which the four elements are said to be inhabited by spirits, called Sylphs, Gnomes, Nymphs, and Salamanders; he enlisted these imaginary beings in his service, as suitable agents for his purpose. But although he was indebted to this idea of the Rosicrucians for his machinery, the use he has made of them is wholly his own.
It is therefore to no purpose to compare the Rape of the Lock with either the Lutrin of Boileau, or the productions of the Italian Poets, with a view of ascertaining the poetical precedence of their authors. They differ from each other, as well by the means employed, as in the end proposed, and can none of them be either exalted or degraded by a comparison with the others. After all that can be said on the subject, it is most probable that each country will give the preference to the production of its own poet.
The Rape of the Lock had the honour of being translated into French by the Princess of Conti, and printed at Paris, 1728. It was translated into Italian by the Marquis Rangoni, envoy from the Duke of Modena to George II., and also by the Abate Conti, a noble Venetian, but with some lacune, or omissions, which were supplied in a new translation, published at Milan, in 1819, 8vo. under the title of “ Il Riccio rapilo, di Alessandro Pope, tradotto ed illustrato da G. Vincenzo Benini.”
A third translation appeared at Pisa in 1820 ; together with the Epistle from Eloisa to Abelard, in a volume, entitled “ Poesie di Alessandro Pope, tradotte da Micheli Leone, in 16mo."
Of these translations, the last is considered as the most faithful ; that of Benini being rather a paraphrase, in which the Translator has frequently intermixed his own ideas with those of the original.
RAPE OF THE LOCK.
*Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;
What dire offence from am'rous causes springs,
* 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 Dryden's Miscellanies) originally proposed the subject to him, in a view of putting an end, by this piece of ridicule, to a quarrel that was risen between two noble Families, those of Lord Petre and 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 sketch (we learn from one of his Letters) was written in less than a fortnight, in 1711, in two Cantos only, and it was so printed ; first, in a Miscellany of Bern. Lintot'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 Cantos. 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. I. ver. 19, &c.
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel
Sol through white curtains shot a tim'rous ray, And ope'd those eyes that must eclipse the day: Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing shake, 15 And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock’d the
ground, And the press'd watch return'd a silver sound.
Ver. 10. Could make a gentle Belle] “ The characters introduced in this poem were Mr. Caryl, just before mentioned ; Belinda was Mrs. Arabella Fermor; the Baron was Lord Petre, of small stature, who soon after married a great heiress, Mrs. Warmsley, and died, leaving a posthumous son; Thalestris was Mrs. Morly; Sir Plume was her brother, Sir George Brown, of Berkshire.” Copied from a MS. in a book presented by R. Lord Burlington, to Mr. William Sherwin.
Warton. Ver. 18. silver sound.] Boileau, at an entertainment given by Segrais, was engaged to read his Lutrin; when he came to this passage in the first canto, “ Les cloches dans les airs de leur voix argentines,"
And dwells such rage in softest bosoms then,
P. Ver. 13, &c. stood thus in the first edition,
Sol through white curtains did his beams display,
Belinda still her downy pillow prest,
Chapelle, who was one of the company, and who, as usual, had drank freely, stopt him, and objected strongly to the expression, silver sounds. Boileau disregarded his objections, and continued to read; but Chapelle again interrupting him, “ You are drunk,” said Boileau ; “ I am not so much intoxicated with wine (replied Chapelle) as you are with your own verses.” It is a singular circumstance that Boileau was buried in the very spot on which the Lutrin stood.
Warton. “ Silver sound,” is a combination often used by the early English Poets. Spenser uses it, Shakespear, Dryden, and our Author very frequently. Hence Shakespear's humourous dialogue in Romeo and Juliet;
“ Peter. Why music with her silver sound ? —What say you, Simon Catling?
1 Mus. Marry, Sir; because silver hạth a sweet sound. Peter. Pretty!—What say you, Hugh Rebeck ?2 Mus. I say, silver sound ; because Musicians sound for silver. Peter. Pretty too!- What say you, James Sound-post ? 3 Mus. Faith, I know not what to say.”
Bowles. Ver. 19. Belinda still, &c.] All the verses from hence to the end of this Canto were added afterwards.
Shock just had given himself the rousing shake,
Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care Of thousand bright Inhabitants of Air! If e'er one Vision touch'd thy infant thought, Of all the Nurse and all the Priest have taught; 30 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 heav'nly
flow'rs; Hear and believe! thy own importance know, 35 Nor bound thy narrow views to things below. Some secret truths, from learned pride conceald, To Maids alone and Children are reveal'd:
Ver. 27. Fairest of mortals,] These machines were vastly superior to the allegorical personages of Boileau and Garth; not only on account of their novelty, but for the exquisite poetry, and oblique satire, which they have given the poet an opportunity to display. The business and petty concerns of a fine lady, receive an air of importance from the notion of their being perpetually overlooked and conducted by the interposition of celestial agents. The first time these beings were mentioned by any writer in our language was by Sir W. Temple, Essays, iv. p. 255. “ I should (says he) as soon fall into the study of the Rosicrucian philosophy, and expect to meet a Nymph or a Sylph for a wife or a mistress.” They are also mentioned in a letter of Dryden to Mrs. Thomas, 1699; “ Whether Sylph or Nymph I know not; those fine creatures, as your author, Count Gabalis, assures us, have a mind to be christened, and since you desire a name from me, take that of Corinna, if you please.” Sylphs are mentioned, as invisible attendants, and as interested in the affairs of the ladies, in the 101st, 104th, and 195th, of Madame de Sevigné's celebrated Letters; as they are also in the second chapter of Le Sage's Diable Boiteux. M. de Sevigné says, remarkably enough, letter 90, “If we had a few Sylphs at ur command now, one might furnish out a to divert