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and particularly by your sex, that you must give me leave to explain two or three difficult terms.
The Rosicrucians 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 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 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 are 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 you that I am, with the truest esteem,
Nolueram, Belinda, tuos violare capillos;
1 The first sketch of this poem was written in less than a fortnight's time in 1711, in two cantos, and so printed in a miscellany without the name of the author. The machines were not inserted till a year after, when he published it, and annexed the dedication.-P.
The original poem was published in 1712, and the revised form not till 1714. For an account of the origin of this poem see the Memoir, p. xiv.
In tasks so bold, can little men engage,
ground, And the pressed watch returned a silver sound. Belinda still her downy pillow pressed, Her guardian Sylph prolonged the balmy rest: 'Twas he had summoned to her silent bed 21 The morning dream that hovered o'er her head; A youth more glittering than a birth-night beau, (That even in slumber caused her cheek to glow) Seemed to her ear his winning lips to lay, 25 And thus in whispers said, or seemed to say:
“Fairest of mortals, thou distinguished care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air ! If e'er one vision touched thy infant thought, Of all the nurse and all the priest have taught; Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen, 31 The silver token, and the circled green, Or virgins visited by angel-powers, With golden crowns and wreaths of heavenly flowers ;
- 34 Hear and believe! thy own importance know, Nor bound thy narrow views to things below. Some secret truths, from learned pride con
cealed, To maids alone and children are revealed :
1 All the verses from hence to the end of this Canto were added afterwards.-P.
? Alluding to the custom of wearing exceptionally fine dresses at court on the birthdays of any of the royal family.
What though no credit doubting wits may give ?
cards. Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive, 55 And love of ombre, after death survive. For when the fair in all their pride expire, To their first elements their souls retire: The sprites of fiery termagants in flame Mount up, and take a salamander's name. 60 Soft yielding minds to water glide away, And sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea. The graver prude sinks downward to a gnome, In search of mischief still on earth to roam. The light coquettes in sylphs aloft repair, 65 And sport and flutter in the fields of air.
“Know further yet: whoever fair and chaste Rejects mankind, is by some sylph embraced : For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease
“Quæ gratia currûm Armorumque fuit vivis, quæ cura nitentes Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos.”
Virg. Æn. vi.-P.
Ansumo what sexes and what shapes they please What guards the purity of melting maids, -1 In courtly balls, and midnight masquerades, Mulo from the treacherous friend, the daring
wpark, Tho glanco by day, the whisper in the dark, -4 Whon kind occasion prompts their warm desires, W hon music softens, and when dancing fires ? "I'in but their Sylph, the wise celestials know, Though Honour is the word with men below. "Somo nymphs there are, too conscious of
thoir face, Hor lilo predestined to the gnome's embrace. Thono uwoll their prospects and exalt their
prido, When oflors are disdained and love denied : Thon gay idons crowd the vacant brain, Whilo poors and dukes, and all their sweeping
train, And gurtors, stars, and coronets appear, 85 And in soft sounds. Your Grace 'salutes their
oar. "Tin those that oarly taint the female soul, Instruct the eyes of young coquettes to roll, Tronoh infnnt-cheeks a bidden blush to know, And little hearts to flutter at a beau.
"Oft, when the world imagine women stray, Tho Sylphs through mystic mazes guide their
way, Through all tho giddy circle they pursue, And old impertinence expel by new. Wut tondor maid but must a victim fall 95 Hoone man's treat, but for another's ball ? Whion Morio speaks, what virgin could with
stand, If gentle Damon did not squeeze her hand ? With varying vanities, from every part,