Слике страница
PDF
ePub

acquaintance, adopts their interests, and at

tends their pursuits; loves a Sylph, and detests

a Gnome.

“ That familiar things are made new, every

paragraph will prove. The subject of the poem

is an event below the common incidents of

common life; nothing real is introduced that

is not seen so often as to be no longer re

garded; yet the whole detail of a female-day is

a

here brought before us, invested with so much

,

art of decoration that, though nothing is dis

guised, every thing is striking, and we feel all

the appetite of curiosity for that from which

we have a thousand times turned fastidiously “The purpose of the poet is, as he tells us,

away.

to laugh at the little unguarded follies of the

female sex.'

It is therefore without justice

that Dennis charges the · Rape of the Lock'

with the want of a moral, and for that reason

sets it below the 'Lutrin,' which exposes the

pride and discord of the clergy. Perhaps nei

ther Pope nor Boileau has made the world

much better than he found it; but, if they

had both succeeded, it were easy to tell who

would have deserved most from public grati

tude. The freaks, and humours, and spleen,

and vanity, of women, as they embroil fami

lies in discord, and fill houses with disquiet,

do more to obstruct the happiness of life in a

year than the ambition of the clergy in many centuries. It has been well observed, that

the misery of man proceeds not from any single

crush of overwhelming evil, but from small

vexations continually repeated.

“ It is remarked by Dennis likewise, that

the machinery is superfluous; that, by all the

bustle of preternatural operation, the main

event is neither hastened nor retarded. To

this charge an efficacious answer is not easily

made. The sylphs cannot be said to help or

to oppose; and it must be allowed to imply

some want of art, that their power has not

been sufficiently intermingled with the action.

b Perhaps the reverse of this might with more truth be

asserted; but we are generally little concerned about the

evils which seem at too great a distance to affect us.

Other parts may likewise be charged with want

of connection; the game at ombre might be

spared: but, if the lady had lost her hair while

she was intent upon her cards, it might have

been inferred that those who are too fond of

play will be in danger of neglecting more im

portant interests. Those perhaps are faults;

but what are such faults to such excellence!”

To these observations, from the pen

of a

critic who may be accused of having exercised

no small degree of severity in judging some of

the writings of Pope, we shall only add (what

we hope will not be thought an exaggerated

eulogium) that no work contains such delicate,

and, at the same time, such forcible strokes of

wit, free from coarseness and ribaldry, which

are too often mistaken for wit; that it is not

only superior to every other heroi-comical

poem, but has also been justly styled the best

satire extant.

As many of the notes upon the Rape of

the Lock, in a late edition of Pope's works,

answer no purpose but that of refuting each

other, and thereby perplexing the reader, we

shall retain only in this such as come from the

pen of Pope, which were chiefly intended to

mark the differences between the first and sub

sequent editions.

« ПретходнаНастави »