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No place so sacred from such fops is barr'd,
Noris Paul's church more safe than Paul's church-yard?
But where's the man who counsel can bestow, Still pleas'd to teach, and yet not proud to know? Unbiass'd, or by favour, or by spite;
Not dully prepossess'd, nor blindly right;
Though learn'd, well-bred; and, though well-bred, sincere;
Modestly bold and humanly severe :
Who to a friend his faults can freely show,
Such once were critics; such the happy few
Led by the light of the Mæonian star.
Received his laws, and stood convinc'd 'twas fit,
Yet judged with coolness, though he sung with fire
They judge with fury, but they write with phlegm :
Thee, bold Longinus! all the Nine inspire,
Thus long succeeding critics justly reign'd,
monks finish'd what the Goths began. At length Erasmus, that great injured name, (The glory of the priesthood, and the shame!) Stemm'd the wild torrent of a barbarous age, And drove those holy Vandals off the stage.
But see! each muse, in Leo's golden days,
Starts from her trance, and trims her wither'd bays;Rome's ancient genius, o'er its ruins spread,
Shakes off the dust, and rears his reverend head. 700
Then sculpture and her sister-arts revive;
Stones leap'd to form, and rocks began to live;
A Raphael painted, and a Vida sung.
But soon by impious arms from Latium chased,
The rules a nation born to serve obeys,
Yet some there were among the sounder few
Of those who less presum'd, and better knew, 720
Who durst assert the juster ancient cause,
And here restor'd wit's fundamental laws.
Such was the muse, whose rule and practice tell,
Such late was Walsh, the muse's judge and friend,
The muse, whose early voice you taught to sing,
Not free from faults, nor yet too vain to mend.
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK
A HEROI-COMICAL POEM.
TO MRS. ARABELLA FERMOR.
MADAM, 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 sense and good humour enough to laugh not only at their sex's little unguarded follies, but at their own. But as it was commu nicated with the air of a secret, it soon found its way into the world. An imperfect copy having been of fered to a bookseller, you had the good nature for my sake to consent to the publication of one more correct. This I was forced to, before I had executed half my design; for the machinery was entirely wanting to complete it.
The machinery, madam, is a term invented by the critics, to signify that part which the deities, angels, or demons, 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 determined to raise on a very new and odd foundation, the Rosicrucian doctrine of spirits.
I know how disagreeable it is to make use of hard words before a lady; but it is 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 Rosicrucians are a people I must bring you acquainted with. The best account I know of them is in a French book called Le Compte de Gabalis, wnich, 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 mortal 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,
Your most obedient humble servant,