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No longer now that golden age appears,
When Patriarch-wits survived a thousand years :
Now length of Fame (our second life) is lost,
And bare threescore is all e'en that can boast;
Our sons their fathers' failing language see,
And such as Chaucer is, shall Dryden be.
So when the faithful pencil has design'd
Some bright idea of the master's mind,
Where a new world leaps out at his command,
And ready Nature waits upon his hand;
When the ripe colors soften and unite,
And sweetly melt into just shade and light;
When mellowing years their full perfection give,
And each bold figure just begins to live;
The treacherous colors the fair art betray,
And all the bright creation fades away!?
Essay on Criticism, 474. The « Essay on Man" is a philosophical, didactic poem, in vindication of the ways of Providence, in which the poet proposes to prove, that, of all possible systems, Infinite Wisdom has formed the best: that in such a system, coherence, union, subordination, are necessary: that it is not strange that we should not be able to discover perfection and order in every instance; because, in an infinity of things mutually relative, a mind which sees not infinitely, can see nothing fully.
THE SCALE OF BEING.
Far as Creation's ample range extends,
The scale of sensual, mental powers ascends :
Mark how it mounts to Man's imperial race,
From the green myriads in the peopled grass;
What modes of sight betwixt each wide extreme,
The mole's dim curtain, and the lynx's beam:
Of smell, the headlong lioness between,
And hound sagacious on the tainted green;
Of hearing, from the life that fills the flood,
To that which warbles through the vernal wood;
The spider's touch, how exquisitely fine!
Feels at each thread, and lives along the line :
In the nice bee, what sense, so subtly true,
From poisonous herbs extracts the healing dew?
How Instinct varies in the grovelling swine,
Compared, half-reasoning elephant, with thine!
'Twixt that, and Reason, what a nice barrier!
For ever separate, yet for ever near!
Remembrance and Reflection, how allied;
What thin partitions Sense from Thought divide !
And Middle natures, how they long to join,
Yet never pass th' insuperable line!
Without this just gradation, could they be
Subjected, these to those, or all to thee?
The powers of all, subdued by thee alone,
Is not thy Reason all these powers in one?
Essay on Man, L. 207.
OMNIPRESENCE OF THE DEITY.2
All are but parts of one stupendous whole,
Whose body Nature is, and God the soul;
That, changed through all, and yet in all the same,
Great in the earth, as in th' ethereal frame,
Warms in the sun, refreshes in the breeze,
Glows in the stars, and blossoms in the trees;
Lives through all life, extends through all extent,
Spreads undivided, operates unspent;
Breathes in our soul, informs our mortal part,
As full, as perfect, in a hair as heart;
As full as perfect, in vile Man that mourns,
As the rapt Seraph that adores and burns;
To Him, no high, no low, no great, no small;
He fills, He bounds, connects, and equals all.
Essay on Man, 1. 267.
ADDRESS TO BOLINGBROKE.'
Come then, my Friend, my Genius, come along;
O master of the poet and the song!
And while the Muse now stoops, or now ascends,
To Man's low passions, or their glorious ends,
Teach me, like thee, in various nature wise,
To fall with dignity, with temper rise ;
Form'd by thy converse, happily to steer
From grave to gay, from lively to severe;
Correct with spirit, eloquent with ease,
Intent to reason, or polite to please.
O! while, along the stream of time, thy name
Expanded flies, and gathers all its fame,
Say, shall my little bark attendant sail,
Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale?
When statesmen, heroes, kings, in dust repose,
Whose sons shall blush their fathers were thy foes,
Shall then this verse to future age pretend
Thou wert my guide, philosopher, and friend?
That, urged by thee, I turn'd the tuneful art
From sounds to things, from fancy to the heart;
For wit's false mirror held up nature's light;
Show'd erring pride, whatever is, is right?
That reason, passion, answer one great aim;
That true self-love and social are the same;
That VIRTUE only makes our bliss below;
And all our knowledge is, OURSELVES TO KNOW?
But it is in the « Rape of the Lock” 1 that Pope principally appears as a Poet, in which he has displayed more imagination than in all his other works taken together. *«Its wit and humor," says Dr. Drake, “ are of the most delicate and highly finished kind; its fictions sportive and elegant, and conceived with a propriety and force of imagination which astonish and fascinate every reader.” ?
And now, unveil'd, the Toilet stands display'd,
Each silver Vase in mystic order laid;
First, robod in white, the Nymph intent adores,
With head uncover'd, the cosmetic powers.
A heavenly image in the glass appears,
To that she bends, to that her eye she rears;
Th’ inferior Priestess, at her altar's side,
Trembling begins the sacred rites of Pride.
Unnumber'd treasures ope at once, and here
The various offerings of the world appear;
From each she nicely culls with curious toil,
And decks the Goddess with the glittering spoil.
This casket India's glowing geins unlocks,
And all Arabia breathes from yonder box:
The tortoise here and elephant unite,
Transform'd to combs, the speckled and the white.
Here files of pins extend their shining rows,
Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux.
Now awful beauty puts on all its arms;
The fair each moment rises in her charms,
Repairs her smiles, awakens every grace,
And calls forth all the wonders of her face;
Sees by degrees a purer blush arise,
And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes.
The busy Sylphs surround their darling care,
These set the head, and those divide the hair;
Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown,
And Betty's praised for labors not her own.
Rape of the Lock, 1. 121.
DESCRIPTION OF BELINDA.
Not with more glories, in th' ethereal plain,
The sun first rises o'er the purpled main,
Than issuing forth, the rival of his beams
Launch'd on the bosom of the silver Thames.
Fair Nymphs and well-drest Youths around her shone,
But every eye was fix'd on her alone.
On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore,
Which Jews might kiss, and Infidels adore.
Her lively looks a sprightly mind disclose,
Quick as her eyes, and as unfix'd as those.
Favors to none, to all she smiles extends;
Oft she rejects, but never once offends.
Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike,
And, like the sun, they shine on all alike.
Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride,
Might hide her faults, if Belles had faults to hide;
If to her share some female errors fall,
Look on her face, and you'll forget them all.
This Nymph, to the destruction of mankind,
Nourish'd two Locks, which graceful hung behind
In equal curls, and well conspired to deck,
With shining ringlets, the smooth ivory neck.
Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains,
And mighty hearts are held in slender chains.
With hairy springes we the birds betray ;
Slight lines of hair surprise the finny prey;
Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare,
And beauty draws us with a single hair.
Rape of the Lock, i. 1.
THE BARON OFFERS SACRIFICE FOR SUCCESS.
The adventurous Baron the bright locks admired;
he wish’d, and to the prize aspired.
Resolved to win, he meditates the way,
By force to ravish, or by fraud betray;
For when success a lover's toil attends,
Few ask if fraud or force attain his ends.
For this, ere Phæbus rose, he had implored
Propitious Heaven, and every power adored;
But chiefly Love to Love an altar built,
Of twelve vast French Romances, neatly gilt.
There lay three garters, half a pair of gloves,
And all the trophies of his former loves;
With tender billet-doux he lights the pyre,
And breathes three amorous sighs to raise the fire.
Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes
Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize;
The powers gave ear, and granted half his prayer,
The rest the winds dispersed in empty air.
Rape of the Lock, 11. 29.
THE SYLPHS-THEIR FUNCTIONS AND EMPLOYMENTS.
Some to the sun their insect wings unfold, Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold; Transparent forms, too fine for mortal sight, Their fluid bodies half dissolved in light, Loose to the wind their airy garments flew, Thin glittering textures of the filmy dew,
Dipp'd in the richest tincture of the skies,
Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes;
While every beam new transient colors flings,
Colors that change whene'er they wave their wings.
Amid the circle on the gilded mast,
Superior by the head was Ariel placed;
His purple pinions opening to the sun,
He raised his azure wand, and thus begun :-
Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear!
Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Demons, hear!
Ye know the spheres, and various tasks assign'd
By laws eternal to the aërial kind.
Some in the fields of purest ether play,
And bask and whiten in the blaze of day;
Some guide the course of wandering orbs on high,
Or roll the planets through the boundless sky:
Some, less refined, beneath the moon's pale light
Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night,
Or suck the mists in grosser air below,
Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,
Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry main,
Or o'er the glebe distil the kindly rain.
Others on earth o'er human race preside,
Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide:
Of these the chief the care of nations own,
And guard with arms divine the British Throne.
Our humbler province is to tend the Fair,
Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care;
To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let th' imprison's essences exhale;
To draw fresh colors from the vernal flowers;
To steal from rainbows, ere they drop in showers,
A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs;
Nay oft, in dreams, invention we bestow,
To change a Flounce, or add a Furbelow.'
This day, black omens threat the brightest Fair
That e'er deserved a watchful spirit's care;
Some dire disaster, or by force or slight;
But what, or where, the fates have wrapp'd in night.
Whether the Nymph shall break Diana's law,
Or some frail China-jar receive a flaw,
Or stain her honor, or her new brocade,
Forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade;
Or lose her beart or necklace at a ball;
Or whether Heaven has doom'd that Shock2 must fall.
Haste, then, ye spirits ! to your charge repair:
The fluttering fan be Zephyretta's care;
The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign;
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine;