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illustration of these remarks. Can anything be more elegant and graceful than the description of Belinda, in the beginning of the second canto?
'Not with more glories, in the ethereal plain,
On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore,
Look on her face, and you'll forget 'em all.
'This nymph, to the destruction of mankind,
The following is the introduction to the account of Belinda's assault upon the baron bold who had dissevered one of these locks from her fair head forever and forever,' —
'Now meet thy fate, incensed Belinda cried,
I do not know how far Pope was indebted for the original idea or the delightful execution of this poem to the 'Lutrin' of Boileau.
The Rape of the Lock' is a double-refined essence of wit and fancy, as the Essay on Criticism' is of wit and sense. The quantity of thought and observation in this work, for so young a man as Pope was when he wrote it, is wonderful; unless we adopt the supposition that most men of genius spend the rest of their lives in teaching others what they themselves have learned under twenty. The conciseness and felicity of the expression are equally remarkable. Thus, in reasoning on the variety of men's opinion, he says,
"T is with our judgments, as our watches,
Nothing can be more original and happy than the general remarks and illustrations in the
Essay; the critical rules laid down are too much those of a school, and of a confined one. There is one passage in the Essay on Criticism' in which the author speaks with that eloquent enthusiasm of the fame of ancient writers, which those will always feel who have themselves any hope or chance of immortality. I have quoted the passage elsewhere, but I will repeat it here :
'Still green with bays each ancient altar stands,
Secure from flames, from envy's fiercer rage,
Hail! bards triumphant, born in happier days,
Whose honours with increase of ages grow,
These lines come with double force and beauty on the reader, as they were dictated by the writer's despair of ever attaining that lasting glory which he celebrates with such disinterested enthusiasm in others, from the lateness of the age in which he lived, and from his writing in a tongue not understood by other nations, and that grows obsolete and unintelligible to ourselves at the end of every second century. But he needed not have thus antedated his own poetical doom, the loss and entire oblivion of
that which can never die. If he had known, he might have boasted that 'his little bark,' wafted down the stream of time,
'With theirs should sail,
Pursue the triumph and partake the gale,'
if those who know how to set a due value on the blessing were not the last to decide confidently on their own pretensions to it.
There is a cant in the present day about genius as everything in poetry; there was a cant in the time of Pope about sense as performing all sorts of wonders. It was a kind of watchword, the shibboleth of a critical party of the day. As a proof of the exclusive attention which it occupied in their minds, it is remarkable that in the Essay on Criticism' (not a very long poem) there are no less than half a score of successive couplets rhyming to the word 'sense.' This appears almost incredible without giving the instances, and no less so when they are given:
'But of the two, less dangerous is the offence,
1 Lines 3, 4.
2 Lines 28, 29.
'Pride, where wit fails, steps in to our defence,
That always shows great pride, or little sense.' 'Be silent always when you doubt your sense, And speak, though sure, with seeming diffidence.' 5 'Be niggards of advice on no pretence,
For the worst avarice is that of sense.'"
'Strain out the last dull dropping of their sense,
I have mentioned this the more for the sake
'There died the best of passions, Love and Fame.'