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His warlike Amazon her host invades,
The Baron now his Diamonds pours apace! 75
85 In heaps on heaps; one fate o'erwhelms them all.
loss she was speedily to undergo, and gives occasion to the Poet to introduce a moral reflection from Virgil, which adds to the pleasantry of the story. In one of the passages where Pope has copied Vida, he has lost the propriety of the original, which arises from the different colours of the men, at Chess.
Thus, when dispers'd, a routed army runs, &c.
Composuit, duplici digestis ordine turmis,
The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts, And wins (oh shameful chance!)the Queen of Hearts. At this, the blood the Virgin's cheek forsook, A livid paleness spreads o'er all her look; 90 She sees, and trembles at th' approaching ill, Just in the jaws of ruin, and Codille. And now (as oft in some distemper'd State) On one nice Trick depends the gen'ral fate: An Ace of Hearts steps forth: The King unseen 95 Lurk’d in her hand, and mourn'd his captive Queen: He springs to vengeance with an eager pace, And falls like thunder on the prostrate Ace. The nymph exulting fills with shouts the sky; The walls, the woods, and long canals reply. 100
Oh thoughtless mortals ! ever blind to fate, Too soon dejected, and too soon elate.
NOTES. Ver. 95. An Ace of Hearts steps forth:] Nothing can exceed Pope's powers of description, as displayed in this game of Cards. His mock-heroic paintings of the Kings, their ensigns, and characters, are inimitable. Warton in his Essay, speaking of Windsor Forest, says, descriptive Poetry was by no means the shining talent of Pope. Of rural objects Pope was not an able describer, as he could not be an accurate obserder ; but in description of scenes taken from artificial Life, his powers are very manifest. This distinction should be always attended to, in estimating Pope's poetical character.
Bowles. It is of no importance whether the materials are derived from real or artificial life, from objects of nature or of art; from the external, or the intellectual world. It is the use that the writer makes of them which determines his claim to the title of a poet.
Et servare modum, rebus sublata secundis !
Sudden these honours shall be snatch'd away,
For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crown'd,
Ver. 105. For lo! the board] It is doubtless as hard to make a coffee-pot shine in poetry, as a plough; yet our author has succeeded in giving elegance to a familiar object, as well as Virgil.
Warton. Ver. 122, and think of Scylla's fate!] Vide Ovid's Metam. viii.
Ver. 105. For lo! the bourd, &c.] From hence, the first Edition continues to ver. 134.
Turno tempus erit magno cum optaverit emptum
Chang'd to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
But when to Mischief mortals bend their will,
spear, and arm him for the fight. 130
The Peer now spreads the glittring Forfex wide,
As o'er the fragrant stream she bends her head.
First he expands the glitt'ring Forfex wide
Ev’n then, before the fatal engine clos’d,
Ver. 152. But airy substance] See Milton, lib. vi. of Satan cut asunder by the Angel Michael.
P. This line is an admirable parody on that passage of Milton, which, perhaps oddly enough, describes Satan wounded :
“ The griding sword, with discontinuous wound,
Pass'd thro' him; but th’ etherial substance clos’d,
Not long divisible.” The parodies are some of the most exquisite parts of this poem. That which follows from the “ Dum juga montis aper,” of Virgil, contains some of the most artful strokes of satire, and the most poignant ridicule imaginable.
The introduction of frequent parodies on serious and solemn passages of Homer and Virgil, gives much life and spirit to heroicomic poetry
“ Tu dors, Prelat? tu dors?” in Boileau, is the “ Euders Alee vie" of Homer, and is full of humour. The wife of the barber talks in the language of Dido, in her expostulations to her Æneas, at the beginning of the second Canto of the Lutrin. Pope's parodies of Sarpedon in Homer, and of the description of Achilles's sceptre, together with the scales of Jupiter, from Homer, Virgil, and Milton, are judiciously introduced in their several places, are perhaps superior to those Boileau or Garth have used, and are worked up with peculiar pleasantry. The mind of the reader is engaged by novelty, when it so unexpectedly finds a thought or object it had been accustomed to survey in another form, suddenly arrayed in a ridiculous garb. A mixture also of comic and ridiculous images, with such as are serious and important, adds no small beauty to this species of poetry, when real and imaginary distresses are coupled together.
The meeting points the sacred hair dissever,
From the fair head, for ever, and for ever. All that is between was added afterwards.