The Rape of the Lock

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The Rape of the Lock  (1714)  by Alexander Pope
Canto I. II. III. IV. V.


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Lud. Du Guernier inv.C. Du Boʃc sculp.


RAPE of the LOCK



P O E M.

In Five Canto's.

Written by Mr. POPE.

———A tonʃo eʃt hoc nomen adepta capillo.



L O N D O N:

Printed for Bernard Lintott, at the

Croʃs-Keys in Fleet-ʃtreet, 1714.

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IT will be vain to deny that I have ſome Value 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 communicated with the Air of a Secret, it ſoon found its Way into the World. An imperfect Copy having been offer'd to a Bookſeller, You had the Good-Nature for my Sake to conſent to the Publication of one more correct: This I was forc'd to before I had executed half my Deſign, for the Machinery was entirely wanting to compleat it.

The Machinery, Madam, is a Term invented by the Criticks, to ſignify that Part which the Deities, Angels, or Dæmons, 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 it ſelf, they always make it appear of the utmoſt Importance. Theſe Machines I determin'd to raiſe on a very new and odd Foundation, the Roʃicrucian Doctrine of Spirits.

I know how diſagreeable it is to make uſe of hard Words before a Lady; but 'tis 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 Roʃicrucians are a People I muſt bring You acquainted with. The beſt Account I know of them is in a French Book call'd Le Comte de Gabalis, which 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 Dæmons of Earth, delight in Miſchief; but the Sylphs, whoſe Habitation is Air, are the beſt condition'd Creatures imaginable. For they ſay, any Mortals may enjoy the moſt intimate Familiarities with theſe gentle Spirits, upon a Condition very eaſie to all true Adepts, an inviolate Preſervation of Chaſtity.

As to the following Canto's, 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 name with Reverence.) The Human Perſons are as Fictitious as the Airy ones; and the Character of Belinda, as it is now manag’d, 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 thro' 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 Moʃt Obedient

Humble Servant,

A. Pope.

Parts of the Poem 

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.