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Straight hover round the fair her airy band;
Some, as she sipp'd, the fuming liquor fann'd, Some o'er her lap their careful plumes display'd, Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade. Coffee (which makes the politician wise,
And see through all things with his half-shut eyes)
Sent up in vapours to the baron's brain
New stratagems, the radiant lock to gain.
Ah cease, rash youth! desist ere 'tis too late,
Fear the just gods, and think of Scylla's fate!
Chang'd to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
She dearly pays for Nisus' injur'd hair!
But when to mischief mortals bend their will,
How soon they find fit instruments of ill!
Just then, Clarissa drew with tempting grace
A two-edg'd weapon from her shining case:
So ladies, in romance, assist their knight,
Present the spear, and arm him for the fight.
He takes the gift with reverence, and extends
The little engine on his fingers' ends;
This just behind Belinda's neck he spread,
As o'er the fragrant steams she bends her head.
Swift to the lock a thousand sprites repair,
A thousand wings, by turns, blow back the hair;
And thrice they twitch'd the diamond in her ear;
Thrice she look'd back, and thrice the foe drew near.
Just in that instant, anxious Ariel sought
The close recesses of the virgin's thought:
As on the nosegay in her breast reclin'd,
He watch'd the' ideas rising in her mind,
Sudden he view'd, in spite of all her art,
An earthly lover lurking at her heart.
Amaz'd, confus'd, he found his pow'r expir'd,
Resign'd to fate, and with a sigh retir'd.
The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide,
To' inclose the lock; now joins it, to divide.
Ev'n then, before the fatal engine clos'd,
A wretched sylph too fondly interpos'd;
Fate urg'd the sheers, and cut the sylph in twain, (But airy substance soon unites again)
The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
From the fair head, for ever, and for ever!
Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes, And screams of horror rend the' affrighted skies. Not louder shrieks to pitying Heav'n are cast, When husbands, or when lap-dogs, breathe their last; Or when rich China vessels, fall'n from high, In glittering dust and painted fragments lie! 'Let wreaths of triumph now my temples twine,' The victor cry'd,' the glorious prize is mine! While fish in streams, or birds delight in air, Or in a coach and six the British fair, As long as Atalantis shall be read, Or the small pillow grace a lady's bed, While visits shall be paid on solemn days, When numerous wax-lights in bright order blaze; While nymphs take treats, or assignations give, So long my honour, name, and praise shall live! What Time would spare, from steel receives its date, And monuments, like men, submit to fate! Steel could the labour of the gods destroy, And strike to dust the' imperial tow'rs of Troy; Steel could the works of mortal pride confound, And hew triumphal arches to the ground.
What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hair should feel The conquering force of unresisted steel??
anxious cares the pensive nymph opprest, And secret passions labour'd in her breast. Not youthful kings in battle seiz'd alive,
Not scornful virgins who their charms survive,
Not ardent lovers robb'd of all their bliss,
Not ancient ladies when refused a kiss,
Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,
Not Cynthia when her mantua's pinn'd awry,
E'er felt such rage, resentment, and despair,
As thou, sad virgin! for thy ravish'd hair.
For, that sad moment, when the sylphs withdrew, And Ariel weeping from Belinda flew, Umbriel, a dusky, melancholy sprite, As ever sullied the fair face of light, Down to the central earth, his proper scene, Repair'd to search the gloomy cave of Spleen. Swift on his sooty pinions flits the gnome, And in a vapour reach'd the dismal dome. No cheerful breeze this sullen region knows, The dreaded east is all the wind that blows. Here in a grotto, shelter'd close from air, And screen'd in shades from day's detested glare, She sighs for ever on her pensive bed,
Pain at her side, and Megrim at her head.
Two handmaids wait the throne; alike in place, But differing far in figure and in face.
Here stood Ill-nature, like an ancient maid,
Her wrinkled form in black and white array'd!
With store of pray'rs for mornings, nights, and noons,
Her hand is fill'd; her bosom with lampoons.
There Affectation, with a sickly mien,
Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen,
Practis'd to lisp, and hang the head aside,
Faints into airs, and languishes with pride,
On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe,
Wrapt in a gown, for sickness, and for show.
The fair ones feel such maladies as these,
When each new night-dress gives a new disease.
A constant vapour o'er the palace flies;
Strange phantoms rising as the mists arise;
Dreadful, as hermits' dreams in haunted shades,
Or bright, as visions of expiring maids.
Now glaring fiends, and snakes on rolling spires,
Pale spectres, gaping tombs, and purple fires :
Now lakes of liquid gold, Elysian scenes,
And crystal domes, and angels in machines.
Unnumber'd throngs on every side are seen,
Of bodies chang'd to various forms by Spleen.
Here living tea-pots stand, one arm held out,
One bent; the handle this, and that the spout:
A pipkin there, like Homer's tripod, walks ;
Here sighs a jar, and there a goose-pye talks;
Men prove with child, as powerful fancy works,
And maids, turn'd bottles, call aloud for corks.
Safe past the gnome through this fantastic band,
A branch of healing spleenwort in his hand.
Then thus address'd the pow'r- Hail, wayward
Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen :
Parent of vapours and of female wit,
Who give the' hysteric or poetic fit,
On various tempers act by various ways,
Make some take physic, others scribble plays;
Who cause the proud their visits to delay,
And send the godly in a pet to pray.
A nymph there is that all your pow'r disdains,
And thousands more in equal mirth maintains.
But oh! if e'er thy gnome could spoil a grace,
Or raise a pimple on a beauteous face,
Like citron-waters matrons' cheeks inflame,
Or change complexions at a losing game;
If e'er with airy horns I planted heads,
Or rumpled petticoats, or tumbled beds,
Or caus'd suspicion when no soul was rude,
Or discompos'd the head-dress of a prude,
Or e'er to costive lap-dog gave disease,
Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease:
Hear me, and touch Belinda with chagrin ;-
That single act gives half the world the spleen.'
The goddess with a discontented air,
Seems to reject him, though she grants his pray's.
A wondrous bag with both her hands she binds,
Like that where once Ulysses held the winds;
There she collects the force of female lungs,
Sighs, sobs, and passions, and the war of tongues.
A vial next she fills with fainting fears,
Soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears.
gnome rejoicing bears her gifts away,
Spreads his black wings, and slowly mounts to day.
Sunk in Thalestris' arms the nymph he found,
Her eyes dejected, and her hair unbound.
Full o'er their heads the swelling bag he rent,
And all the furies issued at the vent.
Belinda burns with more than mortal ire,
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.
'O wretched maid !' she spread her hands, and cry'd,
(While Hampton's echoes, 'Wretched maid,' reply'd)
Was it for this you took such constant care
The bodkin, comb, and essence to prepare?
For this your locks in paper durance bound?
For this with torturing irons wreath'd around?
For this with fillets strain'd your tender head?
And bravely bore the double loads of lead?
Gods! shall the ravisher display your hair,
While the fops envy, and the ladies stare!
Honour forbid ! at whose unrivall'd shrine
Ease, pleasure, virtue, all our sex resign.
Methinks already I your tears survey,
Already hear the horrid things they say,
Already see you a degraded toast,
And all your honour in a whisper lost!
How shall I, then, your hapless fame defend?
"Twill then be infamy to seem your friend!
And shall this prize, the' inestimable prize,
Expos'd thro' crystal to the gazing eyes,
And heighten'd by the diamond's circling rays,
On that rapacious hand for ever blaze?
Sooner shall grass in Hyde-park circus grow,
And wits takes lodgings in the sound of Bow;
Sooner let earth, air, sea, to choas fall,
Men, monkeys, lap-dogs, parrots, perish all!'
She said; then raging to Sir Plume repairs,
And bids her beau demand the precious hairs:
Sir Plume, of amber snuff-box justly vain,
And the nice conduct of a clouded cane,
With earnest eyes, and round unthinking face,
He first the snuff-box open'd, then the case,
And thus broke out- My lord, why, what the devil!
Z-ds! damn the lock! 'fore Gad, you must be civil!