Page images


RAPE of the LOCK.



OT with more glories, in th' etherial plain, The Sun first rifes o'er the purpled main, Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams Launch'd on the bofom of the filver Thames.

Fair Nymphs, and well-dreft Youths around her fhone,


But ev'ry 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 :
Favours to none, to all the fmiles extends;
Oft the rejects, but never once offends.
Bright as the fun, her eyes the gazers
And, like the fun, they thine on all alike.




VER. 4. Launch'd on the bofom] From hence the poem continues in the first Edition, to 46.

The reft the winds difpers'd in empty air; all after, to the end of this Canto, being additional.

Yet graceful eafe, and sweetness void of pride 15
Might hide her faults, if Belles had faults to hide :
If to her fhare fome female errors fall,
Look on her face and you'll forget 'em all.

This Nymph, to the deftruction of mankind, Nourish'd two Locks, which graceful hung behind In equal curls, and well confpir'd to deck With fhining ringlets the fmooth iv'ry neck. Love in these labyrinths his flaves detains, And mighty hearts are held in flender chains. With hairy fpringes we the birds betray, Slight lines of hair furprize the finny prey, Fair treffes man's imperial race enfnare, And beauty draws us with a fingle hair.




Th' advent'rous Baron the bright locks admir'd; He faw, he wifh'd, and to the prize aspir'd. Refolv'd to win, he meditates the way, By force to ravish, or by fraud betray; For when fuccefs a Lover's toil attends, Few afk, if fraud or force attain'd his ends. For this, ere Phoebus rofe, he had implor'd 35 Propitious heav'n, and ev'ry pow'r ador'd; But chiefly Love-to Love an Altar built, Of twelve vaft 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 am'rous fighs to raise the fire.


Then proftrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes
Soon to obtain and long poflefs the prize:
The pow'rs gave ear, and granted half his pray'r,.
The rest, the winds difpers'd in empty air.


But now fecure the painted veffel glides, The fun-beams trembling on the floating tides: While melting mufic fteals upon the sky, And foften'd founds along the waters die; 50 Smooth flow the waves, the Zephyrs gently play,. Belinda fmil'd, and all the world was gay. All but the Sylph--with careful thoughts oppreft, Th' impending woe fat heavy on his breast. He fummons ftraits his Denizens of air; The lucid fquadrons round the fails repair : Soft o'er the fhrouds aërial whispers breathe, That feem'd but Zephyrs to the train beneath. Some to the fun their infect-wings unfold, Waft on the breeze, or fink in clouds of gold; Transparent forms, too fine for mortal fight, Their fluid bodies half diffolv'd in light. Loose to the wind their airy garments flew, Thin glitt'ring textures of the filmy dew, Dipt in the richest tincture of the skies, Where light difports in ever-mingling dyes, While ev'ry beam new tranfient colours flings, Colours that change whene'er they wave their wings.



VER. 45. The pow'rs gave ear,] Virg. Æn. xi,



Amid the circle on the gilded mast,
Superior by the head, was Ariel plac'd;
His purple pinions op'ning to the fun,
He rais'd his azure wand, and thus begun.

Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear,
Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Dæmons hear!
Ye know the spheres, and various tasks affign'd 75
By laws eternal to th' aërial kind.
Some in the fields of pureft Æther play,


And bask and whiten in the blaze of day. Some guide the courfe of wand'ring orbs on high, Cr roll the planets thro' the boundless sky. Some lefs refin'd, beneath the moon's pale light Purfue the ftars that shoot athwart the night, Or fuck the mifts in groffer air below, Or dip their pinions in the painted bow, Or brew fierce tempefts on the wintry main, Or o'er the glebe diftill the kindly rain. Others on earth o'er human race prefide, 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. 90 Our humbler province is to tend the Fair, Not a lefs pleafing, tho' lefs glorious care; To fave the powder from too rude a gale, Nor let th' imprison'd effences exhale; To draw fresh colours from the vernal flow'rs; 95 To fteal from rainbows, ere they drop in fhow'rs,




A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
Affift 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 deferv'd a watchful fpirit's care;
Some dire difafter, or by force, or flight;
But what, or where, the fates have wrapt in night.
Whether the nymph fhall break Diana's law, 105
Or fome frail China jar receive a flaw;
Or ftain her honour, or her new brocade;
Forget her pray'rs, or mifs a masquerade;
Or lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball; 109
Or whether Heav'n has doom'd that Shock must fall.
Hafte then, ye fpirits! to your charge repair:
The flutt'ring fan be Zephyretta's care;
The drops to thee, Brillante, we confign;
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine;
Do thou, Crifpiffa, tend her fav'rite Lock;
Ariel himself fhall be the guard of Shock.

To fifty chofen Sylphs, of special note,
We trust th' important charge, the Petticoat:
Oft have we known that feven-fold fence to fail,
Tho' ftiff with hoops, and arm'd with ribs of whale;


VER. 105. Whether the nymph, etc.] The difafter, which makes the subject of this poem, being a trifle, taken seriously; it naturally led the Poet into this fine fatire on the female eftimate of human mifchances.

« PreviousContinue »