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of the Rape of the Lock, but it is the best and most important, containing the two main points of the poem, the Rape itself, and the leading operations of the sylphs.

From his other poems I have also selected such passages as are at once the wittiest and of the most ordinary interest,-the characters which he drew from life.

THE SYLPHS AND THE LOCK OF HAIR. ♦

From "THE RAPE OF THE LOCK."

What dire offence from amorous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I sing. This verse to Caryl, muse! is due:
This ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view :
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
If she inspire, and he approve my lays.

Say what strange motive, goddess! could compel
A well-bred lord t' assault a gentle belle ?
O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd,
Could make a gentle belle reject a lord?
In tasks so bold can little men engage?
And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty rage ?
Not with more glories in th' ethereal plain,
The sun first rises o'er the purpled main,
Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams
Launch'd on the bosom of the silver'd Thames.

Fair nymphs and well-dress'd youths around her shone,
But every 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 she smiles extends;
Oft she rejects, but never once offends.
Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike,
And, like the sun, they shine on all alike.
Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride,
Might hide her faults, if belles had faults to hide :
If to her share some female errors fall,

Look on her face, and you'll forget them all.

This nymph, to the destruction of mankind, Nourish'd two locks, which graceful hung behind In equal curls, and well conspir'd to deck With shining ringlets the smooth ivory neck. Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains, And mighty hearts are held in slender chains. With hairy springes we the birds betray : Slight lines of hair surprise the finny prey; Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare,

And beauty draws us with a single hair.

Th' adventurous Baron the bright locks admir'd;

He saw, he wish'd, and to the prize aspir'd.

Resolv'd to win, he meditates the way,
By force to ravish, or by fraud betray;
For when success a lover's toil attends,
Few ask, if fraud or force attain'd his ends.

For this, ere Phoebus rose, he had implor'd
Propitious Heav'n, and every power ador'd;
But chiefly Love-to Love an altar built,
Of twelve vast 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 amorous sighs to light the fire.

Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes
Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize.

But now secure the painted vessel glides,
The sunbeams trembling on the floating tides;
While melting music steals upon the sky,
And soften'd sounds along the waters die;
Smooth flow the waves, the zephyrs gently play,
Belinda smil'd, and all the world was gay,

All but the sylph. With careful thoughts opprest,
Th' impending wo sat heavy on his breast.1
He summons straight his denizens of air;
The lucid squadrons round the sails repair;
Soft o'er the shroud aërial whispers breathe,
That seem'd but zephyrs to the train beneath.
Some to the sun their insect wings unfold,
Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold;
Transparent forms, too fine for mortal sight,
Their fluid bodies half dissolv'd in light.
Loose to the wind their airy garments flew,
Thin glittering textures of the filmy dew,
Dipp'd in the richest tinctures of the skies,

Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes,

While every beam new transient colours flings, Colours that change whene'er they wave their wings. Amid the circle on the gilded mast,

Superior by the head was Ariel plac'd;2

His purple pinions opening to the sun,

He raised 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 assign'd

By law eternal to th' aërial kind :

Some in the fields of purest æther play,

And bask and whiten in the blaze of day;

Some guide the course of wondering orbs on high, Or roll the planets through the boundless sky;

Some, less refin'd, beneath the moon's pale light
Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night,
Or suck the mists in grosser air below,

Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,

Or brew fierce tempests on the wintery main,
Or o'er the glebe distil the kindly rain:
Others on earth o'er human race preside,
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.
"Our humbler province is to tend the fair,
Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care;
To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let the imprison'd essences exhale;

To draw fresh colours from the vernal flowers;
To steal from rainbows, ere they drop in showers,
A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
Assist 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 deserv'd a watchful spirit's care;

Some dire disaster, or by force, or slight;

But what, or where the fates have wrapp'd in night.
Whether the nymph shall break Diana's law,
Or some frail China-jar receive a flaw;
Or stain her honour, or her new brocade;
Forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade;
Or lose her heart, or necklace at a ball;

Or whether Heaven has deem'd that Shock must fall.
Haste then, ye spirits! to your charge repair:
The fluttering fan be Zephyretta's care;
The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign;
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine;
Do thou, Crispissa, tend her favourite Lock;
Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock.

"To fifty chosen sylphs, of special note,
We trust th' important charge, the petticoat:
Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail,
Though stiff with hoops, and arm'd with ribs of whale.
Form a strong line about the silver bound,
And guard the wide circumference around.
"Whatever spirit, careless of his charge,
His post neglects, or leaves the fair at large,
Shall feel sharp vengeance soon o'ertake his sins,
Be stopp'd in vials, or transfix'd with pins ;
Or plung'd in lakes of bitter washes lie,
Or wedg'd whole ages in a bodkin's eye :3
Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain,
While clogg'd he beats his silken wings in vain;
Or alum styptics with contracting power
Shrink his thin essence like a shrivell'd flower:
Or, as Ixion fix'd, the wretch shall feel
The giddy motions of the whirling mill;
In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow,
And tremble at the sea that froths below!"

He spoke; the spirits from the sails descend:
Some, orb in orb, around the nymph extend;
Some thrid the mazy ringlets of her hair;
Some hang upon the pendants of her ear;
With beating hearts the dire event they wait,
Anxious and trembling for the birth of fate.

Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flowers, Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers, There stands a structure of majestic frame,

Which from the neighbouring Hampton takes its name.
Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom

Of foreign tyrants, and of nymphs at home;
Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,

Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes tea.

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