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Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots sword-knots
Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive.
This erring mortals levity may call;
Oh, blind to truth! the Sylphs contrive it all.
'Of these am I, who thy protection claim,
He said; when Shock, who thought she slept too
Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue.
Twas then, Belinda, if report say true,
Thy eyes first open'd on a billet-doux;
Wounds, charms, and ardours were no sooner read,
But all the vision vanish'd from thy head.
Each silver vase in mystic order laid.
First, rob'd in white, the nymph intent adores,
A heavenly image in the glass appears,
To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears;
Th' inferior priestess, at her altar's side,
Now awful beanty puts on all its arms;
The fair each moment rises in her charms.
Repairs her smiles, awakens every grace,
And calls forth alt the wonders of her face:
Sees by degrees a purer blush arise,
And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes.
The busy Sylphs surround their darling care:
These set the head, and those divide the hair;
Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown^
And Betty's prais'd for labours not her own*
NOT with more glories in th' ethereal plain,
But every eye was fix'd on her alone.
This nymph, to the destruction of mankind, Nourish'd two locks, which graceful hung behind
In equal carls, and well conspir'd to deck
Th' adventurous baron the bright locks admir'd;
For this, ere Phoebus rose, he had implor'd Propitious Heaven, 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 tliree amorous sighs to raise the fire. Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize: The powers gave ear, and granted half his prayer; The rest the winds dispers'd in empty air.
But now secure the painted vessel glides, The sun-beams 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 woe sat heavy on his breast, He summons straight his denizens of air; The lucid squadrons round the sails repair: Soft o'er the shrouds aerial 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, 1
* Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear;
'Our humbler province is to tend the fair. Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care; To save the powder from too rnde a gale, , t. Nor let th' 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: 4 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 doom'dthatShock must fail.
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 thon, 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 sevenfold fence to fail. Though stiff with hoops, and arm'd with ribs of
Form a strong line about the silver bound,
'Whatever spirit, careless of his charge,
He spoke; the spirits from the sails descend: Some, orb in orb, around the nymph extend;