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This just behind Belinda's neck he spread,
The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide, To inclose the lock; now joins it, to divide. Ev'n then, before the fatal engine closed, A wretched sylph too fondly interposed : 150 Fate urged 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.
152 But airy substance. A note by Pope quotes Milton for this idea. Warton pronounces that to be a parody, which was probably meant as an authority. The conception was open to burlesque; and Pope might have been glad to shelter himself under the broad wings of Milton.
Not louder shrieks to pitying Heaven are cast, When husbands or when lap-dogs breathe their
last; Or when rich China vessels, fallen from high, In glittering dust and painted fragments" lie. 160 Let wreaths of triumph now my temples
twine, The victor cried : “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 honor, name, and praise shall live! What time would spare, from steel receives its
date; And monuments, like men, submit to fate. Steel could the labor of the gods destroy, And strike to dust the imperial towers of Troy; Steel could the works of mortal pride confound, And hew triumphal arches to the ground. 176
163 While fish in streams, &c.
Dum juga montis aper, fluvios dum piscis amabit,
Virg. Ecl. v. 76. 165 As long as Atalantis. The profligate book of a profligate woman, Mrs. Manley, daughter of sir Roger Manley, governor of Guernsey, and author of the first volume of 'the Turkish Spy.' Mrs. Manley, possessing some abilities and more effrontery, lived for some years among the literary circles, and wrote some plays; but at length falling into habits of open vice, she died neglected and obscure.
What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hairs should
feel The conquering force of unresisted steel ?'
177 What wonder, &c.
Ille quoque eversus mons est, &c.
Catull. de com. Berenices.
But anxious cares the pensive nymph oppress'd,
Swift on his sooty pinions flits the gnome, And in a vapor reach'd the dismal dome. No cheerful breeze this sullen region knows, The dreaded east is all the wind that blows. 20 Here in a grotto, shelter'd close from air, And screen’d in shades from day's detested glare,
"At regina gravi, &c.Virg. Æneid, iv. 1.
She sighs for ever on her pensive bed,
Two handmaids wait the throne: alike in place,
noons, Her hand is filld; her bosom with lampoons. 30
There Affectation, with a sickly mien, Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen; Practised to lisp, and hang the head aside, Faints into airs, and languishes with pride; On the rich quilt sinks with becoming wo, 35 Wrapp'd 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 vapor o'er the palace flies; Strange phantoms rising as the mists arise; 40 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, 45 And crystal domes, and angels in machines.
Unnumber'd throngs, on every side are seen, Of bodies changed to various forms by Spleen.
41 Dreadful as hermits' dreams. Warburton thinks that Pope here insinuates hypochondriasis as the source of the Romish visions. But Pope was decorous, if not sincere ; and it is improbable that he would offer this direct insult to the favorite traditions of the breviary.