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HAT dire offence from am'rous caufes fprings,
What mighty contests rife from trivial things,
I fing This verfe to Caryl, Mufe! is.due:
This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the fubject, but not so the praise,
If She infpire, and He approve my lays.
Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel
A well-bred Lord t'affault a gentle Belle ?
Oh fay what ftranger caufe, yet unexplor'd,
Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord?
In tasks fo bold, can little men engage,
And in foft bofoms dwells fuch mighty Rage?
Sol thro' white curtains fhot a tim'rous ray, And ope'd thofe eyes that must eclipse the day; Now lap-dogs gave themselves the roufing shake, And fleepless lovers, juft at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the flipper knock'd the ground, And the prefs'd watch return'd a filver found. Belinda ftill her downy pillow prest,
Her guardian Sylph prolong'd the balmy rest:
The first sketch of this Poem was written in less than a fortnight's time, in 1711, in two Cantos, and so printed in a Mifcellany, without the name of the Author. The Machines were not inferted till a year after, when he published it, and annexed the foregoing Dedication.
'Twas he had fummon'd to her filent bed
The morning-dream that hover'd o'er her head.
A Youth more glitt'ring than a Birth-night Beau,
(That ev'n in flumber caus'd her cheek to glow)
Seem'd to her ear his winning lips to lay,
And thus in whispers faid, or feem'd to say.
Fairest of mortals, thou diftinguish'd care
Of thousand bright inhabitants of Air!
If e'er one Vifion touch'd thy infant thought,
Of all the Nurfe and all the Prieft have taught;
Of airy Elves by moon-light fhadows feen,
The filver token, and the circled green,
Or virgins vifited by Angel-pow'rs,
With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs;
Hear and believe! thy own importance know,
Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
Some fecret truths, from learned pride conceal'd,
To Maids alone and Children are reveal'd:
What tho' no credit doubting Wits may give ?
The Fair and Innocent fhall ftill believe.,
Know then, unnumber'd Spirits round thee fly,
The light Militia of the lower fky;
Thefe, tho' unfeen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the Box, and hover round the Ring:
Think what an Equipage thou haft in Air,
And view with scorn two Pages and a Chair.
As now your own, our beings were of old,
And once inclos'd in Woman's beauteous mould;
Thence, by a foft tranfition, we repair
From earthly Vehicles to thefe of air.
Think not, when Woman's tranfient breath is fled,
That all her vanities at once are dead :
Succeeding vanities fhe ftill regards,
And tho' fhe plays no more, o'erlooks the cards.
Her joy in gilded Chariots, when alive,
And love of Ombre, after death furvive.
For when the Fair in all their pride expire,
To their firft Elements 'the Souls retire:
The Sprites of fiery Termagants in Flame
Mount up, and take a Salamander's name.
Soft yielding minds to Water glide away,
And fip, with Nymphs, their elemental Tea.
The graver Prude finks downward to a Gnome,
In fearch of mifchief ftill on Earth to roam.
The light Coquettes in Sylphs aloft repair,
And sport and flutter in the fields of Air.
Know farther yet; whoever fair and chafte
Rejects mankind, is by fome Sylph embrac❜d:
For Spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease
Affume what fexes and what shapes they please.
What guards the purity of melting Maids
In courtly balls, and midnight masquerades,
Safe from the treach'rous friend, the daring spark,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark,
When kind occafion prompts their warm defires,
When music softens, and when dancing fires?
'Tis but their Sylph, the wife Celestials know,
Tho' Honour is the word with Men below.
Oft' when the world imagine women ftray,
The Sylphs thro' myftic mazes guide their way,
Thro' all the giddy circle they pursue,
And old impertinence expel by new.
What tender maid but muft a victim fall
To one man's treat, but for another's ball?
Some nymphs there are, too confcious of their face,
For life predeftin'd to the Gnomes embrace.
These fwell their prospects and exalt their pride,
When offers are difdain'd and love deny'd:
Then gay Ideas croud the vacant brain,
While Peers and Dukes, and all their fweeping train,
And Garters, Stars, and Coronets appear,
And in foft founds, Your Grace falutes their ear.
'Tis these that early taint the female soul,
Inftruct the eyes of young Coquettes to roll,
Teach infant cheeks a bidden blush to know,
And little hearts to flutter at a Beau.
When Florio fpeaks, what virgin could withstand,
If gentle Damon did not fqueeze her hand?
With varying vanities, from ev'ry part,
They fhift the moving Toy-fhop of their heart;
Where wigs with wigs, with fword knots fword-knots
Beaus banish beaus, 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,
A watchful fprite, and Ariel is my name.
Late, as I rang'd the cryftal wilds of air,
In the clear Mirror of thy ruling Star
I saw, alas! fome dread event impend,
E'er to the main this morning fun defcend.
But heav'n reveals not what, or how, or where :
Warn'd by the Sylph, Oh pious maid, beware!
This to disclose is all thy guardian can :
Beware of all, but moft beware of Man!
He faid; when Shock, who thought she slept too long, Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue. 'Twas then Belinda, if report fay true,
Thy eyes firft open'd on a Billet-doux ;
Wounds, Charms, and Ardors, were no fooner read,
But all the Vifion vanish'd from thy head.
And now, unveil'd, the Toilet ftands display'd,
Each filver Vafe in myftic order laid.
First, robe'd in white, the nymph intent adores
With head uncover'd, the Cosmetic pow'rs.
A heav'nly Image in the glafs appears,
To that the bends, to that her eyes fhe rears;
Th' inferior Prieftefs, at her altar's fide,
Trembling, begins the facred rites of Pride.
Unnumber'd treafures ope at once, and here
The various off'rings of the world appear;
From each fhe nicely culls with curious toil,
And decks the Goddess with the glitt'ring spoil.
This casket India's glowing gems unlocks,
And all Arabia breathes from yonder box.
The Tortoife here and Elephant unite,
Transform'd to combs, the fpeckled and the white.
Here files of pins extend their fhining rows,
Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux.
Now awful Beauty puts on all its arms;
The fair each moment rifes in her charms,
Repairs her smiles, awakens ev'ry grace,
And calls forth all the wonders of her face;
Sees by degrees a purer blush arife,
And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes.
The bufy Sylphs* furround their darling care,
These fet the head, and thofe divide the hair,
Some fold the fleeve, whilft others plait the gown;
And Betty's prais'd for labours not her own,
Ancient Traditions of the Rabbi's relate, that feveral of the fallen Angels became amorous of Women, and particularize fome; among the reft Afael, who lay with Naamah, the wife of Noah, or of Ham; and who continuing impenitent, ftill prefides over the Women's Toilets. Berefsi Rabbi in Genef. 6. 2.