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Straight hover round the fair her airy band:
Some, as she sipp'd, the fuming liquor fann'd;
Some o'er her lap their careful plumes display'd,
Trembling and conscious of the rich brocade.
Coffee (which makes the politician wise,
And see through all things with his half-shut eyce
Sent up in vapours to the baron's brain
New stratagems the radiant lock to gain.
Ah cease, rash youth ; desist ere 'tis too late,
Fear the just gods, and think of Scylla's fate!
Changed to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
She dearly paid for Nisus' injured hair!
But when to mischief mortals bend their will
How soon they find fit instruments of ill!
Just then, Clarissa drew, with tempting grace,
A two-edged weapon from her shining case;
So ladies, in romance, assist their knight,
Present the spear, and arm him for the fight.
He takes the gift with reverence, and extends
The little engine on his fingers' ends;
This just behind Belinda's neck he spread,
As o'er the fragrant steams she bent her head.
Swift to the lock a thousand sprites repair,
A thousand wings, by turns, blow back the hair!
And thrice they twitch'd the diamond in her ear;
Thrice she look'd back, and thrice the foe drew nea!
Just in that instant, anxious Ariel sought
The close recesses of the virgin's thought;
As on the nosegay in her breast reclined,
He watch'd the ideas rising in her mind,
Sudden he view'd in spite of all her art,
An earthly lover lurking at her heart.
Amazed, confused, he found his power expired,
Resign'd to fate, and with a sigh retired.
The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide, To enclose the lock; now joins it, to divide. E'en then, before the fatal engine closed, A wretched Sylph too fondly interposed;
Fate urged the shears, 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 livid lightning from her eyes,
And streams of horror rend the affrighted skies.
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.
• 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 honour, name, and praise shall live! What time would spare from steel receives its date, And monuments, like men, submit to fate: Steel could the labour 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. What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hairs should fee The conquering force of unresisted steel ?'
But anxious cares the pensive nymph oppress'd,
And secret passions labour'd in her breast.
Not youthful kings in battle seized alive,
Not scornful virgins who their charms survive,
Not ardent lovers robb’d of all their bliss,
Not ancient ladies when refused a kiss,
Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,
Not Cynthia when her mantua's pinn'd awry,
E’er felt such rage, resentment, and despair,
As thou, sad virgin! for thy ravish'd hair.
For, that sad moment, when the Sylphs withdrew
And Ariel weeping from Belinda flew,
Umbriel, a dusky, melancholy sprite,
As ever sullied the fair face of light,
Down to the central earth, his proper scene,
Repair'd to search the gloomy cave of Spleen.
Swift on his sooty pinions flits the Gnome, And in a vapour reach'd the dismal dome. No cheerful breeze this sullen region knows, The dreadful east is all the wind that blows. Here in a grotto, shelter'd close from air, And screen’d in shades from day's detested glare, She sighs for ever on her pensive bed, Pain at her side, and Megrim at her head.
Two handmaids wait the throne: alike in place,
But differing far in figure and in face.
Here stood Ill-nature like an ancient maid,
Her wrinkled form in black and white array'd;
With store of prayers, for mornings, nights, and noons,
Her hand is fill'd: her bosom with lampoons
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 woc,
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 diseaso.
A constant vapour o'er the palace flies;
Strange phantoms rising as the mists arise ;
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,
And crystal domes, and angels in machines.
Unnumber'd throngs on every side are seen,
Of bodies changed to various forms by Spleen.
Here living tea-pots stand, one arm held out,
One bent; the handle this, and that the spout;
A pipkin there, like Homer's tripod walks;
Here sighs a jar, and there a goose-pie talks ;
Men prove with child, as powerful fancy works,
And maids, turn'd bottles, call aloud for corks.
Safe pass'd the Gnome through this fantastic band,
A branch of healing spleen-wort in his hand.
Then thus address'd the power; 'Hail,wayward queen
Who rule the sex from fifty to fifteen:
Parent of vapours, and of female wit,
Who give the hysteric, or poetic fit,
On various tempers act by various ways,
Make some take physic, others scribble plays :
Who cause the proud their visits to delay,
And send the godly in a pet to pray.
A nymph there is, that all thy power disdains,
And thousands more in equal mirth maintains.
But oh! if e'er thy Gnome could spoil a grace,
Or raise a pimple in a beauteous face,
Like citron-waters, matrons' cheeks inflame,
Or change complexions at a losing game;
If e'er with airy horns I planted heads,
Or rumpled petticoats, or tumbled beds,
Or caused suspicion when no soul was rude,
Or discomposed the head-dress of a prude,
Or e'er to costive lap-dogs gave disease,
Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease:
Hear me, and touch Belinda with chagrin:
That single act gives half the world the spleen.'
The goddess with a discontented air
Seems to reject him, though she grants his prayer
A wondrous bag with both her hands she binds,
Like that where once Ulysses held the winds ;
There she collects the force of female lungs,
Sighs, sobs, and passions, and the war of tongues
A vial next she fills with fainting fears,
Soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears.
The Gnome rejoicing bears her gifts away,
Spreads his black wings, and slowly mounts to day
Sunk in Thalestris' arms the nymph he found,
Her eyes dejected and her hair unbound.
Full o'er their heads the swelling bag he rent,
And all the furies issued at the vent.
Belinda burns with more than mortal ire,
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.
'O wretched maid!' she spread her hands, and cried.
(While Hampton's echoes, wretched maid !' replied,
"Was it for this you took such constant care
The bodkin, comb, and essence to prepare ?
For this your locks in paper durance bound ?
For this with torturing irons wreathed around ?
For this with fillets strain'd your tender head,
And bravely bore the double loads of lead ?
Gods! shall the ravisher display your hair,
While the fops envy, and the ladies stare?
Honour forbid! at whose unrivall'd shrine
Ease, pleasure, virtue, all our sex resign.
Methinks already I your tears survey,
Already hear the horrid things they say,
Already see you a degraded toast,
And all your honour in a whisper lost!
How shall I, then, your hapless fame defend ?
Twill then be infamy to seem your friend!
And shall this prize, the inestimable prize,
Exposed through crystal to the gazing eyes,
And heighten'd by the diamond's circling rays,
On that rapacious hand for ever blaze ?
Sooner shall grass in Hyde-park circus grow,
And wits take lodgings in the sound of Bow!
Sooner let air, earth, sea, to chaos fall,
Men, monkeys, lap-dogs, parrots, perish all!'