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She said ; then raging to sir Plume repairs,
And bids her beau demand the precious hairs:
(Sir Plume of amber snuff-box justly vain,
And the nice conduct of a clouded cane :)
With earnest eyes, and round unthinking face,
He first the snuff-box open'd, then the case,
And thus broke out :
-My Lord, why, what the devil?
7-ds! damn the lock: 'fore Gad, y u must be civil!
Plague on't, 'tis past a jest-nay pr’ythee, pox!
Give her the hair.'—He spoke, and rapp'd his box.
'It grieves me much (replied the peer again)
Who speaks so well should ever speak in vain,
But by this lock, this sacred lock, I swear,
(Which never more shall join its parted hair;
Which never more its honours shall renew,
Clipp'd from the lovely head where late it grew)
That while my nostrils draw the vital air,
This hand, which won it, shall for ever wear.'
He spoke, and speaking, in proud triumph spread
The long-contended honours of her head.
But Umbriel, hateful Gnome! forbears not so;
He breaks the vial whence the sorrows flow.
Then see! the nymph in beauteous grief appears,
Her eyes half-languishing, half-drown'd in tears;
On her heaved bosom hung her drooping head,
Which, with a sigh, she raised; and thus she said:
'For ever cursed be this detested day,
Which snatch'd my best, my favourite curl away.
Happy! ah, ten times happy had I been,
If Hampton-Court these eyes had never seen!
Yet am not I the first mistaken maid
By love of courts to numerous ills betray'd.
Oh had I rather unadmired remain'd
In some lone isle, or distant northern land;
Where the gilt chariot never marks the way,
Where none learn ombre, none ere taste bohea!
There kept my charms conceal'd from mortal eya
that in deserts bloom and die.
What moved my mind with youthful lords lo roam
Oh had I staid, and said my prayers at home!
'Twas this, the morning omens seem'd to tell ;
Thrice from my trembling hand the patch-box fell:
The tottering china shook without a wind,
Nay, Poll sat mute, and Shock was most unkind!
A Sylph too warn'd me of the threats of fate,
In mystic visions, now believed too late!
See the poor remnant of these slighted hairs !
My hand shall rend what e'en thy rapine spares :
These in two sable ringlets taught to break,
Once gave new beauties to the snowy neck:
The sister-lock now sits uncouth, alone,
And in its fellow's fate foresees its own;
Uncurl'd it hangs, the fatal shears demands,
And tempts once more thy sacrilegious hands,
Oh, hadst thou, cruel! been content to seize
Hairs less in sight, or any hairs but these !'
She said ; the pitying audience melt in tears ;
But fate and Jove had stopp'd the baron's ears.
In vain Thalestris with reproach assails,
For who can move when fair Belinda fails?
Not half so fix'd the Trojan could remain,
While Anna begg’d, and Dido raged in vain.
Then grave Clarissa graceful waved her fan;
Silence ensued, and thus the nymph began:
“Say, why are beauties praised and honour'd mcot,
The wise man's passion, and the vain man's toast ?
Why deck'd with all that land and sea afford ?
Why angels call’d, and angel-like adored ?
Why round our coaches crowd the white-gloved beaux!
Why bows the side-box from its inmost rows ?
How vain are all these glories, all our pains,
Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains :
That men may say, when we the front box grace,
Behold the first in virtue as in face!
Oh! if to dance all night and dress all day,
Charm'd the small-pox, or chased old age away,
Who would not scorn what housewife's cares produce,
Or who would learn one earthly thing of usc ?
To patch, nay ogle, may become a saint;
Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint.
But since, alas! frail beauty must decay;
Curl'd or uncurl'd, since locks will turn to gray;
Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a man must die a maid;
What then remains but well our power to use,
And keep good-humour still, whate'er we lose?
And trust me, dear! good-humour can prevai!,
When airs, and fights, and screams, and scolding fail.
Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.'
So spoke the dame, but no applause ensued :
Belinda frown'd, Thalestris call'd her prude.
*To arms, to arms! the fierce virage cries,
And swift as lightning to the combat flies:
All side in parties, and begin the attack;
Fans clar, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack
Heroes' and heroines' shouts confusedly rise,
And base and treble voices strike the skies.
No common weapons in their hands are found;
Like gods they fight, nor dread a mortal wound.
So when bold Homer makes the gods engage, And heavenly breasts with human passions rage; Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms; And all Olympus rings with loud alarms; Jove's thunder roars, heaven trembles all around, Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound, Earth shakes her nodding towers,lhe ground gives way And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day!
Triumphant Umbriel, on a sconce's height, Clapp'd his glad wings, and sat to view the fight
Propp'd on their bodkin-spears, the sprites survey The growing combat, or assist the fray.
While through the press enraged Thalestris flies, And scatters death around from both her eyes, A beau and witling perish'd in the throng One died in metaphor, and one in song.
O cruel nymph! a living death 1 bear,' Cried Dapperwit, and sunk beside his chair. A mournful glance sir Fopling upwards cast : “Those eyes are made so killing—' was his last. Thus on Meander's flowery margin lies The expiring swan, and as he sings he dies.
When bold sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down Chloe stepp'd in, and kill'd him with a frown; She smiled to see the doughty hero slain, But, at her smile, the beau revived again.
Now Jove suspends his golden scales in air, Weighs the men's wits against the lady's hair ; The doubtful beam long nods from side to side, At length the wits mount up, the hairs subside.
See fierce Belinda on the baron flies,
With more than usual lightning in her eyes :
Nor fear'd the chief the unequal fight to try,
Who sought no more than on his foe to die.
But this bold lord, with manly strength endued,
She with one finger and a thumb subdued :
Just where the breath of life his nostrils drew,
A charge of snuff the wily virgin threw;
The Gnomes direct, to every atom just,
The pungent grains of titillating dust.
Sudden with starting tears each eye o'erflows,
And the high dome re-echoes to his nose.
"Now meet thy fate,' incensed Belinda cried,
And drew a deadly bodkin from her side;
(The same, his ancient personage to deck,
Her great-great-grandsire wore about his neck,
In three seal-rings; which after, melted down,
Form'd a vast buckle for his widow's gown:
Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew,
The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew ;
Then in a bodkin graced her mother's hairs,
Which long she wore, and now Belinda wears.)
Boast not my fall,' he cried, 'insulting foe!
Thou by some other shall be laid as low.
Nor think, to die dejects my lofty mind:
All that I dread is leaving you behind !
Rather than so, ah let me still survive,
And burn in Cupid's flames—but burn alive.
Restore the lock,' she cries; and all around
Restore the lock! the vaulted roofs rebound.
Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain
Roard for the handkerchief that caused his pain
But see how oft ambitious aims are cross'd,
And chiefs contend till all the prize is lost!
The lock, obtain'd with guilt, and kept with pain,
In every place is sought, but sought in vain :
With such a prize no mortal must be bless'd:
So Heaven decrees ! with Heaven who can contest!
Some thought it mounted to the lunar sphere,
Since all things lost on earth are treasured there :
There heroes' wits are kept in ponderous vases,
And beaus' in snuff-boxes and tweezer cases :
There broken vows and death-bed alms are found,
And lovers' hearts with ends of riband bound;
The courtier's promises, and sick man's prayers,
The smiles of harlots, and the tears of heirs,
Cages for gnats, and chains to yoke a flea,
Dried butterflies, and tomes of casuistry.
But trust the muse-she saw it upward rise,
Though mark'd by none but quick poetic eyes ;
(So Rome's great founder to the heavens withdrew
To Proculus alone confess'd in view :)
A sudden star it shot through liquid air,
And drew behind a radiant trail of hair.
Not Berenice's locks first rose so bright,
The heavens bespangling with dishevell’d light.