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Some secret truths, from learned pride conceald,
To maids alone and children are reveal'd :
What, though no credit doubting wits may give ?
The fair and innocent shall still believe.
Know, then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly,
The light militia of the lower sky:
These, though unseen, are ever on the wing,
Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring.
Think what an equipage thou hast in air,
And view with scorn two pages and a chair.
As now your own, our beings were of old,
And once inclosed in woman's beauteous mould;
Thence, by a soft transition, we repair
From earthly vehicles to these of air.
Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled,
That all her vanities at once are dead;
Succeeding vanities she still regards,
And though she plays no more, o'erlooks the cards.
Her joy in gilden chariots, when alive,4
And love of ombre, after death survive.
For when the fair in all their pride expire,
To their first elements their 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 sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea.
The graver prude sinks downward to a gnome,
In search of mischief still on earth to roam.
The light coquettes in sylphs aloft repair,
And sport and flutter in the fields of air.

“Know further yet: whoever fair and chaste
Rejects mankind, is by some sylph embraced :
For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease
Assume what sexes 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,





Quæ gratia currûm
Armorumque fuit vivis, quæ cura nitentes
Pascere equos, eadem sequitur tellure repostos."—Virg. Æn. vi.

When kind occasion prompts their warm desires, 75
When music softens, and when dancing fires ?
'Tis but their sylph, the wise celestials know,
Though honour is the word with men below.

“Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their face, For life predestined to the gnome's embrace.

80 These swell their prospects and exalt their pride, When offers are disdain'd and love denied : Then gay ideas crowd the vacant brain, While peers, and dukes, and all their sweeping train, And garters, stars, and coronets appear,

85 And in soft sounds, Your Grace' salutes their ear. 'Tis these that early taint the female soul, Instruct the eyes of young coquettes to roll, Teach infant cheeks a bidden blush to know, And little hearts to flutter at a beau.

90 “Oft, when the world imagine women stray, The sylphs through mystic mazes guide their way, Through all the giddy circle they pursue, And old impertinence expel by new. What tender maid but must a victim fall

95 To one man's treat, but for another's ball ? When Florio speaks, what virgin could withstand, If gentle Damon did not squeeze her hand ? With varying vanities, from ev'ry part, They shift the moving toy-shop of their heart ;

100 Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots sword-knots strive, 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,

105 A watchful sprite, and Ariel is my name. Late, as I ranged the crystal wilds of air, In the clear mirror of thy ruling star5 I saw, alas! some dread event impend, Ere to the main this morning sun descend ;

110 But heaven reveals not what, or how, or where : Warn’d by the sylph, oh, pious maid, beware!

5 The language of the Platonists, the writers of the intelligible world of spirits, &c.

This to disclose is all thy guardian can :
Beware of all, but most beware of man!”

He said ; when Shock, who thought she slept too long, 115
Leap'd up, and waked 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.

120 And now, unveil'd, the toilet stands display'd, Each silver vase in mystic order laid. First, robed in white, the nymph intent adores, With head uncover'd, the cosmetic powers. A heav'nly image in the glass appears,

125 To that she bends, to that her eye she rears; Th’ inferior priestess, at her altar's side, Trembling, begins the sacred rites of pride. Unnumber'd treasures ope at once, and here The various offerings of the world appear ;

130 From each she 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 tortoise here and elephant unite,

135 Transform'd to combs, the speckled and the white.6 Here files of pins extend their shining rows, Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux. Now awful beauty puts on all its arms; The fair each moment rises in her charms,

140 Repairs her smiles, awakens every grace, And calls forth ail 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,

145 These set the head, and those divide the hair,

6 [This passage was evidently suggested, as Warton remarks, by one of Addison's Spectators (No. 69): “ The single dress of a woman of quality is often the product of an hundred climates. The muff and the fan come together from the different ends of the earth. The scarf is sent from the torrid zone, and the tippet from beneath the pole. The brocade petticoat rises out of the mines of Peru, and the diamond necklace out of the bowels of Indostan."]

7 Ancient traditions of the rabbis relate, that several of the fallen angels

Some fold the sleeve, while others plait the gown;
And Betty's praised for labours not her own.

became amorous of women, and particularize some; amongst the rest, Asael, who lay with Naamah, the wife of Noah, or of Ham; and who, continuing impenitent, still presides over the women's toilets. Bereshi Rabbi in Genes. vi. 2.


"Some fold the sleeve, while others plait the gown;
And Betty's praised for labours not her own."

RAPE OF THE LOCK, canto i. line 147, 148.


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