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CLOSE by, those meads, for ever crown'd with flowers,
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers,
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
Which from the neighb’ring Hampton takes its name.
Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom
Of foreign tyrants, and of nymphs at home;
Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes tea.?
Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort,
To taste a while the pleasures of a court;
In various talk th' instructive hours they passid,
Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last ;3
One speaks the glory of the British Queen,
And one describes a charming Indian screen;
A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes ;
At every word a reputation dies.
Snuff, or the fan, supply each pause of chat,
With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that.
Meanwhile, declining from the noon of day,
The sun obliquely shoots his burning ray;
The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,
And wretches hang that jurymen may dine;
The merchant from th’exchange returns in peace,
And the long labours of the toilet cease.4
Belinda now, whom thirst of fame invites,
Burns to encounter two adventurous knights,
At ombre singly to decide their doom ;
And swells her breast with conquests yet to come.
Straight the three bands prepare in arms to join,
Each band the number of the sacred nine.
Soon as she spreads her hand, th' aërial guard
Descend, and sit on each important card :
First Ariel perch'd upon a Matadore,
Then each according to the rank he bore;
For sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race,
Are, as when women, wondrous fond of place.
Behold, four Kings in majesty revered,
With hoary whiskers and a forky beard ;
And four fair Queens, whose hands sustain a flower,
Th'expressive emblem of their softer power ;
Four knaves in garbs succinct, a trusty band;
Caps on their heads, and halberts in their hand;
And party-colour'd troops, a shining train,
Drawn forth to combat on the velvet plain.
3 In the first edition,
"In various talk the chearful hours they past,
Of, who was bit, or who capotted last.” 4 All that follows of the game at ombre was added since the first edition, till ver. 105, which connected thus :
“Sudden the board with cups and spoons is crown'd.”
The skilful nymph reviews her force with care: 45 “Let Spades be trumps !” she said, and trumps they were.
Now move to war her sable Matadores,
In show like leaders of the swarthy Moors.
Spadillio first, unconquerable lord!
Led off two captive trumps, and swept the board. 50
As many more Manillio forced to yield,
And march'd a victor from the verdant field.
Him Basto follow'd; but his fate more hard
Gain'd but one trump, and one plebeian card.
With his broad sabre next, a chief in years,
The hoary Majesty of Spades appears,
Puts forth one manly leg, to sight reveald,
The rest, his many-colour'd robe conceald.
The rebel Knave, who dares his prince engage,
Proves the just victim of his royal rage.
Ev'n mighty Pam, that kings and queens o'erthrew,
And mow'd down armies in the fights of Lu,
Sad chance of war! now destitute of aid,
Falls undistinguish’d by the victor Spade !
Thus far both armies to Belinda yield;
Now to the baron fate inclines the field.
His warlike Amazon her host invades,
Th' imperial consort of the crown of Spades.
The Club's black tyrant first her victim dyed,
Spite of his haughty mien, and barb'rous pride :
What boots the regal circle on his head,
His giant limbs, in state unwieldy spread ;
That long behind he trails his pompous robe,
And, of all monarchs, only grasps the globe ?
The baron now his Diamonds pours apace;
Th' embroider'd King who shows but half his face,
And his refulgent Queen, with powers combined
Of broken troops an easy conquest find.
Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, in wild disorder seen,
With throngs promiscuous strow the level green.
Thus when dispersed a routed army runs,
Of Asia's troops, and Afric's sable sons,
With like confusion different nations fly,
Of various habit, and of various dye,
The pierced battalions disunited fall,
85 In heaps on heaps ; one fate o’erwhelms them all.
The Knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts,
And wins (oh shameful chance !) the Queen of Hearts.
At this, the blood the virgin's cheek forsook,
A livid paleness spreads o'er all her look ;
She sees, and trembles at th' approaching ill,
Just in the jaws of ruin, and Codille.
And now (as oft in some distemper'd state)
On one nice trick depends the gen’ral fate,
An Ace of Hearts steps forth : the King unseen
Lurkid in her hand, and mourn'd his captive Queen :
He springs to vengeance with an eager pace,
And falls like thunder on the prostrate Ace.
The nymph exulting fills with shouts the sky;
The walls, the woods, and long canals reply.
100 O thoughtless mortals ! ever blind to fate,5 Too soon dejected, and too soon elate. Sudden, these honours shall be snatch'd away, And cursed for ever this victorious day.
For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crown’d, 105 The berries crackle, and the mill turns round: On shining altars of Japan they raise The silver lamp; the fiery spirits blaze : From silver spouts the grateful liquors glide, While China's earth receives the smoking tide:
110 At once they gratify their scent and taste, And frequent cups prolong the rich repast. 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,
115 Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade. Coffee (which makes the politician wise, And see through all things with his half-shut eyes) Sent up in vapours to the baron's brain New stratagems, the radiant lock to gain.
ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS