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“The peer now spreads the glittring forfex wide." RAPE OF THE Lock, canto iii. line 147.

[Page 237.





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 pays 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 bends her head.8
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 near.
Just in that instant, anxious Ariel sought
The close recesses of the virgin's thought:
As on the nosegay in her breast reclin'd,
He watch'd th’ 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 glittring forfex wide,
T' inclose the lock ; now joins it, to divide.
Ev'n 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) 9




7 Vide Ovid, Metam. viii.
8 In the first edition it was thus :

“As o'er the fragrant stream she bends her head,
First he expands the glitt'ring forfex wide
T'inclose the lock; then joins it to divide:
The meeting points the sacred hair dissever,

From the fair head, for ever and for ever.”
All that is between was added afterwards.

9 See Milton, lib. iv. of Satan cut asunder by the angel Michael.

The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
From the fair head, for ever, and for ever!
Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,

And screams of horror rend th' affrighted skies.
Not louder shrieks to pitying heaven are cast,
When husbands or when lap-dogs breathe their last ;
Or when rich China vessels, fall’n from high,
In glittring dust and painted fragments lie !

160 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, 10 Or in a coach and six the British fair, As long as Atalantis shall be read, 11

165 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!” 170 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 th' imperial towers of Troy ; Steel could the works of mortal pride confound,

175 And hew triumphal arches to the ground. What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hairs should feel12 The conquering force of unresisted steel?

10 Ver. 163, 170,

“Dum juga montis aper, fluvios dum piscis amabit,

Semper honos, nomenque tuum, laudesque manebunt.”—Virg. 11 A famous book written about that time by a woman: full of court and party scandal; and in a loose effeminacy of style and sentiment, which well suited the debauched taste of the better vulgar. (Mrs. Manley, the authoress of the “New Atalantis,” was a remarkable person in her own times, and claimed attention as a novelist, a dramatist, a political writer, and a woman of intrigue. She is frequently mentioned in Swift's Journal to Stella; and when the Dean relinquished the Examiner Mrs. Manley continued it, with the assistance of Swift and other Tory wits. She was the daughter of Sir Roger Manley, Governor of Guernsey. After a gay and busy life she sunk into a connection with Alderman Barber, in whose house she died in 1724.]

12 “ Ille quoque eversus mons est, &c.
Quid faciant crines, cum ferro talia cedant ?''

Catull. de Com. Berenices.




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 manteau'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 dreaded 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 difføring far in figure and in face.
Here stood Ill-nature like an ancient maid,
Her wrinkled form in black and white array’d ;




1 "At regina gravi,” &c.—Virg. Æn. iv.

2 All the lines from hence to the ninety-fourth 'verse, that describe the House of Spleen, are not in the first edition; instead of them followed only these:

“While her rack'd soul repose and peace requires,

The fierce Thalestris fans the rising fires," and continued at the ninety-fourth verse of this canto.


With store of prayers, for mornings, nights, and noons,
Her hand is filld; 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 woe,
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 disease.

A constant vapour o'er the palace flies ; Strange phantoms rising as the mists arise ;

40 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,

45 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:

50 A pipkin there, like Homer's tripod walks ;3 Here sighs a jar, and there a goose-pie talks : 4 Men prove with child, as powerful fancy works, And maids turn'd bottles call aloud for corks.5

Safe pass’d the gnome through this fantastic band, 55 A branch of healing spleen-wort in his hand. Then thus address’d the power : “Hail, wayward Queen! Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen ; Parent of vapours, and of female wit, Who give th' hysteric or poetic fit ;

60 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.


3 See Hom. Iliad. xviii. of Vulcan’s walking tripods.

4 Alludes to a real fact, a lady of distinction imagined herself in this condition.

5 [See Beaumont and Fletcher's “Loyal Subject," act iv. sc. 2.]

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