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With hairy springes we the birds betray,
For this, ere Phoebus rose, he had implored 35 Propitious Heaven, and every power adored, But chiefly Love—to Love an altar built, Of twelve vast French romances, neatly gilt. There lay three garters, half a pair of gloves, And all the trophies of his former loves ; With tender billet-doux he lights the pyre, , And breathes three amorous sighs to raise the fire: Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize : The powers gave ear, and granted half his prayer; The rest the winds dispersed in empty air.
But now secure the painted vessel glides, The sun-beams trembling on the floating tides;
26 And beauty draws us with a single hair. The captivations of tresses had fallen into the common-places of poetry too long to be worthy of so inventive a poet as Pope : and the solid locks which (borrowed from the always unnatural costumes of France) disfigured the human head in that age, were singularly unfit to furnish the image. Hudibras is more rational and more in earnest :
And though it be a two-foot trout,
While melting music steals upon the sky,
Ye sylphs and sylphids, to your chief give ear! Fays, fairies, genii, elves, and demons, hear! 74 Ye know the spheres and various tasks assign'd By laws eternal to the aërial kind.
73 Ye sylphs. The comparison frequently made between the sylph and Shakspeare's Ariel is unfair. If the affected and trifling qualities of the sylphs fade before the vivid activity and natural graces of Shakspeare's spirit, it is to be recollected that their origin, their place, and their purposes, are intentionally different. A French romance, a toilet-box, and
Some in the fields of purest ether play,
Our humbler province is to tend the fair, 91 Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care; To save the powder from too rude a gale, Nor let the imprison'd essences exhale; To draw fresh colors from the vernal flowers; 95 To steal from rainbows, ere they drop in showers, A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs, Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs; Nay, oft, in dreams, invention we bestow, To change a flounce, or add a furbelow. 100 the guardianship of a glittering coquette, would be the death of the delicate Ariel,' with his enchanted bowers, his flights through air and ocean, and his songs on his luxuriant and solitary shore :
Where the bee sucks, there suck I;
“This day black omens threat the brightest fair That e'er deserved a watchful spirit's care; Some dire disaster, or by force or slight; But what or where, the fates have wrapp'd in
night. Whether the nymph shall break Diana's law, 105 Or some frail China jar receive a flaw; Or stain her honor, or her new brocade; Forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade; Or lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball; Or whether Heaven has doom'd that Shock must
fall. Haste then, ye spirits ! to your charge repair : The fluttering fan be Zephyretta's care; The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign; And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine : Do thou, Crispissa, tend her favorite lock; 115 Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock.
To fifty chosen sylphs, of special note, We trust the important charge, the petticoat: Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail, Though stiff with hoops, and arm’d with ribs of
whale : Form a strong line about the silver bound, And guard the wide circumference around.
• Whatever spirit, careless of his charge, His post neglects, or leaves the fair at large, Shall feel sharp vengeance soon o'ertake his sins, Be stopp'd in vials, or transfix'd with pins ; Or plunged in lakes of bitter washes lie, Or wedged whole ages in a bodkin's eye: Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain, While clogg'd he beats his silken wings in vain :
Or alum styptics with contracting power
131 Shrink his thin essence like a rivel'd flower: Or, as Ixion fix'd, the wretch shall feel The giddy motion of the whirling mill; In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow, 135 And tremble at the sea that froths below!
He spoke; the spirits from the sails descend; Some, orb in orb, around the nymph extend ; Some thrid the mazy ringlets of her hair; Some hang upon the pendents of her ear: 140 With beating hearts the dire event they wait, Anxious, and trembling for the birth of fate.