Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

"Tis but their Sylph, the wise celestials know, Though honor is the word with men below.

Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their
face,

For life predestin'd to the Gnome's embrace.
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,
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.

"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 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 every part, They shift the moving Toy-shop of their heart; Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots swordknots 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, A watchful sprite, and Ariel is my name. Late, as I rang'd the crystal wilds of air, In the clear mirror of thy ruling star I saw, alas! some dread event impend, Ere to the main this morning sun descend; But Heaven reveals not what, or how, or where. Warn'd by the Sylph, oh pious maid, beware! This to disclose is all thy guardian can: Beware of all, but most beware of man!" [long,

He said; when Shock, who thought she slept too Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue. "Twas then, Belinda, if report say true, Thy eyes first open'd on a billet-doux; Wounds, charms, and ardors were no sooner read, But all the vision vanish'd from thy head.

And now, unveil'd, the toilet stands display'd, Each silver vase in mystic order laid. First, rob'd in white, the nymph intent adores, With head uncover'd, the cosmetic powers. A heavenly image in the glass appears, To that she bends, to that her eyes 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; From each she nicely culls with curious toil, And decks the goddess with the glittering spoil. This casket India's glowing gems unlocks, And all Arabia breathes from yonder box. The tortoise here and elephant unite, Transform'd to combs, the speckled and the white. 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, Repairs her smiles, awakens every grace, And calls forth all 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: These set the head, and those divide the hair; Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown, And Betty's prais'd for labors not her own.

CANNO II.

NOT with more glories in th' ethereal plain,
The Sun first rises o'er the purpled main,
Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams
Launch'd on the bosom of the silver'd Thames.
Fair nymphs and well-dress'd youths around her
shone,

But every eye was fix'd on her alone.

On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore,
Which Jews might kiss, and infidels adore.
Her lively looks a sprightly mind disclose,
Quick as her eyes, and as unfix'd as those :
Favors to none, to all she smiles extends;
Oft she rejects, but never once offends.
Bright as the Sun, her eyes the gazers strike,
And, like the Sun, they shine on all alike.
Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride,
Might hide her faults, if belles had faults to hide :
If to her share some female errors fall,
Look on her face, and you'll forget them all.

This nymph, to the destruction of mankind,
Nourish'd two locks, which graceful hung behind,
In equal curls, and well conspir'd to deck
With shining ringlets the smooth ivory neck.
Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains,
And mighty hearts are held in slender chains.
With hairy springes we the birds betray;
Slight lines of hair surprise the finny prey;
Fair tresses man's imperial race ensnare,
And Beauty draws us with a single hair.

Th' adventurous baron the bright locks admir'd He saw, he wish'd, and to the prize aspir'd. Resolv'd to win, he meditates the way, By force to ravish, or by fraud betray; For when success a lover's toil attends, Few ask if fraud or force attain'd his ends.

For this, ere Phoebus rose, he had implor'd Propitious Heaven, and every power ador'd; 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 dispers'd in empty air.

But now secure the painted vessel glides, The sunbeams trembling on the floating tides: While melting music steals upon the sky, And soften'd sounds along the waters die;: Smooth flow the waves, the zephyrs gentle play, Belinda smil'd, and all the world was gay, All but the Sylph-with careful thoughts opprest, Th' impending woe sat heavy on his breast. He summons straight his denizens of air; The lucid squadrons round the sails repair: Soft o'er the shrouds aëreal whispers breathe, That seem'd but zephyrs to the train beneath. Some to the Sun their insect wings unfold, Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold;

Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain,
While clogg'd he beats his silken wings in vain ;
Or alum styptics with contracting power
Shrink his thin essence like a shrivell'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,
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 pendants of her ear;
With beating hearts the dire event they wait,
Anxious, and trembling for the birth of Fate.

Transparent forms, too fine for mortal sight,
Their fluid bodies half dissolv'd in light.
Loose to the wind their airy garments flew,
Thin glittering textures of the filmy dew,
Dipp'd in the richest tinctures of the skies,
Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes,
While every beam new transient colors flings,
Colors that change whene'er they wave their wings.
Amid the circle on the gilded mast
Superior by the head, was Ariel plac'd;
His purple pinions opening to the Sun,

He rais'd his azure wand, and thus begun :

64

Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear;
Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Demons, hear!
Ye know the spheres, and various tasks assign'd
By laws eternal to th' aëreal kind.

Some in the fields of purest ether play,

And bask and whiten in the blaze of day;
Some guide the course of wandering orbs on high,
Or roll the planets through the boundless sky;
Some, less refin'd, beneath the Moon's pale light
Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night,
Or suck the mists in grosser air below,
Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,
Or brew fierce tempests on the wintery main,
Or o'er the glebe distil the kindly rain.
Others on earth o'er human race preside,
Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide:
Of these the chief the care of nations own,
And guard with arms divine the British throne.

CANTO III.

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 neighboring Hampton takes its

name.

"Our humbler province is to tend the fair,
Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care;
To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let th' imprison'd essences exhale;

Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort,
To taste awhile the pleasures of a court;
In various talk th' instructive hours they past,
Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last;
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.

To draw fresh colors from the vernal flowers;
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.

Meanwhile, declining from the noon of day,
The Sun obliquely shoots his hurning ray:
The hungry judges soon the sentence sign,

"This day, black omens threat the brightest fair And wretches hang, that jurymen may dine;
That e'er deserv'd a watchful spirit's care:
The merchant from th' Exchange returns in peace
Some dire disaster, or by force, or sleight;
And the long labors of the toilet cease.
But what, or where, the Fates have wrapp'd in night. Belinda now, whom thirst of fame invites,
Whether the nymph shall break Diana's law, Burns to encounter two adventurous knights,
Or some frail china-jar receive a flaw;
At ombre singly to decide their doom;
Or stain her honor, or her new brocade;
Forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade;
Or lose her heart, or necklace at a ball;

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.

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;
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.

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.

Or whether Heaven has doom'd that Shock must Soon as she spreads her hand, th' aëreal guard

Descend, and sit on each important card :
First Ariel perch'd upon a Matadore,
Then each according to the rank they bore;
For Sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race,
Are, as when women, wondrous fond of place.

Behold, four kings in majesty rever'd,
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-colored troops, a shining train,
Drawn forth to combat on the velvet plain.

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 wedg'd whole ages in a bodkin's eye:

The skilful nymph reviews her force with care: 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.

As many more Manillio forc'd 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 reveal'd,
The rest, his many-color'd robe conceal'd.
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 died,
Spite of his haughty mien, and barbarous 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 combin'd,
Of broken troops an easy conquest find.
Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, in wild disorder seen,
With throngs promiscuous strow the level green.
Thus when dispers'd 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 pierc'd battalions disunited fall,

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 general fate,
An Ace of Hearts steps forth: the king unseen
Lurk'd 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.

O thoughtless mortals! ever blind to fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate.
Sudden, these honors shall be snatch'd away,
And curs'd for ever this victorious day.

For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crown'd,
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:
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,
Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade.
Coffee (which makes the politician wise,

And see through all things with his half-shut eyes) Not ancient ladies when refus'd a kiss,
Sent up in vapors to the baron's brain
New stratagems, the radiant lock to gain.

Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,

Not Cynthia when her manteau's pinn'd awry,

Ah cease, rash youth; desist ere 'tis too late,
Fear the just Gods, and think of Scylla's fate!
Chang'd to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
She dearly pays for Nisus' injur'd 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-edg'd 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.
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.
Amaz'd, confus'd, he found his power expir'd,
Resign'd to fate, and with a sigh retir'd.

The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide
T'inclose the Lock; now joins it, to divide.
Ev'n then, before the fatal engine clos'd,
A wretched Sylph too fondly interpos'd;
Fate urg'd the shears, and cut the Sylph in twain,
(But airy substance soon unites again,)
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 glittering dust and painted fragments lie!

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,
Or in a coach and six the British fair,
As long as Atalantis shall be read,
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 honor, name, and praise, shall live!
What time would spare, from steel receives its date,
And monuments, like men, submit to Fate.
Steel could the labor of the gods destroy,
And strike to dust th' imperial powers of Troy ;
Steel could the works of mortal pride confound,
And hew triumphal arches to the ground.
What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hairs should feel
The conquering force of unresisted steel?

CANTO IV.

BUT anxious cares the pensive nymph oppress'd.
And secret passions labor'd in her breast.
Not youthful kings in battle seiz'd alive,
Not scornful virgins who their charms survive,
Not ardent lovers robb'd of all their bliss,

Hear me, and touch Belinda with chagrin:
That single act gives half the world the Spleen."
The goddess with a discontented air
Seems to reject him, though she grants his prayer.
A wondrous bag with both her hands she binds,
Like that where once Ulysses held the winds;
There she collects the force of female lungs,
Sighs, sobs, and passions, and the war of tongues.
A vial next she fills with fainting fears,
Soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears.
The Gnome rejoicing bears her gifts away,
Spreads his black wings, and slowly mounts to-day
Sunk in Thalestris' arms the nymph he found,
Her eyes dejected, and her hair unbound.
Full o'er their heads the swelling bag he rent,
And all the Furies issued at the vent.

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 vapor 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, Belinda burns with more than mortal ire,
But differing far in figure and in face,
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.
Here stood Ill-nature like an ancient maid,
Her wrinkled form in black and white array'd;
With store of prayers, for mornings, nights, and

noons,

Her hand is fill'd; her bosom with lampoons.
There Affectation, with a sickly mien,
Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen,
Practis'd to lisp, and hang the head aside,
Faints into airs, and languishes with pride,
On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe,
Wrapt 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 vapor o'er the palace flies;
Strange phantoms rising as the mists arise;
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,
And crystal domes, and angels in machines.

Unnumber'd throngs on every side are seen,
Of bodies chang'd to various forms by Spleen.
Here living tea-pots stand, one arm held out,
One bent; the handle this, and that the spout:
A pipkin there, like Homer's tripod, walks;
Here sighs a jar, and there a goose-pie talks ;
Men prove with child, as powerful fancy works,
And maids, turn'd bottles, call aloud for corks.

Safe past the Gnome through this fantastic band,
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 vapors, and of female wit,
Who give th' hysteric, or poetic fit,
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.
But, oh! if e'er thy Gnome could spoil a grace,
Or raise a pimple on a beauteous face,
Like citron-waters, matrons' cheeks inflame,
Or change complexions at a losing game;
If e'er with airy horns I planted heads,
Or rumpled petticoats, or tumbled beds,
Or caus'd suspicion where no soul was rude,
Or discompos'd the head-dress of a prude,
Or o'er to costive lap-dog gave disease,
Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease:

"O wretched maid!" she spread her hands, and cried,
(While Hampton's echoes, wretched maid! replied;
"Was it for this you took such constant care
The bodkin, comb, and essence, to prepare?
For this your locks in paper durance bound,
For this with torturing irons wreath'd around?
For this with fillets strain'd your tender head,
And bravely bore the double loads of lead?
Gods! shall the ravisher display your hair,
While the fops envy, and the ladies stare!
Honor forbid at whose unrivall'd shrine
Ease, pleasure, virtue, all our sex resign.
Methinks already I your tears survey,
Already hear the horrid things they say,
Already see you a degraded toast,
And all your honor in a whisper lost!
How shall I, then, your helpless fame defend?
'Twill then be infamy to seem your friend!
And shall this prize, th' inestimable prize,
Expos'd through crystal to the gazing eyes,
And heighten'd by the diamond's circling rays,
On that rapacious hand for ever blaze!
Sooner shall grass in Hyde-Park Circus grow,
And wits take lodgings in the sound of Bow!
Sooner let earth, air, sea, to chaos fall,
Men, monkeys, lap-dogs, parrots, perish all!"

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?

Z-ds! damn the Lock! 'fore Gad, you 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 honors 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 honors 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 heav'd bosom hung her drooping head,
Which, with a sigh, she rais'd; and thus she said:
"For ever curs'd be this detested day,
Which snatch'd my best, my favorite 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 unadmir'd remain'd

In some lone isle, or distant northern land; Where the gilt chariot never marks the way, Where none learn ombre, none e'er taste bohea! There kept my charms conceal'd from mortal eye, Like roses, that in deserts bloom and die.

What mov'd my mind with youthful lords to roam?
Oh had I stay'd, 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 believ'd too late!
See the poor remnants of these slighted hairs!
My hand shall rend what ev'n 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!"

CANTO V.

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 rag'd in vain.
Then grave Clarissa graceful wav'd her fan;
Silence ensued, and thus the nymph began:

"Say, why are beauties prais'd and honor'd most,
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 ador'd? [beaux?
Why round our coaches crowd the white-glov'd
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 chas'd old-age away:
Who would not scorn what housewife's cares pro-
duce,

Or who would learn one earthly thing of use?
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 grey;
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-humor still, whate'er we lose?
And trust me, dear, good-humor can prevail,
When airs, and flights, 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 virago cries,
And swift as lightning to the combat flies.
All side in parties, and begin th' attack;
Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones
crack;

Heroes' and heroines' shouts confus'dly 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, the 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 sate to view the fight:
Propp'd on their bodkin spears, the Sprites survey
The growing combat, or assist the fray.
While through the press enrag'd 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 I 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 Mæander's flowery margin lies Th' 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 smil'd to see the doughty hero slain, But, at her smile, the beau reviv'd 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 th' unequal fight to try, Who sought no more than on his foe to die. But this bold lord, with manly strength endu'd, 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," incens'd 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 grac'd her mother's hairs, Which long she wore, and now Belinda wears.) Boast not my fall (he cried), insulting foe! Thou by some other shalt be laid as low. Nor think, to die dejects my lofty mind: All that I dread is leaving you behind!

64

« PoprzedniaDalej »