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Here in a grotto, sheltred 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 diff’ring far in figure and in face.
Here stood Ill-nature like an ancient maid,
Her wrinkled form in black and white array’d;
With store in pray’rs for mornings, nights, and noons,
Her hand is fill'd, her bosom with lampoons.
There Affectation, with a ickly 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 Vapour o'er the palace flies,
Strange phantoms rising as the mists arise,
Dreadful, as hermit's 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-pye talks ;
Men prove with child, as pow'rful Fancy works,
And maids turn'd bottles call aloud for corks.
Safe past the Gnome thro’ this fantastic band,
A branch of healing Spleenwort in his hand.
Then thus address’d the pow'r— “Hail, wayward Queen!
Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen;
Parent of vapours, and of female wit,
ysteric, 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,
By love of Courts to num'rous ills betray'd.
Oh had I rather un-admir'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 desarts bloom and die.
What mov'd my mind with youthful Lords to rome?
Oh had I stay'd, and said my pray’rs 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 hands 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 sheers 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."
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 ensu’d, and thus the Nymph began :
“Say, why are beauties prais’d and honour'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 ?
Why round our coaches crowd the white-glov'd Beaus?
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 huswife's cares produce,
Or who would learn one earthly thing of use?
To patch, nay ogle, might become a Saint;
Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint.
But since, alas! frail beauty must decay,
Curld 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 pow'r to use,
And keep good-humour still whate’er we lose ?
And trust me, dear! good-humour 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 ensu'd ;
Belinda frowned, Thalestris call’d her Prude.
"To arms, to arms !” the fierce Virago cries,
And swift as lightning to the combate flies.
All side in parties, and begin th' attack;
Fans clap, silks russle, and tough whalebones crack;
Heroes' and Heroins 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 heav'nly breasts with human passions rage;
'Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms;
And all Olympus rings with loud alarms;
Jove's thunder roars, heav'n trembles all around;
Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound;
Earth shakes her nodding tow'rs, the ground gives way,
And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day!
Triumphant Umbriel, on a sconce's height,
Clap'd his glad wings, and sate to view the fight.
Prop'd on their bodkin spears, the Sprites survey
The growing combat, or assisi the fray,
While thro' the press enrag'd Thalestris flies,
And scatters deaths around from both her eyes,
A Beau and Witling perish'd in the throng ;
One dy'd in metaphor, and one in song.
“O cruel nymph! a living death I bear,”
Cry'd 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 flow'ry 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 fiies,
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 subdu'd.
Just where the breath of life his nostrils drew,
A charge of Snuff the wily Virgin threw;
The Gnomes direct, to ev'ry atome 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 cry'd,
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 gingled, 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 cry'd, “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 !
Rather than so, ah let me still survive,
And burn in Cupid's flames—but burn alive.”
“Restore the Lock!” she cries; and all around
“Restore the Lock!" the vaulted roofs rebound.
Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain
Roard for the handkerchief that caus'd his pain.
But see how oft' ambitious aims are cross'd,
And chiefs contend till all the prize is lost!
The Lock, obtain'd with guilt, and kept with pain,
In ev'ry place is sought, but sought in vain.
With such a prize no mortal must be blest,
So heav'n decrees ! with heav'n who can contest?
Some thought it mounted to the Lunar sphere,
Since all things lost on earth are treasur’d there.
There Hero's wits are kept in pondrous vases,
And Beau's in snuff-boxes and tweezer-cases.
There broken vows and death-bed alms are found,
And lovers' hearts with ends of riband bound,
The courtier's promises, and sick man's pray’rs,
The smiles of harlots, and the tears of heirs,
Cages for gnats, and chains to yoak a flea,
Dry'd butterflies, and tomes of casuistry.
But trust the Muse--she saw it upward rise,
Tho' mark'd by none but quick poetic eyes;
(So Rome's great founder to the heav'ns withdrew,
To Proculus alone confess'd in view.)
A sudden Star, it shot thro' liquid air,
And drew behind a radiant trail of hair.
Not Berenice's Locks first rose so bright,
The heav'ns bespangling with disheveld light.
The Sylphs behold it kindling as it flies,
And pleas'd pursue its progress thro’ the skies.
This the Beau monde shall from the Mall survey,
And hail with music its propitious ray.
This the blest Lover shall for Venus take,
And send up vows from Rosamonda's lake;
This Partridge soon shall view in cloudless skies,
When next he looks thro' Galilæo's eyes ;
And hence th’ egregious wizard shall foredoom
The fate of Louis, and the fall of Rome.
Then cease, bright Nymph! to mourn thy ravish'd hair,
Which adds new glory to the shining sphere !