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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, O 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 ardours 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 labours not her own.
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 Thames.
Fair nymphs, and well-dress'd youths around her
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:
Favours 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 insnare,
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 Phæbus 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 gently 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 aërial 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;
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,
Dipt in the richest tincture of the skies,
Where light disports in ever-mingling dyes,
every beam new transient colours flings, Colours that change whene'er they wave their Amid the circle, on the gilded mast, [wings. Superior by the head, was Ariel plac'd; His purple pinions opening to the sun, He rais’d his azure wand, and thus begun:
“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' aërial 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
air below, Or dip their pinions in the painted bow, Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry 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.
“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 ; To draw fresh colours from the vernal flowers; To steal from rainbows ere they drop in showers