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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.
Oh thoughtless mortals ! ever blind to fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate:
Sudden these honours 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)
Sent up in vapors to the baron's brain
New stratagems, the radiant lock to gain.
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 fit 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. E'en then, before the fatal engine clos'd, A wretched sylph too fondly interpos'd; Fate urg'd the sheers, 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 lapdogs breathe their
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 honour, name, and praise shall live!
Wbat 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
And hew triumphal arches to the ground.
What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hairs should
feel The conquering force of unresisted steel ? "
1 A book full of court and party scandal, written by Mrs Manley.
But anxious cares the pensive nymph opprest,
And secret passions labour'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,
Not ancient ladies 'when refus'd a kiss,
Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,
Not Cynthia when her mantua's pinn'd awry,
E’er felt such rage, resentment, and despair,
As thou, sad virgin! for thy ravishd hair.
For, that sad moment, when the sylphs withdrew,
And Ariel weeping from Belinda few,
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.
I'wo handmaids wait the throne: alike in place, But differing 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 of prayers for mornings, nights, and
noons, Jler 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 vapour 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 teapots 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 powerful fancy works, And maids, turn’d bottles, call aloud for corks.