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Then thus address'd the power: “ Hail, wayward
Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen : (queen!
Parent of vapours, 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 caused suspicion when do soul was rude,
Or discomposed the head-dress of a prude,
Or e'er to costive lap-dogs gave disease,
Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease:
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, snbs, 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 oʻer their heads the swelling bag he rent,
And all the furies issued at the vent.
Belinda burns with more than mortal ire,
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.
O wretched maid !' she spreads her hands, and cried (While Hampton's echoes, 'wretched 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 wreathed 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?
Honour 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 honour in a whisper lost!
How shall I, then, your hapless fame defend?
'Twill then be infamy to seem your friend!
And shall this prize, th' inestimable prize,
Exposed 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 air, earth, 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, (devil ?
And thus broke out: - My Lord, why, what the
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 honours 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 honours 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 heaved bosom hung her drooping head, Which, with a sigh, she raised : and thus she said:
'For ever cursed be this detested day, Which snatch'd my best, my favourite 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 unadmired 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 moved my mind with youthful lords to roam? Oh had I staid, 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 believed too late! See the poor remnants of these slighted hairs ! My hand shall rend what e'en 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 !'
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 raged in vain.
Then grave Clarissa graceful waved her fan;
Silence ensued, and thus the nymph began :
'Say, why are beauties praised 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 adored ?
Why round our coaches crowd the white-gloved beaux?
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 chased old age away,
Who would not scorn what housewife's cares produce,
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;
Curld or uncurl'd, since locks will turn to gray;
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-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 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 confusedly rise, And bass 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 sat to view the fight :
Propp'd on their bodkin-spears, the sprites survey
The growing combat, or assist the fray.
While through the press enraged 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 smiled to see the doughty hero slain,
But, at her smile, the beau revived 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 tierce 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 endued,
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 puo gent 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,' incensed Belinda cried, And drew a deadly bodkin from her side