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Belinda still her downy pillow prest,
25 And thus in whispers said, or seem'd to say:
Fairest of mortals, thou distinguish'd care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air! If e'er one vision touch'd thy infant-thought, Of all the nurse and all the priest have taught; Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen, The silver token, and the circled green, Or virgins visited by angel pow’rs, With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly flow'rs; Hear and believe! thy own importance know, 35 Nor bound thy narrow views to things below. Some secret truths, from learned pride conceal'd, To maids alone and children are reveal'd; What though no credit doubting wits may give? The fair and innocent shall still believe.
40 Know then, unnumber'd spirits round thee fly, The light militia of the lower sky: These, though unseen, are ever on the wing, Hang o'er the box, and hover round the ring,
Think what an equipage thou hast in air,
45 And view with scorn two pages and a chair. As now your own, our beings were of old, And once inclos'd in woman's beauteous mould; Thence, by a soft transition, we repair From earthly vehicles to those of air. Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled, That all her vanities at once are dead; Succeeding vanities she still regards, And though she plays no more, o’erlooks the cards. Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive,
55 And love of Ombre after death survive. For when the fair in all their pride expire, To their first elements their souls retire : The sprites of fiery termagants in flame Mount up, and take a salamander's name. 60 Soft yielding minds to water glide away, And sip, with nymphs, their elemental tea. The graver prude sinks downward to a gnome, In search of mischief still on earth to roam. The light coquettes in sylphs aloft repair, 65 And sport and flutter in the fields of air.
Know further yet; whoever, fair and chaste, Rejects mankind, is by some sylph embrac'd: For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease Assume what sexes and what shapes they please. 70
What guards the purity of melting maids,
Some nymphs there are, too conscious of their face,
85 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.
90 Óft, 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 95 To one man's treat, but for another's ball ?
When Florio speaks, what virgin could withstand,
Of these am I, who thy protection claim, 105
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,
135 Transform’d to combs, the speckled and the white. Here files of pins extend their shining rows, Puffs, powders, patches, bibles, billet-douxs. Now awful beauty puts on all its arms; The fair each moment rises in her charms, 140 Repairs her smiles, awakens ev'ry 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; 145 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.