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Where none learn ombre, none e'er taste bohea!
There kept my charms concealed from mortal eye,
Like roses that in deserts bloom and die.
What moved my mind with youthful lords to roam ?
Oh, had I stayed, and said my pray’rs at home!
'T was this the morning omens seemed to tell :
Thrice from my trembling hand the patch-box fell;
The tott'ring china shook without a wind;
Nay, Poll sat mute, and Shock was most unkind !
A sylph, too, warned me of the threats of Fate,
In mystic visions, now believed 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;
Uncurled it hangs, the fatal shears demands,
And tempts once more thy sacrilegious hands.
Oh, hadst thou, cruell 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 stopped the Baron's ears.
In vain Thalestris with reproach assails,
For who can move when fair Belinda fails ?
Not half so fixed the Trojan could remain,
While Anna begged 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 honoured most,
The wise man's passion, and the vain man's toast?
Why decked with all that land and sea afford,
Why angels called, 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,
Charmed 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, might become a saint,
Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint.
But since, alas! frail beauty must decay;
Curled or uncurled, 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 ensued;
Belinda frowned, Thalestris called 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 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 bellwing 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,
Clapped his glad wings, and sate to view the fight.
Propped 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 perished 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 Meander's flow'ry margin lies
Th' expiring swan, and as he sings he dies.
When bold Sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down,
Chloe stepped in and killed 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 fierce Belinda on the Baron flies,
With more than usual lightning in her eyes;
Nor feared 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 ev'ry atom 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!” incensed Belinda cried,
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,
Formed a vast buckle for his widow's gown;
Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew-
The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew;
Then in a bodkin graced her mother's hairs,
Which long she wore, and now Belinda wears.)
“Boast not my fall,” he cried, “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
105 Roared for the handkerchief that caused his pain.
But see how oft ambitious aims are crossed,
And chiefs contend till all the prize is lost !
The lock, obtained 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 treasured there.
There heroes' wits are kept in pond'rous vases,
115 And beaux' in snuff-boxes and tweezer-cases; There broken vows and death-bed alms are found, And lovers' hearts, with ends of ribbon 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 yoke a flea, Dried butterflies, and tomes of casuistry. But trust the Muse: she saw it upward rise, Though mark'd by none but quick poetic eyes (So Rome's great founder to the heav'ns withdrew, 125 To Proc us alone confessed in view); A sudden star, it shot through liquid air, And drew behind a radiant trail of hair. Not Berenice's locks first rose so bright, The heav'ns bespangling with disheveled light.
130 The sylphs behold it kindling as it flies, And, pleased, pursue its progress through 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,
135 And send up vows from Rosamonda's lake; This Partridge soon shall view in cloudless skies, When next he looks through Galileo's eyes, And hence th' egregious wizard shall foredoom The fate of Louis and the fall of Rome.
140 Then cease, bright nymph, to mourn thy ravished hair,
Which adds new glory to the shining sphere!
Not all the tresses that fair head can boast
Shall draw such envy as the lock you lost;
For after all the murders of your eye,
When, after millions slain, yourself shall die,
When those fair suns shall set, as set they must,
And all those tresses shall be laid in dust,
This lock the Muse shall consecrate to fame,
And 'midst the stars inscribe Belinda's name.
Twelve days were past, and now the dawning light
The gods had summoned to th' Olympian height;
Jove, first ascending from the wat'ry bow'rs,
Leads the long order of ethereal Pow'rs:
When like the morning mist, in early day,
Rose from the flood the Daughter of the Sea,
And to the seats divine her fight addressed.
There, far apart, and high above the rest,
The Thund'rer sat, where old Olympus shrouds
His hundred heads in heaven and props the clouds.
Suppliant the goddess stood; one hand she placed
Beneath his beard, and one his knees embraced.
"If e'er, O Father of the Gods!” she said,
"My words could please thee or my actions aid,
Some marks of honour on my son bestow,
And pay in glory what in life you owe.
Fame is at least by heav'nly promise due
To life so short, and now dishonoured too.
Avenge this wrong, oh ever just and wise!
Let Greece be humbled, and the Trojans rise,
Till the proud king and all th' Achaian race
Shall heap with honours him they now disgrace!"
In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav'nly-pensive Contemplation dwells,