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So ladies in romance assist their knight,
Present the spear, and arm him for the fight.
He takes the gift with rev'rence, 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 twitched the diamond in her ear;
Thrice she looked 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 reclined,
He watched th' ideas rising in her mind,
Sudden he viewed, in spite of all her art,
An earthly lover lurking at her heart.
Amazed, confused, he found his pow'r expired,
Resigned to Fate, and with a sigh retired.
The peer now spreads the glitt'ring forfex wide
T' inclose the lock; now joins it, to divide.
Ev'n then, before the fatal engine closed,
A wretched sylph too fondly interposed;
Fate urged the shears, and cut the sylph in twain
(But airy substance soon unites again);
The meeting points the sacred hair dissever
From the fair head forever and forever!

Then flashed 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 lap-dogs breathe their last,
Or when rich China vessels, fall’n from high,
In glitt'ring 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 num'rous wax-lights in bright order blaze;
While nymphs take treats, or assignations give;

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So long my honour, name, and praise shall live !" 170

What 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 tow'rs of Troy. Steel could the works of mortal pride confound, 175 And hew triumphal arches to the ground. What wonder then, fair nymph, thy hair should feel The conqu’ring force of unresisted steel?

CANTO IV

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But anxious cares the pensive nymph opprest,
And secret passions laboured in her breast.
Not youthful kings in battle seized alive,
Not scornful virgins who their charms survive,
Not ardent lovers robbed of all their bliss,
Not ancient ladies when refused a kiss,
Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,
Not Cynthia when her manteau's pinned awry,
E'er felt such rage, resentment, and despair
As thou, sad virgin, for thy ravished hair.

For, that sad moment when the sylphs withdrew,
And Ariel weeping from Belinda flew,
Umbriel, a dusky, melancholy sprite
As ever sullied the fair face of light,
Down to the central earth, his proper scene,
Repaired to search the gloomy cave of Spleen.
Swift on his sooty pinions flits the gnome,
And in a vapour reached the dismal dome.
No cheerful breeze this sullen region knows,
The dreaded east is all the wind that blows.
Here in a grotto, sheltered close from air,
And screened in shades from day's detested glare,
She sighs forever on her pensive bed,
Pain at her side, and Megrim at her head.
Two handmaids wait the throne, alike in place,
But diff'ring far in figure and in face.
Here stood Ill-Nature like an ancient maid,
Her wrinkled form in black and white arrayed;
With store of pray'rs, for mornings, nights, and noons,
Her hand is filled, her bosom with lampoons.

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There Affectation, with a sickly mien,
Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen;
Practised to lisp and hang the head aside,
Faints into airs, and languishes with pride;
On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe,

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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,

45 And crystal domes, and angels in machines. Unnumbered throngs on ev'ry side are seen, Of bodies changed to various forms by Spleen: Here living teapots stand, one arm held out, One bent—the handle this, and that the spout;

50 A pipkin there, like Homer's tripod, walks; Here sighs a jar, and there a goose-pie talks ; Men prove with child, as pow'rful fancy works; And maids, turned bottles, call aloud for corks.

Safe passed the gnome through this fantastic band, 55 A branch of healing spleenwort in his Then thus addressed the Pow'r: “Hail, wayward Queen! Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen; Parent of vapours and of female wit, Who give th' hysteric or poetic fit;

60 On various tempers act by various waysMake 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 pow'r 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 infame, Or change complexions at a losing game,

70 Or caused suspicion when no soul was rude,

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Or discomposed the head-dress of a prude,
Or e'er to costive lap-dog 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 pray’r.
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, sobs, 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 o'er 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 spread her hands, and cried,

While Hampton's echoes "Wretched maid !” 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 tort'ring irons wreathed around?
For this with fillets strained 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 unrivalled 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 helpless fame defend?
'T will then be infamy to seem your friend!
And shall this prize, th' inestimable prize,
Exposed through crystal to the gazing eyes,

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And heightened by the diamond's circling rays,
On that rapacious hand forever blaze?
Sooner shall grass in Hyde Park Circus grow,
And wits take lodgings in the sound of Bow;
Sooner let earth, air, 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 opened, then the case,
And thus broke out: "My Lord, why, what the devil !
Zounds ! damn the lock! 'fore Gad, you must be civil!
Plague on 't! 't is past a jest-nay, prithee, pox!
Give her the hair.” He spoke, and rapped 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,
Clipped from the lovely head where late it grew)
That, while my nostrils draw the vital air,
This hand, which won it, shall forever 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-drowned in tears;
On her heaved bosom hung her drooping head,
Which, with a sigh, she raised, and thus she said:
“Forever cursed be this detested day,
Which snatched my best, my fav'rite 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 num'rous ills betrayed.
Oh, had I rather, unadmired, remained
In some lone isle or distant northern land,
Where the gilt chariot never marks the way,

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