« PreviousContinue »
Nay, oft in dreams, invention we bestow,
To change a flounce, or add a furbelow.
“ This day, black omens threat the brightest fair
That e'er deserv'd a watchful spirit's care ;
Some dire disaster, or by force, or slight;
But what, or where the fates have wrapp'd in night
Whether the nymph shall break Diana's law,
Or some frail China-jar receive a flaw ;
Or stain her honor, or her new brocade :
Forget her prayers, or miss a masquerade ;
Or lose her heart, or necklace at a ball ;
Or whether Heaven has doom'd that Shock must fall.
Haste then, ye spirits ! to your charge repair ;
The futtering fan be Zephyretta's care;
The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign :
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine;
Do thou, Crispissa, tend her favorite Lock;
Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock.
To fifty chosen sy/phs, of special note,
We trust th' important charge, the petticoat ;
Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail,
Though stiff with hoops, and arm'd with ribs of whala
Form a strong line about the silver bound,
And guard the wide circumference around.
“ Whatever spirit, careless of his charge,
His post neglects, or leaves the fair at large,
Shall feel sharp vengeance soon o'ertake his sins,
Be stopp'd in vials, or transfix'd with pins :
Or plung'd in lakes of bitter washes lie,
Or wedg'd whole ages in a bodkin's eye ;3
Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain
While clogg'd he beats his silken wings in vain
Or alum styptics with contracting power
Shrink his thin essence like a shrivellid Aower :
Or, as Ixion fix'd, the wretch shall feel
The giddy motions of the whirling mill;
In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow,
And tremble at the sea that froths below.”
He spoke; the spirits from the sails descend;
Some, orb in orb, around the nymph extend;
Some thrid the mazy ringlets of her hair;
Some hang upon the pendants of her ear ;
With beating hearts the dire event they wait,
Anxious and trembling for the birth of fate.
Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flowers, Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers,
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
Which from the neighboring Hampton takes its name.
Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom
Of foreign tyrants, and of nymphs at home;
Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes tea.
Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort,
To taste awhile the pleasures of a court;
In various talk th' instructive hours they past.
Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last;
One speaks the glory of the British queen,
And one describes a charming Indian screen ;
A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes;
At every word a reputation dies.
Snuff, or the fan, supply each pause of chat,
With singing, laughing, ogling, and ALL TI(AT.
O thoughtless mortals, ever blind to tate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate !
For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crown'',
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 gratity 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' injured hair !5
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-edy'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 viewd, in spite of all her art,
An earthly lover lurking at her heart. 6
Amaz'd, confus’d, he found his power expird,
Resign’d to fate, and with a sigh retird.
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 shears, 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 the 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 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,6
Or the small pillow grace a lady's head,
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 honor, name, and praise shall live !"
1 All but the Sylph, with cureful thoughts opprest,
Th’impending woe sat heavy on his breast. He had appeared to Belinda in a dream, and warned her against a lover.
• Superior by the head was Ariel plac’d.—Pope's fairy region, compared with Shakspeare's, was what a drawing-room is to the
aniverse. To give, therefore, to the sprite of the Rape of the Lock the name of the spirit in the Tempest was a bold christening. Prospero's Ariel could have puffed him out like a taper. Or he would have snuffed him up as an essence by way of jest, and found him flat. But, tested by less potent senses, the sylph spe. cies is an exquisite creation. He is an abstract of the spirit of fine life; a suggester of fashions; an inspirer of airs; would be cut to pieces rather than see his will contradicted; takes his sta. tion with dignity on a picture-card ; and is so nice an adjuster of claims, that he ranks hearts with necklaces. He trembles for a petticoat at the approach of a cup of chocolate. The punishments inflicted on him when disobedient have a like fitness. He is to be kept hovering over the fumes of the chocolate ; to be transfixed with pins; clogged with pomatums, and wedged in the eyes of bodkins.
Only (with submission) these punishments should have been made to endure for seasons, not“
agcs.” A season is an age for a sylph. Does not a fine lady, when she dislikes it, call it “ an eternity ?"
• With singing, laughing, ogling, AND ALL THAT.—Imagine a com. mon.place poet (if some friend had written the rest of this couplet) trying to find a good pointed rhyme for the word “chat." How certain he would have been not to think of this familiar phrase, precisely because he was in the habit of using it in daily parlance :-how certain, out of an instinct of dulness, to avoid his own conventional language, on the only occasion which could render it original.
• She dearly pays for Nisus' injur'd hair.-Nisus, the father of Scylla, and king of Megaris, had a lock in his hair, on the preservation of which depended the fate of his capital. Minos be. sieged the capital. Scylla fell in love with the besieger, cut off the lock, and was changed into a bird by the gods. See the story in Ovid, at the beginning of Book the Eighth.
• An earthly lover lurking at her head. He had warned her against it in a dream.
* As long as “ Atalantis” shall be read.- A book of fashionable scandal written by Mrs. Manly. Marmontel, in his translation of the Rape of the Lock (generally a very close and correct one), has confounded it with the Atlantis of Bacon; concluding, per.
haps, according to the opinion then prevailing in Paris, that “philosophy” was a fashionable study with the belles of London.
TROUBLES FROM BAD AUTHORS.
(From the Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot.)
Shut, shut the door, good John! fatigued I said:
Tie up the knocker, say I'm sick, I'm dead.
The dog-star rages ! nay, 't is past a doubt,
All Bedlam, or Parnassus, is let out:
Fire in each eye, and papers in each hand,
They rave, recite, and madden round the land.
What walls can guard me, or what shades can hide?
They pierce my thickets, through my grot they glide.
By land, by water, they renew the charge;
They stop the chariot, and they board the barge.
No place is sacred, not the church is free,
Ev'n Sunday shines no Sabbath day to me :
Then from the mint walks forth the man of rhyme,
Happy! to catch me-just at dinner time.
Is there a parson, much bemus'd in beer,
A maudlin poetess, a rhyming peer,
A clerk, foredoom'd his father's soul to cross,
Who pens a stanza, when he should engross?
Is there, who, lock'd from ink and paper, scrawls
With desperate charcoal round his darken'd walls !
All fly to Twitnam, and in humble strain
Apply to me, to keep them mad or vain,
Arthur, whose giddy son neglects the laws,
Imputes to me and my damn'd works the cause :
Poor Cornus sees his frantic wife elope,
And curses wit, and poetry, and Pope.
Friend to my life! (which did you not prolong,
The world had wanted many an idle song),
What drop or nostrum can this plague remove?
Or which must end me, a fool's wrath or love?
A dire dilemma! either way I 'm sped;
If foes they write, if friends, they read me dead.
Seiz'd and ty'd down to judge, how wretched I !
Who can't be silent, and who will not lie:
To laugh, were want of goodness and of grace;
And to be grave, exceeds all power of face