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At Ombre singly to decide their doom ;
And swells her breast with conquests yet to come.
Straight the three bands prepare in arms to join,
Each band the number of the sacred nine.
Soon as she spreads her hand, the aërial guard
Descend, and sit on each important card:
First Ariel perch'd upon a Matadore,
Then each according to the rank they bore;
For Sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race,
Are, as when women, wondrous fond of place.
Behold, four kings in majesty revered,
With hoary whiskers and a forky beard;
And four fair queens, whose hands sustain a flower,
The expressive emblem of their softer power;
Four knaves in garbs succinct, a trusty band;
Caps on their heads, and halberts in their hand
; And party-colour'd troops, a shining train, Drawn forth to combat on the velvet plain.
The skilful nymph reviews her force with care : * Let spades be trumps !' she said, and trumps they
Now move to war her sable Matadores, [were.
In show like leaders of the swarthy Moors.
Spadillio first, unconquerable lord,
Led off two captive trumps, and swept the board.
As many more Manillio forced to yield,
And march'd a victor from the verdant field.
Him Basto follow'd, but his fate more hard
Gain'd but one trump, and one plebeian card.
With his broad sabre next, a chief in years,
The boary majesty of Spades appears,
Puts forth one manly leg, to sight reveal'd,
The rest his many-colour'd robe conceal'd.
The rebel knave, who dares his prince engage,
Proves the just victim of his royal rage.
E'en mighty Pam, that kings and queens o’erthrew,
And mow'd down armies in the fights of Loo,
Sad chance of war! now destitute of aid,
Falls undistinguished by the victor Spade!
Thus far both armies to Belinda yield;
Now to the baron Fate inclines the field.
His warlike Amazon her host invades,
Th' imperial consort of the crown of Spades.
The Club's black tyrant first her victim died,
Spite of his haughty mien, and barbarous pride:
What boots the regal circle on his head,
His giant limbs in state unwieldy spread;
That long behind he trails his pompous robe,
And, of all monarchs, only grasps the globe ?
The baron now his Diamonds pours apace;
The embroider'd king who shews but half his face,
And his refulgent queen with powers combined,
Of broken troops an easy conquest find.
Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, in wild disorder seen,
With throngs promiscuous strow the level green.
Thus when dispersed a routed army runs,
Of Asia's troops, and Afric's sable sons,
With like confusion different nations fly,
Of various habit, and of various dye.
The pierced battalions disunited fall,
In heaps on heaps ; one fate o'erwhelms them all.
The knave of Diamonds tries his wily arts,
And wins (oh shameful chance !) the queen of Hearts.
At this, the blood the virgins cheek forsook,
A livid paleness spreads o'er all her look;
She sees, and trembles at the approaching ill,
Just in the jaws of ruin, and Codille.
And now (as oft in some distemper'd state)
On one nice trick depends the general fate,
An ace of Hearts steps forth : the king unseen
Lurk'd in her hand, and mourn'd his captive queen :
He springs to vengeance with an eager pace,
And falls like thunder on the prostrate ace.
The nymph exulting fills with shouts the sky;
The walls, the woods, and long canals reply.
O thoughtless mortals! ever blind to fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate.
Sudden, these honours shall be snatch'd away,
And cursed for ever this victorious day.
For lo! the board with
is crown'd, 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 gratify 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 vapours 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!
Changed to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
She dearly paid for Nisus' injured hair!
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-edged 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 reclined,
He watch'd the ideas rising in her mind,
Sudden he view'd, in spite of all her art,
An earthly lover lurking at her heart.
Amazed, confused, he found his power expired,
Resign'd to fate, and with a sigh retired.
The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide,
To enclose the lock; now joins it, to divide.
B'en then, before the fatal engine closed,
A wretched Sylph too fondly interposed;
Pate urged the shears, and cat 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 streams 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, fallen 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, Or the small pillow grace a lady's bed; 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 honour, name, and praise shall live! 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 the imperial towers of Troy; Steel could the works of mortal pride confound, And hew triumphal arches to the ground. What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hairs should feel The conquering force of unresisted steel ?'
But anxious cares the pensive nymph oppress'd,
And secret passions labour'd in her breast.
Not youthful kings in battle seized alive,
Not scornful virgins who their charms survive,
Not ardent lovers robb'd of all their bliss,
Not ancient ladies when refused a kiss,
Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,
Not Cynthia when her mantua's pinn'd awry,
E'er felt such rage, resentment, and despair,
As thou, sad virgin ! for thy ravish'd 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,
Repair'd, to search the gloomy cave of Spleen.
Swift on his spoty pinions flits the Gnome,
And in a vapour reach'd the dismal dome.
No cheerful breeze this sullen region knows,
The dreaded east is all the wind that blows.
Here in a grotto, shelter'd close from air,
And screen'd in shades from day's detested glare,
She sighs for ever on her pensive bed,
Pain at her side, and Megrim at her head.
Two handmaids wait the throne; alike in place,
But differing far in figure and in face.
Here stood Ill-nature, like an ancient maid,
Her wrinkled form in black and white' array'd;
With store of prayers, for mornings, nights, and
Her hand is fill’d; her bosom with lampoons. (noons,
There Affectation, with a sickly mien,
Shews 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,
Wrapp'd 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,
And crystal domes, and angels in machines.
Unnumber'd throngs on every side are seen,
Of bodies changed to various forms by Spleen.
Here living tea-pots stand, one arm held out,
One bent; the handle this, and that the spout:
A pipkin there, like Homer's tripod, walks ;
Here sighs a jar, and there a gouse-pie talks ;
Men prove with child, as powerful fancy works,
And maids, turn'd bottles, call aloud for corks.
Safe pass'd the Gnome through this fantastic band,
A branch of healing spleen-wort in his hand,