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Straight hover round the fair her airy band;
But when to mischief mortals bend their will,
The peer now spreads the glittering forfex wide, To' inclose the lock; now joins it, to divide. Ev'n then, before the fatal engine clos'd, A wretched sylph too fondly interpos'd ; Fate urg'd the sheers, and cut the sylph in twain, (But airy substance soon unites again)
The meeting points the sacred hair disseyer
Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,
* Let wreaths of triumph now my temples twine,' The victor cry'd,' 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 tow'rs of Troy ; Steel could the works of mortal pride confound, And hew triumphal arches to the ground. What wonder then, fair nymph! thy hair should feel The conquering force of unresisted steel?
And secret passions labour'd in her breast,
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 sooty 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 pray’rs for mornings, nights, and noons, Her hand is fill'd; her bosom with lampoons, There Affectation, with a sickly mien, Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen, Practis'd to lisp, and hang the head aside, Faints into airs, and languishes with pride, On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe, 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, And crystal domes, and angels in machines.
Unnumber'd throngs on every side are seen, Of bodies chang'd 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 ;
Safe past the gnome through this fantastic band,
queen! Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen : Parent of vapours and of female wit, Who give the hysteric or poetic fit, On various tempers act by various ways, Make 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 your 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 inflame, Or change complexions at a losing game; If e'er with airy horns I planted heads, Or rumpled petticoats, or tumbled beds, Or caus'd suspicion when no soul was rude, Or discompos’d 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,
O wretched maid !' she spread her hands, and cry'd,
She said ; then raging to Sir Plume repairs,