« ElőzőTovább »
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, 15 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, 20 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 for ever on her pensive bed,
Pain at her side, and Megrim at her head.
25 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, 30 Her hand is filled; her bosom with lampoons.
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,
35 On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe,
Wrapped 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.
Unnumbered throngs, on ev'ry 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 goose-pye talks;
Men prove with child, as pow'rful fancy works,
And maids turned bottles, call aloud for corks.
Safe past the gnome through this fantastic band, A branch of healing spleenwort in his hand.
Then thus addressed the pow'r "Hail, wayward
Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen :
Parent of vapours and of female wit,
Who give th' hysteric, or poetic fit,
On various tempers act in 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 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 inflame,
70 Or change complexions at a losing game;
Or caused suspicion when no soul was rude, Or discomposed the head-dress of a prude, 75 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
80 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.
85 A phial 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,
90 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?
'Twill then be infamy to seem your friend!
And shall this prize, th' inestimable prize,
Exposed through crystal to the gazing eyes,
And heightened by the diamond's circling rays,
On that rapacious hand for ever 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) 125 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! 'tis past a jest nay prithee, pox!
130 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; 135 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 for ever wear."
He spoke, and speaking, in proud triumph spread
140 The long-contended honours of her head.
But Umbriel, hateful gnome! forbears not so; He breaks the phial whence the sorrows flow. Then see the nymph in beauteous grief appears, Her eyes half languishing, half drowned in tears; 145 On her heaved bosom hung her drooping head, Which, with a sigh, she raised; and thus she said. "For ever cursed be this detested day,
Which snatched my best, my fav'rite curl away!
Happy! ah ten times happy had I been,