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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,
Where none learn ombre, none e'er taste bohea !
There kept my charms concealed from mortal eye,
Like roses, that in deserts bloom and die.
What moved my mind with youthful lords to roam?
O had I stayed, and said my pray’rs at home!
'Twas this the morning omens seemed to tell,
Thrice from my trembling hand the patch-box fell;
The tott'ring china shook without a wind,
Nay, Poll sat mute, and Shock was most unkind!
A sylph too warned me of the threats of fate,
In mystic visions, now believed too late !
See the poor remnants of these slighted hairs !
My hands shall rend what ev'n thy rapine spares:
These in two sable ringlets taught to break,
Once gave new beauties to the snowy neck;
The sister-lock now sits uncouth, alone,
And in its fellow's fate foresees its own;
Uncurled it hangs, the fatal shears demands,
And tempts, once more, thy sacrilegious hands.
Oh hadst thou, cruel ! been content to seize
Hairs less in sight, or any hairs but these !"
She said : the pitying audience melt in tears,
But Fate and Jove have stopped the baron's ears.
In vain Thalestris with reproach assails,
For who can move when fair Belinda fails?
5 Not half so fixed the Trojan could remain,
While Anna begged and Dido raged in vain.
Then grave Clarissa graceful waved her fan;
Silence ensued, and thus the nymph began.
“Say, why are beauties praised and honoured most, 10 The wise man's passion, and the vain man's toast ?
Why decked with all that land and sea afford,
Why angels called, and angel-like adored ?
Why round our coaches crowd the white-gloved beaux,
Why bows the side-box from its in most rows? 15 How vain are all these glories, all our pains,
Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains :
That men may say, when we the front box grace,
Behold the first in virtue as in face!
Oh! if to dance all night, and dress all day,
20 Charmed the small-pox, or chased old age away;
Who would not scorn what house-wife's cares produce,
Or who would learn one earthly thing of use?
To patch, nay ogle, might become a saint,
Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint. 25 But since, alas ! frail beauty must decay,
Curled or uncurled, since locks will turn to grey;
Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a man, must die a maid;
What then remains but well our pow'r to use,
And keep good humour still, whate'er we lose?
And trust me, dear! good humour can prevail,
When airs, and flights, and screams, and scolding fail.
Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll;
Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul.”
So spoke the dame, but no applause ensued; 35
Belinda frowned, Thalestris called her prude.
To arms, to arms ! the fierce virago cries,
And swift as lightning to the combat flies.
All side in parties, and begin th' attack;
Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack;
Heroes' and heroines' shouts confus’dly rise,
And base and treble voices strike the skies.
No common weapons in their hands are found,
Like gods they fight, nor dread a mortal wound.
So when bold Homer makes the gods engage, 45 And heav'nly breasts with human passions rage; 'Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms; And all Olympus rings with loud alarms: Jove's thunder roars, heav'n trembles all around, Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound: 50 Earth shakes her nodding tow'rs, the ground gives way, And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day!
Triumphant Umbriel on a sconce's height
Clapped his glad wings, and sate to view the fight. 55 Propped on their bodkin spears, the sprites survey The growing combat, or assist the fray.
While through the press enraged Thalestris flies, And scatters death around from both her eyes,
A beau and witling perished in the throng, 60 One died in metaphor, and one in song.
“O cruel nymph! a living death I bear,” Cried Dapperwit, and sunk beside his chair. A mournful glance Sir Fopling upwards cast,
“Those eyes are made so killing” – was his last. 65 Thus on Mæander's flow'ry margin lies Th' expiring swan, and as he sings he dies.
When bold Sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down, Chloe stepped in, and killed him with a frown;
She smiled to see the doughty hero slain, 70 But, at her smile, the beau revived again.
Now Jove suspends his golden scales in air, Weighs the men's wits against the lady's hair; The doubtful beam long nods from side to side; At length the wits mount up, the hairs subside.
See fierce Belinda on the baron flies,
With more than usual lightning in her eyes :
Nor feared the chief th' unequal fight to try,
Who sought no more than on his foe to die.
But this bold lord with manly strength endued, 80 She with one finger and a thumb subdued;
Just where the breath of life his nostrils drew,
A charge of snuff the wily virgin threw;
The gnomes direct, to ev'ry atom just,
The pungent grains of titillating dust.
Sudden, with starting tears each eye o'erflows,
And the high dome re-echoes to his nose.
“Now meet thy fate,” incensed Belinda cried,
And drew a deadly bodkin from her side.
(The same, his ancient personage to deck,
Her great great grandsire wore about his neck,
In three seal-rings; which after, melted down,
Formed a vast buckle for his widow's gown:
Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew,
The bell she jingled, and the whistle blew;
Then in a bodkin graced her mother's hairs,
Which long she wore, and now Belinda wears.)
“Boast not my fall,” he cried, “insulting foe!
Thou by some other shalt be laid as low:
Nor think, to die dejects my lofty mind;
All that I dread is leaving you behind !
Rather than so, ah let me still survive,
And burn in Cupid's flames - but burn alive."
“Restore the Lock!” she cries; and all around
“Restore the Lock!” the vaulted roofs rebound.
Not fierce Othello in so loud a strain
Roared for the handkerchief that caused his pain.
But see how oft ambitious aims are crossed,
And chiefs contend till all the prize is lost !
The lock, obtained with guilt, and kept with pain,