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When bold sir Plume had drawn Clarissa down, Chloe stepp'd in, and kill'd him with a frown; She smil'd to see the doughty hero slain, But, at her smile, the beau reviv'd 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 fear'd 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, 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 every 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,' incens'd Belinda cried, And drew a deadly bodkin from her side (Tlie same, his ancient personage to deck, Her great-great-grandsire wore about his neck, In three seal-rings; which after, melted down, Form'd a vast buckle for his widow's gown: Her infant grandame's whistle next it grew, The bells she jingled, and the whistle blew; Then in a bodkin grac'd 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
Roar'd for the handkerchief that caus'd his pain.
But see how oft ambitious aims are cross'd,
And chiefs contend till all the prize is lost!
The lock, obtain'd with guilt, and kept with pain;
In every place is sought, but sought in vain:
With such a prize no mortal must be blest,
So Heaven decrees! with Heaven who can con. test?
Some thought it mounted to the lunar sphere, Since all things lost on earth are treasur'd there. There heroes' wits are kept in ponderous vases, And beaux in snuff-boxes and tweezer cases: There broken vows and death-bed alms are found, And lovers' hearts with ends of riband bound; The courtier's promises, and sick man's prayers, The smiles of harlots, and the tears of heirs, Cages for gnats, and chains to yoke a flea, Dried butterflies, and tomes of casuistry.
But trust the muse--she saw it upward rise, Though mark'd by none but quick poetic eyes: (So Rome's great founder to the heavens with drew,
To Proculus alone confess'd in view):
A sudden star, it shot through liquid air,
And drew behind a radiant trail of hair.
Not Berenice's locks first rose so bright,
The heavens bespangling with dishevell❜'d light.
The Sylphs behold it kindling as it flies,
And pleas'd pursue its progress through the skies,
This the beau-monde shall from the Mall
And hail with music its propitious ray.
This the blest lover shall for Venus take,
And send up vows from Rosamonda's lake.
This Partridge soon shall view in cloudless skies,
When next he looks through Galileo's eyes;
And hence th' egregious wizard shall foredoom
The fate of Louis, and the fall of Rome.
Then cease, bright nymph! to mourn thy
Which adds new glory to the shining sphere!
Not all the tresses that fair head can boast,
Shall draw such envy as the lock you lost.
For, after all the murders of your eye,
When, after millions slain, yourself shall die;
When those fair suns shall set, as set they must,
And all those tresses shall be laid in dust,^
This lock, the muse shall consecrate to fame,
And 'midst the stars inscribe Belinda's name.
MEMORY OF AN UNFORTUNATE LADY.
WHAT beckoning ghost, along the moonlight
Invites my steps, and points to yonder glade?
'Tis she!--but why that bleeding bosom gor'd,
Why dimly gleams the visionary sword?
Oh ever beauteous, ever friendly! tell,
Is it, in heaven, a crime to love too well?
To bear too tender, or too firm a heart,
To act a lover's or a Roman's part?
Is there no bright reversion in the sky,
For those who greatly think, or bravely die?
Why bade ye else, ye powers! her soul aspire
Above the vulgar flight of low desire?
Ambition first sprung from your blest abodes;
The glorious fault of angels and of gods:
Thence to their images on earth it flows,
And in the breasts of kings and heroes glows.
Most souls, 'tis true, but peep out once an age,
Dull sullen prisoners in the body's cage:
Dim lights of life, that burn a length of years,
Useless, unseen, as lamps in sepulchres;
Like eastern kings a lazy state they keep,
And, close confin'd to their own palace, sleep.
From these perhaps (ere nature bade her die)
Fate snatch'd her early to the pitying sky.
As into air the purer spirits flow,
And separate from their kindred dregs below;
So flew the soul to its congenial place,
Nor left one virtue to redeem her race.
But thou, false guardian of a charge too good, Thou, mean deserter of thy brother's blood!
See on these ruby lips the trembling breath,
These cheeks now fading at the blast of death;
Cold is that breast which warm'd the world before,
And those love-darting eyes must roll no more.
Thus, if eternal justice rules the ball,
Thus shall your wives, and thus your children fall:
On all the line a sudden vengeance waits,
And frequent hearses shall besiege your gates;
There passengers shall stand, and pointing say
(While the long funerals blacken all the way),
'Lo! these were they, whose souls the furies steel'd,
And curst with hearts unknowing how to yield.'
Thus unlamented pass the proud away,
The gaze of fools, and pageant of a day!
So perish all, whose breast ne'er learn'd to glow,
For others' good, or melt at others' woe.
What can atone (oh ever-injur'd shade!)
Thy fate unpity'd, and thy rites unpaid?
No friend's complaint, no kind domestic tear
Pleas'd thy pale ghost, or grac'd thy mouruful bier:
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were clos'd,
By foreign hands thy decent limbs compos'd,
By foreign hands thy humble grave adorn'd,
By strangers honour'd, and by strangers mourn'd!
What though no friends in sable weeds appear,
Grieve for an hour, perhaps, then mourn a year,
And bear about the mockery of woe
To midnight dances, and the public show?
What though no weeping loves thy ashes grace,
Nor polish'd marble emulate thy face?
What though no sacred earth allow thee room,
Nor hallow'd dirge be mutter'd o'er thy tomb?
Yet shall thy grave with rising flowers be dress'd,
And the green turf lie lightly on thy breast:
There shall the morn her earliest tears bestow,
There the first roses of the year shall blow;
While angels with their silver wings o'ershade
The ground now sacred by thy reliques made.
So, peaceful rests, without a stone, a name,
What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame.