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Then flash'd the living lightning from her eyes,
And screams of horror rend th' affrighted skies. 156
Not louder shrieks to pitying Heav'n are cast,
When husbands, or when lap-dogs, breathe their last;
Or when rich China vessels, fall’n from high,
In glittring dust and painted fragments lie ! 160
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 num'rous wax-lights in bright order blaze,
nymps take treats, or assignations give, So long my honour, name, and praise shall live! 170 What time would spare, from steel receives its date, And monuments, like men, submit to Fate ! Steel could the labours of the gods destroy, And strike to dust th' imperial tow’rs of Troy ; Steel could the works of mortal pride confound, 175 And hew triumphal arches to the ground. What wonder then, fair Nymph! thy hair should feel The conqu’ring force of unresisted steel?
But anxious cares the pensive nymph opprest,
And secret passions labour'd in her breast.
Not youthful kings in battle seiz'd alive,
Not scornful virgins who their charms survive,
Not ardent lovers robb'd of all their bliss,
Not ancient ladies when refus'd 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. 10
For, that sad moment, when the sylphs withdrew,
And Ariel weeping from Belinda few,
Umbriel, a dusky, melancholy sprite,
As ever sully'd the fair face of light,
Down to the central earth, his proper scene, 15
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. 20
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 diff'ring 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, 35
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 ; 40
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,
45 And crystal domes, and angels in machines.
Unnumber d throngs on ev'ry 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 ; 50
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, turn'd bottles, call aloud for corks.
Safe past the gnome through this fantastic band, 55
A branch of healing spleenwort in his hand.
Then thus address'd the pow'r--Hail, wayward queen!
Who rule the sex from fifty to fifteen :
Parent of vapours and of female wit,
Who give th' hysteric or poetic fit,
60 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, 65 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 matron' cheeks inflame, Or change complexions at a losing game;
70 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,
75 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. 80
A wond'rous 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,
85 Soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears. The gnome rejoicing bears her gift away, Spreads his black wings, and slowly mounts to day.
Sunk in Thalestris' arms the nymph he found, Her eyes dejected, and her hair unbound.
90 Full o'er their heads the swelling bag he rent, And all the furies issu'd 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 cry'd, 95 (While Hampton's echoes, wretched maid! reply'd) 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 wreath'd around? 100 For this with fillets strain'd your tender head ? And bravely bore the double loads of lead ?