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THE RAPE OF THE LOCK.
BUT anxious cares the pensive nymph oppress'd,
For, that sad moment, when the Sylphs withdrew, And Ariel weeping from Belinda flew, Umbriel, a dusky, melancholy sprite,
As ever sully'd the fair face of light,
Down to the central earth, his proper scene, Repair'd, to search the gloomy Cave of Spleen.
Ver. 16. Cuve of Spleen.]
"Thro' me ye pass to Spleen's terrific dome,
Thro' me to Discontent's eternal home!
Ver. 11. For, that sad moment, &c.] All the lines from hence to the 94th verse, that describe the house of Spleen, are not in the
first Edition; instead of them followed only these,
While her rack'd Soul repose and peace requires,
And continued at the 94th verse of this Canto.
Ver. 1.]" At regina gravi," &c.-Virg. Æneid. iv.
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 diff'ring far in figure and in face.
Here stood Ill-nature like an ancient maid,
Her hand is fill'd; her bosom with lampoons. 30
Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen,
Thro' me, to those who sadden'd human life,
By sullen humour or vexatious strife;
And here thro' scenes of endless vapour hurl'd,
Are punish'd in the forms they plagu'd the world;
All ye who enter, every hope forego!
It is thus Mr. Hayley, in allusion to Dante's striking inscription over hell-gate, begins his description of the dwelling of Spleen. She and her attendants are afterwards painted with force and spirit in the next 200 verses, and more. His mild and engaging Serena, her prim and sour aunt Penelope, and the good old Squire, are admirable portraits.
On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe, 35
Ver. 41. Dreadful, as hermits' dreams in kaunted shades,
The Poet by this comparison would insinuate, that the temptations of the mortified Recluses in the Church of Rome, and the extatic visions of their female Saints, were as much the effects of hypochondriac disorders, the Spleen, or, what was then the fashionable word, the Vapours, as any of the imaginary transformations he speaks of afterwards. Warburton.
Ver. 51. Homer's Tripod walks ;] See Hom. Iliad. xviii. of Vulcan's walking Tripods.
Ver. 52. and there a Goose-pye talks ;] Alludes to a real fact, a Lady of distinction imagined herself in this condition.
Men prove with child, as pow'rful fancy works,
Safe past the Gnome through this fantastic band, A branch of healing Spleenwort in his hand. Then thus address'd the pow'r-Hail, wayward Queen!
Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen:
Parent of vapours and of female wit,
Who give th' hysteric, or poetic fit,
A nymph there is, that all thy pow'r disdains, 65
Ver. 53. Men prove with child,] Van Swieten, in his Commentaries on Boerhaave, relates, that he knew a man who had studied till he fancied his legs to be of glass; his maid bringing wood to his fire, threw it carelessly down; our sage was angry, and terrified for his legs of glass; the girl, out of patience with his megrims, gave him a blow with a log on the parts affected; he instantly started up in a rage, and from that moment recovered the use of his glass legs!
Or e'er to costive lap-dog gave disease,
Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease:
The Goddess with a discontented air
Seems to reject him, tho' she grants his pray'r. 80
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.
O wretched maid! she spread her hands, and ery'd, (While Hampton's echoes, Wretched maid! re
Was it for this you took such constant care