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And garters, stars, and coronets appear,
And in soft sounds, 'your grace' salutes their ear.
Oft, when the world imagine women stray, The Sylphs through mystic mazes guide their way, Through all the giddy circle they pursue, And old impertinence expel by new. What tender maid but must a victim fall To one man's treat, but for another's ball? When Florio speaks, what virgin could withstand, If gentle Damon did not squeeze her hand? With varying vanities, from every part, They shift the moving Toy-shop of their heart; Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots swordknots strive,
Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive.
Oh, blind to truth! the Sylphs contrive it all.
"Of these am I, who thy protection claim,
I saw, alas! some dread event impend,
He said; when Shock, who thought she slept too Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue.
'Twas then, Belinda, if report say true,
And now, unveil'd, the toilet stands display'd, Each silver vase in mystic order laid. First, rob'd in white, the nymph intent adores, With head uncover'd, the cosmetic powers. A heavenly image in the glass appears, To that she bends, to that her eyes she rears; Th' inferior priestess, at her altar's side, Trembling, begins the sacred rites of Pride. Unnumber'd treasures ope at once, and here The various offerings of the world appear; From each she nicely culls with curious toil, And decks the goddess with the glittering spoil. This casket India's glowing gems unlocks, And all Arabia breathes from yonder box. The tortoise here and elephant unite, Transform'd to combs, the speckled and the white. Here files of pins extend their shining rows, Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billet-doux. Now awful Beauty puts on all its arms; The fair each moment rises in her charms, Repairs her smiles, awakens every grace, And calls forth all the wonders of her face: Sees by degrees a purer blush arise, And keener lightnings quicken in her eyes. The busy Sylphs surround their darling care: These set the head, and those divide the hair; Some fold the sleeve, whilst others plait the gown; And Betty's prais'd for labours not her own.
Nor with more glories in th' ethereal plain,
Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams
But every eye was fix'd on her alone.
On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore,
Look on her face, and you'll forget them all.
This nymph, to the destruction of mankind, Nourish'd two locks, which graceful hung behind, In equal curls, and well conspir'd to deck With shining ringlets the smooth ivory neck. Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains, And mighty hearts are held in slender chains. With hairy springes we the birds betray; Slight lines of hair surprise the finny prey; Fair tresses man's imperial race insnare, And Beauty draws us with a single hair.
Th' adventurous baron the bright locks admir'd; He saw, he wish'd, and to the prize aspir'd. Resolv'd to win, he meditates the way, By force to ravish, or by fraud betray; For when success a lover's toil attends, Few ask if fraud or force attain'd his ends.
For this, ere Phoebus rose, he had implor'd Propitious Heaven, and every power ador'd; But chiefly Love-to Love an altar built, Of twelve vast French romances, neatly gilt. There lay three garters, half a pair of gloves, And all the trophies of his former loves. With tender billet-doux he lights the pyre, And breathes three amorous sighs to raise the fire. Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize : The powers gave ear, and granted half his prayer ; The rest, the winds dispers'd in empty air.
But now secure the painted vessel glides, The sun-beams trembling on the floating tides: While melting music steals upon the sky, And soften'd sounds along the waters die; Smooth flow the waves, the zephyrs gentle play, Belinda smil'd, and all the world was gay, All but the Sylph — with careful thoughts opprest, Th' impending woe sat heavy on his breast. He summons straight his denizens of air; The lucid squadrons round the sails repair: Soft o'er the shrouds aerial whispers breathe, That seem'd but zephyrs to the train beneath. Some to the Sun their insect wings unfold, Waft on the breeze, or sink in clouds of gold;
Transparent forms, too fine for mortal sight,
"Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear! Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Demons, hear! Ye know the spheres, and various tasks assign'd By laws eternal to th' aërial kind.
Some in the fields of purest ether play,
And bask and whiten in the blaze of day;