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As now your own, our beings were of old,
And once inclos’d a woman's beauteous mould;
Thence, by a soft transition, we repair
From earthly vehicles to these of air.
Think not, when woman's transient breath is fled,
That all her vanities at once are dead;
Succeeding vanities she still regards,
And tho' she plays no more, o’erlooks the cards.
Her joy in gilded chariots, when alive,
And love of Ombre, after death survive;
For when the fair in all their pride expire,
To their first elements their fouls retire;
The sprites of fiery Termagants in flame
Mount up, and take a salamander's name.
Soft yielding minds to water glide away,
And fip, with nymphs, their elemental tea.
The graver prude sinks downward to a gnome,
In search of mischief still on earth to roam.
The light coquettes in fylphs aloft repair,
And sport and flutter in the fields of air.
Know further yet; whoever fair and chaste
Rejects mankind, is by some fylph embrac'd:
For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease
Assume what sexes and what age they please.
What guards the purity of melting maids
In courtly balls and midnight masquerades,
Safe from the treach'rous friend, the daring spark,
The glance by day, the whisper in the dark,
When kind occasion prompts their warm desires,
When music softens, and when dancing fires ?
'Tis but their fylph, the wise Celestials know,
Tho' honour is the word with men below:
Some nymphis there are, too conscious of their face,
For life predefin'd to the gnomes. embrace.
These swell their prospects and exalt their pride,
IThen offers ere disdain’d, and love deny’d.
Then gay ideas crowd the vacant brain,
While peers, and dukes, and all their sweeping train,
And garters, stars, and coronets appear,
And in soft sounds, your grace falutes their ear.
?Tis these that early taint the female soul,
Instruct the eyes of young coquettes to roll,
Teach infant-cheeks a bidden blush to know,
And little hearts to flutter at a beau.
Oft' when the world imagine women fray , The fylphs thro' mystic mazes guide their way Thro' 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 ev'ry part;
They shift the moving toy-shop of their heart;
Where wigs with wigs , with sword-knots sword-knots
Beaux banish beaux, and coaches coaches drive.
This erring mortals levity may call;
Oh blind to truth! the Sylphs contrive it all.
Of these am I, who thy protection claim,
A watchful sprite, and Ariel is my name.
Late, as I rang’d the crystal wilds of air,
In the clear mirror of thy ruling star
I saw alas! some dread event impend,
Ere to the main this morning sun descend:
But heav'n reveals not what, or how, or where:
Warn’d by the Sylph, oh pious maid beware!
This to disclose is all thy guardian can:
Beware of all, but most beware of man!
He said; when Shock who thought she slept too
long, Leap'd up, and wak'd his mistress with his tongue. ?Twas then, Belinda, if report say true,
Thy eyes first open’d on a billet-doux;
Wounds, charms, and ardours, were no sooner re ad
But all the vision vanish'd from thy head.
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 pow’rs :
A heav'nly 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 off'rings of the world appear;
From each she nicely culls with curious toil,
And decks the goddess with the glittring 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 ev'ry 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.
CANTO II. NOT with more glories, in th’etherial plain, The sun first rises o'er the purpled main, Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams Launch'd on the bosom of the silver Thames. Fair Nymphs, and well-dres('d Youths, around her
shone; But ev'ry eye was fix'd on her alone. On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore , Which Jews might kiss, and Infidels adore. Her lively looks a sprightly mind disclose, Quick as her eyes, and as unfix'd as those: Favours to none, to all she smiles extends; Oft she rejects, but never once offends. Bright as the sun, her eyes the gazers strike, 'And, like the sun, they shine on all alike. Yet graceful ease, and sweetness void of pride, Might hide her faults, if Belles had faults to hide: If to her share some female errors fall, Look in her face, and you'll forget 'em 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 iv'ry neck. Love in these labyrinths his slaves detains, And mighty hearts are held in slender chains.