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ALEXANDER POPE

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Oh thoughtless mortals! ever blind to fate, Too soon dejected, and too soon elate. Sudden, these honours shall be snatched away, And cursed forever this victorious day.]

For lo! the board with cups and spoons is crowned,

3

The berries2 crackle, and the mill turns round; 105 On shining altars of Japan The silver lamp; the fiery spirits blaze: they raise From silver spouts the grateful liquors glide, While China's earth receives the smoking tide: At once they gratify their scent and taste, III And frequent cups prolong the rich repast. Straight hover round the fair her airy band; Some, as she sipped, the fuming liquor fanned, Some o'er her lap their careful plumes displayed,

Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade. 115 Coffee (which makes the politician wise, And see through all things with his half-shut eyes)

Sent up in vapours to the baron's brain

New stratagems the radiant lock to gain. 120
Ah, cease, rash youth! desist ere 'tis too late,
Fear the just gods, and think of Scylla's fate!
Changed to a bird, and sent to flit in air,
She dearly pays for Nisus' injured hair!
But when to mischief mortals bend their
will.
125

5

129

How soon they find fit instruments of ill! Just then Clarissa drew with tempting grace A two-edged weapon from her shining case: So ladies in romance assist their knight, Present the spear, and arm him for the fight. He takes the gift with reverence, and extends The little engine on his fingers' ends; This just behind Belinda's neck he spread, As o'er the fragrant steams she bends her head.

6 [Swift to the lock a thousand sprites repair, A thousand wings, by turns, blow back the hair;

1 Here ends the third addition.

135

2 coffee-berries

3 japanned tables porcelain 5 Cf. Gayley, p. 6 Here begins the fourth addition.

219.

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And screams of horror rend th' affrighted skies.

Not louder shrieks to pitying Heaven are cast, When husbands, or when lap-dogs breathe their last;

Or when rich China vessels, fallen from high, In glittering dust and painted fragments lie! "Let wreaths of triumph now my temples

twine,"

161

165

The victor cried; "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 5 shall be read,
Or the small pillow grace a lady's bed,
While visits shall be paid on solemn days,
When numerous wax-lights in bright order

blaze,

While nymphs 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 labour of the gods destroy,
And strike to dust th' imperial towers of Troy;

1 Here ends the fourth addition. 2 scissors 3 Here
begins the fifth addition.
dition.
Here ends the fifth ad-
5 a scandalous book of the time

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ALEXANDER POPE

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A wondrous bag with both her hands she
binds,

Like that where once Ulysses held the winds;1
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,
Soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears.
85
The gnome rejoicing bears her gifts away,
Spreads his black wings, and slowly mounts to
day.

Sunk in Thalestris' arms the nymph he
found,

90

Her eyes dejected and her hair unbound.
Full o'er their heads the swelling bag he rent,
And all the furies issued at the vent.] 2
Belinda burns with more than mortal ire,
And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.
"O wretched maid!" she spread her hands,
and cried,

95

(While Hampton's echoes, "Wretched maid !"
replied)

3

"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 torturing irons wreathed
around?

100

For this with fillets strained your tender head, And bravely bore the double loads of lead?4 Gods! shall the ravisher display your hair, While the fops envy, and the ladies stare! Honour forbid! at whose unrivalled shrine Ease, pleasure, virtue, all our sex resign. 106 Methinks already I your tears survey, Already hear the horrid things they say, Already see you a degraded toast, And all your honour in a whisper lost! How shall I, then, your helpless fame defend? 'Twill then be infamy to seem your friend! And shall this prize, th' inestimable prize, Exposed through crystal to the gazing eyes, And heightened by the diamond's circling

rays,

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On that rapacious hand forever blaze? Sooner shall grass in Hyde Park Circus 5 grow, 116

1 Cf. the Odyssey, x, 20. addition. 3 Cf. v, 95. 5 the Ring, cf. i, 44

2 Here ends the sixth 4 for curling the hair

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Zounds! damn the lock! 'fore Gad, you must be civil!

Plague on't! 'tis past a jest pox!

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nay, prithee Give her the hair," he spoke, and rapped his box.

"It grieves me much," replied the peer again, 130 "Who speaks so well should ever speak in vain.

But by this lock, this sacred lock, I swear. (Which never more shall join its parted hair; Clipped from the lovely head where late it Which never more its honours shall renew, 135 grew)

That while my nostrils draw the vital air, This hand, which won it, shall forever wear." He spoke, and speaking, in proud triumph spread

The long-contended honours of her head. 140 3[But Umbriel, hateful gnome! forbears not

so;

He breaks the vial whence the sorrows flow.]3 Then see! the nymph in beauteous grief appears,

Her eyes half languishing, half drowned in tears;

On her heaved bosom hung her drooping head, Which, with a sigh, she raised; and thus she said:

146

"Forever curs'd be this detested day, Which snatched my best, my favourite curl away!

151

Happy! ah, ten times happy had I been,
If Hampton Court these eyes had never seen!
Yet am not I the first mistaken maid,
By love of courts to numerous ills betrayed.
Oh, had I rather unadmired remained
In some lone isle or distant northern land;
Where the gilt chariot never marks the way,

1 the bells of St. Mary-le-bow, in the older and unfashionable part of London 2 mottled, cf. Tatler, No. 103. 3-3 The seventh addition.

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In vain Thalestris with reproach assails, For who can move when fair Belinda fails? Not half so fixed the Trojan could remain, 5 While Anna begged and Dido raged in vain. 6 [Then grave Clarissa graceful waved her fan; Silence ensued, and thus the nymph began: "Say, why are beauties praised and honoured most,

The wise man's passion, and the vain man's

ΙΟ

toast? Why decked with all that land and sea afford, Why angels called, and angel-like adored? Why round our coaches crowd the whitegloved beaux,

Why bows the side-box from its inmost rows? How vain are all these glories, all our pains, 15 Unless good sense preserve what beauty gains;

1 a kind of tea 2 for patches see the Spectator, No. 81. 3 the parrot 4 the lap-dog 5 Æneas, cf. Eneid, iv, 296-440 Bracketed lines were not in the original version.

That men may say, when we the front-box grace,

'Behold the first in virtue as in face!' Oh! if to dance all night, and dress all day, Charmed the small-pox, or chased old age away,

Who would not scorn what housewife's cares produce,

21

Or who would learn one earthly thing of use?
To patch, nay ogle, might become a saint,
Nor could it sure be such a sin to paint.
But since, alas! frail beauty must decay; 25
Curled or uncurled, since locks will turn to
grey;

Since painted, or not painted, all shall fade,
And she who scorns a man must die a maid;
What then remains but well our power to use,
And keep good humour still, whate'er we lose?
And trust me, dear! good humour can prevail,
When airs, and flights, and screams, and scold-
ing fail.

32

Beauties in vain their pretty eyes may roll; Charms strike the sight, but merit wins the soul."

So spoke the dame, but no applause ensued; Belinda frowned, Thalestris called her prude.] "To arms, to arms!" the fierce virago1 cries, And swift as lightning to the combat flies. 38 All side in parties, and begin th' attack; Fans clap, silks rustle, and tough whalebones crack;

40

Heroes' and heroines' shouts confus'dly rise, And bass and treble voices strike the skies. No common weapons in their hands are found, Like gods they fight, nor dread a mortal wound.

So when bold Homer makes the gods engage,

45

And heavenly breasts with human passions rage;

'Gainst Pallas, Mars; Latona, Hermes arms; And all Olympus rings with loud alarms: Jove's thunder roars, Heaven trembles all around,

Blue Neptune storms, the bellowing deeps resound:

50

Earth shakes her nodding towers, the ground

gives way,

And the pale ghosts start at the flash of day! 2[Triumphant Umbriel on a sconce's height Clapped his glad wings, and sat to view the fight;

1 Thalestris 2 Bracketed lines were not in the original version. 3 candlestick

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75

See, fierce Belinda on the Baron flies,
With more than usual lightning in her eyes;
Nor feared 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: 80
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'er-

flows,

85

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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,121 Dried butterflies, and tomes of casuistry.

But trust the Muse she saw it upward rise,

Though marked by none but quick, poetic

eyes:

(So Rome's great founder to the heavens withdrew,

125

To Proculus1 alone confessed in view)
A sudden star, it shot through liquid air,
And drew behind a radiant trail of hair.
Not Berenice's locks 2 first rose so bright,
The heavens bespangling with dishevelled
light.

1 Cf. Livy, I, 6 2 The wife of Ptolemy Euergeles dedicated her hair for the safe return of her husband; upon its disappearance the astronomer Conon reported that it had been changed to the constellation Coma Berenices.

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