« PreviousContinue »
My state of health none care to learn,
Ye formal weepers for the sick,
What though, in solemn silence, all
THE DAY OF JUDGMENT With a whirl of thought oppress’d, I sunk from reverie to rest. A horrid vision seiz'd my head, I saw the graves give up their dead! Jove, armed with terrors, bursts the skies, And thunder roars and lightning flies! Amaz’d, confus'd, its fate unknown, The world stands trembling at his throne! While each pale sinner hung his head, Jove, nodding, shook the heavens, and said: "Offending race of human kind, By nature, reason, learning, blind; You who, through frailty, stepp'd aside; And you, who never fell from pride: You who in different sects were shamm’d, And come to see each other damn'd: (So some folk told you, but they knew No more of Jove's designs than you;) -The world's mad business now is o'er, And I resent these pranks no more. -I to such blockheads set my wit! I damn such fools!—Go, go, you're bit.”
(From Cato, 1713) Cato. It must be 80- -Plato, thou reason'st
well!Else, whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire, This longing after immortality? Or whence this secret dread, and inward horror, Of falling into naught? Why shrinks the soul 5 Back on herself, and startles at destruction? 'Tis the divinity that stirs within us; 'Tis heaven itself, that points out an hereafter, And intimates eternity to man. Eternity! thou pleasing, dreadful thought! 10 Through what variety of untried being, Through what new scenes and changes must we
pass! The wide, the unbounded prospect lies before
me; But shadows, clouds, and darkness rest upon it. Here will I hold. If there's a power above us 15 (And that there is all nature cries aloud Through all her works), he must delight in
virtue; And that which he delights in must be happy. But when? or where?—This world was made for
Cæsar. I'm weary of conjectures—This must end 'em.
Laying his hand on his sword. Thus am I doubly armed: my death and life, My bane and antidote are both before me: This in a moment brings me to an end; But this informs me I shall never die. The soul, secured in her existence, smiles At the drawn dagger, and defies its point. The stars shall fade away, the sun himself Grow dim with age, and nature sink in years, But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth, Unhurt amidst the war of elements, The wrecks of matter, and the crush of worlds. What means this heaviness that hangs upon
me? This lethargy that creeps through all my senses? Nature, oppressed and harassed out with
care, Sinks down to rest. This once I'll favour her,
THE RAPE OF THE LOCK
ray, And op'd those eyes that must eclipse the day; Now lap-dogs give themselves the rousing
shake, And sleepless lovers, just at twelve, awake: Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock'd the
ground, And the pressed watch returned a silver sound. Belinda still her downy pillow pressed, Her guardian sylph prolonged the balmy rest: 'Twas he had summoned to her silent bed The morning dream that hovered o'er her head, A youth more glitt'ring than a birth-night?
beau, (That ev'n in slumber caused her cheek to glow) Seemed to her ear his winning lips to lay, And thus in whispers said, or seemed to say.
“Fairest of mortals, thou distinguished care Of thousand bright inhabitants of air! If e'er one vision touched thy infant thought, Of all the nurse and all the priest have taught; Of airy elves by moonlight shadows seen, The silver token, and the circled green, Or virgins visited by angel-pow'rs, With golden crowns and wreaths of heav'nly
flow'rs; Hear and believe! thy own importance know, Nor bound thy narrow views to things below.
This poem was written at the request of a Mr. Caryl. One Lord Petre had contrived to abstract a lock of Mistress Arabella Fermor's hair, and as a result, the families of tbe daring lord and the offended beauty bad become estranged. Mr. Caryl, anxious to restore peace, asked Pope to write a poem which should suggest to both sides the absurdity of quarreling over so trifling an affair.
2 The dressing at the court balls given to celebrate the birthdays of members of the royal family was unusually splendid.
Some secret truths, from learned pride con
cealed, To maids alone and children are revealed. What though no credit doubting wits may
give? The fair and innocent shall still believe. know then, unnumbered spirits round thee fly, The light militia of the lower sky: These, though unseen, are ever on the wing, Hang o'er the box,; and hover round the ring. Think what an equipage thou hast in air, 45 And view with scorn two pages and a chair. As now your own, our beings were of old, And once inclosed in 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 though 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 souls retire: The sprites of fiery termagants in flame Mount up, and take a salamander's name. Soft yielding minds to water glide away, And sip, 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 sylphs aloft repair, And sport and flutter in the fields of air.
"Know further yet; whoever fair and chaste Rejects mankind, is by some sylph embraced: For spirits, freed from mortal laws, with ease Assume what sexes and what shapes 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 de
sires, When music softens, and when dancing fires? 'Tis but their sylph, the wise celestials know, Though honour is the word with men below. Some nymphs there are, too conscious of
their face, For life predestined to the gnomes' embrace. 80 These swell their prospects and exalt their
pride, When offers are disdained, and love denied: 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' salutes their
ear. 'Tis these that early taint the female soul, Instruct the eyes of young coquettes to roll,
"The Bor, at the theatre, and the Ring in Hyde Park are frequently mentioned as the two principal places for the display of beauty and fashion." (Elwio).
Teach infant-cheeks a bidden blush to know, And little hearts to flutter at a beau.
“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 with
stand, If gentle Damon did not squeeze her hand? With varying vanities, from ev'ry part, They shift the moving toyshop of their heart; Where wigs with wigs, with sword-knots sword
knots strive, Beaus banish beaus, 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, 105 A watchful sprite, and Ariel is my name. Late, as I ranged 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 heaven reveals not what, or how, or where: Warned 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, Leaped up, and waked his mistress with his
tongue. 'Twas then, Belinda, if report say true, Thy eyes first opened on a billet-doux; Wounds, charms, and ardours, were no sooner
read, But all the vision vanished from thy head. And now, unveiled, the toilet stands dis
played, Each silver vase in mystic order laid. First, rob’d in white, the nymph iptent adores, With head uncover'd, the cosmetic pow'rs. A beav'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. Unnumbered treasures ope at once,
and here The various off'rings of the world appear; .,130 From each she nicely culls with curious toil, And decks the goddess with the glitt'ring spoil. This casket India's glowing gems unlocks, And all Arabia breathes from yonder box, The tortoise here and elephant unite, Transformed to combs, the speckled and the
white. Here files of pins extend their shining rows, Puffs, powders, patches, Bibles, billets-doux. Now awful beauty puts on all its arms; The fair each moment rises in her charms, 140 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 praised for labors not her own.
Canto II Not with more glories, in th' ethereal plain, The sun first rises o'er the purpled main, Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams Launched on the bosom of the silver Thames. Fairy nymphs, and well-dressed youths around
her shone, But ev'ry eye was fixed 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 unfixed 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 on her face, and you'll forget 'em all.
This nymph, to the destruction of mankind, Nourished two locks, which graceful hung
behind In equal curls, and well conspired 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. 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’ advent'rous baron the bright locks ad
mired; He saw, he wished, and to the prize aspired. 30 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 attained his ends.
For this, ere Phæbus rose, he had implored Propitious heav'n, and ev'ry pow'r adored, 36 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 billets-doux he lights the pyre, And breathes three am'rous sighs to raise the
fire. Then prostrate falls, and begs with ardent eyes Soon to obtain, and long possess the prize: The pow'rs gave ear, and granted half his
pray'r, The rest, the winds dispersed 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 softened sounds along the waters die; Smooth flow the waves, the zephyrs gently play, Belinda smiled, and all the world was gay. All but the sylph-with careful thoughts op
pressed, Th’impending woe sat heavy on his breast.
He summons strait his denizens of air;
wings. Amid the circle, on the gilded mast, Superior by the head, was Ariel plac'd; His purple pinions opening to the sun, He raised his azure wand, and thus begun: "Ye sylphs and sylphids, to your chief give
ear! Fays, fairies, genii, elves, and demons, hear! Ye know the spheres and various tasks as
signed By laws eternal to th' aërial kind." Some in the fields of purest ether play, And bask and whiten in the blaze of day. Some guide the course of wandering orbs on
high, Or roll the planets through the boundless sky; 80 Some less refined, beneath the moon's pale light Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night, Or suck the mists in grosser air below, Or dip their pinions in the painted bow, Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry main, 85 Or o'er the glebe distil the kindly rain. Others on earth o'er human race preside, Watch all their ways, and all their actions guide: Of these the chief the care of nations own, And guard with arms divine the British throne.
“Our humbler province is to tend the fair, 91 Not a less pleasing, though less glorious care; To save the powder from too rude a gale, Nor let th' imprisoned essences exhale; To draw fresh colours from the vernal flow'rs, 95 To steal from rainbows ere they drop in show'rs A brighter wash to curl their waving hairs, Assist their blushes, and inspire their airs; Nay, oft, in dreams, invention we bestow, To change a flounce, or add a furbelow. “This day, black omens threat the brightest
fair That e'er deserved a watchful spirit's care; Some dire disaster, or by force, or slight; But what, or where, the fates have wrapped in
night. Whether the nymph shall break Diana's law, Or some frail China jar receive a flaw; Or stain her honour, or her new brocade; Forget her pray’rs, or miss a masquerade; Or lose her heart, or necklace, at a ball; Or whether heav'n has doom'd that Shock
must fall. Haste, then, ye spirits! to your charge repair: The flutt'ring fan be Zephyretta's care; The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign;
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine;
“To fifty chosen Sylphs, of special note,
whale; Form a strong line about the silver bound, 121 And guard the wide circumference around.
“Whatever spirit, careless of his charge, His post neglects, or leaves the fair at large, Shall feel sharp vengeance soon o'ertake his
sins, Be stopped in vials, or transfixed with pins; Or plunged in lakes of bitter washes lie, Or wedged, whole ages in a bodkin's eye; Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain, While clogged he beats his silken wings in vain; Or alum styptics with contracting pow'r, Shrink his thin essence like a rivelled flower; Or, as Ixion fixed, the wretch shall feel The giddy motion of the whirling mill, In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow, 135 And tremble at the sea that froths below!''
He spoke; the spirits from the sails descend: Some, orb in orb, around the nymph extend; Some thrid the mazy ringlets of her hair; Some hang upon the pendants of her ear; 140 With beating hearts the dire event they wait, Anxious, and trembling for the birth of fate.
Canto III Close by those meads, for ever crowned with
flow'rs, Where Thames with pride surveys his rising
tow'rs, There stands a structure of majestic frame, Which from the neighb'ring Hampton takes
its name. Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom Of foreign tyrants, and of nymphs at home; 6 Here thou, great Anna! whom three realms
obey, Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes
tea. Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort, To taste a while the pleasures of a court; In various talk th'instructive hours they passed; Who gave the ball, or paid the visit last; One speaks the glory of the British Queen, And one describes a charming Indian screen; A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes; At ev'ry word a reputation dies. Snuff, or the fan, supply each pause of chat, With singing, laughing, ogling, and all that.
Meanwhile, declining from the noon of day, The sun obliquely shoots his burning ray; The hungry judges soon the sentence sign, And wretches hang that jury-men may dine; The merchant from th’ Exchange returns in
peace, And the long labours of the toilet cease. Belinda now, whom thirst of fame invites, 25 Burns to encounter two advent'rous knights,
• The Royal palace of Hampton Court.
At ombre5 singly to decide their doom;
Thus when dispersed a routed army runs,
all. The knave of diamonds tries his wily arts, And wins (oh shameful chance!) the queen of
hearts. At this, the blood the virgin's cheek forsook, A livid paleness spreads o'er all her look; She sees, and trembles at th' approaching ill, Just in the jaws of ruin, and codille.? And now (as oft in some distempered state) On one nice trick depends the gen'ral fate: An ace of hearts steps forth: the king unseen Lurked in her hand, and mourned his captive
queen: He springs to vengeance with an eager pace, And falls like thunder on the prostrate ace. The nymph exulting fills with shouts the sky; The walls, the woods, and long canals reply. 100
Oh thoughtless mortals! ever blind to fate, Too soon dejected, and too soon elate. Sudden these honours shall be snatched away, And cursed for ever this victorious day. For lo! the board with cups and spoons is
crowned, The berries crackle, and the mill turns round; On sbining altars of japan they raise The silver lamp; the fiery spirits blaze: From silver spouts the grateful liquors glide, While China's earth receives the smoking
tide: At once they gratify their scent and taste, 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 dis
played, Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocade. 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 Ab 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, How soon they find fit instrument 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. 130 He takes the gift with rev'rence, 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. Swist to the lock a thousand sprites repair; 135 A thousand wings, by turns, blow back the hair;
7 Failure to secure the requisite tricks.
Straight the three bands prepare in arms to
join, Each band the number of the sacred nine. Soon as she spreads her hand, th' aërial guard Descend, and sit on each important card: First Ariel perched upon a Matadore, Then each according to the rank they bore; For sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race, 35 Are, as when women, wondrous fond of place.
Behold four kings in majesty revered, With hoary whiskers and a forky beard; And four fair queens whose hands sustain a
flow'r, Th' expressive emblem of their softer pow'r; 40 Four knaves in garbs succinct, a trusty band; Caps on their heads, and halberts in their hand; And parti-coloured troops, a shining train, Draw forth to combat on the velvet plain. The skilful nymph reviews her force with care: Let spades be trumps! she said, and trumps
they were. Now move to war her sable Matadores, In show like leaders of the swarthy Moors. Spadillio first, unconquerable lord! Led off two captive trumps, and swept the
board. As many more Manillio forced to yield, And marched a victor from the verdant field. Him Basto followed, but his fate more hard Gained but one trump and one plebeian card. With his broad sabre next, a chief in years, The hoary majesty of spades appears, Puts forth one manly leg, to sight revealed, The rest his many coloured robe concealed. The rebel knave, who dares his prince engage, Proves the just victim of his royal rage. Ev'n mighty Pam, that kings and queens o'er
threw, And mowed down armies in the fights of loo, Sad chance of war! now destitute of aid, Falls undistinguished by the victor spade!
Thus far both armies to Belinda yield; Now to the baron fate inclines the field. His warlike Amazon her host invades, Th' imperial consort of the crown of spades. The club's black tyrant first her victim died, Spite of his haughty mien, and barb'rous
pride: What boots the regal circle on his head, His giant limbs, in state unwieldy spread; That long behind he trails his pompous robe, And of all monarchs only grasps the globe?
The baron now his diamonds pours apace! 75 Th' embroidered king who shows but half his
face, And his refulgent queen, with pow'rs combined, Of broken troops, an easy conquest find. Clubs, diamonds, hearts, in wild disorder seen, With throngs promiscuous strew the level green.
• A game of cards of Spanish origin played by three persons, the one naming the trump being opposed to the other two. The names of some of the cards are given in the passage following. & The highest card in the game of Loo.