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Or suck the mists in grosser air below,
Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,
Or brew fierce tempests on the wintry main,
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,
Not a less pleasing, tho' less glorious care ;
To save the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let th' imprison'd essences exhale ;
To draw fresh colours from the vernal flow'rs;
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 deserv'd a watchful spirit's care ;
Some dire disaster, or by force, or flight ;
But what, or where, the fates have wrapt 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 heaven has doom'd that Shock must fall.
Haste then, ye spirits! to your charge repair :
The fluttring fan be Zephyretta's care ;
The drops to thee, Brillante, we consign;
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine ;
Do thou, Crispissa, tend her fav’rite lock ;
Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock.
To fifty chosen Sylphs, of special note, We trust th’ important charge, the petticoat: Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail, Tho' stiff with hoops and arm’d with ribs of whale,
Form a strong line about the silver bound,
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 stop'd in vials, or transfixed with pins ;
Or plung’d in lakes of bitter washes lie,
Or wedg'd whole ages in a bodkin's eye:
Gums and pomatums shall his flight restrain,
While clog'd he beats his silken wings in vain ;
Or alum styptics with contracting power
Shrink his thin essence like a rivel'd flower :
Or, as Ixion fix'd, the wretch shall feel
The giddy motion of the whirling mill,
In fumes of burning chocolate shall glow,
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 ;
With beating hearts the dire event they wait,
Anxious, and trembling for the birth of Fate.
Close by those meads, for ever crown'd with flowers,
Where Thames with pride surveys his rising towers,
There stands a structure of majestic frame,
Which from the neighbouring Hampton takes its name.
Here Britain's statesmen oft the fall foredoom
Of foreign tyrants, and of nymphs at home;
Here thou, great ANNA! whom three realms obey,
Dost sometimes counsel take-and sometimes tea.
Hither the heroes and the nymphs resort,
To taste awhile the pleasures of a court ;
In various talk th' instructive hours they past,
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 jurymen 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,
Burns to encounter two advent'rous knights,
At ombre singly to decide their doom ;
And swells her breast with conquests yet to come.
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 perch'd upon a matadore,
Then each, according to the rank they bore ;
For sylphs, yet mindful of their ancient race,
Are, as when women, wondrous fond of place.
Behold, four Kings in majesty reverd,
With hoary whiskers and a forky beard ;
And four fair Queens whose hands sustain a flower,
Th’ expressive emblem of their softer power ;
Four knaves in garbs succinct, a trusty band,
Caps on their heads, and halberts in their hand;
And particolour'd 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 forc'd to yield,
And march'd a victor from the verdant field.
Him Basto follow'd, but his fate more hard
Gain'd 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 reveald,
The rest, his many-colour'd robe conceald.
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’erthrew,
And mow'd down armies in the fights of Lu,
Sad chance of war! now destitute of aid,
Falls undistinguish'd 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 barbarous 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;
Th' embroider'd King who shows but half his face,
And his refulgent Queen, with powers combin'd
Of broken troops an easy conquest find.
Clubs, Diamonds, Hearts, in wild disorder seen,
With throngs promiscuous strow the level green.
Thus when dispers’d a routed army runs,
Of Asia's troops, and Afric's sable sons,
With like confusion different nations fly,
Of various habit, and of various dye,
The pierc'd battalions disunited fall,
In heaps on heaps ; one fate o’erwhelms them 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 distemper'd state)
On one nice trick depends the gen’ral fate.
An Ace of Hearts steps forth : the King unseen
Lurk’d in her hand, and mourn'd 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.
Oh thoughtless mortals ! ever blind to fate,
Too soon dejected, and too soon elate.
Sudden, these honours shall be snatch'd away,
And curs'd for ever this victorious day.
For lo ! the board with cups and spoons is crown’d,
The berries crackle, and the mill turns round;
On shining 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 sipp'd, the fuming liquor fann'd,
Some o'er her lap their careful plumes display'd,
Trembling, and conscious of the rich brocadė.
Coffee, (which makes the politician wise,
And see thro' all things with his half-shut eyes)
Sent up in vapours to the Baron's brain
New stratagems, the radiant lock to gain.
Ah cease, rash youth ! desist ere 'tis too late,
Fear the just gods, and think of Scylla's fate !
Chang'd to a bird, and sent to fit in air,
She dearly pays for Nisus' injur'd hair!
But when to mischief mortals bend their will,
How soon they find fit instruments of ill !
Just then, Clarissa drew with tempting grace
A two-edg'd weapon from her shining case :