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Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your chief give ear, Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Dæmons hear! Ye know the spheres and various tasks affign'd By laws eternal to th' aërial kind.
Some in the fields of pureft Æther play,
And bask and whiten in the blaze of day.
Some guide the course of wand'ring orbs on high,
Or roll the planets thro' the boundless sky.
Some lefs refin'd, beneath the moon's pale light
Pursue the stars that shoot athwart the night,
Or fuck the mifts in groffer air below,
Or dip their pinions in the painted bow,
Or brew fierce tempefts on the wintry main,
Or o'er the glebe diftil the kindly rain.
Others on earth o'er human race prefide,
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 lefs pleafing, tho' lefs glorious care;
To fave the powder from too rude a gale,
Nor let th' imprifon'd effences exhale ;
To draw fresh colours from the vernal flow'rs; 95
To steal from rainbows e'er they drop in fhow'rs
A brighter wash; to curl their waving hairs,
Affift their blushes, and infpire 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 deferv'd a watchful spirit's care; Some dire difafter, or by force, or flight;
But what, or where, the fates have wrapt in night.
Whether the nymph fhall break Diana's law, 105
Or fome frail China jar receive a flaw;
Or ftain her honour, or her new brocade;
Forget her pray❜rs, or miss a masquerade;
Or lofe her heart, or necklace at a ball;
Or whether Heav'n has doom'd that Shock muft fall.
Hafte then, ye fpirits! to your charge repair:
The flutt'ring fan be Zephyretta's care;
The drops to thee, Brillante, we confign;
And, Momentilla, let the watch be thine;
Do thou, Crifpiffa, tend her fav'rite Lock;
Ariel himself shall be the guard of Shock.
To fifty chofen Sylphs, of special note, We trust th' important charge, the Petticoat: Oft have we known that seven-fold fence to fail, Tho' ftiff with hoops, and arm'd with ribs of whale; Form a ftrong line about the filver bound, And guard the wide circumference around. Whatever spirit, careless of his charge, His poft neglects, or leaves the fair at large, Shall feel sharp vengeance foon o'ertake his fins, Be ftop'd in vials, or transfix'd with pins; Or plung❜d in lakes of bitter washes lie, Or wedg'd whole ages in a bodkin's eye:
VER. 119. clypei dominus feptemplicis Ajax. Ovid.
VER. 121. about the filver bound] In allufion to the fhield of Achilles,
Thus the broad field complete the Artif crown'd,
With his laft hand, and pour'd the Ocean round:
In living Silver Jeem'd the waves to roil,
And beat the Buckler's verge, and bound the whole.
Gums and Pomatums shall his flight restrain,
While clog'd he beats his filken wings in vain;
Or Alum ftyptics with contracting pow'r
Shrink his thin effence like a rivel'd flow'r :
Or, as Ixion fix'd, the wretch fhall feel
The giddy motion of the whirling Mill,
In fumes of burning Chocolate fhall glow,
And tremble at the fea that froths below!
He fpoke; the fpirits from the fails defcend;
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.
LOSE by thofe meads, for ever crown'd with flow'rs,
Where Thames with pride furveys his rifing tow'rs,
There stands a ftructure of majestic frame,
Which from the neighb'ring Hampton takes its
Here Britain's ftatesmen oft the fall foredoom
Of foreign Tyrants, and of Nymphs at home;
Here thou, great ANNA! whom three realms obey,
Doft fometimes counsel take-and fometimes Tea.
Hither the heroes and the nymphs refort,
To tafte awhile the pleafures of a Court;
In various talk th' inftructive hours they paft,
Who gave the ball, or paid the vifit laft;
One speaks the glory of the British Queen,
And one defcribes a charming Indian fcreen;
A third interprets motions, looks, and eyes;
At ev'ry word a reputation dies.
VER. 1. Clofe by thofe muds,] The first Edition continues from this line to v. 24. of this Canto.
VER. 11, 12. Originally in the first Edition,
In various talk the chearful hours they past,
Of, who was bit, or who capotted last.
Snuff, or the fan, fupply each pause of chat,
With finging, laughing, ogling, and all that.
Mean while, declining from the noon of day,
The fun obliquely shoots his burning ray;
The hungry Judges foon the fentence fign,
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 thirft of fame invites,
Burns to encounter two advent'rous Knights,
At Ombre fingly to decide their doom;
And fwells her breaft with conquefts yet to come.
Strait the three bands prepare in arms to join,
Each band the number of the sacred nine.
Soon as the spreads her hand, th' aërial guard
Defcend, and fit 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 rever❜d,
With hoary whiskers and a forky beard;
And four fair Queens whofe hands fuftain a flow'r,
Th' expreffive emblem of their fofter pow'r; 40
Four Knaves in garbs fuccinct, a trusty band,
Caps on their heads, and halberts in their hand;
And particolour'd troops, a fhining train,
Draw forth to combat on the velvet plain.
VER. 24. And the long labours of the Toilet ceafe.] All that follows of the game at Ombre, was added fince the first Edition, till v. 105. which connected thus,
Sudden the board with cups and spoons is crown'd. P.