The Rape of the Lock: Canto 4

Original Text: 
Miscellany (Bernard Lintot, May 1712). Revised in Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock (March 2, 1714). Facs. edn.: Scolar Press, 1970. PR 3629.A1 1970 TRIN. Further revised in Alexander Pope, Works (London: W. Bowyer for Bernard Lintot, 1717). E-10 884 and E-10 885 and E-10 3947 and E-10 3938 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
2And secret passions labour'd in her breast.
3Not youthful kings in battle seiz'd alive,
4Not scornful virgins who their charms survive,
5Not ardent lovers robb'd of all their bliss,
6Not ancient ladies when refus'd a kiss,
7Not tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,
8Not Cynthia when her manteau's pinn'd awry,
9E'er felt such rage, resentment, and despair,
10As thou, sad virgin! for thy ravish'd hair.
11     For, that sad moment, when the Sylphs withdrew,
12And Ariel weeping from Belinda flew,
14As ever sullied the fair face of light,
15Down to the central earth, his proper scene,
17     Swift on his sooty pinions flits the Gnome,
19No cheerful breeze this sullen region knows,
21Here, in a grotto, shelter'd close from air,
22And screen'd in shades from day's detested glare,
23She sighs for ever on her pensive bed,
25     Two handmaids wait the throne: alike in place,
26But diff'ring far in figure and in face.
27Here stood Ill Nature like an ancient maid,
28Her wrinkled form in black and white array'd;
29With store of pray'rs, for mornings, nights, and noons,
30Her hand is fill'd; her bosom with lampoons.
31     There Affectation, with a sickly mien,
32Shows in her cheek the roses of eighteen,
33Practis'd to lisp, and hang the head aside,
34Faints into airs, and languishes with pride,
35On the rich quilt sinks with becoming woe,
36Wrapp'd in a gown, for sickness, and for show.
37The fair ones feel such maladies as these,
39     A constant vapour o'er the palace flies;
40Strange phantoms, rising as the mists arise;
41Dreadful, as hermit's dreams in haunted shades,
42Or bright, as visions of expiring maids.
44Pale spectres, gaping tombs, and purple fires:
45Now lakes of liquid gold, Elysian scenes,
47     Unnumber'd throngs on ev'ry side are seen,
48Of bodies chang'd to various forms by Spleen.
50One bent; the handle this, and that the spout:
53Men prove with child, as pow'rful fancy works,
54And maids turn'd bottles, call aloud for corks.
55     Safe pass'd the Gnome through this fantastic band,
57Then thus address'd the pow'r: "Hail, wayward Queen!
58Who rule the sex to fifty from fifteen:
60Who give th' hysteric, or poetic fit,
61On various tempers act by various ways,
62Make some take physic, others scribble plays;
63Who cause the proud their visits to delay,
64And send the godly in a pet to pray.
65A nymph there is, that all thy pow'r disdains,
66And thousands more in equal mirth maintains.
67But oh! if e'er thy gnome could spoil a grace,
68Or raise a pimple on a beauteous face,
70Or change complexions at a losing game;
71If e'er with airy horns I planted heads,
72Or rumpled petticoats, or tumbled beds,
73Or caus'd suspicion when no soul was rude,
74Or discompos'd the head-dress of a prude,
75Or e'er to costive lap-dog gave disease,
76Which not the tears of brightest eyes could ease:
77Hear me, and touch Belinda with chagrin;
78That single act gives half the world the spleen."
79     The goddess with a discontented air
80Seems to reject him, though she grants his pray'r.
81A wondrous bag with both her hands she binds,
83There she collects the force of female lungs,
84Sighs, sobs, and passions, and the war of tongues.
85A vial next she fills with fainting fears,
86Soft sorrows, melting griefs, and flowing tears.
87The Gnome rejoicing bears her gifts away,
88Spreads his black wings, and slowly mounts to day.
89     Sunk in Thalestris' arms the nymph he found,
90Her eyes dejected and her hair unbound.
91Full o'er their heads the swelling bag he rent,
92And all the Furies issu'd at the vent.
93Belinda burns with more than mortal ire,
94And fierce Thalestris fans the rising fire.
95"Oh wretched maid!" she spread her hands, and cried,
96(While Hampton's echoes, "Wretched maid!" replied,
97"Was it for this you took such constant care
98The bodkin, comb, and essence to prepare?
100For this with tort'ring irons wreath'd around?
101For this with fillets strain'd your tender head,
103Gods! shall the ravisher display your hair,
104While the fops envy, and the ladies stare!
105Honour forbid! at whose unrivall'd shrine
106Ease, pleasure, virtue, all, our sex resign.
107Methinks already I your tears survey,
108Already hear the horrid things they say,
109Already see you a degraded toast,
110And all your honour in a whisper lost!
111How shall I, then, your helpless fame defend?
112'Twill then be infamy to seem your friend!
113And shall this prize, th' inestimable prize,
115And heighten'd by the diamond's circling rays,
116On that rapacious hand for ever blaze?
119Sooner let earth, air, sea, to chaos fall,
120Men, monkeys, lap-dogs, parrots, perish all!"
121     She said; then raging to Sir Plume repairs,
122And bids her beau demand the precious hairs:
123(Sir Plume, of amber snuff-box justly vain,
125With earnest eyes, and round unthinking face,
126He first the snuffbox open'd, then the case,
127And thus broke out--"My Lord, why, what the devil?
128Z{-}{-}{-}ds! damn the lock! 'fore Gad, you must be civil!
129Plague on't! 'tis past a jest--nay prithee, pox!
130Give her the hair"--he spoke, and rapp'd his box.
131     "It grieves me much," replied the peer again,
132"Who speaks so well should ever speak in vain.
133But by this lock, this sacred lock I swear,
134(Which never more shall join its parted hair;
135Which never more its honours shall renew,
136Clipp'd from the lovely head where late it grew)
137That while my nostrils draw the vital air,
138This hand, which won it, shall for ever wear."
139He spoke, and speaking, in proud triumph spread
141     But Umbriel, hateful gnome! forbears not so;
142He breaks the vial whence the sorrows flow.
143Then see! the nymph in beauteous grief appears,
144Her eyes half-languishing, half-drown'd in tears;
145On her heav'd bosom hung her drooping head,
146Which, with a sigh, she rais'd; and thus she said:
147     "For ever curs'd be this detested day,
148Which snatch'd my best, my fav'rite curl away!
149Happy! ah ten times happy, had I been,
150If Hampton Court these eyes had never seen!
151Yet am not I the first mistaken maid,
152By love of courts to num'rous ills betray'd.
153Oh had I rather unadmir'd remain'd
154In some lone isle, or distant northern land;
155Where the gilt chariot never marks the way,
156Where none learn ombre, none e'er taste bohea!
157There kept my charms conceal'd from mortal eye,
158Like roses, that in deserts bloom and die.
159What mov'd my mind with youthful lords to roam?
160Oh had I stay'd, and said my pray'rs at home!
161'Twas this, the morning omens seem'd to tell,
162Thrice from my trembling hand the patch-box fell;
163The tott'ring china shook without a wind,
164Nay, Poll sat mute, and Shock was most unkind!
165A Sylph too warn'd me of the threats of fate,
166In mystic visions, now believ'd too late!
167See the poor remnants of these slighted hairs!
168My hands shall rend what ev'n thy rapine spares:
169These, in two sable ringlets taught to break,
170Once gave new beauties to the snowy neck.
171The sister-lock now sits uncouth, alone,
172And in its fellow's fate foresees its own;
173Uncurl'd it hangs, the fatal shears demands
174And tempts once more thy sacrilegious hands.
175Oh hadst thou, cruel! been content to seize
176Hairs less in sight, or any hairs but these!"


1] Cf. Virgil's Aeneid, IV, t. Dryden translates this: "But anxious cares already seized the queen." Back to Line
13] melancholy: Pope is here referring to the fashionable Elizabethan disease (see note on line 16). Umbriel: name formed from Latin, umbra, a shadow. Back to Line
16] Spleen: the fashionable name for the ancient malady of general neurotic ailments, as melancholy had been used in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (cf. note on line 13). Back to Line
18] vapour: (1) another name for the spleen, (2) mist. dome: in its meaning of (dignified) building (Latin domus) (cf. Essay on Criticism, note on line 247). Back to Line
20] East. This wind was supposed to cause spleen. Back to Line
24] Pain ... head. The positions of Pain and Megrim (i.e., migraine) are the side and the head respectively, the areas most usually affected by spleen. Back to Line
38] night-dress: dressing gown. Back to Line
43] spires: coils or spirals. Back to Line
46] angels in machines: an imitation of the phrase deus ex machina. Back to Line
49] Here.... corks: the usual illusions experienced by those who suffer from spleen or melancholy. Back to Line
51] pipkin: "a small earthen boiler" (Johnson's Dictionary). Back to Line
52] [Pope] "Alludes to a real fact, a lady of distinction imagined herself in this condition." Back to Line
56] spleenwort: a fern believed to relieve disorders of the spleen and compared in Pope's epic structure to the golden bough which Aeneas needed to allow him to enter the underworld (Aeneid, VI, 136 ff.). Back to Line
59] Melancholy was supposed to accompany creative genius. Back to Line
69] citron waters: brandy distilled with rind of citrons. Back to Line
82] Ulysses ... winds. In the Odyssey, X, 19 ff., Aeolus gives Ulysses a bladder filled with all the winds except the west wind, which is needed to carry him home. Back to Line
99] paper durance: i.e., curlers. Back to Line
102] loads of lead: leaden weights attached to curl papers. Back to Line
114] Exposed ... rays. The baron will have the lock made up into a ring. Back to Line
117] Circus: see note to Canto I, line 44. Back to Line
118] Bow: the Church of St. Mary's-le-Bow situated in unfashionable mercantile section. Back to Line
124] clouded: "variegated with dark veins" (Johnson). Back to Line
140] honours: decoration, adornment, ornament (see also line 135). Hence, here, Belinda's locks. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
Revised 1714, 1717
RPO poem Editors: 
D. F. Theall
RPO Edition: 
3RP 2.115.