the rape of the lock opera



“Some to the Sun”









CHORAL OVERTURE                                 

All Nature is but Art, unknown to thee;

All chance, Direction, which thou canst not see;

All Discord, Harmony, not understood;

All partial Evil, Universal Good;

And, spite of Pride, in erring Reason's spite,

One truth is clear, 'whatever is, is right.'

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;

The proper study of Mankind is Man.

Plac'd  on this isthmus of a middle state,

A being darkly wise, and rudely great:

With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,

With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,

He hangs between; in doubt to act, or rest,

In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast;

In doubt his Mind or Body to prefer,

Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;

Alike in ignorance, his reason such,

Whether he thinks too little, or too much:

Chaos of Thought and Passion, all confus'd;

Still by himself abus'd, or disabus'd;

Created half to rise, and half to fall;

Great lord of all things, and yet a prey to all;

Sole judge of Truth, in endless Error hurl'd:

The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!



What dire Offence from am'rous Causes springs,

What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things,

Say what strange Motive, Goddess! cou'd compel

A wellbred Lord t'assault a gentle Belle?

Oh say what stranger Cause, yet unexplor'd,

Cou'd make a gentle Belle reject a Lord?

In Tasks so bold, can Little Men engage,

And in soft Bosoms dwells such mighty Rage?

SCENE I                

Sol  through white Curtains shoots a tim'rous Ray,

And opens those Eyes that must eclipse the Day;        

Belinda still your downy Pillow press,

While I, your Guardian Sylph prolong the balmy Rest.

Fairest of Mortals, thou distinguish'd Care

Of thousand bright Inhabitants of Air!

Of airy Elves by Moonlight Shadows seen,

With silver Tokens on the circled Green,

Of 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

Late, as I rang'd 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 Heav'n reveals not what, or how, or where:

Warn'd by thy Sylph , oh Pious Maid beware!

This to disclose is all thy Guardian can.

Beware of all, but most beware of Man!

Hear and believe!

Wounds, charms and ardors were no sooner read,

But all my warnings vanished from thy head!

Zephyrettta!  Brillante!  Crispissa!

SCENE II      

Say, lovely Maid, that dost my heart command,     

Can  Belinda's  eyes forget her Baron's hand?                

Not bubbling fountains to the thirsty swain,

Not balmy sleep to lab'rers faint with pain,

Not showers to  larks, nor sunshine to the bee,

Are half so charming  as thy sight to me.

Come, Belinda, come;  why this long delay?

Let's meet in Hampton's shady paths today!

In Hampton's shady paths  ...  meet?  I think not!  

“Eloisa to Abelard”  ...    

From ancient lovers, learn true tenderness

From struggling Grace and Nature, learn of Bliss

This - this is love, by passion  deep enthralled;

Let me so love, or never love at all!

In these deep solitudes and awful cells,                  

Where heav'nly-pensive Contemplation dwells,

And ever-musing Melancholy reigns,  

What means this tumult in a vestal's veins?

Why feels my heart its long-forgotten heat?

Yet, yet I love! - From Abelard it came,.

And Eloisa yet must kiss the name.

Dear fatal name!     rest ever unreveal'd,

Nor pass these lips, in holy silence seal'd.

O write it not, my  hand- the name appears.

- wash it out, my tears!

Soon as thy  letters trembling I unclose,

That well-known name awakens all my woes.

I tremble, too, where’ere my own I find,

Some dire misfortune follows close behind. 

Assist me, Heav'n!  but whence arose that prayer?

Sprung it from piety or from despair?

In seas of flame my plunging soul is drown'd,

While altars blaze, and angels tremble round. 

Come, if thou dar'st,  all charming as thou art!

oppose thyself to Heav'n;  dispute my heart; 

Snatch me, just mounting, from the blest abode:

Assist the fiends, and tear me from my God!

SCENE III                  

Some to the Sun their Insect-Wings unfold,          

Waft on the Breeze, or sink in clouds of gold.

Transparent Forms, too fine for mortal Sight, 

Their fluid Bodies half dissolv'd in Light.

Loose to the Wind their airy Garments flew,

Thin glitt'ering Textures of the filmy Dew,

Dipt in the richest Tincture of the Skies,

Where Light disports in ever-mingling Dies,

While ev'ry Beam new transient Colours flings,

Colours that change whene'er they wave their Wings.

Some in the Fields of purest Aether play,

And bask and whiten in the Blaze of Day.

Some guide the Course of wandring Orbs on high,

Or roll the Planets through the boundless Sky.

Some less refin'd, 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,

Or o'er the Glebe distill 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 curl their waving Hairs,

Assist their Blushes, and inspire their Airs.

Know farther yet; Whoever fair and chaste

Rejects Mankind, is by some Sylph embrac'd:

For Spirits, freed from mortal Laws, with ease

Assume what Sexes and what Shapes they please.

Oft when the World imagine Women stray,       

The Sylphs  through mystick Mazes guide their Way,

Through all the giddy Circle they pursue,

And old Impertinence expel by new.

This erring Mortals 'Levity' may call,

Oh blind to Truth! the Sylphs contrive it all.

And now, unveil'd, the Toilette stands display'd,       

Each Silver Vase in mystic Order laid.      

Unnumber'd Treasures open at once, and here

The various Off'rings of the World appear;

This Casket India's glowing Gems unlocks,      

And all Arabia breathes from yonder Box.

The Tortoise here and Elephant unite,

Transform'd to Combs, the speckled and the white.

Here Files of Pins extend their shining Rows,

Puffs, Powders, Patches, Bibles, Billet-doux.

Repair the Smiles, awaken ev'ry Grace,                          

And summon all the Wonders of the Face;

Make by Degrees a purer Blush arise,

And keener Lightnings quicken in the Eyes.

More fair each moment, rising in new Charms,

Now awful Beauty puts on all its Arms.             





Not with more Glories, in th'Etherial Plain,

The Sun first rises o'er the purpled Main,

Than issuing forth, the Rival of his Beams 

Launch'd on the Bosom of the Silver Thames.

Smooth flow the Waves, the Zephyrs gently play,

Belinda smiles, and all the World is gay.

But now secure the painted Vessel glides,

The Sun-beams trembling on the floating Tydes,

While melting Musick steals upon the Sky,

And soften'd Sounds along the Waters die.

Smooth flow the Waves, the Zephyrs gently play,

Belinda smiles, and all the World is gay.

SCENE I           

Here shall we Lords and Ladies resort,

And taste awhile the Pleasures of a Court;

Here Thou, Great Anna!  whom three Realms obey,

Dost sometimes Counsel take

....   and sometimes Tea.

Here Britain's Statesmen oft foretell the Fall

Of Foreign Tyrants

....  and of Nymphs at home      

Bright as the Sun, her Eyes the Gazers strike,

And, like the Sun, they shine on all alike.

Favours to none, to all she Smiles extends

Oft she rejects, but never once offends.

This Nymph, to the Destruction of Mankind,

Nourishes two Locks, which graceful hang behind

In equal Curls, and well conspire to deck

With shining Ringlets her smooth Ivory Neck.

Fair Tresses Man’s imperial Race ensnare

And Beauty draws us with a single Hair.

Love in these Labyrinths his Slaves detains,

And mighty Hearts are held in slender Chains

This Baron to a sacred Prize aspires,

His Hero’s heart is swayed by false Desire,

Resolv'd to win, he meditates the way,

By Force to ravish, or by Fraud betray;

Love in these Labyrinths his Slaves detains,

And mighty Hearts are held in slender Chains.

Umbriel! a dusky melancholy Spright,

As ever sully'd the fair face of Light,

In gloomy Central Earth, his proper Scene

He serves the feckless King and Queen of Spleen!

Oh! Yield at last, nor still remain severe;

I worship you, and you alone I fear!

For oh! I burn, nor you my flames assuage;

And love disdain'd revives with fiercer rage.

SCENE II                      

Belinda smiles and all the world is gay;

All but myself - With careful Thoughts opprest,

Th'impending Woe sits heavy on my Breast.

I'll summon strait my Denizens of Air;

O lucid Squadrons round the Sails repair!

Ye Sylphs and Sylphids, to your Chief give Ear,

Fays, Fairies, Genii, Elves, and Daemons  hear!

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 Slight,

But what, or where, the Fates have wrapt in Night.

Shall our precious Nymph 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 Heav'n perhaps has doom'd that Shock must fall.

Ye know the Spheres and various Tasks assign'd

By Laws Eternal, to the Aerial Kind.

Haste then ye Spirits! to your Charge repair;

The flutt'ring Fan be Zephyretta's Care;

The Drops to thee, Brillante, we consign;

And  in addition 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 sev'nfold 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 stopt in Vials, or transfixt with Pins;

Or plung'd in Lakes of bitter Washes lie,

Or wedg'd whole Ages in a Bodkin's Eye:

In Fumes of burning Chocolate he'll glow,

And tremble at the Sea that froaths below!


I must follow Umbriel, who conspires

And to th'oppressive Cave of Spleen retires.

Swift on his sooty Pinions flitts the Gnome,

And in a Vapour seeks the dismal Dome.

    With beating Hearts the dire Event they wait,

    Anxious, and trembling for the Birth of Fate.


SCENE I   Entrance to Hampton Court

Plume, my good fellow! Just returned from France?

What a figure you cut, the latest styles!

He’s very fine. Extreme proper.

I never saw a coat better cut.

It makes me show long-waisted, and, I think, slender.

That’s the shape our ladies dote on.

His gloves are quite graceful.

I was always eminent for being bien-ganté.

He wears nothing but what are originals of

the most famous hands in Paris.

You are in the right, sir.

The suit?


The gloves?


And the marvelous cane?

Clouded amber and ebony.

Oh, Such a box!   

Lapis Lazuli with gold chasing by the finest master


Madam, a letter arrived for you as I came in.

I took the audacious liberty of bringing it myself. 

Sir, I am most grateful to such an esteemed gentleman.

At your service, most humbly.

What ingenious shoes! Piccat.

A letter from Lady Mary!  - from Constantinople -

Her husband is ambassador to Turkey!

Read it, you must!  I can’t wait to hear the news,

always so entertaining ...  so tantalizing! 

What are they saying over there?

Who gave the Ball, or paid the Visit last?

What Laurels Marlborough next shall reap, they do decree,

And swifter than His Arms, give Victory .....

If one interprets Motions, Looks, and Eyes;           

At ev'ry Word a Reputation dies.

How gay Ideas crowd the vacant Brain.    


That was the merry flutter ...  There is the angry flutter,

the confused flutter, the modest flutter and the amorous flutter.  Every imaginable emotion of the mind produces a suitable agitation in the fan.   I have seen a fan so very

angry, that it would have been dangerous for the absent

lover who provoked it to havecome within wind of it. 

At other times, it was so very languishing that I have been glad for the lady’s sake the lover was at a sufficient distance from it.  


The letter!  In a moment - 

First, Clarissa has special instructions for us 

Prodigiously useful to all  ...

Women are armed with fans as men are armed with

swords and sometimes cause more execution with them. 

So that you may be entire mistress of the weapons you

bear, you must first practice the “Exercises of the Fan.”

When I say, “Handle your fans,” each of you shake your fan at me with a smile, then give your right-hand woman a tap upon the shoulder, then press your lips with the extremity of the fan. Then stand in readiness to receive the next word of command. 

Handle your Fans!                                                          

Unfurl your Fans! 

Discharge your Fans!

Ground your Fans!  

Recover your Fans!   Now flutter,  Now Refold!         

Belinda has emerged a General from this school. 

She has, to my knowledge, been the ruin of above five

other gentlemen beside myself. My humble request

is that this bold Amazon be ordered to lay down her arms,

or that you would teach us to manage our snuff-boxes

so that we may be an equal match for her.

Very well.

Successful opposition against a regiment of fans

requires calculation and constabulary plans

The rules for offering snuff will vary by degree                           

according to the distance between snuffeur and snuffee.  

An offer to a stranger, a mistress or a friend each have a proper gesture to accompany your ends. 

To take a careless pinch, breathe lightly when inhaling           

A scornful pinch requires a steady jaw , the wrist is flailing               

An inflammatory pinch to irk a swaggering beau

accompanies the tilted head, the smile with eyebrows low.

A conciliatory pinch, towards one who has caused you pain

Must hint that you most consciously disdain to show disdain.

The most important pinch, seductive and persuading

Is slow, with only partial view, languid but engaging.

Numerous variations you may practice as you please;

One thing remains forbidden: you must never, never sneeze!


Such courtly airs and motions no lady can survive,

Be thou Man or Fop - at Ombre we'll decide!

Behold, four Kings in Majesty rever'd,

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;                            

Four Knaves  in Garbs succinct, a trusty Band,

Caps on their heads, and Halberds in their hand;

And Particolour'd Troops, a shining Train,

Draw forth to combat on the Velvet Plain.

Let Spades be Trumps!         

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 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;

The Rebel-Knave, who dares his Prince engage,

Proves the just Victim of his Royal Rage.

    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 dy'd,

Spite of his haughty Mien, and barb'rous Pride:

    The Baron now his Diamonds pours apace;

Th'embroider'd King who shows but half his Face,

And his refulgent Queen, with Pow'rs combin'd,

Of broken Troops an easie Conquest find.

Clubs,  Diamonds,  Hearts,  in wild Disorder seen,

With Throngs promiscuous strow the level Green.                            

The pierc'd Battalions dis-united 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.

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.




Dear Friends, refreshment here awaits our pleasure

Release your jilted troops to joy and leisure!

For lo!  the Board with Cups and Spoons is crown'd,

The Berries crackle, and the Mill turns round.          

From silver Spouts the grateful Liquors glide,

While China's Earth receives the smoking Tyde

Coffee makes the Politician wise,

And see through all things with his half-shut Eyes

Likewise the Philos'pher drinks two-handed,

When called upon to be concise or candid.

Coffee gives the Righteous Moral Vigor

And true Contempt to every pointed Finger.

O Perilous Tempter of the Royal Humor

O Vindicator of the Whispered Rumor 

She visited a Turkish Bath!       

“They walked and moved with majestic grace,

all in the state of Nature, even so is Eve conjured

by the immortal Milton, exactly proportioned

as any goddess drawn by Titian”

The Lover sips to give his faint resolve

An Hour of Nerve before his Verve dissolves.

The Vapours, rising to his steaming Brain

Breathe Stratagems, the radiant Lock to gain!

See how the baron draws with tempting Grace

A two-edg'd Weapon from his shining Case;

So when to Mischief Mortals bend their Will, 

How soon they find fit Instruments of Ill

Ah cease rash Youth! desist!

She says, "if t’were the fashion to go naked,

the face would hardly be observed."

The flash of living Lightning from her Eyes,

And Screams of Horror rend th'affrighted Skies.

Not louder Shrieks to pitying Heav'n are cast,

When Husbands or when Lap-dogs breathe their last.


Madam - it was the Coffee!  

So prates the man whom Nature has deceived:

Or foul or fair, both equally perceived.                                                       

What Time wou'd 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 Tow'rs of Troy;

Steel could the Works of mortal Pride confound,

And hew Triumphal Arches to the Ground.

What Wonder then, fair Nymph! thy Hairs should feel

The conqu'ring Force of unresisted Steel?     


CANTO IV    CAVE OF SPLEEN      (omitted)


No cheerful Breeze this sullen Region knows,

The dreadful East is all the Wind that blows.

Here, in a Grotto, sheltred close from Air,

And screen'd in Shades from Day's detested Glare,

They sigh for ever on  with becoming Woe,

Wrapt in a Gown, for Sickness and for Show.

The Fair-ones feel such Maladies as these,

When each new Night-Dress gives a new Disease.


Not always Actions show the man: we find

Who does a kindness, is not therefore kind;

Alas! in truth the man but chang'd his mind,

Perhaps was sick, in love, or had not din'd.

Who reasons wisely is not therefore wise,

His pride in Reas'ning, not in acting Lies.

Alas, what wonder!  Man's superior part

Uncheck'd may rise, and climb from art to art:

But when his own great work is but begun,

What Reason weaves, by Passion is undone.


Nothing so true as what you once let fall,

'Most Women have no Characters at all'.

Bred to disguise, in Public 'tis you hide;

There, none distinguish 'twixt your Shame or Pride,

Weakness or Delicacy;  all so nice,

That each may seem a Virtue, or a Vice.

Men, some to Quiet, some to public Strife;

But ev'ry Lady would be Queen for life.

Wit and judgment often are at strife,

Tho' meant each other's aid, like man and wife.

Alike in dour and disengaging mind,

Some common target we could surely find:

CRITICS! **      

_______  ?                             

In Poets as true genius is but rare,

True Taste as seldom is the Critic's share.

'Tis with their judgments as their watches, none

Go just alike, yet each believes his own.

The Bookful Blockhead, ignorantly read,

With Loads of Learned Lumber in his Head,

With his own Tongue still edifies his Ears,

And always List'ning to Himself appears.

No Place so Sacred from such Fops is barr'd,

Nor is Paul's Church more safe than Paul's Church-yard

Nay, fly to Altars; there they'll talk you dead;

For Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread.

To what base Ends, and by what abject Ways,

Are Mortals urg'd thro' Sacred Lust of praise!

Ah ne'er so dire a Thirst of Glory boast,

Nor in the Critic let the Man be lost!

Good-Nature and Good-Sense must ever join;

To err is Human; to Forgive, Divine. 

But Fools have still an Itching to deride,

And fain wou'd be upon the Laughing Side;

In search of Wit some lose their common Sense,

And then turn Criticks in their own Defence.

True Wit is Nature to Advantage drest,

What oft was Thought, but ne'er so well Exprest

Some on the Leaves of ancient Authors prey,

Nor Time nor Moths e'er spoil'd so much as they

Turn what he may to verse, the Poet's toil is vain

Critics like these shall make it Prose again!

**  Please note that these are the views of the poet,)

not necessarily those of the artists, management

or composer,  and that they refer only to literary critics,

none of whom are associated with [The New York Times

or The New Yorker, whoever is attending]


Hail wayward Queen! and Hail unscrupulous King!

Who rule the Spiteful, Dissolute and Vain

Parents of Vapors and of mortal Wit,

Who give th'Hysteric or Poetic Fit,

Who give the wily knave a pleasing aura,

Drive some to ruin and some to Opera,

A Nymph there is, that all thy Pow'r disdains,

And thousands more in equal Mirth maintains.

Hear me, and touch Belinda with Chagrin;

That single Act gives half the World the Spleen.

This morning, Ere Phoebus rose, Lord Petre had implor'd

Propitious Heav'n, and ev'ry Pow'r ador'd,   

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 Billet-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 give Ear, and grant but half the Pray'r,               

The rest, the Winds disperse in empty Air.

A wondrous Bag with both her Hands she binds,                  

Like that where once Ulysses held the Winds;                    

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.    

    O wretched Maid!

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 tort'ring Irons wreath'd around!

Not youthful Kings in Battle seiz'd alive,

Not scornful Virgins who their Charms survive,

Not Tyrants fierce that unrepenting die,

Not Cynthia when her Manteau’s pinned awry,

E'er felt such Rage, Resentment and Despair,

As Thou, sad Virgin!  for thy ravish'd Hair.


Oh blindness to the future! kindly giv'n!                      

That each may fill the circle mark'd by Heav'n;

Who sees with equal eye, as God of all,

A hero perish, or a sparrow fall,

Atoms or systems into ruin hurl'd,

And now a bubble burst, and now a world.

Hope humbly then; with trembling pinions soar;

Wait the great teacher Death, and God adore!

What future bliss, he gives not thee to know,

But gives that Hope to be thy blessing now.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast:

Man never Is, but always To be blest

The soul, uneasy and confin'd from home,

Rests and expatiates in a life to come 



Let Wreaths of Triumph now my Temples twine,       

I am victorious, the glorious Prize is mine!

While Fish in Streams, or Birds delight in Air,

Or in a Coach and Six the British Fair,

While Nymphs take Treats, or Assignations give,

So long my Honour, Name, and Praise shall live!

"My Lord, why, what the Devil?     

"Z-ds! damn the Lock! 'fore Gad, you must be civil!

"Plague on 't! 'tis past a Jest - nay prithee, Pox!

"Give her the Hair"

It grieves me much  

Who speaks so well shou'd ever speak in vain.

But by this Lock, this sacred Lock I swear,

Which never more shall join its parted Hair,

That while my Nostrils draw the vital Air,

This Hand, which won it, shall for ever wear.

Not half so fixt the Trojan could remain,

While Anna begg'd and Dido rag'd in vain.

For ever curs'd be this detested Day,

Which snatched my best, my fav'rite Curl away!

Happy! ah ten times happy, had I been,

If Hampton-Court these Eyes had never seen!                                                                                    

How sad the pitying Audience melts in Tears,  

But Fate and Jove have stopp'd the Baron's  Ears.

Oh had I rather un-admir'd remain'd

In some lone Isle, or distant Northern Land;

There kept my Charms conceal'd from mortal Eye,

Like Roses that in Desarts bloom and die.


Gods! shall the Ravisher display your Hair,                           

While the Fops envy, and the Ladies stare!  

And shall this Prize, th'inestimable Prize,

Expos'd through Crystal to the gazing Eyes,

And heighten'd by the Diamond's circling Rays,

On that Rapacious Hand for ever blaze?

Sooner let Earth, Air, Sea, to Chaos fall,                                    

Men, Monkies, Lap-dogs, Parrots, perish all!  

What mov'd my Mind with youthful Lords to roam?

O had I stay'd, and said my Pray'rs at home

See the poor Remnants of these slighted Hairs!

My hands shall rend what ev'n thy Rapine spare

In Love the Victors from the Vanquish'd fly;

They fly that wound, and they pursue that dye.

Oh hadst thou, Cruel!  been content to seize

Hairs less in sight, or any Hairs but these!

[ “You wish ...”]  

Ah, ah, choo!



Now meet thy Fate,  oh most insulting Foe!     

Thou by some other shalt be laid as low!      

Restore the Lock!  

Restore the Lock!       


But see how oft Ambitious Aims are cross'd,

And Chiefs contend 'till all the Prize is lost!

The Lock, obtain'd with Guilt, and kept with Pain,

In ev'ry place is sought, but sought in vain:

With such a Prize no Mortal must be blest,

So Heav'n decrees! with Heav'n who can contest?

A sudden Star, it shoots through liquid Air,

And draws behind a radiant Trail of Hair.

This the Beau-monde shall from the Mall survey,

And hail with Musick its propitious Ray.

Then cease, bright Nymph! to mourn thy ravish'd Hair

Which adds new Glory to the shining Sphere!

For, after all the Murders of your Eye,

When, after Millions slain, your self shall die;

When those fair Suns shall sett, as sett they must,

And all those Tresses shall be laid in Dust;

     This Lock, the Muse shall consecrate to Fame,

     And mid'st the Stars inscribe Belinda's Name




[as Lords are being served coffee, same music as "that was the merry flutter"]

(spoken)                               PLUME

You know of course that the great anatomist, Dr. Thomas Willis observed that Coffee makes men paralytic and so slackens the sinews and nerves that they become unfit for those sports and excercises of the bed that are necessary to the recreations of their wives.   In Persia the wives do serve it in order to avoid the inconveniences of having many children.

(spoken)                             FIRST LORD

And the famous Dr. Duncan says that the most mischievous quality of coffee is the heat it occasions by its many sharp, subtile, and volatile parts, whereby it chiefly threatens the liver. 

(spoken)                             SECOND LORD

No, no, that is all completely false!  The illustrious Dr. Richard Bradley of the Royal Society has established beyond a doubt that Coffee is only harmful to those who have Vapours, Melancholy or hot brains.  Coffee is very beneficial for those with cold and moist constitutions.  It is known to cure Consumptions, Swooning fits, Migraine, Vertigo, Lethargy, and the Rickets.  It helps digestion and gives life and gaity to the spirits.        

I thought as much myself!       LORDS

           from “Coffee, Sex and Health” by Ian Bersten



(spoken)                             BELINDA                       

“In Vienna - a lady is never invited to dinner     

without her husband and  her lover!”

(spoken)                             LADIES

Both?   And she sits between the two!               

I’ll have to see for myself  ...  Lady Mary!




Libretto and poetic liberties by Deborah Mason






“Essay on Man”) 

Chorus offstage.


















3 SYLPHS entering

BARON aside









Curtain,  Intermission



(from Sir

Fopling Flutter)









The Spectator






















clips the Lock















turns to scan audience


ARIEL  aside










Curtain rises.



















moment of silence




Final Curtain.


Coffee Scene




      18C Snuff-boxes


              18C  Fans


The Game of Ombre


Burton’s Anatomy of



Admiral Lord Nelson   

  Battle of Trafalgar, 1805



Cast loose your gun!

Level your gun!

Take out your tampion!


Run out your gun!

Point your gun!


Worm and sponge!

Load with cartridge!

Load with shot and

   wad to your shot!

Ram home shot and wad!

Put in your tampion!

House your gun!

Secure your gun!