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BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial spirits live inspher'd.
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot, 5
Which men call earth, and with low-thoughted

Confin'd, and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that virtue gives
After this mortal change to her true servants

Amongst the enthron'd gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key,
That opes the palace of eternity:
To such my errand is; and but for such, 15
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.

But to my task. Neptune besides the sway Of every sast flood, and each ebbing stream, Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove 20 Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles, That like to rich and various gems inlay The unadorned bosom of the deep, Which he to grace his tributary gods By course commits to several government, 25 And gives them leave to wear their sapphire

crowns, And wield their little tridents: but this Isle, The greatest and the best of all the main, He quarters to his blue-hair'd deities; And all this tract that fronts the falling sun 30 A noble peer of mickle trust and power Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide An old, and haughty nation proud in arms: Where his fair offspring nurs'd in princely lore Are coming to attend their father's state, 35 And new-intrusted sceptre; but their way Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood The nodding horror of whose shady brows

Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger;
And here their tender age inight suffer peril, 40
But that by quick command from sov'reign Jove
I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard :
And listen why, for I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower. 45

Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transform'd,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell : (Who knows not Circe 50
The daughter of the Sun? whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward' fell into a groveling swine)
This Nymph that gaz'd upon his clust'ring locks,
With ivy-berries wreath'd, and his blithe youth, 55
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son,
Much like his father, but his mother inore,
Whom therefore, she brought up, and Comus
Who ripe, and frolic of his full-grown age, (nam'd,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,

60 At last betakes him to this ominous wood, And in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd Excels his mother at her mighty art, Offering to every weary traveller His orient liquor in a crystal glass,

65 To quench the drouth of Phæbus, which as they

taste, (For most do taste, through fond intemprate thirst) Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance, Th'express resemblance of the gods, is chang'd Into some brutish form of wolf, or bear, 70 Or ounce, or tyger, hog, or bearded goat, All other parts remaining as they were ; And they, so perfect is their misery, Not once perceive their foul disfigurement, But boast themselves more comely than before, 75 And all their friends and native home forget, To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty;

• Milton seems in this poem to have imitated Shakspeare's manner more than in any other of his works; and it was very natural for a young author, preparing a piece for the stage, to propose to himself for a pattern the most celebrated master

of English dramatic poetry. He has likewise very closely imitated several passages in Beaumont and Fletcher's play of The Faithless Shepherdess.

Therefore when any favour'd of high Jove

And give it false presentments, lest the place Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade, And my quaint habits breed astonishment, Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star

80 And put the damsel to suspicious flight, I shoot from heaven, to give him safe convoy, Which must not be, for that's against my course : As now I do: But first I must put off

I under fair pretence of friendly ends, 160 These my sky robes spun out of Iris woof,

And well plac'd words of glozing courtesy And take the weeds and likeness of a swain,

Baited with reasons not unplausible, That to the service of this house belongs,

85 Wind me into the easy-hearted man, Who with his soft pipe, and smooth-dittied And hug him into snares. When once her eye song,

Hath met the virtue this magic dust, 165
Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar, I shall appear some harmless villager,
And hush the waving woods, nor of less faith, Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear.
And in this office of his mountain watch,

But here she comes, I fairly step aside,
Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid 90 And hearken, if I may, her business here.
Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
Of hateful steps, I must be viewless now.

The Lady enters.
Comus enters with a charming-rod in one hand, his This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,

170 glass in the other ; with him a rout of monsters, My best guide now; methought it was the sound headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts, but other of riot and ill-manag'd merriment, wise like men and women, their apparel glister. Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe ing; they come in making a riotous and unruly Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds, 174 noise, with torches in their hands.

When for their teeming flocks and granges full,

In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan Comus. The star that bids the shepherd fold, And thank the gods amiss. I should be loath Now the top of heaven doth hold,

To meet the rudeness, and swill'd insolence And the gilded car of day

95 Of such late wassailers; yet 0 where else His glowing axle doth allay

Shall I inform my unacquainted feet

180 In the steep Atlantic stream,

In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? And the slope sun his upward beam

My Brothers when they saw me wearied out Shoots against the dusky pole,

With this long way, resolving here to lodge Pacing toward the other goal

100 Under the spreading favour of these pines, Of his chamber in the east.

Stepp'd, as they said, to the next thicket side 185 Meanwhile welcome joy, and feast,

To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit Midnight shout, and revelry,

As the kind hospitable woods provide. Tipsy dance, and jollity;

They left me then when the gray-hooded even, Braid your locks with rosy twine, 105 Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,

189 Dropping odours, dropping wine.

Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phobus' wain. Rigour now is gone to bed,

But where they are, and why they came not back, And Advice with scrupulous head,

Is now the labour of my thoughts; likeliest Strict Age, and sour Severity

They had engag'd their wand'ring steps too far, With their grave saws in slumber lie.

110 And envious darkness, ere thy could return, 194 We that are of purer fire

Had stole them from me; else, O thievish Night, Imitate the starry choir,

Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end, Who in their nightly watchful spheres,

In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars, Lead in swift round the months and years.

That nature hung in heaven, and fill'd their lamps The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove, With everlasting oil, to give due light Now to the inoon in wavering morrice move; 116 To the misled and lonely traveller?

200 And on the tawny sands and shelves

This is the place, as well as I may guess, Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves.

Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth By dimpled brook, and fountain brim,

Was rife, and perfect in my list'ning ear, The wood-nymphs dece'd with daisies trim, 120 Yet nought but single darkness do I find. Their merry wakes and pastimes keep:

What might this be? A thousand fantasies 205 What hath night to do with sleep?

Begin to throng into my memory, Night hath better sweets to prove,

Of calling shapes, and beck'ning shadows dire, Venus now wakes, and wakens Love.

And airy tongues, that syllable men's names Come let us our rítes begin,


On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses. 'Tis only day-light that makes sin,

These thoughts may startle well, but not astour.d Which these dun shades will ne'er report.

The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended 211 Hail goddess of nocturnal sport,

By a strong siding champion, Conscience. Dark-veil'd Cotytto, to' whom the secret flame welcome pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope, Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame, 130 Thou hovering angel girt with

golden wings, That ne'er art call'd, but when the dragon womb And thou unblemish'd form of Chastity; 215 Of Stygian darkness spits her thickest gloom, I see you visibly, and now believe And makes one blot of all the air,

That he, the Supreme Good, to' whom all things ill Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,

Are but as slavish officers of vengeance, Wherein thou rid'st with Hecat', and befriend 135 Would send a glist'ring guardian if need were Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end

To keep my life and honour unassail'd. 220 Of all thy dues be done, and none left out,

Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud Ere the blabbing eastern scout,

Turn forth her silver lining on the night? The nice morn on th' Indian steep

I did not err, there does a sable cloud From her cabin'd loop-hole peep,

140 Turn forth her silver lining on the night, And to the tell-tale sun descry

And casts a gleam over this tufted grove. 225 Our conceal'd solemnity.

I cannot halloo to my Brothers, but Come, knit hands, and beat the ground

Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest In a light fantastic round.

I'll venture, for my new enliven'd spirits

Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off. The Measure.

SONG. Break off, break off, I feel the different pace 145 Of some chaste footing near about this ground. Sweet Echo, swcetest nymph, that liv'st unseen 250 Run to your shrouds, within these brakes and trees; Within thy airy shell, Our number may affright: Some virgin sure

By slow Meander's margent green, (For so I can distinguish by mine art)

And in the violet-embroider'd vale, Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms, Where the lovelorn nightingale And to my wily trains; I siiall ere long 151 Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well; 235 Be well stock'd with as fair a herd as graz'd Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair About my mother Circe. Thus I huri

That likest thy Narcissus are? My dazzling spells into the spungy air,

O if thou have of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion, 155! Hid them in some flowery cave,

Tell me but where,

240 Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere, With smoky rafters, than in tap'stry halls

So may'st thou be translated to the skies, And courts of princes, where it first was nam'd, 325 And give resounding grace to all heaven's har. And yet is most pretended: In a place monies.

Less warranted than this, or less secure,

I cannot be, that I should fear to change it. Comus. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould Eye me, bless'd Providence, and square my trial Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment ? 245 To my proportion'd strength. Shepherd, lead Sure something holy lodges in that breast,


330 And with these raptures moves the vocal air To testify his hidden residence:

The two Brothers. How sweetly did they float upon the wings Of silence, through the empty vaulted night, 250 Eld. Bro. Unmuffle, ye faint stars, and thou, At every fall smoothing the raven down

fair moon, Of darkness till it smil'd! I have oft heard

That wont'st to love the traveller's benizon, My mother Circe with the Sirens three,

Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud, Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades

And disinherit Chaos, that

reigns here Culling their potent herbs, and baleful drugs, 255 In double night of darkness, and of shades; 335 Who as they sung, would take the prison'd soul, Or if your influence be quite damm'd up And lap it in Elysium; Scylla wept,

With black usurping mists, some gentle taper, And chid her barking waves into attention,

Though a rush candle from the wicker hole
And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause : Of some clay habitation, visit us
Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense,

260 With thy long levellid rule of streaming light, 340 And in sweet madness robb'd it of itself:

And thou shalt be our star of Arcady, But such a sacred, and homefelt delight,

Or Tyrian Cynosure. Such sober certainty of waking bliss

2. Bro. Or if our eyes I never heard till now. I'll speak to her,


Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear And she shall be my queen. Hail, foreign wonder, The folded flocks penn'd in their wattled cotes, Whom certain these rough shades did never breed, Or sound of pastral reed with oaten stops, 315 Unless the goddess that in rural shrine

Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock Dwell'st here with Pan, or Silvan by bless'd song Count the night watches to his feathery dames, Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog

269 "Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering To touch the prosp'rous growth of this tall wood. In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.

Lady. Nay, gentle Shepherd, ill is lost that praise But O that hapless virgin, our lost Sister, 330 That is address'd to unattending ears;

Where may she wander now, whither bétake her Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift

From the chilldew, amongst rude burs and thistles ? How to regain my sever'd company,

Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now, Compellid me to awake the courteous Echo


Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm To give me answer from her mossy couch.

Leans her unpillow'd head fraught with sad fears. Com. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft you What if in wild amazement, and affright, 336 thus ?

Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp Lady. Dim darkness and this leafy labyrinth. Of savage hunger, or of savage heat ? Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering Eld. Bro. Peace, Brother, be not over-exquisite guides? To cast the fashion of uncertain evils;

360 Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf. 280 For grant they be so, while they rest unknown, Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why? What need a man forestall his date of grief, Lady. To seek i' 'th' valley some cool friendly And run to meet what he would most avoid ? spring.

Or if they be but false alarms of fear, Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady? How bitter is such self-delusion?

365 Lady. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick I do not think my sister so to seek, return.


Or so unprincipled in virtue's book, Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them. And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever, Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit!

As that the single want of light and noise Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need ? (Not being in danger, as I trust she is not) 370 Lady. No less than if I should my brothers lose. Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts, Com. Were they of manly prime; or youthful And put them into misbecoming plight. bloom?

289 Virtue could see to do what virtue would Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. By her own radiant light, though sun and moon

Com. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox Were in the flat sea sunk. And wisdom's self 375 In his loose traces from the furrow came,

Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude, And the swink'd hedger at his supper sat;

Where with her best nurse contemplation I saw them under a green mantling vine

She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings, That crawls along the side of yon small hill, 295 That in the various bustle of resort Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots; Were all too rutiled, and sometimes impair'd. 380 Their port was more than human, as they stood : He that has light within his own clear breast I took it for a fairy vision

May sit i' th' centre, and enjoy bright day: Of some gay creatures of the element,

But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts, That in the colours of the rainbow live, 300 Benighted walks under the mid-day sun; And play i' th' plighted clouds. I was awe-struck, Himself is his own dungeon.

385 And as I pass'd, I worshipp'd; if those you seek,

2. Bro. Tis most true, It were a journey like the path to heaven,

That musing meditation most affects To help you find them.

The pensive

secresy of desert cell, Lady. Gentle villager,

304 Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds, What readiest way would bring me to that place? And sits as safe as in the senate house; 390

Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point. For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,

Lady. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose, His few books or his beads, or maple dish, In such a scant allowance of star-light,

Or do his gray hairs any violence Would overtask the best land-pilot's art,

But beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree Without the sure guess of well-practis'd feet. 310 Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard 395

Com. I know each lane, and every alley green, Of dragon-watch with unenchanted eye, Dingle or bushy dell of this wild wood,

To save her blossoms, and defend And every bosky bourn from side to side,

From the rash hand of bold incontinence. My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood; You may as well spread out the unsunn'd heaps And if your stray-attendants be yet lodgid, 315 Of miser's treasure by an outlaw's den,

400 Or shroud within these limits, I shall know

And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark

Danger will wink on opportunity, From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise And let a single helpless maiden pass I can conduct you, Lady, to a low,

Uninjur'd in this wild surrounding waste. But loyal cottage, where you may be safe 320 Of night, or loneliness it recks me not; 405 Till further quest.

I fear the dread events that dog them both, Lady. Shepherd I take thy word,

Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,

Of our unowned Sister.

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Eld. Bro. I do not, Brother,

Spir. What voice is that? my young lord ? Infer, as if I thought my Sister's state


speak again. Secure without all doubt, or controversy :

2. Bro. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure. Yet where an equal poise of hope and fear

Eld. Bro. Thyrsis? whose artful strains have Does arbitrate th' event, my nature is

oft delay'd

501 That I incline to hope, rather than fear,

The huddling brook to hear his madrigal, And gladly banish squint suspicion.

415 And sweeten'd every musk-rose of the dale. My Sister is not so defenceless left

How cam'st thou here, good swain? hath any ram As you imagine; she has a hidden strength Slipp'd from the fold, or young kid lost his dam, Which you remember not.

Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ? 506 2. Bro. What hidden strength,

419 How couldst thou find this dark sequester'd nook? Unless the strength of heaven, if you mean that? Spir. O my lov'd master's heir, and his next joy, Eld. Bro. I mean that too, but yet a hidden I came not here on such a trivial toy strength,

As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth 510 Which if heaven gave it, may be term'd her own, Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth 'Tis chastity, my Brother, chastity:

That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought She that has that, is clad in complete steel, 425 To this my errand, and the care it brought. And like a quiverd nymph with arrows keen But, O my virgin Lady, where is she? May trace huge forests, and unharbour'd heaths, How chance she is not in your company? 515 Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds,

Eld. Bro. To tell thee sadly, Shepherd, without Where through the sacred rays of chastity,

blame, No savage fierce, bandit, or mountaineer 430 Or our neglect, we lost her as we came. Will dare to soil her virgin purity:

Spir. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true. Yea there, where very desolation dwells

Eld. Bró. What fears, good Thyrsis ? Prythee By grots, and caverns shagg'd with horrid shades,

briefly show. She may pass on with unblench'd majesty,

Spir. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous, 520 Be it not done in pride, or in presumption. 435 (Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance) Some say no evil thing Wiat walks by night, What the sage poets, taught by th' heavenly muse, In fog, or fire, by lake or moorish fen,

Story'd of old in high immortal verse, Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,

Of dire chimeras and enchanted isles, That breaks his magic chains at curfew time, And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to hell; 525 No goblin, or swart fairy of the mine, 440 For such there be, but unbelief is blind. Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.

Within the navel of this hideous wood, Do ye believe ine yet, or shall I call

Immur'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells, Antiquity from the old schools of Greece

Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus, To testify the arms of chastity ?

Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries, 530 Hence had the

huntress Dian her dread bow, 445 And here to every thirsty wanderer, Fair silver-shafted queen, for ever chaste,

By sly enticement gives his baneful cup, Wherewith she tam'd the brinded lioness

With many murmurs mix'd, whose pleasing poison And spotted mountain pard, but set at nought The visage quite transforms of him that drinks, The frivolous bolt of Cupid ; gods and men (woods, And the inglorious likeness of a beast

535 Fear'd her stern frown, and she was queen o'th' Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield, Character'd in the face; this have I learn'd That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin, Tending my flocks hard by i' th' hilly crofts Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone, That brow this bottom glade, whence night by night But rigid looks of chaste austerity,

He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl 540 And noble grace that dash'd brute violence 455 Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey, With sudden adoration, and blank awe?

Doing abhorred rites to Hecate So dear to heaven is saintly chastity,

In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers. That when a soul is found sincerely so,

Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells, A thousand liveried angels lacky her,

To inveigle and invite th' unwary sense 545 Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,


Of them that pass unweeting by the way; And in clear dream, and solemn vision,

This evening late, by then the chewing flocks Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear, Had ta'en their supper on the savoury herb Till oft converse with heavenly habitants

Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold, Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape, I sat me down to watch upon a bank

550 The unpolluted temple of the mind,

465 With ivy canopied, and interwove
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence, With flaunting honey-suckle, and began,
Till all be made immortal : but when lust,

Wrapp'd in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk, To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,

Till fancy had her fill, but ere a close

555 Lets in defilement to the inward parts, 470 The wonted roar was up amidst the woods, The soul grows clotted by contagion,

And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance ; Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose

At which I ceas'd, and listend them awhile, The divine property of her first being.

Till an unusual stop of sudden silence Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp Gave respite to the drowsy-flighted steeds, 560 Oft scen in charnel vaults and sepulchres, 475 That draw the litter of close-curtain'd sleep; Ling'ring, and sitting by a new made grave, At last a soft and solemn breathing-sound As loath to leave the body that it lov'd,

Rose like a steain of rich distill'd perfumes, And link'd itself by carnal sensuality

And stole upon the air, that even Silence To a degenerate and degraded state.

Was took ere she was 'ware, and wish'd she might 2. Bro. How charming is divine philosophy! 480 Deny her nature, and be never inore

306 Not harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, Still to be so displac'd. I was all ear, But musical as is Apollo's lute,

And took in strains that might create a soul And a perpetual feast of nectard sweets,

Under the ribs of death: but oh! ere long Where no crude surfeit reigns.

Too well I did perceive it was the voice 370 Eld. Bro. List, list, I hear

485 Of my most honour'd Lady, your dear sister. Some far-off halloo break the silent air.

Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear, 2. Bro. Methought so too; what should it be ? And () poor hapless nightingale, thought I, Eld. Bro. For certain

How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare. Either some one like us night-founder'd here, Then down the lawns í ran with headlong haste, Or else some neighbour wood-man, or at worst, 490 Through paths and turnings often trod by day, 576 Some roving robber calling to his fellows.

Till guided by mine ear I found the place, 2. Bro. Heaven keep my Sister Again, again, and Where that damn'd wizard hid in sly disguise Best draw, and stand upon our guard. (near; (For so by certain signs I knew) bad met Eld. Bro. I'll halloo;

Already, ere iny best speed could prevent, 580 If he be friendly, he comes well; If not, 495 The aidiess innocent Lady, his wish'd prey, Defence is a good cause, and heaven be for us. Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two,

Supposing him some neighbour villager, The attendant Spirit, habited like a Shepherd. Longer 1 durst not stay, but soon I guess'd 589

Ye were the two she nieant; with that I sprung That halloo I should know, what are you? speak; Into swift flight, till I had found you here, Come not ton near, you fall on iron stakes else. But further know I not.

2. Bro. O night and shades,

And you a statue, or as Daphne was How are ye join' with hell in triple knot,

Root-bound, that fled Apollo. Against th' unarmed wealness of one virgin

Lady. Fool, do not boast, Alone, and helpless! Is this the confidence 590 Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind 674 You gave me, Brother?

With all thy charms, although this corporal rind Elå. Bro. Yes, and keep it still,

Thou hast immanacled, while heaven sees good. Lean on it safely; not a period

Com. Why are you vex'd, hady? Why do ye Shall be unsaid for me: against the threats

frown? Of malice or of sorcery, or that power

Here dwell no frowns, nor anger; from these gates Which erring men call Chance, this I hold firm, Sorrow flies far: See here be all the pleasures Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt, 596 That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts,

680 Surpris'd by unjust force, but not inthralld; When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns Yea even that which mischief meant most harm, Brisk as the April buds in primrose-season. Shall in the happy trial prove most glory ;

And first behold this cordial julap here, But evil on itself shall back recoil,

600 That flames and dances in his crystal bounds, Ind mix no more with goodness, when at last With spirits of balm, and fragrant syrups mix'd. Gather'd like scum, and settled to itself,

Not that Nepenthes, which the wife of Thone 686 It shall be in eternal restless change

In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena, Self-fed, and self-consumed: if this fail,

Is of such power to stir up joy as this, The pillar'd firmament is rottenness,

605 To life so friendly, or so cool to thirst, And earth's base built on stubble. But come let's on. Why should you be so cruel to yourself, 690 Against th' opposing will and arm of Heaven And to those dainty limbs which nature lent May never this just sword be lifted up;

For gentle usage, and soft delicacy? But for that damn'd magician, let him be girt

But you invert the covenants of her trust, With all the grisly legions that troop


And harshly deal like an ill borrower Under the sooty flag of Acheron,

With that which you receiv'd on other terms, 695 Harpies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms Scorning the unexempt condition Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out,

By which all mortal frailty may subsist,
And force him to restore his purchase back,

Refreshment after toil, ease after pain,
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death, 615 That have been tir'd all day without repast,
Curs'd as his life.

And timely rest have wanted; but, fair virgin, 700 Spir. Alas! good vent'rous youth,

This will restore all soon. I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise ;

Luly. "Twill not, false traitor, But here thy sword can do thee little stead; 'Twill not restore the truth and honesty Far other arms, and other weapons must 620 That thou hast banish'd from thy tongue with Be those that quell the might of hellish charms:

lies. He with his bare wand can unthread thy joints, Was this the cottage, and the safe abode 705 and crumble all thy sinews.

Thou told'st me of? what grim aspects are these, Eld. Bro. Why prythee, Shepherd,

These ugly-headed monsters ? Mercy guard me! How durst thou then thyself approach so near, 525

Hence with thy brew'd enchantments, foul deceiver; As to make this relation ?

Hast thou betray'd my credulous innocence

With visor'd falsehood, and base forgery? 710 Spir. Care and utmost shifts How to secure the Lady from surprisal,

And wouldst thou seek again to trap me here Brought to my mind a certain shepherd lad, With liquorish baits fit to ensnare a brute ? Of small regard to see to, yet well skill'd 630 Were it a draft for Juno when she banquets, In every virtuous plant and healing herb,

I would not taste thy treasonous offer; none That spreads her verdant leaf to th' morning ray:

But such as are good men can give good things, 715 He lov'd me well, and oft would beg me sing, And that which is not good is not delicious Which when I did, he on the tender grass

To a well-govern'd and wise appetite. Would sit and harken e'en to ecstacy,


Com. O foolishness of men ! 'that lend their ears And in requital ope his leathern scrip,

To those budge doctors of the Stoic

fur, And show me simples of a thousand names, And fetch their precepts from the Cynic tub, 720 Telling their strange and vigorous faculties: Praising the lean and sallow abstinence. Amongst the rest a small unsightly root,

Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth, But of divine effect, he cull'd me out;

With such a full and unwithdrawing hand, The leaf was darkish, and had prickles on it, Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks, But in another country, as he said,

Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable, 725 Bore a bright golden flower, but not in this


But all to please and sate the curious taste? Unknown, and like esteem'd, and the dull swain And set to work millions of spinning worms, Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon; 645 That in their green shops weave the smooth-hair'd And yet more med'cinal is it than that Moly

silk, That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;

To deck her sons; and that no corner might He call'd it Hæmony, and gave it me,

Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loins 730 and bade me keep it as of sov'reign use

She hutch'd th' all worshipp'd ore, and precious "Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or

To store her children with: if all the world [gems Or ghastly furies' apparition.

651 Should in a pet of temp'rance feed on pulse, I purs'd it up, but little reck'ning made,

Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but Till now that this extremity compellid:


(prais'd, But now I find it true; for by this means

Th' all-giver would be unthank'd, would be un I knew the foul enchanter though disguis'd, 655

Not half his riches known, and yet despis'd,

736 Enter'd the very lime-twigs of his spells,

And we should serve him

as a grudging master, And yet came off: if you have this about you, As a penurious niggard of his wealth, (As I will give you when we go) you may

And live like Nature's bastards, not her sons, Boldly assault the necromancer's hall;

Who would be quite surcharg'd with her own Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood, 660


740 And brandish'd blade rush on him, break his glass, And strangled with her waste fertility, And shed the luscious liquor on the ground, Th' earth cumber'd, and the wing'd air dark'd with But seize his wand; though he and his curs'd crew

plumes, Fierce sign of battle make, and menace high, The herds would over-multitude their lords, Or like the sons of Vulcan vomit smoke, 665 The sea o'erfraught would swell, and th' unsought Yet will they soon retire, if he but shrink.

diamonds Eld. Bro. Thyrsis, lead on apace, I'll follow thee, Would so emblaze the forehead of the deep, 745 And some good angel bear a shield before us. And so bestud with stars, that they below

Would grow inur'd to light, and come at last The scéne changes to a stately palace, set out with all To gaze upon the sun with shameless brows.

manner of deliciousness : soft music, tables spread List, Lady, be not coy, and be not cozen'd with all dainties. Comus appears with his rabble, With that same vaunted name virginity. 750 and the Lady set in an enchanted chair, to whom he Beauty is Nature's coin, must not be hoarded, offers his glass, which she puts by, and goes about But must be current, and the good thereof to rise.

Consists in mutual and partaken bliss,

Unsavoury in th' enjoyment of itself; Com. Nay, Lady, sit; if I but wave this wand, If you let slip time, like a neglected rose 755 Your nerves are all chain'd up in alabaster, 670 It withers on the stalk with languish'd head.


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