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May sit i' th' centre, and enjoy bright day : Hence had the huntress Dian her dread bow, But he that bides a dark soul, and foul thoughts, Fair silver-shafted queen, for ever chaste, Benighted walks under the mid-day sun :
Wherewith she tam'd the brinded lioness Ilimself is his own dungeon.
And spotted mountain pard, but set at nought Y. Bro. 'Tis most true,
The frivolous bolt of Cupid; Gods and men That musing meditation most affects
Fear'd her stern frown, and she was Queen o'th' The pensive secresy of desert cell,
Whatwas that snaky-headed Gorgon shield (Woods. Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds, That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin, And sits as safe as in a senate-house;
Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone, For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,
But rigid looks of chaste austerity, His few books, or his beads, or maple dish,
And noble grace that dash'd brute violence Or do his grey hairs any violence ?
With sudden adoration, and blank awe? But beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree
So dear to Heav'n is saintly chastity, Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
That when a soul is found sincerely so, Of dragon-watch, with uninchanted eye,
A thousand liveried angels lackey her, To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And in clear dream, and solemn vision,
Till oft converse with heav'nly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape, Danger will wink on opportunity,
The unpolluted temple of the mind, And let a single helpless maiden pass
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence, Uninjur’d in this wild surrounding waste.
Till all be made immortal : but when lust, Of night or loneliness it recks me not ;
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk, I fear the dread events that dog them both,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin, Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person Lets in defilement to the inward parts, Of our unowned sister.
The soul grows clotted by contagion, E. Bro. I do not, brother,
Imbodies and imbrutes, till she quite lose Infer, as if I thought my sister's state
The divine property of her first being. Secure without all doubt, or controversy.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp, Yet where an equal poise of hope and fear
Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres, Does arbitrate th' event, my nature is
Ling’ring and sitting by a new-made grave, That I incline to hope rather than fear,
As loth to leave the body that it lov’d, And gladly banish squint suspicion.
And link'd itself by carnal sensuality My sister is not so defenceless left
To a degenerate and degraded state. As you imagine; she has a hidden strength
Y. Bro. How charming is divine philosophy! Which you remember not.
Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute.
Where no crude surfeit reigns.
E. Bro. List, list, I hear 'Tis chastity, my brother, chastity:
Some far off halloo break the silent air. She that has that, is clad in complete steel,
Y. Bro. Methought so too; what should it be? And like a quiver'd nymph with arrows keen
E. Bro. For certain, May trace hugh forests, and unharbour'd heaths, Either some one like us night-founder'd here, Infamous hills and sandy perilous wilds,
Or else some neighbour woodman, or at worst Where, through the sacred rays of chastity,
Some roving robber calling to his fellows. No savage fierce, bandit, or mountaineer
Y. Bro. Heav'n keep my sister. Again, again, and Will dare to soil her virgin purity:
Best draw, and stand upon our guard. [near; Yea there, where very desolation dwells,
E. Bro. I'll halloo;
Defence is a good cause, and Heav'n be for us.
The attendant Spirit, habited like a Shepherd. In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen,
That halloo I should know ; what are you? speak; Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else. That breaks his magic chains at curfeu time,
Spi. What voice is that? My young lord ? Speak No goblin, or swart fairy of the mine
again. Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.
Y. Bro. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure, Do ye believe me yet, or shall I call
E. Bro. Thyrsis? whose artful strains have oft Antiquity from the old schools of Greece
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal, [delay'd To testify the arms of chastity?
And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale.
How cam'st thou here, good swain ? hath any ram Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might
Spi. O my lov'd master's heir, and his next joy, Under the ribs of death: but O ere long
Too well I did perceive it was the voice As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Of my most honour'd lady, your dear sister. Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear, That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought And O poor hapless nightingale thought I, To this my errand, and the care it brought. How sweet thou sing’st, how near the deadly snare ! But, O my virgin lady, where is she?
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste, How chance she is not in your company?
Through paths and turnings often trod by day, E. Bro. To tell thee sadly, shepherd, without Till guided by mine ear I found the place Or our neglect, we lost her as we came. (blame,
Where that damn’d wizard hid in sly disguise Spi. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true. (For so by certain signs I knew) had met E. Bro. What fears, good Thyrsis : Prythee Already, ere my best speed could prevent, briefly shew.
The aidless innocent lady, his wish'd prey, Spi. I'll tell you ; 'tis not vain or fabulous ; Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two, (Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance) Supposing him some neighbour villager. What the sage poets, taught by th' heav'nly Muse, Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess’d Story'd of old in high immortal verse,
Ye were the two she meant: with that I sprung Of dire chimeras and inchanted isles,
Into swift flight, till I had found you here,
Y. Bro. O night and shades,
How are ye join'd with Hell in triple knot, Immur'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells, Against th' unarmed weakness of one virgin Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus, Alone, and helpless ! is this the confidence Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries,
You gave me, brother! And here to every thirsty wanderer
E. Bro. Yes, and keep it still ;
Lean on it safely; not a period
Which erring men call chance; this I hold firm, Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage
Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt; Character'd in the face; this have I learnt
Surpris’d by unjust force, but not inthrall’d; Tending my flocks hard by i'th' hilly crofts Yea even that which mischief meant most harm, That brow this bottom glade, whence night by night Shall in the happy trial prove most glory; He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl But evil on itself shall back recoil, Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey, And mix no more with goodness, when at last Doing abhorred rites to Hecate
Gather'd like scum, and settled to itself, In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers.
It shall be in eternal restless change, Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells, Self-fed, and self-consum'd: if this fail, To inveigle and invite th’unwary sense
The pillar'd firmament is rottenness, Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
And earth's base builton stubble. Butcome, let'son; This evening late, by then the chewing flocks Against th' opposing will and arm of Heav'n Had ta'en their supper on the savory herb
May never this just sword be lifted up; Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold, But for that damn'd magician, let him be girt I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With all the grisly legions that troop With ivy canopied, and interwove
Under the sooty flag of Acheron, With slanting honeysuckle, and began,
Harpies and hydras, or all the monstrous forms Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
'Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out, To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
And force him to restore his purchase back, Till fancy had her fill, but ere a close
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death, The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
Curs'd as his life.
Spi. Alas! good vent'rous youth,
But here thy sword can do thee little stead;
Far other arms, and other weapons must That draw the litter of close curtain'd sleep: Be those that quell the might of hellish charms: At last a soft and solemn breathing sound
He with his bare wand can unthread thy joints, Rose like a steam of rich distill'd perfumes,
And crumble all thy sinews. And stole upon the air, that even silence
E. Bro. Why, prythee, shepherd,
How durst thou then thyself approach so near,
Sorrow flies far: see here be all the pleasures As to make this relation ?
That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts, Spi. Care and utmost shifts
When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns How to secure the lady from surprisal,
Brisk as the April buds in primrose season.
That flames and dances in his chrystal bounds, In every virtuous plant, and healing herb,
With sp'rits of balm and fragrant syrups mix'd, That spreads her verdant leaf to th' morning ray: Not that Nepenthes, which the wife of Thone, He lov'd me well, and oft would beg me sing, In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena, Which when I did, he on the tender grass
Is of such power to stir up joy as this, Would sit, and hearken even to extasy,
To life so friendly, or so cool to thirst. And in requital ope his leathern scrip,
Why should you be so cruel to yourself, And shew me simples of a thousand names,
And to those dainty limbs which nature lent Telling their strange and vigorous faculties: For gentle usage and soft delicacy ? Among the rest a small unsightly root,
But you invert the covenants of her trust, But of divine effect, he cull'd me out ;
And harshly deal like an ill borrower
Scorning the unexempt condition
That have been tir'd all day without repast, And yet more med'cinal is it than that moly And timely rest have wanted; but, fair virgin, That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;
This will restore all soon. He call'd it hemony, and gave it me,
Lady. 'Twill not, false traitor ; And bade me keep it as of sov’reign use
'Twill not restore the truth and honesty 'Gainst all inchantments, mildew, blast, or damp, That thou hast banish'd from thy tongue with lies. Or ghastly furies' apparition.
Was this the cottage, and the safe abode I purs'd it up, but little reck’ning made,
Thou told'st me of? What grim aspects are these, Till now that this extremity compellid:
These ugly-headed monsters: Mercy guard me! But now I find it true; for by this means
Hence with thy brew'd inchantments, foul deceiver; I knew the foul enchanter, though disguis'd, Hast thou betray'd my credulous innocence Enter'd the very lime-twigs of his spells,
With visor'd falsehood, and base forgery? And yet came off: if you have this about you, And would'st thou seek again to trap me here (As I will give you when we go) you may
With liquorish baits fit to insnare a brute ? Boldly assault the necromancer's hall;
Were it a draught for Juno when she banquets Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood
I would not taste thy treasonous offer; none And brandish'd blade rush on him, break his glass But such as are good men can give good things, And shed the luscious liquor on the ground, And that which is not good is not delicious But seize his wand; though he and his curs'd crew To a well-govern'd and wise appetite. Fierce sign of battle make, and menace high,
Comus. O foolishness of men ! that lend their Or like the sons of Vulcan vomit smoke,
To those budge doctors of the Stoic fur, [ears Yet will they soon retire, if he but shrink.
And fetch their precepts from the Cynic tub, E. Bro. Thyrsis, lead on apace, I'll follow thee, Praising the lean and sallow abstinence. And some good angel bear a shield before us. Wherefore did nature pour her bounties forth
With such a full and unwithdrawing hand, The Scene changes to a stately palace, set out with all
Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks, manner of deliciousness: soft music, tables spread Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable, with all dainties. Comus appears with his rabble,
But all to please and sate the curious taste? and the lady set in an inchanted chair, to whom he
And set to work millions of spinning worms, offers his glass, and which she puts by, and
goes That in their green shops weave the smooth-hair'd about to rise.
To deck her sons, and that no corner might (silk, Comus. Nay, lady, sit; if I but wave this wand, Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loins Your nerves are all chain'd up in alabaster,
She hutch'd th’all worship'd ore, and precious And you a statue, or as Daphne was
To store her children with : if all the world [gems Root-bound, that fled Apollo.
Should in a pet of temp’rance feed on pulse, Lady. Fool, do not boast.
Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but frieze, Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind, Th’All-giver would be unthank’d, would be unWith all thy charms, although this corporal rind prais'd; Thou hast immanacl'd, while Heav'n sees good.
Not half his riches known, and yet despis'd, Comus. Why are you vext, lady? Why do you
And we should serve him as a grudging master, frown?
As a penurious niggard of his wealth,
Who would be quite surcharg'd with her own And thou art worthy that thou shouldst not know
That hast so well been taught her dazzling fence,
Of this pure cause would kindle my rapt spirits Would so imblaze the forehead of the deep,, To such a flame of sacred vehemence, And so bestud with stars, that they below
That dumb things would be mov'd to sympathize, Would grow inur'd to light, and come at last And the brute earth would lend her nerves, and To gaze upon the sun with shameless brows,
shake, List, lady, be not coy, and be not cozen'd
'Till all thy magic structures, rear'd so high, With that same vaunted name virginity.
Were shattered into heaps o'er thy false head. Beauty is nature's coin, must not be hoarded,
Comus. She fables not; I feel that I do fear But must be current, and the good thereof
Her words set off by some superior power; Consists in mutual and partaken bliss,
And though not mortal, yet a cold shudd'ring dew L'nsavoury in th' enjoyment of itself;
Dips me all o'er, as when the wrath of Jove
Speaks thunder, and the chains of Erebus
And try her yet more strongly. Come, no more, In courts, in feasts, and high solemnities,
This is mere moral babble, and direct
I must not suffer this, 'tis but the lees
Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise, and taste.
The Brothers rush in with swords drawn, wrest his Think what, and be advis’d, you are but young yet.
glass out of his hand, and break it against the Lady. I had not thought to have unlock'd my lip
ground; his rout make sign of resistance, but are In this unhallow'd air, but that this juggler
all driven in; the attendant Spirit comes in. Would think to charm my judgment, as mine eyes, Spirit. What, have you let the false inchanter Obtruding false rules, prankt in reason's garb.
scape! I hate, when vice can bolt her arguments,
Oye mistook, ye should have snatch'd his wand, And virtue has no tongue to check her pride. And bound him fast; without his rod revers’d, Impostor, do not charge most innocent nature,
And backward mutters of dissevering power, • As if she would her children should be riotous We cannot free the lady that sits here, With her abundance; she, good cateress,
In stony fetters fix'd, and motionless: Means her provision only to the good,
Yet stay, be not disturb’d; now I bethink me, That live according to her sober laws,
Some other means I have, which may be us'd, And holy dictate of spare temperance:
Which once of Melibæus old I learnt, If every just man that now pines with want, The soothest shepherd that e'er pip'd on plains. Had but a moderate and beseeming share
There is a gentle nymph not far from hence, Of that which lewdly-pamper'd luxury
That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn Now heaps upon some few with vast excess,
Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure; (stream, Nature's full blessings would be well dispens'd Whilome she was the daughter of Locrine, In unsuperfluous even proportion,
That had the sceptre from his father Brute. And she no whit encumber'd with her store; She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit And then the giver would be better thank’d, Of her enraged stepdame Guendolen, His praise due paid; for swinish gluttony
Commended her fair innocence to the flood, Ne'er looks to Heav'n amidst his gorgeous feast, That stay'd her flight with his cross-flowing course. But with besotted base ingratitude
The water-nymphs that in the bottom play'd, Crams, and blasphemes his feeder. Shall I go on? Held up their pearled wrists, and took her in, Or have I said enough? To him that dares
Bearing her strait to aged Nereus' hall, Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words, Who, piteous of her woes, rear'd her lank head, Against the sun-clad pow'r of chastity,
And gave her to his daughters to imbathe Fain would I something say, yet to what end? In nectar'd lavers strow'd with asphodil, Thou hast nor ear nor soul to apprehend
And through the porch and inlet of each sense The sublime notion, and high mystery,
Dropt in ambrosial oils, till she reviv'd That must be utter'd to unfold the sage
And underwent a quick immortal change, And serious doctrine of virginity,
Made Goddess of the river ; still she retains
Her maiden gentleness, and oft at eve
That bends not as I tread; Visits the herds along the twilight meadows,
Gentle swain, at thy request, Helping all urchin blast, and ill-luck signs
I am here.
Spi. Goddess dear,
To undo the charmed band
Of true virgin here distrest,
Of unblest inchanter vile.
Sab. Shepherd, 'tis my office best
Brightest lady, look on me;
Thus I sprinkle on thy breast To aid a virgin, such as was herself,
Drops that from my fountain pure In hard-besetting need; this will I try,
I have kept of precious cure,
Thrice upon thy finger's tip,
Smear'd with gums of glutinous heat,
I touch with chaste palms moist and cold:
Now the spell hath lost his hold;
And I must haste ere morning hour
To wait on Amphitrite's bower.
Sabrina descends, and the Lady rises out of her seat.
Spi. Virgin, daughter of Locrine, appear to us, In name of great Oceanus;
Sprung from old Anchises' line, By th' earth-shaking Neptune's mace
May thy brimmed waves for this
Their full tribute never miss And Tethys' grave majestic pace;
From a thousand petty rills, By hoary Nereus' wrinkled look,
That tumble down the snowy bills: And the Carpathian wizard's hook;
Summer drouth, or singed air, By scaly Triton's winding shell,
Never scorch thy tresses fair,
Nor wet October's torrent flood
Thy molten chrystal fill with mud;
May thy billows roll ashore
The beryl, and the golden ore;
May thy lofty head be crown'd
With many a tower and terras round,
And here and there thy banks upon Wherewith she sits on diamond rocks
With groves of myrrhe, and cinnamon. Sleeking her soft alluring locks;
Come, lady, while Heav'n lends us grace, By all the Nymphs that nightly dance
Let us fly this cursed place, Upon thy streams, with wily glance;
Lest the sorcerer us entice Rise, rise, and heave thy rosy head
With some other new device. From thy coral-paven bed,
Not a waste, or needless sound,
Till we come to holier ground;
I shall be your faithful guide
Through this gloomy covert wide, Sabrina rises, attended by Water-nymphs, and
And not many furlongs thence
Is your father's residence,
Where this night are met in state
Many a friend to gratulate
All the swains that near abide,
We shall catch them at their sport,
And our sudden coming there
Will double at their mirth and cheer.
Come let us haste, the stars grow high,
But night sits monarch yet in the mid sky!