« PreviousContinue »
It were a journey like the path to hear'n,
To help you find them.
Lad. Gentle Villager,
What readiest way would bring me to that place?
Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
LAD. To find that out, good Shepherd, I suppose,
In such a scant allowance of star-light,
Would overtask the best land-pilot's art,
Without the sure guess of well-practised feet.
Com. I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle or bushy dell of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side,
My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood;
And if your stray-attendants be yet lodged
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till further quest.
LAD. Shepherd, I take thy word,
And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoky rafters, than in tap’stry halls
And courts of princes, where it first was named,
And yet is most pretended : in a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure,
I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.
Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial
To my proportion'd strength. Shepherd, lead on.
1 BR. Unmuffile, ye faint stars, and thou, fair moon, That wont'st to love the traveller's benizon, Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud, And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here In double night of darkness and of shades; Or if your influence be quite damm'd up With black usurping mists, some gentle taper, Though a rush candle, from the wicker-hole
Of some clay habitation, visit us: "T
With thy long-levell'd rule of streaming light;
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian Cynosure.?
2 Br. Or if our eyes
Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear.!
The folded flocks penn'd in their wattled cotes, :1
Or sound of past'ral reed with oaten stops,
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock":
Count the night watches to his feathery dames,
'Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering
In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.
But O that hapless virgin, our lost Sister,
she wander now, whither betake her From the chill dew, among rude burs and thistles ? Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,
1. Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elmi i Leans her unpillow'd head, fraught with sad fears. What, if in wild amazement, and affright,
f Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp Of savage hunger, or of savage heat ?
1 BR. Peace, Brother; be not over-exquisite To cast the fashion of uncertain evils;
of For grant they be so, while they rest unknown, What need a man forestall his date of grief, :: 4 And run to meet what he would most avoid? Or if they be but false alarms of fear," How bitter is such self-delusion! I do not think my Sister so to seek, Or so unprincipled in virtue's book, And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever, As that the single want of light and noise (Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)." I Could stir the constant mood of her calm thonghts, And put them into misbecoming plight.
Virtue could see to do what virtue would
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And Wisdom's self
Oft seeks to sweet retirèd solitude,
Where with her best nurse Contemplation
She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings,
That in the various bustle of resort
Were all-to ruffled, and sometimes impair'd.
He that has light within his own clear breast,
May sit i' th' centre, and enjoy bright day:
But he that bides a dark soul, and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.
2 BR. 'Tis most true,
That musing meditation most affects
The pensive secrecy of desert cell,
Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds,
And sits as safe as in a senate house;
For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,
His few books, or his beads, or maple dish,
Or do his gray
any violence ?
But beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
Of dragon watch with unenchanted eye,
To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit.
From the rash hand of bold incontinence.
You may as well spread out the unsunn'd heaps
Of miser's treasure by an outlaw's den,
And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope
Danger will wink on opportunity,
And let a single helpless maiden pass
Uninjured in this wild surrounding waste.
Of night, or loneliness, it recks me not;
I fear the dread events that dog them both,
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person
Of our unowned Şister.
1 BR. I do not, Brother,
Infer, as if I thought my Sister's state
Secure without all doubt, or controversy;
Yet where an equal poise of hope and fear. :1
Does arbitrate the event, my nature is
That I incline to hope, rather than fear,
And gladly banish squint suspicion.
My Sister is not so defenceless left,
As you imagine; she has a hidden strength
Which you remember not.
2 BR. What hidden strength,
Unless the strength of Heav'n, if you mean that?
1 BR. I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength,
Which, if Heav'n gave it, may be term'd her own;
'Tis chastity, my Brother, chastity:
She that has that, is clad in complete steel,
And like a quiver'd Nymph with arrows keen
May trace huge forests, and unharbour'd heaths,
Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds,
Where through the sacred rays of chastity,
No savage fierce, bandit, or mountaineer
Will dare to soil her virgin purity:
Yea there, where very desolation dwells,
By grots, and caverns shagg'd with horrid shades,
She may pass on with unblench'd majesty,
Be it not done in pride, or in presumption.
Some say no evil thing that walks by night,
In fog, or fire, by lake, or moorish fen,
Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
That breaks his magic chains at curfew time,
No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.
ye believe me yet, or shall I call
Antiquity from the old schools of Greece
To testify the arms of chastity ?
Hence had the huntress Dian her dread bow,
Fair silver-shafted queen, for ever chaste,
Wherewith she tamed the brinded lioness
And spotted mountain pard, but set at nought
The frivolous bolt of Cupid; Gods and men
Fear'd her stern frown, and she was queen o' th’ woods.
What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield,
That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin,
Wherewith she freezed her foes to congeal'd stone,
But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
And noble grace that dash'd brute violence
With sudden adoration and blank awe?
So dear to heav'n is saintly chastity,
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lacky her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And in clear dream, and solemn vision,
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
Till oft converse with heav'nly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
Till all be made immortal: but when lust,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft seen in charnel vaults, and sepulchres,
Lingering and sitting by a new-made grave,
As loth to leave the body that it loved,
And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
2 BR. How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh, and crabbèd, as dull fools suppose,
But musical, as is A pollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.
1 B. List, list, I hear
Some far off halloo break the silent air.
2 B. Methought so too : what should it be?
1 B. For certain
Either some one like us night-founder'd here,
Or else some neighbour woodman, or, at worst,
Some roving robber calling to his fellows.
2 B. Heav'n keep my Sister. Again, again, and near; Best draw, and stand upon our guard.