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1 B. I'll halloo;
If he be friendly, he comes well; if not, Defence is a good cause, and Hear'n be for us.
Enter the attendant Spirit, habited like a shepherd. That halloo I should know, what are you ? speak; Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else.
Spir. What voice is that? my young Lora ? speak again 2 B. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure.
1 B. Thyrsis ? Whose artful strains have oft delay'd
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,'
And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale.
How cam’st thou here, good swain ? hath any ram
Slipt from the fold, or young kid lost his dam,
Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ?
How could'st thou find this dark sequester'd nook P
wart master's heir, and his next joy,
were on such a trivial toy
As a suray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Of pilfering wolf; not all the feecy wealth
That doth enrich these downs is worth a thought
To this my errand, and the care it brought.
But, O my virgin Lady, where is she?
How chance she is not in your company?
1 Bi. To tell thee sadly," Shepherd, without blame, Or our neglect, we los ner as we came.
Spir. Aye me vanappy! then my fears are true.
1 Br. What fears, gcod Thyrsis ? Prithee briefly how.
SPIR. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous,
Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance,
What the sage poets, taught by th' heav'nly Muse,
Storied of old, in high immortal verse,
Of ding chimeras, and enchanted isles,
And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to Hell;
For such there be, but unbelief is blind.
Within the navel of this hideous wood,
Immured in cypress shades a sorcerer dwelis,
Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus.
Doop skill'd in all his mother's witcheries,
And here to every thirsty wanderer
By sly enticement gives his baneful спр,
With many murmurs mix'd, whose pleasing poison
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
And the inglorious likeness of a beast
Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage
Character'd in the face: this I have learnt
Tending ray flocks hard by i'th' hilly crofts.
That brow this bottom-glade, whence, night by night,
He and his monstrous ront are heard to howl,
Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey,
Doing abhorrèd rites to Hecate
In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers.
Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells,
T'inveigle and invite th’ unwary sense
Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
This ev'ning late, by then the chewing tlocks
Had ta'en their supper on the savoury herb
Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in foldo
I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove
With flaunting honey-suckle, and began,
Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
Till fancy had her fill, but ere a close,
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance;
At which I ceased, and listen'd them a while,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respite to the drowsy frighted steeds,
That draw the litter of close-curtain'd sleep.
At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound
Rose like a steam of rich distillid perfumes,
And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might
Deny her nature, and be never more,
Still to be so displaced. I was all ear,
And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of death: but O ere long
Too well I did perceive it was the voice
Of my most honour'd Lady, your dear Sister.
Amazed I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear,
And O poor hapless nightingale thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare!
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong baste,
Through paths and turnings often trod by day,
Till guided by mine ear I found the place,
Where that damn'd wisard, hid in sly disguise,
(For so by certain signs I knew) had met
Already, ere my best speed could prevent,
The aidless innocent Lady his wish'd prey
Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two,
Supposing him some neighbour villager.
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess'å
Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung
Into swift flight, till I had found you here,
But further know I not.
2 Br. O night and shades,
How are ye join'd with Hell in triple knot,
Against the unarm'd weakness of one virgin,
Alone and helpless! Is this the confidence
You gave me, Brother ?
1 BR. Yes, and keep it still,
Lean on it safely; not a period
Shall be unsaid for me: against the threats
Of malice or of sorcery, or that power
Which erring men call Chance, this I hold firm,
Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt,
Surprised by unjust force, but not enthrall'd;
Yea even that which mischief meant most harm,
Shall in the happy trial prove most glory :
But evil on itself shall back recoil,
And mix no more with goodness, when at last
Gather'd like scum, and settled to itself,
It shall be in eternal restless change
Self-fed, and self-consumed: if this fail,
The pillar'd firmament is rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble. But come, let's on
Against the opposing will and arm of heaven
May never this just sword be lifted up;
But for that damn'd magician, let him be girt
With all the grisly legions that troop
Under the sooty flag of Acheron,
Harpies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms
'Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out,
And force him to return his purchase back,
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death,
Cursed as his life.
SPIR. Alas! good vent'rous youth,
I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise ;
But here thy sword can do thee little stead,
Far other arms and other weapons must
Be those that quell the might of hellish charms:
He with his bare wand can unthread thy joints,
And crumble all thy sinews.
1 Br. Why prithee, Shepherd, How durst thou then thyself approach so near, As to make this relation ?
SPIR. Care and utmost shifts How to secure the Lady from surprisal, Brought to my mind a certain shepherd lad, Of small regard to see to, yet well skill'd In every virtuous plant and healing herb, That spreads her verdant leaf to th' morning ray: He loved me well, and oft would beg me sing, Which when I did, he on the tender grass Would sit, and hearken e'en to ecstasy, And in requital ope his leathern scrip, And show me simples of a thousand names, Telling their strange and vigorous faculties: Amongst the rest a small unsightly root, But of divine effect, he cull'd me out; The leaf was darkish, and had prickles on it, But in another country, as he said, Bore a bright golden flow'r, but not in this soil : Unknown, and kike esteem'd, and the dull swain Treads on it daily with his clouted ? shoon
And yet more med'cinal is it than that moly
That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;
He call'd it hæmony, and gave it me,
And bad me keep it as of sovereign use
'Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or damp,
Or ghastly furies' apparition.
I pursed it up, but little reck'ning made,
Till now that this extremity compellid :
But now I find it true; for by this means
I knew the foul enchanter though disgnised,
E 'er'd the very lime-twigs of his spells,
And yet came off: if you have this about you,
(As I will give you when we go) you may
Boldly assault the necromancer's hall;
Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood,
And brandish'd blade rush on him, break iris glass,
And shed the luscious liquor on the ground.
But seize his wand; though he and his cursed crew
Fierce sign of battle make, and menace high,
Or like the sons of Vulcan vomit smoke,
Yet will they soon retire, if he but shrink.
1 BR. Thyrsis, lead on apace, I'll follow thee,
And some good Angel bear a shield before us. The Scene changes to a stately palace, set out with all manner of deliciousness : soft
music, tables spread with all dainties. Comus appears with his rabi le, and the Lady get in an enchanted chair, to whom he offers his glass, which she puts by, and goes about to rise.
Com. Nay, Lady, sit; if I but wave this wand,
Your nerves are all chain'd up in alabaster,
And you a statue, or as Daphne was
Root-bound, that fled Apollo.
Lad. Fool, do not boast,
Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind
With all thy charms, although this corporal rind
Thou hast immanacled, while Hear'n sees good.
Com. Why are you vext, Lady P why do you
Here dwell no frowns, nor anger; from these gates
Sorrow flies far: See, here be all the pleasures
That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts,
When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns