Infomotions, Inc.Comus / Milton, John

Author: Milton, John
Title: Comus
Publisher: Eris Etext Project
Tag(s): bro; spir; eld; comus; darknes; vertue; chastity; shepherd; virgin; neer; jove; foul; english literature
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 7,803 words (really short) Grade range: 11-13 (high school) Readability score: 64 (easy)
Identifier: milton-comus-521
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                                 by John Milton

                  A Mask Presented at Ludlow-Castle,
                               1634 &c.

                             The Persons
       The attendant Spirit afterwards in the habit of Thyrsis.
                              The Lady.
                       1. Brother. 2. Brother.
                         Comus with his crew.
                          Sabrina the Nymph.

               The cheif persons which presented, were
                           The Lord Bracly,
                   Mr. Thomas Egerton his Brother,
                       The Lady Alice Egerton.

                The first Scene discovers a wilde Wood
                The attendant Spirit descends or enters

        BEFORE the starry threshold of Joves Court
        My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
        Of bright aereal Spirits live insphear'd
        In Regions milde of calm and serene Ayr,
        Above the smoak and stirr of this dim spot,
        Which men call Earth, and with low-thoughted care
        Confin'd, and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
        Strive to keep up a frail, and Feaverish being
        Unmindfull of the crown that Vertue gives
        After this mortal change, to her true Servants
        Amongst the enthron'd gods on Sainted seats.
        Yet som there be that by due steps aspire
        To lay their just hands on that Golden Key
        That ope's the Palace of Eternity:
        To such my errand is, and but for such,
        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 salt Flood, and each ebbing Stream,
        Took in by lot 'twixt high, and neather Jove,
        Imperial rule of all the Sea-girt Iles
        That like to rich, and various gemms inlay
        The unadorned boosom of the Deep,
        Which he to grace his tributary gods
        By course commits to severall government,
        And gives them leave to wear their Saphire crowns,
        And weild their little tridents, but this Ile
        The greatest, and the best of all the main
        He quarters to his blu-hair'd deities,
        And all this tract that fronts the falling Sun
        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 off-spring nurs't in Princely lore,
        Are coming to attend their Fathers state,
        And new-entrusted Scepter, but their way
        Lies through the perplex't paths of this drear Wood,
        The nodding horror of whose shady brows
        Threats the forlorn and wandring Passinger.
        And here their tender age might suffer perill,
        But that by quick command from Soveran Jove
        I was dispatcht for their defence, and guard;
        And listen why for I will tell ye now
        What never yet was heard in Tale or Song
        From old, or modern Bard in Hall, or Bowr.
          Bacchus that first from out the purple Grape,
        Crush't the sweet poyson of mis-used Wine
        After the Tuscan Mariners transform'd
        Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
        On Circes Iland fell (who knows not Circe
        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 clustring locks,
        With Ivy berries wreath' d, and his blithe youth,
        Had by him, ere he parted thence, a Son
        Much like his Father, but his Mother more,
        Whom therfore she brought up and Comus nam'd,
        Who ripe, and frolick of his full grown age,
        Roaving the Celtick, and Iberian fields,
        At last betakes him to this ominous Wood,
        And in thick shelter of black shades imbowr'd,
        Excells his Mother at her mighty Art,
        Offring to every weary Travailer,
        His orient liquor in a Crystal Glasse,
        To quench the drouth of Phoebus, which as they taste
        (For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst)
        Soon as the Potion works, their human count'nance,
        Th' express resemblance of the gods, is chang'd
        Into som brutish form of Woolf, or Bear,
        Or Ounce, or Tiger, 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 then before
        And all their friends, and native home forget
        To roule with pleasure in a sensual stie.
        Therfore when any favour'd of high Jove,
        Chances to pass through this adventrous glade,
        Swift as the Sparkle of a glancing Star,
        I shoot from Heav'n to give him safe convoy,
        As now I do: But first I must put off
        These my skie robes spun out of Iris Wooff,
        And take the Weeds and likenes of a Swain,
        That to the service of this house belongs,
        Who with his soft Pipe, and smooth-dittied Song,
        Well knows to still the wilde winds when they roar,
        And hush the waving Woods, nor of lesse faith,
        And in this office of his Mountain watch,
        Likeliest, and neerest to the present ayd
        Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
        Of hatefull steps, I must be viewless now.

  Comus enters with a Charming Rod in one hand, his Glass in the
other, with him a rout of Monsters, headed like sundry sorts of
wilde Beasts, but otherwise like Men and Women, their Apparel
glistring, they com in making a riotous and unruly noise, with Torches
in their hands.

          Comus. The Star that bids the Shepherd fold,
        Now the top of Heav'n doth hold,
        And the gilded Car of Day,
        His glowing Axle doth allay
        In the steep Atlantick stream,
        And the slope Sun his upward beam
        Shoots against the dusky Pole,
        Pacing toward the other gole
        Of his Chamber in the East.
        Mean while welcom Joy, and Feast,
        Midnight shout, and revelry,
        Tipsie dance, and Jollity.
        Braid your Locks with rosie Twine
        Dropping odours, dropping Wine.
        Rigor now is gon to bed,
        And Advice with scrupulous head,
        Strict Age, and sowre Severity,
        With their grave Saws in slumber ly.
        We that are of purer fire
        Imitate the Starry Quire,
        Who in their nightly watchfull Sphears,
        Lead in swift round the Months and Years.
        The Sounds, and Seas with all their finny drove
        Now to the Moon in wavering Morrice move,
        And on the Tawny Sands and Shelves,
        Trip the pert Fairies and the dapper Elves;
        By dimpled Brook, and Fountain brim,
        The Wood-Nymphs deckt with Daisies trim,
        Their merry wakes and pastimes keep:
        What hath night to do with sleep?
        Night hath better sweets to prove,
        Venus now wakes, and wak'ns Love.
        Com let us our rights begin,
        'Tis onely day-light that makes Sin
        Which these dun shades will ne're report.
        Hail Goddesse of Nocturnal sport
        Dark vaild Cotytto, t' whom the secret flame
        Of mid-night Torches burns; mysterious Dame
        That ne're art call'd, but when the Dragon woom
        Of Stygian darknes spets her thickest gloom,
        And makes one blot of all the ayr,
        Stay thy cloudy Ebon chair,
        Wherin thou rid'st with Hecat', and befriend
        Us thy vow'd Priests, til utmost end
        Of all thy dues be done, and none left out,
        Ere the blabbing Eastern scout,
        The nice Morn on th' Indian steep
        From her cabin'd loop hole peep,
        And to the tel-tale Sun discry
        Our conceal'd Solemnity.
        Com, knit hands, and beat the ground,
        In a light fantastick round.

                             The Measure

        Break off, break off, I feel the different pace,
        Of som chast footing neer about this ground.
        Run to your shrouds, within these Brakes and Trees,
        Our number may affright: Som Virgin sure
        (For so I can distinguish by mine Art)
        Benighted in these Woods. Now to my charms,
        And to my wily trains, I shall e're long
        Be well stock't with as fair a herd as graz'd
        About my Mother Circe. Thus I hurl
        My dazling Spells into the spungy ayr,
        Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
        Ada give it false presentments, lest the place
        And my quaint habits breed astonishment,
        And put the Damsel to suspicious flight,
        Which must not be, for that's against my course;
        I under fair pretence of friendly ends,
        And well plac't words of glozing courtesie
        Baited with reasons not unplausible
        Wind me into the easie-hearted man,
        And hugg him into snares. When once her eye
        Hath met the vertue of this Magick dust,
        I shall appear som harmles Villager
        Whom thrift keeps up about his Country gear,
        But here she comes, I fairly step aside,
        And hearken, if I may, her busines here.

                           The Lady enters

        This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,
        My best guide now, me thought it was the sound
        Of Riot, and ill manag'd Merriment,
        Such as the jocond Flute, or gamesom Pipe
        Stirs up among the loose unleter'd Hinds,
        When for their teeming Flocks, and granges full
        In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,
        And thank the gods amiss. I should be loath
        To meet the rudenesse, and swill'd insolence
        Of such late Wassailers; yet O where els
        Shall I inform my unacquainted feet
        In the blind mazes of this tangl'd Wood?
        My Brothers when they saw me wearied out
        With this long way, resolving here to lodge
        Under the spreading favour of these Pines,
        Stept as they se'd to the next Thicket side
        To bring me Berries, or such cooling fruit
        As the kind hospitable Woods provide.
        They left me then, when the gray-hooded Eev'n
        Like a sad Votarist in Palmers weed
        Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus wain.
        But where they are, and why they came not back,
        Is now the labour of my thoughts, 'tis likeliest
        They had ingag'd their wandring steps too far,
        And envious darknes, e're they could return,
        Had stole them from me, els O theevish Night
        Why shouldst thou, but for som fellonious end,
        In thy dark lantern thus close up the Stars,
        That nature hung in Heav'n, and fill'd their Lamps
        With everlasting to give due light
        To the misled and lonely Travailer?
        This is the place, as well as I may guess,
        Whence eev'n now the tumult of loud Mirth
        Was rife, and perfet in my list'ning ear,
        Yet nought but single darknes do I find.
        What might this be? A thousand fantasies
        Begin to throng into my memory
        Of calling shapes, and beckning shadows dire,
        And airy tongues, that syllable mens names
        On Sands, and Shoars, and desert Wildernesses.
        These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
        The vertuous mind, that ever walks attended
        By a strong siding champion Conscience.-
        O welcom pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope,
        Thou hovering Angel girt with golden wings,
        And thou unblemish't form of Chastity,
        I see ye visibly, and now beleeve
        That he, the Supreme good, t'whom all things ill
        Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
        Would send a glistring Guardian if need were
        To keep my life and honour unassail'd.
        Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud
        Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
        I did not err, there does a sable cloud
        Turn forth her silver lining on the night
        And casts a gleam over this tufted Grove.
        I cannot hallow to my Brothers, but
        Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
        Ile venter, for my new enliv'nd spirits
        Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.


             Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph that livst unseen
                        Within thy airy shell
                   By slow Meander's margent green,
                  And in the violet imbroider'd vale
                   Where the love-lorn Nightingale
              Nightly to thee her sad Song mourneth well.
               Canst thou not tell me of a gentle Pair
                   That likest thy Narcissus are?
                            O if thou have
                     Hid them in som flowry Cave,
                          Tell me but where
             Sweet Queen of Parly, Daughter of the Sphear,
               So maist thou be translated to the skies,
           And give resounding grace to all Heavns Harmonies.

            Com. Can any mortal mixture of Earths mould
        Breath such Divine inchanting ravishment?
        Sure somthing holy lodges in that brest,
        And with these raptures moves the vocal air
        To testifie his hidd'n residence;
        How sweetly did they float upon the wings
        Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night
        At every fall smoothing the Raven doune
        Of darknes till it smil'd: have oft heard
        My mother Circe with the Sirens three,
        Amid'st the flowry-kirtl'd Naiades
        Culling their Potent hearbs, and balefull drugs,
        Who as they sung, would take the prison'd soul,
        And lap it in Elysium, Scylla wept,
        And chid her barking waves into attention,
        And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause:
        Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense,
        And in sweet madness rob'd it of it self,
        But such a sacred, and home-felt delight,
        Such sober certainty of waking bliss
        I never heard till now. Ile speak to her
        And she shall be my Queen. Hail forren wonder
        Whom certain these rough shades did never breed
        Unlesse the Goddes that in rurall shrine
        Dwell'st here with Pan, or Silvan, by blest Song
        Forbidding every bleak unkindly Fog
        To touch the prosperous growth of this tall Wood.
          La. Nay gentle Shepherd ill is lost that praise
        That is addrest to unattending Ears,
        Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
        How to regain my sever'd company
        Compell'd me to awake the courteous Echo
        To give me answer from her mossie Couch.
          Co. What chance good Lady hath bereft you thus?
          La. Dim darknes, and this leavy Labyrinth.
          Co. Could that divide you from neer-ushering guides?
          La. They left me weary on a grassie terf.
          Co. By falshood, or discourtesie, or why?
          La. To seek i'th vally som cool friendly Spring.
          Co. And left your fair side all unguarded Lady?
          La. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick return.
          Co. Perhaps fore-stalling night prevented them.
          La. How easie my misfortune is to hit!
          Co. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
          La. No less then if I should my brothers loose.
          Co. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
          La. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.
          Co. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd Oxe
        In his loose traces from the furrow came,
        And the swink't hedger at his Supper sate;
        I saw them under a green mantling vine
        That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
        Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots,
        Their port was more then human, as they stood;
        I took it for a faery vision
        Of som gay creatures of the element
        That in the colours of the Rainbow live
        And play i'th plighted clouds. I was aw-strook,
        And as I past, I worshipt: if those you seek
        It were a journey like the path to Heav'n,
        To help you find them. La. Gentle villager
        What readiest way would bring me to that place?
          Co. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
          La. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose,
        In such a scant allowance of Star-light,
        Would overtask the best Land-Pilots art,
        Without the sure guess of well-practiz'd feet.
          Co. I know each lane, and every alley green
        Dingle, or bushy dell of this wilde Wood,
        And every bosky bourn from side to side
        My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood,
        And if your stray attendance be yet lodg'd,
        Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
        Ere morrow wake, or the low roosted lark
        From her thatch't pallat rowse, if otherwise
        I can conduct you Lady to a low
        But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
        Till further quest'. La. Shepherd I take thy word,
        And trust thy honest offer'd courtesie,
        Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
        With smoaky rafters, then in tapstry Halls
        And Courts of Princes, where it first was nam'd,
        And yet is most pretended: In a place
        Less warranted then this, or less secure
        I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.
        Eie me blest Providence, and square my triall
        To my proportion'd strength. Shepherd lead on.-

                          The Two Brothers

          Eld. Bro. Unmuffle ye faint stars, and thou fair Moon
        That wontst to love the travailers benizon,
        Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,
        And disinherit Chaos, that raigns here
        In double night of darknes, and of shades;
        Or if your influence be quite damm'd up
        With black usurping mists, som gentle taper
        Though a rush Candle from the wicker hole
        Of som clay habitation visit us
        With thy long levell'd rule of streaming light,
        And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
        Or Tyrian Cynosure.  2.Bro.  Or if our eyes
        Be barr'd that happines, might we but hear
        The folded flocks pen'd in their watled cotes,
        Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops,
        Or whistle from the Lodge, or village cock
        Count the night watches to his feathery Dames,
        'Twould be som solace yet, som little chearing
        In this close dungeon of innumerous bowes.
        But O that haples virgin our lost sister
        Where may she wander now, whether betake her
        From the chill dew, amongst rude burrs and thistles?
        Perhaps som cold bank is her boulster now
        Or'gainst the rugged bark of som broad Elm
        Leans her unpillow'd head fraught with sad fears.
        What if in wild amazement, and affright,
        Or while we speak within the direfull grasp
        Of Savage hunger, or of Savage heat?
          Eld. Bro. Peace brother, be not over-exquisite
        To cast the fashion of uncertain evils;
        For grant they be so, while they rest unknown,
        What need a man forestall his date of grief,
        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 unprincipl'd in vertues book,
        And the sweet peace that goodnes boosoms ever,
        As that the single want of light and noise
        (Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
        Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,
        And put them into mis-becoming plight.
        Vertue could see to do what vertue would
        By her own radiant light, though Sun and Moon
        Were in the flat Sea sunk. And Wisdoms self
        Oft seeks to sweet retired Solitude,
        Where with her best nurse Contemplation
        She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings
        That in the various bussle of resort
        Were all to ruffl'd, and somtimes impair'd.
        He that has light within his own cleer brest
        May sit i'th center, and enjoy bright day,
        But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts
        Benighted walks under the mid-day Sun;
        Himself is his own dungeon.
          2. Bro. Tis most true
        That musing meditation most affects
        The pensive secrecy of desert cell,
        Far from the cheerfull haunt of men, and herds,
        And sits as safe as in a Senat house,
        For who would rob a Hermit of his Weeds,
        His few Books, or his Beads, or Maple Dish,
        Or do his gray hairs any violence?
        But beauty like the fair Hesperian Tree
        Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
        Of dragon watch with uninchanted eye,
        To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit
        From the rash hand of bold Incontinence.
        You may as well spred out the unsun'd heaps
        Of Misers treasure by an out-laws den,
        And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope
        Danger will wink on Opportunity,
        And let a single helpless maiden pass
        Uninjur'd in this wilde surrounding wast.
        Of night, or lonelines it recks me not,
        I fear the dred events that dog them both,
        Lest som ill greeting touch attempt the person
        Of our unowned sister.
          Eld. Bro. I do not, brother,
        Inferr, as if I thought my sisters state
        Secure without all doubt, or controversie:
        Yet where an equall poise of hope and fear
        Does arbitrate th' event, my nature is
        That I encline to hope, rather then 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. Bro. What hidden strength,
        Unless the strength of Heav'n, if you mean that?
          Eld. Bro. 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 compleat steel,
        And like a quiver'd Nymph with Arrows keen
        May trace huge Forests, and unharbour'd Heaths,
        Infamous Hills, and sandy perilous wildes,
        Where through the sacred rayes of Chastity,
        No savage fierce, Bandite, or mountaneer
        Will dare to soyl her Virgin purity,
        Yea there, where very desolation dwels
        By grots, and caverns shag'd with horrid shades,
        She may pass on with unblench't majesty,
        Be it not don in pride, or in presumption.
        Som say no evil thing that walks by night
        In fog, or fire, by lake, or moorish fen,
        Blew meager Hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
        That breaks his magick chains at curfeu time,
        No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
        Hath hurtfull power o're true virginity.
        Do ye beleeve me yet, or shall I call
        Antiquity from the old Schools of Greece
        To testifie the arms of Chastity?
        Hence had the huntress Dian her dred bow
        Fair silver-shafted Queen for ever chaste,
        Wherwith she tam'd 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 oth' Woods.
        What was that snaky-headed Gorgon sheild
        That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd Virgin,
        Wherwith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone?
        But rigid looks of Chast austerity,
        And noble grace that dash't brute violence
        With sudden adoration, and blank aw.
        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 cleer dream, and solemn vision
        Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
        Till oft convers with heav'nly habitants
        Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape,
        The unpolluted temple of the mind,
        And turns it by degrees to the souls essence,
        Till all be made immortal: but when lust
        By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
        But most by leud and lavish act of sin,
        Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
        The soul grows clotted by contagion,
        Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite loose
        The divine property of her first being.
        Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
        Oft seen in Charnell vaults, and Sepulchers
        Lingering, and sitting by a new made grave,
        As loath to leave the body that it lov'd,
        And link't it self by carnal sensualty
        To a degenerate and degraded state.
          2.Bro. How charming is divine Philosophy!
        Not harsh, and crabbed as dull fools suppose,
        But musical as is Apollo's lute,
        And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
        Where no crude surfet raigns.  Eld. Bro.  List, list, I hear
        Som far off hallow break the silent Air.
          2.Bro. Me thought so too; what should it be?
          Eld. Bro. For certain
        Either som one like us night-founder'd here,
        Or els som neighbour Wood-man, or at worst,
        Som roaving Robber calling to his fellows.
          2. Bro. Heav'n keep my sister, agen agen and neer,
        Best draw, and stand upon our guard.
          Eld. Bro. Ile hallow,
        If he be friendly he comes well, if not,
        Defence is a good cause, and Heav'n be for us.

             The attendant Spirit habited like a Shepherd

        That hallow I should know, what are you? speak;
        Com not too neer, you fall on iron stakes else.
          Spir. What voice is that, my young Lord? speak agen.
          2. Bro. O brother, 'tis my father Shepherd sure.
          Eld. Bro. Thyrsis? Whose artful strains have oft delaid
        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
        Slip't from the fold, or young Kid lost his dam,
        Or straggling weather the pen't flock forsook?
        How couldst thou find this dark sequester'd nook?
          Spir. O my lov'd masters heir, and his next joy,
        I came not here on such a trivial toy
        As a stray'd Ewe, or to pursue the stealth
        Of pilfering Woolf, not all the fleecy 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?
          Eld. Bro. To tell thee sadly Shepherd, without blame,
        Or our neglect, we lost her as we came.
          Spir. Ay me unhappy then my fears are true.
          Eld.Bro. What fears good Thyrsis? Prethee briefly shew.
          Spir. Ile 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 vers
        Of dire Chimera's and inchanted Iles,
        And rifted Rocks whose entrance leads to hell,
        For such there be, but unbelief is blind.
        Within the navil of this hideous Wood,
        Immur'd in cypress shades a Sorcerer dwels
        Of Bacchus, and of Circe born, great Comus,
        Deep skill'd in all his mothers witcheries,
        And here to every thirsty wanderer,
        By sly enticement gives his banefull cup,
        With many murmurs mixt, whose pleasing poison
        The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
        And the inglorious likenes of a beast
        Fixes instead, unmoulding reasons mintage
        Character'd in the face; this have I learn't
        Tending my flocks hard by i'th hilly crofts,
        That brow this bottom glade, whence night by night
        He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl
        Like stabl'd wolves, or tigers at their prey,
        Doing abhorred rites to Hecate
        In their obscured haunts of inmost bowres.
        Yet have they many baits, and guilefull spells
        To inveigle and invite th' unwary sense
        Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
        This evening late by then the chewing flocks
        Had ta'n their supper on the savoury Herb
        Of Knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold,
        I sate me down to watch upon a bank
        With Ivy canopied, and interwove
        With flaunting Hony-suckle, and began
        Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy
        To meditate my rural minstrelsie,
        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 ceas't, and listen'd them a while,
        Till an unusuall stop of sudden silence
        Gave respit to the drowsie 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 distill'd Perfumes,
        And stole upon the Air, that even Silence
        Was took e're she was ware, and wish't she might
        Deny her nature, and be never more
        Still to be so displac't. I was all eare,
        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.
        Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear,
        And O poor hapless Nightingale thought I,
        How sweet thou sing'st, how neer the deadly snare!
        Then down the Lawns I ran with headlong hast
        Through paths, and turnings oft'n 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 signes I knew) had met
        Already, ere my best speed could praevent,
        The aidless innocent Lady his wish't prey,
        Who gently ask't if he had seen such two,
        Supposing him som neighbour villager;
        Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess't
        Ye were the two she mean't, with that I sprung
        Into swift flight, till I had found you here,
        But furder know I not.  2.Bro.  O night and shades,
        How are ye joyn'd with hell in triple knot
        Against th' unarmed weakness of one Virgin
        Alone, and helpless! Is this the confidence
        You gave me Brother?  Eld. Bro.  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,
        Vertue may be assail'd, but never hurt,
        Surpriz'd 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 it self shall back recoyl,
        And mix no more with goodness, when at last
        Gather'd like scum, and setl'd to it self
        It shall be in eternal restless change
        Self-fed, and self-consum'd, if this fail,
        The pillar'd firmament is rott'nness,
        And earths base built on stubble. But com let's on.
        Against th' opposing will and arm of Heav'n
        May never this just sword be lifted up,
        But for that damn'd magician, let him be girt
        With all the greisly legions that troop
        Under the sooty flag of Acheron,
        Harpyies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms
        'Twixt Africa and Inde, Ile find him out,
        And force him to restore his purchase back,
        Or drag him by the curls, to a foul death,
        Curs'd as his life.
          Spir. Alas good ventrous youth,
        I love thy courage yet, and bold Emprise,
        But here thy sword can do thee little stead,
        Farr other arms, and other weapons must
        Be those that quell the might of hellish charms,
        He with his bare wand can unthred thy joynts,
        And crumble all thy sinews.
          Eld. Bro. Why prethee Shepherd
        How durst thou then thy self approach so neer
        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 vertuous plant and healing herb
        That spreds her verdant leaf to th' morning ray,
        He lov'd me well, and oft would beg me sing,
        Which when I did, he on the tender grass
        Would sit, and hearken even to extasie,
        And in requitall ope his leather'n scrip,
        And shew 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 Countrey, as he said,
        Bore a bright golden flowre, but not in this soyl:
        Unknown, and like esteem'd, and the dull swayn
        Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon,
        And yet more med'cinal is it then that Moly
        That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;
        He call'd it Haemony, and gave it me,
        And bad me keep it as of sov'ran use
        'Gainst all inchantments, mildew blast, or damp
        Or gastly furies apparition;
        I purs't it up, but little reck'ning made,
        Till now that this extremity compell'd,
        But now I find it true; for by this means
        I knew the foul inchanter though disguis'd,
        Enter'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 necromancers hall;
        Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood,
        And brandish't blade rush on him, break his glass,
        And shed the lushious liquor on the ground,
        But sease his wand, though he and his curst crew
        Feirce signe of battail make, and menace high,
        Or like the sons of Vulcan vomit smoak,
        Yet will they soon retire, if he but shrink.
          Eld. Bro. Thyrsis lead on apace, Ile follow thee,
        And som good angel bear a sheild before us.

  The Scene changes to a stately Palace, set out with all manner of
deliciousness; soft Musick, Tables spred with all dainties. Comus
appears with his rabble, and the Lady set in an inchanted Chair, to
whom he offers his Glass, which she puts by, and goes about to rise.

          Comus. 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.
          La. Fool do not boast,
        Thou canst not touch the freedom of my minde
        With all thy charms, although this corporal rinde
        Thou haste immanacl'd, while Heav'n sees good.
          Co. Why are you vext Lady? why do you frown?
        Here dwell no frowns, nor anger, from these gates
        Sorrow flies farr: See here be all the pleasures
        That fancy can beget on youthfull thoughts,
        When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns
        Brisk as the April buds in Primrose-season.
        And first behold this cordial Julep here
        That flames, and dances in his crystal bounds
        With spirits of balm, and fragrant Syrops mixt.
        Not that Nepenthes which the wife of Thone,
        In Egypt gave to Jove-born Helena
        Is of such power to stir up joy as this,
        To life so friendly, or so cool to thirst.
        Why should you be so cruel to your self,
        And to those dainty limms which nature lent
        For gentle usage, and soft delicacy?
        But you invert the cov'nants of her trust,
        And harshly deal like an ill borrower
        With that which you receiv'd on other terms,
        Scorning the unexempt condition
        By which all mortal frailty must subsist,
        Refreshment after toil, ease after pain,
        That have been tir'd all day without repast,
        And timely rest have wanted, but fair Virgin
        This will restore all soon.
          La. 'Twill not false traitor,
        'Twill not restore the truth and honesty
        That thou hast banish't from thy tongue with lies,
        Was this the cottage, and the safe abode
        Thou told'st me of? What grim aspects are these,
        These oughly-headed Monsters? Mercy guard me!
        Hence with thy brew'd inchantments, foul deceiver,
        Hast thou betrai'd my credulous innocence
        With visor'd falshood, and base forgery,
        And wouldst thou seek again to trap me here
        With lickerish baits fit to ensnare a brute?
        Were it a draft for Juno when she banquets,
        I would not taste thy treasonous offer; none
        But such as are good men can give good things,
        And that which is not good, is not delicious
        To a well-govern'd and wise appetite.
          Co. O foolishnes of men! that find their ears
        To those budge doctors of the Stoick Furr,
        And fetch their precepts from the Cynick Tub,
        Praising the lean and sallow Abstinence.
        Wherefore did Nature powre her bounties forth,
        With such a full and unwithdrawing hand,
        Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks,
        Thronging the Seas with spawn innumerable,
        But all to please, and sate the curious taste?
        And set to work millions of spinning Worms,
        That in their green shops weave the smooth-hair'd silk
        To deck her Sons, and that no corner might
        Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loyns
        She hutch't th' all-worshipt ore, and precious gems
        To store her children with; if all the world
        Should in a pet of temperance feed on Pulse,
        Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but Freize,
        Th' all-giver would be unthank't, would be unprais'd,
        Not half his riches known, and yet despis'd,
        And we should serve him as a grudging master,
        As a penurious niggard of his wealth,
        And live like Natures bastards, not her sons,
        Who would be quite surcharged with her own weight,
        And strangl'd with her waste fertility;
        Th' earth cumber'd, and the wing'd air dark't with plumes,
        The herds would over-multitude their Lords,
        The Sea o'refraught would swell, and th' unsought diamonds
        Would so emblaze the forhead of the Deep,
        And so bestudd with Stars, that they below
        Would grow inur'd to light, and com at last
        To gaze upon the Sun with shameless brows.
        List Lady be not coy, and be not cosen'd
        With that same vaunted name Virginity,
        Beauty is natures coyn, must not be hoorded,
        But must be currant, and the good thereof
        Consists in mutual and partak'n bliss,
        Unsavoury in th' injoyment of it self
        If you let slip time, like a neglected rose
        It withers on the stalk with languish't head.
        Beauty is natures brag, and must be shown
        In courts, at feasts, and high solemnities
        Where most may wonder at the workmanship;
        It is for homely features to keep home,
        They had their name thence; course complexions
        And cheeks of sorry grain will serve to ply
        The sampler, and to teize the huswifes wooll.
        What need a vermeil-tinctured lip for that
        Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the Morn?
        There was another meaning in these gifts,
        Think what, and be adviz'd, you are but young yet.
          La. I had not thought to have unlockt my lips
        In this unhallow'd air, but that this Jugler
        Would think to charm my judgement, as mine eyes,
        Obtruding false rules pranckt in reasons garb.
        I hate when vice can bolt her arguments,
        And vertue has no tongue to check her pride:
        Impostor do not charge most innocent nature,
        As if she would her children should be riotous
        With her abundance, she good cateress
        Means her provision onely to the good
        That live according to her sober laws,
        And holy dictate of spare Temperance:
        If every just man that now pines with want
        Had but a moderate and beseeming share
        Of that which lewdly-pamper'd Luxury
        Now heaps upon som few with vast excess,
        Natures full blessings would be well dispenc't
        In unsuperfluous eeven proportion,
        And she no whit encomber'd with her store,
        And then the giver would be better thank't,
        His praise due paid, for swinish gluttony
        Ne're looks to Heav'n amidst his gorgeous feast,
        But with besotted base ingratitude
        Cramms, and blasphemes his feeder. Shall I go on?
        Or have I said anough? To him that dares
        Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words
        Against the Sun-clad power of Chastity,
        Fain would I somthing say, yet to what end?
        Thou hast nor Eare, nor Soul to apprehend
        The sublime notion, and high mystery
        That must be utter'd to unfold the sage
        And serious doctrine of Virginity,
        And thou art worthy that thou shouldst not know
        More happiness then this thy present lot.
        Enjoy your deer Wit, and gay Rhetorick
        That hath so well been taught her dazling fence,
        Thou art not fit to hear thy self convinc't;
        Yet should I try, the uncontrouled worth
        Of this pure cause would kindle my rap't spirits
        To of a flame of sacred vehemence,
        That dumb things would be mov'd to sympathize,
        And the brute Earth would lend her nerves, and shake,
        Till all thy magick structures rear'd so high,
        Were shatter'd heaps o're thy false head.
          Co. She fables not, I feel that I do fear
        Her words set off by som superior power;
        And though not mortal, yet a cold shuddring dew
        Dips me all o're, as when the wrath of Jove
        Speaks thunder, and the chains of Erebus
        To som of Saturns crew. I must dissemble,
        And try her yet more strongly. Com, no more,
        This is meer moral babble, and direct
        Against the canon laws of our foundation;
        I must not suffer this, yet 'tis but the lees
        And setlings of a melancholy blood;
        But this will cure all streight, one sip of this
        Will bathe the drooping spirits in delight
        Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise, and taste.-

  The Brothers rush in with Swords drawn, wrest his Glass out of his
hand, and break it against the ground; his rout make signe of
resistance, but are all driven in; The attendant Spirit comes in

          Spir. What, have you let the false enchanter scape?
        O ye mistook, ye should have snatcht his wand
        And bound him fast; without his rod revers't,
        And backward mutters of dissevering power,
        We cannot free the Lady that sits here
        In stony fetters fixt, and motionless;
        Yet stay, be not disturb'd, now I bethink me,
        Som other means I have which may be us'd,
        Which once of Meliboeus old I learnt
        The soothest Shepherd that ere pip't on plains.
          There is a gentle Nymph not farr from hence,
        That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream,
        Sabrina is her name, a Virgin pure,
        Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine,
        That had the Scepter from his father Brute.
        The guiltless damsel flying the mad pursuit
        Of her enraged stepdam Guendolen,
        Commended her innocence to the flood
        That stay'd her flight with his cross-flowing course,
        The water Nymphs that in the bottom plaid,
        Held up their pearled wrists and took her in,
        Bearing her straight to aged Nereus Hall,
        Who piteous of her woes, rear'd her lank head,
        And gave her to his daughters to imbathe
        In nectar'd lavers strew'd with Asphodil,
        And through the porch and inlet of each sense
        Dropt in Ambrosial Oils till she reviv'd,
        And underwent a quick immortal change
        Made Goddess of the River; still she retains
        Her maid'n gentlenes, and oft at Eeve
        Visits the herds along the twilight meadows,
        Helping all urchin blasts, and ill luck signes
        That the shrewd medling Elfe delights to make,
        Which she with pretious viold liquors heals.
        For which the Shepherds at their festivals
        Carrol her goodnes lowd in rustick layes,
        And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream
        Of pancies, pinks, and gaudy Daffadils.
        And, as the old Swain said, she can unlock
        The clasping charm, and thaw the numming spell,
        If she be right invok't in warbled Song,
        For maid'nhood she loves, and will be swift
        To aid a Virgin, such as was her self
        In hard besetting need, this will I try
        And adde the power of som adjuring verse.

            Sabrina fair
              Listen where thou art sitting
            Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave,
              In twisted braids of Lillies knitting
            The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
              Listen for dear honour's sake,
              Goddess of the silver lake,
                             Listen and save.

        Listen and appear to us
        In name of great Oceanus,
        By the earth-shaking Neptune's mace,
        And Tethys grave majestick pace,
        By hoary Nereus wrincled look,
        And the Carpathian wisards hook,
        By scaly Tritons winding shell,
        And old sooth-saying Glaucus spell,
        By Leucothea's lovely hands,
        And her son that rules the strands,
        By Thetis tinsel-slipper'd feet,
        And the Songs of Sirens sweet,
        By dead Parthenope's dear tomb,
        And fair Ligea's golden comb,
        Wherwith she sits on diamond rocks
        Sleeking her soft alluring locks,
        By all the Nymphs that nightly dance
        Upon thy streams with wily glance,
        Rise, rise, and heave thy rosie head
        From thy coral-pav'n bed,
        And bridle in thy headlong wave,
        Till thou our summons answered have.
                                        Listen and save.

         Sabrina rises, attended by water-Nymphes, and sings

              By the rushy-fringed bank,
            Where grows the Willow and the Osier dank,
              My sliding Chariot stayes,
            Thick set with Agat, and the azurn sheen
            Of Turkis blew, and Emrauld green
              That in the channell strayes,
            Whilst from off the waters fleet
            Thus I set my printless feet
            O're the Cowslips Velvet head,
              That bends not as I tread,
            Gentle swain at thy request
              I am here.

          Spir. Goddess dear
        We implore thy powerful hand
        To undo the charmed band
        Of true Virgin here distrest,
        Through the force, and through the wile
        Of unblest inchanter vile.
          Sab. Shepherd 'tis my office best
        To help insnared chastity;
        Brightest Lady look on me,
        Thus I sprinkle on thy brest
        Drops that from my fountain pure,
        I have kept of pretious cure,
        Trice upon thy fingers tip,
        Thrice upon thy rubied lip,
        Next this marble venom'd seat
        Smear'd with gumms of glutenous 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 in Amphitrite's bowr.

         Sabrina descends, and the Lady rises out of her seat

          Spir. Virgin, daughter of Locrine
        Sprung of old Anchises line,
        May thy brimmed waves for this
        Their full tribute never miss
        From a thousand petty rills,
        That tumble down the snowy hills:
        Summer drouth, or singed air
        Never scorch thy tresses fair,
        Nor wet Octobers torrent flood
        Thy molten crystal fill with mudd,
        May thy billows rowl ashoar
        The beryl, and the golden ore,
        May thy lofty head be crown'd
        With many a tower and terrass round,
        And here and there thy banks upon
        With Groves of myrrhe, and cinnamon.
        Com Lady while Heaven lends us grace,
        Let us fly this cursed place,
        Lest the Sorcerer us intice
        With som other new device.
        Not a waste, or needless sound
        Till we com to holier ground,
        I shall be your faithfull guide
        Through this gloomy covert wide,
        And not many furlongs thence
        Is your Fathers residence,
        Where this night are met in state
        Many a friend to gratulate
        His wish't presence, and beside
        All the Swains that there abide,
        With Jiggs, and rural dance resort,
        We shall catch them at their sport,
        And our sudden coming there
        Will double all their mirth and chere;
        Come let us haste, the Stars grow high,
        But night sits monarch yet in the mid sky.

  The Scene changes, presenting Ludlow Town and the Presidents Castle,
then com in Countrey-Dancers, after them the attendant Spirit, with
the two Brothers and the Lady

              Spir. Back Shepherds, hack, anough your play,
            Till next Sun-shine holiday,
            Here be without duck or nod
            Other trippings to he trod
            Of lighter toes, and such Court guise
            As Mercury did first devise
            With the mincing Dryades
            On the Lawns, and on the Leas.

      This second Song presents them to their father and mother

            Noble Lord, and Lady bright,
            I have brought ye new delight,
            Here behold so goodly grown
            Three fair branches of your own,
            Heav'n hath timely tri'd their youth,
            Their faith, their patience, and their truth.
            And sent them here through hard assays
            With a crown of deathless Praise,
              To triumph in victorious dance
            O're sensual Folly, and Intemperance.

               The dances ended, the Spirit Epiloguizes

          Spir. To the Ocean now I fly,
        And those happy climes that ly
        Where day never shuts his eye,
        Up in the broad fields of the sky:
        There I suck the liquid ayr
        All amidst the Gardens fair
        Of Hesperus, and his daughters three
        That sing about the golden tree:
        Along the crisped shades and bowres
        Revels the spruce and jocond Spring,
        The Graces, and the rosie-boosom'd Howres,
        Thither all their bounties bring,
        That there eternal Summer dwels,
        And West winds, with musky wing
        About the cedar'n alleys fling
        Nard, and Cassia's balmy smels.
        Iris there with humid bow,
        Waters the odorous banks that blow
        Flowers of more mingled hew
        Then her purfl'd scarf can shew,
        And drenches with Elysian dew
        (List mortals, if your ears be true)
        Beds of Hyacinth, and roses
        Where young Adonis oft reposes,
        Waxing well of his deep wound
        In slumber soft, and on the ground
        Sadly sits th' Assyrian Queen;
        But far above in spangled sheen
        Celestial Cupid her fam'd son advanc't,
        Holds his dear Psyche sweet intranc't
        After her wandring labours long,
        Till free consent the gods among
        Make her his eternal Bride,
        And from her fair unspotted side
        Two blissful twins are to be born,
        Youth and Joy; so Jove hath sworn.
          But now my task is smoothly don,
        I can fly, or I can run
        Quickly to the green earths end,
        Where the bow'd welkin slow doth bend,
        And from thence can soar as soon
        To the corners of the Moon.
          Mortals that would follow me,
        Love vertue, she alone is free,
        She can teach ye how to clime
        Higher then the Spheary chime;
        Or if Vertue feeble were,
        Heav'n it self would stoop to her.

                    -THE END-


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