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And, O poor hapless nightingale, thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste,
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 inuocent 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'd
Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung
Into swift flight, till I had found you here;
But further know I not.
O night, and shades!
How are ye join'd with Hell in triple knot
Against the unarmed weakness of one virgin,
Alone and helpless! Is this the confidence
You gave me, brother?
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 flower, but not in this soil :
Unknown, and like 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
And bade me keep it as of sovran use
'Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or damp,
Or ghastly furies' apparition.
I purs'd it up, but little reckoning made,
Till now that this extremity compell'd:
But now I find it true; for by this means
I knew the foul enchanter 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
Yes, and keep it still; Boldly assault the necromancer's hall;
Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood, 650
And brandish'd blade, rush on him; break his
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,
Surpris'd by unjust force, but not enthrall'd;590
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,
Against the opposing will and arm of Heaven 600
May never this just sword be lifted up;
But for that damn'd magician, let him be girt
With all the grissly 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,
Curs'd as his life.
Alas! good venturous youth,
I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise ; 610
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.
Why pr'ythee, shepherd,
How durst thou then thyself approach so near,
As to make this relation?
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 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 ecstasy,
And in requital ope his leathern scrip,
And show me simples of a thousand names,
And shed the luscious liquor on the ground,
But seize his wand; though he and his curs'd
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.
El. Br. Thyrsis, lead on apace, I'll follow thee;
And some good angel bear a shield before us.
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
Brisk as the April buds in primrose-season. 671
And first, behold this cordial julep here,
That flames and dances in his crystal bounds,
With spirits of balm and fragrant syrops mix'd;
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 yourself,
And to those dainty limbs, which Nature lent 650
For gentle usage and soft delicacy?
But you invert the covenants 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.
"Twill not, false traitor!
"Twill not restore the truth and honesty,
That thou hast banish'd from thy tongue with lies.
Was this the cottage, and the safe abode,
Thou toldst me of? What grim aspects are these,
These ugly-headed monsters? Mercy guard me!
Hence with thy brew'd enchantments, foul de-
Hast thou betray'd my credulous innocence
With visor'd falsehood and base forgery?
And would'st thou seek again to trap me here
With lickerish baits, fit to ensnare a brute? 700
Were it a draught 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.
Com. O foolishness of men! that lend their ears
To those budge doctors of the Stoic fur,
And fetch their precepts from the Cynic tub,
Praising the lean and sallow Abstinence.
Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth 710
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
To deck her sons; and that no corner might
Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loins
She hutch'd the all-worshipt ore, and precious
To store her children with: if all the world 720
Should in a pet of temperance feed on pulse,
Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but
The All-giver would be unthank'd, would be un-
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 Nature's bastards, not her sons,
Who would be quite surcharg'd with her own
It withers on the stalk with languish'd head.
Beauty is Nature's 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; coarse complexions,
And cheeks of sorry grain, will serve to ply 750
The sampler, and to tease the huswife's wool.
What need a vermeil-tinctur'd lip for that,
Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the Morn?
There was another meaning in these gifts;
Think what, and be advis'd; you are but young
And strangled with her waste fertility;
The Earth cumber'd, and the wing'd air dark'd
The herds would over-multitude their lords,
The sea o'er fraught would swell, and the unsought
Would so imblaze the forehead of the deep,
And so bestud with stars, that they below
Would grow inur'd to light, and come 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 Nature's coin, must not be hoarded,
But must be current; and the good thereof 740
Consists in mutual and partaken bliss,
Unsavoury in the enjoyment of itself;
If you let slip time, like a neglected rose
Lad. I had not thought to have unlock'd my lips
In this unhallow'd air, but that this juggler[eyes,
Would think to charm my judgment, as mine
Obtruding false rules prank'd in reason's garb.
I hate when Vice can bolt her arguments,
And Virtue has no tongue to check her pride.-
postor! do not charge most innocent Nature,
As if she would her children should be riotous
With her abundance; she, good cateress,
Means her provision only 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 some few with vast excess,
Nature's full blessings would be well dispens'd
In unsuperfluous even proportion,
And she no wit encumber'd with her store;
And then the Giver would be better thank'd,
His praise due paid: for swinish Gluttony
Ne'er looks to Heaven amidst his gorgeous feast,
But with besotted base ingratitude
Crams, and blasphemes his feeder. Shall I go on?
Or have I said enough To him that dares 780
Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words
Against the sun-clad power of Chastity,
Fain would I something say, yet to what end?
Thou hast nor ear, 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 should'st not know
More happiness than this thy present lot.
Enjoy your dear wit, and gay rhetoric, 790
That hath so well been taught her dazzling fence;
Thou art not fit to hear thyself convinc'd:
Yet, should I try, the uncontrolled worth
Of this pure cause would kindle my rapt spirits
To such 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 magic structures, rear'd so high,
Were shatter'd into heaps o'er thy false head.
Com. She fables not; I feel that I do fear 800
Her words set off by some superior power;
And though not mortal, yet a cold shuddering
Dips me all o'er, as when the wrath of Jove
Speaks thunder, and the chains of Erebus,
To some of Saturn's crew. I must dissemble,
And try her yet more strongly.-Come, no more;
This is mere moral babble, and direct'
Against the canon-laws of our foundation;
I must not suffer this: yet 'tis but the less
What, have you let the false enchanter 'scape? Oye mistook, ye should have snatch'd his wand, And bound him fast; without his rod revers'd, And backward mutters of dissevering power, We cannot free the Lady that sits here In stony fetters fix'd, and motionless : Yet stay, be not disturb'd; now I bethink me, Some other means I have which may be us'd, Which once of Melibus old I learnt, The soothest shepherd that e'er pip'd on plains.
There is a gentle nymph not far 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 sceptre from his father brute.
She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged stepdame Guendolen,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
That staid her flight with his cross-flowing
The water-nymphs, that in the bottom play'd,
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 asphodel;
And through the porch and inlet of each sense
Dropt in ambrosial oils, till she reviv'd, 840
And underwent a quick immortal change,
Made goddess of the river: still she retains
Her maiden gentleness, and oft at eve
Visits the herds along the twilight meadows,
Helping all urchin blasts, and ill-luck signs
That the shrewd meddling elfe delights to make,
Which she with precious vial'd liquors heals;
For which the shepherds at their festivals
Carol her goodness loud in rustic lays,
And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream
Of pansies, pinks, and gaudy daffodils.
And, as the old swain said, she can unlock
The clasping charm, and thaw the numming
If she be right invok'd in warbled song;
For maidenhood she loves, and will be swift
To aid a virgin, such as was herself,
In hard-besetting need; this will I try,
And add the power of some adjuring verse.
Listen, and appear to us, In name of great Oceanus ; By the Earth-shaking Neptune's mace, And Tethys' grave majestic pace, By hoary Nereus' wrinkled look, And the Carpathian wisard's hook, By scaly Triton's 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 Syrens sweet, By dead Parthenope's dear tomb, And fair Ligea's golden comb, Wherewith she sits on diamond rock, Sleeking her soft alluring locks; By all the nymphs that nightly dance Upon thy streams with wily glance, Rise, rise, and heave thy rosy head, From thy coral-paven bed, And bridle in thy headlong way?, Till thou our summons answer'd have. Listen, and save.
By the rusby-fringed bank,
Where grows the willow, and the ozier dank,
Thick set with agate, and the azurn sheen
My sliding chariot stays,
Of turkis blue, and emerald green,
That in the channel strays;
Whilst from off the waters fleet
Thus I set my printless feet
O'er the cowslip's velvet head,
That bends not as I tread ;
Gentle swain, at thy request,
I am here.
SABRINA rises, attended by water-nymphs, and sings.
Sp. 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 enchanter vile.
Sabr. Shepherd, 'tis my office best
To help ensnared chastity:
Brightest lady, look on me;
Thus I sprinkle on thy breast
Drops, that from my fountain pure
I have kept, of precious cure;
Thrice upon thy rubied lip:
upon thy finger's tip,
Next this marble venom'd seat,
Smear'd with gums of glutinous beat,
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 bower.
Sp. Virgin, daughter of Locrine
Sprung of old Anchises' line,
May thy brimmed waves for this
Their full tribute never miss
From a thousand pretty rills,
That tumble down the snowy hills ;
Sabrina descends, and the Lady rises out of her seat.
With some other new device.
Not a waste or needless sound,
Till we come to holier ground;
I shall be your faithful guide
Through this gloomy covert wide,
And not many furlongs thence
Is your father's residence,
Where this night are met in state
Many a friend to gratulate
His wish'd presence; and beside
All the swains, that there abide,
With jigs and rural dance resort;
We shall catch them at their sport,
And our sudden coming there
Will double all their mirth and cheer:
Come, let us haste, the stars grow high,
But night sits monarch yet in the mid sky.
There I suck the liquid air
All amidst the gardens fair
930 Of Hesperus, and his daughters three
That sing about the golden tree:
Along the crisped shades and bowers^
Revels the spruce and jocund Spring;
The Graces, and the rosy-bosom'd Hours,
Thither their bounties bring;
There eternal Summer dwells,
And west-winds, with musky wing,
About the cedar'd alleys fling
Nard and cassia's balmy smells.
940 Iris there with humid bow
The Scene changes, presenting Ludlow town and the president's castle; then come in country dancers, after them the Attendant Spirit, with the two Brothers and the Lady.
Other trippings to be trod
Of lighter toes, and such court guise
As Mercury did first devise,
With the mincing Dryades,
On the lawns, and on the leas.
Waters the odorous banks, that blow
Flowers of more mingled hew
Than her purfled scarf can show;
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
950 Sadly sits the Assyrian queen :
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;
Heaven hath timely tried 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'ér sensual Folly and Intemperance.
The dances [being] ended, the Spirit epiloguizes.
Sp. To the ocean now I fly, And those happy climes that lie Where day never shuts his eye, Up in the broad fields of the sky:
But far above in spangled sheen
Celestial Cupid, her fam'd son, advanc'd,
Holds his dear Psyche sweet entranc'd.
After her wandering 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 done,
Quickly to the green earth's end,
I can fly, or I can run,
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 Virtue; she alone is free:
She can teach ye how to climb
Higher than the sphery chime;
Or if Virtue feeble were,
Heaven itself would stoop to her.
ORIGINAL VARIOUS READINGS OF COMUS.
From Milton's MS, in his own hand.
STAGE-DIRECTIONS. "A guardian spirit or damon" [enters.] After v. 4, "In regions mild, · &c." These lines are inserted, but crossed.
Amidst th' Hesperian gardens, on whose banks Bedew'd with nectar and celestiall songs, Eternall roses grow, and hyacinth,
And fruits of golden rind, on whose faire tree
The scalie-harnest dragon ever keeps
His unenchanted eye; around the verge
And sacred limits of this blissful isle,
The jealous ocean, that old river, windes
His farre extended armes, till with steepe fall
Halfe his wast flood the wild Atlantique fills,
And halfe the slow unfadom'd stygian poole.
But soft, I was not sent to court your wonder
With distant worlds, and strange removed Ver. 145. Breake off, breake off, I hear the dif climes.
Yet thence I come, and oft from thence behold.
Of some chaste footing neere about this ground;
Some virgin sure benighted in these woods,
For so I can distinguish by myne art. Run to your shrouds within these braks and trees,
In the third of the preceding lines, "Eternal roses yeeld" had been also written, and then "bloome;" both which are crossed, and grow remains. After stygian poole the following lines, throug which the pen is drawn, occur:
Our number may affright.——
I doubt me, gentle mortalls, these may seeme This disposition is reduced to the present conStrange distances to heare and unknowne climes. text: then follows a STAGE-DIRECTION. Then follows in the margin, But soft, &c. Ver. 5. the smoke and stir of this dim nar- Ver. 151. row spot. After v. 7, Strive to keep up, &c." this line Ver. 153. was inserted, but crossed,
Excels his mother at her potent art.
Covert is written first, then shelter.
Ver. 67. For most doe taste through weake in-
Ver. 72. All other parts remaining as before.
Ver. 90. Neerest and likeliest to give præsent
Ver. 92. Of virgin steps. I must be viewlesse
Virgin is expunged for hatefull.
STAGE-DIRECTION. "Goes out.-Comus enters
with a charming rod and glasse of liquor, with
his rout all headed like some wild beasts; thire
garments, some like men's and some like women's.
They come on in a wild and antic fashion. In-
Ver. 97. In the steepe Tartarian streame.
Ver. 99. Shoots against the northern pole.
Dusky is a marginal correction.
Ver. 108. And quick Law with her scrupulous
Ver. 114. Lead with swift round the months and
Beyond the written date of mortall change.
Ver. 14. That shews the palace of æternity.
Ver. 18. But to my buisnesse now. Neptune
Ver. 21. The rule and title of each sea-girt isle.
Ver. 28. The greatest and the best of all his em-
Ver. 45. By old or modern bard, in hall or
Ver. 58. Which therefore she brought up and
nam'd him Comus.
In the margin, whome.
Ver. 176. they adore the bounteous Pan.
Praise had been first written and crossed through;
and adore written over it, but also crossed; and
a line drawn under to signify that the original
Ver. 62. And in thick covert of black shade im- word should be restored. Mr. Whiter in his
Ver. 117. And on the yellow sands and shelves.
Yellow is altered to tawny."
Ver. 122. Night has better sweets to prove.
Ver. 133. And makes a blot in nature.
And throws a blot ore all the aire.
Ver. 134. Stay thy polisht ebon chaire
Wherein thou ridest with Hecaté,
And favour our close jocundrie.
Till all thy dues bee done, and nought
Ver. 144. With a light and frolick round.
STAGE-DIRECTION. "The measure, in a wild,
rude, and wanton antic,"
68 They all scatter."
Now to my trains,
And to my mother's charmes,-
Thus I hurle
My powder'd spells into the spungic air, Of power to cheat the eye with sleight illusion,
And give it false præsentments, else the place.
And blind is written for sleight.
Ver. 164. And hugge him into nets.-
Ver. 170.- If my ear be true.
Ver. 175. When for their teeming flocks, and
learned Specimen of a Commentary on Shakespeare, first noticed this method of emendation, adopted by the poet. See the Specimen, p. 132-134. Ver. 181. In the blind alleys of this arched wood.
Ver. 190. Rose from the hindmost wheeles of
Ver. 193 They had eugag'd thire youthly steps
To the soone-parting light, and envious
Had stolne them from me.-
With everlasting oyle to give thire
And ayrie toungs that lure night-wan-
Thou flittering angel girt with golden
And thou unspotted forme of Chastity,
I see ye visibly, and while I see yee,
This duskye hollow is a paradise,
And heaven gates ore my head: now I
Ver. 219. Would send a glistering cherub, if need were.
Ver. 229. Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far hence.
Ver. 231. Within thy ayrie cell.
Cell is in the margin.
Ver. 243. And give resounding grace, is written
in the margin of the manuscript; and the for
mer part of the line, which regularly concluded
the song, is blotted out with great care; but
enough, I think, remains to show that the poet,
and not Lawes, wrote And hold a counterpointe.
Before Comus speaks at v. 244, is this STAGE-
DIRECTION. "Comus looks in and speaks."
Ver. 252. Of darknesse till she smil'd.---
Ver. 254. Culling their powerfull herbs.