Comus A Mask Presented at Ludlow-Castle, 1634 &c. by John Milton
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 aëreal 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 Lady. 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. SONG Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph that livst unseen Within thy airy shell By slow Mæander'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 prævent, 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 Hæmony, 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 Melibæus 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. SONG. 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 Neptunes 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 Ligéa'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 SONG 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—