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Of that renowned flood, so often sung,
Divine' Alpheus, who, by secret sluice,
Stole under seas to meet his Arethuse ;
And ye, the breathing roses of the wood,
Fair silver-buskined Nymphs, as great and good.
I know this quest of yours and free intent
Was all in honour and devotion meant
To the great mistress of yon princely shrine,
Whom with low reverence I adore as mine,
And with all helpful service will comply
To further this night's glad solemnity,
And lead ye where ye may more near behold
What shallow-searching Fame hath left untold ;
Which I full oft, amidst these shades alone,
Have sat to wonder at, and gaze upon.
For know, by lot from Jove, I am the Power
Of this fair wood, and live in oaken bower,
To nurse the saplings tall, and curl the grove
With ringlets quaint and wanton windings wove ;
And all my plants I save from nightly ill
Of noisome winds and blasting vapours chill ;
And from the boughs brush off the evil dew,
And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue,
Or what the cross dire-looking planet smites,
Or hurtful worm with cankered venom bites.
When evening grey doth rise, I fetch my round
Over the mount, and all this hallowed ground ;
And early, ere the odorous breath of morn
Awakes the slumbering leaves, or tasselled horn
Shakes the high thicket, haste I all about,
Number my ranks, and visit every sprout
With puissant words and murmurs made to bless.
But else, in deep of night, when drowsiness
Hath locked up mortal sense, then listen I
To the celestial Sirens' harmony,
That sit upon the nine infolded spheres,
And sing to those that hold the vital shears,
And turn the adamantine spindle round
On which the fate of gods and men is wound.
Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie,
To lull the daughters of Necessity,
And keep unsteady Nature to her’law,
And the low world in measured motion draw
After the heavenly tune, which none can hear
Of human mould with gross unpurgèd ear.
And yet such music worthiest were to blaze
The peerless height of her immortal praise

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Whose lustre leads us, and for her most fit,
If my inferior hand or voice could hit
Inimitable sounds. Yet, as we go,
Whate'er the skill of lesser gods can show
I will assay, her worth to celebrate,
And so attend ye toward her glittering state ;
Where ye may all, that are of noble stem,
Approach, and kiss her sacred vesture's hem.

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II. Song
O’er the smooth enamelled green,
Where no print of step hath been,

Follow me, as I sing

And touch the warbled string :
Under the shady roof
Of branching elm star-proof

Follow me.
I will bring you where she sits,
Clad in splendour as befits

Her deity.
Such a rural Queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.

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III. Song
Nymphs and Shepherds, dance no more

By sandy Ladon's lilied banks ;
On old Lycæus, or Cyllene hoar,

Trip no more in twilight ranks ;
Though Erymanth your loss deplore,

A better soil shall give ye thanks.
From the stony Mænalus
Bring your flocks, and live with us ;
Here ye shall have greater grace,
To serve the Lady of this place.
Though Syrinx your Pan's mistress were,
Yet Syrinx well might wait on her.

Such a rural Queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.

COMUS.

“A MASQUE PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634, &c."

(For the Title pages of the Editions of 1637 and 1645 see Introduction at p. 426 and p. 427.)

DEDICATION OF THE ANONYMOUS EDITION OF 1637.
(Reprinted in the Edition of 1645, but omitted in that of 1673.)

To the Right Honourable John, Lord Brackley, son and heir-apparent to

the Earl of Bridgewater, &c." My Lord,

This Poem, which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your noble family, and much lovnour from your own person in the performance, now returns again to make a final dedication of itself to you. Although not openly acknowledged by the Author, yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely and so much desired that the often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my several friends satisfaction, and brought me to a necessity of producing it to the public view, and now to offer it up, in all rightful devotion, to those fair hopes and rare endowments of your much promising youth, which give a full assurance to all that know you of a future excellence. Live, sweet Lord, to be the honour of your name ; and receive this as your own from the hands of him who hath by many favours been long obliged to your most honoured Parents, and, as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression “ Your faithful and most humble Servant,

“H. LAWES.”

The Copy of a Letter written by Sir Henry Wotton to the Author upon the

following Poem.
(In the Edition of 1645: omitted in that of 1673.)

“From the College, this 13 of April, 1638.

“ Sir,

“ It was a special favour when you lately bestowed upon me here the first taste of your acquaintance, though no longer than to make me know that I wanted more time to value it and to erjoy it rightly; and, in truth, if I could then have imagined your farther stay in these parts, which I understood afterwards by Mr. H., I would have been bold, in our vulgar phrase, to mend my draught (for you left me with an extreme thirst), and to have begged your conversation agair, jointly with your said learned friend, over a poor meal or two, that we might have banded together some good Authors of the ancient time; among which I observed you to have been familiar.

“Since your going, you have charged me with new obligations, both for a very kind letter from you dated the 6th of this month, and for a dainty piece of entertainment which came therewith. Wherein I should much commend the tragical part, if the lyricai did not ravish me with a certain Doric delicacy in your Songs and Odes, whereunto I must plainly confess to have see: yet nothing parallel in our language : Ipsa mollities. But I must not omit to tell you that I now only owe you thanks for intimating unto me (how modestly soever) the true artificer. For the work itself I had viewed some good while before with singular delight; having received it from our common friend Mr. R., in the very close of the late R.'s Poems, printed at Oxford : whereunto it was added (as I now suppose) that the accessoiy might help out the principal, according to the art of Stationers, and to leave the reader con la bocca dolce.

Now, Sir, concerning your travels ; wherein I may challenge a little more privilege of discourse with you. I suppose you will not blanch Paris in your way: therefore I have been bold to trouble you with a few lines to Mr. M. B., whom you shall easily find attending the young Lord S. as his governor ; and you may surely receive from him good directions for the shaping of your farther journey into Italy where he did reside, by my choice, some time for the King, after mine own recess from Venice.

“I should think that your best line will be through the whole length of France to Marseilles, and thence by sea to Genoa ; whence the passage into Tuscany is as diurnal as a Gravesend barge. I hasten, as you do, to Florence or Siena, the rather to tell you a short story, from the interest you have given me in your safety.

At Siena I was tabled in the house of one Alberto Scipioni, an old Roman courtier in dangerous times; having been steward to the Duca di Pagliano, who with all his family were strangled, save this only man that escaped by foresight of the tempest. With him I had often much chat of those affairs, into which he took pleasure to look back from his native harbour ; and, at my departure toward Rome (which had been the centre of his experience), I had won his confidence enough to beg his advice how I might carry myself there without offence of others or of mine own conscience. Signor Arrigo mio,' says he, 'I pensieri stretti ed il viso sciolto will go safely over the whole world. Of which Delphian oracle (for so I have found it) your judgment doth need no commentary; and therefore, Sir, I will commit you, with it, to the best of all securities, God's dear love, remaining 'Your friend, as much to command as any of longer date,

HENRY WOTTON.”

Postscript. “Sir: I have expressly sent this my footboy prevent your departure without some acknowledgment from me of the receipt of your obliging letter ; having myself through some business, I know not how, neglected the ordinary conveyance. In any part where I shall understand you fixed, I shall be glad and diligent to entertain you with home-novelties, even for some fomentation of our friendship, too soon interrupted in the cradle.”

THE PERSONS.

The ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterwards in the habit of THYRSIS.
Comus, with his Crew.
THE LADY.
FIRST BROTHER.
SECOND BROTHER.
SABRINA, the Nymph.

The Chief Persons which presented were :

The Lord Brackley ;
Mr. Thomas Egerton, his Brother ;
The Lady Alice Egerton.

(This list of the Persons, &c., appeared in the Edition of 1645, but was omitteci

in that of 1673.)

LL

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