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Part of an Entertainment presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby, at Harefield, by some noble persons of her family; who appear on the scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of state, with this song.
Look, Nymphs and Shepherds, look,
What sudden blaze of majesty
Is that which we from hence descry,
Too divine to be mistook;
This, this is she
To whom our vows and wishes bend;
Here our solemn search hath end.
Fame, that her high worth to raise,
Seem'd erst so lavish and profuse,
We may justly now accuse
Of detraction from her praise;
Less than half we find express'd,
Envy bid conceal the rest.
5 This] Jonson's Ent. at Altrope, 1603.
'This is shee,
This is shee,
In whose world of grace,' &c.
Mark what radiant state she spreads,
In circle round her shining throne,
Shooting her beams like silver threads;
This, this is she alone,
Sitting like a Goddess bright,
In the centre of her light.
Might she the wise Latona be,
Or the tower'd Cybele,
Mother of a hundred Gods?
Juno dares not give her odds;
Who had thought this clime had held
A deity so unparallel'd?
As they come forward, the GENIUS of the wood appears, and turning toward them, speaks.
'Alpheum, fama est, huc Elidis amnem Occultas egisse vias subter mare, qui nunc Ore, Arethusa, tuo,' &c.
GEN. Stay, gentle Swains, for though in this disguise,
I see bright honour sparkle through your eyes;
Of famous Arcady ye are, and sprung
Of that renowned flood, so often sung,
Divine Alphéus, who by secret sluice
Stole under seas to meet his Arethuse;
ye, the breathing roses of the wood,
Fair silver-buskin'd Nymphs, as great and good,
23 give] Too lightly expressed for the occasion. Hurd. Alpheus] Virg. Æn. iii. 694.
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 has 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 canker'd venom bites.
When evening gray doth rise, I fetch my round
Over the mount, and all this hallow'd ground; 55
50 brush] Tempest, act i. sc. 4.
'As wicked dew as e'er my mother brush'd.' and P. L. v. ver. 429. Warton.
46 curl] Jonson's Mask at Welbeck, 1633, ver. 15. 'When was old Sherwood's head more quaintly curl'd.' Warton.
62 cross] Shakesp. Jul. Cæs. act i. sc. 3.
And when the cross blue lightning seem'd to open
The breast of heaven.'
And early, ere the odorous breath of morn
Awakes the slumb'ring leaves, or tassel'd 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 lock'd 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 measur'd motion draw
After the heavenly tune, which none can hear
Of human mould, with gross unpurged ear;
And yet such music worthiest were to blaze
The peerless height of her immortal praise,
And I will purge thy mortal grossness so, &c.
73 gross] Compare Shakesp. Merchant of Venice, act v.
'There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st, But in his motion like an angel sings, Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims: Such harmony is in immortal sounds! But whilst this muddy vesture of decay Doth grossly close us in, we cannot hear it. Shakesp. Mid. N. D. act iii. sc. 1.
Whose lustre leads us, and for her most fit, 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.
O'ER the smooth enamell'd 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.
I will bring you where she sits,
Clad in splendour as befits
Such a rural Queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.
'This shade, sun-proof, is yet no proof for thee.' Warton and Todd.
NYMPHS and Shepherds dance no more
89 star] 'Sun-proof arbours.' Sylvester's Du Bartas, 171, and G. Peele's David and Bethsabe, 1599.