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Our stedfast Bard, to his own genius true,
thrown, Beheld, and made what it beheld his own.
Such Milton was: 'ris ours to bring him forth, And yours to vindicate neglected worth. Such heav'n-taught numbers should be more than
read, More wide the manna through the nation spread, like some bless'd spirit he to-night descends,
Mankind he visits, and their steps befriends; Through mazy error's dark perplexing wood Points out the path of true and real good, Warns erring youth, and guards the spotless
maid P rom spell of magic vice, by reason's aid. Attend the strains; and should some meaner
phrase Hang on the style and clog the nobler lavs, Excuse what wc with trembling hand.supply, To give his beauties to the public eye: His the pure essence, ours the grosser mean Through which his spirit is in action seen. Observe the force, observe the flame divine That glows, breathes, acts, in each harmonious
line. Great objects only, strike the gen'rous heart; Praise the sublime, o'erlook the mortal part: Be there your judgment, here your candour shewn; Small is our portion—and we wish 'twere none.
SCENE I—Dianers a wild Wood.'
The first Attendant Spirit enters.
Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
Tic second 4tt'Utlunt Spirit descends.
clouds; Instant I stoop'd my wing, and downward sped To learn thy errand, and with thine to join My kindred aid, from mortals ne'er withheld When virtue on the brink of peril stands.
1 Spi. Then mark th' occasion that demands it here. Neptune, I need not tell, besides the sway Of ev'ry salt flood and each ebbing stream, Took in by lot, 'twixt high and nether Jove, Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles Tlsat, like tp rich and various gems, inlay The unadorned bosom of the deep; Which he, to grace his tributary gods, By course commits to sev'ral government,'
And gives them leave to wear their npjiart
crowns, And wield their little tridents; but this isle, The greatest and the best of all the main, He quarters to his blue hair'd deities; And all this track that fronts the falling sin A noble peer of mickle trust and pow"r Has in his charge, with temperM awe to gride An old and haughty nation proud in arm.
2 Spi. Does any danger threat his legal sia From bold sedition or close-ambush'd treasoa: 1 Spi. No danger thence; but to his lofty seat, Which borders on the verge of this wild nk, His blooming offspring, nurs'd in princelj lot, Are coming to attend their father« state And new-entrusted sceptre, and their Wjj Lies through the perplex'd path of this drat
wood, The nodjftag horror of whose shad) brovs Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger; And here their tender age plight suser peril, But that by wick command trow 60*'wig» J«> I was disputcVd for their defence and pW 2 .fpi. What peril can then- iflnaseaa e*& Witlun these louely and unpeopled 4*<W 1 Spi. Atdmi my words. l£o jdaosbut Ubows dagger; In ev'ry region virtue finds a foe. Bacchus, that first from .out the purple gap Crushed the sweet poison of misused trice, After the Tuscan mariners transfrnu'd, Coasting the Tyrrhene shore as the Finds lasted On Circe's island fell: (who knows not tint, The daughter of the Sun, whose fi^trndpf Whoever tasted lost his upright shape, And downward fell iuto a groy'liag s»iav :'i Tlus nymph, that g*z'd upon lus.a&st'wg"*** With ivy berries wreath'd, and his Withe youth, Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son Much like his father, but his mother more, Whom therefore she brought up, and Coma nam'd. 2 iSpi. Mhomen'd birth to Virtue and her Sobs' 1 Spi. He, ripe and frolic of his fuU-grownaje, Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields, At last betakes him to this ominous wood, And in thick shelter of black shades jmboW' Excels his mother at her mighty art, Offring to every weary traveller His orient liquor in a crystal glass To quench the drought of Phoebus jwhjdiiithT
taste, (For most dp taste through fond intemp'ratcdunt) Soon as the potion works, their human count'ia** Th' express resemblance of the gods, is chaaj1" Into some brutish form of wolf or bear, Or ounce or tiger, hog or bearded goat, All other parts remaining as they were:
Yet, when he walks his tempting rounds, the
sorcerer By magic power their human face restores And outward beauty, to delude the sight.
3 5/>i. Lose they the memory of their former
state? 1 Spi. No, they (so perfect is their misery) Not once perceive their foul disfigurement. But boast themselves more comely than before; And all their friends and native home forget, To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
S Spi. Degrading fall! from such a dire distress What pain too great our mortal charge to save' 1 Spi. For this, when any favour'd of high Jove Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade, Swift as the sparkle ofa glancing star I shoot from heaven to give him safe convoy, As now I do; and opportune thou com'st To shore an office which thy nature loves. This be our task ; but first I must put off These my sky robes spun out of Ins' woof, And take the weeds and likeness of a swain That to the service of this house belongs, Who with his soft pipe and smooth-ditt/d song Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar, And hush the waving woods; nor of less faith, And in this office of nis mountain watch Likeliest and nearest to the present aid Of this occasion. Veil'd in such disguise Be it my care the scver'd youths to guide To their distress'd and lonely sister; thine To cheer her footsteps through the magic wood. Whatever blessed spirit hovers near, On errands bent to wand'ring mortal good, If need require, him summon to thy side; Unseen of mortal eye such thoughts inspire, Such heaven-born confidence, as need demands In hour of trial.
2 Spi. Swift as winded winds To my glad charge I fly. [Exit.
1 Spi. I'll wait a while
To watch the sorcerer, for I hear the tread
Comus enter*, with a thinning rod in one hand,
Comut. [Speaks.] The star that bids the shep-
Now Phabus sinktlh in the west.
Midnight shout and revelry,
Rigour now is gone to bed;
We, that are of purer fire,
SONO. By a Woman.
By dimpled brook and fountain brim
Night has better sweets to prove;
Comus. Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport,
SONG. By Comus and Woman.
From tyrant laws and customs free,
Why should niggard rules control
Comus. Come kast hands, and beat the ground In a light fantastic round.
A Dance, Break off, break off; I feel the different pace Of some chaste footing near about this ground. Run to your shrouds within these brakes and
trees; Our number may affright. Some virgin sure
Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd! ill is lost that praise That is address'd to unattending ears: Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift How to regain my sevcrM company, Compell'd me to awake the courteous Echo To give me answer from her mossy couch. Com. What cliance, good lady, liatli bereft you
bloom? Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazored lips. Com. Two such I saw what time the labour'd ox In his loose traces from the furrow came, And the swink't hedgcr at his supper sat. 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 than human: as they stood, I took it for a fairy vision Of some gay creatures of the element, Thut in the colours of the rainbow live, And play i* th' plighted clouds. I was awe-struck, And as I passu I worshippM: if those vou seek, It were a journey like the path to lica\\i To help you find them.
Lady. Gentle Villager, What readiest way would bring me to that place? Cum. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
Lady. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose, In such a scant allowance of star-light. Would overtask the best land pilot's art, Without the sure guess of well practis'd feet.
Com. I know each lane and ev'ry alley grcerij Dingle or bushy dell, of this wide wood, And ev'ry bosky bourn from side to side, My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood; And if your stray attendants be yet lodg'd, Or shroud within these limits, I shall know Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark From her thatch'd pallat rouse: if otherwise, I can conduct you, Lady, to a low But loyal cottage, where you may be safe Till farther quest.
Lady. Shepherd, I take thy word, And trust thy honest ofTer'd courtesy, Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds With smoky rafters, than in tap'stry halls And courts of princes, where it first was ruun'd, And yet is most pretended. In a place Less warranted than this, or less secure, I cannot be, that I should fear to change it. Eye me, bless'd Providence, and square my trial To my proportion'd strength!—Shepherd, lead on. [Exrunt.
Enter CuMUs' Crew from behind the trees.
SONG. By a Man. Fly swiftly, ye minutet! till Comus receive The nameless soft transports that beauty rati fire; The bowl's frotick joys let him leach her to prove, And she in return yield the raptures of love.
\\rithout love and nine, wit and beauty are vain, All grandeur insipid, and riches a pain, The most splendid palace grouts dark us the grave: Love and n>inc give, ye Gods, or take back what you gave.
Away, away, away,
Enter the Two Brothers.
E. Bro. Uiuiiniile, ye faint Stars! and thou, fair Moon! That wont'st to love the traveller's benison, Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud, And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here In double night of darkness and of shades; Or if your influence be quite damin'd up With black usurping mists, some gentle taper, Though a rush candle, from the wicker-bole Of some clay habitation, visit us
With thy long levcll'd ride of streaming light,
T. Bro. Or, if our eyes