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“ In ev'ry region Virtue finds a foe. “ Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape “ Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine, “ After the Tuscan mariners transform’d, “ Coasting the Tyrrhenne shore as the winds listed " On Circe's island fell : (who knows not Circe, “ The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup " Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
80 “ And downward fell into a grov’ling swine?) “ This nymph, that gaz'd upon his clust'ring 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 therefore she brought up and Comus nam’d.
S. Spi. “ill-cmen'd birth to Virtue and her sons!
F. Spi. “ He, ripe and frolick of his full grown age, " Roving the Celtick and Iberian fields, “ At last betakes him to this ominous wood, " And in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd “ Exccls his mother at her mighty art, “ Off’ring to ev'ry weary traveller “ His orient liquor in a crystal glass “ To quench the drought of Phæbus, which as they
taste, (For most do taste thro' fond intemp’rate thirst) “ Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance, “Th? express resemblance of the gods, is chang'd !! Into some brutish form of wolf or bear, 66 Or ounce or tiger, hog or bearded goat, “ All other parts reinaining as they were :
“ Yet, when he walks his tempting rounds, the sorcerer “ By magic pow'r their human face restores “ And outward beauty to delude the sight. S. Spi. “Lose they the mem'ry of their former state?
“ 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 ? F. Spi.
“ For this, when any favour'd of high Jove “ Chances to pass thro' this advent'rous glade, “ Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star “ I shoot from heaven to give him safe convoy, “ As now I do; and opportune thou com’st “To share an office which thy nature loves. “ This be our task; but first I must put off “ These my sky robes spun out of Iris' 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-ditty'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 his mountain watch " Likeliest and nearest to the present aid “ Of this occasion. Veil'd in such disguise “ Be it my care the sever'd youths to guide “ To their distress'd and lonely sister ; thine 130 “ To cheer her footsteps thro' the magic wood.
“ Whatever blessed spirit hovers near,
“ Swift as winged winds “ To my glad charge I fly.
[Exit. -I'll wait a while
140 " To watch the sorcerer, for I hear the tread “Of hateful 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 Men and Women dressed as Bacchanals; they come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands.
Comus speaks.] 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 Atlantic stream; And the slope sun his upward beam Shoots against the dusky pole, Pacing tow'rd the other goal
150 Of his chamber in the east; Mean-while welcome joy and feast.
Midnight shout and revelry,
Rigour now is gone to bed;
With their grave saws, in slumber lie.
SONG. By a Woman.
Night has better sweets to prove;
'Tis only day-light that makes sin. Comus, Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport, Dark-veil'd Cotytto! to whom the secret flame 180
Of midnight torches þurn. Mysterious dame !
SONG. By Comus and Woman.
Why should niggard rules control
Comus. Come, knit hands and beat the ground In a light fantastic round.
Break off, break off; I feel the diff'rent pace