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“ 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

351 “ Of some gay creatures of the element, " That in the colours of the rainbow live, “ And play i' th' plighted clouds. I was awe-struck, “ And as I pass’d I worshipp’d:” if those you seek It were a journey like the path to heav'n To help you find them.

Lady. Gentle Villager,
What readiest way would bring me to that place ?

Com. “ 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, 362 “ 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 green, 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 370 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 offer'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 nam’d, 380 “ 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.

[Exeunt.

Enter Comus' Crew from behind the trees.

SONG. By a Man.
Fly swiftly, ye Minutes! till Comus receive
The nameless soft transports that beauty can give;
The bowl's frolick joys let him teach her to prove,
And she in return yield the raptures of love.
Without love and wine, wit and beauty are vain,
All grandeur insipid, and riches a pain,

391 The most splendid palace grows

the

grave : Love and wine give, ye Gods, or take back what you gave.

dark as

CHORUS.

Away, away, away,
To Comus court repair;
There night outshines the day,
There yields the melting fair.

397

ACT II. .

" Enter the two BROTHERS.

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« Elder Brother. UNMUFFLE, ye faint Stars! and thou, fair Moon ! “ That wont'st to love the traveller's benison, " Stoop thy pale visage thro'an amber cloud, “ And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here “ In double night of darkness and of shades; “ Or if your influence be quite damm’d up “ With black usurping mists, some gentle taper, “ Tho'a rush candle, from the wicker-hole « Of some clay habitation, visit us “ With thy long levellid rule of streaming light, “ And thou shalt be our star of Arcady « Or Tyrian Cynosure.

Y. Bro. “Or, if our eyes Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear “ The folded flocks penn’d in their wattled cotes, “ Or sound of past’ral reed with oaten stops, " Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock “ Count the night-watches to his feathery dames, 6. "Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering, " In this close dungeon of innum'rous boughs. “ But oh! that hapless virgin, our lost sister ! “ Where may she wander now, whither betake her “ From the chill dew, amongst rude burs and thistles? Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,

20

“ Or’gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm “ Leans her unpillow'd head, fraught with sad fears : “ What if in wild amazement and affright? “ Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp Of savage hunger or of savage heat?

E. Bro. “ Peace brother; be not over exquisite 39 To cast the fashion of uncertain evils; “ For, grant they be so, while they rest unknown “ What need a man forestal his date of grief, “ And run to meet what he would most avoid ? “ Of 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 unprincipled in virtue’s book, “ And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever, “ As that the single want of light and noise 49 “ (Not being in danger, as I trust she is not) “ Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts, “ And put them into misbecoming plight. “ Virtue could see to do what Virtue would “ By her own radiant light tho’ sun and moon “ Were in the flat sea sunk; and Wisdom's 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 bustle of resort

50 “ Were allto ruffled, and sometimes impair’d. “ He, that has light within his own clear breast,

May sit i'th' centre 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.

Y. Bro. “ 'Tis most true “ That musing Meditation most affects “ The pensive secrecy of desert cell, * Far from the chearful haunt of men and herds, 60 " And sits as safe as in a senate house;

For who would rob a hermit of his weeds, “ His few books, or his beads, or maple dish, " Or do his

grey
hairs
any

violence ? “ But Beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree “ Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard Of dragon watch with unenchanted eye, To save her blossonis, and defend her fruit “ From the rash hand of bold Incontinence. " You may as well spread out the unsunn'd heaps 70 “ Of misers' treasure by an outlaw's 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 wild surrounding waste. “ Of night or loneliness it recks me not; “ I fear the dread events that dog them both, « Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person 6 Of our unowned sister. E. Bro. “ I do not, brother,

80 “ Infer as if I thought my sister's state “ Secure, without all doubt or controversy ; “ Yet, where an equal poise of hope and fear “ Does arbitrate th’ event, my nature is

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