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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,
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.
Enter Comus' Crew from behind the trees.
SONG. By a Man.
391 The most splendid palace grows
grave : Love and wine give, ye Gods, or take back what you gave.
Away, away, away,
ACT II. .
" Enter the two BROTHERS.
« 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,
“ 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
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