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* You sun-burnt sicklemen, of August weary, Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call Earth; and, with low-thoughted Where is this stage-direction, “Enter certain Reapers, properly habited: they join with the Confind and pester'd in this pin-fold here, nymphs in a graceful dance." The Tempest pro- Strive to keep up a frail and" feverish being, bably did not appear before the year 1612. Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives,
That Milton had his eye on this ancient dra- | After this mortal change,to her true servants, 10 ma, which might have been the favourite of his Amongst the enthron'd gods on sainted seats. early youth, perhaps it may be at least affirm- Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire ed with as much credibility, as that he conceiv- To lay their just hands on that golden key, . ed the Paradise Lost, from seeing a Mystery at That opes the palace of Eternity : Florence, written by Andreini a Florentine in To such my errand is; and, but for such, -1617, entitled Adamo.
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds In the mean time it must be confessed, that with the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould. Milton's magician Comus, with his cup and But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway wand, is ultimately founded on the fable of Of every salt flood, and each ebbing stream, Circe. The effects of both characters are much Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove 90 the same. They are both to be opposed at first Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles, with force and violence. Circe is subdued by That, like to rich and various gems, inlay the virtues of the herb moly which Mercury The unadorned bosom of the deep: gives to Ulysses, and Comus by the plant hae- Which he, to grace his tributary gods, mony which the Spirit gives to the two Bro- By course commits to several government, thers. About the year 1615, a mask called the And gives them leave to wear their sapphire Inner Temple Masque, written by William
crowns, Browne, author of Brilannia's Pastorals, which I And wield their little tridents: but this isle, chave frequently cited, was presented by the The greatest and the best of all the main, students of the Inner Temple. See Notes on He quarters to his blue-hair'd deities; Com. v. 252, 636, 659. It has been lately And all this tract that fronts the falling Sun 30 printed from a manuscript in the library of A noble peer of mickle trust and power Emanuel College: but I have been informed, Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide that a few copies were printed soon after the An old and haughty nation, proud in arms : presentation. It was formed on the story of Where his fair offspring, nursid in princely lore, Circe, and perhaps might have suggested some Are coming to attend their father's state, few bints to Milton. I will give some proofs of And new-entrusted sceptre: but their way parallelism as we go along.
Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear The genius of the best poets is often deter
wood, mined, if not directed, by circumstance and ac- The nodding horrour of whose shady brows cident. It is natural, that even so original a Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger; writer as Milton should have been biassed by the And here their tender age might suffer peril, 40 reigning poetry of the day, by the composition most But that by quick command from sovran Jove in fasbion, and by subjects recently brought for- I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard : ward, but soon giving way to others, and almost And listen why; for I will tell you now as soon totaliy neglected and forgotten.
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine, The ATTENDANT Spirit, afterwards in the habit Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
After the Tuscan mariners transform'd, of THYRSIS.
On Circe's island fell: (Who knows not Circe,50 COMUS, with his crew.
The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup THE LADY.
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape, FIRST BROTHER.
And downward fell into a groveling swine ?) Second BROTHER.
This nymph, that gaz'd upon bis clustering locks SABRINA, the Nymph.
With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blithe youth,
Had by him, ere be parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus
Who, ripe and frolic of his full grown age,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood;
And, in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd,
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
Offering to every weary traveller
To quench the drought of Phoebus; which asthey | Venus now wakes, and wakens love. taste
[thirst:) | Come, let us our rites begin; (For inost do taste through fond intemperate 'Tis only day-light that makes sin, Soon as the potion works, their human counte- Which these dun shades will ne'er report.nance, Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport,
128 The express resemblance of the gods, is chang'd Dark-veil'd Cotytto! to whom the secret dame Into some brutish form of wolf, or bear, 70 Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame, Or ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat, That ne'er art call’d, but when the dragon woon All other parts remaining as they were;
Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air;
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out;
Our conceal'd solemnity.-
In a light fantastic round.
Break off, break off, I feel the different pace
Of some chaste fuoting near about this ground. Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid 90 Run to your shrouds, within these brakes and Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
trees; Of hateful steps ; I must be viewless now.
Our number may affright : some virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art) 149 Comus enters with a charming-rod in one hand, his Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms,
glass in the other; with him a rout of monsters, And to my wily trains : I shall ere long
Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
And give it false presentments, lest the place Comus.
And my quaint habits breed astonishment, The star, that bids the shepherd fold,
And put the damsel to suspicious fight; Now the top of Heaven doth hold;
Which must not be, for that's against my course: And the gilded car of day
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
160 His glowing axle doth allay
And well-plac'd words of glozing courtesy In the steep Atlantic stream;
Baited with reasons not unplausible, And the slope Sun bis upward beam
Wind me into the easy-hearted man, * Shouts against the dusky pole,
And hug him into snares. When once her eye Pacing towards the other goal
100 Hath met the virtue of this magic dust, Of his chamber in the east.
I shall appear some harınless villager, Mean while welcome Joy, and Feast,
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear. Midnight Shout, and Revelry,
But here she comes; I fairly step aside, Tipsy Dance, and Jollity.
And hearken, if I may, her business here.
The Lady enters.
This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, 170 And Advice with scrupulous head.
My best guide now: methought it was the sound Strict Age and sour Severity,
of riot and ill-manag'd merriment, With their grave saws, in slumber lie. 110 Such as the jocund Aute, or gamesome pipe, We, that are of purer fire,
Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds; Imitate the starry quire,
When for their teeming flocks, and granges full, Who, in their nightly watchful spheres, In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, Lead in swift round the months and years. And thank the gods amiss. I should be loth The sounds and scas, with all their finny drove, To meet the rudeness, and swill'd insolence, Now to the Moon in wavering morrice move; Of such late wassailers; yet 0! where else And, on the tawny sands and shelves, 119 Shall I inform my unacquainted feet
180 Trip the pert faeries and the dapper elves, In the blind mazes of this tangled wood? By dimpled brook and fouptajn brim,
My brothers, when they saw me wearied out The wood-nymphs, deck'd with daisies trim, With this long way, resolving here to lodge Th. ir merry wakes and pastimes keep;
Under the spreading favour of these pines, What ha'h night to do with sleep?
Stept, as they said, to the uext thicket side, Night hath better sweets to prove,
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind hospitable woods provide.
At every fall smoothing the raven-down 251 They left me then, when the gray-hooded Even, Of darkness, till it smil'd! I have oft heard Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed, 189 My mother Circe with the Syrens three, Rose from the bindmost wheels of Phoebus' wain. Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades, But where they are, and why they came not back, Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs; Is now the labour of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest Who, as they sung, would take the prison'd soul, They had engag‘d their wandering steps too far; And lap it in Elysium: Scylla wept, And envious darkness, ere they could return,
And chid her barking waves into attention, Had stole them from me: else, o thievish Night, And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause: Why should'st thou, but for some felonious end, Yet they in pleasing slumber lull’d the sense, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,
And in sweet madness robb'd it of itself; 261 That Nature hung in Heaven, and fill'd their But such a sacred and home-felt delight, With everlasting oil, to give due light (lamps Such sober certainty of waking bliss, To the misled and lonely traveller? 200 I never heard till now.I'll speak to her, This is the place, as well as I may guess,
And she shall be my queen.--Hail, foreign wonder! Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth Whom certain these rough shades did never breed, Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear; Unless the goddess that in rural shrine Yet nought but single darkness do I find. Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan; by blest song What this might be? A thousand fantasies Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog Begin to throng into my memory,
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood, Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire, Lad. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that And aery tongues, that syllable mens names 208 That is address'd to unattending ears; (praise On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses. Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift These thoughts may stactle well, but not astound, How to regain my sever'd company, The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended Compell’d me to awake the courteous Echo 275 By a strong siding champion, Conscience.— To give me answer from her mossy couch. O welcome pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope, Com. What chance, good lady, hath bereft Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings, And thou, unblemish'd form of Chastity!
Lad. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth. I see ye visibly, and now believe
[ill Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things Lad. They left me weary on a grassy turf., 280
guides? Are but as slavish officers of vengeance, Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why? To keep my life and honour unassaild. 220 Lad. To seek ithe valley some cool friendly Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud
spring. Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady? I did not err, there does a sable clond
Lad. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
return, And casts a gleam over this tufted grove:
Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them. I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
Lad. How easy my misfortune is to hit ! Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need? I'll venture; for my new-enliven'd spirits Lad. No less than if I should my brothers lose. Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off. Con. Were they of manly prime, or youthful
Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen
Com, Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox Within thy aery shell,
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink'd hedger at his supper sat ;
I saw them under a green mantling viue,
That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots; Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
Their port was more than human, as they stood:
I took it for a faery vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
That in the colours of the rainbow live, 300
240 And play i' the plighted clouds. I was aw-struck, Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere! And, as I past, I worshipt; if those you seek,
So may'st thou be translated to the skies, It were a journey like the path to Heaven, And give resounding grace to all Heaven's har. To help you find them, monies,
What readiest way would bring me to that place? Enter Comus.
Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point. Comus. Can any mortal mixture of earth's Lad. To fiod out that, good shepherd, Lsuppose, mould
In such a scant allowance of star-light, Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment? 245 Would overtask the best land-pilot's art, Sure something holy lodges in that breast, Without the sureguess of well-practis'd feet. 310 And with these raptures moves the vocal air Com. I know each lane, and every alley green, To testify his hidden residence.
Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood, How sweetly did they float upon the wings And every bosky bourn from side to side, Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night, My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood;
And if your stray attendants be yet lodg'd, 315 | She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings, Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
That in the various bustle of resort Ere morrow wake, or the low roosted lark
Were all-to ruffed, and sometimes impair'd. From her thatch'd pallet rouse ; if otherwise, He that has light within his own clear breast, Ican conduct you, ladly, to a low,
May sit i' the centre, and enjoy bright day : But loyal cottage, where you may be safe But lie, that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts, Till further quest.
Benighted walks under the mid-day Sun;
385 And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,
'Tis most true, Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
That musing Meditation most affects
And sits as safe as in a senate-house;
For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
Of dragon-watch, with unenchanted eye, 395 Enter The Two BROTHERS.
To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit, El. Br. Unmuffe, ye faint stars; and thou, fair From the rash hand of bold Incontinence. Moon,
You may as well spread out the unsunud heaps That wont'st to love the traveller's benison, Of misers' treasure by an outlaw's den, Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud, And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here
Danger will wink on Opportunity, In double night of darkness and of shades; 355 And let a single belpless maiden pass Or, if your influence be quite damm'd up Uninjur'd in this wild surrounding waste, With black usurping mists, some gentle taper, Of night, or loneliness, it recks me not; Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole I fear the dread events that dog them both, 405 Of some clay habitation, visit us
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person With thy long-levell'd rule of streaming light; Of our unowned sister, And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
I do not, brother, Or Tyrian Cynosure.
Infer, as if I thought my sister's state Sec. Br.
Or, if our eyes
Secure, without all doubt or controversy; Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear Yet, where an equal poise of hope and fear The folded flocks penn'd in their wattled cotes, Does arbitrate the event, my nature is Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops, 345 That I incline to hope, rather than fear, Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock And gladly banish squint suspicion, Count the night watches to his feathery dames, My sister is not so defenceless left "Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering, As you imagine ; she has a hidden strength, 415 In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs. Which you remember not. But, О that hapless virgin, cur lost sister ! Sec. Br.
What hidden strength, Where may she wander now, whither betake her Unless the strength of Heaven, if you meau From the chill dew, among rude burs and thistles?
that? Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now, EI. Br. I mean that too, but yet a hidden Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm
[own: Leans her unpillow'd head, fraught with sad which, if Heaven gave it, may be term'd her fears,
335 'Tis Chastity, my brother, Chastity:
May trace huge forests, and unharbour'd heaths,
Where, through the sacred rays of Chastity,423 For grant they be so, while they rest unknown, No savage fierce, bandite, or mountaineer, What need a man forestall his date of grief, Will dare to soil her virgin purity : And run to meet what he would most avoid ? Yea there, where rery Desolation dwells, Or, if they be but false alarms of fear,
By grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid sbades, How bitter is such self-delusion !
365 She may pass on with unblench'd majesty, I do not think my sister so to seek,
Be it not done in pride, or in presumption.
Some say, no evil thing that walks by night
Blue meager hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost (Not being in danger, as I trust she is not,) That breaks his magic chains at Curfeu time, Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts, No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
436 And put them into misbecoming plight.
Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.
Do ye believe me yet, or shall I call
Wherewith she tam'd the brinded lioness
How could'st thou find this dark sequester'd And spotted mountain-pard, but set at nought
500 The frivolous bolt of Cupid ; gods and men Spir. O my lov'd master's heir, and his nextjoy, Feard her stern frown, and she was queen o' the I came not here on such a trivial toy woods.
As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield, Of pilfering wolf ; not all the fleecy wealth, That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin, That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeald To this my errand, and the care it brought. stone,
But, O my virgin lady, where is she? But rigid looks of chaste auterity,
450 How chance she is not in your company ? And noble grace, that dash'd brute violence El. B. To tell thee sadly, shepherd, without With sudden adoration and blank awe?
blame, So dear to Heaven is saintly Chastity,
Or our neglect, we lost her as we came. 510 That, when a soul is found sincerely so,
Spir. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true. A thousand liveried angels lackey her,
Él. B. What fears, good Thyrsis? Pr’ythee Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt;
briefly show. And, in clear dream and solemn vision,
Spir. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous, Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear; (Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance,) Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
What the sage poets, taught by the heavenly Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,
Storied of old in high immortal verse, [Muse, The unpolluted temple of the mind,
Of dire chimeras, and enchanted isles, And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence, 460 And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to Hell ; Till all be made immortal : but when Lust, For such there be, but unbelief is blind. By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk, Within the navel of this hideous wood, 520 But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Immur'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells, Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus, The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries;
By sly enticement gives his baneful cup, (poison
Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
Character'd in the face : this have I learnt 530 To a degenerate and degraded state.
Tending my flocks hard by i' the hilly crofts, Sec. Br. How charming is divine philosophy! That brow this bottom-glade; whence night by Not barsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
night But musical as is Apollo's lute,
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl, And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey, Where no crude surfeit reigns.
Doing abhorred rites to Hecate El. Br.
List, list; I hear in their obscured baunts of inmost bowers. Some far off halloo break the silent air. 481 Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells, Sec. B. Methought so too'; what should it be? To inveigle and invite the unwary sense El. B.
For certain of them that pass unweeting by the way. Either some one like us night-founder'd here, This evening late, by then the chewing flocks Or else some neighbour woodman, or, at worst, Had ta'en their supper on the savoury herb 541 Some roving robber, calling to his fellows.
Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold, Sec. B. Heaven keep my sister. Again, again, I sat me down to watch upon a bank and near!
With ivy canopied, and interwove Best draw, and stand upon our guard.
With flaunting honey-suckle, and began, El. B.
I'll halloo: Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy, If he be friendly, he comes well ; if not,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy, Defence is a good cause, and Heaven be for us. Till Fancy had her fill; but, ere a close,
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods, [Enter the Attendant Spirit, hubited like a shep- and filled the air with barbarous dissonance; 550 herd.]
At which I ceas'd, and listen'd them a while, That halloo I should know ; what are you? Till an unusual stop of sudden silence speak;
490 Gave respite to the drowsy frighted steeds, Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else. That draw the litter of close-curtain'd Sleep ; Spir. What voice is that? my young lord ? At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound speak again.
Rose like a steam of rich distillid perfumes, Sec. B. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might El. B. Thyrsis ? Whose artful strains have oft Deny her nature, and be never more, delay'd
Still to be so displac'd. I was all ear, The huddling brouk to hear his madrigal,
And touk in strains that might create a soul. And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale? Under the ribs of Death : but O ! ere long, How cam'st thou here, good swain? hath any ram Too well I did perceive it was the voice Slipt from the fold, or young kid lost his dam, Of my most honour'd lady, your dear sister. Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ? Amaz’d I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear,