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The Scene changes to a stately palace, set out with all manner of deliciousness ; soft music, tables spread with all dainties. Comus appears with his rabble, and the Lady set in an enchanted chair, to whom he offers his glass, which she puts by, and goes about to rise.

Comus. Nay, lady, sit; if I but wave this wand, Your nerves are all chain'd up in alabaster, 660 And you a statue; or, as Daphne was, Root-bound, that fled Apollo. Lady.

Fool, do not boast; Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind With all thy charms, although this corporal rind Thou hast immanacled, while Heaven sees good.

Comus. Why are you vex'd, lady? why do you frown? Here dwell no frowns, nor anger; from these gates Sorrow flies far: see, here be all the pleasures That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts, When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns

670
Brisk as the April buds in primrose season.
And first behold this cordial julep here,
That flames and dances in his crystal bounds,
With spirits of balm and fragrant syrups mix'd;
Not that Nepenthes, which the wife of Thone,
In Egypt, gave to Jove-born Helena,
Is of such power to stir up joy as this,
To life so friendly, or so cool to thirst.
Why should you be so cruel to yourself,
And to those dainty limbs, which nature lent 680
For gentle usage and soft delicacy?
But
you

invert the covenants of her trust,
And harshly deal, like an ill borrower,
With that which you received on other terms;
Scorning the unexempt condition
By which all mortal frailty must subsist,

Refreshment after toil, ease after pain,
That have been tried all day without

repast,
And timely rest have wanted; but, fair

virgin, This will restore all soon.

Lady. 'Twill not, false traitor !690 'Twill not restore the truth and honesty That thou hast banish'd from thy tongue

with lies.

[graphic]

Was this the cottage, and the safe abode,
Thou told'st me of? What grim aspects are these,
These ugly-headed monsters ? Mercy guard me!
Hence with thy brew'd enchantments, foul deceiver!
Hast thou betray'd my credulous innocence
With vizor'd falsehood and base forgery?
And would'st thou seek again to trap me here
With liquorish baits, fit to ensnare a brute ?

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Were it a draught for Juno when she banquets,
I would not taste thy treasonous offer; none,
But such as are good men, can give good things;
And that which is not good is not delicious
To a well-govern'd and wise appetite.

Comus. O foolishness of men! that lend their ears To those budge doctors of the Stoic fur, And fetch their precepts from the Cynic tub, Praising the lean and sallow abstinence! Wherefore did nature pour her bounties forth 710 With such a full and unwithdrawing hand, Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks, Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable, But all to please and sate the curious taste ? And set to work millions of spinning worms, That in their green shops weave the smooth-hair'd silk, To deck her sons; and, that no corner might Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loins She hutch'd the all-worshipp'd ore and precious gems, To store her children with : if all the world

720 Should, in a pet of temperance, feed on pulse, Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but frieze, The All-giver would be unthank'd, would be unpraised, Not half his riches known, and yet despised; And we should serve him as a grudging master, As a penurious niggard of his wealth ;

And live like nature’s bastards, not her sons,
Who would be quite surcharged with her own weight,
And strangled with her waste fertility; [plumes,
The earth cumber'd, and the wing'd air dark'd with
The herds would over-multitude their lords, 731
The sea, o'erfraught, would swell, and the unsought
Would so emblaze the forehead of the deep, (diamonds
And so bestud with stars, that they below
Would

grow inured to light, and come at last
To
gaze upon

the sun with shameless brows. List, lady; be not coy, and be not cozen'd With that same vaunted name, virginity. Beauty is nature's coin; must not be hoarded, But must be current; and the good thereof 740 Consists in mutual and partaken bliss, Unsavoury in the enjoyment of itself; If you let slip time, like a neglected rose, It withers on the stalk with languish'd head. Beauty is nature's brag, and must be shown In courts, at feasts, and high solemnities, Where most may wonder at the workmanship : It is for homely features to keep home, They had their name thence; coarse complexions, And cheeks of sorry grain, will serve to ply 750 The sampler, and to tease the housewife's wool. What need a vermeil-tinctured lip for that, Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the morn? There was another meaning in these gifts ; Think what, and be advised; you are but young yet.

Lady. I had not thought to have unlock'd my lips In this unhallow'd air, but that this juggler Would think to charm my judgment, as mine eyes, Obtruding false rules prank'd in reason's garb. I hate when vice can bolt her arguments,

760

And virtue has no tongue to check her pride.
Impostor! do not charge most innocent nature
As if she would her children should be riotous
With her abundance; she, good cateress,
Means her provision only to the good,
That live according to her sober laws,
And holy dictate of spare temperance:
If every just man, that now pines with want,
Had but a moderate and beseeming share
Of that which lewdly-pamper'd luxury

770
Now heaps upon some few with vast excess,
Nature's full blessings would be well-dispensed
In unsuperfluous even proportion,
And she no whit encumber'd with her store:
And then the Giver would be better thank'd,
His praise due paid; for swinish gluttony
Ne'er looks to heaven amidst his gorgeous feast,
But, with besotted base ingratitude,
Crams, and blasphemes his Feeder. Shall I go on?
Or have I said enough? To him that dares 780
Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words
Against the sun-clad power of chastity,
Fain would I something say ;-yet to what end?
Thou hast nor ear, nor soul, to apprehend
The sublime notion, and high mystery,
That must be utter'd to unfold the sage
And serious doctrine of virginity;
And thou art worthy that thou shouldst not know
More happiness than this thy present lot.
Enjoy your dear wit, and gay rhetoric,
That hath so well been taught her dazzling fence;
Thou art not fit to hear thyself convinced :
Yet, should I try, the uncontrolled worth
Of this pure cause would kindle my rapt spirits

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