Comus; a Masque Presented at Ludlow Castle

THE PERSONS

The attendant Spirit afterwards in the habit of Thyrsis
Comus with his crew
The Lady
1 Brother
2 Brother
Sabrina the Nymph
The first scene discovers a wild wood. The attendant Spirit descends or enters .

Before the starry threshold of Joves court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aireal spirits live insphear'd
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoak and stirr of this dim spot,
Which men call Earth, and with low-thoughted care
Confin'd and pester'd in this pinfold heer,
Strive to keep up a frail and feavourish beeing
Unmindfull of the crown that vertue gives
After this mortal change to her true servants
Amongst the enthron'd gods on sainted seats.
Yet som there be that by due steps aspire
To lay thir just hands on that golden key
That opes the palace of Eternity:
To such my errand is, and but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.
But to my task. Neptune besides the sway
Of every salt flood and each ebbing stream
Took in by lot 'twixt high, and neather Jove
Imperial rule of all the sea-girt Iles
That like to rich and various gems inlay
The unadorned bosom of the deep,
Which he to grace his tributary gods
By course commits to severall government
And gives them leave to wear thir saphire crowns
And weild thir little tridents, but this Ile
The greatest and the best of all the main
He quarters to his blu-hair'd deities,
And all this tract that fronts the falling sun
A noble peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with temper'd aw to guide
An old and haughty nation proud in Arms:
Where his fair ofspring nurs't in princely lore
Are comming to attend thir fathers state
And new-entrusted Scepter, but thir way
Lies through the perplext paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horror of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wandring passinger.
And heer thir tender age might suffer perill,
But that by quick command from Soveran Jove
I was dispatcht for thir defence, and guard;
And listen why, for I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in tale or song
From old or modern Bard in hall, or bowr.
Bacchus , that first from out the purple grape
Crush't the sweet poyson of mis-used wine
After the Tuscan mariners transform'd
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed
On Circe 's Iland fell (who knows not Circe
The daughter of the Sun? whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape
And downward fell into a groveling swine)
This nymph that gaz'd upon his clustring locks
With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blith youth
Had by him ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therfore she brought up, and Comus nam'd,
Who ripe and frolick of his full grown age,
Roaving the Celtick , and Iberian feilds,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood,
And in thick shelter of black shade imbowr'd,
Excells his mother at her mighty art,
Offring to every weary travailer
His orient liquor in a crystal glass
To quench the drouth of Phaebus , which as they tast
(For most do tast through fond intemperate thirst)
Soon as the potion works, thir human countnance,
Th' express resemblance of the gods, is chang'd
Into som brutish form of wolf or bear
Or Ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat,
All other parts remaining as they were,
And they, so perfect is thir misery,
Not once perceave thir foul disfigurement,
But boast themselves more comely then before
And all thir freinds and native home forget
To roul with pleasure in a sensual stie.
Therfore when any favour'd of high Jove
Chances to pass through this adventrous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from Heav'n to give him safe convoy
As now I do: but first I must put off
These my sky robes spun out of Iris woof
And take the weeds and likenes of a swain
That to the service of this house belongs,
Who with his soft pipe and smooth-dittied 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 neerest to the present aid
Of this occasion, but I hear the tread
Of hatefull steps, I must be veiwles now.
Comus enters with a charming rod in one hand, his glass in the other, with him a rout of monsters headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts, but otherwise like men and women, their apparell glistring; they com in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands .

Comus . 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 Atlantick stream,
And the slope sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky pole,
Pacing toward the other goal
Of his chamber in the East.
Mean while welcom Joy and feast,
Midnight shout, and revelry,
Tipsie dance, and jollity.
Braid your locks with rosie twine
Dropping odours, dropping wine.
Rigor now is gon to bed,
And Advice with scrupulous head,
Strict age, and sowr severity
With thir grave saws in slumber lie.
We that are of purer fire
Imitate the starry quire,
Who in thir nightly watchfull sphears
Lead in swift round the months and years.
The sounds and seas with all thir finny drove
Now to the moon in wavering morrice move,
And on the tawny sands and shelves
Trip the pert fairies, and the dapper elves.
By dimpled brook and fountain brim,
The wood nymphs deckt with daysies trim
Thir merry wakes and pastimes keep:
What hath night to do with sleep?
Night has better sweets to prove,
Venus now wakes, and wak'ns Love.
Com let us our rights begin,
'Tis only daylight that makes sin
Which these dun shades will ne're report.
Hail goddess of nocturnal sport,
Dark-vaild Cotytto, t' whom the secret flame
Of midnight torches burns; mysterious Dame
That ne're art call'd, but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darknes spitts her thickest gloom
And makes one blot of all the air,
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Wherin thou rid'st with Hecat' , and befreind
Us thy vow'd preists till utmost end
Of all thy dues be don and none left out,
Ere the blabbing eastern scout,
The nice morn on th' Indian steep
From her cabin'd loop hole peep,
And to the tell-tale sun discry
Our conceal'd solemnity.
Com, knit hands, and beat the ground,
In a light fantastick round.

The Measure.

Break off, break off, I feel the different pace
Of som chast footing neer about this ground,
Run to your shrouds within these brakes and trees,
Our number may affright. Som virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains; I shall e're long
Be well stock't with as fair a herd as graz'd
About my mother Circe . Thus I hurl
My dazling spells into the spungy air,
Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion
And give it false presentments, lest the place
And my quaint habits breed astonishment
And put the damsel to suspicious flight,
Which must not be, for that's against my course;
I under fair pretence of freindly ends
And well-plac't words of glozing courtesie
Baited with reasons not unplausible
Wind me into the easie-hearted man,
And hugg him into snares. When once her eye
Hath met the vertue of this magick dust,
I shall appear som harmles villager
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear,
But heer she comes, I fairly step aside
And hearken, if I may, her business heer.

The Lady enters.

Lady . This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,
My best guide now; me thought it was the sound
Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment,
Such as the jocond flute or gamesom pipe
Stirrs up amongst the loose unletter'd hinds,
When for thir teeming flocks, and granges full
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan
And thank the gods amiss. I should be loath
To meet the rudeness and swill'd insolence
Of such late wassailers; yet O where els
Shall I inform my unacquainted feet
In the blind maze of this tangl'd Wood?
My brothers when they saw me wearied out
With this long way, resolving heer to lodge
Under the spreading favour of these pines,
Stept, as they sed, to the next thicket side
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind hospitable woods provide.
They left me then, when the gray-hooded Eev'n
Like a sad votarist in palmers weeds
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phaebus wain.
But where they are and why they came not back
Is now the labour of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest
They had ingag'd thir wandring steps too far,
And envious darknes, e're they could return,
Had stoln them from me; els O theevish night
Why shouldst thou, but for som fellonious end,
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars
That nature hung in Heav'n, and fill'd thir lamps
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the misled and lonely travailer?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence eev'n now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife and perfet in my list'ning ear,
Yet nought but single darknes do I find.
What might this be? A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory
Of calling shapes, and beckning shadows dire,
And airy tongues, that syllable mens names
On sands, and shoars, and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The vertuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion conscience — —
O welcom pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou flittering Angel girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemish't form of Chastity,
I see ye visibly, and now beleeve
That he, the supreme good, t' whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistring guardian if need were
To keep my life and honour unassail'd.
Was I deceav'd, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err, there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
I cannot hallow to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard fardest
Ile venter, for my new-enliv'n'd spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.

SONG

Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph that liv'st unseen
Within thy airy cell
By slow Maeander's margent green ,
And in the violet-imbroider'd vale
Where the love-lorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well.
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?
O if thou have
Hid them in som flowry Cave ,
Tell me but where
Sweet Queen of Parly, Daughter of the Sphear,
So maist thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all Heav'ns harmonies .

Comus . Can any mortal mixture of Earths mould
Breath such divine inchanting ravishment?
Sure somthing holy lodges in that brest,
And with these raptures moves the vocal air
To testifie his hidd'n residence;
How sweetly did they float upon the wings
Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night,
At every fall smoothing the raven down
Of darknes till she smil'd: I have oft heard
My Mother Circe with the Sirens three,
Amidst the flowry-kirtl'd Naiades
Culling thir potent hearbs, and balefull drugs,
Who as they sung, would take the prison'd soul,
And lap it in Elysium; Scylla wept,
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause:
Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense,
And in sweet madnes rob'd it of it self,
But such a sacred, and home-felt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking bliss
I never heard till now. Ile speak to her
And she shall be my Queen. Hail forren wonder
Whom certain these rough shades did never breed
Unless the Goddes that in rurall shrine
Dwell'st heer with Pan or Silvan , by blest song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
Lady . Nay gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise
That is addrest to unattending ears,
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my sever'd company
Compell'd me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossie couch.
Comus . What chance good Lady, hath bereft you thus?
Lady . Dim darknes, and this leavy Labyrinth.
Comus . Could that divide you from neer-ushering guides?
Lady . They left me weary on a grassie terf.
Comus . By falshood, or discourtesie or why?
Lady . To seek i'th valley som cool friendly spring.
Comus . And left your fair side all unguarded Lady?
Lady . They were but twain, and purpos'd quick return.
Comus . Perhaps fore-stalling night prevented them.
Lady . How easie my misfortune is to hit!
Comus . Imports thir loss, beside the present need?
Lady . No less then if I should my brothers loose.
Comus . Were they of manly prime, or youthfull bloom?
Lady . As smooth as Hebe 's thir unrazor'd lips.
Comus . Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink't hedger at his supper sate;
I saw 'em under a green mantling vine
That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots,
Thir port was more then human, as they stood;
I took it for a faery vision
Of som gay creatures of the element
That in the colours of the rainbow live
And play i'th plighted clouds. I was aw-strook,
And as I past, I worshipt; 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?
Comus . 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,
Would overtask the best land-pilots art,
Without the sure guess of well-practiz'd feet.
Comus . I know each lane, and every alley green
Dingle, or bushy dell of this wide wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side
My dayly walks and ancient neighbourhood,
And if your stray attendance be yet lodg'd,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thach't pallat rowse, if otherwise
I can conduct you Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till furder quest.
Lady . Shepherd I take thy word,
And trust thy honest offer'd courtesie,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoaky rafters, then in tapstry halls
And courts of princes, where it first was nam'd,
And yet is most pretended: In a place
Less warranted then this, or less secure
I cannot be, that I should fear to change it;
Eye me blest providence, and square my triall
To my proportion'd strength. Shepherd lead on. —

The two Brothers.

Elder Brother . Unmuffle ye faint stars, and thou fair moon
That wontst to love the travailers benizon,
Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,
And disinherit Chaos , that raigns heer
In double night of darknes, and of shades;
Or if your influence be quite damm'd up
With black usurping mists, som gentle taper
Though a rush candle from the wicker hole
Of som clay habitation visit us
With thy long levell'd rule of streaming light,
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady ,
Or Tyrian Cynosure.
2 Brother . Or if our eyes
Be barr'd that happines, might we but hear
The folded flocks pen'd in thir watled cotes,
Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops,
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock
Count the night watches to his feathery Dames,
'Twould be som solace yet, som little chearing
In this close dungeon of innumerous bows.
But O that haples virgin our lost sister,
Where may she wander now, whether betake her
From the chill dew, amongst rude burrs and thistles?
Perhaps som cold bank is her boulster now
Or 'gainst the rugged bark of som broad Elm
Leans her unpillow'd head fraught with sad fears.
What if in wild amazement, and affright,
Or while we speak within the direfull grasp
Of Savage hunger, or of Savage heat?
Elder Brother . Peace brother, be not over-exquisite
To cast the fashion of uncertain evils;
For grant they be so, while they rest unknown,
What need a man forestall his date of grief,
And run to meet what he would most avoid?
Or 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 unprincipl'd in vertues book,
And the sweet peace that goodnes bosoms ever,
As that the single want of light and noise
(Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,
And put them into misbecomming plight.
Vertue could see to do what vertue would
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And wisdoms 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
Were all to ruffl'd, and somtimes impair'd.
He that has light within his own cleer brest
May sit i'th center, and enjoy bright day,
But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts
Benighted walks under the midday sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.
2 Brother . Tis most true
That musing meditation most affects
The Pensive secrecy of desert cell,
Far from the cheerfull haunt of men, and herds,
And sits as safe as in a Senat house,
For who would rob a Hermit of his weeds,
His few books, or his beads, or maple dish,
Or do his gray hairs any violence?
But beauty like the fair Hesperian Tree
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
Of dragon watch with uninchanted eye,
To save her blossoms and defend her fruit
From the rash hand of bold incontinence.
You may as well spred out the unsun'd heaps
Of misers treasure by an outlaws 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 wast.
Of night, or lonelines it recks me not,
I fear the dred events that dog them both,
Lest som ill greeting touch attempt the person
Of our unowned sister.
Elder Brother . I do not, brother,
Inferr, as if I thought my sisters state
Secure without all doubt, or controversie:
Yet where an equall poise of hope and fear
Does arbitrate th' event, my nature is
That I encline to hope, rather then fear,
And banish gladly squint suspicion.
My sister is not so defenceless left
As you imagine, she has a hidden strength
Which you remember not.
2 Brother . What hidden strength,
Unless the strength of Heav'n, if you mean that?
Elder Brother . I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength
Which if Heav'n gave it, may be term'd her own:
'Tis chastity, my brother, chastity:
She that has that, is clad in compleat steel,
And like a quiver'd nymph with arrows keen
May trace huge forests, and unharbour'd heaths,
Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds,
Where through the sacred rayes of chastity,
No savage feirce, bandite, or mountaneer
Will dare to soyl her virgin purity;
Yea there, where very desolation dwells
By grots, and caverns shag'd with horrid shades,
She may pass on with unblench't majesty,
Be it not don in pride, or in presumption.
Som say no evil thing that walks by night
In fog, or fire, by lake, or moorie fen,
Blue meager hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
That breaks his magick chains at curfew time,
No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
Has hurtfull power o're true virginity.
Do ye beleeve me yet, or shall I call
Antiquity from the old schools of Greece
To testifie the arms of chastity?
Hence had the huntress Dian her dred bow,
Fair silver-shafted Queen for ever chaste,
Wherwith she tam'd the brinded lioness
And spotted mountain pard, but set at naught
The frivolous bolt of Cupid ; gods and men
Fear'd her stern frown, and she was queen o'th woods.
What was that snaky-headed Gorgon sheild
That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin,
Wherwith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone?
But rigid looks of chast austerity,
And noble grace that dash't brute violence
With sudden adoration, and blank aw.
So dear to Heav'n is saintly chastity,
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lackey her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And in cleer dream, and solemn vision
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
Till oft convers with heav'nly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the souls essence,
Till all be made immortal: but when lust
By unchast looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite loose
The divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft seen in charnel vaults, and sepulchers
Hovering, and sitting by a new made grave,
As loath to leave the body that it lov'd,
And link't it self by carnal sensualty
To a degenerate and degraded state.
2 Brother . How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh, and crabbed as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo 's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
Where no crude surfet raigns.
Elder Brother . List, list, I hear
Som far off hallow break the silent Air.
2 Brother . Me thought so too; what should it be?
Elder Brother . For certain
Either som one like us night-founder'd heer,
Or els som neighbour woodman, or at worst,
Som roaving robber calling to his fellows.
2 Brother . Heav'n keep my sister! Agen, agen and neer,
Best draw, and stand upon our guard.
Elder Brother . Ile hallow,
If he be friendly he comes well, if not,
Defence is a good cause, and Heav'n be for us.

The attendant Spirit habited like a Shepherd.

That hallow I should know, what are you? speak;
Com not too neer, you fall on iron stakes else.
Spirit . What voice is that, my young Lord? speak agen.
2 Brother . O brother, 'tis my fathers shepherd sure.
Elder Brother. Thyrsis? Whose artfull strains have oft delaid
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,
And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale,
How cam'st thou heer good Swain? hath any ram
Slip't from his fold, or young Kid lost his dam,
Or straggling weather the pen't flock forsook?
How couldst thou find this dark sequester'd nook?
Spirit . O my lov'd maisters heir, and his next joy,
I came not heer on such a trivial toy
As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Of pilfering wolf, not all the fleecy wealth
That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought
To this my errand, and the care it brought.
But O my virgin Lady, where is she?
How chance she is not in your company?
Elder Brother . To tell thee sadly shepherd, without blame,
Or our neglect, we lost her as we came.
Spirit . Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true.
Elder Brother . What fears good Thyrsis? Prethee breifly shew.
Spirit . Ile tell you. Tis not vain, or fabulous,
(Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance)
What the sage poets taught by th' heav'nly Muse,
Storied of old in high immortal vers
Of dire Chimera 's and inchanted Iles,
And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to hell,
For such there be, but unbeleif is blind.
Within the navil of this hideous wood,
Immur'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells
Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus ,
Deep skill'd in all his mothers witcheries,
And heer to every thirsty wanderer
By sly enticement gives his banefull cup,
With many murmurs mixt, whose pleasing poison
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
And the inglorious likenes of a beast
Fixes instead, unmoulding reasons mintage
Character'd in the face; this have I learn't
Tending my flocks hard by i'th hilly crofts
That brow this bottom glade, whence night by night
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl
Like stabl'd wolves, or tigers at thir prey,
Doing abhorred rites to Hecate
In thir obscured haunts of inmost bowrs.
Yet have they many baits, and guilefull spells
T' inveigle and invite th' unwary sense
Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
This evening late by then the chewing flocks
Had tane thir supper on the savoury herb
Of Knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold,
I sate me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove
With flaunting honiesuckle, and began
Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy
To meditate my rural minstrelsie,
Till fancy had her fill, but ere a close
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance,
At which I ceas't, and listen'd them a while,
Till an unusuall stop of sudden silence
Gave respit to the drowsie frighted steeds
That draw the litter of close-curtain'd sleep.
At last a soft and solemn breathing sound
Rose like a steam of rich distill'd perfumes
And stole upon the air, that even silence
Was took e're she was ware, and wish't she might
Deny her nature, and be never more
Still to be so displac't. I was all ear,
And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of Death, but O ere long
Too well I did perceave it was the voice
Of my most honour'd Lady, your dear sister.
Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear,
And O poor hapless nightingale thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how neer the deadly snare!
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong hast
Through paths and turnings oft'n trod by day,
Till guided by mine ear I found the place
Where that damn'd wisard hid in sly disguise
(For so by certain signs I knew) had met
Already, ere my best speed could prevent,
The aidless innocent Lady his wisht prey,
Who gently askt if he had seen such two,
Supposing him som neighbour villager;
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I gues't
Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung
Into swift flight, till I had found you heer,
But furder know I not.
2 Brother . O night and shades,
How are ye joyn'd with hell in triple knot
Against th' unarmed weakness of one virgin
Alone, and helpless! Is this the confidence
You gave me brother?
Elder Brother . Yes, and keep it still,
Lean on it safely, not a period
Shall be unsaid for me: against the threats
Of malice or of sorcery, or that power
Which erring men call chance, this I hold firm,
Vertue may be assail'd, but never hurt,
Surpris'd by unjust force, but not enthrall'd,
Yea even that which mischief meant most harm
Shall in the happy trial prove most glory.
But evil on it self shall back recoyl,
And mix no more with goodness, when at last
Gather'd like scum, and setl'd to it self
It shall be in eternal restless change
Self-fed, and self-consum'd; if this fail,
The pillar'd firmament is rott'nness,
And earths base built on stubble. But com let's on.
Against th' opposing will and arm of Heav'n
May never this just sword be lifted up,
But for that damn'd magician, let him be girt
With all the greisly legions that troop
Under the sooty flag of Acheron ,
Harpies and Hydras , or all the monstrous buggs
'Twixt Africa and Inde . Ile find him out,
And force him to restore his purchase back,
Or drag him by the curls and cleave his scalp
Down to the hipps.
Spirit . Alas good ventrous youth,
I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise,
But heer thy sword can do thee little stead;
Farr other arms and other weapons must
Be those that quell the might of hellish charms,
He with his bare wand can unthred thy joynts,
And crumble all thy sinews.
Elder Brother . Why prethee shepherd,
How durst thou then thy self approach so neer
As to make this relation?
Spirit . Care and utmost shifts
How to secure the Lady from surprisal
Brought to my mind a certain shepherd lad
Of small regard to see to, yet well skill'd
In every vertuous plant and healing herb
That spreds her verdant leaf to th' morning ray;
He lov'd me well, and oft would beg me sing,
Which when I did, he on the tender grass
Would sit and hearken ev'n to extasie,
And in requitall ope his leathern scrip,
And shew me simples of a thousand names
Telling thir strange and vigorous faculties;
Amongst the rest a small unsightly root,
But of divine effect, he cull'd me out;
The leaf was darkish, and had prickles on it,
But in another country, as he said,
Bore a bright golden flowr, but not in this soyl:
Unknown, and like esteem'd, and the dull swayn
Treads on it dayly with his clouted shoon,
And yet more med'cinal is it then that Moly
Which Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;
He call'd it Haemony , and gave it me,
And bad me keep it as of sovran use
'Gainst all inchantments, mildew blast, or damp
Or gastly Furies apparition;
I purs't it up, but little reck'ning made,
Till now that this extremity compell'd,
But now I find it true; for by this means
I knew the foul inchanter though disguis'd
Enter'd the very lime-twigs of his spells,
And yet came off: if you have this about you
(As I will give you when we go) you may
Boldly assault the necromancers hall;
Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood,
And brandish't blade rush on him, break his glass,
And shed the lushious liquor on the ground
But sease his wand; though he and his curst crew
Feirce sign of battail make, and menace high,
Or like the sons of Vulcan vomit smoak,
Yet will they soon retire, if he but shrink.
Elder Brother. Thyrsis lead on apace, Ile follow thee,
And som good angel bear a sheild before us.
The scene changes to a stately Palace, set out with all manner of deliciousness: soft Musick, Tables spred with all dainties . Comus appears with his rabble, and the Lady set in an inchanted 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 nervs are all chain'd up in alablaster
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 immanacl'd, while Heav'n sees good.
Comus . Why are you vext Lady? why do you frown?
Heer dwell no frowns, nor anger, from these gates
Sorrow flies farr: See here be all the pleasures
That fancy can beget on youthfull thoughts,
When the fresh blood grows lively, and returns
Brisk as the April buds in primrose season.
And first behold this cordial Julep heer
That flames, and dances in his crystal bounds
With spirits of balm, and fragrant syrops mixt.
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 your self,
And to those dainty limms which nature lent
For gentle usage, and soft delicacy?
But you invert the cov'nants of her trust,
And harshly deal like an ill borrower
With that which you receav'd on other terms,
Scorning the unexempt condition
By which all mortal frailty must subsist,
Refreshment after toil, ease after pain,
That have bin tir'd all day without repast,
And timely rest have wanted, but fair Virgin,
This will restore all soon.
Lady . 'Twill not false traitor,
'Twill not restore the truth and honesty
That thou hast banisht from thy tongue with lies;
Was this the cottage, and the safe abode
Thou toldst me of? What grim aspects are these,
These oughly-headed monsters? Mercy guard me!
Hence with thy brew'd inchantments, foul deceaver;
Hast thou betrai'd my credulous innocence
With visor'd falshood and base forgeries
And wouldst thou seek again to trap me heer
With lickerish baits fit to ensnare a brute?
Were it a draft 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 foolishnes of men! that lend thir ears
To those budge doctors of the stoick furr,
And fetch thir precepts from the cynick tub,
Praising the lean and sallow abstinence.
Wherfore did nature powr her bounties forth
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 thir 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 loyns
She hutch't th' all-worshipt ore and precious gems
To store her children with; if all the world
Should in a pet of temperance feed on pulse,
Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but freise,
Th' all-giver would be unthank't, would be unprais'd,
Not half his riches known, and yet dispis'd,
And we should serve him as a grudging maister,
As a penurious niggard of his wealth,
And live like natures bastards, not her sons,
Who would be quite surcharg'd with her own waight
And strangl'd with her wast fertility;
Th' earth cumber'd, and the wing'd air dark't with plumes,
The herds would over-multitude thir Lords,
The sea o'refraught would swell, and th' unsought diamonds
Would so emblaze the forhead of the deep
And so bestudd with stars that they below
Would grow inur'd to light, and com 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 natures coyn, must not be hoorded,
But must be currant, and the good therof
Consists in mutual and partak'n bliss,
Unsavoury in th' injoyment of it self.
If you let slip time, like a neglected rose
It withers on the stalk with languish't head.
Beauty is natures brag, and must be shown
In courts, at feasts, on high solemnities
Where most may wonder at the workmanship;
It is for homely features to keep home,
They had thir name thence; course complexions
And cheeks of sorry grain will serve to ply
The sampler, or to teize the huswifes wooll.
What need a vermeil-tinctur'd lip for that,
Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the morn?
There was another meaning in these guifts,
Think what, and be advis'd, you are but young yet.
Lady . I had not thought to have unlockt my lips
In this unhallow'd air, but that this jugler
Would think to charm my judgement, as mine eyes
Obtruding false rules pranckt in reasons garb.
I hate when vice can bolt her arguments,
And vertue 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
Now heaps upon som few with vast excess,
Natures full blessings would be well dispens't
In unsuperfluous eev'n proportion,
And she no whit encumber'd with her store,
And then the giver would be better thankt,
His praise due paid, for swinish gluttony
Ne're looks to Heav'n amidst his gorgeous feast,
But with besotted base ingratitude
Cramms, and blasphemes his feeder. Shall I go on?
Or have I said anough? To him that dares
Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words
Against the Sun-clad power of Chastity,
Fain would I somthing 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 happines then this thy present lot.
EnjoY your deer Wit, and gay Rhetorick
That hath so well been taught her dazling fence,
Thou art not fit to hear thy self convinc't;
Yet should I try, the uncontrouled worth
Of this pure cause would kindle my rapt spirits
To such a flame of sacred vehemence,
That dumb things would be mov'd to sympathize,
And the brute Earth would lend her nerves, and shake,
Till all thy magick structures rear'd so high,
Were shatter'd into heaps o're thy false head.
Comus . She fables not, I feel that I do fear
Her words set off by som superior power;
And though not mortal, yet a cold shuddring dew
Dips me all o're, as when the wrath of Jove
Speaks thunder, and the chains of Erebus
To som of Saturns crew. I must dissemble,
And try her yet more strongly. Com, no more,
This is meer moral babble, and direct
Against the canon laws of our foundation;
I must not suffer this, yet 'tis but the lees
And setlings of a melancholy blood;
But this will cure all streight, one sip of this
Will bath the drooping spirits in delight
Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise and tast.
The brothers rush in with Swords drawn, wrest his Glass out of his hand, and break it against the ground; his rout make sign of resistance, but are all driven in. The attendant Spirit comes in .

Spirit . What, have you let the false enchanter scape?
O ye mistook, ye should have snatcht his wand
And bound him fast; without his rod revers't
And backward mutters of dissevering power,
We cannot free the Lady that sits heer
In stony fetters fixt and motionless;
Yet stay, be not disturb'd, now I bethink me,
Som other means I have which may be us'd,
Which once of Melibaeus old I learnt
The soothest shepherd that e're pip't on plains.
There is a gentle Nymph not farr from hence
That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream,
Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure;
Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine ,
That had the scepter from his father Brute .
She guiltless damsell, flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged stepdam Guendolen ,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood
That stay'd her flight with his cross-flowing course.
The water nymphs that in the bottom plaid
Held up thir pearled wrists and took her in,
Bearing her strait to aged Nereus hall,
Who piteous of her woes, rear'd her lank head,
And gave her to his daughters to imbath
In nectar'd lavers strew'd with Asphodil,
And through the porch and inlet of each sense
Dropt in Ambrosial oils till she reviv'd
And underwent a quick immortal change,
Made goddess of the river; still she retains
Her maid'n gentlenes, and oft at eeve
Visits the herds along the twilight meadows,
Helping all urchin blasts, and ill luck signs
That the shrewd medling elf delights to make,
Which she with pretious viold liquors heals.
For which the shepherds at thir festivals
Carrol her goodnes loud in rustick layes,
And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream
Of pancies, pinks, and gaudy daffadils.
And, as the old swain said, she can unlock
The clasping charm, and thaw the numming spell,
If she be right invok't in warbled song,
For maid'nhood she loves, and will be swift
To aid a virgin, such as was her self
In hard besetting need; this will I try
And add the power of som adjuring verse.

SONG

Sabrina fair
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of Lillies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
Listen for dear honours sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save .

Listen and appear to us
In name of great Oceanus ,
By th' earth-shaking Neptunes mace,
And Tethys grave majestick pace,
By hoary Nereus wrincled look,
And the Carpathian wizards hook,
By scaly Tritons winding shell,
And old sooth-saying Glaucus spell,
By Leucothea 's lovely hands,
And her son that rules the strands,
By Thetis tinsel-slipper'd feet,
And the songs of Sirens sweet,
By dead Parthenope 's dear tomb,
And fair Ligea 's golden comb,
Wherwith she sits on diamond rocks
Sleeking her soft alluring locks,
By all the Nymphs that nightly dance
Upon the streams with wily glance,
Rise, rise, and heave thy rosie head
From thy coral-pav'n bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answer'd have.
Listen and save.

Sabrina rises, attended by water-nymphs, and sings.

By the rushy-fringed bank,
Where grows the willow and the osier dank,
My sliding chariot stayes,
Thick set with agat, and the azurn sheen
Of turkis blew, and emrauld green
That in the channell strayes,
Whilst from off the waters fleet
Thus I set my printless feet
O're the Cowslips Velvet head
That bends not as I tread.

Gentle swain at thy request
I am heer.
Spirit . Goddess dear
We implore thy powerful hand
To undoe the charmed band
Of true virgin heer distrest,
Through the force, and through the wile
Of unblest inchanter vile.
Sabrina . Shepherd 'tis my office best
To help insnared chastity;
Brightest Lady look on me,
Thus I sprinkle on thy brest
Drops that from my fountain pure,
I have kept of pretious cure,
Thrice upon thy fingers tip,
Thrice upon thy rubied lip;
Next this marble venom'd seat
Smear'd with gumms of glutenous heat
I touch with chast palms moist and cold,
Now the spell hath lost his hold;
And I must hast ere morning howr
To wait in Amphitrite 's bowr.

Sabrina descends, and the Lady rises out of her seat,

Spirit . Virgin, daughter of Locrine
Sprung of old Anchises line,
May thy brimmed waves for this
Thir full tribute never miss
From a thousand petty rills
That tumble down the snowy hills:
Summer drouth, or singed air
Never scorch thy tresses fair,
Nor wet Octobers torrent flood
Thy molten crystal fill with mudd;
May thy billows rowl ashoar
The beryl and the golden ore,
May thy lofty head be crown'd
With many a towr and terrace round,
And heer and there thy banks upon
With groves of myrrhe, and cinnamon.

Com Lady while Heav'n lends us grace,
Let us fly this cursed place,
Lest the sorcerer us intice
With som other new device.
Not a wast or needless sound
Till we com to holier ground,
I shall be your faithfull guide
Through this gloomy covert wide,
And not many furlongs thence
Is your Fathers residence,
Where this night are met in state
Many a freind to gratulate
His wish't presence, and beside
All the swains that there abide,
With Jiggs and rural dance resort.
We shall catch them at thir sport,
And our sudden comming there
Will double all thir mirth and chere;
Com let us hast, the stars grow high,
But night sits monarch yet in the mid sky.
The scene changes presenting Ludlow Town and the Presidents Castle, then com in country-dancers, after them the attendant Spirit, with the two brothers and the Lady .

SONG

Spirit. Back shepherds, back, anough your play,
Till next sunshine holiday,
Heer be without duck or nod
Other trippings to be trod
Of lighter toes, and such court guise
As Mercury did first devise
With the mincing Dryades
On the lawns, and on the leas.

This second Song presents them to their father and mother.

Noble Lord and Lady bright,
I have brought ye new delight,
Heer behold so goodly grown
Three fair branches of your own.
Heav'n hath timely tri'd thir youth,
Thir faith, thir patience, and thir truth.
And sent them heer through hard assays
With a crown of deathless praise,
To triumph in victorious dance
O're sensual folly, and intemperance.

The dances ended, the Spirit Epiloguizes.

Spirit . To the Ocean now I fly,
And those happy climes that lie
Where day never shuts his eye,
Up in the broad feilds of the sky:
There I suck the liquid air
All amidst the gardens fair
Of Hesperus and his daughters three
That sing about the golden tree:
Along the crisped shades and bowrs
Revels the spruce and jocond Spring,
The Graces, and the rosie-boosom'd Howrs,
Thither all thir bounties bring,
That there eternal Summer dwells,
And west winds, with musky wing
About the cedarn alleys fling
Nard , and Cassia 's balmy smells.
Iris there with humid bow
Waters the odorous banks that blow
Flowers of more mingled hew
Then her purfl'd scarf can shew,
And drenches with Elysian dew
(List mortals, if your ears be true)
Beds of hyacinth and roses
Where young Adonis oft reposes,
Waxing well of his deep wound
In slumber soft, and on the ground
Sadly sits th' Assyrian Queen;
But farr above in spangled sheen
Celestial Cupid her fam'd Son advanc't
Holds his dear Psyche sweet intranc't
After her wandring labours long,
Till free consent the gods among
Make her his eternal bride,
And from her fair unspotted side
Two blissful twins are to be born,
Youth and Joy; so Jove hath sworn.
But now my task is smoothly don,
I can fly, or I can run
Quickly to the green earths end,
Where the bow'd welkin slow doth bend,
And from thence can soar as soon
To the corners of the Moon.
Mortals that would follow me,
Love vertue, she alone is free,
She can teach ye how to clime
Higher then the spheary chime;
Or if Vertue feeble were,
Heav'n it self would stoop to her.
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