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JOHN LORD VISCOUNT BRACKLEY,
SON AND HEIR APPARENT TO THE EARL OF BRIGEWATER, &c.
MY LORD THIS poem,
which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your
noble family, and much honor from your own person in the performance, now returns again to make a final dedication of itself to you. Although not openly acknowledged by the author, yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely, and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my several friends satisfaction, and brought me to a necessity of producing it to the public view; and now to offer it up in all rightful devotion to those fair hopes, and rare endowments of
your much promising youth, which give a full assurance, to all that know you, of a future excellence. Live, sweet Lord, to be the honor of your name, and receive this as your own, from the hands of him, who hath by many favors been long obliged to your most honored parents, and as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression Your faithful and most humble Servant,
The Attendant Spirit, afterwards in the habit of
Comus, with his Crew.
Sabrina, the Nymph.
THE CHIEF PERSONS, WHO PRESENTED, WERE
The Lord Brackley.
Mr. Thomas Egerton, his brother.
The Lady Alice Egerton.
The first Scene discovers a wild Wood. The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descends or enters.
BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aërial spirits live insphered
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call earth; and, with low-thoughted
Confined and pester'd in this pinfold here, [care
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true servants,
Amongst the enthroned gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire
To lay their 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 vapors of this sin-worn mold.
But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway
Of every salt flood and each ebbing stream,
Took in, by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove,
Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles,
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 several government,
And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns,
And wield their little tridents. But this Isle,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
rters to his blue-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 awe to guide
An old and haughty nation, proud in arms :
Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore,
Are coming to attend their father's state,
And new-entrusted sceptre: but their way
Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drearwood,
The nodding horror of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger;
And here their tender age might suffer peril,
But that by quick command from sovran Jove
I was despatch'd for their defence and guard :
And listen why; for I will tell
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.
Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine, After the Tuscan mariners transform’d, Coasting the Tyrrhene shore as the winds listed, On Circe's island fell. (Who knows not Circe, The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup Whoever tasted lost his upright shape, And downward fell into a grovelling swine !) This nymph, that gazed upon his clustering locks With ivy berries wreathed, and his blithe youth, Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up,and Comus named:
Who, ripe and frolic of his full grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood;
And in thick shelter of black shades embower'd
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass, (taste
To quench the drought of Phæbus; which as they
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst),
Soon as the potion works, their human countenance,
The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
Into some 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 their misery,
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,
But boast themselves more comely than before ;
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual stye.
Therefore when any, favor'd of high Jove,
Chances to pass through this adventurous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from heaven 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 likeness 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 nearest to the present aid