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And fill’d the air with barbarous dissonance;
At which I ceased, and listen'd them awhile,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respite to the drowsy 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 distillid perfumes,
And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might
Deny her nature, and be never more,
Ştill to be so displaced. 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 perceive it was the voice
Of my most honor'd Lady, your dear sister.
Amazed I stood, barrow'd with grief and fear;
And, O poor hapless nightingale! thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare!
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste,
Through paths and turnings often trod by day;
Till, guided by mine ear I found the place,
Where that damn’d wizard, 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 wish'd prey;
Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two,
Supposing him some neighbour villager.
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess'd
Ye were the two she meant: with that I
Into swift flight, till I had found you here:
But further know I not.
O night, and shades ! How are ye join’d with hell in triple knot
Against the' unarm'd weakness of one virgin,
Alone, and helpless! Is this the confidence
You gave me, 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;-,
Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt;
Surprised 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 itself shall back recoil,
And mix no more with goodness; when at last
Gather'd like scum, and settled to itself,
It shall be in eternal restless change
Self-fed and self-consumed: if this fail,
The pillar'd firmament is rottenness, [on.
And earth's base built on stubble.-Butcome, let's
Against the’ opposing will and arm of Heaven
May never this just sword be lifted up!
But for that damn’d magician, let him be girt
With all the grisly legions that troop
Under the sooty flag of Acheron;
Harpies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms
'Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out,
And force him to return his purchase back;
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death,
Cursed as his life.
Alas! good venturous youth ! I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise; But here thy sword can do thee little stead: Far other arms and other weapons must
Be those, that quell the might of hellish charms :
He with his bare wand can unthread thy joints,
And crumble all thy sinews.
Why pr’ythee, Shepherd !
How durst thou then thyself approach so near,
As to make this relation ?
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 virtuous plant, and healing herb, That spreads her verdant leaf to the morning ray: He loved me well, and oft would beg me sing ; Which when I did, he on the tender grass Would sit and hearken e’en to ecstasy, And in requital ope his leathern scrip, And show me simples of a thousand names, Telling their 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 flower, but not in this soil; Unknown, and like esteem'd, and the dull swain Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon : And yet more med’cinal is it than that moly, That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave: He call'd it hæmony, and gave it me, And bade me keep it as of sovran use 'Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or damp, Or ghastly furies' apparition. I pursed it up, but little reckoning made, Till now that this extremity compellid : But now I find it true; for by this means
I knew the foul enchanter though disguised,
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 necromancer's hall :
Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood,
And brandish'd blade rush on him; break his glass,
And shed the luscious liquor on the ground;
But seize his wand: though he and his cursed crew
Fierce sign of battle make, and menace high,
Or like the son of Vulcan vomit smoke,
Yet will they soon retire, if he but shrink.
FIRSTB. Thyrsis ! lead on apace: I'll follow thee; And some good angel bear a shield before us!
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.
Nay, Lady! sit: if I but wave this wand,
Your nerves are all chain'd up in alabaster,
And you a statue, or, as Daphne was,
Root-bound, that fled Apollo.
Fool! do not boast; Thou canst not touch the freedom of
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
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
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
For gentle usage and soft delicacy?
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 tired all day without repast,
And timely rest have wanted: but, fair Virgin !
This will restore all soon.
"Twill not, false Traitor! 'Twill not restore the truth and honesty, That thou hast banish'd from thy tongue with lies. Was this the cottage, and the safe abode, Thou toldst me of? What grim aspects are these, These ugly-headed monsters ? Mercy guard me! Hence with thy brew'd enchantments, foul De
Hast thou betray'd my credulous innocence
With visor'd falsehood and base forgery?
And wouldst thou seek again to trap me here