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So Virtue, given for lost,
Depress'd, and overthrown, as seem'd
Like that self-begotten bird1
In the Arabian woods embost,2
That no second knows nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust,3
From out her ashy womb now teem'd,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem'd;
And, though her body die, her fame survives
A secular4 bird, ages of lives.
Man. Come, come; no time for lamentation now, Nor much more cause; Samson hath quit himself Like Samson, and heroickly hath finish'd A life heroick; on his enemies Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning, And lamentation to the sons of Caphtor5 Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them Find courage to lay hold on this occasion; To himself and father's house eternal fame; And, which is best and happiest yet, all this With God not parted from him, as was fear'd, But favouring and assisting to the end. Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt, Dispraise, or blame; nothing but well and fair, And what may quiet us in a death so noble. Let us go find the body where it lies Soak'd in his enemies' blood; and from the stream With lavers pure, and cleansing herbs, wash off
1 'Bird:' phoenix.—2 'Embost:' enclosed. —* 'Holocaust:' an entire burnt-offering. — * 'Secular:' i.e., living a thousand years.—* 'Caphtor,' or Crete: whence the Philistines originally came.
The clotted gore. I, with what speed the while
1 'Acquist:' acquisition.
PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634, BEFORE JOHN, EARL OF BR1DGEWATER,1 THEN PRESIDENT OF WALES.
TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
JOHN LORD VISCOUNT BEACKLEY,"
SON AND HEIR APPARENT TO THE EARL OP BRIDOEWATER, ETC.
This poem, which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your noble family, and much honour 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 honour of your name, and receive this as your own, from the hands of him, who hath by many favours been long obliged to your most honoured parents, and as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression,
Your faithful and most humble Servant,
H. LA WES.'
1 'John Earl of Bridgewater,* before whom Comus was first presented, and whose sons and daughter performed the characters of the Brothers and the Lady. It is said that these latter had been benighted in Haywood Forest, and that Milton founded Comus on this incident. Earl John died 1649. He was a royalist.
2 'Lord Brackley;' he became Earl of Bridgewater, and died in 1686.
• 'Not openly acknowledged' till 1645.
* 'H. Lawes:' a celebrated musician, who composed the music for Comus. He was an amiable man, and, though a royalist, an Intimate friend of Milton's, who dedicated to him his 13th Sonnet. He composed an immense variety of sacred and other music.
The Attendant Spirit, after-
The Chief Persons, Who Presented, Were
The Lord Brackley.
Mr Thomas Egerton,1 his brother.
The Lady Alice Egerton.2
The first Scene discovers a wild Wood.
Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
1 'Thomas Egerton:' the fourth son of the Earl. He died at the age of twenty-three.—2 ' The Lady Alice,' as her portraits testify, was very beautiful. She became the Countess of Carbery.—* 'Pesler'd:' i. e., crowded.— ''Pinfold:' i.e., sheepfold.
'To lay their just hands on that golden key,
1 'High and nether:' i. e., the upper and the lower dominions of Jove.— * 'Peer:' Earl of Bridgewater, then President of Wales and the Marches.