صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.
But, 0 that hapless virgin, our lost Sister!
Where may she wander now, whither betake her
From the chill dew, among rude burs and thistles 1
Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,
Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm
Leans her unpillow'd head, fraught with sad fears.
What, if in wild amazement and affright?
Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp
Of savage hunger, or of savage heat 1

First B. Peace, Brother; be not over-exquisite
To cast the fashion1 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 unprincipled in Virtue's book,
And the sweet peace that goodness 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 misbecoming plight.
Virtue could see to do what Virtue would
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And Wisdom's 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 ruffled, and sometimes impair'd.
He that has light within his own clear breast,

1 'Cast the fashion :' i. e., predict.—5 'All-to:' old word for entirely.

May sit i' the center, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.

Sec. B. 'Tis most true,

That musing Meditation most affects
The pensive secrecy of desart cell,
Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds,
And sits as safe as in a senate 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 1
But Beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
Of dragon-watch with unenchanted eye,
To save her blossoms and defend her fruit,
From the rash hand of bold Incontinence.
You may as well spread out the unsunn'd heaps
Of miser's treasure by an outlaw's den,
And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope
Danger will wink on opportunity,
And let a single helpless maiden pass
Uninjured in this wild surrounding waste.
Of night, or loneliness, it recks me not;
I fear the dread events that dog them both,
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person
Of our unowned Sister.

First B. I do not, Brother,

Infer, as if I thought my Sister's state
Secure, without all doubt or controversy;
Yet, where an equal poise of hope and fear
Does arbitrate the event, my nature is
That I incline to hope, rather than fear,
And gladly banish squint suspicion.

My Sister is not so defenceless left

As you imagine; she has a hidden strength, Which you remember not.

Sec. B. What hidden strength,

Unless the strength of Heaven, if you mean that?

First B. I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength, Which, if Heaven gave it, may be term'd her own: 'Tis Chastity, my Brother, Chastity: She, that has that, is clad in complete 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 rays of Chastity, No savage fierce, bandite, or mountaineer, Will dare to soil her virgin purity: Yea there, where very Desolation dwells, By grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid shades, She may pass on with unblench'd majesty, Be it not done in pride, or in presumption. Some say, no evil thing that walks by night In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen, Blue meager hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost That breaks his magic chains at Curfeu time, No goblin, or swart faery of the mine, Hath hurtful power o'er true Virginity. Do ye believe me yet, or shall I call Antiquity from the old schools of Greece To testify the arms of Chastity 1 Hence had the huntress Dian her dread bow, Fair silver-shafted queen, for ever chaste, Wherewith she tamed the brinded lioness And spotted mountain pard, but set at nought The frivolous bolt of Cupid; gods and men Fear'd her stern frown, and she was queen o' the woods. What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield,

That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin,

Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone,

But rigid looks of chaste austerity,

And noble grace, that dash'd brute violence

With sudden adoration and blank awe?

So dear to Heaven 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 clear dream and solemn vision

Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear;

Till oft converse with heavenly habitants

Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,

The unpolluted temple of the mind,

And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,

Till all be made immortal: But when Lust,

By unchaste 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 lose

The divine property of her first being.

Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp,

Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres

Lingering, and sitting by a new made grave,

As loth to leave the body that it lov'd,

And link'd itself by carnal sensuality

To a degenerate and degraded state.

Sec. B. 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 surfeit reigns.

First B. List, list; I hear

Some far-off halloo break the silent air.

Sec. B. Methought so too; what should it be?

First B. For certain

Either some one like us night-founder'd here,
Or else some neighbour woodman, or at worst,
Some roving robber calling to his fellows.

Sec.B. Heaven keep my sister. Again, again, and near! Best draw, and stand upon our guard.

First B. I'll halloo:

If he be friendly, he comes well; if not,
Defence is a good cause, and Heaven be for us.

Enter the Attendant Spirit, habited like a Shepherd.

That halloo I should know; what are you 1 speak;
Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else.

Spi. What voice is that 1 my young lord 1 speak again.

Sec. B. 0 Brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure.

First B. Thyrsis 1 Whose artful strains have oft delay'd
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,
And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale 1
How eamest thou here, good swain? hath any ram
Slipt from the fold, or young kid lost his dam,
Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook?
How couldst thou find this dark sequester'd nook 1

Spi. 0 my lov'd master's heir, and his next joy,
I came not here 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, 0 my virgin Lady, where is she?
How chance she is not in your company %

« السابقةمتابعة »