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COMUS.

A MASK, BY MILTON.

PROLOGUE

AT A REVIVAL.

OUR stedfast Bard, to his own genius true, Mankind he visits, and their steps befriends ; Still bade his Muse + " fit audience find though Through mazy error's dark perplexing wood few;

Points out the path of true and real good, Scorning the judgment of a trifting age,

Warns erring youth, and guards the spotless To choicer spirits he bequeath'd his page.

maid He too was scorn'd, and, to Britannia's shame, From spell of magic vice, by reason's aid. She scarce for half an age knew Milton's name: Attend the strains; and should some meaner But now, his fame by ev'ry trumpet blown,

phrase We on his deathless trophies raise our own. Hang on the style and clog the nobler lays, . Nor art nor nature did his genius bound; Excuse what we with trembling hand supply, Heav'n, hell, earth, chaos, he survey'd around: | To give his beauties to the public eye: All things his eye, through wit's bright empire His the pure essence, ours the grosser mean thrown,

Through which his spirit is in action seen. Beheld, and made what it beheld his own. Observe the force, observe the flame divine

Such Milton was : 'tis ours to bring him forth, That glows, breathes, acts, in each harmonious And yours to vindicate neglected worth.

line. Such heav'n-taught numbers should be more than Great objects only, strike the gen’rous heart; read,

Praise the sublime, o'erlook the mortal part: More wide the manna through the nation spread. Be there your judgment, here your candour shewn; Like some bless'd spirit he to-night descends, Small is our portion-and we wish 'twere none.

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ACT I.

And gives them leave to wear their sapphire SCENE 1-Dicovers a wild Wood.

crowns,

And wield their little tridents; but this isle, The first Attendant Spirit enters.

The greatest and the best of all the main, BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court He quarters to his blue hair'd deities; My mansion is, where those immortal shapes And all this track that fronts the falling sur of bright aerial spirits live inspher'd

A noble peer of mickle trust and pow'r In regions mild of calm and serene air,

Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot An old and haughty nation proud in arms. Which men call earth, and with low-thoughted 2 Spi. Does any danger threat his legal sway care

From bold sedition or close-ambush'd treason! Confin'd and pester'd in this pinfold here

1 Spi. No danger thence; but to his lofty Strive to keep up a frail and fev'rish being,

seat, Unmindful of the crown that virtue gives, Which borders on the verge of this wild vale, After this mortal change, to her true servants His blooming offspring, nurs'd in princely lore, Amongst the enthroned gods on sainted seats. Are coming to attend their father's state Yet some there are that by due steps aspire And new-entrusted sceptre, and their way To lay their just hands on that golden key Lies through the perplex'd path of this dress That opes the palace of Eternity s

wood, To such my errand is 5 and but for such

The godding horror of whose shady brows I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger; With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould. And here their tender age might suffer pari, But whence yon slanting stream of purer light But that by quick command frop sor'reign Jone Which streaks the midnight gloom, and hither I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard. darts

2 Spi. What peril can their innocente assai Its beamy point? Some messenger from Jove Within these lonely and unpeopled shades! Commission's to direct or share my charge,

1 Spi. Attend my words. No place but ha And, if I ken duim right, a spirit pure .

bours danger; As treads the spanded pavement of the sky, In ev'ry region virtue finds a foe. The gentle Philadels but swik as thought Bacchus, that first from out che purple grape He comes

Crushed the sweet poison of misuzed wwe,

After the Tuscan mariners transformid,
The second Attendant Spirit descends.

Coasting the Tyrrhene shore as the winds listed Declare on what strange errand bent

On Circe's island fell: (who knows not Cinee, Thou visitest this dime to me assign'd,

The daughter of the Sun, whose charnued cup So far remote from thy appointed sphere, Whoever tasted lost his upright shape, 2 Spi. On no appointed task thou seest me And downward fell into a groy'ling swine!) now;

This pymph, that gaz'd upon his clust'ring locks But, as returning from Elysian bow'rs

With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blithe youth, Whither from mortal coil a soul I wafted, Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son Along this boundless sea of waving air

Much like his father, but his mother more, I steer'd my flight, betwixt the gloomy shade Whom therefore she brought up, and Comis Of these thick boughs thy radiant form I spy'd,

nam'd. Gliding as streams the moon through slusky ? Spi. Ill.omen'd birth to Virtue and her sons! clouds;

i Spi. He, ripe and frolic of his full-grown age, Instant I stoop'd my wing, and downward sped | Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields, To learn thy errand, and with thine to join At last betakes him to this ominous wood, My kindred aid, from mortals ne'er withheld And in thick shelter of black shades imbowers When virtue on the brink of peril stands. Excels his mother at her mighty art, 1 Spi. Then mark th' occasion that demands Off'ring to every weary traveller it here.

His orient liquor in a crystal glass Neptune, I need not tell, besides the sway To quench the drought of Phæbus; which as they Of ev'ry salt flood and each ebbing stream,

taste, Took in by lot, 'twixt high and nether Jove, (For most do taste through fond intemp'rate thirst), Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles

Soon as the potion works, their human countnance That, like to rich and various gems, inlay

Th' express resemblance of the gods, is change The unadorned bosom of the deep;

Into some brutish form of wolf or bear, Which he, to grace his tributary gods,

Or qunce or tiger, hog or bearded goat, By course commits to sev'ral government, 1 All other parts remaining as they were:

Yet, when he walks his tempting rounds, the Midnight shout and revelry, sorcerer

Tipsy dance und jollity : By magic power their human face restores

Braid your locks with rosy twine, And outward beauty, to delude the sight.

Dropping odours, dropping wine. 2 Spi. Lose they the memory of their former • state?

Rigour now is gone to bed ; i Spi. No, they (so perfect is their misery)

And Advice with scrup'loue head,
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,

Strict age and sour Severity,
But boast themselves more comely than before; With their grave saws in slumber lie.
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.

We, that are of purer fire, 2 Spi. Degrading fall! from such a dire dis | Imitate the starry choir, tress

| Who, in their nightly watchful spheres, What pain too great our mortal charge to save? | Lead in swift round the months and years.

i Spi. For this, when any favour'd of high Jove The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove, Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade, | Now to the moon in wav'ring morrice move, Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star

And on the tawny sands and shelves,
I shoot from heaven to give him safe convoy, Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves.
As now I do; and opportune thou com'st
To share an office which thy nature loves.

SONG. By u Woman.
This be our task ; but first I must put off

By dimpled brook and fountain brim These my sky robes spun out of Iris' woof,

The Wood-nymphs, deck'd with daisies trim, And take the weeds and likeness of a swain

Their merry wakes and pastimes keep ; That to the service of this house belongs,

What has night to do with sleep?
Who with his soft pipe and smooth-ditty'd song
Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar,

Night has better sweets to prove ;
And hush the waving woods ; nor of less faith, Venus now wakes and wakens love;
And in this office of his mountain watch

Come, let us our rites begin; Likeliest and nearest to the present aid

'Tis only day-light that makes sin. Of this occasion. Veil'd in such disguise Be it my care the sever'd youths to guide

Comus. Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport, To their distress'd and lonely sister; thine Dark-veil'd Cotytto! to whom the secret flame To cheer her footsteps through the magic wood.

Of midnight torches burns. Mysterious dame! Whatever blessed spirit hovers near,

That ne'er art call'd but when the dragon-womb On errands bent to wand'ring mortal good,

Of Stygian darkness spits her thickest gloom, If need require, him summon to thy side;

And makes one blot of all the air, Unseen of mortal eye such thoughts inspire,

Stay thy cloudy ebon chair, Such heaven-born confidence, as need demands

Wherein thou 'rid'st with Hecat', and befriend In hour of trial.

Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end 2 Spi. Swift as winged winds

Of all thy dues be done, and none left out; To my glad charge I fly.

(Erit.

Ere the blabbing eastern scout, i Spi. - I'll wait a while

The nice Morn, on th’ Indian steep
To watch the sorcerer, for I hear the tread From her cabin loop-hole peep,
Of hateful steps: I must be viewless now.

And to the tell-tale Sun descry

Our conceal'd solemnity. COMUs enters, with a charming rod in one hand,

his glass in the other ; with him a rout of Men SONG. By Comus and Woman. and Women dressed as Bacchanals ; they come From tyrunt laws and customs free, in, making a riotous and unruly noise, with We follow sweet variety; torches in their hands.

By turns we drink, and dance, and sing, Comus. (Speaks.] The star that bids the shop Love for ever on the wing. herd fold

Why should niggard rules control Now the top of heaven doth hold,

Transports of the judial soul? And the gilded car of day

No dull stinting hour we oxen,
His glowing axle doth allay

Pleasure counts our time alone.
In the steep Atlantic stream;
And the slope sun his upward beam

Comus. Come knit hands, and beat the ground Shoots against the dusky pole,

In a light fantastic round.
Pacing tow'rd the other goal
Of his chamber in the east;

A Dance,
Mean-while welcome joy and feast.

Break off, break off; I feel the diff'rent pace

Of some chaste footing near about this ground. · SONG.

Run to your shrouds within these brakes and Now Phæbus sinketh in the west,

trees; Welcome song and welcome jest, I Our number may affright. Some virgin sure

(For so I can distinguish by mine art) | Thou hov'ring angel, girt with golden wings, Benighted in these woods, Now to my charms, And thou unblemish'd form of Chastity! And to my wily trains. I shall ere long

I see you visibly, and now believe, Be well stock'd with as fair a herd as graz'd That he, the supreme good (to whom all things ill About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl

Are but as slavish officers of vengeance) My dazzling spells into the spungy air,

Would send a glist'ring guardian, if need were, of pow'r to cheat the eye with blear illusion, To keep my life and honour unassail'd. And give it false presentiments, lest the place Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud And my quaint habits breed astonishment, . | Turn forth her silver lining on the night? And put the damsel to suspicious flight; I did not err; there does a sable cloud Which must not be, for that's against my course. Turn forth her silver lining on the night, I under fair pretence of friendly ends,

And cast a gleam over this tufted grove. And well-plac'd words of glozing courtesy,

I cannot halloo to my brothers, but Baited with reasons not unplausible,

Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest Wind me into the easy-hearted man,

I'll venture, for my new enliven'd spirits And hug him into snares. When once her eye Prompt me, and they perhaps are not far off. Hath met the virtue of this magic dust,

SONG. I shall appear some harmless villager Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear. Sweet Echo, sweetest nyph, that liv'st NECER But here she comes; I fairly step aside

Within thy airy cell, And hearken, if I may, her bus'ness here.

By slow Meander's margent green,

And in the violet-embroider'd vale,
Enter the Lady.

Where the locelorn nightingale Lady. This way the noise was if mine ear be Nightly to thee her sad song mourneik aell, true,

Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
My best guide now: methought it was the sound That likest thy Narcissus are?
Of hot ill-manag'd merriment;

Oh, if thou have
Such as the jocund Aute or gamesome pipe

Hid them in some flow'ry cate, Stirs up among the loose unletter'd binds,

Tell me but where, When, for their teeming flocks and granges full, Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the Sphere! In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, So may'st thou be translated to the skies, And thank the gods amiss. I should be loath And give surrounding grace to all hensen's To meet the rudeness and swill'd insolence

harmonics. Of such late rioters; yet oh, where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet

Comus aside.] Can any mortal mixture of earth's In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ?

mould Comus aside.) I'll ease her of that care, and be Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment? her guide.

Sure something holy lodges in that breast, Lady. My brothers, when they saw me weary'd And with these raptures moves the vocal air out

To testify his hidden residence :
With this long way, resolving here to lodge How sweetly did they float upon the wings
Under the spreading favour of these pines, Of silence through the empty vaulted night,
Stepp'd, as they said, to the next thicket side At ev'ry fall smoothing the raven down
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit Of Darkness till it smil'd! I have oft heard
As the kind hospitable woods provide.

My mother Circe, with the Sirens three,
They left me then when the grey-hooded Even, Amidst the flow'ry-kirtled Naiades,
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weeds,

Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs.
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain; / Who, as they sung, would take the prison'd soud
But where they are, and why they come not back, And lap it in Elysium : Scylla wept,
Is now the labour of my thoughts : 'tis likeliest | And chid her barking waves into attention,
They had engag'd their wand'ring steps too far, And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause;
This is the place as well as I may guess,

Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense, Whence, ev'n now, the tumult of loud mirth And sweet in madness robb'd it of itself; Was rife, and perfect in my list’ning ear, But such a sacred and home-felt delight, Yet nought but single darkness do I find. Such sober certainty of waking bliss, What might this be? A thousand fantasies I never heard till now.-I'll speak to her, Begin to throng into my memory,

And she shall be my queen.-Hail, foreign wonOf calling shapes and beck’ning shadows dire,

der! And airy tongues, that sylable mens' names Whom certain these rough shades did never On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.

breed, These thoughts may startle well, but not astound, | Unless the goddess that, in rural shrine. The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended | Dwell'st here with Pan or Silvan, by bless'd song By a strong siding champion, Conscience. | Forbidding ev'ry bleak unkindly fog Q? welcome pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope, To touch the prosp'rous growth of this tall wood.

Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd ! ill is lost that Lady. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppraise

pose, That is address'd to unattending ears :

In such a scant allowance of star-light, Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift

Would overtask the best land pilot's art, How to regain my sever'd company,

| Without the sure guess of well practis'd feet. Compelld me to awake the courteous Echo

Com. I know each lane and ev'ry alley green, To give me answer from her mossy couch. Dingle or bushy dell, of this wide wood, Com. What chance, good lady, hath bereft you And ev'ry bosky bourn from side to side, thus ?

My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood; Lady. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth. And if your stray attendants be yet lodg'd, Com. Could that divide you from near-ush'ring Or shroud within these limits, I shall know guides?

Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf. From her thatch'd pallat rouse: if otherwise,
Com. By falsehood or discourtesy, or why? I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
Lady. To seek i'th' valley some cool friendly | But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
spring.

Till farther quest.
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady. Shepherd, I take thy word,
Lady!

And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy, Lady. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds retur.

With smoky rafters, than in tap'stry halls Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented And courts of princes, where it first was nam'd, them?

And yet is most pretended. In a place Lady. How easy my misfortune is to bit! Less warranted than this, or less secure, Com. Imports their loss beside the present need? | I cannot be, that I should fear to change it. Lady. No less than if I should my brothers Eye me, bless'd Providence, and square my trial lose.

To my proportion'd strength !--Shepherd, lead Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful

on.

[Exeunt. bloom? Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Enter Comus' Crew from behind the trees. Com. Two such I saw what time the labour'd ох

SONG. By a Man. In his loose traces from the furrow came, Fly swiftly, ye minutes ! till COMUS receive And the swink’t hedger at his supper sat. The nameless soft transports that beauty can gire; I saw them under a green mantling vine,

The bowl's frolick joys let him teach her to prove, That crawls along the side of yon small hill, And she in return yield the raptures of love. Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots : 'Their port was more than human : as they stood,

Without love and wine, wit and beauty are vain, I took it for a fairy vision

All grandeur insipid, and riches a pain, Of some gay creatures of the element,

The most splendid palace grows dark as the grade: That in the colours of the rainbow live,

Love and wine give, ye Gods, or take back what
And play i' the plighted clouds. I was awe-struck, you gave.
And as I pass'd I worshipp'd: if those you seek,

CHORUS.
It were a journey like the path to heav'n
To help you find them.

Away, away, away,
Lady. Gentle Villager,

To Comus' court repair ; What readiest way would bring me to that place?

There night outshines the day, Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.

There yields the melting fair.

ACT II.

Enter the Two BROTHERS.
E. Bro. Unmuffle, ye faint Stars! and thou,

fair Moon !
Chat wont'st to love the traveller's benison,
stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,
Und disinherit Chaos, that reigns here
n double night of darkness and of shades;
Or if your influence be quite damm'd up
Vith black usurping mists, some gentle taper,
Though a rush candle, from the wicker-bole
of some clay habitation, visit us

With thy long levell'd rule of streaming light,
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian cynosure.

r. Bro. Or, if our eyes
Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear
The folded flocks penn'd in their wattled cotes,
Or sound of past'ral reed with oaten stops,
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock
Count the night watches to his feathery dames,
'Twould be some solace yet, soine little cheer.

ing,

In this close dungeon of innum'rous boughs.

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