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XVI.

A
M A S K
Presexten
AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634,
BEFORE -

THE EARL OF BRIDGEWATER,

Then, PRESIDENT OF WA. LES.

VOI, III. l

THE PERSONS.

THE ATTEN DANT sp1 RIT, AFTER w ARDS IN THE H A BIT OF THY R.S.I.S.

COMUS WITH HIS CREW.
THE LADY.
FIRST PROTHER.
SECON D BROTHER.
SABRIN A THE NY MPH.

THE CHIEF PERsons who PRESENTED werE,

THE LORD BRACKLY,
M R. THOMAS EGERTON IIIS BROTHER.
THE LADY ALICE EGERTON. o

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BEFoRE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial Spirits live inspher'd
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 care
Confin'd, and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
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 enthron'd 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 vapours of this sin-worn mould.
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
smperial 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,
He quarters 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 nurs'd in princely lore
Are coming to attend their father's state,
And new-intrusted sceptre; but their way
Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horrour of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger;
And here their tender age might suffer peril,
But that by quick command from sovereign Jove

I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard;
And listen why, for I will tell you now
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 groveling swine)
This Nymph that gaz'd upon his clust'ring locks,
With ivy berries wreath'd, 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 nam’d,
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 imbowr’d
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drowth of Phoebus, which as they taste,
(For most do taste through fond intemp'rate thirst)

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