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Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that
That is address'd to unattending ears:
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my sever'd company,
Compell'd me to awake the courteous Echo'
To give me answer from her mossy couch.
Comus. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft
Lady. Dim darkness, and his leafy labyrinth.
Comus. Could that divide you from near ushering guides?
Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Comus. By falshood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lady. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly spring.
Comus. And left your fair side all unguarded,
Lady. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick
Comus. Perhaps forestalling night prevented
Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit \
Comus. Imports their loss, beside the present
Lady. No less than if I should my Brothers lose. Comas. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Comus. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the svvink'd dedger at his supper sat;
I saw them under a green mantling vine,
That crawls along the side of yon small lull,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots;
Their port was more than human, as they stood:
I took it for a faery vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
That in the colours of the rainbow live,
And play i' the plighted clouds. I was aw-struck,
And, as I past, I worshipt; if those you seek,
It were a journey like the path of Heaven,
To help you find them.
Lady. Gentle Villager,
What readiest way would bring me to the place?
Comus. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
Ijady. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose In such a scant allowance of star-light, Would overtask the best land pilot's art, Without the sure guess of well-practis'd feet.
Comus. I know each lane, and every alley green, Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood,
VOL. IV. O
And' every bosky bourn from side to side,
My daily walks, and ancient neighbourhood;
And if your stray attendance he yet lodg'd,
Or sllroud within this limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise,
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal .cottage where you may be safe
Till further quest;
Lady., Shepherd, I take thy word
And trust thy> honest offer'd, courtesy,
Which, oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoaky rafters, than in tap'stry halls
In courts of princes^ where it first was nam'd,
And yet is most pretended; In a place
Less.warranted than this, or less secure,
I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.—
Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial
To my proportion'd strength! Shepherd, lead on.
Enter the two Brothers.
Elder Brothers, Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair moon, That wont'st to love the traveller's benison, Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud, And disinherit.Chaos, that reigns here In double night of darkness and of shades,;
Or, if your influence be quite damm'd up
With black. usurping mists, some gentle taper,
Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole
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.
Second Brother. 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 pastoral 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, some little cheering,
In this close dungeon of innumerable boughs.
But, O that hapless virgin, our lost Sister!
Where may she wander now, whither betake her
From the chill dew, among rude burs and thistles?
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?
Elder Brother. Peace, Brother; be not overexquisite
To cast the fashion 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 clanger, as I trust she is not,)
Could stir tiie 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
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.
Second Brother. 'Tis. most true,
That musing Meditation most affects
The pensive secrecy of desart cell,
Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds,