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Of midnight torches burn. Mysterious dame!
That ne'er art callid but when the dragon-womb
Of Stygian darkness spits her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air,
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Wherein thou rid'st with Hecat', and befriend
Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out;
Ere the blabbing eastern scout,
The nice Morn, on th’Indian steep

From her cabin loop-hole peep,
And to the tell-tale Sun descry
Our conceald solemnity.

SONG. By Comus and Woman.
From tyrant laws and customs free
We follow sweet variety;
By turns we drink, and dance, and sing,
Love for ever on the wing.

Why should niggard rules control
Transports of the jovial soul?
No dull stinting hour we own;
Pleasure counts our time alone.


Comus. Come, knit hands and beat the ground In a light fantastic round.

A Dance.

Break off, break off; I feel the diff'rent pace
Of some chaste footing near about this ground.


Run to your shrouds within these brakes and trees;
Our number may affright. Some virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains. I shall ere long
Be well stock'd with as fair a herd as graz'd
About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl
My dazzling spells into the spungy air,
Of pow'r to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
And give it false presentments, lest the place
And my quaint habits breed astonishment,
And put the damsel to suspicious Aight;
Which must not be, for that's against my course.
1, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-plac'd words of glozing courtesy,
Baited with reasons not unplausible,
Wind me into the easy-hearted man,
And hug him into snares. When once her eye
Hath met the virtue of this magic dust,
I shall appear some harmless villager
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear.
But here she comes; I fairly step aside
And hearken if I may her bus’ness here.


Enter the Lady. Lady. This


the noise was, if mine ear be true, My best guide now: methought it was the sound 230 Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment; “ Such as the jocund flute or gamesome pipe “ Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds,

• When, for their teeming flocks and granges full, “ In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, “ And thank the gods amiss." I should be loath To meet the rudeness and swill'd insolence Of such late rioters; yet oh! where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? 246 Comus aside. ] I'll ease her of that care, and be her

guide. Lady. My brothers, when they saw me weary'd out “ With this long way, resolving here to lodge “ Under the spreading favour of these pines,” Stepp’d, as they said, to the next thicket side To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit As the kind hospitable woods provide. “ They left me then when the grey-hooded Even, “ Like a sad votarist in palmer's weeds,

249 " Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus’wain ;' But where they are, and why they come not back, Is now the labour of my thoughts : 'tis likeliest They had engag'd their wand'ring steps too far. « This is the place, as well as I may guess, “ Whence, ev'n now, the tumult of loud mirth “ Was rife, and perfect in my list’ning ear, “ Yet nought but single darkness do I find. “ What might this be? A thousand fantasies “ Begin to throng into my memory, “ Of calling shapes and beck’ning shadows dire, 260, And aery tongues, that syllable mens' names “ On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.

“ These thoughts may startle well, but not astound, “ The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended

By a strong siding champion, Conscience. “O! welcome pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope, “ Thou hov’ring angel, girt with golden wings, “ And thou unblemish'd form of Chastity! “ I see you visibly, and now believe, " That he, the supreme Good (to whom all things ill “ Are but as slavish officers of vengeance) 271 “ Would send a glist’ring guardian, if need were, To keep my life and honour unassail'd. “ Was I deceiv’d, or did a sable cloud “ Turn forth her silver lining on the night? “ I did not err; there does a sable cloud “ Turn forth her silver lining on the night, “ And casts a gleam over this tufted grove." I cannot halloo to my brothers, but Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest 28. I'll venture, for my new enliven’d spirits Prompt me, and they perhaps are not far off.

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Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph! that liv'st unseen
Within thy aery cell,
By slow Mæander's margent green,
And in the violet-embroider'd vale,
Where the lovelorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well,
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?



Oh! if thou have
Hid them in some flow'ry cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the Sphere !
So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all heav’n’s harmonies.

Comus aside.] Can any mortal mixture of earth's

mould Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment? “ Sure something holy lodges in that breast, “ And with these raptures moves the vocal air 300 “ To testify his hidden residence : “ How sweetly did they float upon the wings “ Of silence through the empty-vaulted night, “ At ev'ry fall smoothing the raven down “Of darkness till it smil'd! I have oft heard

My mother Circe, with the Sirens three, “ Amidst the flow’ry-kirtled Naiades,

Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs, “ Who, as they sung, would take the prison’d soul “ And lap it in Elysium : Scylla wept,

310 “ And chid her barking waves into attention, “ And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause ; “ Yet they in pleasing slumber lull’d the sense, “ And sweet in madness robb’d it of itself; “ But such a sacred and home-felt delight, “ Such sober certainty of waking bliss, “ I never heard till now.”—I'll speak to her, And she shall be my queen.-Hail, foreign wonder!

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