Page images

Why should they e'er give me pain,
Who to give me joy disdain?
All I hope of mortal man,
Is to love me whilst he can.


COMUS speaks.
Cast thine eyes around, and see
How from ev'ry element
Nature's sweets are cull’d for thee,
And her choicest blessings sent.

“ Fire, water, earth, and air, combine
“ To compose the rich repast,
" Their aid the distant seasons join
“ To court thy smell, thy sight, thy taste."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

[ After this they put on their chaplets and prepare for

the feast: while Comus is advancing with his cup, " and one of his attendants offers a chaplet to the Lady, (which she throws on the ground with indignation ) the preparation for the feast is interrupted by lofty " and solemn musick from above, whencethe second Attendant Spirit enters gradually in a splendid machine, repeating the following lines to the Lady, and sings, remaining still invisible to Comus and his crew.

From the realms of peace above,
From the source of heavenly love,
From the starry throne of Jove,
Where tuneful Muses in a glitt’ring ring
To the celestial lyre's eternal string
Patient Virtue's triumph sing;
To these dim labyrinths where mortals stray,
Maz'd in passion's pathless way,
To save thy purer breast from spot and blame
Thy guardian Spirit came.


Nor on beds of fading flowers,

Shedding soon their gaudy pride;
Nor with swains in Syren bowers,

Will true pleasure lung reside.
On awful virtue's hill sublime,

Enthroned sits th' immortal fair;
Who wins her height, must patient climb,

The steps are peril, toil and care.
So from the first did Jove ordain,
Eternal bliss for transient pain.


[Exit the Spirit, the music playing loud and solemn.

Lady. Thanks, heav'nly songster! whosoe'er thou

art, Who deign'st to enter these unhallow'd walls, To bring the song of virtue to mine ear!

O cease not, cease not the melodious strain,
Till my rapt soul high on the swelling note
To heav'n ascend-far from these horrid fiends!

Com. Mere airy dreams of air-bred people these ? Who look with envy on more happy man, 141 “ And would decry the joys they cannot taste. “ Quit not the substance for a stalking shade « Of hollow virtue, which eludes the grasp." Drink this, and you will scorn such idle tales. [He offers the cup, which she puts by, and attempts to rise.] Nay, lady, sit; if I but wave this wand, Your nerves are all bound up in alabaster, And you a statue : “ or, as Daphne was, “ Root-bound, that fled Apollo.” Lady. Fool, do not boast;

150 Thou can'st not touch the freedom of


mind With all thy charms, altho' this corp'ral rind Thou hast immanacld, while heav'n sees good.

Com. Why are you vex'd, lady? why do you frown? Here dwell no frowns nor anger; from these gates Sorrow flies far. See, here be all the pleasures That fancy can beget on youthful thoughts, “ When the fresh blood grows lively and returns “ Brisk as the April buds in primrose season." And first behold this cordial julep here,

160 That flames and dances in his crystal bounds, “ With spirits of balm and fragrant syrups mix’d, “ Not that Nepenthes, which the wife of Thone “ In Ægypt gave to Jove-born Helena,


“ Is of such pow'r to stir up joy, as this,
“ To life so friendly, or so cool to thirst."

Lady. Know base deluder, that I will not taste it. Keep thy detested gifts for such as these.

[Points to his crew.


SONG. By a Man.
Mortals, learn your lives to measure
Not by length of time, but pleasure;
Soon your spring must have a fall;
Losing youth, is losing all :
Then you'll ask, but none will give,
And may linger, but not live.

Com. Why shou'd you be so cruel to yourself, And to those dainty limbs, which Nature lent For gentle usage and soft delicacy? “ But you invert the cov'nants of her trust, “ And harshly deal, like an ill borrower, “ With that which you receiv'd on other terms, 180 “ Scorning the unexempt condition,

By which all human frailty must subsist,
“ Refreshment after toil, ease after pain;"
That have been tir'd all day without repast,
And timely rest have wanted. But, fair virgin,
This will restore all soon.

Lady. 'Twill not, false traitor!
'Twill not restore the truth and honesty
That thou hast banish'd from thy tongue with lies.
Was this the cottage and the safe abode, 190

Thou told'st me of? Hence with thy brew'd enchant



“ Hast thou betray'd my credulous innocence
“ With vizor'd falshood, and base forgery?
« And would'st thou seek again to trap me here
“ With liqu’rish baits, fit to ensnare a brute ?"
Were it a draught for Juno when she banquets,
I wou'd not taste thy treas'nous offer-None,
But such as are good men, can give good things ;
And that which is not good is not delicious
To a well-govern'd and wise appetite.

Com. 0, foolishness of men! that lend their ears “ To those budge doctors of the Stoic fur, “ And fetch their precepts from the Cynic tub, “ Praising the lean and sallow abstinence. “ Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth “ With such a full and unwithdrawing hand, Cov’ring the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks, “ Thronging the seas with spawn innumerable, “ But all to please and sate the curious taste ; “ And set to work millions of spinning worms, That in their green shops weave the smooth-hair'd

silk, « To deck her sons; and, that no corner might “ Be vacant of her plenty, in her own loins “ She hutch'd th' all-worshipp'd ore, and precious

gems “ To store her children with; if all the world “ Should in a pet of temp’rance feed on pulse, “ Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but frieze,


« PreviousContinue »