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How sweetly did they float upon the wings
Of Silence, through the emptie-vaulted night
At every fall smoothing the Raven downe
Of darknesse till she smil'd: I have oft heard
My mother Circe with the Sirens three
Amidst the flowrie-kirtl'd Naiades
Culling their Potent hearbs, and balefull drugs
Who as they sung, would take the prison'd soule
And lap it in Elysium, Scylla wept,
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause:
Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense
And in sweet madnesse rob'd it of it selfe,
But such a sacred, and home-felt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking blisse
I never heard till now. Ile speak to her
And she shall be my Queene. Haile forreine wonder
Whom certaine these rough shades did never breed
Unlesse the Goddesse that in rurall shrine
Dwell'st here with Pan, or Silvan, by blest Song
Forbidding every bleake unkindly Fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
LADIE. Nay gentle Shepherd ill is lost that praise
That is addrest to unattending Eares,
Not any boast of skill, but extreame shift
How to regaine my fever'd companie
Compell'd me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossie Couch.
COMUS. What chance good Ladie hath bereft you thus?
LADIE. Dim darknesse, and this leavie Labyrinth.
COMUS. Could that divideyoufromneere-ushering guides?
LADIE. They left me weary on a grassie terfe.
COMUS. By falsehood, or discourtesie, or why?
LADIE. To seeke i'th vally some coole friendly Spring.
COMUS. And left your faire side all unguarded Ladie?
LADIE. They were buttwaine, & purpos'd quick return.
COMUS. Perhaps fore-stalling night praevented them.
LADIE. How easie my misfortune is to hit!
COMUS. Imports their losse, beside the praesent need?
LADIE. No lesse then if I should my brothers lose.
COMUS. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
LADIE. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.
COMUS. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd Oxe
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink't hedger at his Supper sate;
I saw them under a greene mantling vine
That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots,
Their port was more then humaine; as they stood,
I tooke it for a faërie vision
Of some gay creatures of the element
That in the colours of the Rainbow live
And play i'th plighted clouds, I was aw-strooke,
And as I past, I worshipt; if those you seeke
It were a journey like the path to heav'n
To helpe you find them.
LADIE, Gentle villager
What readiest way would bring me to that place?
COMUS. Due west it rises from this shrubbie point.
LADIE. To find out that good shepheard I suppose
In such a scant allowance of starre light
Would overtask the best land-pilots art
Without the sure guesse of well-practiz'd feet.
COMUS. I know each lane, and every alley greene
Dingle, or bushie dell of this wild wood,
And every boskie bourne from side to side
My daylie walks and ancient neighbourhood,
And if your stray attendance be yet lodg'd
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted larke
From her thach't palate rowse, if otherwise
I can conduct you Ladie to a low *
But loyall cottage, where you may be safe
Till further quest.'
LADIE. Shepheard I take thy word,
And trust thy honest offer'd courtesie,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoakie rafters, then in tapstrie halls,
And courts of Princes, where it first was nam'd,
And yet is most praetended: in a place
Lesse warranted then this, or lesse secure
I cannot be, that I should feare to change it,
Eye me blest Providence, and square my triall
To my proportion'd strength. Shepheard lead on.—
ELD. BRO. Unmuffle yee faint stars, and thou fair moon
That wontst to love the travailers benizon
Stoope thy pale visage through an amber cloud
And disinherit Chaos, that raigns here
In double night of darknesse, and of shades;
Or if your influence be quite damm'd up
With black usurping mists, some gentle taper
Though a rush candle from a wicker hole
Of some clay habitation visit us
With thy long levell'd rule of streaming light
And thou shalt be our starre of Arcadie
Or Tyrian Cynosure.
SEC. BRO. Or if our eyes
Be barr'd that happinesse, might we but heare
The folded flocks pen'd in their watled cotes,
Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops,
Or whistle from the Lodge, or village cock
Count the night watches to his featherie Dames,
T'would be some solace yet, some little chearing
In this close dungeon of innumerous bowes.
But 6 [oh] that haplesse virgin our lost sister
Where may she wander now, whether betake her
From the chill dew, amongst rude burs and thistles?
Perhaps some cold banke is her boulster now
Or'gainst the rugged barke of some broad Elme
Leans her unpillow'd head fraught with sad fears.
What if in wild amazement, and affright
Or while we speake within the direfull graspe
Of Savage hunger, or of Savage heat?
ELD. BRO. Peace brother, be not over exquisite
To cast the fashion of uncertaine evils,
For grant they be so, while they rest unknowne
What need a man forestall his date of griefe
And run to meet what he would most avoid?
Or if they be but false alarms of Feare
How bitter is such selfe-delusion?
I doe not thinke my sister so to seeke
Or so unprincipl’d in vertues book
And the sweet peace that goodnesse bosoms ever
As that the single want of light, and noise
(Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
Could stir the constant mood of her calme thoughts
And put them into mis-becomming plight.
Vertue could see to doe what vertue would
By her owne radiant light, though Sun and Moon
Were in the flat Sea sunck, and Wisdoms selfe
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 ruffl'd, and sometimes impair'd.
He that has light within his owne cleere brest
May sit i'th center, and enjoy bright day,
But he that hides a darke soule, and foule thoughts
Benighted walks under the mid-day Sun,
Himselfe is his owne dungeon.
SEC, BRO. "Tis most true
That musing meditation most affects
The Pensive secrecie of desert cell
Farre from the cheerefull haunt of men, and heards,
And sits as safe as in a Senat house
For who would rob an Hermit of his weeds
His few books, or his beades, or maple dish,
Or doe his gray hairs any violence?
But beautie like the faire Hesperian tree
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
Of dragon watch with uninchanted eye
To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit
From the rash hand of bold Incontinence.
You may as well spread out the unsun'd heaps
Of misers treasure by an outlaws den
And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope
Danger will winke on opportunitie
And let a single helplesse mayden passe
Uninjur'd in this wild surrounding wast.
Of night, or lonelynesse it recks me not
I feare the dred events that dog them both,
Lest some ill greeting touch attempt the person
Of our unowned sister.
ELD. BRO. I doe not brother
Inferre, as if I thought my sisters state
Secure without all doubt, or controversie:
Yet where an equall poise of hope, and feare
Does arbitrate th' event, my nature is
That I encline to hope, rather then feare
And gladly banish squint suspicion.
My sister is not so defencelesse lest
As you imagine, she has a hidden strength
Which you remember not.
SEC, BRO. What hidden strength
Unlesse the strength of heav'n, if meane that?
ELD. BRO. I meane that too, but yet a hidden strength
Which if heav'n gave it, may be term'd her owne:
'Tis chastitie, my brother, chastitie:
She that has that, is clad in compleat steele,
And like a quiver'd nymph with arrowes keene
May trace huge forrests, and unharbour'd heaths
Infamous hills, and sandy perillous wilds
Where through the sacred rays of chastitie
No savage fierce, bandite, or mountaneere
Will dare to soyle her virgin puritie
Yea there, where very desolation dwells
By grots, and caverns shag'd with horrid shades
She may passe on with unblench't majestie