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Com.Were they of manly prime, oryouthful bloom? Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'dlips. 290 Com. Two such I saw, what time the labor'd ox In his loose traces from the furrow came, And the swinkt hedger at his supper sat; I saw them under a green mantling vine That crawls along the side of yon small hill, 295 Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots; Their port was more than human, as they stood: I took it for a faëry vision Of some gay creatures of the element, That in the colors of the rainbow live, 300 And play i'th' plighted clouds. I was aw-struck, And as I past, I worshipt; if those you seek, It were a journey like the path to Heaven, To help you to find them. La. Gentle Villager, What readiest way would bring me to that place? Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point. 306 Lady. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose, In such a scant allowance of star-light, Would over-task the best land-pilot's art, Without the sure guess of well-practic'd feet. 310
Com. I know each lane, and every alley green, Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood, And every bosky bourn from side to side, My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood; And if your stray-attendence be yet lodg’d, 315 Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatcht pallat rouse; if otherwise
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be fafe 320
Till further quest. La. Shepherd, I take thy word,
And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoky rafters, than in tap'stry halls
And courts of princes, where it first was nam’d, 3 25
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
Tomy proportion'd strength. Shepherd leadon. 330
El. Bro. Unmuffle ye faint Stars, and thou fair Moon, That wont'st to love the traveller's benizon, Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud, And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here In double night of darkness, and of shades; 335 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, 340 And thou shalt be our star of Arcady, Or Tyrian Cynosure. 2. Bro. Or if our eyes
Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear
The folded flocks penn'd in their watled cotes,
Or sound of past’ral reed with oaten stops, 345
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock
Count the night watches to his feathery dames,
'Twould be some solace yet, some little chearing
In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.
But O that hapless virgin, our lost Sister, 350
Where may she wander now, whither betake her
From the chill dew, amongst rude burs and thistles ?
Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,
Or, 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm
Leans herunpillow'd head fraught with sad fears. 355
What if in wild amazement, and affright,
Or, while we speak, within the dire grasp
Of savage hunger, or of savage heat ?
Eld. Bro. Peace, Brother, be not over-exquisite
To cast the fashion of uncertain evils ; 360
For grant they be so, while they reft 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?
365 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 danger, as I trust she is not) 370
Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,
And put them into mis-becoming plight.
Virtue could see to do what yirtue would
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And wisdom's self 375
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 too ruffled, and sometimes impair’d. 380
He that has light within his own clear breast
May sit i'th'center, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the mid-day fun;
Himself is his own dungeon.
2. Bro. 'Tis most true,
That musing meditation most affects
The pensive secresy of desert cell,
Far from the chearful haunt of men and herds,
And sits as safe as in a senate house; 390
For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,
His few books, or his beads, or maple dish,
Or do his gray hairs any violence? -
But beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard 395
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 unsunn'd heaps
Of misers treasure by an out-law's den, 400
And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope
Danger will wink on opportunity,
And let a single helpless maiden pass
Uninjur'd in this wild surrounding waste.
Of night, or loneliness it recks me, not; 405
I fear the dread events that dog them both,
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person
Of our unowned Sister.
Eld. Bro. I do not, Brother,
Infer, as if I thought my Sister's state
Secure without all doubt, or controversy:
Yet where an equal poise of hope and fear
Does arbitrate th' event, my nature is
That I incline to hope, rather than fear,
And gladly banish squint suspicion.
415 My Sister is not so defenseless left As you imagin; she has a hidden strength Which you remember not. 2. Bro. What hidden strength,
419 Unless the strength of Heav'n, if you mean that ?
El. Bro. I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength, Which if Heay'n gave it, may be term’d her own: 'Tis chastity, my brother, chastity: She that has that, is clad in complete steel, And like a quiver'd nymph with arrows keen 425 May trace huge forests, and unharbor'd heaths,