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"Gleams thro' the shade," and this way guides their steps.
Let us withdraw a while and watch their motions.
Enter Comus' Crew revelling, and by turns caressing each other, till they observe the Two Brothers; then the Elder Brother advances and speahs.
E. Bro. What are you, speak, that thus in wanton riot And midnight revelry, like drunken Bacchanals, Invade the silence of these lonely shades?
F. Wom. Ye godlike youths !" whose radiant forms
"The blooming grace of Maia's winged son," 230
Bless the propitious star that led you to usf
We are the happiest of the race of mortals,
Of freedom, mirth, and joy, the only heirs:
But you shall share them with us; for this cup,
This neclar'd cup, the sweet assurance gives
Of present and the pledge of future bliss.
[She rfftrs them the cup, which they both put by.
SONG. By a Man.
By the gayly circling glass
Soon, too soon, the busy day
E. Bro. Forbear, nor offer us the poison'd sweets That thus have render'd thee thy sex's shame, All sense of honour banish'd from thy breast.
"Fame's an echo, prattling double, "An empty, airy, glitt'ring, bubble; "A breath can swell a breath can sinh it, 2$<i "The wise not worth their heeping thinh it.
"Why then, why such toil and pain; "Fame's uncertain smiles to gain? "Lihe her sister Fortune blind, "To the best she's ojV unhind, "And the worst her favour find.
E. Bro. " By her own sentence Virtue stands ab
"Nor asks an echo from the tongues of men
"To tell what hourly to herself she proves.
"Who wants his own no other praise enjoys; 260
"His ear receives it as a fulsome tale
"To which his heart in secret gives the lie:
"Nay, slander'd innocence must feel a peace,
"An inward peace, which flatter'd guilt ne'er knew."
F. Wom. Oh 1 how unseemly shews in blooming
Such grey severity I But come with us,
We to the bow'r of bliss will guide your steps;
On the gay spring of life, youth's flow'ry prime, From morn to noon, from noon to dewy eve, 270 Each rising hour by rising pleasures mark'd.
SONG. By a Woman in a pastoral habit.
Would you taste the noon-tide air,
Down each side a fountain flows,
Round the languid herds and sheep e8o
All alone end in her arms
Your breast may beat to love's alarms,
E. Bro. "How low sinks beauty when by vice debas'd!
'< How fair that form if virtue dwelt within! "But from this shameless advocate of shame 290 To me the warbled song harsh discord grates.
Y. Bro. "Short is the course of ev'ry lawless pleasure; "Grief like a shade on all its footsteps waits, "Scarce visible in joy's meridian height, "But downward as its blaze declining speeds "The dwarfish shadow to a giant spreads." . . F. Wom. No more; these formal maxims misbecome
They only suit suspicious shrivell'd Age.
SONG. By a Man and two Women.
Live and love, enjoy the fair,
■ From the fruits of sweet delight
I. Bro. How can your impious tongues profane the name
Of sacred Virtue, and yet promise pleasure 310 In lying songs of vanity and vice i From virtue sever'd pleasure phrenzy grows, "The gay delirium of the fev'rish mind, "And always dies at reason's cool return.
F. Wom. "Perhaps it may; perhaps the sweetest joys
"Of love itself from passion's folly spring;
E. Bro. "Alike from love's and pleasure's path you stray,
"In sensual folly blindly seeking both,
"Your pleasure riot, lust your boasted love. 320
"Capricious, wanton, bold, and brutal, lust
"Is meanly selfish, when resisted cruel,
"And like the blast of pestilential winds
"Taints the sweet bloom of Nature's fairest forms:
"But love, like od'rous Zephyr's grateful breath,
"Repays the flow'r that sweetness which it borrows;
"Uninjuring, uninjur'd, lovers move
"In their own sphere of happiness content^
"By mutual truth avoiding mutual blame."
But we forget: who hears the voice of Truth 330
In noisy riot and intemp'ranee drown'd?
Thyrsis, be then our guide ; we'll follow thee,
And some good angel bear a shield before us!
[Exeunt Brothers and Spirit. F. Wom. Come, come, my friends, and partners of . . my joys,
Leave to these pedant youth their bookish dreams; "Poor blinded boys, by their blind guides misled! "A beardless Cynick is the shame of nature," Beyond the cure of this inspiring cup i "And my contempt, at best my pity, moves." Away, nor waste a moment more about 'em. 340