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I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove

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With flaunting honey-suckle, and began,
Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
Till fancy had her fill, but ere a close,
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance; 550
At which I ceas'd, and listen'd them a while,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respite to the drowsy frighted steeds,
That draw the litter of close-curtain'd sleep;
At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound
Rose like a steam of rich distill'd perfumes,
And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might
Deny her nature, and be never more,

Still to be so displac'd. I was all ear,

And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of death: but O ere long
Too well I did perceive it was the voice

Of

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my most honour'd Lady, your dear Sister. Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear, 565 And O poor hapless nightingale thought I, How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare! Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste, Through paths and turnings often trod by day, Till guided by mine ear I found the place,

570

553 drowsy frighted] So eds. 1637,1645, 1673. Cant. MS. and Newton, drowsy-flighted.'

Where that damn'd wisard, hid in sly disguise,
(For so by certain signs I knew) had met
Already, ere my best speed could prevent,
The aidless innocent Lady his wish'd prey,
Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two,
Supposing him some neighbour villager.
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess'd
Ye were the two she meant; with that I
Into swift flight, till I had found you here,
But further know I not.

2 BR. O night and shades,

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sprung

How are ye join'd with Hell in triple knot,
Against th' unarmed weakness of one virgin,
Alone and helpless! Is this the confidence
You gave me, Brother?

1 BR. Yes, and keep it still,

Lean on it safely; not a period

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Shall be unsaid for me: against the threats
Of malice or of sorcery, or that power
Which erring men call Chance, this I hold firm,
Virtue may be assail'd, but never hurt,
Surpris'd by unjust force, but not inthrall'd; 590
Yea even that which mischief meant most harm,
Shall in the happy trial prove most glory:
But evil on itself shall back recoil,

And mix no more with goodness, when at last
Gather'd like scum, and settled to itself,
It shall be in eternal restless change
Self-fed, and self-consumed: if this fail,
The pillar'd firmament is rottenness,

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And earth's base built on stubble.

let's on.

But come,

Against the opposing will and arm of heaven 600
May never this just sword be lifted up;

But for that damn'd magician, let him be girt
With all the grisly legions that troop
Under the sooty flag of Acheron,

Harpies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms
"Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out,
And force him to restore his purchase back,
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death,
Curs'd as his life.

SPIR. Alas! good vent'rous Youth,

I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise ;
But here thy sword can do thee little stead;
Far other arms and other weapons must

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Be those that quell the might of hellish charms: He with his bare wand can unthread thy joints, And crumble all thy sinews.

1 BR. Why prithee, Shepherd,

How durst thou then thyself approach so near, As to make this relation?

SPIR. Care and utmost shifts

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How to secure the Lady from surprisal,
Brought to my mind a certain shepherd lad,
Of small regard to see to, yet well skill'd
In every virtuous plant and healing herb,
That spreads her verdant leaf to th' morning ray:

604 sooty flag] P. Fletcher's Locusts, p. 58. (1627.)

All hell run out, and sooty flagges display.' Todd.

He lov'd me well, and oft would beg me sing,
Which when I did, he on the tender grass
Would sit, and hearken e'en to ecstasy,
And in requital ope his leathern scrip,
And show me simples of a thousand names,
Telling their strange and vigorous faculties:
Amongst the rest a small unsightly root,
But of divine effect, he cull'd me out;
The leaf was darkish, and had prickles on it,
But in another country, as he said,

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Bore a bright golden flow'r, but not in this soil:
Unknown, and like esteem'd, and the dull swain
Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon : 635
And yet more med'cinal is it than that moly
That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave;
He call'd it hæmony, and gave it me,
And bad me keep it as of sovereign use

'Gainst all inchantments, mildew, blast, or damp, Or ghastly furies' apparition.

I purs'd it up, but little reck'ning made,

636 moly] Golding's Ovid's Met. B. xiv. p. 170,

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Faire flowre, whose roote is blacke, and of the Gods it moly

hyght.

Assurde by this, and heavenly hestes, he entred Circe's bowre,'

&c.

See Plin. N. Hist. xxv. c. 8, 4. Valen. viii. de fac. Simpl. Med. P. 129. Sylvester's Du Bartas, p. 83.

637 wise] Valiant Welshman, by R. A. 1615.

-This precious soveraign herbe
That Mercury to wise Ulysses gave.'

Todd.

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Till now that this extremity compell'd:
But now I find it true; for by this means
I knew the foul inchanter though disguis'd,
Enter'd the very lime-twigs of his spells,
And yet came off: if you have this about you,
(As I will give you when we go) you may
Boldly assault the necromancer's hall;
Where if he be, with dauntless hardihood,
And brandish'd blade rush on him, break his glass,
And shed the luscious liquor on the ground,
But seize his wand; though he and his curs'd crew
Fierce sign of battle make, and menace high,
Or like the sons of Vulcan vomit smoke,
Yet will they soon retire, if he but shrink.

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1 BR. Thyrsis, lead on 'apace, I'll follow thee, And some good Angel bear a shield before us.

The Scene changes to a stately palace, set out with all manner of deliciousness; soft music, tables spread with all dainties. CoмUS appears with his rabble, and the LADY set in an inchanted chair, to whom he offers his glass, which she puts by, and goes about to rise.

COм. Nay, Lady, sit; if I but wave this wand, 651 rush] Ov. Metam. xiv. 293. Ulysses rushes on Circe. -Intrat

Ille domum Circes, et ad insidiosa vocatus
Pocula, conantem virga mulcere capillos
Repulit; et stricto pavidam deterruit ense.

Warton.

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