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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
Where that damn'd wizard, 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.

Sec. Br.


O night, and shades! How are ye join'd with hell in triple knot Against the unarm'd weakness of one virgin, Alone and helpless! Is this the confidence You gave me, brother?

First. Br.

Yes, and keep it still;

Lean on it safely; not a period

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;
Surprised by unjust force, but not inthrall'd;

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,

And earth's base built on stubble. But come, let's on
Against the opposing will and arm of Heaven
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 return his purchase back,
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death,
Cursed as his life.


Alas! good venturous 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

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

First. Br.

How durst thou then thyself approach so near,

As to make this relation?


Why, prithee, shepherd,

Care, and utmost shifts,

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 the morning ray;

He loved me well, and oft would beg me sing,
Which, when I did, he on the tender grass
Would sit, and hearken even 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,

Bore a bright golden flower, but not in this soil:
Unknown, and like esteem'd, and the dull swain
Treads on it daily with his clouted shoon:
And yet more medicinal is it than that moly,
That Hermes once to wise Ulysses gave.
He call'd it hæmony, and gave it me,
And bade me keep it as of sovereign use
Gainst all enchantments, mildew, blast, or damp,
Or ghastly furies' apparition.

I pursed it up, but little reckoning made,
Till now that this extremity compell'd:
But now I find it true; for by this means
I knew the foul enchanter, though disguised,
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 cursed 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.

First. 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. Comus appears with his rabble, and the Lady set in an enchanted chair, to whom he offers his glass, which she puts by, and goes about to rise.

Comus. Nay, lady, sit; if I but wave this wand, Your nerves are all chain'd up in alabaster, And you a statue; or, as Daphne was,

Root-bound, that fled Apollo.

Fool, do not boast;

Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind
With all thy charms, although this corporal rind
Thou hast immanacled, while Heaven sees good.
Comus. Why are you vex'd, lady? why do you

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,
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 Egypt, gave to Jove-born Helena,

Is of such power to stir up joy as this,

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