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THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT, AFTERWARDS
IN THE HABIT OF THYRSIS.
Mr. Thomas EGERTON, his BROTHER. -
THE LADY ALICE EGERTON.
Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial spirits live inspher'd
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call Earth, and, with low-thoughted-
Confin'd and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that virtue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true servants,
Amongst the enthron'd gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key
That opes the palace of Eternity:
To such my errand is; and, but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.
But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway Of every salt flood, and each ebbing stream, Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles, That like to rich and various gems inlay The unadorned bosom of the deep: Which he, to grace his tributary gods, By course commits to several government, And gives them leave to wear their saphire crowns, And wield their little tridents: but this isle, The greatest and the best of all the main, He quarters to his blue-hair'd deities; And all this tract that fronts the falling sun A noble peer of mickle trust and power Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide An old and haughty nation, proud in arms : Where his fair offspring, nurs'd in princely lore, Are coming to attend their father's state, And new-intrusted scepter : but their way Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood, The nodding horror of whose shady brows Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger ; And here their tender age might suffer peril, But that by quick command from sovran Jove.
I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard;
And listen why, for I will tell ye now
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.
Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transform'd,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell: (Who knows not Circe,
The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a groveling swine?).
This nymph, that gaz’d upon his clust'ring locks,
With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blithe youth,
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus nam'd:
Who, ripe and frolic of his full grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood,
And, in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd,
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drought of Phæbus, which as they
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst)
Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance,
Th' express resemblance of the gods, is chang’d
Into some brutish form of wolf, or bear,
Or ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat,
All other parts remaining as they were;
And they, so perfect is their misery, ;
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,
But boast themselves more comely than before,
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
any favour'd of high Joves?
Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from heav'n, to give him safe convoy,();
As now I do: But first I must put off
These my sky robes spun out of Iris' woof,
And take the weeds and likeness of a swain 1.fr
That to the service of this house belongs,
Who with his soft pipe, and smooth-ditty'd song,
Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar,
And hush the waving woods; nor of less faith,
And in this office of his mountain watch,
Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid
Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
Of hateful steps; I must be viewless now.