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These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, Conscience.—

0 welcome pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope, Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings, And thou, unblemish'd form of Chastity!

1 see ye visibly, and now believe

That He, the Supreme Good, t'whom all things ill

Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,

Would send a glist'ring guardian, if need were,

To keep my life and honour unassail'd.

Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night?

I did not err, there does a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night,

And casts a gleam over this tufted grove:

I cannot hallow to my brothers, but

Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest

I'll venture, for my new enliven'd spirits

Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off,

SONG.

Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen,
Within thy airy shell,
By slow Meander's margent green,
And in the violet embroider'd vale, .

Where the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well; Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair That likest thy Narcissus are? O, if thou have Hid them in some flow'ry cave, Tell me but where, . Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere! So may'st thou be translated to the skies, And give resounding grace to all heaven's harmonies.

Enter Comus.

Com. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment.' Sure something holy lodges in that breast, And with these raptures moves the vocal air To testify his hidden residence. How sweetly did they float upon the wings Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night, At every fall smoothing the raven down Of darkness, till it smil'd! I have oft heard My mother Circe with the Sirens three, Amidst the flow'ry-kirtled Naiads, Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs, Who, as they sung, would take the prisou'd soul, And lap it in Elysium; Scylla wept,

And chid her barking waves into attention,

And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause:

Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense,

And in sweet madness robb'd it of itself;

But such a sacred and home-felt delight,

Such sober certainty of waking bliss,

I never heard till now. I'll speak to her,

And she shall be my queen. Hail, foreign wonder!

Whom certain these rough shades did never breed,

Unless the goddess that in rural shrine

Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan, by blest song

Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog

To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.

Lad. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise, That is address'd to unattending ears! Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift How to regain my sever'd company, Compell'd me to awake the courteous Echo To give me answer from her mossy couch.

Com. What chance, good lady, hath bereft you thus?

Lad. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth. Com. Could that divide you from near ushering guides?

Lad. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?

Lad. To seek i' th' valley some cool friendly spring.

Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady? Lad. They were but twain, and promis'd quick return.

Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
Lad. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
Lad.- No less than if I should my brothers lose.
Com. "Were they of manly prime, or youthful
bloom?

Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.

Com. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox In his loose traces from the furrow came, And the swink'd hedger at his supper sat; I saw them under a green mantling vine, That crawls along the side of yon small hill, Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots; Their port was more than human, as they stood: I took it for a fairy vision Of some gay creatures of the element, That in the colours of the rainbow live, And play i' th' plighted clouds. I was awe-struck, And, as I pass'd, I worshipp'd; if those you seek, It were a journey like the path to heav'n, To help you find them.

Lad. Gentle villager,

What readiest way would bring me to that place?

Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.

Lad. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose, In such a scant allowance of star-light, -Would overtask the best land-pilot's art, .Without the sure guess of well-practis'd feet.

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 you stray-attendance be yet lodg'd, Or shroud within these limits, I shall know Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise, I can conduct you, lady, to a low But loyal cottage, where you may be safe Till further quest.

Lad. 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
In courts of princes, where it first was nam'd,
And yet is most pretended: in a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure,
I cannot be, that I should bear to change it.

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