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where he did reside, by my choice, some time for the King, after mine own recess from Verice.

“I should think that your best line will be through the whole length of France to Marseilles, and thence by sea to Genoa ; whence the passage into Tuscany is as diurnal as a Gravesend barge. I hasten, as you do, to Florence or Siena, the rather to tell you a short story, from the interest you have given me in your safety.

“At Siena I was tabled in the house of one Alberto Scipioni, an old Roman courtier in dangerous times; having been steward to the Duca di Pagliano, who with all his family were strangled, save this only man that escaped by foresight of the tempest. With him I had often much chat of those affairs, into which he took pleasure to look back from his native harbour ; and, at my departure toward Rome (which had been the centre of his experience), I had won his confidence enough to beg his advice how I might carry myself there without offence of others or of mine own conscience. Signor Arrigo mio,' says he, 'I pensieri stretti ed il viso sciolto will go safely over the whole world.' Of which Delphian oracle (for so I have found it) your judgment doth need no commentary; and therefore, Sir, I will commit you, with it, to the best of all securities, God's dear love, remaining “ Your friend, as much to command as any of longer date,

“ HENRY WOTTON."

Postscript.

“Sir : I have expressly sent this my footboy to prevent your departure without some acknowledgment from me of the receipt of your obliging letter; having myself through some business, I know not how, neglected the ordinary conveyance. In any part where I shall understand you fixed, I shall be glad and diligent to entertain you with home novelties, even for some fomentation of our friendship, too soon interrupted in the cradle.”

THE PERSONS.

The ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterwards in the habit of THYRSIS.
COMUS, with his Crew.
THE LADY.
FIRST BROTHER.
SECOND BROTHER.
SABRINA, the Nymph.

The Chief Persons which presented were :

The Lord Brackley ;
Mr. Thomas Egerton, his Brother ;
The Lady Alice Egerton.

[This list of the Persons, etc., appeared in the Edition of 1645, but

was omitted in that of 1673.)

COMUS.

The first Scene discovers a wild wood.

The ATTENDANT Spirit descends or enters. BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court My mansion is, where those immortal shapes Of bright aerial spirits live insphered 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 care, Confined and pestered in this pinfold 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 10 Amongst the enthroned 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 sapphire crowns And wield their little tridents. But this Isle, The greatest and the best of all the main, He quarters to his blue-haired deities ;

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And all this tract that fronts the falling sun 30
A noble Peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with tempered awe to guide
An old and haughty nation, proud in arms :
Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore,
Are coming to attend their father's state,
And new-intrusted sceptre. But their way
Lies through the perplexed paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horror of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger;
And here their tender age might suffer peril,
But that, by quick command from sovran Jove,
I was despatched for their defence and guard :
And listen why; for I will tell you 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
Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transformed,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell. (Who knows not Circe, 50
The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovelling swine?)
This Nymph, that gazed upon his clustering locks,
With ivy berries wreathed, 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 named :
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 imbowered,
Excels his mother at her mighty art;
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,

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To quench the drouth of Phæbus ; which as they taste
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst),
Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance,
The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
Into some brutish form of wolf or bear,

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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.
Therefore, when any favoured of high Jove
Chances to pass through this adventurous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from heaven, 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
That to the service of this house belongs,
Who, with his soft pipe and smooth-dittied 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.

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Comus enters, with a charming-rod in one hand, his glass in the other:

with him a rout of monsters, headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts, but otherwise like men and women, their apparel glistering. They come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands.

Comus. The star that bids the shepherd fold
Now the top of heaven doth hold;
And the gilded car of day
His glowing axle doth allay

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