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And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever,
'Tis most true
400 Danger will wink on Opportunity, And let a single helpless maiden pass
Uninjured in this wild surrounding waste.
I do not, brother,
What hidden strength, Unless the strength of Heaven, if you mean that ?
Eld. Bro. I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength, Which, if Heaven gave it, may be termed her own. 'Tis chastity, my brother, chastity : She that has that is clad in complete steel, And, like a quivered nymph with arrows keen, May trace huge forests, and unharboured heaths, Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds; Where, through the sacred rays of chastity, No savage fierce, bandite, or mountaineer, Will dare to soil her virgin purity. Yea, there where very desolation dwells, By grots and caverns shagged with horrid shades, She may pass on with unblenched majesty, 430 Be it not done in pride, or in presumption. Some say no evil thing that walks by night, . In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen, Blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost, That breaks his magic chains at curfew time, No goblin or swart faery of the mine,
Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.
woods. What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield That wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin, Wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone, But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
450 And noble grace that dashed brute violence With sudden adoration and blank awe ? So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity That, when a soul is found sincerely so, A thousand liveried angels lackey her, Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt, And in clear dream and solemn vision Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear ; Till oft converse with heavenly habitants Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape, - 460 The unpolluted temple of the mind, And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence, Till all be made immortal. But, when lust, By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk, But most by lewd and lavish act of sin, Lets in defilement to the inward parts, The soul grows clotted by contagion, Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose The divine property of her first being. Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp 470 Oft seen in charnel-vaults and sepulchres,
Lingering and sitting by a new-made grave,
Sec. Bro. How charming is divine Philosophy!
List! list! I hear 480 Some far-off hallo break the silent air,
Sec. Bro. Methought so too; what should it be ? Eld. Bro.
For certain, Either some one, like us, night-foundered here, Or else some neighbour woodman, or, at worst, Some roving robber calling to his fellows. Sec. Bro. Heaven keep my sister! Again, again,
The Attendant Spirit, habited like a shepherd.
again. Sec. Bro. O brother, 'tis my father's Shepherd,
sure. Eld. Bro. Thyrsis ! whose artful strains have oft
delayed The huddling brook to hear his madrigal, And sweetened every musk-rose of the dale. How camest thou here, good swain ? Hath any ram Slipped from the fold, or young kid lost his dam,
Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ?
Spir. O my loved master's heir, and his next joy,
Eld. Bro. To tell thee sadly, Shepherd, without blame Or our neglect, we lost her as we came.
Spir. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true. Eld. Bro. What fears, good Thyrsis ? Prithee
briefly shew. Spir. I'll tell ye. 'Tis not vain or fabulous (Though so esteemed by shallow ignorance) What the sage poets, taught by the heavenly Muse, Storied of old in high immortal verse Of dire Chimeras and enchanted isles, And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to Hell ; For such there be, but unbelief is blind.
Within the navel of this hideous wood, Immured in cypress shades, a sorcerer dwells, Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus, Deep skilled in all his mother's witcheries, And here to every thirsty wanderer By sly enticement gives his baneful cup, With many murmurs mixed, whose pleasing poison The visage quite transforms of him that drinks, And the inglorious likeness of a beast Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage Charactered in the face. This have I learnt 530 Tending my flocks hard by i' the hilly crofts That brow this bottom glade; whence night by night He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl