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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 who presented were,

The Lord Brackly. . .
Mr. Thomas Egerton his brother.
The Lady Alice EGERTON.

A MASK.*

The first scene discovers a wild wood.
The attendant Spirit descends or entero.

BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial spirits live inspherd
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,
Confin'd and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and leverish 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,

would not soil these pare ambrosial weeds With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould. ; : Milton scems in this poem to have imitated Shakspeare's manner in more than any other of his works; and it was very natural for a young author preparing a piece for the stage, to propose to himself for a pattern, the most celebrated master of English dnmatic poetry. He has likewise very closely imitated several passages in Beaumont and Fletcher's play of The Faithless Shepher. desa,

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-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 sceptre: 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 quiek command from sov'reign Jove
I was despatch'd 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 :
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 grovelling 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 embower'd
Excels his mother at her mighty art;
Offering to every weary traveller,
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drouth of Phæbus, which as they taste,
(For most do taste, through fond intemp'rate 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 tyger, 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 favour'd of high Jove
Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade,
Swift as that 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 his 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.'

Comos enters with a charming-rod in one hand, his glass

in the other ; with him a rout of monsters, headed like sundry sorts of wilds 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
In the steep Atlantic stream,
And the slope sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky pole,
Pacing toward the other goal
Of his chamber in the east.
Meanwhile welcome joy, and feast,
Midnight shout, and revelry,
Tipsy dance, and jollity;
Braid your locks with rosy twine,
Dropping odours, dropping wine..
Rigour now is gone to bed,
And Advice with scrupulous head,
Strict Age, and sour Severityi
With their grave saws in slumber lie.
We that are of purer fire
Imitate the starry choir,
Who in their nightly watchful spheres,
Lead in swift round the months and years..
The sounds and seas with all their finny drove,
Now to the moon in wavering morrice move;
And on the tawny sands and shelves
Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves.
By dimple brook, and fountain brim,
The wood-nymphs deck'd with daisies trim,
Their merry wakes and pastimes keep:
What hath night to do with sleep?
Night hath better sweets to prove,
Venus now wakes and wakens Love.
Come let us our rites begin,
'Tis only day-light that makes sin,

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