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As the kind hospitable woods provide.
They left me then, when the grey-hooded Even,
Like a sad votarist in Palmer's weed,
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phœbus' wain,
But where they are, and why they came not back,
Is now the labour of my thoughts :
A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
And aery tongues, that syllable mens' names,
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By strong siding champion conscience.-
O welcome pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemished form of Chastity ;
I 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 unassailed.
Was I deceived, 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 enlivened spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.
Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy aery shell,
By slow Meander's margent green,
And in the violet embroidered vale,
Where the love-lorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well;
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That like thy Narcissus are ?
O if thou have
Hid them in some flow'ry cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of party, daughter of the sphere,
So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding graces to all heaven's harmonies.
Comus appears to the lady in the disguise of a shepherd.
Com. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
Breath 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 smiled! I have oft heard
My Mother Circe with the Sirens three,
Amidst the flowery kirtled Naiades
Culling their potent herbs, and baleful drugs,
Who as they sung, would take the prisoned soul,
And lap it in Elysium ; Scylla wept,
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmered soft applause ;
Yet they in pleasing slumber lulled the sense,
And in sweet madness robbed it of itself ;
But such a sacred, and homefelt 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 Silvan, by blest Song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
* To touch the prosp'rous growth of this tall wood.
Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is that praise lost
That is adressed to unattending ears;
any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my severed company,
Compelled me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her
Comus. What chance, good lady, hath bereft you thus ?
Lady. Dim darkness and this leafy labyrinth.
Comus. Could that divide you from near-ushering guides?
Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Comus. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lady. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly spring.
Comus And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady?
Lady. They were but twain, and purposed quick return.
Comus. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Comus. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
Lady. No less than if I should my brothers lose.
Comus. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazored lips.
Comus. Two such I saw what tiine the labored ox
In his loose trace from the furrow came,
And the swinkt 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' the plighted clouds. I was awe-struck,
And as I passed, I worshipped ; if those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to Heaven,
To help you find them.
What readiest way would bring me to that place ?
Comus. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
Lady. 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-practised feet.
Comus. 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 your stray-attendance be yet lodg'd,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatched pallet reuse ; if otherwise
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till further quest.
Shepherd, I take thy word,
And trust thy honest offered courtesy,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoky rafters, than in tap'stry halls
And courts of princes, where it first was named,
And yet is most pretended : in a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure,
I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.
Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial
To my proportion'd strength. Shepherd, lead on."
Milton has been accused as being deficient in respect to the female character. He speaks of Eve in regard to Adam, as not equal," and seems to consider her as not altogether worthy to discourse with the angel who came from Heaven to Paradise. But nothing can surpass the delicacy and elevation of sentiment with which he represents the Lady in Comus, nor does he seem to consider her as a solitary instance of the excellence and loveliness peculiar to her sex.
The celestial Spirit who attends the brothers and their sister, distinguishes between those low-minded beings, all whose thoughts are limited to this world, and that superior order,
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”says he. And the Lady's brothers, when they have left her, are relieved of their natural apprehension for her safety, by the conviction of her exalted purity. One of them says
My sister is not so defenceless left
As you imagine ; she has a hidden strength
Which you remember not.
So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity,
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried Angels lacky 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,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turn it by degrees to the soul's essence,
Till all be made immortal.”
Circe—the mother of Comus, was an enchantress who inhabited an island of the Mediterranean, and who, like her son, transformed her associates to brutes.
The Syrens three—were females who inhabited a small island near Sicily. They charmed mariners by their delightful voices, and made them delay their voyage.
Scylla wept.—Scylla was a female who was transformed to a monster by the arts of Circe, and was fixed to the strait of Messina. A whirlpool on the coast opposite to Scylla was Charybdis.
Naiades.—Young and beautiful virgins who presided over rivers and fountains.
Echo sweetest nymph. - Echo is the return of sound—but the mythology supposes that Echo is the voice of a female, who, as a punishment for loquacity, is invisible, and only permitted to repeat the words of others. Narcissus was a beautiful youth whom Echo loved.
Meander.- A river of Asia Minor, remarkable for its winding
Pan and Sylvan.—Wood gods.
Hebe.--A youthful goddess, very beautiful. Canova's statue of Hebe is among the most admired works of that artist.
This eminent poet was born in 1631, and died in 1700. His poetry is not of a character to interest the young, but the passages inserted among these specimens serve to illustrate the manners of a past age, and therefore properly belong to a collection of poetry which is intended not merely to contain verses, but also to exhibit facts that are connected with the poetry of the English language.
Chivalry went out of use because the laws in Europe were improved by the increasing knowledge and good sense of the people. When the order of government and the authority of the laws were generally understood and acknowledged in England, the rights of all people were ho longer defended by the strife of arms, but were settled by courts of justice, and all ranks of the