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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.

90

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

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His glowing axle doth allay
In the steep Atlantic stream;
And the slope sun his upward beam

83. Spun out of Iris' woof.] 93. The star that bids, fc.] Spun from material which Iris, The evening star. So Shakspeare the goddess of the rainbow, had (Meas. for Meas. iv. 3) says of the dyed. So in Par. Lost, xi. 244, morning star-Look, the un'Iris had dipt the woof.

folding star calls up the shep86. Smooth-dittied.] Smoothly herd.' worded or adapted to words. 97. The steep Atlantic stream.] Ital. detti, words.

The word stream here simply 88. Nor of less faith, &c.] and means flood. So, Par. Lost, i, who is no less faithful; and from 202, 'the ocean stream ;' and his business being to keep watch Shakspeare, Merch. of Venice, i. over the flocks upon the hills, may 1, speaks of the wreck of a ship be supposed most likely to be out scattering all her spices on the at this time, and nearest for the stream.' immediate aid required.

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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 Severity,

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With their grave saws, in slumber lie.
We, that are of purer fire,

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Imitate the starry_quire,

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 dimpled brook and fountain-brim,
The wood-nymphs, decked with daisies trim,

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dancing. 'Splendet tremulo sub
lumine pontus.' Virg. En. vii.
9. The morris dance, i. e. the
Morisco or Moorish dance, said
to have been introduced into Eng-
land, in the reign of Edward III.,
by John of Gaunt on his return
from Spain, is probably of later
introduction. The hobby-horse, so
often referred to by the old dra-
matists, was long one of the chief
characters in this festive dance.
119. Fountain brim.] Fountain
edge or border.

of the months

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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 rights begin;

Mites

'Tis only day-light that makes sin,
Which these dun shades will nc'er report.
Hail! goddess of nocturnal sport,

Dark-veiled Cotytto, to whom the secret flame
Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame,
That ne'er art called but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air:
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,

Wherein thou ridest with Hecate, and befriend
Us thy vowed priests, till utmost end

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130

135

122. What hath night to do.] The infinitive is here used adjectively, describing the objective pronoun what. In the next line the infinitive to prove is adverbial to hath and governs which understood.

125. Rights.] That is, rites. So, in Spenser's Faerie Queene, I. vi. 15, 'Cybele's frantic rights.'

129. Cotytto.] The goddess of licentiousness. The festival of this Thracian divinity resembled that of the Phrygian Cybele. Her rites, and rites similar to hers, were called Cotyttia; and her worshippers were called Baptæ, because when initiated into her mysteries they were sprinkled with warm water. See Juvenal, ii. 91; Horace, Epod. xvii. 56. 131. The dragon womb, &c.] Night is here represented as a Stygian or Tartarean monster producing darkness. Sometimes

Night is supposed to pass over the earth in a dragon car shedding darkness all around her.

Swift, swift, you dragons of the night.
Shaksp. Cymb. ii. 2.
The dragon wing of night o'erspreads the
earth.
Shaksp. Troil. and Cress. v. 9.
133. Makes one blot of all the
air.] Compare what Shakspeare
(Macb. ii. 2) says of blood that
would

The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green-one [i. e. a universal]

red.

135. Hecate.] The goddess or patroness of magic, who was supposed to wander over the earth at night. She is here appropriately referred to by the licentious magician Comus, as riding with Cotytto in an ebon chair or car. Compare Par. Lost, ii. 930, 'As in a cloudy chair ascending rides.' Massinger in The City Madam, v. 1, speaks of an oblation unto Hecate, and wanton Lust, her favourite.'

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Of all thy dues be done, and none left out;
Ere the blabbing eastern scout,
The nice morn, on the Indian steep
From her cabined loop-hole peep,
And to the tell-tale sun descry
Our concealed solemnity.
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.

The Measure. (
Break off, break off, I feel the different pace
Of some chaste footingfnear about this ground.
Run to your Shrouds within these brakes and trees;
Our number may affright;-Some virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains: I shall ere long
Be well stocked with as fair a herd as grazed
About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl

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139. The nice morn, &c.] The Compare L'Allegro, 33, prudish or fastidious morn on the Come, and trip it as you go, eastern horizon.

On the light fantastic toe. 140. Cabined loop-hole.] The At this part of the Masque was epithet cabined here seems to introduced a dance; a measure as mean confined or contracted like it is called, because dancing meaa cabin.

sures time with the music. 141. Descry.] Here employed 146. Near about.] The word in the unusual sense of give notice near is adverbial to about this of ; discover. Milton_had in ground, which is adverbial to mind that passage in Fletcher's footing. Faithful Shepherdess, iii. 1. 147. Shrouds.] Retreats, shel

The sooner we begin, ters. The longer ere the day descry our sin.

149. So I can distinguish.] 143. Beat the ground, &c.] So The magician has the sagacity to Horace speaks of beating the distinguish chaste footing' from ground with light and playful the lascivious dancing of his foot: Od. I. xxxvii. 1.

own crew.

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160

My dazzling spells into the spungy air,
Of power to cheat the eye

with blear illusion,
And give it false presentments, lest the place
And my quaint habits breed astonishment,
And put the damsel to suspicious flight;
Which must not be, for that's against my course;
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-placed words of glozing courtesy,
Baited with reasons not unplausible,
Wind me into the easy-hearted man,
And hug him into snares. When once her eye
Hath met the virtue of this magic dust,
I shall appear some harmless villager,
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear.
But here she comes; I fairly step aside,
And hearken, if I may, her business here.

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169

THE LADÝ enters.

Lady. This

way the noise was, if mine ear be true My best guide now. Methought it was the sound Of riot and ill-managed merriment,

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154. Dazzling.] Beguiling, 161. Glozing.] Feigning, preillusive. The air is called tending, insinuating: spungy, because as

a sponge

167. Keeps up, &c.] Keeps holds water so the air held in up to this late hour minding his

suspension the magic dust which rustic business. X Comus threw into it.

168. Fairly.] Gently, softly. His wonder far exceeded reason's reach, So Fletcher, The Chances, iii. 4, That he began to doubt his dazzled sight. *We'll ride on fair and softly.'

Spenser, F. Q. II. xi. 40. 155. Blear.] Dim, or rather

171. Methought.] It thought

me, i.e. I thought. In Chaucer dimming.

and other old writers we fre156. Presentments.] Representations. So in Shakspeare's

quently meet with such expres

sions as it thinketh me, it thought Hamlet, iii. 4, 'The counterfeit [i.e. copied] presentment of two

me, or me thinketh, me thought. brothers.'

Madame, quoth he, how thinké you

thereby 157. Quaint habits.] Curious How that me thinketh ? quoth she. dress.

Chaucer's Clerk's Tale.

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