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Should in a pet of temperance feed on pulse,
Drink the clear stream, and nothing wear but frieze,
The All-giver would be unthanked, would be unpraised,
Not half his riches known, and yet despised;
And we should serve him as a grudging master,
As a penurious niggard of his wealth,
And live like Nature's bastards, not her sons,
Who would be quite surcharged with her own weight,
And strangled with her waste fertility; [plumes,
The earth cumbered, and the winged air darked with
The herds would over-multitude their lords,
The sea o'erfraught would swell, and the unsought diamonds
Would so emblaze the forehead of the deep,
And so bestud with stars, that they below
grow inured to light, and come at last
To gaze upon the sun with shameless brows.
List, lady, be not coy, and be not cozened
With that same vaunted name, virginity.
Beauty is Nature's coin, must not be hoarded,
But must be current; and the good thereof
Consists in mutual and partaken bliss,
Unsavoury in the enjoyment of itself;
If you let slip time, like a neglected rose
It withers on the stalk with languished head.?
Beauty is Nature's brag, and must be shown
In courts, at feasts, and high solemnities,
Where most may wonder at the workmanship;
It is for homely features to keep home,3
They had their name thence; coarse complexios,
And cheeks of sorry grain, will serve to ply
The sampler, and to tease the housewife's wool.
What need a vermeil-tinctured lip for that,
Love-darting eyes, or tresses like the morn?
1 The image is taken from what the ancients said of the air
of the northern islands, that it was clogged and darkened with
2 Spenser, F. Q. ii. 12, 75:-
“Gather therefore the rose, whilst yet is prime,
For soon comes age, that will her pride deflower;
Gather the rose of love, whilst yet is time,
Whilst loving thou mayst loved be with equal crime."
-Newton. 8 So in the Two Gentlemen of Verona:
Home-keeping youths have ever homely wits."
There was another meaning in these gifts;
Think what, and be advised: you are but young yet.
I had not thought to have unlocked my lips?
In this unhallowed air, but that this juggler
Would think to charm my judgment, as mine eyes,
Obtruding false rules prankt“ in reason’s garb.
I hate when vice can bolt3 her arguments,
And virtue has no tongue to check her pride.
Impostor, do not charge most innocent Nature,
As if she would her children should be riotous
With her abundance; she, good cateress,
Means her provision only to the good,
That live according to her sober laws,
And holy dictate of spare temperance:
If every just man, that now pines with want,
Had but a moderate and beseeming share
Of that which lewdly-pampered luxury
Now heaps upon some few with vast excess,
Nature's full blessings would be well dispensed
In unsuperfluous even proportion,
And she no whit encumbered with her store;
And then the Giver would be better thanked,
His praise due paid; for swinish gluttony
Ne'er looks to Heaven amidst his gorgeous feast,
But with besotted base ingratitude
Crams, and blasphemes his Feeder. Shall I go on?
Or have I said enough? To him that dares
Arm his profane tongue with contemptuous words
Against the sun-clad power of chastity,
Fain would I something say, yet to what end?
Thou hast nor ear, nor soul, to apprehend
The sublime notion, and high mystery,
That must be uttered to unfold the sage
And serious doctrine of virginity;
And thou art worthy that thou shouldst not know
More happiness than this thy present lot.
Enjoy your dear wit, and gay rhetoric,
That hăth so well been taught her dazzling fence,
Thou art not fit to hear thyself convinced;
1 The six following lines are spoken aside.-Sympson.
2 Decked, dressed.
3 Sift, or dart, aim. See Newton.
Yet, should I try, the uncontrolled worth
Of this pure cause would kindle my rapt spirits
To such a flame of sacred vehemence,
That dumb things would be moved to sympathize,
And the brute earth would lend her nerves, and shake,
Till all thy magic structures, reared so high,
Were shattered into heaps o'er thy false head.
She fables not: I feel that I do fear?
Her words set off by some superior power;
And though not mortal, yet a cold shuddering dew
Dips me all o'er, as when the wrath of Jove
Speaks thunder, and the chains of Erebus,
To some of Saturn's crew. I must dissemble,
And try her yet more strongly. Come, no more;
This is mere moral babble, and direct
Against the canon laws of our foundation;
I must not suffer this, yet ʼtis but the lees
And settlings of a melancholy blood :
But this will cure all straight; one sip of this
Will bathe the drooping spirits in delight
Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise, and taste
[The BROTHERS rush in with swords drawn, wrest his glass ont
of his hand, and break it against the ground: his rout make sign of resistance, but are all driven in. The ATTENDANT SPIRIT comes in.]
What, have you let the false enchanter 'scape?
ye mistook, ye should have snatched his wand,
And bound him fast; without his rod reversed,
And backward mutters of dissevering power,
We cannot free the lady that sits here
In stony fetters fixed, and motionless :
Yet stay, be not disturbed; now I bethink me,
Some other means I have which may be used,
Which once of Melibæus old I learnt,
The soothest shepherd that e'er piped on plains.
There is a gentle nymph not far from hence, That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn stream, 1 Perhaps it is better to put a semicolon after that, meaning: “I feel that she does not fable," &c.-Sympson. These six lines are also spoken aside.
Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure ;
Whilome she was the daughter of Locrine,
That had the sceptre from his father Brute.
She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit
Of her enraged stepdame Guendolen,
Commended her fair innocence to the flood,
That stayed her flight with his cross-flowing course
The water nymphs that in the bottom played,
Held up their pearléd wrists, and took her in,
Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall,
Who, piteous of our woes, reared her lank head,
And gave her to his daughters to embathe
In nectared lavers strewed with asphodel,
And through the porch and inlet of each sense
Dropped in ambrosial oils till she revived,
And underwent a quick immortal change,
Made goddess of the river: still she retains
Her maiden gentleness, and oft at eve
Visits the herds along the twilight meadows,
Helping all urchin blasts, and ill-luck signs
That the shrewd meddling elfa delights to make,
Which she with precious vialled liquors heals;
For which the shepherds at their festivals
Carol her goodness loud in rustic lays,
And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream
Of pansies, pinks, and gaudy daffodils.
And, as the old swain said, she can unlock
The clasping charm, and thaw the numbing spell,
1 Locrine, king of the Britons, married Guendolen, the daughter of Corineus, Duke of Cornwall; but in secret, for fear of Corineus, he loved Estrildis, a fair captive whom he had taken in a battle with Humber, king of the Huns, and had by her a daughter equally fair, whose name was Sabrina. But when once his fear was off, by the death of Corineus, not content with secret enjoyment, divorcing Guendolen, he made Estrildis now his queen. Guendolen, all in rage, departs into Cornwall, and, gathering an army of her father's friends and subjects, gives battle to her husband by the river Sture; wherein Locrine, shot with an arrow, ends his life. But not so ends the fury of Guendolen, for Estrildis and her daughter Sabra she throws into a river; and, to leave a monument of revenge, proclaims that the stream be thenceforth called after the damsel's name, which by length of time is now called Sabrina or Severn. This is the account given by Milton himself in the first book of his History of England; but he here takes some liberties with the story, in order to heighten the character of Sabrina.-Newton.
2 Puck, or Robin Goodfellow.
If she be right invoked in warbled song ;
For maidenhood she loves, and will be swift
To aid a virgin, such as was herselt,
In hard-besetting need : this will I try,
And add the power of some adjuring verse
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of lilies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair ;
Listen for dear honour's sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen, and save
Listen, and appear to us,
In name of great Oceanus ;
By the earth-shaking Neptune's mace,
And Tethys' grave majestic pace,
By hoary Nereus' wrinkled look,
And the Carpathian wizard's1 hook,
By scaly Triton's winding shell
And old soothsaying Glaucus' spell,
By Leucothea's lovely hands,
And her son that rules the strands,
By Thetis' tinsel-slippered feet,
And the songs of sirens sweet,
By dead Parthenope's dear tomb,
And fair Ligea's3 golden comb,
Wherewith she sits on diamond rocks,
Sleeking her soft alluring locks;
By all the nymphs that nightly dance
Upon thy streams with wily glance,
Rise, rise, and heave thy rosy head
From thy coral-paven bed,
And bridle in thy headlong wave,
Till thou our summons answered have
Listen, and save.
(SABRINA rises, attended by water-nymphs, and sings.]
By the rushy-fringed bank,
Where grows the willow and the osier dank,
1 i.e. Proteus.
2 This tomb was at Naples.
3 One of the sirens, and also a sea-nymph.