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Our untaught fathers showed a finer taste,
And I prefer to all our tortuous rhymes
This simple ditty of the olden times:
[He recites.]

If the king should say to me:
“Come, my lad, I'll give to thee

My great city, Paris” —
And instead would take away
Her whom I shall love alway,

That so sweet and fair is,
I would say: "King Henry, nay,

Keep your city, Paris,
But take not my love away,
Her whom I shall love alway,

That so sweet and fair is.”

The rhymes are simple, and the style is plain;
But can't you see how true it is, how sane?
And how pure passion breathes in every line,
Mocking the modern verse men deem so fine?
(He sings.]

If the king should say to me:
"Come, my lad, I'll give to thee

My great city, Paris” —
And instead would take away
Her whom I shall love alway,

That so sweet and fair is,
I would say: "King Henry, nay,

Keep your city, Paris,
But take not my love away,
Her whom I shall love alway,

That so sweet and fair is.'

Such is the language that true love inspires;
Laugh, if you like, at artless passion's fires!
I tell you this old ballad's sweeter far
Than all your florid, jewelled verses are.

Or. In any case, I know my sonnet's good.
Al. I'd say as much, sir, if I only could;

.
But since I can't, I beg you will permit
That I remain less spellbound by your wit.

Or. Critics more apt find not a word to blot.
Al. They have the art of feigning-I have not.
Or. Is wit so rare that

you
alone
possess

it?
Al. Is praise so cheap I must to you address it?

Or. I'd gladly see, as samples of your wit, On this same theme, some verses you had writ.

Al. They might be bad as yours, sir, but I swear
I'd hide 'em from the world with proper care.

Or. I scorn your praise, sir, I can do without it.
Al. Indeed! Why then make all this stew about it?
Or. I tell you, sir, I do not like your tone.
Al. Ah! but you should—it's modeled on your own.
Or. My little sir, your language is too proud.
Al. My great sir, it shall not be disavowed.
Ph. Good friends, you go too far-in Heaven's name

Or. You're right-1 yield-I am indeed to blame. [To Alceste.] Your valet, sir—until again we meet. Al. Let me be yours—till then—sir, I entreat.

[Exit Oronte.

Ph. So, there you are! through being too sincere
You have a. duel with this coxcomb here.
'Twas plain as day, three words of barren praise

Al. Silence, I say! O these degenerate days!
Ph. Come, come!

.

Al.

Let me begone! Ph.

Where? Al.

Nay—no more! You drive me mad! Ph.

But, sir ... Al.

My soul is sore
Past curing!

Ph. But .
Al.

Don't dog my steps, I say!
I mean to flee this wicked world! Away!

Ph. I will not leave you in this savage inood To fret and sting your soul in solitude.

[He follows Alceste.

.

Moli

60

SCENES FROM COMUS

THRE

HREE young persons, two brothers and their

sister, were making their way through a drear and tangled wood to the house of their father, when the lady became weary and the brothers resolved to lodge for the night under a spreading group of pines. Learing their sister, the brothers stepped to a neighboring thicket in search of berries and other woodland fruit, were overtaken by night, and now, their way quite lost, are wandering helplessly in the forest,

Elder Brother. Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair

Moon,
That wont'st to love the traveler's benison,
Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,
And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here
In double night of darkness and of shades;
Or, if your influence be quite dammed up

With black usurping mists, some gentle taper,
Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole
Of some clay habitation, visit us
With thy long-leveled rule of streaming light;
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian Cynosure.
Second Brother.

Or, if our eyes
Be barred that happiness, might we but hear
The folded flocks penned in their wattled cotes,
Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops,
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock
Count the night watches to his feathery dames,
'Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering,
In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.
But, that hapless virgin, our lost sister!
Where may she wander now, whither betake her
From the chill dew, among rude burs and thistles?
Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,
Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm
Leans her unpillowed head, fraught with sad fears.
What if in wild amazement and affright?
Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp
Of savage hunger, or of savage heat?

Elder Brother. Peace, brother: be not over-exquisite
To cast the fashion of uncertain evils:
For grant they be so, while they rest unknown,
What need a man forestall his date of grief,
And run to meet what he would most avoid?
Or, if they be but false alarms of fcar,
How bitter is such self-delusion!
I do not think my sister so to seek,
Or so unprincipled in Virtue's book,
And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever,

As that the single want of light and noise
(Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,
And put them into misbecoming plight.
Virtue could see to do what virtue would
By her own radiant light, though Sun and Moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And Wisdom's self
Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude;
Where, with her best nurse, Contemplation,
She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings,
That in the various bustle of resort
Were all-to ruffled, and sometimes impaired.
He that has light within his own clear breast,
May sit i’ the center, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the midday Sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.
Second Brother.

'Tis most true,
That musing Meditation most affects
The pensive secrecy of desert cell,
Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds,
And sits as safe as in a senate-house;
For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,
His few books, or his beads, or maple dish,
Or do his gray hairs any violence?
But Beauty, like the fair Hesperian tree
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard
Of dragon-watch, with unenchanted eye,
To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit,
From the rash hand of bold Incontinence.
You may as well spread out the unsunned heaps
Of miser's treasure by an outlaw's den,
And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope
Danger will wink on Opportunity,

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