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ere' morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
from her thatched pallat rouse. If otherwise,
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
but loyal cottage, where you may be safe
till further quest. La. Shepherd, I take thy word,
and trust thy honest offered courtesy,
which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
with smoky rafters, than in tapestry 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.-
[Enter the Two Brothers seeking their Sister] 1035 Se. B. But oh! that hapless virgin, our lost sister,
where may she wander now, whither betake her
from the chill dew, amongst 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 !... El. B. 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 fear,
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 retiréd 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' th centre, 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.—1036 My sister is not so defenceless left
as you imagine; she has a hidden strength,
which you remember not. Se, B.
What hidden strength, unless the strength of Heaven, if you mean that? El. B. I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength,
which, if Heaven gave it, may be term’d her own.
'Tis chastity, my brother, chastity.
She that has that is clad in complete steel,
and, like a quivered nymph with arrows keen,
may trace huge forests and unharboured heaths
infamous hills, and sandy, perilous wilds;
where, through the sacred rays of chastity,
no savage fierce, bandite or mountaineer
will dare to soil her virgin purity:
yea there, where very Desolation dwells,
by grots and caverns shagged with horrid shades,
she may pass on with unblenched majesty,
be it not done in pride or in presumption.
Some say no evil thing that walks by night,
in fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen,
blue meagre hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost
that breaks his magic chains at curfew-time,.
no goblin or swart faery of the mine,
hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.
Do ye believe me yet? or shall I call
antiquity from the old schools of Greece,
to testify the arms of chastity ?
1037 Hence had the huntress Dian her dread bow,
fair silver-shafted queen, for ever chaste,
wherewith she tamed the brinded lioness
and spotted mountain-pard, and set at nought
the frivolous bolt of Cupid : gods and men
feared her stern frown, and she was queen o' the
What was that snaky-headed Gorgon-shield,
that wise Minerva wore, unconquered virgin,
wherewith she freezed her foes to congealed stone,
but rigid looks of chaste austerity,
and noble grace that dashed brute violence
with sudden adoration and blank awe?
So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity,
that, when a soul is found sincerely so,
a thousand liveried angels lackey 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 turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
till all be made immortal. But when lust,
by unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
but most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
lets in defilement to the inward parts,
the soul grows clotted by contagion,
imbodies and imbrutes, till she quite lose
the divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
oft seen in charnel-vaults and sepulchres
lingering, and sitting by a new-made grave,
as loth to leave the body that it loved,
and linked itself by carnal sensuality
to a degenerate and degraded state.-
List! list! I hear
some far-off halloo break the silent air. 1038 Se. B. O night, and shades!
how are ye joined with Hell in triple knot,
against the unarmed weakness of one virgin,
alone and helpless! Is this the confidence
you gave me, Brother? El. B.
Yes, and keep it still ; lean on it safely; not a period shall be unsaid for me. Against the threats of malice or of sorcery, or that power which erring men call chance, this I hold firm,virtue may be assailed but never hurt, surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled ; yea even that which Mischief meant most harm shall in the happy trial prove most glory.
But evil on itself shall back recoil,
and mix no more with goodness, when at last,
gathered like scum, and settled to itself,
it shall be in eternal restless change
self-fed, and self-consumed. If this fail,
the pillared firmament is rottenness,
and earth's base built on stubble.
T is not so; thou hast misspoke, misheard;
it cannot be; thou dost but say, 'tis so:
I trust I may not trust thee; for thy word)
is but the vain breath of a common man;
believe me, I do not believe thee, man;
I have a king's oath to the contrary.
Thou shalt be punish'd for thus frighting me,
for I am sick, and capable of fears;
oppress'd with wrongs, and therefore full of fears;
a widow, husbandless, subject to fears:
a woman, naturally born to fears:
and though thou now confess, thou didst but jest,
with my vex'd spirits I cannot take a truce,
but they will quake and tremble all this day.
What dost thou mean by shaking of thy head?
why dost thou look so sadly on my son?
what means that hand upon that breast of thine?
why holds thine eye that lamentable rheum,
like a proud river peering o'er his boạnds?
Be these sad signs confirmers of thy words?
then speak again; not all thy former tale,
but this one word, whether thy tale be true. 1040 Arth. I do beseech, you, madam, be content. Const. If thou, that bidd'st me be content, wert grim,
ugly, and slanderous to thy mother's womb,
full of unpleasing blots, and sightless stains,
lame, foolish, crooked, swart, prodigious,
patch'd with foul moles and eye-offending marks,
I would not care, I then would be content;
for then I should not love thee; no, nor thou
become thy great birth, nor deserve a crown.
But thou art fair; and at thy birth, dear boy,
Nature and Fortune join’d to make thee great:
of Nature's gifts thou may'st with lilies boast
and with the half-blown rose: but Fortune, O!
she is corrupted, chang’d, and won from thee;
she adulterates hourly with thine uncle John;
and with her golden hand hath pluck'd on France
to tread down fair respect of sovereignty,
and made his majesty the bawd to theirs.
France is a bawd to Fortune, and king John;
that strumpet Fortune, that usurping John :-
tell me, thou fellow, is not France forsworn?
Envenom him with words; or get thee gone,
and leave those woes alone, which I alone
am bound to under-bear. 1041 K. Phi. The yearly course, that brings this day about,
shall never see it but a holiday.
Const. A wicked day, and not a holy day!-
what hath this day deserv'd? what hath it done,
that it in golden letters should be set,
among the high tides in the kalendar?
Nay, rather turn this day out of the week,
this day of shame, oppression, perjury:
or, if it must stand still, let wives with child
pray that their burdens may not fall this day,
lest that their hopes prodigiously be cross'd;
but on this day let seamen fear no wrack;
no bargains break that are not this day made:
this day, all things begun come to ill end;
yea, faith itself to hollow falsehood change! K. Phi. By heaven, lady, you shall have no cause
to curse the fair proceedings of this day;
have I not pawn’d to you my majesty? Const. You have beguild me with a counterfeit,
resembling majesty; which, being touch'd and tried,
proves valueless: you are forsworn, forsworn;
you came in arms to spill mine enemies' blood,
but now in arms you strengthen it with yours:
the grappling vigour and rough frown of war,
is cold in amity and painted peace,
and our oppression hath made up this league.-
Arm, arm, you heavens, against these perjur'd kings!
a widow cries; be husband to me, heavens!