Imatges de pÓgina



To whom thus Jesus: “Also it is written,
Tempt not the Lord thy God."" He said, and stood;
But Satan, smitten with amazement, fell.
As when earth's son, Antæus (to compare
Small things with greatest), in Irassa strove
With Jove's Alcides, and, oft foiled, still rose,
Receiving from his mother earth new strength,
Fresh from his fall, and fiercer grapple joined,
Throttled at length in the air expired and fell,
So, after many a foil, the tempter proud,
Renewing fresh assaults, amidst his pride
Fell whence he stood to see his Victor fall;
And, as that Theban monster that proposed
Her riddle, and him who solved it not devoured,
That once found out and solved, for grief and spite
Cast herself headlong from the Ismenian steep,
So, struck with dread and anguish, fell the fiend,
And to his crew, that sat consulting, brought
Joyless triumphals of his hoped success,
Ruin, and desperation, and dismay,
Who durst so proudly tempt the Son of God.
So Satan fell; and straight a fiery globe
Of angels on full sail of wing flew nigh,
Who on their plumy vans received Him soft
From His uneasy station, and upbore,
As on a floating couch, through the blithe air ;
Then, in a flowery valley, set Him down
On a green bank, and set before Him spread
A table of celestial food, divine
Ambrosial fruits fetched from the Tree of Life,
And from the Fount of Life ambrosial drink,
That soon refreshed Him wearied, and repaired
What hunger, if aught hunger, had impaired,
Or thirst; and, as He fed, angelic choirs
Sung heavenly anthems of His victory
Over temptation and the tempter proud :-

“True Image of the Father, whether throned



In the bosom of bliss, and light of light
Conceiving, or, remote from Heaven, enshrined
In fleshly tabernacle and human form,
Wandering the wilderness—whatever place,

Habit, or state, or motion, still expressing
The Son of God, with Godlike force endued
Against the attempter of Thy Father's throne
And thief of Paradise! Him long of old
Thou didst debel, and down from Heaven cast
With all his army; now Thou hast avenged
Supplanted Adam, and, by vanquishing
Temptation, hast regained lost Paradise,
And frustrated the conquest fraudulent.
He never more henceforth will dare set foot

610 In Paradise to tempt; his snares are broke. For, though that seat of earthly bliss be failed, A fairer Paradise is founded now For Adam and his chosen sons, whom Thou, A Saviour, art come down to re-install ; Where they shall dwell secure, when time shall be, Of tempter and temptation without fear. But thou, infernal serpent! shalt not long Rule in the clouds. Like an autumnal star, Or lightning, thou shalt fall from Heaven, trod down 620 Under His feet. For proof, ere this thou feel'st Thy wound (yet not thy last and deadliest wound) By this repulse received, and hold'st in Hell No triumph; in all her gates Abaddon rues Thy bold attempt. Hereafter learn with awe To dread the Son of God. He, all unarmed, Shall chase thee, with the terror of His voice, From thy demoniac holds, possession foulThee and thy legions; yelling they shall fly, And beg to hide them in a herd of swine,

630 Lest He command them down into the deep, Bound, and to torment sent before their time. Hail, Son of the Most High, Heir of both worlds,

Queller of Satan! On Thy glorious work
Now enter, and begin to save mankind.”

Thus they the Son of God, our Saviour meek, Sung Victor, and, from heavenly feast refreshed, Brought on His way with joy. He, unobserved, Home to His mother's house private returned.

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“Comus” was suggested to the poet by the fact that the two sons and the daughter of the Earl of Bridgewater, on their return from a visit to some relations in Herefordshire, were benighted in Haywood Forest ; and the Lady Alice was, for a short time, lost. The Mask was written for the Michaelmas festivities of 1634, and was acted by Lord Bridgewater's children. The music composed for it was by Henry Lawes, who performed in it the part of the Spirit, or Thyrsis. He was the son of Thomas Lawes, a Vicar-Choral of Salisbury Cathedral, and was at first a chorister himself. He became finally one of the Court musicians to Charles I. Masks and music fled before the stern gloom of the Commonwealth, and Lawes was compelled to gain his living by teaching the lute. His greatest friends during this period of difficulty and poverty were the Ladies Alice and Mary Egerton. He lived till the Restoration, and composed the Coronation Anthem for Charles II. “Comus” was first published by Lawes, without Milton's name, in 1637, with a dedication to Lord Brackley. Masks were the fashion of the age; and Milton was probably called on by Lord Bridgewater to produce one, because he had already written the “Arcades” for Lady Bridgewater's mother, Lady Derby, at Harefield, in Middlesex.

THE PERSONS. The ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterwards in FIRST BROTHER. the habit of Thyrsis.

SECOND BROTHER. COMUS, with his crew.



The Lord Brackley.

1 Mr. Thomas Egerton, his brother. The Lady Alice Egerton.

The first Scene discovers a wild wood.

The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descends or enters.
BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial spirits live insphered
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot
Which men call earth, and, with low-thoughted care,

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