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Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear
The folded flocks penn'd in their watled cotes,
Or found of past'ral reed with oaten stops,
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock
Count the night watches to his feathery dames,
'Twould be fome folace yet, some little chearing
In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.
But O that hapless virgin, our lost Sister,
Where may she wander now, whither betake her
From the chill dew, amongst rude burs and thistles?
Perhaps fome cold bank is her bolster now,
Or 'gainst the rugged bark of fome broad elm
Leans her unpillow'd head fraught with fad fears. 355 What if in wild amazement, and affright,
Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp
Of savage hunger, or of savage heat?
Eld. Bro. Peace, Brother, be not over-exquifite
To caft 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 moft avoid?
Or if they be but false alarms of fear,
How bitter is such self-delufion?
I do not think my Sifter so to seek,
Or fo unprincipled in virtue's book,
And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever,
As that the fingle want of light and noise
(Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
Could ftir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,
And put them into mif-becoming plight.
Virtue could fee to do what virtue would
By her own radiant light, though fun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And wisdom's felf 375
Oft feeks to sweet retired folitude,
Where with her beft nurse contemplation
She plumes her feathers, and lets grow
That in the various buftle of refort
Were all too ruffled, and fometimes impair'd. 380
He that has light within his own clear breast
May fit i'th' center, and enjoy bright day:
But he that hides a dark foul, and foul thoughts,
Benighted walks under the mid-day sun;
Himself is his own dungeon.
2. Bro. 'Tis moft true,
That musing meditation most affects
The pensive secrecy of desert cell,
Far from the chearful haunt of men and herds,
And fits as fafe as in a fenate 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 Hefperian tree
Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard 395
Of dragon-watch with uninchanted eye,
To fave her bloffoms, and defend her fruit
From the rash hand of bold incontinence.
You may as well spread out the unfunn'd heaps
Of misers treasure by an out-law's den,
And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope
Danger will wink on opportunity,
And let a fingle helpless maiden pass
Uninjur'd in this wild furrounding waste.
Of night, or loneliness it recks me not;
I fear the dread events that dog them both,
Left fome ill-greeting touch attempt the perfon
Of our unowened Sifter.
Eld. Bro. I do not, Brother,
Infer, as if I thought my Sister's state
Secure without all doubt, or controversy:
Yet where an equal poise of hope and fear
Does arbitrate th' event, my nature is
That I incline to hope, rather than fear,
And gladly banish squint suspicion.
My Sifter is not fo defenseless left
you imagin; she' has a hidden strength Which you remember not.
2. Bro. What hidden strength,
Unless the strength of Heav'n, if you mean that? 420
Eld. Bro. I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength, Which if Heav'n gave it, may be term'd her own: 'Tis chastity, my Brother, chastity:
She that has that, is clad in cómplete fteel,
And like a quiver'd nymph with arrows keen
May trace huge forests, and unharbour'd heaths,
Infamous hills, and fandy perilous wilds,
Where through the facred rays of chastity,
No favage fierce, bandite, or mountaneer
Will dare to foil her virgin purity:
Yea there, where very defolation dwells
By grots, and caverns fhagg'd with horrid shades,
may pass on with unblench'd majesty,
Be it not done in pride, or in prefumption.
Some fay no evil thing that walks by night,
In fog, or fire, by lake, or moorish fen,
Blue meager hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
That breaks his magic chains at Curfeu time,
No goblin, or fwart faery of the mine,
Hath hurtful pow'r o'er true virginity.
Do ye believe me yet, or fhall I call
Antiquity from the old fchools of Greece
To teftify the arms of chastity?
Hence had the huntress Dian her dread bow,
Fair filver-fhafted queen, for ever chaste,
Wherewith fhe tam'd the brinded lionefs
And spotted mountain pard, but set at nought
The frivolous bolt of Cupid; Gods and men
Fear'd her ftern frown, and fhe was queen o'th'woods.
What was that fnaky-headed Gorgon shield, 450
That wife Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin,
Wherewith fhe freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone,
But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
And noble grace that dafh'd brute violence
With fudden adoration, and blank awe?
So dear to Heav'n is faintly chastity,
That when a foul is found fincerely so,
A thousand liveried Angels lacky her,
Driving far off each thing of fin and guilt,
And in clear dream, and folemn vision,
Tell her of things that no grofs ear can hear,
Till oft converse with heav'nly habitants
Begin to caft a beam on th' outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the soul's effence,
Till all be made immortal: but when luft,
By unchafte looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by leud and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The foul grows clotted by contagion,
Imbodies, and imbrutes, till fhe quite lofe
The divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft feen in charnel vaults, and fepulchers,
Ling'ring, and fitting by a new made grave,
As loath to leave the body that it lov'd,
And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
2. Bro. How charming is divine philosophy! Not harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools fuppofe, 480
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd fweets,