Act 1, Scene II

Scene: In the Neighbourhood of a Village.

Enter Old Shepherd, with four couples of Shepherds and Shepherdesses, among whom are PERIGOT and AMORET.

Old Shepherd.
Now we have done this holy festival
In honour of our great god, and his rites
Performed, prepare yourselves for chaste
And uncorrupted fires; that as the priest
With powerful hand shall sprinkle on your brows
His pure and holy water, ye may be
From all hot flames of lust and loose thoughts free.
Kneel, shepherds, kneel; here comes the priest of Pan.

Enter Priest of Pan.

Priest of Pan.
Shepherds, thus I purge away
[Sprinkling them with water.
Whatsoever this great day,
Or the past hours, gave not good,
To corrupt your maiden blood.
From the high rebellious heat
Of the grapes, and strength of meat,
From the wanton quick desires
They do kindle by their fires
I do wash you with this water;
Be you pure and fair hereafter!
From your livers and your veins
Thus I take away the stains;
All your thoughts be smooth and fair:
Be ye fresh and free as air!
Never more let lustful heat
Through your purgèd conduits beat,
Or a plighted troth be broken,
Or a wanton verse be spoken
In a shepherdess's ear:
Go your ways, ye are all clear.
[They rise and sing.
Sing his praises that doth keep
    Our flocks from harm,
Pan, the father of our sheep;
   And arm in arm
Tread we softly in a round,
    Whilst the hollow neighbouring ground
Fills the music with her sound.
 
Pan, O great god Pan, to thee
    Thus do we sing!
Thou that keep'st us chaste and free
    As the young spring;
Ever be thy honour spoke,
    From that place the Morn is broke
To that place Day doth unyoke!
[Exeunt all except Perigot and Amoret.
Perigot. [Detaining her.]
Stay, gentle Amoret, thou fair-browed maid;
Thy shepherd prays thee stay, that holds thee dear,
Equal with his soul's good.
Amoret.
Equal with his soul's good. Speak; I give
Thee freedom, shepherd; and thy tongue be still
The same it ever was, as free from ill
As he whose conversation never knew
The court or city; be thou ever true!
Perigot.
When I fall off from my affection,
Or mingle my clean thoughts with foul desires,
First, let our great god cease to keep my flocks,
That, being left alone without a guard,
The wolf, or winter's rage, summer's great heat
And want of water, rots, or what to us
Of ill is yet unknown, fall speedily,
And in their general ruin let me go!
Amoret.
I pray thee, gentle shepherd, wish not so:
I do believe thee; 'tis as hard for me
To think thee false, and harder, than for thee
To hold me foul.
Perigot.
To hold me foul. Oh, you are fairer far
Than the chaste blushing mom, or that fair star
That guides the wandering seaman through the deep;
Straighter than straightest pine upon the steep
Head of an agèd mountain; and more white
Than the new milk we strip before day-light
From the full-freighted bags of our fair flocks;
Your hair more beauteous than those hanging locks
Of young Apollo!
Amoret.
Of young Apollo! Shepherd, be not lost;
You are sailed too far already from the coast
Of your discourse.
Perigot.
Of your discourse. Did you not tell me once
I should not love alone, I should not lose
Those many passions, vows, and holy oaths,
I have sent to heaven? did you not give your hand,
Even that fair hand, in hostage? Do not, then,
Give back again those sweets to other men,
You yourself vowed were mine.
Amoret.
Shepherd, so far as maiden's modesty
May give assurance, I am once more thine,
Once more I give my hand: be ever free
From that great foe to faith, foul jealousy!
Perigot.
I take it as my best good; and desire,
For stronger confirmation of our love,
To meet this happy night in that fair grove,
Where all true shepherds have rewarded been
For their long service: say, sweet, shall it hold?
Amoret.
Dear friend, you must not blame me, if I make
A doubt of what the silent night may do,
Coupled with this day's heat, to move your blood:
Maids must be fearful. Sure you have not been
Washed white enough, for yet I see a stain
Stick in your liver: go and purge again
Perigot.
Oh, do not wrong my honest simple truth!
Myself and my affections are as pure
As those chaste flames that burn before the shrine
Of the great Dian: only my intent
To draw you thither was to plight our troths,
With interchange of mutual chaste embraces
And ceremonious tying of our souls.
For to that holy wood is consecrate
A virtuous well, about whose flowery banks
The nimble-footed fairies dance their rounds
By the pale moonshine, dipping oftentimes
Their stolen children, so to make them free
From dying flesh and dull mortality:
By this fair fount hath many a shepherd sworn,
And given away his freedom, many a troth
Been plight, which neither envy nor old time
Could ever break, with many a chaste kiss given,
In hope of coming happiness,
By this fresh fountain many a blushing maid
Hath crowned the head of her long-lovèd shepherd
With gaudy flowers, whilst he happy sung
Lays of his love and dear captivity;
There grow all herbs fit to cool looser flames
Our sensual parts provoke, chiding our bloods,
And quenching by their power those hidden sparks
That else would break out, and provoke our sense
To open fires; so virtuous is that place.
Then, gentle shepherdess, believe, and grant:
In troth, it fits not with that face to scant
Your faithful shepherd of those chaste desires
He ever aimed at, and——
Amoret.
Thou hast prevailed: farewell. This coming night
Shall crown thy chaste hopes with long-wished delight.
Perigot.
Our great god Pan reward thee for that good
Thou hast given thy poor shepherd! Fairest bud
Of maiden virtues, when I leave to be
The true admirer of thy chastity,
Let me deserve the hot polluted name
Of a wild woodman, or affect some dame
Whose often prostitution hath begot
More foul diseases than e'er yet the hot
Sun bred thorough his burnings, whilst the Dog
Pursues the raging Lion, throwing fog
And deadly vapour from his angry breath,
Filling the lower world with plague and death!
[Exit Amoret.

Enter AMARILLIS.

Amarillis.
Shepherd, may I desire to be believed,
What I shall blushing tell?
Perigot.
What i shall blushing tell? Fair maid, you may.
Amarillis.
Then, softly thus: I love thee, Perigot;
And would be gladder to be loved again
Than the cold earth is in his frozen arms
To clip the wanton spring. Nay, do not start,
Nor wonder that I woo thee; thou that art
The prime of our young grooms, even the top
Of all our lusty shepherds. What dull eye,
That never was acquainted with desire,
Hath seen thee wrestle, run, or cast the stone
Withi nimble strength and fair delivery,
And hath not sparkled fire, and speedily
Sent secret heat to all the neighbouring veins?
Who ever heard thee sing, that brought again
That freedom back was lent unto thy voice?
Then, do not blame me, shepherd, if I be
One to be numbered in this company,
Since none that ever saw thee yet were free.
Perigot.
Fair shepherdess, much pity I can lend
To your complaints; but sure I shall not love:
All that is mine, myself and my best hopes,
Are given already. Do not love him, then,
That cannot love again; on other men
Bestow those heats, more free, that may return
You fire for fire, and in one flame equal bum.
Amarillis.
Shall I rewarded be so slenderly
For my affection, most unkind of men?
If I were old, or had agreed with art
To give another nature to my cheeks,
Or were I common Mistress to the love
Of every swain, or could I with such ease
Call back my love as many a wanton doth,
Thou mightst refuse me, shepherd; but to thee
I am only fixed and set; let it not be
A sport, thou gentle shepherd, to abuse
The love of silly maid.
Perigot.
The love of silly maid. Fair soul, you use
These words to little end: for, know, I may
Better call back that time was yesterday,
Or stay the coming night, than bring my love
Home to myself again, or recreant prove.
I will no longer hold you with delays:
This present night I have appointed been
To meet that chaste fair that enjoys my soul,
In vonder grove, there to make up our loves.
Be not deceived no longer, choose again:
These neighbouring plains have many a comely swain,
Fresher and freer far than I e'er was;
Bestow that love on them, and let me pass.
Farewell: be happy in a better choice!
[Exit.
Amarillis.
Cruel, thou hast struck me deader with thy voice
Than if the angry heavens with their quick flames
Had shot me through. I must not leave to love,
I cannot; no, I must enjoy thee, boy,
Though the great dangers 'twixt my hopes and that
Be infinite. There is a shepherd dwells
Down by the moor, whose life hath ever shown
More sullen discontent than Saturn's brow
When he sits frowning on the births of men;
One that doth wear himself away in loneness,
And never joys, unless it be in breaking
The holy plighted troths of mutual souls;
One that lusts after every several beauty,
But never yet was known to love or like,
Were the face fairer or more full of truth
Than Phœbe in her fulness, or the youth
Of smooth Lyæus; whose nigh-starvèd flocks
Are always scabby, and infect all sheep
They feed withal; whose lambs are ever last,
And die before their weaning; and whose dog
Looks, like his master, lean and full of scurf,
Not caring for the pipe or whistle. This man may,
If he be well wrought, do a need of wonder,
Forcing me passage to my long desires:
And here he comes, as fitly to my purpose
As my quick thoughts could wish for.

Enter Sullen Shepherd.

Sullen Shepherd.
Fresh beauty, let me not be thought uncivil,
Thus to be partner of your loneness: 'twas
My love (that ever-working passion) drew
Me to this place, to seek some remedy
For my sick soul. Be not unkind and fair,
For such the mighty Cupid in his doom
Hath sworn to be avenged on; then, give room
To my consuming fires, that so I may
Enjoy my long desires, and so allay
Those flames that else would burn my life away.
Amarillis.
Shepherd, were I but sure thy heart were sound
As thy words seem to be, means might be found
To cure thee of thy long pains; for to me
That heavy youth-consuming misery
The love-sick soul endures never was pleasing:
I could be well content with the quick easing
Of thee and thy hot fires, might it procure
Thy faith and farther service to be sure.
Sullen Shepherd.
Name but that work, danger, or what can
Be compassed by the wit or art of man.
And, if I fail in my performance, may
I never more kneel to the rising day!
Amarillis.
Then, thus I try thee, shepherd. This same night
That now comes stealing on, a gentle pair
Have promised equal love, and do appoint
To make yon wood the place where hands and hearts
Are to be tied for ever: break their meeting
And their strong faith, and I am ever thine.
Sullen Shepherd.
Tell me their names, and if I do not move
By my great power, the centre of their love
From his fixed being, let me never more
Warm me by those fair eyes I thus adore.
Amarillis.
Come; as we go, I'll tell thee what they are,
And give thee fit directions for thy work.
[Exeunt.