Ben Jonson

"The Sad Shepherd. Act 1. Scene 4."

            Robin-hood, Clarion, Mellifleur, Lionel, Amie, Alkin, Tuck, Servants, with Musick of all sorts.

    Rob. Welcome, bright Clarion, and sweet Mellifleur,
The courteous Lionel, fair Amie; all
My Friends and Neighbours to the Jolly Bower
Of Robin-hood, and to the green Wood Walks;
Now that the shearing of your Sheep is done,
And the wash'd Flocks are lighted of their Wooll,
The smoother Ewes are ready to receive
The mounting Rams again; and both do feed,
As either promis'd to increase your Breed
At eaning time; and bring you lusty Twins.
Why should, or you , or we so much forget
The Season in our selves, as not to make
Use your youth, and Spirits, to awake
The nimble Horn-Pipe, and the Timburine,
And mix our Songs and Dances in the Wood,
And each of us cut down a Triumph-Bough?
Such were the Rites the youthful June allow.
    Cla. They were, gay Robin, but the sowrer sort
Of Shepherds, now disclaim in all such sport:
And say, our Flocks the while, are poorly fed,
When with such vanities the Swains are led.
    Tuc. Would they, wise Clarion, were not hurried more
With Covetise and Rage, when to their Store
They add the poor man's Eanling, and dare sell
Both Fleece and Carkass, not gi'ing him the Fell.
When to one Goat, they reach the prickly Weed,
Which maketh all the rest forbear to feed;
Or strew Tods Hairs, or with their Tails do sweep
The dewy Grass, to do'ff the simpler Sheep;
Or dig deep pits, their Neighbours Neat to vex,
To drown their Calves, and crack the Heifers Necks.
Or with pretence of chasing thence the Brock,
Send in a Cur to worry the whole Flock.
    Lio. O Friar, those are Faults that are not seen,
Ours open, and of worst Example been.
They call ours Pagan Pastimes, that infect
Our Blood with Ease, our Youth with all neglect;
Our Tongues with Wantonness, our Thoughts with Lust,
And what they censure ill, all others must.

Rob. I do not know what their sharp sight may see,
Of late, but I should think it still might be
(As 'twas) a happy Age, when on the Plains
The wood-men met the Damsels, and the Swains
The Neat'ards, Plow-men, and the Pipers loud,
And each did dance, some of the Kit, or Crowd,
Some of the Bag-pipe, some of the Tabret mov'd,
And all did either love, or were belov'd.
    Lio. The dextrous Shepherd then would try his Sling,
Then Dart his Hook of Daisies, then would sing.
Sometimes would wrastle.
    Cla. I, and with a Lass:
And give her a new Garment on the Grass;
After a course at Barley-break, or Base.
    Lio. And all these deeds were seen without offence,
Or at least hazard of their Innocence.
    Rob. Those charitable Times had no mistrust.
Shepherds knew how to love, and not to lust.
    Cla. Each minute that we lose thus, I confess,
Deserves a Censure on us, more or less;
But that a sadder Chance hath given allay,
Both to the Mirth and Musick of this day.
Our fairest Shepherdess we had of late,
Here upon Trent, is drown'd; for whom her Mate,
Young AEglamour, a Swain, who best could tread
Our Countrey Dances; and our Games did lead,
Lives like the melancholy Turtle, drown'd
Deeper in Woe, than she in Water: crown'd
With Yewgh and Cypress, and will scarce admit
The Physick of our Presence to his Fit.
    Lio. Sometimes he sits, and thinks all day, then walks,
Then thinks again, and sighs, weeps, laughs and talks;
And 'twixt his pleasing Frenzy, and sad Grief,
Is so distracted, as no sought relief,
By all our Studies can procure his Peace.
    Cla. The Passion finds in him that large increase,
As we doubt hourly we shall lose him too.
    Rob. You should not cross him then, whte'er you do:
For Phant'sie stopp'd, will soon take fire, and burn
Into an Anger, or to a Phrensie turn.
    Cla. Nay, so we are advis'd by Alhen here,
A good sage Shepherd, who, altho'he wear
An old worn Hat and Cloack, can tell us more
Than all the forward Fry, that boast their Lore.
    Lio. See, yonder comes the Brothel of the Maid,
Young Karolin! how curious, and afraid
He is at once! willing to find him out,
And loth to offend him.
    Alken. Sure he's here about.

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