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Bacchus' blessings are a treasure,
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure;
Sweet is pleasure after pain.

Sooth'd with the sound, the king grew vain;

Fought all his battles o'er again;

[the slain.

And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew
The master saw the madness rise;
His glowing cheeks, his ardent eyes;
And, while he Heaven and Earth defied,
Chang'd his hand, and check'd his pride.
He chose a mournful Muse,
Soft pity to infuse :

He sung Darius great and good,
By too severe a fate,
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
Fallen from his high estate,

And weltering in his blood;
Deserted, at his utmost need,
By those his former bounty fed :
On the bare earth expos'd he lies,
With not a friend to close his eyes.
With downcast looks the joyless victor sate,
Revolving in his alter'd soul

The various turns of Chance below;
And, now and then, a sigh he stole ;
And tears began to flow.


Revolving in his alter'd soul

The various turns of Chance below;
And, now and then, a sigh he stole;
And tears began to flow.

The mighty master smil'd, to see
That love was in the next degree:
"Twas but a kindred sound to move,
For pity melts the mind to love.

Softly sweet, in Lydian measures,
Soon he sooth'd his soul to pleasures.
War, he sung, is toil and trouble;
Honor but an empty bubble;

Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying;

If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, O think, it worth enjoying:
Lovely Thais sits beside thee,

Take the good the gods provide thee.
The many rend the skies with loud applause;
So Love was crown'd, but Music won the cause.
The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
Gaz'd on the fair

Who caus'd his care,

And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again:

At length, with love and wine at once oppress'd,
The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.


The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
Gaz'd on the fair

Who caus'd his care,

And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again:

At length, with love and wine at once oppress'd
The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.

Now strike the golden lyre again:

A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder,

And rouse him, like a rattling peal of thunder
Hark, hark, the horrid sound

Has rais'd up his head!

As awak'd from the dead,

And, amaz'd, he stares around.

Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,
See the Furies arise:

See the snakes that they rear,
How they hiss in their hair,

And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!
Behold a ghastly band,

Each a torch in his hand!

Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,
And unburied remain
Inglorious on the plain:

Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew.

Behold how they toss their torches on high,
How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glittering temples of their hostile gods.
The princes applaud, with a furious joy;
And the king seiz'd a flambeau with zeal to destroy,
Thais led the way,

To light him to his prey,

And, like another Helen, fir'd another Troy

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Book I

IN days of old, there liv'd, of mighty fame,
A valiant prince, and Theseus was his name:
A chief, who more in feats of arms excell'd,
The rising nor the setting Sun beheld.
Of Athens he was lord; much land he won,
And added foreign countries to his crown.
In Scythia with the warrior queen he strove,
Whom first by force he conquered, then by love;
He brought in triumph back the beauteous dame,
With whom her sister, fair Emilia, came.
With honor to his home let Theseus ride,
With Love to friend, and Fortune for his guide,
And his victorious army at his side.

I pass their warlike pomp, their proud array,
Their shouts, their songs, their welcome on the way.
But, were it not too long, I would recite
The feats of Amazons, the fatal fight
Betwixt the hardy queen and hero knight;
The town besieg'd, and how much blood it cost
The female army and th' Athenian host;
The spousals of Hippolita, the queen;
What tilts and tourneys at the feast were seen;
The storm at their return, the ladies' fear:
But these, and other things, I must forbear.
The field is spacious I design to sow,
With oxen far unfit to draw the plow:
The remnant of my tale is of a length

To tire your patience, and to waste my strength;
And trivial accidents shall be forborne,
That others may have time to take their turn;
As was at first enjoin'd us by mine host,
That he whose tale is best, and pleases most,
Should win his supper at our common cost.

And therefore where I left, I will pursue
This ancient story, whether false or true,
In hope it may be mended with a new.
The prince I mention'd, full of high renown,
In this array drew near th' Athenian town;
When, in his pomp and utmost of his pride,
Marching, he chanc'd to cast his eye aside,
And saw a choir of mourning dames, who lay
By two and two across the common way:
At his approach they rais'd a rueful cry,
And beat their breasts, and held their hands on high,
Creeping and crying, till they seiz'd at last
His courser's bridle, and his feet embrac'd.
"Tell me," said Theseus, "what and whence
you are,

And why this funeral pageant you prepare?
Is this the welcome of my worthy deeds,
To meet my triumph in ill-omen'd weeds?
Or envy you my praise, and would destroy
With grief my pleasures, and pollute my joy?
Or are you injur'd, and demand relief?
Name your request, and I will ease your grief."
The most in years of all the mourning train
Began (but swooned first away for pain);
Then scarce recover'd spoke: "Nor envy we
Thy great renown, nor grudge thy victory;
"Tis thine, O king, th' afflicted to redress,
And Fame has fill'd the world with thy success:
We, wretched women, sue for that alone,
Which of thy goodness is refus'd to none;

Let fall some drops of pity on our grief,
If what we beg be just, and we deserve relief:
For none of us, who now thy grace implore,
But held the rank of sovereign queen before;
Till, thanks to giddy Chance, which never bears
That mortal bliss should last for length of years,
She cast us headlong from our high estate,
And here in hope of thy return we wait:
And long have waited in the temple nigh,
Built to the gracious goddess Clemency.

But reverence thou the power whose name it bears,
Relieve th' oppress'd, and wipe the widow's tears.
I, wretched I, have other fortunes seen,
The wife of Capaneus, and once a queen:
At Thebes he fell, curst be the fatal day!
And all the rest thou seest in this array
To make their moan, their lords in battle lost
Before that town, besieg'd by our confederate host:
But Creon, old and impious, who commands
The Theban city, and usurps the lands,
Denies the rites of funeral fires to those
Whose breathless bodies yet he calls his foes.
Unburn'd, unburied, on a heap they lie;
Such is their fate, and such his tyranny;
No friend has leave to bear away the dead,
But with their lifeless limbs his hounds are fed."
At this she shriek'd aloud; the mournful train
Echo'd her grief, and, grovelling on the plain,
With groans, and hands upheld, to move his mind,
Besought his pity to their helpless kind!

The prince was touch'd, his tears began to flow,
And, as his tender heart would break in two,
He sigh'd, and could not but their fate deplore,
So wretched now, so fortunate before.
Then lightly from his lofty steed he flew,
And raising, one by one, the suppliant crew,
To comfort each, full solemnly he swore,
That by the faith which knights to knighthood bore,
And whate'er else to chivalry belongs,
He would not cease, till he reveng'd their wrongs:
That Greece should see perform'd what he decir'd;
And cruel Creon find his just reward.
He said no more, but, shunning all delay,
Rode on; nor enter'd Athens on his way:
But left his sister and his queen behind,
And wav'd his royal banner in the wind:
Where in an argent field the god of war
Was drawn triumphant on his iron car;
Red was his sword, and shield, and whole attire,
And all the godhead seem'd to glow with fire;
Ev'n the ground glitter'd where the standard flow
And the green grass was dyed to sanguine hue.
High on his pointed lance his pennon bore
His Cretan fight, the conquer'd Minotaur :
The soldiers shout around with generous rage.
And in that victory their own presage.
He prais'd their ardor; inly pleas'd to see
His host the flower of Grecian chivalry.
All day he march'd; and all th' ensuing night,
And saw the city with returning light.
The process of the war I need not tell,
How Theseus conquer'd, and how Creon fell:
Or after, how by storm the walls were won,
Or how the victor sack'd and burn'd the town:
How to the ladies he restor'd again
The bodies of their lords in battle slain.
And with what ancient rites they were is vr'd.
All these to fitter times shall be deferr'd.
I spare the widows' tears, their woful cries,
And howling at their husbands' obsequies,

How Theseus at these funerals did assist,
And with what gifts the mourning dames dismiss'd.
Thus when the victor chief had Creon.slain,
And conquer'd Thebes, he pitch'd upon the plain
His mighty camp, and, when the day return'd,
The country wasted, and the hamlets burn'd,
And left the pillagers, to rapine bred,
Without control to strip and spoil the dead.
There, in a heap of slain, among the rest
Two youthful knights they found beneath a load Restless for woe, arose before the light,

Ev'n wondering Philomel forgot to sing,
And learn'd from her to welcome in the Spring.
The tower, of which before was mention made,
Within whose keep the captive knights were laid,
Built of a large extent, and strong withal,
Was one partition of the palace wall:
The garden was inclos'd within the square,
Where young Emilia took the morning air.
It happen'd Palamon, the prisoner knight,


Of slaughter'd foes, whom first to death they sent,
The trophies of their strength, a bloody monument.
Both fair, and both of royal blood they seem'd,
Whom kinsmen to the crown the heralds deem'd;
That day in equal arms they fought for fame;
Their swords, their shields, their surcoats, were the


Close by each other laid, they press'd the ground, Their manly bosoms pierc'd with many a grisly wound;

And with his gaoler's leave desir'd to breathe
An air more wholesome than the damps beneath :
This granted, to the tower he took his way,
Cheer'd with the promise of a glorious day:
Then cast a languishing regard around,
And saw with hateful eyes the temples crown'd
With golden spires, and all the hostile ground.
He sigh'd, and turn'd his eyes, because he knew
"Twas but a larger gaol he had in view:
Then look'd below, and, from the castle's height
Beheld a nearer and more pleasing sight,
The garden, which before he had not seen,
In Spring's new livery clad of white and green,
Fresh flowers in wide parterres, and shady walks

Nor well alive, nor wholly dead, they were,
But some faint signs of feeble life appear:
The wandering breath was on the wing to part,
Weak was the pulse, and hardly heav'd the heart.
These two were sisters' sons; and Arcite one,
Much fam'd in fields, with valiant Palamon.
From these their costly arms the spoilers rent,
And softly both convey'd to Theseus' tent:
Whom, known of Creon's line, and cur'd with care, At last, for so his destiny requir'd,

He to his city sent as prisoners of the war,
Hopeless of ransom, and condemn'd to lie
In durance, doom'd a lingering death to die.
This done, he march'd away with warlike sound,
And to his Athens turn'd with laurels crown'd,
Where happy long he liv'd, much lov'd, and more

But in a tower, and never to be loos'd,
The woful captive kinsmen are inclos'd.

Thus year by year they pass, and day by day,
Till once, 'twas on the morn of cheerful May,
The young Emilia, fairer to be seen
Than the fair lily on the flowery green,
More fresh than May herself in blossoms new,
For with the rosy color strove her hue,
Wak'd, as her custom was, before the day,
To do th' observance due to sprightly May:
For sprightly May commands our youth to keep
The vigils of hernight, and breaks their sluggard sleep;
Each gentle breath with kindly warmth she moves;
Inspires new flames, revives extinguish'd loves.
In this remembrance Emily, ere day,
Arose, and dress'd herself in rich array;
Fresh as the month, and as the morning fair;
Adown her shoulders fell her length of hair:
A ribband did the braided tresses bind,
The rest was loose, and wanton'd in the wind.
Aurora had but newly chas'd the night,
And purpled o'er the sky with blushing light,
When to the garden walk she took her way,
To sport and trip along in cool of day,
And offer maiden vows in honor of the May.
At every turn, she made a little stand,
And thrust among the thorns her lily hand
To draw the rose; and every rose she drew,
She shook the stalk, and brush'd away the dew:
Then party-color'd flowers of white and red
She wove, to make a garland for her head:
This done, she sung and caroll'd out so clear,
That men and angels might rejoice to hear:

This view'd, but not enjoy'd, with arms across
He stood, reflecting on his country's loss;
Himself an object of the public scorn,
And often wish'd he never had been born.

With walking giddy, and with thinking tir'd,
He through a little window cast his sight,
Though thick of bars, that gave a scanty light:
But ev'n that glimmering serv'd him to descry
Th' inevitable charms of Emily.

Scarce had he seen, but, seiz'd with sudden smart,
Stung to the quick, he felt it at his heart;
Struck blind with overpowering light, he stood,
Then started back amaz'd, and cried aloud.

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Young Arcite heard; and up he ran with haste,
To help his friend, and in his arms embrac'd;
And ask'd him why he look'd so deadly wan,
And whence and how his change of cheer began,
Or who had done th' offence? But if," said he,
Your grief alone is hard captivity,
For love of Heaven, with patience undergo
A cureless ill, since Fate will have it so :
So stood our horoscope in chains to lie,
And Saturn in the dungeon of the sky,
Or other baleful aspect, rul'd our birth,
When all the friendly stars were under Earth:
Whate'er betides, by Destiny 'tis done;


And better bear like men, than vainly seek to shun."
Nor of my bonds," said Palamon again,
"Nor of unhappy planets I complain;
But when my mortal anguish caus'd me cry,
That moment I was hurt through either eye;
Pierc'd with a random shaft, I faint away,
And perish with insensible decay :

A glance of some new goddess gave the wound,
Whom, like Acteon, unaware I found.
Look how she walks along yon shady space,
Not Juno moves with more majestic grace;
And all the Cyprian queen is in her face.
If thou art Venus (for thy charms confess
That face was form'd in Heaven, nor art thou less,
Disguis'd in habit, undisguis'd in shape)

O help us captives from our chains t'escape;
But if our doom be past, in bonds to lie
For life, and in a lothesome dungeon die,

Then be thy wrath appeas'd with our disgrace,
And show compassion to the Theban race,
Oppress'd by tyrant power!" While yet he spoke,
Arcite on Emily had fix'd his look;
The fatal dart a ready passage found,
And deep within his heart infix'd the wound :
So that if Palamon were wounded sore,
Arcite was hurt as much as he, or more:


Then from his inmost soul he sigh'd, and said,
The beauty I behold has struck me dead:
Unknowingly she strikes, and kills by chance;
Poison is in her eyes, and death in every glance.
O, I must ask, nor ask alone, but move
Her mind to mercy, or must die for love."

Thus Arcite and thus Palamon replies,
(Eager his tone, and ardent were his eyes :)
"Speak'st thou in earnest, or in jesting vein ?"
"Jesting," said Arcite, "suits but ill with pain."
"It suits far worse" (said Palamon again,
And bent his brows) "with men who honor weigh,
Their faith to break, their friendship to betray;
But worst with thee, of noble lineage born,
My kinsman, and in arms my brother sworn.
Have we not plighted each our holy oath,
That one should be the common good of both;
One soul should both inspire, and neither prove
His fellow's hindrance in pursuit of love?
To this before the Gods we gave our hands,
And nothing but our death can break the bands.
This binds thee, then, to further my design;
As I am bound by vow to further thine:
Nor canst, nor dar'st thou, traitor, on the plain
Appeach my honor, or thine own maintain,
Since thou art of my council, and the friend
Whose faith I trust, and on whose care depend:
And wouldst thou court my lady's love, which I
Much rather than release would choose to die?
But thou, false Arcite, never shalt obtain
Thy bad pretence; I told thee first my pain:
For first my love began ere thine was born;
Thou, as my council, and my brother sworn,
Art bound t' assist my eldership of right,
Or justly to be deem'd a perjur'd knight."

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Thus Palamon: but Arcite, with disdain, In haughty language, thus replied again: Forsworn thyself: the traitor's odious name I first return, and then disprove thy claim. If love be passion, and that passion nurst With strong desires, I lov'd the lady first. Canst thou pretend desire, whom zeal inflam'd To worship, and a power celestial nam'd? Thine was devotion to the blest above, I saw the woman, and desir'd her love; First own'd my passion, and to thee commend Th' important secret, as my chosen friend. Suppose (which yet I grant not) thy desire A moment elder than my rival fire; Can chance of seeing first thy title prove? And know'st thou not, no law is made for love? Law is to things, which to free choice relate; Love is not in our choice, but in our fate; Laws are but positive; love's power, we see, Is Nature's sanction, and her first decree. Each day we break the bond of human laws For love, and vindicate the common cause. Laws for defence of civil rights are plac'd, Love throws the fences down, and makes a general


Maids, widows, wives, without distinction fall; The sweeping deluge, love, comes on, and covers all.

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So, thou, if Fortune will thy suit advance,
Love on, nor envy me my equal chance:
For I must love, and am resolv'd to try
My fate, or failing in th' adventure, die."

Great was their strife, which hourly was renew'd,
Till each with mortal hate his rival view'd.
Now friends no more, nor walking hand in hand;
But when they met, they made a surly stand;
And glar'd like angry lions as they pass'd,
And wish'd that every look might be their last.
It chanc'd at length, Pirithous came t'attend
This worthy Theseus, his familiar friend;
Their love in early infancy began,
And rose as childhood ripen'd into man:
Companions of the war, and lov'd so well,
That when one died, as ancient stories tell,
His fellow to redeem him went to Hell.

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But to pursue my tale: to welcome home His warlike brother is Pirithous come: Arcite of Thebes was known in arms long since And honor'd by this young Thessalian prince. Theseus, to gratify his friend and guest, Who made our Arcite's freedom his request, Restor'd to liberty the captive knight, But on these hard conditions I recite: That if hereafter Arcite should be found Within the compass of Athenian ground, By day or night, or on whate'er pretence, His head should pay the forfeit of th' offence. To this Pirithous for his friend agreed, And on his promise was the prisoner freed. Unpleas'd and pensive hence he takes his way, At his own peril; for his life must pay. Who now but Arcite mourns his bitter fate, Finds his dear purchase, and repents too late? What have I gain'd," he said, "in prison pent, If I but change my bonds for banishment? And banish'd from her sight, I suffer more In freedom, than I felt in bonds before: Forc'd from her presence, and condemn'd to live: Unwelcome freedom, and unthank'd reprieve: Heaven not, but where Emily abides; And where she's absent, all is Hell besides. Next to my day of birth, was that accurst, Which bound my friendship to Pirithous first: Had I not known that prince, I still had been In bondage, and had still Emilia seen: For, though I never can her grace deserve, 'Tis recompense enough to see and serve. O Palamon, my kinsman and my friend, How much more happy fates thy love attend! Thine is th' adventure; thine the victory: Well has thy fortune turn'd the dice for thee: Thou on that angel's face may'st feed thine eyes In prison, no; but blissful Paradise! Thou daily seest that sun of beauty shine, And lov'st at least in love's extremest line. I mourn in absence, love's eternal night;


And who can tell but since thou hast her sight,
And art a comely, young, and valiant knight,
Fortune (a various power) may cease to frown,
And by some ways unknown thy wishes crown?
But I, the most forlorn of human-kind,
Nor help can hope, nor remedy can find;
But, doom'd to drag my lothesome life in care,
For my reward, must end it in despair.
Fire, water, air, and earth, and force of fates
That governs all, and Heaven that all creates,
Nor art, nor Nature's hand can ease my grief;
Nothing but death, the wretch's last relief:
Then farewell youth, and all the joys that dwell,
With youth and life, and life itself farewell.

But why, alas! do mortal men in vain
Of Fortune, Fate, or Providence complain?
God gives us what he knows our wants require,
And better things than those which we desire :
Some pray for riches; riches they obtain;
But, watch'd by robbers, for their wealth are slain;
Some pray from prison to be freed; and come,
When guilty of their vows, to fall at home;
Murder'd by those they trusted with their life,
A favor'd servant, or a bosom wife.

Such dear-bought blessings happen every day,
Because we know not for what things to pray.
Like drunken sots about the street we roam:
Well knows the sot he has a certain home;
Yet knows not how to find th' uncertain place,
And blunders on, and staggers every pace.
Thus all seek happiness; but few can find,
For far the greater part of men are blind.
This is my case, who thought our utmost good
Was in one word of freedom understood:
The fatal blessing came: from prison free,
I starve abroad, and lose the sight of Emily."
Thus Arcite but if Arcite thus deplore
His sufferings, Palamon yet suffers more.
For when he knew his rival freed and gone,
He swells with wrath; he makes outrageous moan:
He frets, he fumes, he stares, he stamps the ground;
The hollow tower with clamors rings around:
With briny tears he bath'd his fetter'd feet,
And dropt all o'er with agony of sweat.
"Alas!" he cried, "I wretch in prison pine,
Too happy rival, while the fruit is thine:
Thou liv'st at large, thou draw'st thy native air,
Pleas'd with thy freedom, proud of my despair:
Thou mayst, since thou hast youth and courage join'd,
A sweet behavior, and a solid mind,
Assemble ours, and all the Theban race,
To vindicate on Athens thy disgrace;
And after, by some treaty made, possess
Fair Emily, the pledge of lasting peace.
So thine shall be the beauteous prize, while I
Must languish in despair, in prison die.
Thus all th'advantage of the strife is thine,
Thy portion double joys, and double sorrows mine."
The rage of jealousy then fir'd his soul,
And his face kindled like a burning coal:
Now cold Despair, succeeding in her stead,
To livid paleness turns the glowing red.

His blood, scarce liquid, creeps within his veins,
Like water which the freezing wind constrains.
Then thus he said: "Eternal deities,
Who rule the world with absolute decrees,
And write whatever time shall bring to pass,
With pens of adamant, on plates of brass;
What, is the race of human-kind your care,
Beyond what all his fellow-creatures are?

He with the rest is liable to pain,
And like the sheep, his brother-beast, is slain.
Cold, hunger, prisons, ills without a cure,
All these he must, and, guiltless, oft endure;
Or does your justice, power, or prescience fail,
When the good suffer, and the bad prevail?
What worse to wretched Virtue could befall,
If Fate or giddy Fortune govern'd all?
Nay, worse than other beasts is our estate;
Them, to pursue their pleasures, you create;
We, bound by harder laws, must curb our will,
And your commands, not our desires, fulfil;
Then when the creature is unjustly slain,
Yet after death at least be feels no pain;
But man, in life surcharg'd with woe before,
Not freed when dead, is doom'd to suffer more.
A serpent shoots his sting at unaware;
An ambush'd thief forelays a traveller:
The man lies murder'd, while the thief and snake
One gains the thickets, and one thrids the brake.
This let divines decide; but well I know,
Just or unjust, I have my share of woe,
Through Saturn seated in a luckless place,
And Juno's wrath, that persecutes my race;
Or Mars and Venus, in a quartile, move
My pangs of jealousy for Arcite's love."

Let Palamon, oppress'd in bondage, mourn,
While to his exil'd rival we return.
By this, the Sun, declining from his height,
The day had shorten'd, to prolong the night:
The lengthened night gave length of misery
Both to the captive lover and the free;
For Palamon in endless prison mourns,
And Arcite forfeits life if he returns:
The banish'd never hopes his love to see,
Nor hopes the captive lord his liberty:
"Tis hard to say who suffers greater pains:
One sees his love, but cannot break his chains:
One free, and all his motions uncontroll'd,
Beholds whate'er he would, but what he would be.

Judge as you please, for I will haste to tell
What fortune to the banish'd knight befell.

When Arcite was to Thebes return'd again,
The loss of her he lov'd renew'd his pain;
What could be worse, than never more to see
His life, his soul, his charming Emily?
He rav'd with all the madness of despair,
He roar'd, he beat his breast, he tore his hair.
Dry sorrow in his stupid eyes appears,
For, wanting nourishment, he wanted tears:
His eyeballs in their hollow sockets sink:
Bereft of sleep, he lothes his meat and drink:
He withers at his heart, and looks as wan
As the pale spectre of a murder'd man:
That pale turns yellow, and his face receives
The faded hue of sapless boxen leaves:
In solitary groves he makes his moan,
Walks early out, and ever is alone:
Nor, mix'd in mirth, in youthful pleasures shares,
But sighs when songs and instruments he hears
His spirits are so low, his voice is drown'd,
He hears as from afar, or in a swoon,
Like the deaf murmurs of a distant sound:
Uncomb'd his locks, and squalid his attire,
Unlike the trim of Love and gay Desire:
But full of museful mopings, which presage
The loss of reason, and conclude in rage.
This when he had endur'd a year and more,
Now wholly chang'd from what he was before,

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