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JOHN EARL OF BRIDGEWATER, AND HIS FAMILY. SIR JOHN EGERTON, second son of Thomas Lord Chancellor Egerton, Knight of the Bath, Baron of Elesmere, Earl of Bridgewater, and Lord President of Wales, before whom Comus was presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634, married Frances, second daughter, of Ferdinando Earl of Derhy. And thus it was for the same family that Milton wrote both Arcades and Cumus: for Alice, the Countess dowager of Derby, before whom Arcades was presented, was mother to Frances Lady Bridgewater ; and the third wife of Lord John Bridgewater's father, Lord Chancellor Egerton, but without issue. See Dugd. Baron. vol. ii. pp. 414, 415. 250, 251. Our Earl John was appointed to the Presidency of Wales by King Charles the First at Theobald's, May 12, 1633. Rym. Fæd. xix 449. He died in 1649; his lady in 1635. See note on Com. v. 34.
They had issue, four sons and eleven daughters. John Lord Viscount Brackley, the third son, who performed the part of the first Brother in Comus, succeeded to his father's inheritable titles, and was at length of the Privy Council to King Charles the Second. He died October 26, aged sixty-four, in 1686. He was therefore only twelve years old when he acted in Comus. And his brother Thomas, who played the Second Brother, was still younger. Hence in the dialogue between Comus and the Lady, v. 289.
Corn. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom ?
Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'a lips. Where see the note. Chauncy, the historian of Hertfordshire, who was well acquainted with this young John Lord Brackley when a man, says that he was a nobleman of the most valuable and amiable qualities : “ he was of a middling stature, with black hair, a round
visage, a modest and grave aspect, a sweet and pleasant counte
nance, and comely presence. He was a learned man, and de“ lighted much in his library.” Hist. Hertf. p. 554. This account of his person perfectly corresponds with Milton's description of his beauty and deportment while a boy: and the panegyric, we may suppose, was as justly due to bis brother Thomas, Com. 298.
Their port was more than human, as they stood :
I took it for a fairy vision, &c. Again, the Lady requests Echo, v. 236.
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair,
That likest thy Narcissus are ! And hence the expressions in Henry Lawes's dedication of Comus to Lord John, in his edition 1637, written when he was now three years older, that is about fifteen : in which Lawes mentions “the " faire hopes and rare endowments of your much-promising youth, “ &c.” This young nobleman married at nineteen, 1642, Elizabeth, daughter of William Duke of Newcastle; who died in 1663, leaving a numerous issue. She was a most amiable character: and the Earl her husband ordered it to be recorded on his tomb in Gadesden church, that “he enjoyed almost twenty-two years all the “happiness a man could receive in the sweet society of the best of “ wives." Till his death he was inconsolable for her loss. In the Newcastle Book on Horsemanship, there is a print of this John Earl of Bridgewater, (the First Brother in Comus,) and his Countess Elizabeth, grouped with other figures. There is also a large mezzotinto print in quarto of this Earl, done in 1680, from a portrait by William Claret, an imitator of Lely, which I believe is at Ashridge.
Mr. Thomas Egerton, above mentioned, who performed the part of the Second Brother in our drama, was a fourth son of the old Earl John, and died unmarried at twenty-three.
The Lady Alice Egerton, probably so named from her grandmother in law the Countess Dowager of Derby, who acted the Lady in Comus, was the eleventh daughter, and could not now have been more than thirteen years old. She was taught music by Henry Lawes. She became the third Countess of Richard Lord Vaughan, of Emlyn, and Earl of Carbury, who lived at Golden Grove in Carmarthenshire, and by whom she had no issue, about 1653. See Dugd. Baron. vol. ii. 470. In Henry Lawes's “ Select
Ayres and Dialogues for the Theorbo, &c.” published 1669, there is a song addressed to this Lady from her husband, called the Earl to the Countess of Carbury. I will cite the two last stanzas, which are excellent in the affected and witty style of the times.
When first I view'd thee, I did spy
My heart knew what it meant,
When melted into one:
Yet now 'tis mine the more,
Death will unriddle this;
For when thou'rt call'd to bliss,
'Cause piercing thine he kills my heart. This Lady Alice must not be confounded with Lord Carbury's second Countess, Frances, who died Oct. 9, 1650 : and to whom there is a funeral sermon, with a Latin epitaph, both superabundantly full of her praises, by the pious and learned Bishop Jeremy Taylor. The Earl, in the epitaph, with great tenderness expresses his intention of resting in the same grave with this accomplished lady, although he married so soon afterwards, as we have seen, the Lady Alice Egerton. See Bishop Taylor's Sermons, edit. fifth, fol. Printed for R. Royston, 1678. This Lord Carbury was Privy Counsellor to Charles the Second. He harboured in his house at
Golden Grove Bishop Taylor above mentioned, during the Rebellion: and most of that prelate's works are dedicated to him. This Richard Earl of Carbury succeeded his father-in-law, John Earl of Bridgewater, in the Presidentship of Wales : which I chiefly mention, to introduce a circumstance more to his honour, that at the Restoration he appointed Butler to the stewardship of Ludlow Castle, a very respectable and lucrative office, while the principality-court continued to be held there. See Wood, Ath. Oxon. ii. 452. and Whitlock, Mem. p. 115. edit. 1682. Butler had been before Lord Carbury's secretary.
The two young noblemen, John Lord Brackley and his brother Mr. Thomas Egerton, were practitioners in the business of acting Masques; and although now so very young when they played in Comus, had before appeared on a higher stage. They performed in a Masque called Calum Britannicum, written by that elegant poet, the rival of Waller, Thomas Carew, and presented in 1633, in the Banqueting-house at Whitehall, on Shrove Tuesday night. See Carew's Poems, p. 215. edit. 1651. It is more than probable that they played among the young nobility, together with their sister the Lady Alice, in Arcades. Where see v. 26. seq. Their sister Penelope Egerton, a sixth daughter, afterwards married to Sir Robert Napier of Luton-Hoo in Bedfordshire, acted at Court, with the Queen and other ladies, in Jonson's Masque of Chloridia, at Shrove-tide, 1630. Jonson's Works, vol. vi. p. 211.
All that I have mentioned of the Egerton or Bridgewater family, are buried under a stately monument in the church of Little Gadesden in Hertfordshire, but bordering upon Buckinghamshire. On that monument is a long inscription to the memory of the father, the first Earl John, the Lord President of Wales, who, among other valuable accomplishments, is there said to have been
a profound scholar.” It was lucky, that at least one person of the audience, and he the chief, was capable of understanding the many learned allusions in this drama. The family lived at Ashridge, in the parish of Gadesden, anciently a royal palace, and still inhabited by their illustrious descendant the present Duke of Bridgewater. Milton, as I have related, lived in the neighbourhood; and, as in writing the Mask for Harefield, was partly from that circumstance employed to write Comus: which yet was exhibited at Ludlow Castle, on occasion of Lord Bridgewater's appointment to the principality-court of Wales. T. Warton.
HENRY LAWES. HENRY LAWES, who composed the music for Comus, and performed the combined characters of the Spirit and the shepherd Thyrsis in that drama, was the son of Thomas Lawes, a vicarchoral of Salisbury cathedral. He was perhaps at first a choir-boy of that church. With his brother William, he was educated in music under Giovanni Coperario; supposed by Fenton, in his notes on Waller, to be an Italian, but really an Englishman under the plain name of John Cooper, at the expence of Edward Earl of Hertford. In January, 1625, he was appointed Pistoler, or Epistoler", of the royal chapel ; in Novemher following he became one of the gentlemen of the choir of that chapel; and soon afterwards, clerk of the cheque, and one of the court-musicians to King Charles the First.
In 1633, in conjunction with Simon Ives, he composed the music to a Mask presented at Whitehall on Candlemass night by the gentlemen of the four Inns of Court, under the direction of such grave characters as Noy, the Attorney General, Edward Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon, Selden, and Bulstrode Whitlock. Lawes and Ives received each one hundred pounds as composers ; and the whole cost, to the great offence of the puritanical party, amounted to more than one thousand pounds. In Robert Herrick's Hesperides, or Poems, are three or four Christmas odes, sung before the King at Whitehall, composed by Lawes, edit. Lond. 1648. 4to. p. [ad calc.] 31. seq. And in the same collection, there is an Epigram To Mr. Henry Lawes, the excellent Composer of his Lyricks, by which it appears that he was celebrated no less as a vocal than an instrumental performer, ibid. p. 326.
Touch but the lire, my Harrie, and I heare
Or curious Wilson, &c. Lawes, in the Attendant Spirit, sung the last Air in Comus, or all the lyrical part to the end, from v.958. He appears to have been well acquainted with the best poets, and the most respectable and popular of the nobility, of his times. To say nothing here of Milton, he set to music all the Lyrics in Waller's Poems, first published in 1645, among which is an Ode addressed to Lawes, by Waller, full of high compliments. One of the pieces of Waller was set by Lawes in 1635. He composed the Songs, and a Masque, in the Poems of Thomas Carew. See third edit. 1651, p. ult. The Masque was exhibited in 1633. In the title page to Comedies, Tragi-comedies, and other Poems, by William Cartwright, published in 1651, but written much earlier, it is said, that the " Ayres and Songs were
set by Mr. Henry Lawes," and Lawes himself has a commendatory poem prefixed, inscribed, “ To the memory of my most “ deserving and peculiar friend, Mr. William Cartwright." See note on Com. v. 86. The music to Lovelace's Amarantha, a Pastoral, is by Lawes. Wood, Ath. Oxon. ii. 229. He published " Ayres s and Dialogues for one, two, and three voyces, &c. Lond. 1653."
1 This officer, before the Reformation, was a deacon; and it was his business to read the Epis!lc at the altar.
fol. They are dedicated to Lady Vaughan and Carbury, who had acted the Lady in Comus, and to her sister Mary, Lady Herbert of Cherbury. See the last note. Both had been his scholars in music. “ To the two most illustrious Sisters, Alice, Countesse of “ Carberie, and Mary, Lady Herbert of Cherbury and Castle-island, “ daughters to John, Earl of Bridgewater, Lord President of Wales,
No sooner I thought of making these public, than of “ inscribing them to your Ladiships: most of them being com
posed, when I was employed by your ever honoured parents to “attend your Ladiships' education in musick : who, as in other “accomplishments fit for persons of your quality, excelled most “ ladies, especially in vocal musick, wherein you were so absolute, " that you gave life and honour to all I taught you : and that with “ more understanding, than a new generation (of composers] pre“ tending to skill, I dare say, are capable of." [See Com. v. 85. and the note.) The words of the numerous songs in this work, are by some of the most eminent poets of the time. A few young noblemen are also contributors. The composers are not only Henry and William Lawes, but Wilson, Coleman, Webb, Lanier, &c. One of the pieces by H. Lawes, is a poem by John Birkenhead, called an “ Anniversary on the Nuptials of John, Earl of Bridgewater, “ Jul. 22, 1642." See p. 33. `And Wood, Ath. Oxon. ii. 640. This was the young lord Brackley, who played the First Brother in Comus, and who married Elizabeth, daughter of William, duke of Newcastle. See the last note. Another is the Complaint of Ariadne, written by Cartwright, and printed in his Poems, p. 238. [See below, Sonn. xiii. 11.] For a composition to one of the airs of this piece, which gained excessive and unusual applause, Lawes is said to be the first who introduced the Italian style of music into England. In the Preface he says, he had formerly composed airs to Italian and Spanish words: and, allowing the Italians to be the chief masters of the musical art, concludes that England has produced as able musicians as any country of Europe, and censures the prevailiog fondness for Italian words. To this Preface, among others, are prefixed Waller's verses above mentioned; and two copies by Edward and John Philips, Milton's nephews. There are also “ Select Ayres and Dialogues to sing to the theorbo-lute, or basg. “ viol, composed by Mr. Henry Lawes, late servant to his Majesty “ in his publick and private musicke, and other excellent masters. “ The second Book. Lond. Printed by W. Goodbid for John Play“ ford, and to be sold at his shop in the Temple near the Church. “ dore, 1669.” Here is the Song, quoted in the last note, called The Earl to the Countess of Carbury. See p. 90. Compare Wood, Ath. Oxon. ij. F. p. 59. Besides his Psalms, printed for Moseley, 1648, in conjunction with his brother William, and to which Mií. ton's thirteenth Sonnet is prefixed, To Mr. H. Lawes on the publishing his Airs, dated in the Trinity manuscript, Febr. 9, 1645, Lawes composed tunes to Sandys's admirable Paraphruse of the Psalms, first published in 1638. [See note on Sonn. xiii. v. 11.]