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THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterwards in the habit of
COMUS with his Crew.
SABRINA the Nymph.
The chief persons who presented were,
THE LORD BRACKLY.
MR. THOMAS EGERTON, his brother.
THE LADY ALICE EGERTON.
THE Mask was presented in 1634, and consequently in the twenty-sixth year of our author's age. In the title page of the first edition, printed in 1637, it is said, that it was presented on Michaelmas night, and there was this motto,
Eheu quid volui misero mihi! floribus austrum
In this edition, and in that of Milton's poems in 1645, there was prefixed to the Mask the following dedication.
To the Right Honourable John Lord Viscount Brackly, son and heir apparent to the Earl of Bridgewater, &c. MY LORD,
THIS poem, which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your noble family', and much honour from your own person in the performance, now returns again to make a final dedication of itself to you. Although not openly acknowledged by the author, yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely, and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my several friends satisfaction, and brought me to a necessity of producing it to the public view; and now to offer it up in all rightful devotion to
This motto, from Virgil's second Eclogue, is delicately chosen, whether we consider it as spoken by the author himself, or by the editor. If by the former it appears to mean, "I "have, by giving way to this "publication, let in the breath of "public censure on these early "blossoms of my poetry, which "were before secure in the hands "of my friends, as in a private
"inclosure." If by the editor, the application is not very different: only to floribus we must then give an encomiastic sense. The choice of such a motto, so far from vulgar in itself, and in its application, was worthy Milton. Hurd.
See note on Comus, 34.
those fair hopes, and rare endowments of your much promising youth, which give a full assurance, to all that know you, of a future excellence. Live, sweet Lord, to be the honour of your name, and receive this as your own, from the hands of him, who hath by many favours been long obliged to your most honoured parents, and as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression
Your faithful and most humble Servant,
In the edition of 1645 was also prefixed Sir Henry Wotton's letter to the author upon the following poem: but as we have inserted it in the Life of Milton, there is no occasion to repeat it here.
SOME idea of this venerable and magnificent pile, in which Comus was played with great splendour, in 1634, at a period when Masques were the most fashionable entertainment of our nobility, will probably gratify those, who read Milton with that curiosity which results from taste and imagination.
It was founded on a ridge of rock overlooking the river Corve, by Roger Montgomery, about the year 1112, in the reign of King Henry the First. But without entering into its more obscure and early annals, I will rather exhibit the state and condition in which it might be supposed to subsist, when Milton's drama was performed. Thomas Churchyard, in an old poem called the Worthines of Wales, printed in 1578, has a chapter entitled "The Castle of "Ludloe." In one of the state apartments, he mentions a superb escutcheon in stone of the arms of Prince Arthur, son of Henry the Seventh: and an empalement of Saint Andrew's cross with Prince Arthur's arms, painted in the windows of the great hall. And in the hall and chambers, he says, there was a variety of rich workmanship, suitable to so magnificent a castle. "In it is a chapel," he adds," most trim and costly, so bravely wrought, so fayre and "finely framed, &c." About the walls of this chapel were sumptuously painted, a great device, a worke most rich and rare," the arms of many of the kings of England, and of the lords of the castle, from Sir Walter Lacie, the first lord, &c. "The armes of "all these afore spoken of, are gallantly and cunningly sett out in "that chapell.-Now is to be rehearsed, that Sir Harry Sidney, "being Lord President, buylt twelve roomes in the sayd castle, "which goodly buildings doth shewe a great beautie to the same. "He made also a goodly wardrobe underneath the new parlor, and "repayred an old tower called Mortymer's tower, to kepe the aun"cient recordes in the same; and he repayred a fayre roume under "the court-house, and made a great wall about the wood-yard, "and built a most brave conduit within the inner court: and all
"the newe buildings over the gate, Sir Harry Sidney, in his dayes "and government there, made and set out, to the honour of the Queene, and the glorie of the castle. There are in a goodly or stately place, my Lorde Earl of Warwick's arms, [of] the Earl " of Derbie, the Earl of Worcester, the Earl of Pembroke, and "Sir Harry Sidney's armed in like manner: al these stand on the "left side of the [great] chamber. On the other side are the "armes of Northwales and Southwales, two red lyons and two "golden lyons [for] Prince Arthur. At the end of the dyning "chamber, there is a pretty device, how the hedge-hog broke his "chayne and came from Ireland to Ludloe. There is in the hall "a great grate of iron [a portcullis], of a huge height." fol. 79. This once belonged to the grand portal of the castle. In the hall, or in one of the great chambers, Comus was acted. We are told by David Powell, the Welch historian, that Sir Henry Sidney, Knight, made Lord President of Wales in 1564, "repaired the "castle of Ludlowe, which is the cheefest house within the "Marches, being in great decaie, as the chapell, the court-house,
and a faire fountaine, &c. Also he erected divers new buildings "within the said castell, &c." Hist. of Cambria, edit. 1580. 4to. p. 401. In this castle, the creation of Prince Charles to the Principality of Wales, and Earldom of Chester, afterwards King Charles the First, was kept as a festival, and solemnized with uncommon magnificence, in the year 1616. See a Narrative entitled "The "Love of Wales to their Soveraigne Prince, &c." Lond. 1616. 4to. Many of the exterior towers still remain. But the royal apartments, and other rooms of state, are abandoned, defaced, and lie exposed to the weather. It was an extensive and well-wrought fabric. Over the stable-doors are still the arms of Queen Elizabeth, Lord Pembroke, &c. Frequent tokens of ancient pomp peep out from amidst the rubbish of the mouldering fragments. Prince Arthur, above mentioned, died in 1502, after his short cohabitation with his wife, the Princess Catharine of Spain, at this castle, which was the palace of the Prince of Wales, appendant to his Principality. It was constantly inhabited by his deputies, styled the Lord Presidents of Wales, till the principality-court, a separate jurisdiction, was abolished by King William. Its buildings, together with the town of Ludlow, were represented in one of the scenes of the Mask. See after, v. 957. With whatever feats of chivalry it might have been anciently ennobled, the representation of Comus in this stately fortress, will ever be mentioned as one of the most memorable and honourable circumstances in the course of its history. T. Warton.