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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,t 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 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 yourattendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression, Your faithful and most humble servant,

H: LAWES.

* This is the dedication to Lawes's edition of the Mask, 1637.
+ The First Brother in the Mask. Warton.
• It never appeared under Milton's name till the year 1645..

COMUS.

THE PERSONS.

The Attendant Spirit,

afterwards in the habit

of Thyrsis. Comus, with his Crew.

The Lady
First brother.
Second Brother.
Sabrina, the Nymph.

THE CHIEF PERSONS, WHO PRESENTED, WERE

The Lord Brackley.
Mr. Thomas Egerton, his brother.
The Lady Alice Egerton,

COMUS.

The first scene discovers a wild wood.

The Attendant Spirit descends or enters. Before the starry threshold of Jove's court My mansion is, where those immortal shapes Of bright aerial spirits live insphered, In regions mild of calm and serene air, Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot, Which men call Earth, & with low-thoughted care Confined, and, pester'd in this pinfold here, Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being, Unmindful of the crown that virtue gives, After this mortal change, to her true servants, Amongst the enthroned gods on sainted seats. Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire To lay their just hands on that golden key, That opes the palace of eternity : To such my errand is; and but for such, I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.

But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway Of every salt flood, and each ebbing stream, Took in by lot, 'twixt high and nether Jove, Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles, That, like to rich and various gems, inlay The unadorned bosom of the deep; Which he, to grace his tributary gods, By course commits to several government, And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns. And wield their little tridents : but this isle, The greatest and the best of all the main, He quarters to his blue-haired deities; And all this tract, that fronts the falling sun, A noble peer, of mickle trust and power, Has in his charge, with temper'd awe, to guide An old and haughty nation, proud in arms : Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore,

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