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COMUS.

"A MASQUE PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634, &c."

(For the title-pages of the Editions of 1637 and 1645 see Introduction at

p. 44 and pp. 45, 46.)

DEDICATION OF THE ANONYMOUS EDITION OF 1637.

(Reprinted in the Edition of 1645, but omitted in that of 1673.)

" To the Right Honourable Fohn, Lord Brackley, 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 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,

“H. LAWES.”

The Copy of a Letter written by Sir Henry Wotton to the

Author upon the following Poem.
(In the Edition of 1645: cmitted in that of 1673.)

“From the College, this 13 of April, 1638. “Sir,

" It was a special favour when you lately bestowed upon me here the first taste of your acquaintance, though no longer than to make me know that I wanted more time to value it and to enjoy it rightly; and, in truth, if I could then have imagined your farther stay in these parts, which I understood afterwards by Mr. H., I would have been bold, in our vulgar phrase, to mend my draught (for you left me with an extreme thirst), and to have begged your conversation again, jointly with your said learned friend, over a poor meal or two, that we might have banded together some good Authors of the ancient time ; among which I observed you to have been familiar.

“Since your going, you have charged me with new obligations, both for a very kind letter from you dated the 6th of this month, and for a dainty piece of entertainment which came therewith. Wherein I should much commend the tragical part, if the lyrical did not ravish me with a certain Doric delicacy in your Songs and Odes, whereunto I must plainly confess to have seen yet nothing parallel in our language : Ipsa mollities. But I must not omit to tell you that I now only owe you thanks for intimating unto me (how modestly soever) the true artificer. For the work itself I had viewed some good while before with singular delight ; having received it from our common friend Mr. R., in the very close of the late R.'s Poems, printed at Oxford : whereunto it was added (as I now suppose) that the accessory might help out the principal, according to the art of Stationers, and to leave the reader con la bocca dolce.

“Now, Sir, concerning your travels ; wherein I may challenge a little more privilege of discourse with you. I suppose you will not blanch Paris in your way : therefore I have been bold to trouble you with a few lines to Mr. M. B., whom you shall easily find attending the young Lord S. as his governor ; and you may surely receive from him good directions for the shaping of your farther journey into Italy, where he did reside, by my choice, some time for the King, after mine own recess from Venice.

"I should think that your best line will be through the whole length of France to Marseilles, and thence by sea to Genoa ; whence the passage into Tuscany is as diurnal as a Gravesend barge. I hasten, as you do, to Florence or Siena, the rather to tell you a short story, from the interest you have given me in your safety.

"At Siena I was tabled in the house of one Alberto Scipioni, an old Roman courtier in dangerous times; having been steward to the Duca di Pagliano, who with all his family were strangled, save this only man that escaped by foresight of the tempest. · With him I had often much chat of those affairs, into which he took pleasure to look back from his native harbour ; and, at my departure toward Rome (which had been the centre of his experience), I had won his confidence enough to beg his advice how I might carry myself there without offence of others or of mine own conscience. Signor Arrigo mio,' says he, I pensieri stretti ed il viso sciolto will go safely over the whole world.' Of which Delphian oracle (for so I have found it) your judgment doth need no commentary ; and therefore, Sir, I will commit you, with it, to the best of all securities, God's dear love, remaining “ Your friend, as much to command as any of longer date,

“ HENRY WOTTON."

Postscript.

“Sir : I have expressly sent this my footboy to prevent your departure without some acknowledgment from me of the receipt of your obliging letter ; having myself through some business, I know not how, neglected the ordinary conveyance. In any part where I shall understand you fixed, I shall be glad and diligent to entertain you with home novelties, even for some fomentation of our friendship, too soon interrupted in the cradle.”

THE PERSONS.

The ATTENDANT SPIRIT, asterwards in the habit of THYRSIS.
COMUS, with his Crew.
THE LADY.
FIRST BROTHER.
SECOND BROTHER.
SABRINA, the Nymph.

The Chief Persons which presented were :

The Lord Brackley ;
Mr. Thomas Egerton, his Brother ;
The Lady Alice Egerton.

[This list of the Persons, etc., appeared in the Edition of 1645, but

was omitted in that of 7.673.]

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, and, with low-thoughted care, Confined and pestered 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 10 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 ; .

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