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The attendant SPIRIT, afterwards in the habit of

Thyrsis.
COMUS with his crew.
The LADY.
First BROTHER,
Second BROTHER.
SABRINA the Nymph.

The chiet persons who presented were,

The Lord BRACKLY.
Mr. THOMAS EGERTON his brother
The Lady ALICE EGERTON.

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The Mask was presented in 1634, and consequently in the 20th

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 « Perditus

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In this edition, and in that of Milton's poems in 1645,

there was prefixed to the Mask the following dedication.

To the Right Honorable
John Lord Viscount BRACKLY,

son and heir apparent to the Earl of BRIDG E WATER, &c.

MY LORD,

This poem, which received its first occafion of

birth from yourself and others of your noble family, and much honor from your own person in the performance, now returns again to make a final dedication of itself to you. Although not openly acknowledg’d by the author, yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely, and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath tir'd 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 affu

rance,

14

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rance, to all that know you, of a future excellence. Live, sweet Lord, to be the honor of your name; and receive this as your own, from the hands of him, who hath by many favors been long oblig'd to your

most honor'd parents; and as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, fo now in all real expression

Your faithful and most

humble Servant,

H. L A WES.

A MASK.

A

M

A S K.

The first Scene discovers a wild Wood.

The attendant Spirit descends or enters.

JO

My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aereal Spirits live inspher'd
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,

5
Which men call Earth, and with low-thoughted care
Confin'd, and pester'd in this pin-fold 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 enthron'd Gods on fainted 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,

15 I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds With the rank vapors of this fin-worn mold.

But to my task. Neptune, besides the fway
Of every falt flood, and each ebbing stream,
Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove
Imperial rule of all the sea-girt iles,
That like to rich and various gems inlay

The

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30

The unadorned bosom of the deep,
Which he to grace his tributary Gods
By course commits to several government,

25
And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns,
And wield their little tridents : but this Ile,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
He quarters to his blue-hair'd 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 nurs’d in princely lore
Are coming to attend their father's state,

35 And new-intrusted scepter; but their way Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood, The nodding horror of whose shady brows Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger; And here their tender age might suffer peril, But that by quick command from sovran Jove I was dispatch'd for their defense and guard; And listen why, for I will tell you now What never yet was heard in tale or fong, From old or modern bard, in hall or bower. 45

Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape Crush'd the sweet poison of mis-used wine, After the Tuscan mariners transform’d, Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed, On Circe's iland fell: (Who knows not Circe 5° The daughter of the fun? whose charm'd cup Whoever tasted, loft his upright shape,

And

40

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