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ARCADES:

Part of a Mask,

PRESENTED AT HAREFIELD,

BEFORE

ALICE, COUNTESS DOWAGER OF DERBY.

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

THE same character may be given of the style, sentiments, imagery, and tone of these Fragments, as far as they go, as of " Comus." Warton observes"Unquestionably this Mask was a much longer performance. Milton seems only to have written the poetical part, consisting of these three songs, and the recitative soliloquy of the Genius: the rest was probably prose and machinery. In many of Jonson's Masques, the poet but rarely appears, amidst a cumbersome exhibition of heathen gods and mythology. Arcades' was acted by persons of Lady Derby's own family. The Genius says, v. 26 :—

Stay, gentle swains; for, though in this disguise,

I see bright honour sparkle through your eyes:

that is, although ye are disguised like rustics, I perceive that ye are of honourable birth; your nobility cannot be concealed.'"

Many parts of the soliloquy of the Genius are very highly poetical, as the passage beginning at v. 56 :—

And early, ere the odorous breath of morn

Awakes the slumbering leaves, or tassel'd horn
Shakes the high thicket, haste I all about,

Number my ranks, and visit every sprout

With puissant words, and murmurs made to bless.

PRELIMINARY NOTES ON ARCADES.

HAREFIELD.

WE are told by Norden, an accurate topographer, who wrote about the year 1590, in his "Speculum Britanniæ," under Harefield in Middlesex, "There sir Edmond Anderson, knight, lord chief justice of the common pleas, hath a faire house standing on the edge of the hill; the riuer Colne passing neare the same, through the pleasant meddowes and sweet pastures, yealding both delight and profit." "Spec. Brit." p. i. page 21. I viewed this house a few years ago, when it was for the most part remaining in its original state: it has since been pulled down the porters' lodges on each side of the gateway are converted into a commodious dwelling-house it is near Uxbridge: and Milton, when he wrote " Arcades," was still living with his father at Horton near Colnebrook in the same neighbourhood. He mentions the singular felicity he had in vain anticipated, in the society of his friend Deodate, on the shady banks of the river Colne. "Epitaph. Damon." v. 149.

Imus, et arguta paulum recubamus in umbra,
Aut ad aquas Colni, &c.

Amidst the fruitful and delightful scenes of this river, the nymphs and shepherds had no reason to regret, as in the third Song, the Arcadian "Ladon's lilied banks." -T. WARTON.

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See an account of Harefield, in Lysons Environs of London," with a print of the Countess of Derty's monument there.

It is probable, that these persons of Lady Derby's own family" were the children of the Earl of Bridgewater, who had married a daughter of the Countess : and - Arcades" perhaps was acted the year before "Comus." In 1632 Milton went to reside with his father at Horton, in the neighbourhood of Harefield; and might have been soon afterwards desired to compose this dramatic entertainment. Lord Brackley, Mr. Thomas Egerton, and Lady Alice Egerton, the performers in Comus," appeared upon the stage at court in 1633, in Carew's Mask of "Colum Britannicum ;” and “ Arcades” might be a domestic exhibition somewhat prior to 1 that of Carew's Mask; as being intended perhaps to try, and encourage, their confidence and skill, before they performed more publicly. Among the manuscripts that once belonged to Lord Chancellor Egerton, and which are now in the possession of the Marquis of Stafford, there is a curious illustration of domestic manners, on three folio sheets, in an "Account of disbursements for Harefield, where the Lord Keeper Egerton and the Countess of Derby resided in 1602.”—TODD.

COUNTESS DOWAGER OF DERBY.

ALICE, Countess Dowager of Derby, married Ferdinando Lord Strange; who, on the death of his father Henry, in 1594, became Earl of Derby, but died the next year. She was the sixth daughter of Sir John Spenser of Althorp in Northamptonshire: she was afterwards married [in 1600] to Lord Chancellor Egerton, who died in 1617. See Dugd. Baron. iii. 251, 414. She died Jan. 26, 1635-6, and was buried at Harefield: "Arcades" could not therefore have been acted after 1636. Milton is not the only great English poet who has celebrated this Countess Dowager of Derby. She was the sixth daughter, as we have seen, of Sir John Spenser, with whose family Spenser the poet claimed an alliance. In his "Colin Clout's come home again," written about 1595, he mentions her under the appellation of Amaryllis, with her sisters Phyllis, or Elizabeth; and Charillis, or Anne; these three of Sir John Spenser's daughters being best known at court. See v. 546.

Ne less praise-worthie are the sisters three,
The honor of the noble familie,

Of which I meanest boast myselfe to be;
And most that unto them I am so nie:
Phyllis, Charillis, and sweet Amaryllis.

After a panegyric on the first two, he next comes to Amaryllis, or Alice, our Lady, the Dowager of the above-mentioned Ferdinando Lord Derby, lately dead :

But Amaryllis, whether fortunate

Or else vnfortunate may I aread,

That freed is from Cupids yoke by fate.

Since which she doth new bands aduenture dread.-
Shepheard, whatever thou hast heard to be

In this or that praysd diuersly apart,

In her thou maiest them all assembled see,
And seald vp in the threasure of her heart.

And in the same poem, he thus apostrophises to her late husband earl Ferdinand, under the name Amyntas. See v. 434.

Amyntas quite is gone, and lies full low,
Having his Amaryllis left to mone!

Helpe, o ye shepheards, help ye all in this;-
Her losse is yours, your losse Amyntas is;
Amyntas, floure of shepheards pride forlorne:
He, whilest he liued, was the noblest swaine

That euer piped on an oaten quill;

Both did he other which could pipe maintaine,
And cke could pipe himselfe with passing skill.

And to the same Lady Alice, when Lady Strange, before her husband Ferdinand's

succession to the earldom, Spenser addresses his "Tears of the Muses," published in 1591, in a dedication of the highest regard; where he speaks of "your excellent beautie, your virtuous behauiour, and your noble match with that most honourable lorde the verie patterne of right nobilitie." He then acknowledges the particular bounties which she had conferred upon the poets. Thus the lady who presided at the representation of Milton's "Arcades," was not only the theme, but the patroness of Spenser. The peerage book of this most respectable countess is the poetry of her times.-T. WARTON.

Alice, Countess of Derby, was the youngest of six daughters of Sir John Spenser of Althorp in Northamptonshire, who died 8th November, 1586, by Katharine, daughter of Sir Thomas Kitson, of Hengrave in Suffolk, knight *, which Sir John was son of Sir William Spenser, of Althorp, who died 22nd of June, 1532, by Susan, daughter of Sir Richard Knightley, of Fawsly, in Northamptonshire. Sir William was son of another Sir John Spenser, of Althorp, who died 14th April, 1532, only two months before his son, by Isabel, daughter and coheir of Walter Graunt, of Snitterfield, in Warwickshire, esq.; he was son of William Spenser, esq., of Redbourne, in Warwickshire, who lived in the reign of Henry VII., by Elizabeth, sister of Sir Richard Empson, knight.

The Countess of Derby's five sisters were all honourably married; and her father was a man of a great estate.

Of her three daughters and coheirs by the Earl of Derby, Anne married Grey Brydges, fifth Lord Chandos; Frances married John Egerton, first Earl of Bridgewater; and Elizabeth married Henry Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon.

Todd mentions that Marston wrote a Mask, intitled, "The Lord and Lady of Huntingdon's Entertainment of their right noble mother, Alice, Countess Dowager of Derby, the first night of her Honour's arrival at the house of Ashby." This Todd found still remaining in manuscript in the Bridgewater Library; and has given a long account of it not necessary to be repeated here.

Lord Falkland wrote a poetical epitaph on this Countess of Huntingdon.

Sir John Spenser, of Althorp, the brother of Alice, Countess of Derby, died 9th January, 1599. His only son, Sir Robert Spenser, was created Lord Spenser of Wormleighton, by King James I., on 21st July, 1603, and died 25th October, 1627. Camden, in his "Britannia," speaks thus of Althorp :-" Althorp, the seat of the noble family of Spenser, knights, allied to very many houses of great worth and honour, out of which Sir Robert Spenser, the fifth knight in a continual succession, a worthy encourager of virtue and learning, was by his most serene majesty, King James, lately advanced to the honour of Baron Spenser of Wormleighton.'

William, who succeeded his father Robert, as second Lord Spenser, died 1636, aged forty-five, and was succeeded by his son Henry, third Baron, who was created Earl of Sunderland, 8th June, 1643, and slain at the battle of Newbury, on 20th September following, at the age of twenty-three: he married Lady Dorothy Sidney, daughter of Robert, Earl of Leicester (Waller's Saccharissa). See Lord Clarendon's character of him.

Part of an Entertainment presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby at Harefield, by some noble persons of her family; who appear on the scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of state, with this

song:

I. SONG.

Look, nymphs and shepherds, look,a
What sudden blaze of majesty

Is that which we from hence descry,

Too divine to be mistook :

* See Mr. Gage's splendid "History of Hengrave."

Look, nymphs and shepherds, look, &c.

See the ninth division of Spenser's" Epithalamion ;" and Fletcher's "Faithful Shepherdess," a. i. s. 1.-T. WARTON.

This, this is she

To whom our vows and wishes bend;
Here our solemn search hath end.
Fame, that, her high worth to raise,
Seem'd erst so lavish and profuse,
We may justly now accuse
Of detraction from her praise:

Less than half we find express'd;
Envy bid conceal the rest.

Mark, what radiant state she spreads,
In circle round her shining throne,
Shooting her beams like silver threads;
This, this is she alone,

Sitting like a goddess bright,
In the centre of her light.

Might she the wise Latona be,
Or the tower'd Cybele

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15

20

Mother of a hundred gods?

Juno dares not give her odds d.

Who had thought this clime had held

A deity so unparallel'd?

25

As they come forward, the Genius of the wood appears, and, turning toward

them, speaks :

Gen. Stay, gentle swains; for, though in this disguise,

I see bright honour sparkle through your eyes:

Of famous Arcady ye are, and sprung

Of that renowned flood, so often sung,

Divine Alpheus who by secret sluce
Stole under seas to meet his Arethuse ;
And ye, the breathing roses of the wood,

Fair silver-buskin'd nymphs, as great and good;

I know, this quest of yours, and free intent,

Was all in honour and devotion meant

b This, this is she.

30

Our curiosity is gratified in discovering, even from slight and almost imperceptible traits, that Milton had here been looking back to Jonson, the most eminent mask-writer that had yet appeared, and that he had fallen upon some of his formularies and modes of address. For thus Jonson, in an " Entertaynment at Altrop," 1603. Works, 1616, p. 874:

This is shee,

This is shee,

In whose world of grace, &c.-T. WARTON.

Shooting her beams like silver threads.

See "Par. Lost," b. iv. 555. But here Milton seems to bear in mind the cloth of state under which queen Elizabeth is seated, and which is represented, “Faer. Qu." v. ix. 28.-TODD.

d Give her odds.

Too lightly expressed for the occasion.-HURD.

Virgil, "Æn." iii. 694:

e Divine Alpheus, &o.

Alpheum, fama est, huc Elidis amnem
Occultas egisse vias subter mare, qui nunc
Ore, Arethusa, tuo, &c.-NEWTON.

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To the great mistress of yon princely shrine,
Whom with low reverence I adore as mine;
And, with all helpful service, will comply
To further this night's glad solemnity;
And lead ye, where ye may more near behold
What shallow-searching Fame hath left untold;
Which I full oft, amidst these shades alone,
Have sat to wonder at, and gaze upon :
For know, by lot from Jove I am the power
Of this fair wood, and live in oaken bower,
To nurse the saplings tall, and curl the grove'
With ringlets quaint, and wanton windings wove :
And all my plants I save from nightly ill

Of noisome winds, and blasting vapours chill:
And from the boughs brush off the evil dew,
And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue,
Or what the cross dire-looking planet smites 1,
Or hurtful worm with canker'd venom bites.
When evening gray doth rise, I fetch my round
Over the mount, and all this hallow'd ground;
And early, ere the odorous breath of morn
Awakes the slumbering leaves', or tassel'd horn
Shakes the high thicket, haste I all about,
Number my ranks, and visit every sprout

! And curl the grove.

k

So Drayton, "Polyolb." s. vii. vol. ii. p. 786, of a grove on a hill

Where she her curled head unto the eye may show.-T. WArton.

8 And from the boughs brush off the evil dew.

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45

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The expression and idea are Shakspearian, but in a different sense and application. Caliban says, "Tempest," a. i. s. 4 :—

As wicked dew as e'er my mother brush'd,

With raven's feather, from unwholesome fen, &c.

Compare "Paradise Lost," b. v. 429.

The phrase hung on the mind of Gray :

Brushing with hasty steps the dew away.-T. WARTON.

h And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue,

Or what the cross dire-looking planet smites.

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Compare Shakspeare, "Julius Cæsar," a. i. s. 3. King Lear," a. iv. s. 7.-T.

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So the magician Ismeno, when he consigns the enchanted forest to his demons, "Gier. Lib." c. xiii. st. 8. Poets are magicians: what they create they command. The business of one imaginary being is easily transferred to another; from a bad to a good demon.T. WARTON.

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