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quisite inventions. What is copied from observation, is not always poetry; therefore Dryden and Pope were very often not poets.

There are numerous ideas implanted in our nature, which are not bodily truths, but imaginative truths: even single epithets convey these, as is shown by every part of Comus,' while picturesque words point out the leading features of every rural object. No such words ever appear in Dryden or Pope, unless they are borrowed. Their descriptions are general and vague: they convey fine sounds, but no precise ideas. The true poet cannot avoid seeing: images haunt him; he cannot get rid of them: he does not call up his memory to produce empty words, but he draws from the visionary shapes before him.

While Milton was framing the 'Comus,' he, no doubt, lived in the midst of his own creation: he only clothed the tongues of his characters with what it appeared to him in his vision they actually spoke.



THE Arcades' was a Mask, which was part of an entertainment presented to Alice Spencer, Countess Dowager of Derby, and afterwards widow of Lord Chancellor Egerton, at Harefield in Middlesex, and acted by some noble persons of her family.

This celebrated lady was daughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorp, who was then one of the richest commoners of England. Her first husband, Earl Ferdinando, was a most accomplished nobleman, who died in the flower of his age;-it is supposed by poison, because he would not enter into the plots of the Jesuits to claim the crown from Queen Elizabeth, on account of his royal descent; for which see the famous volume, called 'Dolman's Conference,' written by Parsons the Jesuit, and see also Hallam, and Hargrave.

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Norden, in his Speculum Britanniæ,' about 1590, speaking of Harefield, says, "There Sir Edmond Anderson, Knight, Lord-Chief-Justice of


the Common Pleas, hath a fair house, standing on the edge of the hill; the river Colne passing near the same, through the pleasant meadows and sweet pastures, yielding both delight and profit." "I viewed this house," says Warton, "a few years ago, when it was for the most part remaining in its original state. It has since been pulled down; the porter's 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:

Imus, et argutâ paulum recubamus in umbrâ,

Aut ad aquas Colni, &c.-Epit. Damon. 1. 149.

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.' 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, amid a cumbersome exhibition of heathen gods and mythology."

The Countess of Derby died 26th January, 1635-6, and was buried at Harefield. (See 'Lyson's Environs of London.')

Harrington has an epigram on this lady,

B. iii. 47.


This noble Countess lived many years

With Derby, one of England's greatest peers :
Fruitful and fair, and of so clear a name,
That all this region marvell'd at her fame.
But this brave peer extinct by hasten'd fate,
She stay'd, ah, too, too long, in widow's state;
And in that state took so sweet state upon her,

All ears, eyes, tongues, heard, saw, and told her honour, &c. But Milton is not the only great English poet who has celebrated the Countess Dowager of Derby. She was the sixth daughter, as we have seen, of Sir John Spencer, 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 Charyllis or Anne; these three of Sir John Spencer's daughters being best known at court. See 1. 536.

No less praiseworthy are the sisters three,
The honour of the noble family,

Of which I meanest boast myself to be,
And most that unto them I am so nigh.

After a panegyric on the first two, he next comes to Amaryllis, or Alice, our lady, the dowager of Earl Ferdinando, lately deceased :

But Amaryllis, whether fortunate,
Or else unfortunate may I aread,


That freed is from Cupid's yoke by fate,

Since which she doth new bands adventure dread,

Shepherd, whatever thou hast heard to be
In this or that praised diversely apart,
In her thou mayest them assembled see,
And seal'd up in the treasure of her heart.

And in the same poem he thus apostrophises to her late husband, under the name of Amyntas: see 1. 434.

Amyntas quite is gone, and lies full low,
Having his Amaryllis left to moan!
Help, O ye shepherds! help ye all in this,—
Her loss is yours; your loss Amyntas is!
Amyntas, flower of shepherds' pride forlorn;
He, whilst he lived, was the noblest swain
That ever piped on an oaten quill;
Both did he other, which could pipe, maintain,
And eke could pipe himself with passing skill.

And to the same Lady Alice, when Lady Strange, before her husband Ferdinando's succession to the earldom, Spenser addressed his "Tears of the Muses," published in 1591, in a dedication of the highest regard; where he speaks of "your excellent beauty, your virtuous behaviour, and your noble match with that most honourable lord, the very pattern of right nobility." 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.

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