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definite information from Lawes. The part of THE LADY, which is the central part in the masque, was given to the Lady Alice Egerton; and the parts of the FIRST BROTHER and the SECOND BROTHER fell to Lady Alice's two boybrothers, Viscount Brackley and Mr. Thomas Egerton. The important part of THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterwards THYRSIS, was taken by Lawes himself. This leaves but two parts unassigned,-those of COMUS and SABRINA. The part of COMUS is important, and a good actor was needed for it; that of SABRINA is less important, and required chiefly a good singer. There was, we may assume, among the connexions of the Bridgewater family, some handsome gentleman who did not object to act as the disreputable Riot-god, son of Bacchus and Circe, for the opportunity of luring away the sweet Lady Alice even for a little while; and among Lady Alice's sisters there were more than one fit for the part of the River-nymph.

Suppose Milton's MS. of the masque finished (the draft, in his own hand, now among the Cambridge MSS.); suppose that Lawes has copies for his own use and that of his pupils (one of those copies, perhaps, that now in the Bridgewater Library, which Todd believed to be in Lawes's hand); suppose the rehearsals over; and suppose the memorable Michaelmas-night, Sept. 29, 1634, arrived. The great Hall of Ludlow Castle is filled with guests. It is a noble apartment, sixty feet long and thirty wide, in which, according to tradition, the elder of the two Princes murdered in the Tower had been proclaimed King, with the title of Edward V., before commencing his fatal journey to London. It is the place of all great state-meetings of the Council of the Presidency. But on this evening it is converted into a theatre and brilliantly lighted. While the Earl and Countess and the rest of the seated audience occupy the main portion of the hall, one end of it is fitted up as a stage, with curtains, Here the performance begins. "The first scene discovers a wild wood: The Attendant Spirit descends or enters." Such is the stage-direction; the meaning of which is that, the stage having been darkened to signify that it is night, and there being paintings or other contrivances in the background to represent a wood, Lawes "descends or enters." In the printed copies, and also in the Cambridge MS. he begins with a speech; but in the Bridgewater MS. this speech


is preceded by a song of twenty lines, the opening lines of which are

"From the heavens now I fly,

And those happy climes that lie
Where day never shuts his eye
Up in the broad fields of the sky."

There is no doubt that the Bridgewater MS., being the stage copy, here represents what did actually happen. Milton had intended the Masque to begin with a speech; but Lawes, thinking it better for stage-purposes to begin with a song, had taken the liberty of transferring to this point a portion of that which now stands, and which Milton intended to stand, as the final song or epilogue of the Attendant Spirit at the end of the masque. In that final song or epilogue, as we now have it, the Attendant Spirit, announcing his departure, when the play is over, says—

"To the ocean now I fly,

And those happy climes that lie

Where day never shuts his eye

Up in the broad fields of the sky."—

which lines, with a part of their sequel, Lawes, it will be seen, converted cleverly into a prologue, or song of arrival, by the change of "To the ocean" into "From the heavens." He doubtless thought it more effective to "descend" on the stage, singing this prologue; after which, when on the stage, he made the speech announcing the purpose for which he had descended. In that speech, after introducing himself in his character as an attendant Spirit of Good, sent down to Earth from Jove's realms on a special errand, he thus informs the audience at the outset as to the general drift of the play they are about to witness, and connects it gracefully with the actual circumstances of the Earl of Bridgewater's presence among them, and his entering on so high a British office as the Welsh Presidency

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 tempered awe to guide,
An old and haughty nation proud in arms:
Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore,
Are coming to attend their father's state
And new-entrusted sceptre. But their way
Lies through the perplexed 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 despatched for their defence and guard."

Prepared by these words, and by the further explanation of the Attendant Spirit that the wood is haunted by the god Comus and his crew of revellers, who waylay travellers and tempt them with an enchanted liquor which changes the countenances of those who partake into the faces of beasts, the audience see the story developed in action before them. They see Comus and his crew appear in the wood with torches, making a riotous and unruly noise,-Comus with a charming-rod in one hand and a glass in the other, and his crew, a set of monsters, with bodies of men and women in glistering apparel, but headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts. They see the crew knit hands and dance, and the dance broken off, by the orders of Comus, at the sound of a light footstep approaching. They see the crew then disappear among the trees, leaving their master alone, who knows that the footstep is that of some benighted virgin, and who, after throwing his "dazzling spells " (query, some blaze of blue light?) in the direction in which she is coming, also steps aside to watch. Then they see "the Lady" enter,-the sweet Lady Alice, received, of course, with rapturous applause. They hear her explain how she has lost her brothers since sunset, how it is now midnight, how the rude sounds of revelry have attracted her to the spot, and how the darkness and the silence would alarm her were it not for her trust in

a higher Power, guarding virtuous minds. As she speaks there comes a gleam through the grove; and, thinking her

brothers may be near, she will guide them to her by a song. Accordingly, she sings the song beginning "Sweet Echo,”the first song in the masque according to Milton's arrangement of it, but the second in Lawes's stage-arrangement. It is not her brothers that the song brings to her, but Comus, who has been listening in admiration. Appearing before her in the guise of a shepherd, he tells her he has seen her brothers, and offers to lead her to them, or to lodge her in his humble cottage till they can be found in the morning. Scarcely has she accepted the offer and left the scene with Comus, when her two brothers appear,--the boys, Viscount Brackley and Mr. Thomas Egerton, also greatly cheered, of course. They discuss with great anxiety the situation of their sister, the elder comforting the younger, till their conversation is interrupted by a far-off holloa. Lest it should be a robber, they draw their swords. But it is their father's faithful shepherd, Thyrsis; or rather they think it is he,—for in reality it is the good Attendant Spirit, who has been taking note of all that has befallen the Lady, and who, in meeting the brothers, has assumed the disguise of one well known to them. He explains the state of affairs, and greatly alarms the younger brother by his account of Comus and his crew. The elder, though more steady, is for rushing at once to the haunt of the magician and dragging him to death. But the Attendant Spirit, as Thyrsis, explaining that such violence will be vain against the craft of a sorcerer, proposes rather that they should avail themselves of the power of a certain precious plant, called Hæmony, of which a portion had once been given him by a certain skilful shepherd-lad of his acquaintance. He had tested the virtue of this plant to ward off enchantments, for he had already approached Comus safely by means of it; and he now proposes that they should all three confront Comus with its aid. The Brothers agree, and they and the supposed Thyrsis go off. Then the scene changes before the eyes of the audience, representing "a stately palace, set out with all manner of deliciousness; soft music; tables spread with dainties"; the Lady in an enchanted chair, with Comus pressing her to drink out of a glass, while his rabble stand around. There is a matchless dialogue between the Lady and Comus, an argument of Purity or Abstinence against Sensuality, in which Purity overcomes and defies its enemy.

The Sorcerer, awed, but still persevering, prays the Lady only to taste, when her Brothers rush in with drawn swords, wrest the glass from his hand, and dash it to pieces. Comus and his crew resist slightly, but are driven away and dispersed. Thyrsis then, coming in after the Brothers, finds that unfortunately they have not attended to his instruction to seize the enchanter's wand. The Lady is still marble-bound to her chair, from which the motion of the wand might have freed her. To effect this, Thyrsis proposes a new device. It is to invoke Sabrina, the nymph of the adjacent and far-famed Severn river. Who so likely to succour distressed maidenhood as she, that daughter of Locrine, the son of Brutus, who, as ancient British legends told, had flung herself, to preserve her honour, into the stream which had since borne her name? By way of invocation of Sabrina, Thyrsis (i.e. Lawes) sings what is now the second song in the masque, but is the third in Lawes's arrangement,-the exquisite song beginning "Sabrina fair." Obeying the invocation, Sabrina rises, attended by water-nymphs, and sings the song "By the rushy-fringed bank,”—the third song in Milton's arrange. ment, the fourth in Lawes's. She then performs the expected office of releasing the Lady by sprinkling drops of pure water upon her and touching thrice her lips and finger-tips. Sabrina descends, and the Lady rises from her seat. But, though she is now free from the spell of Comus in his enchanted wood, it remains to convey her and her brothers safely to their father's residence, where their arrival is waited for. Accordingly, after an ode of thanks to Sabrina for her good service, with blessings on the stream that bears her name, the supposed Thyrsis continues :—

"Come, Lady; while Heaven lends us grace,

Let us fly this cursed place,

Lest the Sorcerer us entice
With some other new device.
Not a waste or needless sound
Till we come to holier ground.
I shall be your faithful guide
Through the gloomy covert wide;
And not many furlongs thence
Is your Father's residence,
Where this night are met in state
Many a friend to gratulate
His wished presence, and beside

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