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did not stop at that point. In May 1617, an earldom which had been intended for the father, in recognition of his long services as Lord Chancellor, was bestowed on the son; and he became Earl of Bridgewater. Thus, the CountessDowager of Derby saw her second daughter, as well as her youngest, take rank as a Countess. A far larger family of children had been born to this daughter than to either of her sisters. Out of fifteen children, born in all, at least ten were alive in 1630, in order of age as follows: the Lady Frances Egerton, married to Sir John Hobart, of Blickling, Norfolk; the Lady Arabella, married to Lord St. John, of Bletso, son and heir of the Earl of Bolingbroke ; the Ladies Elizabeth, Mary, Penelope, Catharine, Magdalen, and Alice, yet unmarried—the last, Lady Alice, being in her tenth or eleventh year; John, Viscount Brackley, the son and heir, in his ninth year ; and his brother, Mr. Thomas Egerton, about a year younger. The head-quarters of this numerous family, or of such of them as were uninarried, were-in London, the Earl of Bridgewater's town-house in the Barbican, Aldersgate Street ; in the country, the Earl's mansion of Ashridge, Hertfordshire, about sixteen miles from Harefield.
We are now prepared to understand the exact circumstances of the Arcades. Sometime in 1630 or 1631, we are to suppose, some of the younger members of the different groups of the relatives of the Dowager-Countess of Derby determined to get up an entertainment in her honour, at her house at Harefield. The occasion may have been the aged lady's birthday, or it may have heen some incidental gathering at Harefield for a family purpose. Whatever it was, the young people had resolved to amuse themselves by some kind of festivity in compliment to the venerable lady of whom they were all so proud. What could it be but a masque? Harefield, with its avenue of elms called “the Queen's Walk” in memory of Queen Elizabeth's visit, and with its fine park of grassy slopes and well-wooded knolls, was exactly the place for a masque ; besides which, was not the Countess accustomed to this kind of entertainment? Would it not be in good taste to remind her of the masques and similar poetical and musical entertainments that had pleased her in her youth, when she had been the theme of Spenser's muse, and had sat by the side of her first husband, Lord Strange, beholding plays brought out under his patronage? Masques, indeed, were even more in fashion now, in the reign of Charles I., than they had been in the reigns of Elizabeth and James, and a masque in a noble family on any occasion of family-rejoicing was the most natural thing in the world.
There was, then, to be a masque, or at least a bit of a masque, at Harefield; and the actors were already provided. But for a good masque, or even a good bit of a masque, more is required than willing actors. Who was to write the words for the little masque, and who was to set the songs in it to music?
The latter question may be answered first. There can be little doubt, I think, that the person to whom the young people of the family of the CountessDowager of Derby trusted for all the musical requisites of the masque, if not the person who suggested it originally and entirely superintended it, was Henry Lawes, gentleman of the Chapel Royal, and one of his Majesty's private musicians. Farther particulars respecting this interesting man, one of the most celebrated musical composers of his day, will be given in the Introduction to that one of Milton's Sonnets which is addressed to him (Sonnet XIII.). What we have to attend to here is that, though Lawes had
professional connexions with not a few aristocratic families, by far the most lasting and intimate of these was with the Bridgewater branch of the CountessDowager of Derby's family. As early as 1630-31, the proof tends to show, Lawes, then about thirty years of age, and already of distinction in the English musical world, though with much of his reputation still to make, reckoned among his chief patrons and employers the Earl and Countess of Bridgewater; and among his most hopeful pupils at that time were several of the children of the Earl and Countess. Others of the Countess of Derby's grandchildren may have been pupils of Lawes ; but those of the Bridgewater branch were the most musical in their tastes, and it was to them, in their townhouse in the Barbican, or in their country-seat at Ashridge, that Lawes's visits were most frequent. Quite possibly, therefore, it was they that originated the notion of a masque in honour of the Countess. But, even if some of her relatives of the other groups were concerned in the plan, or admitted into it, the singing parts would fall to the Bridgewaters, and the arrangement of the music, and the general management, to their instructor, Lawes. Business of this kind was part of the profession of musical composers in those days, and Lawes, as we shall find (Introd. to Comus), was an expert in it.
An additional argument in favour of the idea that Lawes was the manager of the entertainment and arranged its music is found in the fact that the poetry for it was furnished by Milton. For Milton's intimacy with Lawes is a known fact. The friendship between the two, of which many interesting proofs remain, may have begun even in Milton's boyhood. Noted as a musician as was Milton's own father, there can have been few musical artists in London that were not occasional visitors in his house in Bread Street ; and there were many things in Lawes, when once he and the younger Milton were brought together, to rivet an attachment to him. On the other hand, Milton's poetical powers must have been well known to Lawes. Accordingly, when the notion of the Entertainment at Harefield had been started, and Lawes and his Bridgewater pupils, if our idea is correct, were busy over the project, it was to Milton that Lawes applied for the necessary words or libretto. If, as has been argued, the date was 1630 or 1631, Milton may have been up in London on one of his vacation visits. Perhaps, however, his father was already in possession of his country-place at Horton, and in that case Milton may have been there, and so actually within about ten miles, cross-country, from Harefield. Wherever it was that the two met to consult, Lawes about thirty years of age and Milton eight years younger, we can see what happened. Lawes explained to Milton the circumstances of the proposed Entertainment and the kind of thing that was wanted ; and Milton, meditating the affair for a few days, produced Arcades or The Arcadians.
Let the reader now go back in imagination to Harefield, on a spring or summer evening two hundred and forty years ago. Certain revels or pageants in the ground have perhaps preceded, and the time, we say, seems now to be evening. Harefield House is lit up ; and in front of it, on a throne of state arranged so as to glitter in the light, is seated the aged Countess, with the seniors of the assembled party around her as spectators. Suddenly torches are seen flickering among the trees in the park, and out from among those trees, towards where the Countess is sitting, there bursts a band of nymphs and shepherds. They are, in fact, some noble persons of her family who appear on the scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of state." When they have approached near enough, they pause, as if overcome by the splendour
of the vision before them; and then one voice breaks out from the rest in recognition of the Countess. This is the first Song :
“Look, Nymphs and Shepherds, look!
Is that,” &c. This song ended, the nymphs and shepherds renew their approach to the object of their wonder ; but," as they come forward, the Genins of the Wood [Lawes ?) appears, and turning toward them speaks. ” The speech of this Genius of the Wood is in fifty-eight lines of rhymed couplets. In it the Genius first. addresses the shepherds, or male performers in the masque, and tells them he recognises them, through their disguise, as noble Arcadians; then he addresses the nymphs in a similar strain ; then, after introducing himself as the Genius of the Wood, describing his occupations in that capacity, and descanting on his particular affection for music and his desire to do his best in that art in praise of her whom he had often admired in secret as the Queen of the place, and whom his auditory have come to gaze upon, he offers to lead them to her. Accordingly, lute or otner instrument in hand, he advances, with this Song, sung probably in solo :
“O'er the smooth enamelled green
Follow me," &c. Following him, accordingly, the masquers do obeisance to the Lady, and range themselves round her ; whereupon there is a third and concluding song, sung probably by many voices, madrigal-wise, and ending with a repetition of the final words of the previous song :-
“Such a rural queen
All Arcadia bath not seen."
The entertainment was probably not yet over : but whatever more of it there was, out-of-doors or indoors, was not of Milton', composition.
The Countess-Dowager of Derby survived the Entertainment only a few years. She died at Harefield, January 26, 1636–7. Her estate of Harefield descended to Lady Chandos, then her only remaining daughter, and so came to her grandson Lord Chandos, and his heirs ; but in 1675 it was purchased back by Sir Richard Newdegate, Bart., of Arbury, Warwickshire, whose family had been the original possessors of the property, but had parted with it in 1585. Accordingly, Harefield is now in possession of the Newdegates. The place is worth visiting, not only as the scene of the Arcades, but for other reasons. Harefield House indeed has disappeared. It was burnt down by accident in 1660. But the pedestrian on the road from Uxbridge to Rickmansworth may still identify the site of the House by one or two mounds and hollows, and a large cedar of Lebanon, on the quiet slopes behind Harefield Church ; and in
1 the church itself he may see, besides other antiquities of interest, the tomb of the heroine of the Arcades. It is a richly-sculptured and heraldically emblazoned marble monument, exhibiting the effigy of the Countess in a crimson robe and gilt coronet recumbent under a canopy of pale green and gold, and, on the side, effigies of her three daughters in relief and also painted. The Countess is represented as in her youth, beautiful, and with long fair hair. The three daughters have the same long fair hair and like features.
“A Masque, presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634, before the Earl of Bridgewater,
Lord President of Wales.” The history of this, the most important of all the minor poems of Milton, is closely connected with that of the Arcades, and our introduction to the Arcades is partly also an introduction to the Comus. What of more specific introduction is necessary remains to be given here.
One branch of the relatives of the venerable Countess-Dowager of Derby, the heroine of the Arcades, consisted, as we have seen, of the members of the noble family of Bridgewater :--to wit, John, ist Earl of Bridgewater, the Countess's stepson, being the son of her second husband, Lord Chancellor Ellesmere ; this nobleman's wife, the Countess's second daughter, Lady Frances Stanley, by her first husband, Ferdinando, 5th Earl of Derby; and the numerous children born to this pair,-two of them daughters already married and with houses of their own, but other daughters still unmarried, and residing, together with their two boy-brothers, Viscount Brackley and Mr. Thomas Egerton, sometimes at their father's town-house in the Barbican, and sometimes at his country-seat of Ashridge in Hertfordshire. It is with these members of the Bridgewater family that we have chiefly to do in the Comus.
The Earl of Bridgewater, now about fifty-four years of age (he had been born in 1579), had a place among the nobility of the Court of Charles I. for which he was probably indebted to the fame and long services of his father, the Lord Chancellor. Already a Privy Councillor, &c., he had, on the 26th of June, 1631, been nominated by Charles to the high office of the Viceroyalty of Wales, or, as it was more formally called, the office of “Lord President of the Council in the Principality of Wales and the Marches of the same.” This office including military command and civil jurisdiction, not only over the Welsh principality itself, but also over the four contiguous English counties of Gloucester, Worcester, Hereford, and Shropshire-- had been filled, in Elizabeth's reign, by Sir Henry Sidney, the father of Sir Philip Sidney, and after him by Henry, 2nd Earl of Pembroke ; and men of scarcely inferior note had held it since. The official seat of the Lord President was the town and castle of Ludlow in Shropshire, about twenty miles south from Shrewsbury, and beautifully situated in one of those tracts of green hilly country which mark the transition from England proper into Wales. The town, which was formerly walled, is mainly on an eminence near the junction of two streams, the Teme and the Corve, whose united waters How on to meet the Severn in Worcestershire. On the highest ground of the town, and conspicuous to a great distance over the surrounding country, is Ludlow Church, a large building of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Near it, at a point where the ascending slope on which the town is built ends in a precipitous rock overhanging a steep valley through which the river runs, is Ludlow Castle, now a romantic ruin, but once a garrisoned place of strength, separately walled in from the town, and approached by a gateway from a kind of esplanade at the top of the main street. It was this Castle, with its outer court, inner court, keep, barracks, drawbridge, &c., that was more immediately the residence of the Presidents of Wales. The older portions of the Castle dated from the Conquest, when they had been built by the Conqueror's kinsman, Roger de Montgomery; and there was hardly a part of the edifice but had its interesting
legends and associations-legends and associations connected with the old wars of race between the Welsh and the Norman-English, or with those subsequent Wars of the Roses in which the Welsh had taken so active a share. Thus there were shown in the Castle certain rooms called “the Princes' Apartments,” where Edward, Prince of Wales, and his young brother, the sons of Edward IV., had lived from 1472 to 1483, when they left Ludlow on that fatal journey which ended in their murder in the Tower.
Although appointed Lord President of Wales in June 1631, the Earl of Bridgewater does not seem to have assumed his functions actively, or to have gone near Ludlow, till some time afterwards. On the 12th of May, 1633, his powers in his office were defined afresh by a Royal Letter of Instructions, which was also to regulate the future proceedings, judicial and administrative, of the Council over which he presided. This Council was ostensibly to consist of upwards of eighty persons named in the Letter, among whom were many bishops and the chief state-officers of England, besides a number of knights and gentlemen of the Welsh border.
In October 1633 the Earl sent his new Letter of Instructions to his Council at Ludlow, to be read and registered before his own arrival. At what time he followed in person we do not accurately know ; but, when he did follow, ihe ceremonial of his inauguration was unusually splendid. He was attended “by a large concourse of the neighbouringnobility and gentry.”—i.e., we may suppose, by all of his Council then in those parts, and by other persons of local consequence.
He had brought his Countess with him, and probably his whole family, from London or Ashridge—including, as we certainly know, his youngest daughter, the Lady Alice Egerton, a beautiful young girl, fourteen or fifteen years old, and her two younger brothers, Viscount Brackley and Mr. Thomas Egerton. The festivities and hospitalities proper to such an occasion as the Earl's inauguration would naturally protract themselves over a considerable time. They did protract themselves, at all events, to Michaelmas-night, the 29th of September, 1634, when all Ludlow was astir with an unusual thing in those parts-nothing less than a complete masque, or poetical and musical entertainment, performed in the great hall of Ludlow Castle, by members of the Earl's family, before the Earl and an audience of assembled guests.
At this particular time, the English Court and aristocracy may be said to have been masque-mad. Nothing so magnificent, for example, in the shape of a pageant had ever been seen in England as that got up by the lawyers o: the Four Inns of Court in February 1633-4, “as an expression of their love and duty to their Majesties," i.e. to King Charles and Queen Henrietta Maria. Months were spent in the preparation. Shirley was engaged to write the poetry ; Mr. Simon Ivy and Mr. Henry Lawes to compose the music ; Inigo Jones to construct the machinery : while some of the ablest and most eminent lawyers of the time, such as Selden, Attorney-General Noy, Bulstrode Whitelocke, and Mr. Hyde, acted zealously on the Committee of General Management. When the day came--Feb. 3--there was a gorgeous afternoon and evening procession of the masquers, with painted chariots, flaming torches, music, and wondrous grotesque accompaniments, from Holborn down Chancery Lane to Whitehall, the whole population of London having gathered along the route to see and to cheer ; and, afterwards, in the Banqueting-house at Whitehall, the main masque itself, Shirley's Triumph of Peace, was performed before their Majesties with every possible magnificence. The whole affair cost the Four