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Part of an Entertainment presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby at Harefieldt, by some noble
sons of her family, who appear on the scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of state, with this song.
LOOK nymphs, and shepherds look,
Is that which we from hence descry,
* This poem is only part of an Entertainment, or Mask, as it is also entitled in Milton's Manuscript, the rest probably being of a different nature, or composed by a different hand. The Countess Dowager of Derby, to whom it was presented, must have been Alice, daughter of Sir John Spenser of Althorp in Northamptonshire, Knight, and the widow of Ferdinando Stanley, the fifth Earl of Derby: and Harefield is in Middlesex, and according to Camden lieth a little to the north of Uxbridge, so that I think we may certainly conclude, that Milton made this poem while he resided in that neighbourhood with his father at Horton near Colebrooke. It should seem too, that it was made before the Mask at Ludlow, as it is a more imperfect essay: and Frances the second daughter of this Countess
Dowager of Derby being married to John Earl of Bridgwater, before whom was presented the Mask at Ludlow, we may conceive in some measure how Milton was induced to compose the one after the other. The alliance between the families naturally and easily accounts for it: and in all probability the Genius of the wood in this poem, as well as the attendant Spirit in the Mask, was Mr. Henry Lawes, who was the great master of music at that time, and taught most of the young nobility.
+ Part of an entertainment presented to the Countess of Derby at Harefield, &c.] 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
This, this is she
To whom our vows and wishes bend;
Here our solemn search hath end.
Fame, that her high worth to raise,
"Common Pleas, hath a faire
pastures, yielding 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 porter's lodges on each side the gateway are converted into a commodious adwelling-house. T. Warton.
1. Look nymphs, and shepherds look, &c.] See the ninth division of Spenser's Epithalamion. And Spenser's Aprill, in praise of Queen Elizabeth.
See, where she sits upon the grassie greene, &c.
See also Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess, a. i. s. 1. vol. iii. p. 150. T. Warton.
5. This, this is she.] Milton had here been looking back to Jonson, the most eminent maskwriter that had yet appeared, and had fallen upon some of his formularies and modes of address. For thus Jonson, in an Enter
taynment at Altrope, 1603. Works, 1616. p. 874.
This is shee,
This is shee,
In whose world of grace, &c. We shall find other petty imitations from Jonson. Milton says, v. 106.
Though Syrinx your Pan's mistress were,
Yet Syrinx well might wait on her. So Jonson, ibid. p. 871. Of the queen and young prince,
That is Cyparissus' face,
And the dame has Syrinx' grace; O, that Pan were now in place, &c. Again, Milton says, v. 46.
-And curl the grove
In ringlets quaint.So Jonson, in a Masque at Welbeck, 1633. v. 15.
When was old Sherwood's head more But see below, at v. 46. And quaintly curl'd? Observat. on Spenser's F. Q. vol. ii. 256, T. Warton.
10. We may justly now accuse &c.] These lines were thus at first in the Manuscript.
Now seems guilty of abuse
Mark what radiant state she spreads,
Sitting like a Goddess bright,
Or the tow'red Cybele,
Mother of a hundred Gods;
Who had thought this clime had held
A deity so unparallel'd?
[As they come forward, the Genius of the wood appears, and turning toward them, speaks.]
STAY gentle swains, for though in this disguise,
Of that renowned flood, so often sung,
18. Sitting like &c.] It was through your eyes;] Dr. Symat first,
Seated like a goddess bright, &c. 23. Juno dares not &c.] The Manuscript had at first,
Ceres dares not give her odds;
Who would have thought this clime
23. give her odds;] Too lightly expressed for the occasion. Hurd.
27. I see bright honour sparkle
mons, Life of Milton, p. 98. refers to Shakespeare, All's well that ends well,
The honour, Sir, which flames in your fair eyes.
30. Divine Alpheus, &c.] A famous river of Arcadia, that sinking under ground passeth through the sea without mixing his stream with the salt waters,
Stole under seas to meet his Arethuse;
and riseth at last with the fountain Arethuse near Syracuse in Sicily. Virg. Æn. iii. 694.
-Alpheum fama est huc Elidis amnem,
44. I am the Power] It was at first,
-I have the power.
46. —and curl the grove] So
Occultas egisse vias subter mare, qui Drayton, Polyolb. s. vii. vol. ii.
p. 789. "Banks crown'd with "curled groves." And so in several other places; and in a line which Jonson perhaps remembered, ibid. s. xxxiii. vol. iii. p. 1111.
Where Sherwood her curl'd front into
the cold doth shove.
Jonson also and Browne apply the same epithet frequently to the woods or the tops of trees. Compare note on P. R. ii. 289. T. Warton.
47. With ringlets quaint,] It was at first, In ringlets quaint.
And all my plants I save from nightly ill
With puissant words, and murmurs made to bless; 60