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COMUS,

A

MASK,

PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634.

BEFORE

JOHN, EARL OF BRIDGEWATER,

THEN PRESIDENT OF WALES.

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JOHN LORD VISCOUNT BRACKLEY,F
Son and Heir-Apparent to the Earl of Bridgewater, &c.

MY LORD,
This poem, which received its first occasion of
birth from yourself and others of your noble family,
and much honour from your own person in the per-
formance, now returns again to make a final dedi-
cation of itself to you. Although not openly ac-
knowledged by the author,t yet it is a legitimate
offspring, so lovely and so much desired, that the
often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my
several friends satisfaction, and brought me to a
necessity of producing it to the public view ; and
now to offer it up in all rightful devotion to those
fair hopes, and rare endowments of your much pra-
mising youth, which give a full assurance, to all
that know you, of a future excellence. Live, sweet
Lord, to be the honour of your name, and receive
this as your own, from the hands of him, who hath
by many favours been long obliged to your most
honoured parents, and as in this representation
your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expres-

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sion

Your faithful and most humble servant,

H. LAWES.

* This is the dedication to Lawes's edition of the Mask, 1637. + The First Brother in the Mask. Warton.

It never appeared under Milton's name, till the year 1645.

THE PERSONE.

The Attendant Spirit, afterwards in the habit of

Thyrsis.
Comus, with his Crew.
The Lady.
First Brother.
Second Brother.
Sabrina, the Nymph.

THE CHIEF PERSONS, WHO PRESENTED, WERE,

The Lord Brackley.
Mr. Thomas Egerton his brother
The Lady Alice Egerton.

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BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aërial spirits live inspherd
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call Earth; and, with low-thoughted care
Confin’d and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true servants,
Amongst the enthron'd gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key,
That opes the palace of Eternity :
To such my errant is; and, but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.

But to my task. 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,

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