Page images
PDF
EPUB

See an account of Harefield, in Lysons' “ Environs of i the Countess of Derby's monument there.

It is probable, that these “persons of Lady Derby's own dren of the Earl of Bridgewater, who had married a da and “ Arcades" perhaps was acted the year before “Con went to reside with his father at Horton, in the neighbour might have been soon afterwards desired to compose this Lord Brackley, Mr. Thomas Egerton, and Lady Alice Eg “ Comus," appeared upon the stage at court in 1633, in Ca Britannicum ;" and " Arcades” might be a domestic exhil that of Carew's Mask ; as being intended perhaps to try, a fidence and skill, before they performed more publicly. that once belonged to Lord Chancellor Egerton, and which of the Marquis of Stafford, there is a curious illustration three folio sheets, an “ Account of disbursements for H: Keeper Egerton and the Countess of Derby resided in 1602

COUNTESS DOWAGER OF DERI ALICE, Countess Dowager of Derby, married Ferdinando the death of his father Henry, in 1594, became Earl of D year. She was the sixth daughter of Sir John Spenser of A shire : she was afterwards married [in 1600] to Lord C died in 1617. See Dugd. Baron. iii. 251, 414. She die was buried at Harefield : “Arcades," could not therefore ha

Milton is not the only great English poet who has celebri ager of Derby. She was the sixth daughter, as we have se with whose family, Spenser the poet claimed an alliance come home again," written about 1595, he mentions her i Amaryllis, with her sisters Phyl or Elizabeth ; and Ch three of Sir John Spenser's daughters being best known at

Ne less praise-worthie are the sisters three,
The honor of the noble familie,
Of which I meanest boast myselfe to be ;
And most that unto them I am so nie:

Phyllis, Charillis, and sweet Amaryllis. After a panegyric on the first two, he next comes to Amary the Dowager of the above-mentioned Ferdinando Lord Der

But Amaryllis, whether fortunate
Or else vnfortunate may I aread,
That freed is from Cupids yoke by fate,
Since which she doth new bands aduenture d
Shepheard, whatever thou hast heard to be
In this or that prayed diuersly apart,
In her thou maiest them all assembled see,

And seald vp in the threasure of her heart. And in the same poem, he thus apostrophises to her late hı under the name Amyntas. See v. 434.

Amyntas quite is gone, and lies full low,
Having his Amaryllis left to mone
Helpe, o ye shepheards, help ye all in this ;-
Her losse is yours, your losse Amyntas is;
Amyntas, floure of shepheards pride forlorne
He, whilest he liued, was the noblest swaine
That euer piped on an oaten quill ;
Both did he other which could pipe maintain

And eke could pipe himselfe with passing skil And to the same Lady Alice, when Lady Strange, before he

succession to the earldom, Spenser addresses his “ Tears of the Muses," published in 1591, in a dedication of the highest regard ; where he speaks of “your excellent beautie, your virtuous behauiour, and your noble match with that most honourable lorde the verie patterne of right nobilitie.” 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.-T. Warton.

Alice, Countess of Derby, was the youngest of six daughters of Sir John Spenser of Althorp in Northamptonshire, who died 8th November, 1586, by Katharine, daughter of Sir Thomas Kitson, of Hengrave in Suffolk, knight *, which Sir John was son of Sir William Spenser, of Althorp, who died 22nd of June, 1532, by Susan, daughter of Sir Richard Knightley, of Fawsly, in Northamptonshire. Sir William was son of another Sir John Spenser, of Althorp, who died 14th April, 1532, only two months before his son, by Isabel, daughter and coheir of Walter Graunt, of Snitterfield, in Warwickshire, esq. ; he was son of William Spenser, esq., of Redbourne, in Warwickshire, who lived in the reign of Henry VII., by Elizabeth, sister of Sir Richard Empson, knight.

The Countess of Derby's five sisters were all honourably married ; and her father was a man of a great estate.

Of her three daughters and coheirs by the Earl of Derby, Anne married Grey Brydges, fifth Lord Chandos; Frances married John Egerton, first Earl of Bridge water ; and Elizabeth married Henry Hastings, Earl of Huntingdon.

Todd mentions that Marston wrote a Mask, intitled, “ The Lord and Lady of Huntingdon's Entertainment of their right noble mother, Alice,, Countess Dowager of Derby, the first night of her Honour's arrival at the house of Ashby." This Todd found still remaining in manuscript in the Bridgewater Library ; and has given a long account of it not necessary to be repeated here.

Lord Falkland wrote a poetical epitaph on this Countess of Huntingdon.

Sir John Spenser, of Althorp, the brother of Alice, Countess of Derby, died 9th January, 1599. His only son, Sir Robert Spenser, was created Lord Spenser of Wormleighton, by King James I., on 21st July, 1603, and died 25th October, 1627.

Camden, in his “ Britannia," speaks thus of Althorp :-“ Althorp, the seat of the poble family of Spenser, knights, allied to very many houses of great worth and honour, out of which Sir Robert Spenser, the fifth knight in a continual succession, a worthy encourager of virtue and learning, was by his most serene majesty, King James, lately advanced to the honour of Baron Spenser of Wormleighton."

William, who succeeded his father Robert, as second Lord Spenser, died 1636, aged forty-five, and was succeeded by his son Henry, third Baron, who was created Earl of Sunderland, 8th June, 1643, and slain at the battle of Newbury, on 20th September following, at the age of twenty-three : he married Lady Dorothy Sidney, daughter of Robert, Earl of Leicester (Waller's Saccharissa). See Lord Clarendon's character of him.

Part of an Entertainment presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby at Harefield,

by some noble persons of her family ; who appear on the scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of state, with this song :

I. SONG.

Look, nymphs and shepherds, look, a
What sudden blaze of majesty
Is that which we from hence descry,
Too divine to be mistook :

* See Mr. Gage's splendid “ History of Hengrave."

* Look, nymphs and shepherds, look, &c. See the ninth division of Spenser's “ Epithalamion ;” and Fletcher’s “ Faithful Shepherdess," a, i. 8. 1.-T. Warton.

This, this is she
To whom our vows and wishes bend;
Here our solemn search hath end.
Fame, that, her high worth to raise,
Seem'd erst so lavish and profuse,
We may justly now accuse
Of detraction from her praise :

Less than half we find express'd;

Envy bid conceal the rest.
Mark, what radiant state she spreads,
In circle round her shining throne,
Shooting her beams like silver threads ° ;
This, this is she alone,

Sitting like a goddess bright,

In the centre of her light.
Might she the wise Latona be,
Or the tower'd Cybele
Mother of a hundred gods ?
Juno dares not give her odds d.

Who had thought this clime had held

A deity so unparalleld?
As they come forward, the Genius of the wood appears,

them, speaks :-
Gen. Stay, gentle swains; for, though in
I see bright honour sparkle through your ey
Of famous Arcady ye are, and sprung
Of that renowned flood, so often sung,
Divine Alpheuse who by secret sluce
Stole under seas to meet his Arethuse;
And ye, the breathing roses of the wood,
Fair silver-buskin'd nymphs, as great and go
I know, this quest of yours, and free intent,
Was all in honour and devotion meant

b This, this is she. Our curiosity is gratified in discovering, even from slight traits, that Milton had here been looking back to Jonson, the that had yet appear and that he had fallen upon some of his dress. For thus Jonson, in an“ Entertaynment at Altrop," 11

This is shee,

This is shee,
In whose world of grace, &c.-T. WARTY

c Shooting her beams like silver threads See “ Par. Lost," b. iv. 555. But here Milton seems to state under which queen Elizabeth is seated, and which is v. ix. 28.-TODD.

d Give her odds. Too lightly expressed for the occasion.—HURD.

e Divine Alpheus, &o. Virgil, “ Æn." ii. 694 :

Alpheum, fama est, huc Elidis amn Occultas egisse vias subter mare, qui nu Ore, Arethusa, tuo, &c. -NEWTON.

40

45

[ocr errors]

To the great mistress of yon princely shrine,
Whom with low reverence I adore as mine;
And, with all helpful service, will comply
To further this night's glad solemnity;
And lead ye, where ye may more near behold
What shallow-scarching Fame hath left untold;
Which I full oft, amidst these shades alone,
Have sat to wonder at, and gaze upon :
For know, by lot from Jove I am the power
Of this fair wood, and live in oaken bower,
To nurse the saplings tall, and curl the grove'
With ringlets quaint, and wanton windings wove :
And all my plants I saye from nightly ill
Of noisome winds, and blasting vapours chill :
And from the boughs brush off the evil dew ,
And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue,
Or what the cross dire-looking planet smitesh,
Or hurtful worm with canker'd venom bites.
When evening gray doth rise, I fetch my round
Over the mount, and all this hallow'd ground;
And early, ere the odorous breath of morn
Awakes the slumbering leaves', or tassel'd horn
Shakes the high thicket, haste I all about,
Number my ranks, and visit every sproutk

[merged small][ocr errors]

! And curl the grove.
So Drayton, “Polyolb.” 8. vii. vol. ii. p. 786, of a grove on a hill-

Where she her curled head unto the eye may show.-T. WARTON.

& And from the boughs brush off the evil dew. The expression and idea are Shakspearian, but in a different sense and application. Caliban says, “ Tempest,” a. i. s. 4:

As wicked dew as e'er my mother brush'd,

With raven's feather, from unwholesome fen, &c.
Compare “Paradise Lost,” b. v. 429.
The phrase hung on the mind of Gray :-

Brushing with hasty steps the dew away.-T. WARTON.
b And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue,

at the cross dire-looking planet smites.
Compare Shakspeare, “Julius Cæsar," a. i. s. 3. “ King Lear," a. iv. s. 7.—T.

Or

WARTON.

i The slumbering leaves.
Ovid, “ Met." xi. 600. “Non moti flamine rami.”—Todd.

Tassel'd horn.
Spenser, “ Faer. Queene," i. viii. 3 :-

a horn of bugle small,
Which hung adowne his side in twisted gold
And tassels gay-NEWTON.

k Haste I all about,

Number my ranks, and visit every sprout.
So the magician Ismeno, when he consigns the enchanted forest to his demons, “ Gier.
Lib.” c. xiii. st. 8. Poets are magicians: what they create they command. The business
of one imaginary being is easily transferred to another; from a bad to a good demon.-
T. WARTON.

With puissant words, and murmurs made t
But else, in deep of night, when drowsiness
Hath lock'd up mortal sense, then listen I
To the celestial sirens' harmony,
That sit upon the nine infolded spheres'
And sing to those that hold the vital shears
And turn the adamantine spindle round,
On which the fate of gods and men is woun
Such sweet compulsion " doth in music lie,
To lull the daughters of Necessity,
And keep unsteady Nature to her law,
And the low world in measured motion dra
After the heavenly tune, which none can h
Of human mould, with gross unpurged ear
And yet such musick worthiest were to bla
The peerless highth of her immortal praise,
Whose lustre leads us, and for her most tit,
If my inferiour hand or voice could hit
Inimitable sounds: yet, as we go,
Whate'er the skill of lesser gods can show,

| Then listen I
To the celestial sirens' harmony,

That sit upon the nine infolded spher This is Plato's system. Fate, or Necessity, holds a spind three daughters, Lachesis, Clotho, and Atropos, who handle ti spindle, she conducts or turns the heavenly bodies : nine summit of the spheres, which, in their revolutions, produc harmony: to this harmony, the three daughters of Necess pondent tones : in the mean time, the adamantine spindle, w the knees of Necessity, and on which “ the fate of men and gou -T. Warton.

The adamantine spindle. In a fragment of Sophocles' “ Phædra," preserved in Stoba tine shuttles, with which they weave the appointed fates of m

n Such sweet compulsion, &c. See “Par. Lost," is, 474.--Todd.

After the heavenly tune, which none canlı

Of human mould, with gross unpurged ea I do not recollect this reason in Plato, the “Somnium Sci our author, in an academic Prolusion on the “ Musick of the Plato's theory, assigns a similar reason :-"Quod autem harmoniam, sane in causa videtur esse furacis Promethei auda invexit, et simul hanc felicitatem nobis abstulit, qua nec unqı ribus cooperti belluinis, cupiditatibus obrutescimus: at si pura tum quidem suavissi ma illa stellarum circumeuntium musica opplerentur.”—T. WARTON. Compare Shakspeare, “ Midsummer Night's Dream," a. iii.

And I will purge thy mortal grossness

That thou shalt like an airy spirit go. And see “Comus," v. 997.-T. WARTON.

See also his “Prose Works,"' edit. 1698, vol i, 153.-_“G and prepared them to attend his second warning trumpet," &c

« PreviousContinue »