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Fen. O spare me, by the law of nations, I am but their am bassador.
Shep. You speak in time, sir.
The THEBANS enter for the 2 ANTIMASQUE, which
danced, Shep. Now let them return with their solid heads, and carry their stupidity into Bæotia, whence they brought it, with an emblem of themselves, and their country. This is too pure an air for so gross brains.
Who giv'st us all this leisure,
For this their holyday,
As thou our folds dost still secure,
And keep'st our fountains sweet and pure ; Driv'st hence the wolf, the tod, the brock, Or other vermin from the flock. That we, preseru'd by thee, and thou observ'd by us, May both live safe in shade of thy lov'd Manalus. Shep. Now each return unto his charge, And though to-day you've liv'd at large,
5 The tod,] i.e. the fox. WHAL.
And well your flocks have fed their fill,
THE MASQUE OF OWLS,
PRESENTED BY THE GHOST OF CAPTAIN Cox,
MOUNTED ON HIS HOBBY-HORSE, 1626.
THE MASQUE OF Owls, &c.] From the second folio. This trifle is not a Masque, nor could it have been so termed by the author : it is, in fact, a mere monologue, a Lecture on Heads; which, such as it is, probably gave the first hint to G. A. Stevens, for his amusing exhibition, of that name.
Of captain Cox I know no more than Jonson tells. Queen Elizabeth had been entertained at Kenelworth by the “great earl of Leicester," in 1575. To make her time pass as agreeably as possible, the bears were brought in, and baited with great applause ! There was also a burlesque representation of a battle, from some old romance, in which captain Cox, who appears to have been some well-known humourist, valiantly bestirred himself. A description of this part of the Entertainment was written and published at the time, in a “ Letter from a freend Officer attendant in the court, unto his freend a citizen and merchaunt of London.” To this letter, which is written in a most uncouth style by a pedantic coxcomb of the name of Laneham, under an affectation of humour, Jonson perpetually alludes.
Enter captain Cox, on his Hobby-horse.'
, If he come within so many yards of a
He will do strange things.
Now, I am not so stupid
1 The captain enters on, or rather in, the paste-board hobbyhorse used by the morris-dancers of the county, whom Jonson calls the Warwickshire Muses, and capers round the circle to make room, according to the usual practice. This little jeu-d'esprit formed perhaps an episode in some amusement of a more extensive nature, for it could scarcely occupy ten minutes. It is not easy to say before whom it was played. The first couplet speaks of the Prince, and, from a subsequent passage, it would seem to be the prince of Wales: but there was none at this period : add too, that the earl of Leicester (if he was the possessor of Kenelworth castle) died in 1626; so that the date is probably too late, by a year.