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The Mask was prefented in 1634, and confequently in the 26th year of our author's age. In the title page of the first edition printed in 1637, it is faid that it was presented on Michaelmas night, and there was this motto,

Eheu quid volui mifero mihi! floribus auftrum

In this edition, and in that of Milton's

poems in 1645, there was prefixed to the Mask the following dedication.

To the Right Honorable

JOHN Lord Vicount BRACKLY fon and heir apparent to the Earl of BRIDGEWATER etc. MY LORD,


HIS poem, which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your noble family, and much honor from your own person in the performance, now returns again to make a final dedication of itself to you Although not openly acknowledg'd by the author, yet it is a legitimate ofspring, so lovely, and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath tir'd my pen to give my several friends fatisfaction, and brought me to a neceffity 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 promifing youth, which give a full assurance, to all that know you, of a future excellence. Live fweet Lord to be the honor

of your name, and receive this as your own, from the hands of him, who hath by many favors been long oblig'd to your most honor'd parents, and as in this representation your attendent Thyrfis, fo now in all real expreffion

Your faithful and most

humble Servant,


In the edition of 1645 was also prefixed Sir Henry Wotton's letter to the author upon the following poem: but as we have inserted it in the Life of Milton, there is no occafion to repeat it here.

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The firft fcene difcovers a wild wood.

The attendent Spirit defcends or enters.

EFORE the ftarry threshold of Jove's court

My mansion is, where those immortal shapes Of bright aereal Spirits live inspher'd

In regions mild of calm and ferene 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 fainted seats.
Yet fome there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their juft hands on that golden key,
That opes the palace of eternity:


To fuch my errand is; and but for such,


I would not foil these pure ambrofial weeds
With the rank vapors of this fin-worn mold.

But to my task. Neptune befides the sway
Of every falt flood, and each ebbing stream,
Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove
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Imperial rule of all the fea-girt iles,

That like to rich and various gems inlay

The unadorned bofom of the deep,
Which he to grace his tributary Gods

By course commits to several government,

And gives them leave to wear their faphir crowns,
And wield their little tridents: but this Ile,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
He quarters to his blue-hair'd deities;
And all this tract that fronts the falling fun
A noble Peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide
An old, and haughty nation proud in arms:
Where his fair ofspring nurs'd in princely lore
Are coming to attend their father's state,
And new-intrufled fcepter; but their way





Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horror of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger;
And here their tender age might fuffer peril,
But that by quick command from sovran Jove
I was dispatch'd for their defense and guard;
And liften why, for I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.
Bacchus, that firft from out the purple grape
Crush'd the sweet poison of mis-used wine,
After the Tufcan mariners transform'd,




Coasting the Tyrrhene fhore, as the winds lifted,
On Circe's iland fell: (Who knows not Circe
The daughter of the fun? whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a groveling swine)
This Nymph that gaz'd upon his clustring locks,
With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blithe youth, 55
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a fon
Much like his father, but his mother more,

Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus nam'd,
Who ripe, and frolic of his full grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,


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To quench the drouth of Phœbus, which as they taste,
(For most do tafte through fond intemp'rate thirst)
Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance,
Th'express resemblance of the Gods, is chang'd
Into fome brutifh form of wolf, or bear,
Or ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat,
All other parts remaining as they were;
And they, fo perfect is their misery,


Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,

But boast themselves more comely than before,


And all their friends and native home forget,

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