« VorigeDoorgaan »
" the newe buildings over the gate, Sir Harry Sidney, in his dayes “ and government there, made and set out, to the honour of the
Queene, and the glorie of the castle. There are in a goodly or
stately place, my Lorde Earl of Warwick's arms, [of] the Earl “ of Derbie, the Earl of Worcester, the Earl of Pembroke, and “ Sir Harry Sidney's armes in like manner: al these stand on the “ left side of the [great] chamber. On the other side are the
armes of Northwales and Southwales, two red lyons and two “golden lyons [for] Prince Arthur. At the end of the dyning “chamber, there is a pretty device, how the hedge-hog broke his
chayne and came from Ireland to Ludloe. There is in the hall a great grate of iron [a portcullis), of a huge height.” fol. 79. This once belonged to the grand portal of the castle. In the hall, or in one of the great chambers, Comus was acted. We are told by David Powell, the Welch historian, that Sir Henry Sidney, Knight, made Lord President of Wales in 1564, " repaired the “ castle of Ludlowe, which is the cheefest house within the
Marches, being in great decaie, as the chapell, the court-house, " and a faire fountaine, &c. Also he erected divers new buildings “ within the said castell, &c.” Hist. of Cambria, edit. 1580. 4to. p. 401. In this castle, the creation of Prince Charles to the Principality of Wales, and Earldom of Chester, afterwards King Charles the First, was kept as a festival, and solemnized with uncommon magnificence, in the year 1616. See a Narrative entitled “The " Love of Wales to their Soveraigne Prince, &c." Lond. 1616. 4to. Many of the exterior towers still remain. But the royal apartments, and other rooms of state, are abandoned, defaced, anci Jie exposed to the weather. It was an extensive and well-wrought fabric. Over the stable-doors are still the arms of Queen Elizabeth, Lord Pembroke, &c. Frequent tokens of ancient pomp peep out from amidst the rubbish of the mouldering fragments. Prince Arthur, above mentioned, died in 1502, after his short cohabitation with his wife, the Princess Catharine of Spain, at this castle, which was the palace of the Prince of Wales, appendant to his Principality. It was constantly inhabited by his deputies, styled the Lord Presidents of Wales, till the principality-court, a separate jurisdiction, was abolished by King William. Its buildings, together with the town of Ludlow, were represented in one of the scenes of the Mask. See after, v. 957. With whatever feats of chivalry it might have been anciently ennobled, the representation of Comus in this stately fortress, will ever be mentioned as one of the most memorable and honourable circumstances in the course of its history. T. Warton.
JOHN EARL OF BRIDGEWATER, AND HIS FAMILY. SIR JOHN EGERTON, second son of Thomas Lord Chancellor Egerton, Knight of the Bath, Baron of Elesmere, Earl of Bridgewater, and Lord President of Wales, before whom Comus was presented at Ludlow Castle in 1634, married Frances, second daughter of Ferdinando Earl of Derhy. And thus it was for the same family that Milton wrote both Arcades and Comus: for Alice, the Countess dowager of Derby, before whom Arcades was presented, was mother to Frances Lady Bridgewater; and the third wife of Lord John Bridgewater's father, Lord Chancellor Egerton, but without issue. See Dugd. Baron. vol. ii. pp. 414, 415. 250, 251. Our Earl John was appointed to the Presidency of Wales by King Charles the First at Theobald's, May 12, 1633. Rym. Foed. xix. 449. He died in 1649; his lady in 1635. See note on Com. v. 34.
They had issue, four sons and eleven daughters. JOHN Lord Viscount Brackley, the third son, who performed the part of the first Brother in Comus, succeeded to his father's inheritable titles, and was at length of the Privy Council to King Charles the Second. He died October 26, aged sixty-four, in 1686. He was therefore only twelve years old when he acted in Comus. And his brother THOMAS, who played the Second Brother, was still younger. Hence in the dialogue between Comus and the Lady, v. 289.
Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom ?
Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Where see the note. Chauncy, the historian of Hertfordshire, who was well acquainted with this young John Lord Brackley when a man, says that he was a nobleman of the most valuable and amiable qualities : “he was of a middling stature, with black hair, a round
visage, a modest and grave aspect, a sweet and pleasant countenance, and comely presence. He was a learned man, and delighted much in his library." Hist. Hertf. p. 554. This account of his person perfectly corresponds with Milton's description of his beauty and deportment while a boy: and the panegyric, we may suppose, was us justly due to his brother Thomas, Com. 298.
Their port was more than human, as they stood :
I took it for a fairy vision, &c. Again, the Lady requests Echo, v. 236.
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair,
That likest thy Narcissus are ! And hence the expressions in Henry Lawes's dedication of Comus to Lord John, in his edition 1637, written when he was now three years older, that is about fifteen: in which Lawes mentions " the “faire hopes and rare endowments of your much-promising youth, “ &c.” This young nobleman married at nineteen, 1642, Elizabeth, daughter of William Duke of Newcastle; who died in 1663, leaving a numerous issue. She was a most amiable character: and the
Earl her husband ordered it to be recorded on his tomb in Gadesden church, that “he enjoyed almost twenty-two years all the
happiness a man could receive in the sweet society of the best of “ wives.” Till his death he was inconsolable for her loss. In the Newcastle Book on Horsemanship, there is a print of this John Earl of Bridgewater, (the First Brother in Comus,) and his Countess Elizabeth, grouped with other figures. There is also a large mezzotinto print in quarto of this Earl, done in 1680, from a portrait by William Claret, an imitator of Lely, which I believe is at Ashridge.
Mr. Thomas Egerton, above mentioned, who performed the part of the Second Brother in our drama, was a fourth son of the old Earl John, and died unmarried at twenty-three.
The Lady ALICE Egerton, probably so named from her grandmother in law the Countess Dowager of Derby, who acted the Lady in Comus, was the eleventh daughter, and could not now have been more than thirteen years old. She was taught music by Henry Lawes. She became the third Countess of Richard Lord
Vaughan, of Emlyn, and Earl of Carbury, who lived at Golden Grove in Carmarthenshire, and by whom she had no issue, about 1653. See Dugd. Baron. vol. ii. 470. In Henry Lawes's “ Select “Ayres and Dialogues for the Theorbo, &c." published 1669, there is a song addressed to this Lady from her husband, called the Earl to the Countess of Carbury. I will cite the two last stanzas, which are excellent in the affected and witty style of the times.
When first I view'd thee, I did spy
My heart knew what it meant,
When melted into one:
Yet now 'tis mine the more,
Death will unriddle this;
For when thou’rt call’d to bliss,
'Cause piercing thine he kills my heart. This Lady Alice must not be confounded with Lord Carbury's second Countess, Frances, who died Oct. 9, 1650 : and to whom there is a funeral sermon, with a Latin epitaph, both superabundantly full of her praises, by the pious and learned Bishop Jeremy Taylor. The Earl, in the epitaph, with great tenderness expresses his intention of resting in the same grave with this accomplished lady, although he married so soon afterwards, as we have seen, the Lady Alice Egerton. See Bishop Taylor's Sermons, edit. fifth, fol. Printed for R. Royston, 1678. This Lord Carbury was Privy Counsellor to Charles the Second. He harboured in his house at
Golden Grove Bishop Taylor above mentioned, during the Rebellion: and most of that prelate's works are dedicated to him. This Richard Earl of Carbury succeeded his father-in-law, John Earl of Bridgewater, in the Presidentship of Wales : which I chiefly mention, to introduce a circumstance more to his honour, that at the Restoration he appointed Butler to the stewardship of Ludlow Castle, a very respectable and lucrative office, while the principality-court continued to be held there. See Wood, Ath. Oxon. ii. 452. and Whitlock, Mem. p. 115. edit. 1682. Butler had been before Lord Carbury's secretary.
The two young noblemen, John Lord Brackley and his brother Mr. Thomas Egerton, were practitioners in the business of acting Masques; and although now so very young when they played in Comus, had before appeared on a higher stage. They performed in a Masque called Calum Britannicum, written by that elegant poet, the rival of Waller, Thomas Carew, and presented in 1633, in the Banqueting-house at Whitehall, on Shrove Tuesday night. See Carew's Poems, p. 215. edit. 1651. It is more than probable that they played among the young nobility, together with their sister the Lady Alice, in Arcades. Where see v. 26. seq. Their sister Penelope Egerton, a sixth daughter, afterwards married to Sir Robert Napier of Luton-Hoo in Bedfordshire, acted at Court, with the Queen and other ladies, in Jonson's Masque of Chloridia, at Shrove-tide, 1630. Jonson's Works, vol. vi. p. 211.
All that I have mentioned of the Egerton or Bridgewater family, are buried under a stately monument in the church of Little Gadesden in Hertfordshire, but bordering upon Buckinghamshire. On that monument is a long inscription to the memory of the father, the first Earl John, the Lord President of Wales, who, among other valuable accomplishments, is there said to have been
a profound scholar.” It was lucky, that at least one person of the audience, and he the chief, was capable of understanding the many learned allusions in this drama. The family lived at Ashridge, in the parish of Gadesden, anciently a royal palace, and still inhabited by their illustrious descendant the present Duke of Bridgewater. Milton, as I have related, lived in the neighbourhood; and, as in writing the Mask for Harefield, was partly from that circumstance employed to write Comus: which yet was exhibited at Ludlow Castle, on occasion of Lord Bridgewater's appointment to the principality-court of Wales. T. Warton.
HENRY LAWES. HENRY LAWES, who composed the music for Comus, and performed the combined characters of the Spirit and the shepherd Thyrsis in that drama, was the son of Thomas Lawes, a vicarchoral of Salisbury cathedral. He was perhaps at first a choir-boy
of that church. With his brother William, he was educated in music under Giovanni Coperario; supposed by Fenton, in his notes on Waller, to be an Italian, but really an Englishman under the plain name of John Cooper, at the expence of Edward Earl of Hertford. In January, 1625, he was appointed Pistoler, or Epistoler, of the royal chapel ; in November following he became one of the gentlemen of the choir of that chapel; and soon afterwards, clerk of the cheque, and one of the court-musicians to King Charles the First.
In 1633, in conjunction with Simon Ives, he composed the music to a Mask presented at Whitehall on Candlemass night by the gentlemen of the four Inns of Court, under the direction of such grave characters as Noy, the Attorney General, Edward Hyde, afterwards Earl of Clarendon, Selden, and Bulstrode Whitlock. Lawes and Ives received each one hundred pounds as composers ; and the whole cost, to the great offence of the puritanical party, amounted to more than one thousand pounds. In Robert Herrick's Hesperides, or Poems, are three or four Christmas odes, sung before the King at Whitehall, composed by Lawes, edit. Lond. 1648. 4to. p. [ad calc.] 31. seq. And in the same collection, there is an Epigram To Mr. Henry Lanes, the excellent Composer of his Lyricks, by which it appears that he was celebrated no less as a vocal than an instrumental performer, ibid. p. 326.
Touch but the lire, my Harrie, and I heare
Or curious Wilson, &c. Lawes, in the Attendant Spirit, sung the last Air in Comus, or all the lyrical part to the end, from v. 958. He appears to have been well acquainted with the best poets, and the most respectable and popular of the nobility, of his times. To say nothing here of Milton, he set to music all the Lyrics in Waller's Poems, first published in 1645, among which is an Ode addressed to Lawes, by Waller, full of high compliments. One of the pieces of Waller was set by Lawes in 1635. He composed the Songs, and a Masque, in the Poems of Thomas Carew. See third edit. 1651, p. ult. The Masque was exhibited in 1633. In the title page to Comedies, Tragi-comedies, and other Poems, by William Cartwright, published in 1651, but written much earlier, it is said, that the " Ayres and Songs were “ set by Mr. Henry Lawes," and Lawes himself has a commendatory poem prefixed, inscribed, “ To the memory of my most “ deserving and peculiar friend, Mr. William Cartwright." See note on Com. v. 86. The music to Lovelace's Amarantha, a Pastoral, is by Lawes. Wood, Ath. Oxon. ii. 229. He published " Ayres " and Dialogues for one, two, and three voyces, &c. Lond. 1653."
a This officer, before the Reformation, was a deacon; and it was his business to read the Epistle at the altar.