Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Pastoral Poetry and Pastoral Drama by Walter W. Greg

Part 7 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

be lowly born, and Ascanio, the duke's son, are in love. The duke,
discovering this, orders two of his retainers to lead Eurymine secretly
into the forest and there slay her. Her youth and beauty, however, touch
their hearts, and they agree to spare her on condition that she shall live
among the country folk, and never return to court. They have no sooner
left her than she meets with a shepherd and a hunter, who both fall in
love on the spot, and whose rivalry supplies her with the means of
livelihood. Ascanio now appears in search of his love, and is directed by
Morpheus, at the hest of Juno, to seek out a certain hermit, who will be
able to advise him. In the meantime, however, an unexpected complication
has arisen. Apollo, meeting Eurymine in her shepherdess' disguise, has
fallen violently in love, and threatens mischief. To escape from his
pursuit she craves a boon, and having extorted a promise from the
infatuated god, demands that he shall change her into a man. Much
regretting his rash promise, Apollo complies. The next thing that happens
is that the lovers meet. This is distinctly unsatisfactory, but at the
suggestion of the hermit 'three or four Muses' and the 'Charities' or
Graces are called in to help, and by their prayers at length induce Apollo
to relent and restore Eurymine to her original sex. No sooner is this
performed than she is discovered to be the daughter of the hermit, and he
the exiled prince of Lesbos. At this juncture arrives a messenger from the
duke, begging Ascanio to return to court, and adding casually, as it
seems, that should Eurymine happen to be still alive she too will be

Thus we see the threefold weft, Arcadian, courtly, and mythological,
weaving the fantastic web of the earliest of the romantic pastorals. Of
the influence of the drama of Tasso and Guarini there is, indeed, but
little, the plot being in no wise that of orthodox tradition; but shepherd
and ranger are true Arcadians, neither disguised courtiers nor rustic
clowns, as in the Sidneian romance. The author, whoever he was, may have
drawn a hint for his plot from Lyly's _Gallathea_, in which, it will be
remembered, Venus promises to change one of the enamoured maidens into a
man, or else, maybe, direct from the tale of Iphis in Ovid.[316] As to the
sources of the other elements, it will be sufficient for our purpose to
note that the verse portions of the play are rimed throughout in couplets,
a fact that carries them back towards Peele's _Arraignment_ and the days
previous to Marlowe. The slight comic business is in prose, and the
characters of the three young rogues are directly traceable to the waggish
pages of Lyly.[317]

The piece has the appearance of being a youthful work; the verse is often
irregular and clumsy, and the rimes uncertain. On the whole, however, it
contains not a little that is graceful and pleasing to the ear, while in
description the unknown author shows himself a faithful and not
unsuccessful disciple of Spenser in his idyllic mood. Here, for instance,
are two passages which have been thought to reveal a study of the

Within this ore-growne Forrest, there is found
A duskie Cave, thrust lowe into the ground:
So ugly darke, so dampie and so steepe,
As for his life the sunne durst never peepe
Into the entrance: which doth so afright
The very day, that halfe the world is night.
Where fennish fogges, and vapours do abound:
There Morpheus doth dwell within the ground,
No crowing Cocke, nor waking bell doth call,
Nor watchfull dogge disturbeth sleepe at all.
No sound is heard in compasse of the hill,
But every thing is quiet, whisht, and still.
Amid this Cave, upon the ground doth lie,
A hollow plancher, all of Ebonie
Cover'd with blacke, whereon the drowsie God,
Drowned in sleepe, continually doth nod. (II. i. 112.)

And again:

Then in these verdant fields al richly dide,
With natures gifts, and Floras painted pride:
There is a goodly spring whose christal streames
Beset with myrtles, keepe backe Phoebus beames:
There in rich seates all wrought of Ivory,
The Graces sit, listening the melodye:
The warbling Birds doo from their prettie billes
Unite in concord, as the brooke distilles,
Whose gentle murmure with his buzzing noates
Is as a base unto their hollow throates.
Garlands beside they weare upon their browes,
Made of all sorts of flowers earth allowes:
From whence such fragrant sweet perfumes arise,
As you would sweare that place is Paradise. (V. i. 104.)

The same influence may perhaps be traced in slighter sketches, such as the

grassie bed
With sommers gawdie dyaper bespred. (II. i. 55.)

Here is a passage in another strain, which culminates in a touch of
haunting melody that Spenser himself might have envied:

I marvell that a rusticke shepheard dare
With woodmen thus audaciously compare?
Why, hunting is a pleasure for a King,
And Gods themselves sometime frequent the thing.
Diana with her bowe and arrowes keene,
Did often use the Chace, in Forrests greene.
And so alas, the good Athenian knight,
And swift Acteon herein tooke delight:
And Atalanta the Arcadian dame,
Conceiv'd such wondrous pleasure in the game,
That with her traine of Nymphs attending on,
She came to hunt the Bore of Calydon. (I. i. 318.)

We have also the introduction of an Echo scene--the earliest, I suppose,
in English. A notable feature of the play, on the other hand, are the
songs, which are in some cases of rare excellence, and certain of which
bear a resemblance to those found in Lyly's plays. In the lines sung by

Ye sacred Fyres, and powers above,
Forge of desires working love,
Cast downe your eye, cast downe your eye
Upon a Mayde in miserie--(I. i. 131.)

there is a subtlety of sound rare even in the work of lyrists of
acknowledged merit. Again, there is a fine swing in the song:

Round about, round about, in a fine Ring a:
Thus we daunce, thus we daunce, and thus we sing a.
Trip and go, too and fro[319], over this Greene a:
All about, in and out, for our brave Queene a. (II. ii. 105.)

The best of these songs, however, and indeed the gem of the whole play, is
undoubtedly the duet of the shepherd and the ranger, as they call upon
Eurymine, with its striking crescendo of antiphonal effect:

_Gemulo._ As little Lambes lift up their snowie sides,
When mounting Larke salutes the gray-eyed morne--

_Silvio._ As from the Oaken leaves the honie glides,
Where Nightingales record upon the thorne--

_Ge._ So rise my thoughts--

_Sil._ So all my sences cheere--

_Ge._ When she surveyes my flocks--

_Sil._ And she my Deare.

_Ge._ Eurymine!

_Sil._ Eurymine!

_Ge._ Come foorth!

_Sil._ Come foorth!

_Ge._ Come foorth and cheere these plaines!

_Both._ Eurymine, come foorth and cheere these plaines--

_Sil._ The Wood-mans Love--

_Ge._ And Lady of the Swaynes[320] (IV. ii. 39.)

Not long after the appearance of the _Maid's Metamorphosis_ there was
written a play entitled _The Fairy Pastoral, or the Forest of Elves_,
which is preserved in a manuscript belonging to the Duke of Devonshire,
and was printed as long ago as 1824 by Joseph Haslewood, for the Roxburghe
Club. The author was William Percy, third son of Henry, eighth Earl of
Northumberland, and the friend of Barnabe Barnes at Oxford, but of whose
life, beyond the facts of its obscurity and seeming misery, little or
nothing is known. He left several manuscript plays, of which the present
at least, dated 1603[321] at 'Wolves Hill, my Parnassus,' possesses
neither interest nor merit. It is an amateurish performance, partly in
prose, partly in verse, either blank or rimed in couplets. Where the
author adopts verse as a vehicle, his language becomes crabbed and
ungrammatical in its endeavour to accommodate itself to the unwonted
restraint of metre, which it nevertheless fails to do. It is also apt to
be laden to the point of obscurity with strange verbal mintage of the
author's own. The plot is not strictly pastoral at all, the only
characters that supply anything traditional in this line being the fairy
hunters and huntresses. Oberon, having heard that Hypsiphyle, the princess
of Elvida or the Forest of Elves, neglects her charge and suffers the
woods and quarry to decay, sends Orion to take over the government and
reform the abuses. The princess refuses to resign her authority, and a
hunting contest ensues, in which, though she is vanquished, she in her
turn overcomes her victor, and finally shares with him the fairy throne.
While this plot is in action three careless huntresses play tricks on
their enamoured hunters, and, being fooled in their turn, at last consent
to reward the service of their lovers. The scenes are spun out by a thread
of broad farce, supported by the fairy children, their schoolmaster, and
his wench. Some of the obscenity of this part may be elaborated from
passages in the _Maid's Metamorphosis_. The piece has a prologue for
representation at court, but it is most unlikely that it ever had that
honour. It is from beginning to end a graceless and mirthless composition.

Passing over the _Faithful Shepherdess_ in 1609, we come to a play of a
very different order from the last, namely, Phineas Fletcher's
_Sicelides_, a piscatorial, written for presentation before King James at
Cambridge in 1614-5, though he left without seeing it. It was acted before
the University at King's College, on March 13, and printed,
surreptitiously it would appear, in 1631[322]. It is not easy to account
for the neglect which has usually fallen to the lot of this play at the
hands of critics[323]. No doubt among writers generally it has shared the
neglect commonly bestowed on pastorals, while among those more
particularly concerned with our present subject it has possibly been
overlooked as being piscatory. The fisher-poem, however, as we have
already seen, is merely a variant of the pastoral, and must be included
under the same general heading, while the play itself has no less poetic
merit, and is certainly far more entertaining than the piscatory eclogues
of the same author. The scene, as the title implies, is laid in Sicily,
which was natural enough, or indeed inevitable, in the case of a writer
who would himself in all confidence have pointed to Theocritus as the
fountain-head of his inspiration.

Perindus loves Glaucilla, the daughter of Glaucus and Circe, and his
affection is returned. In consequence, however, of an oracle he feigns
indifference towards her, and though heart-sick when alone, meets her with
mockery when she pleads her love. Meanwhile Perindus' sister, Olinda, is
courted by Glaucilla's brother, Thalander, to whose suit, however, she
turns a deaf ear, and at last bids him leave the country. He does so, but
soon returns in disguise, resolved on winning her. She in the meantime has
relented of her coldness, and is pining for his love. An opportunity soon
offers itself for his purpose. By mistake or through ignorance she plucks
the Hesperian apples in the sacred grove, an offence for which she is
condemned to be offered as a sacrifice to a monster who inhabits a cave on
the shore, and is known by the name of Maleorchus. Andromeda-like, she is
bound to a rock, and the orc is in the very act of rushing upon its prey,
when Thalander interposes and succeeds in slaying the monster. Meanwhile
Cosma--'a light nymph of Messina,' who replaces the 'wanton nymph of
Corinth' of the Arcadian cast--has fallen in love with Perindus, and,
determining to get rid at a stroke both of his sister Olinda and his
mistress Glaucilla, gives the former a poison under pretence of a
love-cure. Glaucilla hearing of this, and suspecting the supposed philtre,
mingles with it an antidote, so that when Olinda drinks it she only falls
into a death-like trance. Hereupon Cosma accuses Glaucilla of substituting
a poison for the philtre. She is condemned to be cast from the cliffs, but
Perindus comes forward and claims to die in her place. He is actually cast
from the rocks, but falling into the sea is rescued by two fishermen.
These, we may notice, are borrowed from the twenty-first idyl of
Theocritus, and supply, together with Cosma's page and lovers, a comic
under-plot to the play. Olinda now revives, Thalander discovering her love
for him reveals himself, and Perindus' oracle being fulfilled, all ends
happily, the festivities being crowned by the entirely unexpected and
uncalled-for return of Tyrinthus, the father of Perindus and Olinda, who
had been carried off long before by pirates.

This somewhat complex plot, the dependence of which on the Italian
pastoral is evident, is padded with a good deal of farce, but though the
construction never evinces any great power on the part of the author, it
is not on the whole inadequate. The verse is in great part rimed in
couplets, and there are frequent attempts at epigrammatic effect, which at
times lead to some obscurity. The language betrays, as in the case of the
author's eclogues, a pseudo-archaism, which points, particularly in such
phrases as 'doe ycleape,' to a perhaps unfortunate study of Spenser.
Occasionally we meet with topical allusions, for instance the thrust at
Taylor put into the mouth of the rude Cancrone:

Farewell ye rockes and seas, I thinke yee'l shew it
That Sicelie affords a water-Poet. (II. vi.)

The stealing of the Hesperian apples, and the penalty entailed, appear to
be imitated from the breaking of Pan's tree in Browne's _Britannia's
Pastorals_, as does also the devotion and rescue of Perindus[324]. The orc
probably owes its origin, directly or indirectly, to Ariosto, and the
influence of the _Metamorphoses_ is likewise, as so often, present. The
following is perhaps a rather favourable specimen of the verse, but many
short passages and phrases of merit might be quoted:

The Oxe now feeles no yoke, all labour sleepes,
The soule unbent, this as her play-time keepes,
And sports it selfe in fancies winding streames,
Bathing his thoughts in thousand winged dreames ...
Only love waking rests and sleepe despises,
Sets later then the sunne, and sooner rises.
With him the day as night, the night as day,
All care, no rest, all worke, no holy-day.
How different from love is lovers guise!
He never opes, they never shut their eyes. (III. vi.)

Ten years at least, and probably more, intervened before the next pastoral
that has survived appeared on the stage. This is a somewhat wild
production, of small merit, though of some historical interest, entitled
_The Careless Shepherdess._ It was printed many years after its original
production, namely in 1656, and then purported to be written by 'T. G. Mr.
of Arts,' who was identified with Thomas Goffe by Kirkman; nor has this
ascription ever been challenged. Goffe was resident till 1620 at Oxford,
where his classical tragedies were performed, after which he held the
living of East Clandon in Surrey till his death in July, 1629. It is
probably to these later years that his attempt at pastoral belongs, but
the actual date of composition must rest upon conjecture. It was, we are
informed on the title-page, performed before their majesties (at
Whitehall, the prologue adds), and also publicly at Salisbury Court, the
playhouse in the Strand, opened in 1629. Consequently the 'praeludium,'
the scene of which is laid in the new theatre, must belong to the last
months of the author's life[325]. The question of the date is interesting
principally on account of certain lines which bear a somewhat striking
resemblance to those which stand at the opening of Jonson's _Sad

This was her wonted place, on these green banks
She sate her down, when first I heard her play
Unto her lisning sheep; nor can she be
Far from the spring she's left behinde. That Rose
I saw not yesterday, nor did that Pinke
Then court my eye; She must be here, or else
That gracefull Marygold wo'd shure have clos'd
Its beauty in her withered leaves, and that
Violet too wo'd hang its velvet head
To mourn the absence of her eyes[326]. (V. vii.)

The general poetic merit of the piece is, except for these lines, slight,
while the songs and lyrical passages, which are rather freely
interspersed, are almost all wooden and unmusical. Such interest as the
play possesses is dependent on the plot. We have the conventional four
characters: Arismena, the careless shepherdess, her lover Philaritus, and
Castarina, whose affections lean towards the last, though she does not
object to hold out some hope to her lover Lariscus. Philaritus is the son
of Cleobulus, who is described as 'a gentleman of Arcadia,' and opposes
his son's marriage with the daughter of a mere shepherd to the point of
disowning him, whereupon the lover dons the pastoral garb, and so
continues his suit to his unresponsive mistress. Castarina meanwhile
informs her lover that she will show no favour to any suitor until the
return of her banished father, Paromet. Both swains are of course in
despair at the cruelty of their loves, but the behaviour of the nymphs is
throughout marked by a certain sanity of feeling, which contrasts with the
exaggerated devotions, and yet more exaggerated iciness, of their Italian
predecessors. Philaritus, in the hope of rousing Arismena to jealousy,
feigns love to Castarina, who readily meets his advances. He is so far
successful that he awakes his mistress to the fact that she really loves
him, but she determines to play the same trick upon him by feigning in her
turn to love Lariscus. This has the immediate effect of making Philaritus
challenge his supposed rival, who, having witnessed his pretended advances
to Castarina, eagerly responds. Their meeting is, however, interrupted, in
the one tolerably good scene in the play, by the appearance of the two
shepherdesses, who threaten to slay one another unless their lovers
desist. Arismena's coldness, it may be mentioned, has been shaken by
Philaritus having rescued her from the pursuit of a satyr, and the two
maidens now consent to make return for the long suit of their lovers.
While, however, they are yet in the first transport of joy, a troop of
satyrs appear, and carry off the girls by force, leaving the lovers to a
despair rendered all the more bitter for Philaritus by the announcement
that his father relents of his anger, and is willing to countenance his
marriage with Arismena. After a vain search for traces of their loves the
swains return home, where they are met by the same satyrs, still guarding
their captives. They offer to run at them, when the two leaders discover
themselves as the fathers respectively of Philaritus and Arismena. No
satisfactory account of their motive for this outrage is offered, for
while they are disputing of the matter the other satyrs, supposed to be
their servants in disguise, suddenly disappear with the girls.
Consternation follows, and great preparations are made for pursuit.
Arismena and Castarina, however, apparently escape from their captors, for
we next find them sleeping quietly in an arbour. Again a satyr enters, and
carries off Arismena, whom Castarina on waking follows to the dwelling of
the satyrs, where she finds her friend being courted by her captor.
Meanwhile the rash pursuers have fallen into the hands of the pursued, and
are brought in bound. Matters appear desperate, and the nymphs are
actually brought on the stage apparently dead and lying in their coffins.
They soon, however, show themselves to be alive, and the chief satyr
reveals himself as the banished Paromet, who has been endeavouring to
induce Arismena to marry him, in the hope thereby to get his sentence of
banishment revoked. This, it appears, has already been done, and all now
ends happily.

In this chaotic medley it will be observed that the plot is twice ravelled
and loosed before the final solution. In the frequent _enlevements_ by the
satyrs, as in the manner in which these deceive their employer, the story
distantly recalls Ingegneri's _Danza di Venere_. One feature of importance
is the comic character Graculus, who is well fooled by the pretended
satyrs, and has an amusing though coarse part in prose. He seems to owe
his origin to the broad humours of the vulgar stage, though he may be in a
measure imitated from the roguish pages of Lyly, and so be the forerunner
of Randolph's Dorylas. The tradition of the comic scenes, usually written
in prose, was in process of crystallization, and from the _Maid's
Metamorphosis_ we can trace it onwards through the present piece, and such
slighter compositions as the _Converted Robber_ and Tatham's _Love Crowns
the End_, to Randolph and even later writers. In the present case it was
no innovation, nor is there any reason to suppose that it was unpopular
with the audience.[327] What was an innovation was the 'gentleman of
Arcadia,' a character for which the Spanish romance was without doubt
responsible. In the Italian pastoral proper the shepherds are themselves
the aristocracy of Arcadia, the introduction of such social hierarchy as
is implied in the phrase being a point of chivalric and courtly tradition.
Cleobulus, however, as well as his son Philaritus, is in fact purely
Arcadian in character. Among other personae we find Apollo and the Sibyls,
introduced for the sake of an oracle; Silvia, who more or less fills the
office of priestess of Pan, and leads the shepherds to his shrine in a
sort of masque; and a very superfluous 'Bonus Genius' of Castarina. This
mythological element, however, though suggested, is not, any more than the
courtly, put to the fore. I quote Silvia's song as the best example of the
lyrical verse of the play:

Come Shepherds come, impale your brows
With Garlands of the choicest flowers
The time allows.
Come Nymphs deckt in your dangling hair,
And unto Sylvia's shady Bowers
With hast repair:
Where you shall see chast Turtles play,
And Nightingales make lasting May,
As if old Time his youthfull minde,
To one delightful season had confin'd. (II. i.)

There is one thing that can be said in favour of the pastoral written by
Ralph Knevet for the Society of Florists at Norwich, namely, that while
adhering mainly to tradition, it is not indebted to any individual works.
Of the author of _Rhodon and Iris_, as the play was called, little is
known beyond the dates of his birth and death, 1600 and 1671, and the bare
facts that he was at one time connected in the capacity of tutor or
chaplain with the family of Sir William Paston of Oxmead, and after the
restoration held the living of Lyng in Norfolk. The play appears to have
been performed at the Florists' feast on May 3, 1631, and was printed the
same year. The object the author had in view was the characterization of
certain flowers in the persons of nymphs and shepherds; other characters
are allegorical personifications, while Flora herself plays the part of
the pastoral god from the machine. The weakness of the plot, as in so many
cases, lies in the existence of two main threads of interest, whose
connexion is wholly fortuitous, and neither of which is clearly
subordinated to the other. In the present case no attempt is made to
interweave the chivalric motive, in which Rhodon stands as champion of the
oppressed Violetta, with the pastoral motive of his love for Iris. It is,
moreover, hardly possible to credit the play with a plot at all, since one
thread is cut short by a _dea ex machina_ of the most mechanical sort,
while in the other there is never any complication at all. The following
is the outline of the action. The proud shepherd Martagan has encroached
on and wasted the lands of Violetta, the sister of Rhodon, to whom she
appeals for protection. The latter determines to demand reparation of
Martagan, and, in case of his refusal, to offer battle on his sister's
behalf. In the meantime, warned, as we are told, by the stars, he has
abandoned his love Eglantine, and incontinently fallen in love with Iris.
The forsaken nymph seeks the aid of a witch, Poneria (Wickedness), who
with her associate Agnostus (Ignorance) is supporting the pretensions of
Martagan. Poneria supplies Eglantine with a poison under pretence of a
love-philtre, with instructions to administer it to Rhodon disguised as
his love Iris, which she succeeds in doing. Meanwhile Martagan has refused
to come to terms, and either side prepares for war. Violetta and Iris send
Rhodon charms and salves for wounds by the hand of their servant Panace
(All-heal), who happily arrives just as he has drunk the poison, and is in
time to cure him. Rhodon now prepares for battle under the belief that
Iris has sought his death, but being assured of her faith, he vows a
double vengeance on his foes, to whose deceit he next attributes the
attempt. The forces are about to join battle when, in response to the
prayers of the nymphs, Flora appears and bids the warriors hold. Martagan
she commands to refrain from the usurped territory, and charges his
followers to keep the peace and abide by her award. Poneria and Agnostus
she banishes from the land, and Eglantine for seeking unlawful means to
her love is condemned to ten years' penance in a 'vestal Temple.' Thus
Rhodon is free to celebrate his nuptials with Iris, though the matter is
only referred to in the epilogue.

The plot, it will be seen, is anything but that of a pure pastoral. The
large chivalric or at least martial element belongs less to the courtly
and Spanish type than to that of works like _Menaphon_, or even _Daphnis
and Chloe_. There is also a comic motive between Clematis and her fellow
servant Gladiolus, which turns on the wardrobe and cosmetics of Eglantine
and Poneria, and belongs to the tradition of court and city. The
allegorical characters find their nearest parallel in those of the
_Queen's Arcadia_.[328]

This amateurish effort is composed for the most part in a strangely
unmetrical attempt at blank verse. It differs from the doggerel of the
_Fairy Pastoral_ in making no apparent attempt at scansion at all, and so
at least escapes the crabbedness of Percy's language. It is not easy to
see how the author came to write in this curious compromise between verse
and prose, since it is more or less freely interspersed with passages both
in blank verse and in couplets, which, while exhibiting no conspicuous
poetical qualities, are both metrical and pleasing enough. Take, for
example, the lines from Eglantine's lament:

Since that the gods will not my woe redresse,
Since men are altogether pittilesse,
Ye silent ghosts unto my plaints give eare;
Give ear, I say, ye ghosts, if ghosts can heare,
And listen to my plaints that doe excell
The dol'rous tune of ravish'd Philomel.
Now let Ixions wheele stand still a while,
Let Danaus daughters now surcease their toyle,
Let Sisyphus rest on his restlesse stone,
Let not the Apples flye from Plotas sonne,
And let the full gorg'd Vultur cease to teare
The growing liver of the ravisher;
Let these behold my sorrows and confesse
Their paines doe farre come short of my distresse. (II. iii.)

Or take Clematis' prayer for her mistress Eglantine:

Thou gentle goddesse of the woods and mountains,
That in the woods and mountains art ador'd,
The Maiden patronesse of chaste desires,
Who art for chastity renouned most,
Tresgrand Diana, who hast power to cure
The rankling wounds of Cupids golden arrowes,
Thy precious balsome deigne thou to apply
Unto the heart of wofull Eglantine. (I. iii.)

Or yet again, in lighter mood, Acanthus' boast:

When Sol shall make the Easterne Seas his bed,
When Wolves and Sheepe shall be together fed,...
When Venus shal turn Chast, and Bacchus become sober,
When fruit in April's ripe, that blossom'd in October,...
When Art shal be esteem'd, and golden pelfe laid down,
When Fame shal tel all truth, and Fortune cease to frown,
To Cupids yoke then I my necke will bow;
Till then, I will not feare loves fatall blow. (I. ii.)

Yet the author of the above passages--for there is no reason to suppose a
second hand, and the play was published under his own direction--chose to
write the main portion of his poem in a measure of this sort:

Oh impotent desires, allay the sad consort
Of a sublime Fortune, whose most ambitious flames
Disdaine to burne in simple Cottages,
Loathing a hard unpolish'd bed;
But Coveting to shine beneath a Canopy
Of rich Sydonian purple, all imbroider'd
With purest gold, and orientall Pearles. (I. iii.)

Why he should have so chosen I cannot presume to say; whether from haste
and carelessness, or from a deliberate intention of writing a sort of
measured prose; but it was certainly from no inability to be metrical. The
occasional lyrics, moreover, are not without merit; the following lines,
sung by Eglantine, are perhaps the most pleasing in the play:

Upon the blacke Rocke of despaire
My youthfull joyes are perish'd quite;
My hopes are vanish'd into ayre,
My day is turn'd to gloomy night;
For since my Rhodon deare is gone,
Hope, light, nor comfort, have I none.
A Cell where griefe the Landlord is
Shall be my palace of delight,
Where I will wooe with votes and sighes
Sweet death to end my sorrowes quite;
Since I have lost my Rhodon deare,
Deaths fleshlesse armes why should I feare? (I. iii.)

To treat of Walter Montagu's _Shepherds' Paradise_ at a length at all
commensurate with its own were to set a premium on dull prolixity; there
are, however, in spite of its restricted merits, a few points which give
it a claim upon our attention. A brief analysis will suffice. The King of
Castile negotiates a marriage between his son and the princess of Navarre.
The former, however, is in love with a lady of the court named Fidamira,
who repulses his advances in favour of Agenor, a friend of the prince's.
The prince therefore resolves to leave the court and seek the Shepherds'
Paradise, a sequestered vale inhabited by a select and courtly company,
and induces Agenor to accompany him on his expedition. In their absence
the king himself makes love to Fidamira, who, however, escapes, and
likewise makes her way to the Shepherds' Paradise in disguise. Meanwhile,
Belesa, the princess of Navarre, misliking of the proposed match with a
man she has never seen, has withdrawn from her father's court to the same
pastoral retreat, where she has at once been elected queen of the courtly
company. On the arrival of the prince and his friend they both fall in
love with her, but the prince's suit is seconded by the disguised
Fidamira, and soon takes a favourable turn. At this point the King of
Castile arrives in pursuit, together with an old councillor, who proceeds
to reveal the relationship of the various characters. Fidamira and Belesa,
it appears, are sisters, and Agenor their brother. The marriage of the
prince and Belesa is of course solemnized; the king renews his suit to
Fidamira, but she prefers to remain in Paradise, where she is chosen
perpetual queen[329].

The plot, it will be observed, belongs entirely to the school of the
Hispano-French romance, and the style, intricate, involved, and conceited,
in which this prose pastoral is written betrays the same origin. Moreover,
as Euphuism, objectionable enough in the romance, becomes ten times more
intolerable on the stage, so too with the language of the pastoral-amorous
tale of courtly chivalry. There are, however, incidental passages of
verse which in their own rather intricate and ergotic style are of greater
merit than the prose, though that is not saying much. The close dependence
of the piece upon the chivalric tradition serves to differentiate it from
the majority of those we have to consider; while certain external
circumstances have combined to give it a fortuitous reputation.

One of Montagu's passports to fame is an allusion in Suckling's _Session
of the Poets_, from which it is evident that the style of the play
attracted notice of an uncomplimentary character even among the writer's

Wat Montagu now stood forth to his trial,
And did not so much as suspect a denial;
But witty Apollo asked him first of all,
If he understood his own pastoral!

The _Shepherds' Paradise_ is, however, best remembered on account of
circumstances attending its performance. It was acted, as we learn from a
letter of John Chamberlain's, on January 8, 1632-3, by the queen and her
ladies, who filled male and female parts alike. Almost simultaneously
appeared Prynne's famous attack on all things connected with the stage, in
which was one particularly scurrilous passage concerning women who
appeared on the boards. As this, of course, was not the practice of the
public stage, it was evident that the author must have had some specific
instance in mind, and though it is not certain whether there was any
personal intention in the allusion, the cap was made to fit, and for the
supposed insult to the queen Prynne lost his ears.

It is presumably at this point that Randolph's _Amyntas_ should appear in
a chronological survey of English pastoralism.

Of the 'Pastoral of Florimene,' presented at the queen's command before
the king at Whitehall, on December 21, 1635, we possess the plot only, and
it is even doubtful in what language the piece was composed[330]. The
songs in the introduction and the _intermedi_ were undoubtedly in French,
and the prologue by Fame in English; the rest is uncertain, but the French
forms of the names, and the fact that it was represented by 'les filles
francaises de la Reine' point in the same direction. The plot, which
belongs entirely to the court-pastoral type of the French romances, only
influenced in the _denoument_ by mythological tradition, appears to be
original in the same degree as most other pastoral inventions, that is, to
exhibit fresh variations on stock situations.[331] The relation of the
characters is involved, and not easily made out from the printed account
of the piece, but the outline of the plot is as follows. The shepherdess
Florimene is loved by the Delian shepherd Anfrize, who has long been her
servant, and the Arcadian stranger Filene, who in order to gain access to
the object of his devotion has disguised himself in female attire, and
passes under the name of Dorine. In this disguise he is courted by
Florimene's brother, Aristee. Filene, however, was loved in Arcadia by the
nymph Licoris, who has followed him disguised in shepherd's weeds.
Aristee, in order to sound the mind of his love, the supposed Dorine (i.e.
Filene), disguises himself in his sister Florimene's dress, and in this
garb receives to his astonishment the declaration of Filene's love.
Aristee immediately leaves him, and turns his affections towards the
faithful Lucinde, who has long pined for his love. She, however, has now
fallen in love with Lycoris in her male attire, and rejects the advances
of the penitent Aristee, continuing to do so even after she has discovered
her mistake. Lycoris, hearing of the disguise of Filene, seeks Florimene
at the moment when she is most incensed on discovering the deception, and
begs her good offices with Filene, which are readily promised. Florimene
accordingly rejects Filene when he presents himself, but he refuses to
show any favour to Lycoris until she shall have obtained his pardon from
Florimene. The latter is really in love with Filene all the time, and when
Lycoris comes to plead his cause, she readily grants her audience. Filene
now enters, and is about to pass his vows to Florimene when they are
interrupted by Anfrize, who in a fit of jealousy offers to kill Filene.
This attempt Florimene prevents with her sheep-hook, and declares that
they must all seek the award of Diana, by whose decision she promises to
abide. The goddess then appears. Lucinde she decrees shall restore her
love to Aristee; Lycoris, she informs the company, is own sister to
Filene, whose love she must therefore renounce. She then bids Anfrize and
Filene plead their cause, which they do, and she declares in favour of the
latter's suit, commanding at the same time that the unsuccessful Anfrize
shall wed the forlorn Lycoris. Thus all are happy, so far as having their
love affairs arranged by a third party can be supposed to make them.
Florimene, who had retired, perhaps to don her bridal robes, now returns
to complete the _tableau_. 'Here the Heavens open, and there appeare many
deities, who in their songs expresse their agreements to these
marriages'--which was, no doubt, thought very satisfactory by the

The _Shepherds' Holiday_ is the most typical, as it is on the whole the
most successful, of those pastorals which exhibit the blending of the
Arcadian and courtly elements. It was printed in 1635, and the title-page
informs us that it was 'Written by J. R.,' initials which there is
satisfactory evidence for regarding as those of Joseph Rutter, the
translater of Corneille's _Cid_, who appears to have been in some way
attached to the households both of Sir Kenelm Digby and the Earl of
Dorset. The play was acted before Charles and his queen at Whitehall. The
following analysis will sufficiently express its nature.

At the opening of the play we find Thirsis grieving for the loss of
Silvia, a strange shepherdess who appeared amongst the pastoral
inhabitants of Arcadia some while previously, and has recently vanished,
carried off, as her lover supposes, by a satyr. Leaving him to his lament,
the play introduces us to the huntress Nerina, courted by the rich
shepherd Daphnis, whose suit is favoured by her father, and the poor swain
Hylas. Daphnis is in his turn loved by the nymph Dorinda. In a scene
between Hylas and Nerina she upbraids him with having once stolen a kiss
of her, and dismisses him in seeming anger; immediately he is gone,
however, delivering herself of a soliloquy in which she confesses her
love for him, which her father's commands forbid her to reveal. Daphnis,
finding her cold to his suit, seeks the help of Alcon, who supplies him
with a magic glass, in which whoso looks shall not choose but love the
giver. In reality it is poisoned, and upon his giving it to Nerina she
faints, and in appearance dies, after obtaining as her last request her
father's favour to her love for Hylas. The scene now shifts to court.
Silvia, who it appears is none other than the daughter of King Euarchus,
recounts how she had fled owing to the unwelcome suit of Cleander, the son
of the old councillor Eubulus, and on account of her love of the shepherd
Thirsis, whom she had seen and heard at the annual show which the country
folk were wont to perform at court. After a while, however, Cleander had
discovered her retreat and forced her to return. The shepherds are now
again about to present their rustic pageant, and she takes the opportunity
of sending a private message, seeking an interview with Thirsis. Meanwhile
Eubulus has explained to his son Cleander how Silvia is really his own
daughter, and consequently Cleander's sister. An oracle had led the king
to believe that if a son were born to him harm would ensue, and therefore
commanded that in that case the child should be destroyed. A son was born,
but Eubulus substituted his own daughter, whom he feigned dead, and
carried away the king's son with a necklace round his neck, intending to
commit him to the care of some shepherds, but being surprised by robbers
fled leaving the child to its fate. Returning now to the shepherds, the
play shows us Daphnis and Alcon seeking the tomb of Nerina with a
restorative. The glass, it seems, was intentionally poisoned by Alcon, who
adopted this elaborate device for placing the nymph in the power of her
lover should she continue obdurate. They restore her, and finding her
still unmoved by his suit Daphnis threatens her with violence. Her cries,
however, attract the swains, who arrive with Hylas at their head. Daphnis,
overcome with shame at the exposure of his villany, is glad to find a
friend in the despised Dorinda, while Nerina rewards her faithful Hylas in
accordance with her father's promise. Meanwhile at court Silvia and
Thirsis have been surprised in their secret interview, and both doomed to
die by the anger of the king. The necklace on Thirsis' neck, however,
leads to the discovery of his identity as the king's son, and all ends

In point of dramatic construction the first three acts leave little to be
desired; as is so often the case, the weakness of the plot appears in the
unravelling. The double solution of the two threads, neither of which is
properly subordinated, and which are wholly independent, is a serious blot
on the dramatic merit of the play. The courtly element, moreover, is but
clumsily grafted on to the pastoral stock. Throughout the debts to
predecessors, whether of language or incident, are fairly obvious. The
verse in which the play is written is adequate and well sustained, and if
its dependence on Daniel is evident, no less so is the advance in
flexibility and expression which the language, as handled by the lesser
poets, has made in the course of the twenty years or so that separate the
_Shepherds' Holiday_ from _Hymen's Triumph_. Rutter's verse also displays
a certain nervousness of its own which is wanting in the model, though it
preserves the intermixture of blank verse with irregular rimes which
Daniel affected. These peculiarities may be illustrated in a passage which
opens with a reminiscence of Spenser:

All as the shepherd is, such be his flocks,
So pine and languish they, as in despair
He pines and languishes; their fleecy locks
Let hang disorder'd, as their master's hair,
Since she is gone that deck'd both him and them.
And now what beauty can there be to live,
When she is lost that did all beauty give? (I. i.)

Again the opening situation recalls that of _Hymen's Triumph_, a
resemblance rendered all the more striking by the retention of the actual
names, Silvia and Thirsis. In like manner the name and character of
Dorinda are taken from the _Pastor fido_. From the _Aminta_, of course,
comes Nerina's description of how her lover stole a kiss, though little of
the sensuous charm of the original survives; from the _Pastor fido_ her
confession of love as soon as she finds herself alone. The opening lines
of this speech are, indeed, a direct translation:

Alas! my Hylas, my beloved soul,
Durst she whom thou hast call'd cruel Nerina
But speak her thoughts, thou wouldst not think her so;
To thee she is not cruel, but to herself.[333] (II. iii.)

But these borrowings are by no means unskilful, so far at least as the
construction is concerned. The discovery by Cleander that Silvia is his
own sister, and the instant effect of the discovery in destroying his
love, are of course commonplaces of the minor pastoral drama of Italy, and
also occur in some of the plays we have been examining in this chapter.
Verbal reminiscences of the _Aminta_ also are scattered through the play,
for instance, the lines in which Nerina protests her hatred of all who
seek to win her from her state of unfettered virginity, protestations
particularly fatuous, seeing that she is in love with Hylas throughout.
Her father not unreasonably retorts:

Yes, you have made a vow, I know, which is,
Whilst you are young, you will have all the youth
To follow you with lies and flatteries.
Fool, they'll deceive you; when this colour fades,
Which will not always last, and you go crooked,
As if you sought your beauty, lost i' th' ground,
Then they will laugh at you! (II. v.)

With which he goes off to attend to the shearing of his sheep, one of
those wholly unnecessary operations which the less skilful pastoralists
make it a virtue to thrust upon our attention. The scene between Nerina,
Daphnis, and Dorinda, a sort of three-cornered love-suit, may possibly
have suggested to Cowley the best scene in the play which next claims our

Cowley's _Love's Riddle_, published in 1638, but written two or three
years earlier, is the work of a boy of sixteen, and though it serves amply
to prove the precocity of its author, it does not therefore follow that it
is itself possessed of any conspicuous merit. To find in it passages of
genuine observation and love of nature, as one of Cowley's critics
professes to do, is unpardonably partial; to grumble with another at not
finding them is futile; even with a third to see in the piece 'a boy's
conception of Sicilian life' is, to say the least, unnecessary. Cowley
had, indeed, a great deal too much of 'the precocious humour of the
world-wise boy' to put forward his play as anything of the kind; he was
perfectly aware that it was an absolutely unreal fantasy, based entirely
on convention and imitation, the sole merit of which was the more or less
clever manner in which borrowing, reminiscence, and tradition were
interwoven and combined. The plot is a mixture of the pastoral and
courtly, or at least aristocratic, types, not uninfluenced by the rustic
or comic, which, like the chivalric, is no doubt of Sidneian origin.

Calidora, the daughter of noble parents in Sicily, retires among the
shepherd folk disguised in man's apparel, in order, as we only learn at
the end of the play, to escape from the violence of Aphron, one of her
suitors. Her other suitor, Philistus, as well as her brother Florellus and
Philistus' sister Clariana, all set off in search of her, while Aphron,
finding her fled from his pursuit, wanders aimlessly about, having lost
his reason. Thus the courtly characters are all brought in contact with
the country swains, among whom Palaemon courts the disdainful Hylace,
daughter of the crabbed Melarnus and the old hag Truga. Other pastoral
characters are old Aegon and his supposed daughter Bellula, and Alupis,
who fills at once the roles of the 'merry' shepherd and the 'wise.' On
Callidora's appearance in boy's attire among the shepherd folk Hylace and
Bellula alike fall in love with her, while in his search for his sister
Florellus falls in love with Bellula. This gives occasion for a scene of
some merit between Callidora, Bellula, and Florellus, in which, after
vainly disputing of their loves, they form a sort of triple alliance under
the name of Love's Riddle. A similar scene could obviously be worked with
Callidora, Hylace, and Palaemon, and it is perhaps to Cowley's credit that
he has avoided the obvious parallelism. Meanwhile Clariana has met the mad
Aphron without recognizing him, and taking pity on his state brings him
home to cure him, an attempt in which she is successful. He rewards her by
transferring to her his somewhat questionable attentions. Also Alupis,
working on Truga, has tricked her into seeking the marriage of Hylace and
Palaemon; a plan, however, which is upset by Hylace and Melarnus.
Florellus in the meantime becomes impatient at finding a rival in
Bellula's love, and seeks a duel with Callidora. She apparently fails to
recognize her brother, and is forced to fight. They are separated by
Philistus and Bellula. The two girls faint, and are carried by their
lovers into the house where Clariana is nursing Aphron. Callidora's
identity is discovered, and her parents arrive upon the scene. Bellula is
found to be, not, as was supposed, Aegon's daughter, but sister to Aphron,
stolen by pirates in childhood. Aegon makes Palaemon his heir, thereby
removing Melarnus' objection to his suit to Hylace, while the latter and
Bellula, discovering the hopelessness of their love for Callidora, consent
to reward their respective lovers. Aphron, cured and forgiven, is accepted
by Clariana, and thus, all bars removed, the happiness of the four pairs
is secured.

There has been a tendency to exaggerate the merits of this plot. Cowley
shows, indeed, some skill in the ravelling and in the handling of
individual scenes, but in the unravelling he is far from happy, and there
is often an utter lack of motive about his characters. Where the whole
construction, indeed, depends upon no inner necessity, the various
threads, as soon as their interweaving ceases to be necessary to the plot,
fall apart of themselves, without any _denoument_, strictly speaking, at
all. Thus Cowley's play has the characteristic faults of immature work,
absence of rational characterization, and want of logical construction.

The verse, though well sustained, is on a singularly tedious level of
mediocrity, while the lyrics introduced are all alike considerably below
the general level. There are seldom more than a few lines together which
possess any distinguishing merit, such as an indulgent editor has found
in Bellula's exclamation when she first falls in love with Callidora:

How red his cheekes are! so our garden apples
Looke on that side where the hot Sun salutes them; (I. ii.)

or in the lines with which Callidora prepares to meet death from her
brother's sword:

As sick men doe their beds, so have I yet
Injoy'd my selfe, with little rest, much trouble:
I have beene made the Ball of Love and Fortune,
And am almost worne out with often playing;
And therefore I would entertaine my death
As some good friend whose comming I expected. (V. iii.)

Mr. Gosse once expressed the opinion that Cowley's play is 'a distinct
following without imitation of _The Jealous Lovers_ of Thomas Randolph.'
Exactly what was meant by this phrase it is difficult to tell, but if it
was intended to imply any resemblance between the two pieces its
application is confined to the character of a woman to whom age has not
taught continence, and an incidental hit at the jargon of
astrologers.[334] That Cowley had read _The Jealous Lovers_, published in
1633, is by no means unlikely, for he was certainly acquainted with the
yet unpublished _Amyntas_. This he may perhaps have seen when it was
performed at Whitehall, and he imitated several passages of it in his own
Westminster play. The most important point of connexion is the madness of
Aphron, which is modelled with some closeness on that of Amyntas. Actual
verbal reminiscences are not common, but there can, I think, be little
doubt that the schoolboy has been imitating the half-grotesque,
half-poetic fantasies of the university wit, though he has wholly failed
to achieve his pathos. Again, the speech of Florellus at the opening of
Act III recalls the return both of Corymbus and of Claius in _Amyntas_,
while Cowley is much more likely to have been influenced to lay the scene
of his play in Sicily by Randolph's example than by his reading of
Theocritus, whose influence, if it exists, is of the slightest. Emulation,
rather than imitation, was Cowley's attitude towards his predecessor, and
his means are not always happy. Thus, though the humours of Truga may have
been suggested by the character of Dipsa in the _Jealous Lovers_, she is
probably introduced into Cowley's play as the counterpart of Dorylas in
_Amyntas_. Randolph trod on thin ice in some of the speeches of the
liquorish wag, whose 'years are yet uncapable of love,' but censure will
not stick to the witty knave. On the other hand, Cowley's portrait of
incontinent age in Truga fails wholly of being comic, and appears all the
loathlier for the fact that the author himself was still a mere
schoolboy--though this is, indeed, his best excuse. Other parallels could
be pointed out, but it would be superfluous; convention and petty theft
are the warp and woof of the piece. The satire, which has met with some
praise, is, of course, staled by a hundred poets of the pastoral vein. The
position of Callidora, loved in her disguise by the two girls, recalls
that of many pastoral heroines before and since Daniel's Silvia,
particularly perhaps of the courtly Rosalind loved by the Arcadian Phoebe.
The chivalric admixture is, as usual, traceable to Sidney, and the duel
finds of course an obvious parallel in _Twelfth Night_. The discovery of
Bellula's identity recalls more particularly, perhaps, that of Chloe's in
Longus' romance, or may possibly indicate an acquaintance with Bonarelli's
_Filli di Sciro_, which might also be traced in the attribution to
centaurs of the character long identified with satyrs in pastoral

It is a coincidence, but one significant of the nature of the pastoral
tradition, if such it can be called, that had sprung up on the English
stage, that the next play to claim our notice is again the work of a
schoolboy. _Love in its Extasy_, described on the title-page as 'a kind of
Royall Pastorall,' was written, at the age of seventeen, by a student of
Eton College, whom it has been customary to identify with one William
Peaps.[335] The date of composition is said in the stationer's preface to
have preceded by many years that of publication, 1649, we may perhaps
regard the piece as more or less contemporary with Cowley's juvenile
effort. There is, it is true, one passage,[336] treating of tyrants and
revolutions, which is such as a moderate supporter of 'divine right' might
have been expected to pen in the later days of the civil war; the
publisher's words, however, are unequivocal, and can hardly refer to a
period after 1642.

_Love in its Extasy_ itself cannot, without some straining of the term, be
called a pastoral, though there are certain links serving to connect it
with pastoral tradition. The only excuse, beyond that afforded by the
title-page, for including it in the present category is that several of
the characters, finding it for various reasons inconvenient to appear in
their own shapes, take upon themselves a pastoral disguise; but there is
no hint of any pastoral background to the action, not even the atmosphere
of a rural academy as in Montagu's play. The whole piece, however, is in
the style of the Hispano-French romance, in which pastoral or
pseudo-pastoral plays so large a part. To enter into the plot in detail is
for our present purpose unnecessary. It is apparently original, and,
considered as a romance, would do no small credit to its youthful author.
An exiled king and his lady-love assume the sheep-hook, as do also two
princes and the mistress of one of them, the mistress of the other
appearing in the disguise of a boy. Disguisings, potions, feigned deaths,
and recognitions, or rather revelations of identity, form the staple
elements of the plot. The play is long, the stage crowded, the plot
intricate and elaborated with a superabundance of incident; but it must be
admitted that the attention is held and the interest sustained, even to a
wearisome degree, throughout; that the characters are individualized, and
the action clear. These are no small merits, as any one whose fortune it
has been to wade through any considerable portion of the minor drama will
be ready to acknowledge; while the defects of the piece are those commonly
incident to immature work. The most conspicuous are the want of one
prominent interest, and the lack of definite climax; at least four equally
important threads are kept running through the play, and the dramatic
tension is at an almost constant pitch throughout. These characteristics
are those of the narrative romance and of the novel of adventure
respectively, and are fatal to the success of the dramatic form.

The verse is in a way peculiar. It is intended as blank verse, and it is
true that the licences taken do not exceed those commonly allowed by the
practice of dramatists such as Fletcher, but here they are wholly
unregulated by any natural feeling for metre or rhythm, and the resuit can
hardly be called pleasing. On the other hand, there are a few happy lines,
as where a lover bids his penitent mistress

Knock at Repentance gate, one tear of thine
Will easily compell an entrance. (V. ii.)

There are also some passages of forcible vigour, not always subject to
dramatic propriety. Nevertheless, the qualities of life and brightness
displayed are sufficient to induce a belief that had the author begun
writing at a moment more propitious than the eve of the civil war, and
pursued his career on the practical London stage, our drama might have
been the richer by, say, a second Shirley, an addition which those who
know that writer best will probably rate most highly. In any case the
composition must, I think, be held to surpass in genuine qualities
Cowley's flashy precocity.

This will be the most convenient place to mention an anonymous and undated
play entitled _Love's Victory_, extracts from a manuscript of which were
printed in 1853.[337] The style of the piece is not much guide as to the
date, but the play does not appear to be early, in spite of the somewhat
archaic spelling. It is in rime; mostly decasyllabic couplets, but with
free intermixture of alternative rime and frequent lyrical passages. It is
of course difficult to gather much of the plot from the printed extracts,
but so far as it is possible to judge the play appears to have been a
pure pastoral, with Venus and Cupid introduced in the _finale_, while the
situations and characters are those habitual to pastorals, including the
quite superfluous protesting of a not very prepossessing chastity. The
only more original trait is the scene in which the nymphs meet and relate
their love adventures, a rather awkward device for carrying on the
involution of the plot. There is a certain ease in the verse, but on the
whole the poetic merit is small.[338]

We have now passed in review all the regular pastoral plays lying within
our scope. There remain a number of shorter compositions of a similar or
at least analogous nature, as well as a good many masques and other pieces
in which the pastoral element is more or less dominant. These it will for
our present purpose be convenient to consider in connexion with each
other, and without troubling ourselves too much concerning such nice
differences of form as may be found to exist among them.

Chapter VII.

Masques and General Influence


The history of the English masque offers a very interesting study in what
may be called literary morphology. Under the influence of the stage the
early disguisings and spectacular dances developed into a semi-dramatic
kind, intermediate between the literary drama and mere scenic displays,
and recognized as possessing a definite nature and proper limitations of
its own. To this highly individualized form of art the term masque may
often with convenience and propriety be restricted, but all such rigid and
exclusive definitions have this disadvantage, that they tend to make lines
of division appear clearer and more logically convincing than they in fact
usually are, and further that they tempt us to neglect the often numerous
and closely allied specimens which cannot be brought to accommodate
themselves to the abstract type. Those writers who deny that _Comus_ is a
masque are entirely justified from their point of view; it is a question
of classification, and the classification which it is convenient to adopt
may vary according to the nature of the investigation in hand. It must
not, therefore, be thought that I place myself in antagonism to critics
such as Dr. Brotanek for example, if I give to the term masque its widest
possible signification as including not only the regular and highly
developed compositions of the Jonsonian type, but also mere pageants on
the one hand, and what may be called miniature plays on the other; all
dramatic or semi-dramatic pieces, in short, which it is undesirable or
inconvenient to treat along with the regular productions. Approaching the
question as we do, not from the point of view of the evolution of a
particular literary form, but from that of a persistent ideal and
quasi-philosophical tradition, which manifests itself in all manner of
forms and fashions, we have a perfect right to adopt whatever
classification suits our purpose best, provided always that we have a
clear notion what it is we are discussing. I propose, therefore, to treat
in chronological order all those pieces which, owing to their less fully
developed dramatic form, were omitted from the previous chapter. Something
no doubt has been sacrificed by thus separating the regular dramas from
the slighter and more occasional compositions, for in the earlier times
especially these latter serve to fill considerable gaps in the sequence,
and must have had a powerful influence in fashioning that pastoral
tradition to which the pieces we have already considered belong.

The connexion of the pastoral with the masque began very early, and may
well have been more constant than we should be tempted to suppose from the
isolated examples that remain. The union was a natural one, for the
pastoral, whether in its Arcadian or chivalric guise, was well suited to
supply the framework for graceful poetry and elaborate dances alike, while
the rustic and burlesque elements were equally capable of furnishing
matter for the antimasque, when the form had reached that stage of
structural elaboration. The allusive and allegorical features which had
long been traditional in the pastoral likewise suited the topical and
occasional nature of the masque. The connexion, however, with the stricter
forms at least, was never very close, the tendency on the part of the
pastoral to confine itself to a mere external formalism being even more
noticeable here than in the case of the regular drama.

The earliest instance of this connexion of which we have notice is one of
interest in English history. It is none other than the masquerade in which
Henry appeared disguised as a shepherd at Wolsey's feast, which, according
to Shakespeare, was the occasion of his first meeting with Anne Boleyn.
The disguising is attested by the authority of Cavendish and Hall, but it
is clear that the pastoral element was confined to the garb, there being
no indication of anything of the nature of a literary presentation.

The first literary specimen of the kind does not appear till near the
middle of Elizabeth's reign, and even then there is barely an excuse for
classing it as pastoral. The composition in question is the slight
entertainment, to which the name of _The Lady of May_ has been given by
modern critics, composed by Sidney for presentation before Elizabeth
during her visit to Leicester at Wanstead, in May, 1578. It appears to
have been his earliest work. Though not itself a masque in the strict
sense of the word in which we have learnt to use it, the piece contains
the undeveloped germs of most of the later characteristics of the kind.
The Queen in her walks through the grounds came to a spot where the
May-Lady was being courted by a shepherd and a 'foster,' hotly contending
for the prize. The strife was stayed, and, the deserts of either party
being duly set forth, the Lady referred the choice to the Queen, who
decided in favour of the pastoral suitor. A song and music ended the show.
A strongly rustic element is sustained by the Lady's mother and the old
shepherd Dorcas, while a touch of broad burlesque is introduced in the
character of the pedagogue Rombus, who speaks in a style really little
more extravagant than that of Sidney's own _Arcadia_. As in the romance,
at the end of which the piece was first printed in 1598, the occasional
songs are of small merit.

The spring-like freshness that characterizes so much of Peele's best work
breathes deliciously through the polite convention of the _Descensus
Astraeae_, the 'Pageant, borne before M. William Web, Lord Maior of the
Citie of London on the day he tooke his oath; beeing the 29. of October.
1591.' The conceit is graceful in itself, and significant of the sentiment
of contemporary London. Astraea, bearing her sheep-hook as a sort of
pastoral sceptre, typified the Queen, and passed on in her triumphal car
with the words:

Feed on, my flock, among the gladsome green,
Where heavenly nectar flows above the banks;
Such pastures are not common to be seen:
Pay to immortal Jove immortal thanks,
For what is good fro heaven's high throne doth fall;
And heaven's great architect be praised for all[339].

In her praise the graces, the virtues, and a champion utter appropriate
speeches, whilst Superstition, a friar, and Ignorance, a priest, together
with other malcontents, shrink back abashed before her onward march.

The following year appeared the anonymous 'Speeches delivered to her
Majestie this last progresse, at the Right Honorable the Lady Russels, at
Bissam, the Right Honorable the Lorde Chandos, at Sudley, at the Right
Honorable the Lord Norris, at Ricorte.' This piece being very
characteristic of a certain sort of courtly shows, and itself possessing
rather greater intrinsic interest than is to be found in most of the
compositions we shall have to examine, may lay claim to a somewhat more
detailed discussion. As the Queen approached through the woods towards
Bisham, cornets were heard to sound, and presently there appeared a wild
man who began his speech thus:

I followed this sounde, as enchanted; neither knowing the reason why,
nor how to bee ridde of it: unusuall to these Woods, and, I feare, to
our gods prodigious. Sylvanus whom I honour, is runne into a Cave: Pan,
whom I envye, courting of the Shepheardesse. Envie I thee Pan? No, pitty
thee; an eie-sore to chast Nymphes, yet still importunate. Honour thee
Sylvanus? No, contemne thee; fearefull of Musicke in the Woods, yet
counted the god of the Woods.

He then proceeds to welcome the royal visitor. Further on 'At the middle
of the Hill sate Pan, and two Virgins keeping sheepe, and sowing in their
Samplers.' Pan courts the shepherdesses, who mock him, and finally all
join in welcome of the Queen. 'At the bottome of the hill,' we read
further, 'entring into the hous, Ceres with her Nymphes in an harvest
Cart, meete her Majesty, having a Crowne of wheat-ears with a Jewell.'
Ceres sings:

Swel Ceres now, for other Gods are shrinking;
Pomona pineth,
Fruitlesse her tree;
Fair Phoebus shineth
Onely on mee.
Conceit doth make me smile whilst I am thinking,...
All other Gods of power bereven,
Ceres only Queene of heaven.

With Robes and flowers let me be dressed;
Cynthia that shineth
Is not so cleare,
Cynthia declineth
When I appeere,
Yet in this Ile shee raignes as blessed, ...
And in my eares still fonde Fame whispers,
Cynthia shalbe Ceres Mistres.

She then proceeds to welcome the Queen as 'Greater then Ceres.' At Sudely
Castle her Majesty was received by an old shepherd with a long speech;
whereafter we read: 'Sunday, Apollo running after Daphne,' a show
accompanied by a speech from another shepherd, at the end whereof, the
metamorphosis safely accomplished, 'her Majesty sawe Apollo with the tree,
having on one side one that sung, on the other one that plaide.'

Sing you, plaie you, but sing and play my truth,
This tree my Lute, these sighes my notes of ruth:
The Lawrell leafe for ever shall bee greene,
And chastety shalbe Apolloes Queene.
If gods maye dye, here shall my tombe be plaste,
And this engraven, 'Fonde Phoebus, Daphne chaste.'

'The song ended, the tree rived, and Daphne issued out, Apollo ranne
after, with these words:'

Faire Daphne staye, too chaste because too faire,
Yet fairer in mine eies, because so chaste,
And yet because so chaste, must I despaire?
And to despaire, I yeelded have at last.

'Daphne running to her Majestie uttered this:'

I stay, for whether should chastety fly for succour, but to the Queene
of chastety, &c.

a speech which can without loss be left to the imagination of the reader.
The third day's show was prevented by bad weather: it was designed thus.
Summoned by one clad in sheep-skins, the Queen was to be led to where the
shepherds of Cotswold were engaged in choosing a king and queen of the
feast by the simple divination of a bean and a pea concealed in a cake.
After a while spying her Majesty, the whole company should have joined in
a welcome. The rest of the show is in no wise pastoral. The very marked
Euphuism of the prose portions, combined with some lyrical merit, makes
the composition worth notice, and has led to its ascription to the pen of
Lyly himself. It was, of course, composed and presented for her Majesty's
delectation at a time when Lyly's plays were the delight of the court; but
however grateful we may feel to Mr. Bond for having made this and other
similar pieces accessible in his edition of the poet, we need not
necessarily accept his view of the authorship.[340]

To the end of the sixteenth century belong undoubtedly many of the pieces
printed for the first time in 1637 in Thomas Heywood's volume of
_Dialogues and Dramas_.[341] The only one of these that can really be
styled pastoral is a slight composition entitled _Amphrissa, or the
Forsaken Shepherdess_. Two shepherdesses, Pelopaea and Alope, meet and
fall to discoursing of love and inconstancy, and cite incidentally the
unhappy case of Amphrissa, who at that moment appears in person and joins
in the conversation. The nymphs undertake her cure, and give her much wise
counsel while they crown her with willow. Then there appears upon the
scene the huntress queen of Arcadia herself, attended by her nymphs,
virgin Diana, before whom the country maidens bow in awe. She graciously
raises them, and the slight piece ends with dance and song.

In this drama or dialogue or masque, or whatever it may be most
appropriately called, we see all plot disappear, and the interest
concentrate itself in the dialogue, which, for all that it is written in
blank verse of some rhythmical merit, reveals a strong inclination towards
Euphuism. Thus we read of men how

like as the Chamelions change themselves
Into all perfect colours saving white;
So they can to all humors frame their speech,
Save only to prove honest;

or else how

light minds are catcht with little things,
And Phancie smels to Fennell.

Nor are other and more marked traces of Lyly's influence wanting: witness
the following passage, which is a mere metrical paraphrase of a speech in
the _Gallathea_ already quoted (p. 227):

You have an heate, on which a coldnesse waits,
A paine that is endur'd with pleasantnesse,
And makes those sweets you eat have bitter taste:
It puts eies in your thoughts, eares in your heart:
'Twas by desire first bred, by delight nurst,
And hath of late been wean'd by jelousie.

Certain speeches of a sententious nature, on the other hand, remind us
rather of Daniel and the sonneteers:

To wish the best, to thinke upon the worst,
And all contingents brooke with patience,
Is a most soveraigne medicine.

All these characteristics point to an early date, and Mr. Fleay, who
regards the piece as forming part of the _Five Plays in One_, acted at the
Rose in April, 1597, may very likely be right. Of the other pieces printed
in the same volume, a few only show any trace of pastoral blending with
the general mythological colouring. Perhaps the most that can be said is
that the nymphs are already familiar to us from the pastoral tradition,
and must have been scarcely less so to a contemporary audience, fresh from
the work of Peele and Lyly. In _Jupiter and Io_, which perhaps made part
of the same performance as _Amphrissa_, Mercury disguises himself as a
shepherd, in order to cut off the head of Argus. This he did to such good
purpose that record of the trunkless member remains unto this day in the
inventories of the Lord Admiral's company. Another of these pieces, the
character of which can be easily imagined from its title, _Apollo and
Daphne_, ends with a song, which may owe something to the traditions of
the mythological pastoral:

Howsoe're the Minutes go,
Run the heures or swift or slow:
Seem the Months or short or long,
Passe the seasons right or wrong:
All we sing that Phoebus follow,
_Semel in anno ridet Apollo_.

Early fall the Spring or not,
Prove the Summer cold or hot:
Autumne be it faire or foule,
Let the Winter smile or skowle:
Still we sing, that Phoebus follow,
_Semel in anno ridet Apollo_.

Passing on to the seventeenth century, the first piece that demands
attention is the St. John's Twelfth Night entertainment, _Narcissus_,
performed at Oxford in 1602. If its pastoral quality is somewhat
evanescent, there is another point of view from which the piece has a good
deal of interest. It is, namely, a burlesque production of the nature of
the Pyramus and Thisbe interlude in the _Midsummer Night's Dream_, and
flavoured with something of the comic rusticity of Greene's Carmela
eclogue in _Menaphon_. It is needless here to summarize the plot of the
'merriment' which the ingenious author, no doubt a student of St. John's,
evolved from Ovid's account in the third book of the _Metamorphoses_, and
which runs to the respectable length of some eight hundred lines.[342] I
may be allowed, however, to note that echo verses, suggested by Ovid, are
introduced and handled with more than usual ingenuity; and further to
quote two characteristic passages. In one of these the nymphs Florida and
Clois court the affections of the loveless hero.

_Florida._ Shine thou on mee, sweet plannet, bee soe good
As with thy fiery beames to warme my bloud ...

_Narcissus._ To speak the truth, faire maid, if you will have us,
O Oedipus I am not, I am Davus.

_Clois._ Good Master Davis, bee not so discourteous
As not to heare a maidens plaint for vertuous.

_Nar._ Speake on a Gods name, so love bee not the theame.

_Flo._ O, whiter then a dish of clowted creame,
Speake not of love? How can I overskippe
To speake of love to such a cherrye lippe?

_Nar._ It would beseeme a maidens slender vastitye
Never to speake of any thinge but chastitye.

_Flo._ As true as Helen was to Menela
So true to thee will be thy Florida.

_Clo._ As was to trusty Pyramus truest Thisbee
So true to you will ever thy sweete Clois bee.

_Flo._ O doe not stay a moment nor a minute,
Love is a puddle, I am ore shooes in it.

_Clo._ Doe not delay us halfe a minutes mountenance
That ar in love, in love with thy sweet countenance.

_Nar._ Then take my dole although I deale my alms ill,
Narcissus cannot love with any damzell;
Although, for most part, men to love encline all,
I will not, I, this is your answere finall.

We are here, it is true, as far as ever from the delicate rusticity of
Lorenzo de' Medici, and not particularly near to the humour of the
Athenian rustics, but for burlesque it is passably amusing. The _Midsummer
Night's Dream_ had appeared possibly a decade earlier, and the audience in
the college hall at Oxford can hardly but have been reminded of Wall and
Moonshine as they listened to the speech by one who enters carrying 'a
buckett and boughes and grasse.'

A well there was withouten mudd,
Of silver hue, with waters cleare,
Whome neither sheep that chawe the cudd,
Shepheards nor goates came ever neare;
Whome, truth to say, nor beast nor bird,
Nor windfalls yet from trees had stirrde.
[_He strawes the grasse about the buckett._
And round about it there was grasse,
As learned lines of poets showe,
Which next by water nourisht was; [_Sprinkle water._
Neere to it too a wood did growe, _[Sets down the bowes._
To keep the place, as well I wott,
With too much sunne from being hott.
And thus least you should have mistooke it,
The truth of all I to you tell:
Suppose you the well had a buckett,
And so the buckett stands for the well;
And 'tis, least you should counte mee for a sot O,
A very pretty figure cald _pars pro toto_.

The first strict masque of a pastoral character that we meet with is that
of Juno and Iris, with the dance of nymphs and the 'sunburnt sicklemen, of
August weary,' introduced by Shakespeare into the _Tempest_; but this must
not be taken as altogether typical of the independent productions of the
time. The masques introduced into plays were necessarily, for the most
part, of a slighter and less elaborate character than those performed at
court, or for the entertainment of persons of rank. This is more
particularly the case with the serions portions of the masques, since the
actors, who were engaged for the performance of the antimasques in court
revels, frequently transferred their parts bodily on to the public boards.
Thus, in the entertainment in the _Winters Tale_, in which shepherds also
appear, the main feature was a dance of satyrs, which was no doubt
borrowed from Jonson's _Masque of Oberon_.[343] The _Tempest_ masque,
however, is of the simpler type, without antimasque. At Juno's command
Iris summons Ceres, and the goddesses together bestow their blessing on
the young lovers. Then at Iris' call come the naiads and the reapers for
the dance. The date of the play may be taken as late in 1610, or early the
next year, a time at which the popularity of the masque was reaching its

Although the mythological element is everywhere prominent, the pastoral is
comparatively of rare occurrence in the regular masque literature of the
seventeenth century. This, considering the adaptability and natural
suitability of the form, is rather surprising. Probably the masque as it
evolved itself at the court of James needed a subject possessing a
traditional story, or at least fixed and known conditions of a kind which
the pastoral was unable to supply. Be this as it may, on one occasion
only did Jonson make extended use of the kind, namely, in the masque which
in the folio of 1640 appears with the heading 'Pans Anniversarie; or, The
Shepherds Holy-day. The Scene Arcadia. As it was presented at Court before
King James. 1625. The Inventors, Inigo Jones, Ben. Johnson[344].' Even
here, however, we learn little concerning the condition of pastoralism in
general, from the highly specialized form employed to a specific purpose.
As in all the regular masques of the Jonsonian type the characters and
situations exist solely for the opportunities they afford for dance and
song. Shepherds and nymphs constitute the personae of the masque proper,
while those of the antimasque are supplied by a band of Bocotian clowns,
who come to challenge the Arcadians to the dance. Some of the songs are
very graceful, suggesting at times reminiscences of Spenser, at others
parallels to Ben's own _Sad Shepherd_, but the piece does not possess
either sufficient importance or interest to justify our lingering over it.
Outside this piece the nearest approach to pastoral characters to be found
in Jonson's masques are, perhaps, the satyr and Queen Mab in the fairy
entertainment at Althorp in 1603, Silenus and the satyrs in _Oberon_ in
1611, and Zephyrus, Spring, and the Fountains and Rivers in _Chloridia_ in

During James I's reign pastoral shows of a sort no doubt became frequent.
While in some cases which remain to be noticed they reached the
elaboration of small plays, in others they probably remained simple
affairs enough. We get an interesting glimpse of the conditions of
production in a note of John Aubrey's.[345] 'In tempore Jacobi,' he
writes, 'one Mr. George Ferraby was parson of Bishops Cannings in Wilts:
an excellent musitian, and no ill poet. When queen Anne came to Bathe, her
way lay to traverse the famous Wensdyke, which runnes through his parish.
He made severall of his neighbours, good musitians, to play with him in
consort, and to sing. Against her majestie's comeing, he made a pleasant
pastorall, and gave her an entertaynment with his fellow songsters in
shepherds' weeds and bagpipes, he himself like an old bard. After that
wind musique was over, they sang their pastorall eglogues.' This was in
1613; Ferraby or Ferebe later became chaplain to the king.

The more elaborate pieces were usually written for performance at schools
or colleges. Such a piece is Tatham's _Love Crowns the End_, composed for
the scholars of Bingham in Nottinghamshire in 1633, and printed in his
_Fancy's Theatre_ in 1640. Small literary interest attaches to the play,
which is equally slight and ill constructed, but is perhaps not
unrepresentative of its class. In spite of its very modest dimensions it
possesses a full romantic-pastoral plot, with the resuit that it is at
times almost unintelligible, owing to the want of space in which to
develop in an adequate and dramatic manner the motives and situations. The
bewildering rapidity with which character succeeds character upon the
stage must have made the representation almost impossible to follow, while
the reading of the piece is not a little complicated by the confusion in
which the stage directions remain in the only modern edition.[346] Some
notion of the complexity of the plot may be gathered from the following
account. Cliton, having in a fit of jealousy sought to kill his love
Florida, is found wandering in the woods by Alexis, who receives his
confession and shows him the way to repentance. Florida, moreover, has
been found and healed by the wise shepherdess Claudia, and is living in
retirement. Meanwhile Cloe (a name which it appears from the rimes that
the author pronounced Cloi) is saved by Lysander from the pursuit of a
Lustful Shepherd, in consequence of which she transfers to him the
affection she previously bore to her lover Daphnes. Next Leon and his
daughter Gloriana appear, together with the swain Francisco, to whom
against her will the maiden is apparently betrothed. They all go off to
view the games in which Lysander, whose heart is also fixed on Gloriana,
proves victor. His refusal to entertain the affection of Cloe drives her
to a state of distraction, in which the nymphs of the woods take pity on
her and bring her to Claudia to be cured. Gloriana in the meantime returns
the affections of Lysander, but the meeting of the lovers is interrupted
by the jealous Francisco and a gang who wound Lysander and carry off
Gloriana. She escapes from her captors, but only after she has lost her
reason, and wanders about until she meets with Cliton, who has turned
hermit and who now undertakes her cure. Throughout the play we find comic
interludes by Scrub, a page or attendant in search of his master, who also
has some farcical business with the Lustful Shepherd, who after being
disappointed of Cloe disguises himself as a satyr, apparently deeming that
role suited to his taste. In the end all the characters are brought
together. Francisco, found contrite, is forgiven by Lysander and Gloriana;
Cliton and Florida love once more; so do Daphnes and Cloe, appropriately
enough. Scrub announces the death of the usurping duke, 'who banished good
old Leon;' Francisco and Lysander reveal themselves as princes who left
the court to win his daughter's love, when he was driven from his land,
and so--love crowns the end.

Through this medley it is not hard to see the various debts the author has
incurred towards his predecessors. The verse, in rimed couplets, whether
deca- or octo-syllabic, ultimately depends on Fletcher; of the comic prose
scenes I have already spoken in dealing with Goffe's _Careless
Shepherdess_, a play the influence of which may perhaps be specifically
traced in the satyr-disguise, the gang who carry off Gloriana, her
unexplained escape, and the songs of the 'Destinies' and a 'Heavenly
Messenger,' who in their inconsequence recall the 'Bonus Genius' of
Goffe's play. Scrub may owe his origin to the same source, though he is
rather more like the page in the _Maid's Metamorphosis_. The usurping duke
recalls _As You Like It_; the princes seeking their love-fortunes among
the shepherd folk suggest the _Arcadia_; while the influence of the
_Faithful Shepherdess_ is not only traceable in the character of the
Lustful Shepherd, but also in certain specific parallels, as where the
wounded Lysander, seeing his love carried off, exclaims:

Stay, stay! let me but breathe my last
Upon her lips, and I'll forgive what's past; (p. 24)

a reminiscence of the lines spoken by Alexis in a similar situation:

Oh, yet forbear
To take her from me! give me leave to die
By her! (_Faithful Shepherdess_, III. i. 165[347].)

The general level of the verse is not high, but we now and again light on
some pleasing lines such as the following:

My dearest love, fair as the eastern morn
As it breaks o'er the plains when summer's born,
Hanging bright liquid pearls on every tree,
New life and hope imparting, as to me
Thy presence brings delight, so fresh and rare
As May's first breath, dispensing such sweet air
The Phoenix does expire in; sit, while I play
The cunning thief, and steal thy heart away,
And thou shalt stand as judge to censure me. (p. 18.)

So again there is some grace in a song which catches perhaps a distant
echo of Peele's gem:

_Gloriana._ Sit, while I do gather flowers
And depopulate the bowers.
Here's a kiss will come to thee!

_Lysander._ Give me one, I'll give thee three!

_Both._ Thus in harmless sport we may
Pass the idle hours away.

_Gloriana._ Hark! hark, how fine
The birds do chime!
And pretty Philomel
Her moan doth tell. (p. 22.)

Another of these miniature pastorals is preserved in a British Museum
manuscript, where it bears the title of _The Converted Robber_.[348] No
author's name appears, but a plausible conjecture may be advanced. The
scene of the piece, namely, is Stonehenge, and it is evident that the
occasion on which it was first performed had some connexion with
Salisbury, for there is obviously a topical allusion in the final words:

Lett us that do noe envy beare um
Wish all felicity to Sarum.

Now in 1636,[349] according to Anthony a Wood, there was acted at St.
John's College, Oxford, a play by John Speed, entitled _Stonehenge_, the
occasion being the return of Dr. Richard Baylie after his installation as
Dean of Salisbury. We can hardly be far wrong in identifying the two
pieces. The only difficulty is that in the manuscript the play is dated
1637. This, however, may either be a mere slip of the scribe, or may
possibly imply that the piece was produced in 1636-7, the scribe adopting
the popular and modern, whereas Wood always adhered to the old or legal

The piece possesses a certain interest from the fact of its forming, in a
stricter sense than any of the other pieces we have examined, a link
between the drama and the masque. In this it somewhat resembles _Comus_,
employing a more or less dramatic plot as the setting for the formai
dances of the masque.[350]

The story is simple enough. A band of robbers and a company of shepherds
and shepherdesses keep on Salisbury Plain in the neighbourhood of
Stonehenge--'stoy[=n]age y^{e} wonder y^{t} is vpon that Playne of
Sarum'--which forms the background of the scene. It chanced that the
shepherdess Clarinda, falling into the hands of the robbers, was saved
from dishonour by their chief Alcinous, an action which won for him her
love, and having escaped, she returned dressed as a boy in order to serve
him. Meanwhile the robbers have decided to make a raid upon the shepherd
folk, and Alcinous, disguising himself as a stranger shepherd, mixes among
them, while his companions Autolicus and Conto lie in wait hard by. During
a festival Alcinous seeks the love of Castina, Clarinda's sister, and
finding her unmoved by entreaty threatens force. At this she attempts to
stab herself, and the robber chief is so struck that he vows to reform and
is converted to the pastoral life. His companions, left in the lurch, fall
upon the shepherds of their own accord, but are soon brought to see reason
by the hand and tongue of their chief, and are content to follow him in
his conversion. Clarinda now discovers herself and marries Alcinous, while
Castina and her fellow shepherdess Avonia consent to reward their faithful
swains, Palaemon and Dorus.

In this piece there is a rather conspicuous absence of motive and dramatic
construction, the author claiming apparently the freedom of the masque.
The verse is mainly octosyllabic, sometimes blank, but the rough accentual
'rime' is also used. Decasyllabics are rare. There is also some prose in
the comic part sustained by Autolicus and Conto and the aged clown Jarbus,
as well as a certain amount of Spenserian archaism, and a good deal of
dialect. Whether comic or romantic, the characters are singularly out of
keeping with their surroundings, while the conceit of paganizing the
Christian worship appears to be carried to ludicrous lengths, until one
recollects that it depends almost entirely upon the substitution of the
name of Pan for that of the Deity--a process no doubt facilitated by false
etymology. Thus Christ, who is spoken of by name, is called 'Pannes blest
babe.' After describing the foundation of Salisbury Cathedral, the old
shepherd proceeds:

But sturdy shepherds brought all the other stones,
And reard up that great Munster all at once,
Wher shepherds each one, both woman and man,
Do come to worship theyr great God Pann.

A rustic show formed the first part of an entertainment witnessed by
Charles and Henrietta Maria at Richmond, after their return from a visit
to Oxford in 1636. A clown named Tom comes in bearing a present for the
queen, and is on the point of being unceremoniously removed by the usher,
when he espies Mr. Edward Sackville, to whom he appeals, and a dialogue
ensues between the two. After he has offered his present, Madge, Doll, and
Richard come in, and the four perform a country dance. They are all plain
Wiltshire rustics who talk a broad vernacular, but at the end a shepherd
and shepherdess enter and sing a duet in a more courtly strain. The author
of this slight production is not known, but it is regarded by the latest
authority on masques as an imitation, in the looseness of its
construction, of Davenant's _Prince d'Amour_.[351]

Little poetic ability was displayed by Heywood on the only occasion on
which he introduced pastoral tradition into a Lord Mayor's pageant. The
'first show by land' of the _Porta Pietatis_, presented by the drapers in
1638 on the occasion of Sir Maurice Abbot's mayoralty, consisted of a
speech by a shepherd, which is preceded in the printed copy by a short
account of the properties, natural history, and general usefulness of
sheep, as well as of their peculiar importance in relation to the craft
honoured in the person of the newly appointed Lieutenant of the city of
London. Heywood was famous for his wide, miscellaneous, and often
startling information.

We have already seen how, in the first blush and budding of the
Elizabethan spring, George Peele treated the tale of the judgement of
Paris; on the same legend Heywood based one of his semi-dramatic
dialogues; it remains to be seen how, in the late autumn of the great age
of our dramatic literature, Shirley returned to the same theme in his
_Triumph of Beauty_, privately produced about 1640. It is a regular
masque, for which the familiar story serves as a thread; the goddesses and
their symbolical attendants, or else the Graces and the Hours with Hymen
and Delight, performing the dances, while a company of rustic swains of
Ida, who come to relieve the melancholy of the princely shepherd, form a
comic antimasque. It has, however, grown to the proportions of a small
play. The comic characters also study a piece on the subject of the golden
fleece, reminiscent, like _Narcissus_, of the _Midsummer Night's Dream_.
This, as Mr. Fleay supposes, may well be satirical of some of the city
pageants, though it is best to be cautious in discovering definite
allusions. But the success of such a piece as the present, in so far as it
was dependent on the _libretto_, demanded a power of light and graceful
lyric versification which was not conspicuous among the many gifts of the
author. The comic business is frankly amusing, but the long speeches of
the goddesses can hardly have appeared less tedious to a contemporary
audience than they do to the reader to-day.

I may also notice here a regular short pastoral in three acts, inserted by
Robert Baron in his romance [Greek: E)rotopai/gnion], _or the Cyprian
Academy_, printed in 1647. It is entitled _Gripus and Hegio, or the
Passionate Lovers_, and relates the loves of these characters for Mira and
Daris; while we also find the familiar roguish boy, less amusing and of
stricter propriety than usual; a chorus of fairies who discourse classical
myth; Venus, Cupid, Hymen, and Echo; and the habitual concomitants of
pastoral commonplace. The romance also contains a masque entitled _Deorum
Dona_, in which figure allegorical abstractions such as Fame, Fortune, and
the like. It is in no wise pastoral.

Another pastoral show of some elaboration, and of a higher order of poetry
than most of those we have been considering, is Sir William Denny's
_Shepherds' Holiday_, printed from manuscript in the _Inedited Poetical
Miscellany_ of 1870. The piece appears to date from 1653, and is only
slightly dramatic so far as plot is concerned. It is of an allegorical
cast, the various characters typifying certain virtues, or rather
temperaments--virginity, love and so forth--as is elaborately expounded in
the preface.

A few slight pieces by the quondam actor Robert Cox, partaking more or
less of the character of masques, possess a certain pastoral colouring.
This is the case, for instance, in the _Acteon and Diana_, published in
1656.[352] The piece opens with the humours of the would-be lover Bumpkin,
a huntsman, and the dance of the country lasses round the May-pole. Then
enters Acteon with his huntsmen, who is followed by Diana and her nymphs.
Upon the dance of these last Acteon, returning, breaks in unawares, and is
rebuked by the goddess, who then retires with her nymphs to a glade in the
forest. They are in the act of despoiling themselves for the bath when
they are again surprised by Acteon. Incensed, the goddess turns upon him,
and he flees before her anger, only to return once more upon the dance of
the bathers in the shape of a hart, and fall at their feet a prey to his
own hounds. The verse, whether lyric or dramatic, is of a mediocre
description, and the piece, if it was ever actually performed, no doubt
depended for success upon the music, dancing, and scenery. It is a curious
fact, to which Davenant's work among others is witness, that the nominally
private representation of this kind of musical ballet was permitted, while
the regular drama was under strict inhibition. At any time, however, it
must have been difficult to represent such a piece as the present without
sacrificing either propriety or tradition.

Another similar composition, headed 'The Rural Sports on the Birthday of
the Nymph Oenone,' is printed together with the above. In it the strains
of the polished pastoral are varied by the humours of the clown Hobbinall,
the whole ending with a speech by Pan and a dance of satyrs.

One obvions omission from the above catalogue will have been noticed. The
reason thereof is sufficiently obvious; and the following section will
endeavour to repair it.


In Milton's contribution to the fashionable masque literature of his day
we approach work the poetic supremacy of which has never been called in
question, and whose other qualities, lying properly beyond the strict
application of that term, critics have habitually vied with one another to
extol. No one, indeed, for whom poetry has any meaning whatever, can turn
from the work of Peele, Heywood, and Shirley, of Ben Jonson even, to the
early works of Milton, to such comparatively immature works as _Arcades_
and _Comus_, without being conscious that they belong to an altogether
different level of poetical production. It was no mere conventional
commendation, such as we may find prefixed to the works of any poetaster
of the time, that Sir Henry Wotton addressed to the author of the Ludlow
masque: 'I should much commend the Tragical [i.e. dramatic] part, if the
Lyrical did not ravish me with a certain Dorique delicacy in your Songs
and Odes, wherunto I must plainly confess to have seen yet nothing
parallel in our Language[353].'

The two poems we have now to consider were, in all probability, written
within a short while of one another, and the second anticipated by more
than three years the composition of _Lycidas_. But the connexion between
the two is not one of date only, nor even of the spectacular demand it was
the end of either to meet. It may, namely, in the absence of any definite
evidence, be with much plausibility presumed that the impulse to the
entertainment, of which as we are told _Arcades_ formed a part, originated
with that very Lady Alice Egerton and her two young brothers who, the
following year probably, bore the chief parts in _Comus_. The
entertainment was presented at Harefield in honour of their grandmother,
the Countess Dowager of Derby. This lady, probably somewhat over seventy
at the time, was the honoured head of a large family. The daughter of Sir
John Spencer of Althorpe, born about 1560, she married first Ferdinando
Stanley, Lord Strange, afterwards Earl of Derby, patron of the company of
actors with whom Shakespeare's name is associated; and secondly, after
his early death in 1594, the Lord Keeper, Sir Thomas Egerton, who rose by
rapid steps to be Viscount Brackley shortly before his death in 1617. The
span of a human life appears strange when measured by the rapidly moving
events of the English renaissance. The wife of Shakespeare's patron, who
may have witnessed the early ventures of the Stratford lad at the time of
his first appearance on the London stage--the 'Amarillis' of _Colin
Clout_, with whom, and with her sisters 'Phillis' and 'Charillis,' Spenser
claimed kinship, and to whom he dedicated his _Tears of the Muses_ in
1591--lived to see her grandchildren perform for her amusement in the
reign of the first Charles an entertainment for which their music-master
Lawes had requisitioned the pen of the future author of _Paradise Lost_.

_Arcades_, or 'the Arcadians,' can hardly be dignified by the name of a
masque; it is the mere embryo of the elaborate compositions which were at
the time fashionable under that name, and of which Milton was to rival the
constructional elaboration in his pastoral entertainment of the following
year. It rather resembles such amoebean productions as we find introduced
into the stage plays of the time; and was, no doubt, as the superscription
explicitly informs us, but 'Part of an entertainment presented to the
Countess Dowager of Darby.' Nevertheless it is complete and
self-contained, and to speak of it, as Professer Masson does, as 'part,
and part only, of a masque,' is to give a wholly false impression; for,
whatever the rest of the entertainment may have been, there is not the
least reason to suppose that it had any connexion or relation with the
portion that has survived. This runs to a little over one hundred lines. A
group of nymphs and shepherds, coming from among the trees of the garden,
approach the 'seat of State' where sits the venerable Countess, whom they
address in a song. As this ends their progress is barred by the Genius of
the Wood, who delivers a long speech.[354] This is followed by a song
introducing the dance, after which a third song brings the performance to
a close. It cannot be honestly said that the bulk of this slender poem is
of any very transcendent merit; but the final song stands apart from the
rest, and deserves notice both on its own account and for the sake of that
to which it served as herald:

Nymphs and Shepherds dance no more
By sandy Ladons Lillied banks;
On old Lycaeus or Cyllene hoar
Trip no more in twilight ranks;
Though Erymanth your loss deplore
A better soyl shall give ye thanks.
From the stony Maenalus
Bring your Flocks, and live with us;
Here ye shall have greater grace
To serve the Lady of this place,
Though Syrinx your Pans Mistres were,
Yet Syrinx well might wait on her.
Such a rural Queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.

Here we have, if nothing else, promise at least of the melodies to be, as
also of that harmonious interweaving of classical names which long years
after was to lend weight and dignity to the 'full and heightened style' of
the epic. One other point in connexion with the poem is noteworthy, the
quality, namely, in virtue of which it claims our attention here. It is,
indeed, not a little curious that on the only two occasions on which
Milton was called upon to produce something of the order of the masque, he
cast his work into a more or less pastoral form; and this in spite of the
fact that, as we have seen, the form was by no means a prevalent one among
the more popular and experienced writers. It would appear as though his
mind turned, through some natural bent or early association, to the
employment of this form; an idea which suggests itself all the more
forcibly when we find him, a few years later, setting about the
composition of a conventional lament in this mode on a young college
acquaintance, and producing, through his power of alchemical
transmutation, one of the greatest works of art in the English language.

It was, no doubt, in the earlier months of 1634, while his friend Lawes
was engaged on the gorgeous and complicated staging and orchestration of
the _Triumph of Peace_ and the _Coelum Britannicum_, that Milton composed
the poem which perhaps more than any other has made readers of to-day
familiar with the term 'masque.' In the second of the elaborate
productions just named--a poem, be it incidentally remarked, which does no
particular credit to the pen of its sometimes unsurpassed author, Tom
Carew, but in the presentation of which the king and many of his chief
nobles deigned to bear a part--minor roles had been assigned to the two
sons of the Earl of Bridgewater, namely, the Viscount Brackley and Master
Thomas Egerton. When the earl shortly afterwards went to assume the
Presidency of the Welsh Marches, it was these two who, together with their
sister the Lady Alice, bore the central parts in the masque performed
before the assembled worthies of the West in the great hall of Ludlow
Castle. The ages of the three performers ranged from eleven to thirteen,
the girl, who was the eighth daughter of the marriage, being the eldest.

It must have been a gay and imposing sight that greeted the spectators in
the grim old border fortress, the gaunt ruins of which may yet be seen,
but which had at that date already rubbed off some of its medieval
ruggedness as a place of defence. Though necessarily less elaborate and
costly than the performances in London, no pains were spared to make the
spectacle worthy of the occasion, and it must have appeared all the more
splendid in contrast to its surroundings, presented as it was in the great
hall in which met the Council of the Western Marches in the distant town
upon the Welsh border. Nor did the occasion lack the heightening glamour
and dramatic contrast of historical association, for in this very hall
just a century and a half before, if tradition is to be credited, the
unfortunate Prince Edward, son of Edward IV, was crowned before setting
out with his young brother on the fatal journey which was to terminate
under a forgotten flagstone in the Tower of London.

I do not propose to enter into any detailed account of the manner in which
we may suppose the masque to have been performed, nor into the literary
history of the poem itself; to do so would be a work of supererogation in
view of the able discussion of the whole subject from the pen of Professor
Masson. The debts Milton owed to the _Somnium_ of Puteanus, to Peele's
_Old Wives' Tale_ and to Fletcher's _Faithful Shepherdess_, are now all
more or less recognized. From the first he probably borrowed the name and
character of Comus himself, as well as a few incidental expressions. The
second contains a remarkable parallel to the search of the two brothers
for their lost sister, which it is difficult to suppose fortuitous; while
many passages might be cited to prove Milton's close acquaintance with
Fletcher's poem[355].

The masque as performed at Ludlow Castle probably differed in one
important particular from the form in which we know it, and which is that
in which it left Milton's hand. This form is attested by the original
quarto edition, by the texts of the Poems of 1645 and 1673, and by
Milton's manuscript draft in the volume preserved at Trinity College,
Cambridge. The variant form is found in the manuscript at Bridgewater
House, reputed to be in Lawes' handwriting, which seemingly represents the
acting version. In Milton's text the scene discovered is a wild wood; the
attendant Spirit descends, or enters, and at once launches out into a long
speech in blank verse. Lawes seems to have thought that it would be more
appropriate for the Spirit--that is, for himself, for it appears that he
took the part--to open the performance with a song, and consequently
transferred to this place the first thirty-six lines of the final lyrical
speech of the Spirit, substituting the words 'From the heavens' for
Milton's 'To the ocean.' The change was doubtless effective, and was
skilfully made; yet one cannot help feeling that some of the magic of the
poem has evaporated in the process. However, Lawes was loyal to his
friend, and whatever alterations his wider knowledge of the requirements
of stage production may have led him to introduce into the masque as
performed at Ludlow, he never sought to foist any changes of his own into
the published poem, when, having tired himself with making copies for his
friends, he at length decided, with Milton's consent, to send it forth
into the world in its slender quarto garb.

A brief analysis will serve to reveal the lines upon which the piece is
constructed, and to show how far it follows the traditions respectively of
the drama and the masque. The introductory speech puts the audience in
possession of the situation, and informs them how the wood is haunted by
Comus and his crew, himself the son of Bacchus and Circe, and how they
seek to trick unwary passengers into drinking of the fateful cup which
shall transform them to the likeness of beasts and, driving all
remembrance of home and friends from their imaginations, leave them
content 'to roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.' Wherefore the Spirit is
sent to guide the steps of those 'favoured of high Jove,' and save them
from the wiles of the fleshly god. Announcing that he goes to assume 'the
weeds and likeness of a swain,' so as to perform his charge unknown, the
Spirit leaves the stage, which is at once invaded by Comus and his rout. A
brilliant speech by the god, preceding the first measure, illustrates the
strange but yet not infrequent irony of fate by which it has happened that
the most puritanical of poets have thrown the full weight of their best
work into the opposing scale, and clothed vice in magic colours to outdo
the richest fancies of the libertine. No doubt this reckless adorning
of sin was intentional on Milton's part; he painted the pleasures of
[Greek: ko~mos] in their most seductive colours, that the triumph of virtue
might appear by so much the greater, fancying that it was enough to assert
that final victory, and failing, like most preachers, to perceive that
unless it was made psychologically and artistically convincing the total
effect would be the very reverse of that which he intended. If we compare
the speech of Comus with that of the Lady on her first appearance, we shall
hardly escape the conclusion that then, as indeed always, Milton had a
mere schoolboy's idea of 'plot,' as of some combination of events to be
infused with the breath of life at his own will, and from without, not
such as should spring from the fundamental elements of the characters
themselves. In the midst of dance and revel Comus interrupts his

Break off, break off, I feel the different pace
Of some chast footing neer about this ground;

and the crew vanishes among the trees as the Lady enters alone and
narrates how she lost her brothers at nightfall in the wood, and attracted
by the sounds of mirth has bent hither her steps in the hope of finding
some one to direct her. She then sings a song by way of attracting her
brothers' attention, should they chance to be near. As she ends Comus
re-enters in guise of a shepherd, and offers to escort her to his hut
where she may rest until her companions are found. She has no sooner left
the stage than these enter in search of her, and while away the time with
a long discussion on the dangers of the wood and the protective power of
virtue. To them at length enters the attendant Spirit, who has certainly
been so far very remiss in his duties, in the habit of their father's
shepherd Thirsis; and on hearing how they have parted company with their
sister, tells of Comus and his enchantments, and arming his hearers with
hemony, powerful against all spells, guides them to the hall of the
sorcerer. The scene now changes to the interior of the palace of Comus,
'set out with all manner of deliciousness,' where the god and his rabble
are feasting. On one side we may imagine an open arcade giving on to the
banks of the Severn, silvery in the moonlight, the cool purity of its
waters contrasting with the rich jewelled light and perfumed air within.
We see the Lady seated in an enchanted chair, while before her stands the
magician, wand in hand, offering her wine in a crystal goblet. Then
follows the dialogue in which the Lady defends her virtue against the
blandishments of Comus, till at last her brothers, followed by the
spirit-shepherd, rush in and disperse the revellers. The Lady is now found
to be fixed like marble in the chair of enchantment, but the attendant
Spirit shows his resource by calling to their help the virgin goddess of
the stream:

Sabrina fair
Listen where thou art sitting
Under the glassie, cool, translucent wave,
In twisted braids of Lillies knitting
The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair,
Listen for dear honour's sake,
Goddess of the silver lake,
Listen and save.

Thus conjured in some of the most perfectly musical lines in the language
the daughter of Locrine rises from her waves, and enters the hall with a
song, attended by her obedient nymphs. Having broken the spell and freed
the captive Lady, she at once departs with her train, and after another
speech by the Spirit, the scene changes to the town and castle of Ludlow,
a bevy of shepherds dancing in the foreground. After these have concluded
their measure, the wanderers enter, still guided by the spirit-shepherd,
who presents them safe and sound to their parents. Then follows another
dance, and the Spirit, throwing off, we may presume, his pastoral
disguise, launches into his final speech:

To the Ocean now I fly,
And those happy climes that ly
Where day never shuts his eye;


Mortals that would follow me,
Love vertue, she alone is free,
She can teach ye how to clime
Higher than the Spheary chime;
Or if Vertue feeble were,
Heav'n it self would stoop to her.

Such is the bare outline, the skeleton of the piece; what, we cannot help
wondering, was it like when it first appeared clothed in the beauty of the
flesh and inspired with the spirit of song? Its fashion and its form we
have indeed yet before us, though nothing can again quicken it into the
life it enjoyed for one brief hour nearly three hundred years ago. We must
be thankful that we count the poem itself among our treasures, and be
content to confine our inquiry to it. It is, after all, to the accidents
of its production as the body to the robes that adorn it.

It must be confessed that outwardly at least _Comus_ has but little
connexion with pastoral. The habit of the Spirit, the disguise of the
magician, the dance in the third scene, these are the only points serving
to connect the poem with pastoral tradition in any formal manner. It is
not, however, on account of these that _Comus_ has been commonly assigned
to the same category as the _Faithful Shepherdess_ and _Lycidas_, but
rather because its whole tone, its mode, one might almost say, is
essentially pastoral, and because it is directly dependent upon previous
pastoral work.

It has been the fashion to praise _Comus_ above all other masques
whatever, and from the point of view of the poetry it contains it would be
idle to dispute its supremacy. But there are other considerations. As a
masque proper, and from the point of view of what had come to be expected
of such compositions, how does it stand? I am not here concerned to
inquire how far the term can with strict propriety be applied to the
piece, a question which may be left to the somewhat arid region of the
formal classification of literature. The points in which it resembles the
regular spectacular masques, as well as those in which it differs from
them, will be alike evident from the analysis given above. It may,
however, be well to put in a caution against the manner in which some
writers on the masque seek to make their distinctions appear more clearly
defined than they in reality are by declaring _Comus_ to be not a masque
at all but a play. It is no more a regular play than it is a strict
masque, but a dramatic composition containing elements of both in almost
equal proportions.

That the songs are for the most part exquisite, that they were worthily
set to music and adequately rendered; that the measures, the dance of the
revellers in their half-brutish disguises, the antimasque of country folk,
and the final or main dance of the wanderers, were effective; that the
whole was graceful, complete and polished, is either self-evident to-day,
or may with reason be inferred. The scenery, too, must have been striking;
the dreary forest, its darkness just relieved by the half-seen
'glistering' forms; the heavy drug-like splendour of the enchanted palace
and the cold moonlight outside; the bright, fresh sunshine, lastly,
dew-washed, of the early morning; there were here a series of pictures the
contrasts of which must have added to their individual effect. The scene,
the song and the measure, these form, indeed, the very stuff that masques
are made of. But Milton's poem offered more than this; and it may well be
questioned how far this more was of a nature to recommend it to the tastes
of his audience, or indeed to heighten rather than to diminish its merits
as a work of literature and art. There was, in the first place, a
philosophical and moral intention, which, however veiled in fanciful
imagery and clothed in limpid verse, is yet not content to be an inspiring
principle and artistic occasion of the poem, but obtrudes itself directly
in the length of some of the speeches; refuses, that is, to subserve the
aesthetic purpose, and endeavours to divert the poetic beauty to its own
non-aesthetic ends. In the second place, and probably of greater
importance as regards the actual success of the piece on the stage, it
contained somewhat of dramatic emotion, of incident which depended for its
value upon its effect on the characters involved, which was ill served by
the spectacular machinery and necessary limitations of the composition,
while at the same time it must have interfered with the opportunity for
mere sensuous effect which it was the main business of the masque to
afford. The weight which different persons will attach to these objections
will no doubt vary with their individual temperaments, their
susceptibility to the magical charm of the verse, their sense of artistic
propriety, and the degree to which they are able to recall in imagination
the conditions of a bygone form of artistic presentation. I speak for
myself when I say that, in fitness for the particular end it had to serve,
Milton's poem appears to me to be surpassed, for instance, by the best of
Jonson's masques, no less than it surpasses them, and all others of their
kind, in the poetical beauty of the verse, whether of the 'tragical' or
lyrical portions.

Book of the day: