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The wheel of chance, about which kings are hurl'd,
Merlin, advance the shield upon his tent. And now prepare, fair knight, to prove the event Of your bold Challenge. Be your virtues steel'd, And let your drum give note you keep the field. [Drum beats.
-Is this the land of Britain so renown'd
Mer. Stay, methinks I see
Lady, Meliadus, lord of the isles,
Princely Meliadus, and whom fate now styles
CHIVALRY, coming forward.
Chi. Were it from death, that name would wake me. Say,
Which is the knight? O,
And your own honours, that are now call'd forth
After which MERLIN speaks to the Prince.
AY, stay your valour, 'tis a wisdom high
He that in deeds of arms obeys his blood,
9 This part of the solemnity is silently passed over by Jonson; and indeed, he seldom enters, at any length, into the accompaniments of his Masques and Entertainments, unless for the sake of bearing witness to the merits of Inigo Jones, Ferrabosco, Giles, and others associated in the embellishment of his labours. "Yet," says Warton, "while Milton gives only the soliloquy of the Genius, and the three songs, of his Arcades, in many of Jonson's Masques, the poet rarely appears, amidst a cumbersome exhibition of heathen gods and mythology"! Todd's Milton, vol. v. p. 146. No sighs but of Jonson's raising! Whoever is right, he is sure to be found in the wrong. No absurdity is so gross, no violation of truth so glaring, as not to be gladly received when the object of it is to decry his talents, and injure his reputation. The falsehood once hazarded, is repeated by every mouth; and the cause of literature is stupidly supposed to be promoted by combining for the degradation of one of its brightest ornaments.
To return to the BARRIERS. "The prince (says Arthur Wilson) now growing manly, being in his sixteenth year, put forth himself in a more heroic manner, than was usual with princes of his time, by Tiltings, Barriers, and other exercises on horseback, the martial discipline of gentle peace." Life of James, p. 52. And it appears
And settled prudence, with that peace endued
I dare not speak his virtues, for the fear
from a very curious passage in the Prince's life, written by sir Charles Cornwallis, that a grand rehearsal of the present Tilt had taken place some time before.
"The 16 yeare of his age, being to come to the time of his investment in the Principalitie of Wales and Cornewall; he did advance his own title and right so farre, as with modestie he might: which presently was gently and lovingly entertained, and granted of his Majestie, with the consent of the Right Honourable, the High Court of Parliament: the fourth of June following, being appointed for that solemne action, the Christmas before which, his Highnesse not onely for his owne recreation, but also that the world might know, what a brave Prince they were likely to enjoy, under the name of Meliades, Lord of the Isles, (an ancient title due to the first borne of Scotland) did in his name, by some appointed for the same of purpose, strangly attired, accompanied with drummes and trumpets in the chamber of presence, before the King and Queene, and in the presence of the whole court, delivered a challenge to all Knights of Great Britaine in two Speeches.
"Now began every where preparations to be made for this great fight, and happy did he thinke himselfe who should be admitted for a defendant, much more assailant: At last, to encounter his Highnesse, with his six assailants, 58 defendants, consisting of Earles, Barons, Knights, and Esquires, were appointed and chosen, eight defendants to one assailant, every assailant being to fight by turnes, eight severall times fighting, two every time with push of pike and sword, twelve stroakes at a time; after which, the BARRE for separation was to bee let downe untill a fresh onset.
"This solemnity now approaching, his Highnesse did feast the Earles, Barons, and Knights assailants, and defendants, untill the twelfth appointed night, on which this great fight was to be performed; which being come, his Highnesse, to the great wonder of the beholders, did admirably fight his part, giving and receiving that night, 32 pushes of pikes, and about 360 stroakes of swords, which is scarce credible in so young yeares, enough to assure the world, that Great Britaines brave Henry aspired to immortality." 8vo. 1641. p. 12. et seq.
Of him and his. All ears your selves apply.
You, and your other you, great king and queen,
1 While that young lord.] The duke of York, the unfortunate Charles I.
2 In that most princely maid.] The princess Elizabeth, married a few years afterwards to the Elector Palatine. The present royal family are the descendants of that marriage. There is something interesting in the language of this prediction. Merlin is not altogether correct, it must be confessed, and yet he has not always prophesied so well. Elizabeth is now "the mother of nations," and no sparing compliment will be paid "her princes" by admitting them to be rivals of her brothers; for, when every allowance is made, Henry and Charles must be confessed to be no ordinary characters.