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MASQUES AT COURT.
Up springs the dance, along the lighted dome,
THE FIRST, OF
PERSONATED AT THE COURT AT WHITEHALL, ON THE TWELFTH-NIGHT, 1605.
Salve festa dies, meliorque revertere semper. OVID.
THE MASQUE OF BLACKNESS.] This and the Masque of Beauty which follows were olished in 4to. with this title. "The characters of two royal Masques, the one of Blacknesse, the other of Beautie, personated by the most magnificent of Queens, Anne, Queen of Great Britain, &c., with her honourable Ladyes, 1605 and 1608, at Whitehall."
Great preparations were made for this masque, which was performed with unusual magnificence. Among Winwood's State Papers, there is a letter to that minister from Mr. Chamberlaine, of which the following passage is an extract. "Here is great provision of masks and revells against the marriage of sir Phillip Herbert and the lady Susan Vere, which is to be celebrated on St. John's day; the Queen hath likewise a great mask in hand against Twelfth-tide, for which there was 3000/, delivered a month ago." Dec. 18, 1604, vol. ii. p. 41.
Sir Thomas Edmonds also thus writes to the great earl of Shrewsbury, Dec. 5, 1604. "Our corte is preparing to solempnize the Christmas with a gallant maske, which doth cost the Exchequer 3000l. Sir Phi. Harberte's marriage will also produce an other maske among the noblemen and gentlemen." Lodge's Illustrations, vol. iii. p. 250.
It should be added that this was the first entertainment given by the Queen, that her brother, the duke of Holstein, was present at it, and that the day was a day of peculiar state, several knights of the Bath having been installed and the king's second son (the unfortunate Charles) created duke of York.
The Garrick copy of this masque, now in the British Museum, was the presentation copy of Jonson to the queen, (James's wife,) and has this inscription in the poet's own writing:
M. BRITANNIARUM INSU. HIB. &C.
THE MASQUE OF BLACKNESS.
HE honour and splendour of these Spectacles was such in the performance, as, could those hours have lasted, this of mine, now, had been a most unprofitable work. But when it is the fate even of the greatest, and most absolute births, to need and borrow a life of posterity, little had been done to the study of magnificence in these, if presently with the rage of the people, who (as a part of greatness) are privileged by custom, to deface their carcases, the spirits had also perished. In duty therefore to that Majesty, who gave them their authority and grace, and, no less than the most royal of predecessors, deserves eminent celebration for these solemnities, I add this later hand to redeem them as well from ignorance as envy, two common evils, the one of censure, the other of oblivion.
Pliny, Solinus, Ptolemy, and of late Leo the African, remember unto us a river in Ethiopia, famous by the name of Niger; of which the people were called Nigritæ, now Negroes; and are the
• Nat. Hist. 1. v. c. 8
b Poly. Hist. c. 40, and 43.