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HYMENÆI : OR THE SOLEMNITIES OF MASQUE AND BARRIERS AT A MARRIAGE.] This is the title in the fol. 1616. Upon which Chetwood remarks :-“What reason our author had for not being more particular in the title of this Masque, neither when nor for whom it was performed, we cannot conceive ; but we have, with some little search, found out it was ordered by the court, for the celebration of the nuptials between the Palsgrave and the princess Elizabeth.” “This Masque, by the description, was very magnificent, and the reader may find the expence of the machinery, &c., set down in the cost of that prince's marriage." Life of Jonson, p. 41.
Chetwood's labour was thrown away. Had he fortunately met with the 4to. edition of this Masque, he would have found all his doubts removed. There the title-page runs, “Hymenæi, or the Solemnities of Masque and Barriers, magnificently performed on the eleventh and twelfth nights, from Christmas, at court : to the auspicious celebrating of the Marriage-union betweene Robert, Earle of Essex, and the lady Frances, second daughter of the most noble Earle of Suffolke, 1606.
Jam veniet virgo, jam dicetur Hymenaus.” The author's reason for “not being more particular” is now sufficiently apparent. The marriage was a most inauspicious one, and terminated in shame and guilt. The earl of Essex (only son of the unfortunate favourite of Elizabeth and the English nation,) was in his fifteenth, and the lady Frances in her fourteenth year, when the ceremony took place. Not long afterwards, the Earl set out on his travels, and was abroad about four years. The Countess, who in the interim had transferred her affections to Robert Carr, viscount Rochester, the well known minion of James, was with difficulty persuaded to cohabit with her husband, whom, after a series of bickering, little to the honour of any of the parties concerned, she finally abandoned in 1613. She then solicited and obtained a divorce, under a pretence of his being incompetent to the duties of matrimony, and on the 5th of December in the same year, espoused Carr, who had been created, the day before, earl of Somerset.
This infamous connexion led to the murder of sir Thomas Overbury, the execution of the minor agents in that diabolical transaction, and the trial and condemnation of the Earl and Countess, whose lives, though spared by the weakness of James, were worn out in mutual disgust. Somerset died neglected and despised,
and his wife an object of loathing and horror. Essex (the repudiated husband) lived to be a famous rebel, and to command the Parliamentary army with skill and success, till he sunk under the ascendancy of Cromwell.
It is to Jonson's praise, that he took no part in the celebration of the second marriage, which was solemnized with great pomp, and for which a Masque was composed by Campion, a writer of some name. It is melancholy to reflect that this adulterous marriage was eagerly promoted by the lord chancellor Bacon, to whom Campion inscribed his performance," he being (as the dedication says) the Principall
, and in effect, the onely person that did both incourage and warrant the gentlemen (of Graies Inn) to shew their good affection towards so noble a Conjunction.”
With respect to the Masque of which Chetwood speaks, (and which was written six years after the present,) he might have learned from the official papers, that it was called the Lord's Masque. It was not written by Jonson, but by Campion, and published by him in 4to. 1613. It is of very rare occurrence, but I have been favoured with it from the valuable collection of Mr. Dent. Mr. Chamberlaine, who was present at the representation, tells his correspondent that, “ though it was rich and sumptuous, yet it was long and tedious, and with many devices more like a play than a masque.” Winwood's Memoirs, vol. iii. p. 435. It cost the court £400. The masquers probably paid their own expenses. After all it is but a poor affair, trite though extravagant, and manifesting neither taste nor fancy,
T is a noble and just advantage that the · things subjected to understanding have of those which are objected to sense; that the one sort are but momentary,
and merely taking; the other impressing, and lasting : else the glory of all these solemnies had perished like a blaze, and gone out, in the beholders' eyes. So short lived are the bodies of all things, in comparison of their souls. And though bodies oftimes have the ill luck to be sensually preferred, they find afterwards the good fortune (when souls live) to be utterly forgotten. This it is hath made the most royal princes, and greatest persons (who are commonly the personaters of these actions) not only studious of riches, and magnificence in the outward celebration or shew, which rightly becomes them; but curious after the most high and hearty inventions, to furnish the inward parts; and those grounded upon antiquity, and solid learning : which though their voice be taught to sound to present occasions, their sense or doth or should always lay hold on more removed mysteries. And howsoever some may squeamishly cry out, that all endeavour of learning and sharpness in these transitory devices, especially where it steps beyond their little, or (let me not wrong them,) no brain at all, is superfluous; I am contented, these fastidious stomachs should
leave my full tables, and enjoy at home their clean empty trenchers, fittest for such airy tastes; where perhaps a few Italian herbs, picked up and made into a sallad, may find sweeter acceptance than all the most nourishing and sound meats of the world.
For these men's palates, let not me answer, O Muses. It is not my fault, if I fill them out nectar, and they run to metheglin.
Vaticana bibant, si delectentur.
Prætereant, si quid non facit ad stomachum. As I will from the thought of them, to my better subject.
On the night of the Masques (which were two, one of men, the other of women) the scene being drawn, there was first discovered an altar ; upon which was inscribed, in letters of gold,
*Ioni. Oimæ. Mimæ.
SACR. To this altar entered five pages, attired in white, earing five tapers of virgin wax;" behind them, one
• Mystically implying that both it, the place, and all the succeeding ceremonies were sacred to marriage, or Union ; over which Juno was president: to whom there was the like altar erected, at Rome, as she was called Juga Juno, in the street, which thence was named Jugarius. See Fest.; and at which altar, the rite was to join the married pair with bands of silk, in sign of future concord.
• Those were the Quinque Cerei, which Plutarch in his Quæst. Roman, mentions to be used in nuptials.
representing a bridegroom : his hair short, and bound with party-coloured ribands, and gold twist : his garments purple and white.
On the other hand, entered HYMEN (the god of marriage) in a saffron-colour'd robe,' his under vestures white, his socks yellow, a yellow veil of silk on his left arm, his head crowned with roses and marjoram, in his right hand a torch of pine-tree.
After him a youth attired in white,' bearing another light, of white thorn ; under his arm, a little wicker flasket shut: behind him two others in white, the one bearing a distaff, the other a spindle. Betwixt
© The dressing of the bridegroom (with the ancients) was chiefly noted in that, Quod tonderetur. Juv. Sat. 6. Jamque à tonsore magistro Pecteris. And Lucan, lib. ii., where he makes Cato negligent of the ceremonies in marriage, saith, Ille nec horrificam sancto dimovit ab ore Cæsariem.
1 On the other hand entered Hymen in a saffron-coloured robe, &c.] It is to this that Milton alludes :
" Then let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe," &c. See how he is called out, by Catullus in Nup. Jul. et Manl. Cinge tempora floribus Suave olentis amaraci, &c.
e For so I preserve the reading there in Catul. Pineam quate tædam, rather than to change it Spineam; and moved by the authority of Virgil in Ciri., where he says, Pronuba nec castos incendet Pinus amores.
And Ovid, Fast. lib. ii. Expectet puros pinea tæda dies. Though I deny not, there was also spinea tæda, &c., which Pliny calls Nuptiarum facibus auspicatissimam, Nat. Hist. lib. 16, cap. 18, and whereof Sextus Pompeius Fest. hath left so particular testimony. For which see the following note.
* This (by the ancients) was called Camillus, quasi minister (for so that signified in the Hetrurian tongue) and was one of the three, which by Sex. Pompei were said to be Patrimi et Matrimi, Pueri prætextati tres, qui nubentem deducunt: unus, qui facem præfert ex spina alba. Duo qui tenent nubentem. To which confer that of Varro, lib. vi. de lingua Lat. Dicitur in nuptiis camillus, qui cumerum fert: as also that of Fest. lib. iii. Cumerum vocabant antiqui vas quoddam quod opertum in nuptiis ferebant, in quo erant nubentis utensilia, quod et camillum dicebant : eo quod sacrorum ministrum káumlov appellabant.