Lapas attēli
PDF
ePub

THE FIRST, OF

BLACKNESS.

PERSONATED AT THE COURT AT WHITEHALL, ON THE TWELFTH

NIGHT, 1605-6.

Salve festa dies, meliorque revertere semper.-OVID.

THE MASQUE OF BLACKNESS.) This and the Masque of Beauty which follows it were published 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 : [and invented by Ben Jonson-Ovid. Salve festa dies, meliorq. revertere semper. Imprinted at London for Thomas Thorp, and are to be sold at the signe of the Tigers head in Paules Church-yard.]

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 Philip 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 3000l. 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 eculiar 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 :

D. ANNÆ
M. BRITANNIARUM INSU. HIB. &c.

REGINÆ
FELICISS. FORMOSISS.

MUSÆO

S. S.
HUNC LIBRUM VOVIT
FAMÆ ET HONORI EJUS
SERVIENTISS.
IMO ADDICTISSIMUS

BEN JONSONIUS. VICTURUS GENIUM DEBET HABERE LIBER. (Mr. Collier has printed for the Shakspeare Society, 1849, a version of this masque from an original MS. in the British Museum, not in the poet's autograph, but revised by him, and characteristically authenticated under his own hand 'Hos ego versiculos feci.'

BEN. JONSON.)

The Masque of Blackness.

The honour and splendour of these Spec- woods, and here and there a void place tacles was such in the performance as, could filled with huntings; which falling, an those hours have lasted, this of mine now artificial sea was seen to shoot forth, as if had been a most unprofitable work. But it flowed to the land, raised with waves when it is the fate even of the greatest and which seemed to move, and in some places most absolute births to need and borrow the billow to break, as imitating that a life of posterity, little had been done to orderly disorder which is common in the study of magnificence in these, if pre- nature. In front of this sea were placed sently with the rage of the people, who (as six tritons, f in moving and sprightly aca part of greatness) are privileged by cus- tions, their upper parts human, save that tom to deface their carcases, the spirits had their hairs were blue, as partaking of the also perished. In duty therefore to that sea-colour: their desinent parts fish, Majesty who gave them their authority mounted above their heads, and all varied and grace, and, no less than the most royal in disposition. From their backs were of predecessors, deserves eminent celebra- borne out certain light pieces of taffata, as tion for these solemnities, I add this later if carried by the wind, and their music hand to redeem them as well from ignorance made out of wreathed shells. Behind as envy, two common evils, the one of cen- these a pair of sea-maids, for song, were as sure, the other of oblivion.

conspicuously seated; between which two Pliny,* Solinus, † Ptolemy, I and of late great sea-horses, as big as the life, put Leof the African, remember unto us a forth themselves; the one mounting aloft, river in Æthiopia, famous by the name of and writhing his head from the other, Niger; of which the people were called which seemed to sink forwards; so intended Nigritæ, now Negroes; and are the black- for variation, and that the figure behind est nation of the world. This river|| taketh might come off better :** upon their backs spring out of a certain lake eastward ; and Oceanus and Niger were advanced. after a long race falleth into the western Oceanus presented in a human form, the ocean.1

Hence (because it was her ma- colour of his flesh blue; and shadowed jesty's will to have them blackmoors at with a robe of sea-green; his head grey, first) the invention was derived by me, and and horned, tt as he is described by the presented thus :

ancients: his beard of the like mixed First, for the scene, was drawn a landt- colour: he was gyrlanded with alga, or schap (landscape) consisting of small sea-grass; and in his hand a trident.

* Nat. Hist. L. 5, c. 8.

incitatur, et impellitur: vel quia tauris sie Poly. hist. c. 40 and 43.

milem fremitum emittat; vel quia tanquam Lib. 4, C. 5.

ş Descrip. Afric. taurus furibundus, in littora feratur. Euripid. || Some take it to be the same with Nilus, in Orest. 'Ωκεανος ον ταυρόκρανος αγκαλαις which is by Lucan called Melas, signifying é coowv, Kukdei xdova... And rivers sometimes Niger . Howsoever Pliny in the place above were so called.

Look Virg. de Tiberi et Erinoted, hath this: Nigri fluvio eadem natura, dano. Georg. 4, Æneid. 8. Hor. Car. lib. 4, quæ Nilo, calamum, papyrum, et easdem ode 14, and Euripid. in Ione. gignit animantes. See Solin. above mentioned.

1 The form of these tritons, with their trumpets, you may read lively described in 1 And falleth into the Western Ocean.) We Ov. Met. lib. 1. Cæruleum Tritona vocat, &c.; now know that the Niger runs towards the east. and in Virg. Æneid. l. 10. Hunc vehit immanis Had the adventurous discoverer of this imtriton, et sequent.

portant geographical fact happily lived to re** Lucian in PHTOP. Aldao. presents Nilus

turn from his second expedition, we should proso, Equo fluviatili insidentem. And Statius bably have also learned whether the Niger loses Neptune, in Theb.

itself in the sands, is swallowed up in some vast tt The ancients induced Oceaus always with inland lake, or constitutes, as some think, the a bull's head : propter vim ventorum, à quibus chief branch or feeder of the Nile.

*

Niger, in form and colour of an Æthiop; about the skirts with gold and silver ; their his hair and rare beard curled, shadowed hair loose and flowing, gyrlanded with seawith a blue and bright mantle: his front, grass, and that stuck with branches of coral. neck, and wrists adorned with pearl, and These thus presented, the scene behind crowned with an artificial wreath of cane seemed a vast sea, and united with this and paper-rush.

that flowed forth from the termination, or These induced the masquers, which were horizon of which (being the level of the twelve nymphs, negroes, and the daughters state, which was placed in the upper end of Niger ; attended by so many of the of the hall) was drawn by the lines of proOceaniæ,* which were their light-bearers. spective, the whole work shooting down

The masquers were placed in a great wards from the eye; which decorum made concave shell, like mother of pearl, curiously it more conspicuous, and caught the eye made to move on those waters and rise with afar off with a wandering beauty: to which the billow ; the top thereof was stuck with was added an obscure and cloudy nighta cheveron of lights, which indented to the piece, that made the whole set off. So proportion of the shell, strook a glorious much for the bodily part, which was of beam upon them as they were seated one Master Ynigo Jones his design and act. above another: so that they were all seen, By this one of the tritons, with the two but in an extravagant order.2

sea-maids, began to sing to the others' On sides of the shell did swim six huge loud music, their voices being a tenor and sea-monsters, varied in their shapes and two trebles. dispositions, bearing on their backs the

SONG. twelve torch-bearers, who were planted there in several graces; so as the backs of

Sound, sound aloud

The welcome of the orient flood, some were seen; some in purfle, or side ;

Into the west ; others in face; and all having their lights burning out of whelks or murex-shells.

Fair Niger, † son to great Oceanus,

Now honoured thus The attire of masquers was alike in

With all his beauteous race: all, without difference: the colours azure and silver; but returned on the top with a

Who, though but black in face, scroll and antique dressing of feathers, and

Yet are they bright, jewels interlaced with ropes of pearl. And

And full of life and light. for the front, ear, neck, and wrists, the

To prove that beauty best, ornament was of the most choice and

Which, not the colour, but the feature orient pearl; best setting off from the

Assures unto the creature. black.

Ocea. Be silent, now the ceremony's done, For the light-bearers, sea-green, waved And, Niger, say how comes it, lovely son,

* The daughters of Oceanus and Tethys. See says: “At night we had the Queen's Maske in Hesiod. in Theogon. Orph. in Hym. and Virgil the Banqueting-House: there was a great engine in Georg

at the lower end of the room, which had motion, † All rivers are said to be the sons of the and in it were the images of sea-horses, with Ocean : for, as the ancients thought, out of the other terrible fishes, which were ridden by vapours exhaled by the heat of the sun, rivers Moors: the indecorum was, that there was all and fountains were begotten. And both by fish and no water.”—There was assuredly as Orph. in Hym. and Homer, Il. š. Oceanus is much of one as the other ; but this it is to be celebrated tanquam pater, et origo diis, et witty: Sir Dudley proceeds: “At the further rebus, quia nihil sine humectatione nascitur, end 'there was a great shell in form of a skallop, aut putrescit.

wherein were four seats : on the lowest sat the

Queen with iny Lady Bedford ;_ on the rest 1 Which were their light-bearers.] It will not were placed the Ladies Suffolk, Darby, Rich, be amiss to observe here once for all, that every Effingham, Ann Herbert, Susan Herbert, masquer was invariably attended by his torch- Elizabeth Howard, Walsingham, and Bevill. bearer, who preceded his entrance and exit, and Their appearance was rich, but too light and sided him (though at a distance) while in action. courtezan-like for such great ones. Instead of

The prose descriptions of Jonson are sin- vizzards, their faces and arms up to the elbows gularly bold and beautiful. I do not, however, were painted black, but it became them nothing notice the paragraph on this account, but solely so well as their own red and white,” &c. to show with what facility an ill-natured critic Winwood's Memorials, vol. ii. p. 44. Sir may throw an air of ridicule on things of this Dudley would make no indifferent newspaper nature. In giving an account of this splendid critic for the present times. The plot required exhibition to Winwood, Sir Dudley Carleton the actors to appear as Moors, and he finds out That thou, the Æthiop's river, so far Signs of his fervent'st love; and thereby east,

shows Art seen to fall into the extremest west That in their black the perfect'st beauty Of me, the king of floods, Oceanus,

grows; And in mine empire's heart, salute me Since the fixt colour of their curled hair, thus ?

Which is the highest grace of dames most My ceaseless current now amazed stands

fair, To see thy labour through so many lands No cares, no age can change; or there Mix thy fresh billow with my brackish display stream ;*

The fearful tincture of abhorred gray ; And in the sweetness stretch thy diadem Since death herself (herself being pale and To these far distant and unequalled skies, blue) This squared circle of celestial bodies. Can never alter their most faithful hue ;

All which are arguments to prove how far Niger. Divine Oceanus, 'tis not strange Their beauties conquer in great beauty's at all

war ; That since th' immortal souls of creatures And more, how near divinity they be, mortall

That stand from passion or decay so free. Mix with their bodies, yet reserve for ever Yet since the fabulous voices of some few A power of separation, I should sever Poor brain-sick men, styled poets here with My fresh streams from thy brackish, like

you, things fixed,

Have, with such envy of their graces, sung Though with thy powerful saltness thus far The painted beauties other empires sprung; mixed.

Letting their loose and winged fictions fly « Virtue, though chained to earth, will To infect all climates, yea, our purity; still live free:

As of one Phaëton, I that fired the world, And hell itself must yield to industry.” And that, before his heedless flames were Ocea. But what's the end of thy Hercu- About the globe, the Æthiops were as fair

hurled lean labours, Extended to these calm and blessed As other dames; now black with black

despair: shores?

And in respect of their complexions Niger. To do a kind and careful father's changed, part,

Are each where since for luckless creatures In satisfying every pensive heart

ranged ;s Of these my daughters, my most loved Which when my daughters heard (as women

birth : Who, though they were the first formed Most jealous of their beauties), fear and

dames of earth, t And in whose sparkling and refulgent Possessed them whole ; yea, and believing eyes

them, ll The glorious sun did still delight to rise ; They wept such ceaseless tears into my Though he, the best judge, and most for- stream, mal cause

That it hath thus far overflowed his shore Of all dames beauties, in their firm hues, To seek them patience : who have since, draws

e'ermore

are

care

“The

that they would look better if they kept their Sic tibi, cum fluctus subter labêre Sicanos, natural colour! It is to be hoped that some Doris amara suam non intermisceat undam.) handsome Othello will take the hint. Spanish and Venetian Ambassadors,” our letter- Examples of Nilus, Jordan, and others, whereof writer adds, “were both present, and sate by see Nican. lib. 1, de flumin. and Plut. in vita the King in state,” to the great annoyance of Sylla, even of this our river (as some think) by the French Ambassador, who vowed in a pet, the name of Melas. “that the whole court was Spanish."

† Read Diod. Sicul. lib. 3. It is a conjecture

of the old etlinics, that they which dwell under * There wants not enough in nature to the south were the first begotten of the earth. authorize this part of our fiction, in separating

Notissima fabula, Ovid. Met. lib. 2. Niger from the Ocean (beside the fable of

$ Alluding to that of Juvenal, Satyr. 5. Et Alpheus, and that to which Virgil alludes of cui per mediam nolis occurrere noctem. Arethusa, in his so Eclog.

The poets.

As the sun riseth,* charged his burning So called of Neptune's son,ll who ruleth throne

here: With volleys of revilings ; 'cause he shone For whose dear guard myself four thousand On their scorched cheeks with such intem- year perate fires,

Since old Deucalion's days have walked And other dames made queens of all the round desires.

About his empire, proud to see him crowned To frustrate which strange error, oft I Above my waves.

sought, (Tho' most in vain, against a settled thought At this the Moon was discovered in the As women's are) till they confirmed at

upper part of the house, triumphant in a length

silver throne, made in figure of a pyraBy miracle, what I with so much strength

mis. Her garments white and silver, Of argument resisted ; else they feigned :

the dressing of her head antique, and For in the lake where their first spring they

crowned with a liminary, or sphere of gained,

light: which striking on the clouds, and As they sat cooling their soft limbs one night,

heightened with silver, reflected as natural Appeared a face all circumfused with light;

clouds do by the splendour of the moon. (And sure they saw't, for Æthiopst never

The heaven about her was vaulted with dream)

blue silk, and set with stars of silver, Wherein they might decipher through the

which had in them their several lights stream

burning The sudden sight of which These words :

made Niger to interrupt Oceanus with

this present passion. That they a land must forthwith seek, Whose termination (of the Greek)

O see, our silver star! Sounds TANIA ; where bright Sol, that | Whose pure auspicious light greets us thus

far! heat Their bloods, doth never rise or set, I

Great Æthiopia, goddess of our shore, 1 But in his journey passeth by,

Since with particular worship we adore And leaves that climate of the sky,

Thy general brightness, let particular To comfort of a greater light,

grace Who forms all beauty with his sight.

Shine on my zealous daughters: shew the

place In search of this, have we three princedoms Which long their longings urged their eyes

past That speak out Tania in their accents last ; Beautify them, which long have deified Black Mauritania first; and secondly,

thee. Swarth Lusitania : next we did descry

Æthi. Niger, be glad: resume thy Rich Aquitania : and yet cannot find

native cheer. The place unto these longing nymphs designed.

Thy daughters' labours have their period Instruct and aid me, great Oceanus,

here, What land is this that now appears to us?

And so thy errors. I was that bright face

Reflected by the lake in which thy race Ocea. This land, that lifts into the tem- Read mystic lines ; which skill Pythagoras

First taught to men by a reverberate His snowy cliff, is Albiong the fair ;

glass."

to see,

perate air

cap. 8.

* A custom of the Æthiops, notable in Herod. that surname. See Step. περι πόλεων, τη νοce and Diod. Sic. See Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. 5,

AIOIOITION. + Plin. ib. Consult with Tacitus, in vita Agric. and

1

Which skill Pythagoras the Paneg. ad Constant.

First taught to men by a reverberate glass.) § Orpheus, in his Argonaut. calls it Aeukalov The allusion is to what is told us by the χέρσον.

scholiast on Aristophanes, that Pythagoras dis|| Alluding to the right of styling princes covered a method of writing with blood on a after the naine of their princedoms : so is he speculum, or polished mirror; and this being still Albion and Neptune's son that governs. I held opposite to the moon, what was written on As also his being dear to Neptune in being so the glass would be reflected on the orb of the embraced by him.

moon, and would appear to be written therean. The Æthiopians worshipped the moon by' Nub. v. 750.-WHAL

« iepriekšējāTurpināt »