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No. II.



T of .

THE following Copy of Comus is given from a manuscript With the use of this manuscript I have been favoured by Mr. Egerton; through whose application also to his Grace I have obtained permission to print it. And I submit the entire manufcript, rather than its detached variations, to public inspection, under the hope of gratifying liberal curiosity,

It is a thin quarto bound in vellum, and gilt; and is numbered, P: i. 12. It consists of twenty leaves, which are not paged. The leaves are ruled, as the distinction of the speakers also is written, with red ink. It may, possibly, be one of the many copies written, before the Mask was published, by Henry Lawes, who, on his editing it in 1637, complained in his Dedication to Lord Brackley, that “ a the often copying it had tired his pen :" or, at least, it may be a transcript of his copy. The professional alteration,

" And hould a counterpointe to all Heav'n's harmonies,” made by Lawes, in setting to Music the Song "Sweet Echo," and observed by Mr. Warton, occurs also in this manuscript,

At the bottom of the title-page to this manuscript the second Earl of Bridgewater, who had performed the part of the Elder Brother, has written " Author Io: Milton,This, in my opinion, may be considered as no flight testimony, that the manuscript presents the original form of this drama. The Mask was acted in 1634, and was first published by Lawes in 1637, at which time it certainly had been corrected, although it was not then openly acknowledged, by its author. The alterations and additions, therefore, which the printed poem exhibits, might not have been made till long after the representation; perhaps, not till Lawes had expressed his determination to publish it. The coincidence of Lawes's Original Music with certain peculiarities in this manuscript, which I have already stated in the Account of Henry Lawes, may also favour this supposition.

Several various readings in this manuscript agree with Milton's, original readings in the Cambridge manuscript, and several are

a See Lawes's Dedication to Lord Brackley, Part i. por.
b In his Note on COMUS. V. 243.
c Lawes's Dedication.

d See my addition to Mr. Warton's Account of Henry Lawes, in obe Prs. LIMINARY ILLUSTRATIONS, Part. i. p. 45.

peculiar to itself. I have printed these various readings in Italics, and I have noted its peculiarities, some of which are evidently the literal errors of the transcriber; in which cases, I have ven. tured to substitute the right word, and to give the manuscript reading at the bottom of the page. By a few slight but necessary emendations the unintentional mistakes of the transcriber's 6 tired “ pen" are rectified, while the unquestionable antiquity of the manuscript is carefully preserved. EDITOR,

P: 1.


a gaske Represented before the right

ble ho: the Earle of Bridgewater

Lord president of Wales and the

ble right ho: the Countette of Bridgewater.

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