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The Masque of Beauty.

Ben Jonson. 

The Masque of Blacknesse | The Masque of Beauty

Note: this Renascence Editions text was transcribed by Risa S. Bear, June 2001, from the 1608 quarto (STC number 14761). Where the page is illegible in the source text, the Cambridge edition of 1941 has been consulted.  Any errors that have crept into the transcription are the fault of the present publisher. The text is in the public domain. Content unique to this presentation is copyright © 2001 the editor and The University of Oregon. For nonprofit and educational uses only. Send comments and corrections to the Publisher.

Two royall Masques.
The one of BLACKNESSE,
The other of BEAVTIE. 
By the most magnificent of Queenes
Queene of great Britaine, &c.

With her honorable Ladyes,

1605. and 1608.

at White-Hall:


Inuented by B E N: I O N S O N.

Ouid. —Salue festa dies, meliorque reuertere semper.
Imprinted at London for Thomas Thorp, and are to 
be sold at the signes of the Tigers head 
in Paules Church-yard.


M A S Q V E.

Which was of Beauty; was presented in the same
Court, at W H I T E-H A L L, on the Sunday night,
after the twelfth Night.


Wo yeares being now past, that her Maiesty had intermitted these delights, and the third almost come; it was her Highnesse pleasure againe to glorifie the Court, & command that I should thinke on some fit presentment, which should answere the former, still keeping the[n] the same persons, the Daughters of N I G E R; but their beauties varied according to promise, and their time of absence excus'd, with foure more added to their Number.
  To which limitts, when I had adapted my inuention, and being to bring newes of them, fro[m] the Sea, I induc'd Boreas, one of the windes, as my fitest Messenger; presenting him thus.

  In a robe of Russet, and White mixt, full, and bagg'd: his haire, and beard rough: and horrid; his wings gray, and ful of snow, and icycles. His mantle borne from him with wires, & in seueral puffes; his feet a ending in serpents tayles; and in his hand a 
a So Paus. in Eliacis reports him to haue, as he was carued in arcâ Cipselli. 

b See, Iconolog. di Cesare Ripa. 

 leaueles Branch, laden with icycles.
  But before, in midst of the Hall; to keepe the State of the feast, and season; I had placed bIanuary, in a throne of Siluer: His robe of Ash-collour, long, fringed with Siluer, a white mantle. His winges white, and his buskins; in his hand a Laurell bough, vpon his head an Anademe of Laurell, fronted with the signe Aquarius, and the Character. Who as Boreas blusterd forth, discouer'd himselfe.

B O R E A S.

 Hich, among these is Albion, Neptunes Sonne?

I A N V A R I V S.

 Hat ignorance dares make that question?
Would any aske, who Mars were in the wars?
Or, which is Hesperus, among the starres?
Of the bright Planets, which is Sol? Or can
A doubt arise, 'mong creatures, which is man?
Behold, whose eyes do dart Promethian fire
Throughout this all; whose precepts do inspire
The rest with duty; yet commanding, cheare:
And are obeyed, more with loue, then feare.

B O R E A S.

 Hat Power art thou, that thus informest me? 

I A N V A R I V S.

 Ost thou not know me? I, to well, know thee
By thy a rude voyce, that doth so hoarely blow, 
a Ouid. Metam. lib. 6. neere the end see--horridus irâ, quæ solita est illi, nimiumque domestica, vento, &c. 

b See the offices, and power of Ianus, Ouid. Fast. I.

c Two marriages; the one of the Earle of Essex, 1606. the other of the Lord Hay, 1607. 

Thy haire, thy beard, thy wings, ore-hil'd with snow,
Thy Serpent feet, to be that rough North-winde,
Boreas, that, to my raigne, art still vnkinde.
I am the Prince of Months, call'd Ianuary;
Because by me b Ianus the yeare doth vary,
Shutting vp warres, proclayming peace, & feasts,
Freedome, & triumphes: making Kings his guests.

B O R E A S.

 O thee then, thus, & by thee, to that King,
That doth thee present honors, do I bring 
Present remembrance of twelue Æthiope Dames:
Who; guided hither by the Moones bright flames,
To see his brighter light, were to the Sea
Enioyn'd againe, and (thence assign'd a day
for their returne) were in the waues to leaue
Theyr blacknesse, and true beauty to receaue.

I A N V A R I V S.

 Hich they receau'd, but broke theyr day: & yet
Haue not return'd a looke of grace for it,
Shewing a course, and most vnfit neglect.
Twise haue I come, in pompe here, to expect
Theyr presence; Twise deluded, haue bene faine
With c other rites my Feasts to intertayne:
And, now the Third time, turn'd about the yeare 
Since they were look'd for; and, yet, are not here.

B O R E A S.

 T was nor Will, nor Sloth, that caus'd theyr stay,
For they were all prepared by theyr day,
And, with religion, forward on theyr way: 
When P R O T E V S, d the gray Prophet of the Sea 
d Read his description, with Virg. Geor. 4. Est in Carpathio Neptuni gurgite vates, Cæruleus Proteus. 

e Because they were before of her complexion. 

f To giue authoritie to this part of our fiction, Pline hath a chap. 95. of his 2. booke. Nat. Hist. de Insulis fluctuantibus. & Card. lib. 1. de rerum variet. cap 7. reports one to be in his time knowne, in the Lake of Loumond, in Scotland. To let passe that of Delos, &c. 

a The daughter of Erectheus, King of Athens, whome Boreas rauish'd away, into Thrace, as she was playing with other virgins by the floud Ilissus: or (as some will) by the Fountaine Cephisus

b The viole[n]ce of Boreas, Ouid excellently describes in the place aboue quoted. Hâc nubila pello, hâc freta concutio, nodosaq robora verto, Induroq niues, & terras grandine pulso. 

c According to that of Vir. -- Denuntiat igneus Euros. 

a She is call'd  by Eurip. in Helena, which is Lucifera, to which name we here presently allude. 

b For the more full and cleare vnderstanding of that which followes, haue recourse to the succeeding pages; where the Scene presents it selfe. 

c So Terence and the Ancients calld Poesy, Artem musicam.

Met them, and made report, how other foure
Of their blacke kind, (whereof theyr Sire had store)
Faithfull to that great wonder, so late done 
Vpon theyr Sisters, by bright Albion,
Had followed them to seeke B R I T A N I A  forth,
And there, to hope like fauor, as like worth.
Which Night envy'd, as done in her despight,
And (mad to see an Æthiope washed white,
Thought to preuent in these; least men should deeme
Her coulor, if thus chang'd; of small esteeme.
And so, by mallice, and her magicke, tost
The Nymphes at Sea; as they were almost lost,
Till, on a Iland, they by chance arriu'd,
That f floted in the mayne, where, yet, she' had giu'd
Them so, in charmes of darknes, as no might
Should loose them thence, but theyr chang'd Sisters sight.
Whereat the Twelue (in piety mou'd, & kind)
Streight, put themselues in act, the place to finde;
Which was the Nights sole trust they so will do,
That she, with labor might confound them too.
For, euer since, with error hath she held
Them wandring in the Ocean, and so quell'd
Their hopes beneath their toyle, as (desperat now 
Of any least successe vnto their vow;
Nor knowing to returne to expresse the grace,
Wherewith they labor to this Prince, and place)
One of them, meeting me at Sea, did pray,
That for the loue of my a O R Y T H I A,
(Whose very name did heate my frosty brest,
And make me shake my Snow fill'd wings, & crest)
To beare this sad report I would be wonne,
And frame their iust excuse: which here I haue done.

I A N V A R I V S.

 Ould thou hadst not begun, vnluckie Winde,
That neuer yet blew'st goodnes to mankind;
But with thy bitter, and too piercing breath,
Strik'st b horrors through the ayre, as sharp as death.

 Ere a second Wind came in, VVLTVRNVS, in a blew coulored robe & mantle, pufft as the former, but somewhat sweeter, his face blacke, and on his c head, a red Sunne, shewing he came from the East; his winges of seuerall coullors; his buskins white, and wrought with Gold.


 LL horrors vanish, and all name of Death,
Bee all things here as calme as is my breath.
A gentler Wind, Vulturnus, brings you newes
The Ile is found, & that the Nymphs now vse
Their rest, & ioy. The Nights black charmes are flowne.
For, being made vnto their Goddesse knowne,
Bright Æthiopia, the siluer Moone,
As she was a Hecate, she brake them soone:
And now by vertue of their light, and grace,
The glorious Isle, wherein they rest, takes place
Of all the earth for Beauty. b There, their Queen
Hath raysed them a Throne, that still is seene 
To turne vnto the motion of the World, 
Wherein they sit, and are, like Heauen, whirld
About the Earth, whilst, to them contrary,
(Following those nobler torches of the Sky)
A world of little Loues, and chast Desires,
Do light their beauties, with still mouing fires.
And who to Heauens consent can better moue,
Then those that are so like it, Beauty and Loue?
Hether, as to theyr new Elysium,
The spirits of the antique Greekes are come,
Poets, and Singers, Linus, Orpheus, all
That haue excell'd in c knowledge musicall;
Where, set in Arbor made of myrtle, and gold,
They liue, againe, these Beautyes to behold.
And thence, in flowry mazes walking forth
Sing hymnes in celebration of their worth.
Whilst, to theyr Songs, two Fountaynes flow, one hight
Of lasting Youth, the other chast Delight,
That at the closes, from theyr bottomes spring,
And strike the Ayre to eccho what they sing.
But, why do I describe what all must see?
By this time, nere thy coast, they floating be;
For, so their vertuous Goddesse, the chast Moone,
Told them, the Fate of th'Iland should, & soone
Would fixe it selfe vnto thy continent,
As being the place, by Destiny fore-ment,
Where they should flow forth, drest in her attyres:
And, that the influence of those holy fires,
(First rapt from hence) being multiplied vpon
The other foure, should make their Beauties one.
    Which now expect to see, great Neptunes Sonne,
    And loue the miracle, which thy selfe hast done.

    Here, a Curtine was drawne (in which the Night was painted.) and the Scene discouer'd. which (because the former was marine, and these, yet of necessity, to come from the Sea) I deuisd, should bee an Island, floting on a calme water. In the middst therof was a Seate of state, cal'd the Throne of Beautie, erected: diuided into eight Squares, and distinguish'd by so many Ionick piliasters. In these Squares the sixteene Masquers were plac'd by couples: behind them, in the center of the Throne was a tralucent Pillar, shining with seuerall colour'd lights, that reflected on their backs. From the top of which Pillar went seuerall arches to the Pilasters, that sustained the roofe of the Throne, which was likewise adorn'd with lights, and gyrlonds; And betweene the Pilasters, in front, little Cupids in flying posture, wauing of wreaths; and lights, bore vp the Coronice: ouer which were placed eight Figures, representing the Elements of Beauty; which aduanced vpon the Ionick; and being females, had the Corinthian order. The first was 

S P L E N D O R. 

a The Rose is call'd, elegantlie, by Achil. Tat. lib. 2.  the splendor of Plants, and is euery where taken for the Hieroglyphick, of Splendor

b As this of Serenity, applying to the Opticks reason of the Rainbow, & the Mythologists making her the Daughter of Electra


    In a robe of flame colour, naked brested; her bright hayre loose flowing: She was drawne in a circle of clowdes, her face, and body breaking through; and in her hand a branch, with two [a] Roses, a white, and a red. The next to her was 

S E R E N I T A S. 

    In a garment of bright skye colour, a long tresse, & waued with a vayle of diuers colours, such as the golden skie some-times shewes: vpon her head a cleare, and faire Sunne shining, with rayes of gold striking downe to the feete of the figure. In her hand a b Christall, cut with seuerall angles, and shadow'd with diuerse colours, as causd by refraction. The third 

G E R M I N A T I O. 

    In greene; with a Zone of golde about her Wast, crowned with Myrtle, her haire likewise flowing, but not of so bright a colour: In her hand, a branch of r Myrtle. Her socks of greene, and Gold. The fourth was 

L A E T I T I A. 

 N a Vesture of diuerse colours, and all sorts of flowers embroidered thereon. Her socks so fitted. A s Gyrland of flowers in her hand; her eyes turning vp, and smiling, her haire flowing, and stuck with flowers.         The fift 

T E M P E R I E S. 

 N a garment of Gold, Siluer, and colours weaued: In one hand shee held a t burning
r So Hor. lib. i. Od. 4. makes it the ensigne of the Spring. Nunc decet aut viridi nitidum caput impedire myrto, aut flore, terræ quem ferunt solutæ &c

s They are euery where the tokens of gladnesse, at al feasts, sports. 

t The signe of temperature, as also her girland mixed of the foure Seasons.

u Pearles, with the auncients, were the speciall Hieroglyphicks of louelinesse, in quibus nitor tantum & læuor expetebantur.

x So was the Lilly, of which the most delicate Citty of the Persians was called Susæ: signifying that kind of flower, in their tongue. 

y The signe of honor, and dignity. 

z both that, & the Compasse are known ensignes of perfection

a She is so describ'd in Iconolog. di Cesare Ripa, his reason of 7. iewels in the crown, alludes to Pythagoras his comment, with Mac. lib. 2. Som. Sci. of the seuen Planets and their Sphaeres

b The inducing of many Cupids wants not defence, with the best and most receiued of the Antients, besides Prop. Stat. Claud. Sido. Apoll. especially Phil. in Icon. Amor. whom I haue particularly followed, in this description. 

c They were the notes of Louelinesse and sacred to Venus. See Phil. in that place, mentioned. 

d Of youth. 

e Of pleasure. 

  Steele, in the other, an Vrne with water. On her head a gyrland of flowers, Corne, Vine-leaues, and Oliue branches, enter-wouen. Her socks, as her garment.     The sixth 

V E N V S T A S. 

 N a Siluer robe, with a thinne subtle vaile ouer her haire, and it: u Pearle about her neck, and forhead. Her socks wrought with pearle. In her hand shee bore seuerall colour'd x Lillies.         The seauenth was 

D I G N I T A S. 

 N a dressing of State, the haire bound vp with fillets of gold, the Garments rich, and set with iewells, and gold; likewise her buskins, and in her hand a yGolden rod.       The eight 

P E R F E C T I O. 

 N a Vesture of pure Gold, a wreath of Gold vpon her head. About her body the z Zodiack, with the Signes: In her hand a Compasse of gold, drawing a circle.

On the top of all the Throne, (as being made out of all these) stood 

H A R M O N I A. 

  Personage, whose dressing had something of al the others, & had her robe painted full of Figures. Her head was compass'd with a crowne of Gold, hauing in it a seauen iewells equally set. In her hand a Lyra, wheron she rested.
    This was the Ornament of the Throne. The ascent to which, consisting of sixe steppes, was couered with a b multitude of Cupids (chosen out of the best, and most ingenuous youth of the Kingdome, noble, and others) that were the Torch-bearers; and All armed, with Bowes, Quiuers, Winges, and other Ensignes of Loue. On the sides of the Throne, were curious, and elegant Arbors appointed: & behind, in the back part of the Ile, a Groue, of growne trees: laden with golden fruict, which other little Cupids plucked, and threw each at other, whilst on the ground c Leuerets pick'd vp the bruised apples, and left them halfe eaten. The Ground-plat of the whole was a subtle indented Maze; And, in the two formost angles, were two Fountaines, that ranne continually, the one dHebes, the other e Hedone's: In the Arbors, were plac'd the Musitians, who represented the Shades of the old Poets, & were attir'd in a Priest-like habit of Crimson, and Purple, with Laurell gyrlonds.
    The colours of the Masquers were varied; the one halfe in Orange-tawny, and Siluer: the other in Sea-greene, and Siluer. The bodies and short skirts of White, and Gold, to both.
    The habite, and dressing (for the fashion) was most curious, and so exceeding in riches, as the Throne wheron they sat, seem'd to be a Mine of light, stroake fro[m] their iewells, & their garme[n]ts.
    This Throne, (as the whole Iland mou'd onward, on the water,) had a circular motion of it[s] owne, imitating that which we cal Motum mundi, from the East to the West, or the right to the left side. For so Hom. Ilia. M. vndersta[n]ds by Orientalia mundi: by Occidentalia. The steps, wheron the Cupids sate, had a motion contrary, with Analogy, admotum Planetarum, from the West to the East: both which turned with their seuerall lights. And with these three varied Motions, at once, the whole Scene shot it selfe to the Land.
    Aboue which, the Moone was seene in a Siluer Chariot, drawne by Virgins, to ride in the cloudes, and hold them greater light: with the Signe Scorpio, and the Character, plac'd before her.
The order of this Scene was carefully, and ingeniously dispos'd; and as happily put in act for the Motions) by the Kings master Carpenter. The Paynters, I must needes say, (not to belie them) lent small colour to any, to attribute much of the spirit of these things to their pen'cills. But that must not bee imputed a crime either to the inuention, or designe.
    Here the loud Musique ceas'd; and the Musitians, which were placed in the Arbors, came forth through the Mazes, to the other Land: singing in this full Song, iterated in the closes by two Eccho's, rising out of the Fountaines. 

S O N G. 

 Hen Loue, at first, did mooue 
f So he is faind by Orpheus, to haue appear'd first of all the Gods: awakened by Clotho: and is therefore call'd Phanes, both by him, and Lactantius

g An agreeing opinion, both with Diuines and Philosophers, that the great Artificer in loue with his owne Idæa, did, therefore, frame the world. 

h Alluding to his name of Himerus, and his signification in the name, which is Desiderium post aspectum: and more then Eros, which is onely Cupido, ex aspectu amare.

From out of Chaos, brightned.
So was the world, and lightned,
As now! Ecch. As now! Ecch. As now!
Yeeld Night, then, to the light,
As Blacknesse hath to Beauty:
Which is but the same duety.
It was g for Beauty, that the World was made,
And where she raignes, h Loues lights admit no shade.
Ecch. Loues lights admit no shade.
Ecch. Admit no shade.

    Which ended, Vulturnus the Wind, spake to the Riuer Thamesis that lay along betweene the shores, leaning vpon his Vrne (that flow'd with water,) and crown'd with flowers; with a blew cloth of Siluer robe about him: and was personated by Maister THOMAS GILES, who made the Daunces

V V L T V R N V S. 

 Ise aged Thames, and by the hand
Receiue these Nymphes, within the land:
And, in those curious Squares, and Rounds,
Wherewith thou flow'st betwixt the grounds,
Of fruictfull Kent, and Essex faire,
That lend thee gyrlands for thy haire;
Instruct their siluer feete to tread,
Whilst we, againe to sea, are fled.

    With which the Windes departed; and the Riuer receiu'd them into the Land, by couples & foures, their Cupids comming before them.

Their persons were, 

Co. of DERBY.
|   La. WINSORE.

   The[se] dancing forth a most curious Daunce, full of excellent deuice, and change, ended it in the figure of a Diamant, and so, standing still, were by the Musitians with a second Song (sung by a loud Tenor) celebrated.
 O Beauty on the waters stood,
i As, in the Creation, he is said, by the Antients, to haue done. 

k That is, borne since the world, and out of those duller apprehensions that did not thinke hee was before. 

a I make these different from him, which they fayne, cæcum cupidine, or petulantem, as I expresse beneath in the third song, these being chaste Loues, that attend a more diuine beauty, then that of Loues commune parent. 

(When Loue had i seuer'd earth, from flood!
So when he parted ayre, from fire,
He did with concord all inspire!
And then a Motion he them taught,
That elder than himselfe was thought.
Which thought was, yet, k the child of earth,
For Loue is elder then his birth.

     The Song ended; they Daunced forth their second Daunce, more subtle, and full of change, then the former; and so exquisitely performed, as the King's Maiestie incited first (by his owne liking, to that which all others there present, wish'd) requir'd them both againe, after some time of dauncing with the Lords. Which time, to giue them respite, was intermitted with [a] Song; first, by a treble voyce, in this manner. 
 F all these Cupids, now, were blind
  As is a their wanton Brother;
Or play should put it in their mind
  To shoot at one another:
What pretty battayle they would make
If they their objects should mistake
  And each one wound his Mother!

Which was seconded by another treble; thus.
 T was no policy of Court,
  Albee' the place were charmed,
To let in earnest, or in sport,
  So many Loues in, armed.
For say, the Dames should with their eyes,
Vpon the hearts, here, mean surprize,
  Were not the men like harmed?

To which a tenor answered.
 Es, were the Loues or false, or straying;
Or Beauties not their beauty weighing:
But here no such deceit is mix'd,
Their flames are pure, their eyes are fix'd:
They do not warre, with different darts,
But strike a musique of like hearts. 
 Fter which Songs, they danc'd Galliards and Corranto's; and with those excellent Graces, that the Musique, appointed to celebrate them, shew'd it could be silent no longer: but, by the first Tenor, admir'd them thus: 

S O N G. 

 Ad those, that dwelt in error foul
b There hath beene such a profane Paradoxe published. 

 c The Platonicks opinion. See also Mac. lib. 1. and 2. Som. Scip. 

d For what countrey is it thinks not her owne beautie fayre, yet?

And hold b that women haue no soule,
But seene these moue; they would haue, then
Sayd, Women were the souls of Men.
  So they do moue each heart, and eye,
  With the Worlds soule, true Harmonie. 
 Ere, they daunc'd a third most elegant and curious Daunce, and not to be describ'd againe, by any art, but that of their own footing: which ending in the figure, that was to produce the fourth; January from his state saluted them, thus, 


 Our graceis great, as is your Beauty, Dames;
Inough my Feasts haue prou'd your thankfull flames.
Now vse your Seate: that seate which was, before,
Thought stray'ing, vncertayne, floting to each shore,
And to whose hauing euery Clime laid clayme,
Each Land, and Nation vrged as the ayme
Of their ambition, Beauties[d] perfect throne,
Now made peculiar, to this place, alone;
And that, by'impulsion of your destinies,
And his attractiue beames, that lights these Skies:
Who (though with th'Ocean compass'd) neuer wets
His hayre therein, nor weares a beame that sets.
  Long may his light adorne these happy rites,
As I renew them; and your gratious sights
Enioy that happinesse, eu'en to enuy, as when
Beauty, at large, brake forth, and conquer'd men. 

At which, they daunc'd theyr last daunce, into their Throne againe: and that turning, the Scene clos'd with this full Song.

S O N G. 

 Till turne, and imitate the Heauen
        In motion swift and euen;
        And as his Planets goe,
        Your brighter lights doe so:
May Youth and Pleasure euer flow.
        But let your State, the while,
        Be fixed as the Isle.
Cho. {So all that see your Beauties sphære,
        {May know the'Elysian fields are here.
Echo. {Th'Elysian fields are here. 
   Echo. {Elysian fields are here.

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