C. H. Herford, Percy Simpson, and Evelyn Simpson (eds), Ben Jonson, Vol. 10: Play Commentary; Masque Commentary

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Originally planned for Christmas 1610, this masque was put off till Twelfth Night 1611 and further to 3 February, 'either because the stage machinery is not in order or because their Majesties thought it well to let the Marshal depart first', says Correr in the Venetian pg 528State Papers (xii, p. 110) on 21 January. The Marshal was Laverdin who had annoyed the King and Queen by coming too late for Oberon.1 In a further dispatch, dated 11 February, Correr reports that 'The Marshal is hurrying his departure, urged, as he says, by couriers express; nothing keeps him but the Queen's Masque, which takes place the day after to-morrow' (ibid., p. 115). He was present along with the Venetian ambassador.

Again Jonson does not mention Inigo Jones or Ferrabosco or the others whose payment is recorded in the State accounts. A warrant of 26 November 1610 for this masque and Oberon has already been quoted on page 520, and there are various entries in the Pell Order Book, E 403/2730. On f. 77b is an entry of 1 February 1611 to 'Inigo Iones for the Queenes Maske': 'By Order dated vltimo Ianuarij: 1610 To Inigo Iones appointed by the Right honorable the Earles of Suff and worcestr for receipt therof the summe of twoe hundred poundreproduced character to be by him imployed about the charges of the Queenes Maske reproduced character b̃re dat. xxvjto die Novembris 1610:' checked by 'Cary'.

Other payments are on f. 75b, 21 January 1611: 'By Order dated vltimo Decembris 1610. To Willm̃ Stirrell gent the Summe of twoe hundred poundreproduced character to be by him imployed for the charges of the Queenes Maske intended reproduced character b̃re dat. xxvjto die Novembris: 1610', checked by 'Bowier'. And again on f. 121, 9 March 1611: 'By Order dated quinto Martij 1610. To Willm̃ Stirrell gent authorized by the Right Honorable the Earle of Suff Lord Chamb̃laine of his Ma:ties housholde and the Earle of Worcester Mr of his Ma:ties horse the summe of twoe hundred poundreproduced character fowerscore shillingreproduced character threepence to be by him paied over to diverse particular reproduced charactersons imployed in the Queenes Ma:tie Maske reproduced characterformed at xpe m as last: 1610: reproduced character b̃re dat xxvjto die Novembris 1610:' checked by 'Watson'. Lastly there is an entry to Richard Ansell on f. 172b, 6 May 1611: 'By Order dated vltimo Aprilis 1611. To Richard Ansell Mattlayer the summe of tenne poundreproduced character vijs xjd for workreproduced character done by him in the banqueting house the last Maske att Candlemas 1610. according to his bill subscribed by the Earles of Suff' & Worcester, reproduced character b̃re dat xxijto die Novembris 1610'. Checked by 'Watson'.

Two entries in Lansdowne MS. 164, weekly accounts of the tellers of the Exchequer, 1611–14, refer to this masque in the payments from 31 November to 7 December 1611, 'To Thomas woodward in full paymt for the maske CCClxviijli viijs' (f. 2), and 'Eniges Masque' —i.e. Inigo's—'att xpremãs last. 1611ndash;CCli' (f. 12).

In the Exchequer of Receipt, Miscellanea, E407/57 (1), ff. 1, 2, is 'The pg 529bill of account of the hole charges of the Queens Mtreproduced character Maske at Christmas. 1610'.

'Inprimis to Mr Inigo Iohnes as apeareth by his byll.




It'm to mr. Confesse vpon his bill for the 12 fooles




It'm to his Taylor for making the suite as apeareth by his bill


It'm for 128 yeards of fustian to Lyne theire Coatreproduced character att 10d the yeard




It'm for 87 ownces of Coper Lace att 18d the ownce, and 6 ownces att 2od the ownce vsed for the 11 preestreproduced character gownreproduced character and hoodreproduced character, wth shoues, and skarffs



It'm for 24 yeards of Riband to beare their Lutes att 12d the yeard, and one Dosen att 3d, and half a Dosen att 2d the yeard



It'm to the Taylor for making those gownreproduced character and hoodreproduced character


It'm to the II preestes to buy their silke stockingreproduced character and showes att 2li a peece


It'm for 3 yeards of flesh collored satten for Cupidreproduced character Coate, and hose att 14s the yeard



It'm for 26 yeardreproduced character of Callico to lyne the preestes hoodreproduced character att 20d the yeard




It'm to the taylor for Making and furnishing of Cupidreproduced character suite with Lace and puffreproduced character



Sum̃a 3o8li–14s–3d

'Rewards to the reproduced charactersons imployed in the Maske.

Inprimis to mr Beniamin Iohnson for his Invention


It'm to mr Inigo Iohnes for his paynes and Invention


It'm to mr Alfonso 〈Ferrabosco〉 for making the songes


It'm to mr 〈Robert〉 Iohnson for setting the songreproduced character to the lutes


It'm to Thomas Lupo for setting the dances to the violens


It'm to mr Confesse for teachinge all the dances


It'm to mr Bochan for teaching the Ladies the footing of 2 danses


To the 12 Musitions that were preestes that songe and played


It'm to the 12 other Lutes that suplied, and wth fluits


It'm to the 10 violens that contynualy practized to the Queene


It'm to 4 more that were added att the Maske


It'm to 15 Musitions that played to the Pages and fooles


It'm to 13 hoboyes and sackbutts


It'm to 5 boyes that is, 3 graces Sphynkreproduced character and Cupid


It'm to the 12 fooles that danced


Sum̃a 292li

'Disburs: Sum̃a totalis is




Receiptreproduced character: Where of ther is receaved


Remaines. So the Wardrobe being not yet discharged, ther remayns to be allowed




'There was receaved from the Kingreproduced character Wardrobe of Sr Roger Aston.

pg 530

Imprimis of severall Collered taffite for 12 fooles, and 3 graces, 52 ells, and a q'rter att 17s the elln.




It'm of Crimson taffite for the 11 preestreproduced character amounting to 55 els, and mr Confesse his coate being in the number, att 17s the elln



It'm of watched satten for the preestreproduced character hoodreproduced character and gorgettreproduced character 26 yeardes 3 q'rters att 15s the yeard




It'm of taffite sarsnett for scarffreproduced character to girde their gownes beinge 18 ells att 8s the ell



Sum̃a 118li–7s–0.

'Memorandum that this last sume of 118li—7s— is to be allowed to Sr Roger Aston Knight, over and aboue, the other foresayd sum̃e of 600li–14s–3d.

T. Suffolke. J. E. Worcester.'1

Jonson's silence about the scenery, the performers, and the occasion of the masque makes identification difficult, but we believe that the scene in Inigo Jones's Designs, no. 17, represents the release of the 'eleven Daughters of the Morn' from the prison of night in this masque. Miss Welsford has reproduced it in The Court Masque, plate x, facing page 256. The lower part represents the entrance to the prison—a castellated gateway with a grate in the middle, flanked by two circular towers with arched doorways. This structure is capped by an oval wreath of cloud, inside which are three small conical hills; in front of the two lateral hills are seated three ladies grouped in a pyramid, and in front of these before the middle hill five ladies arranged in the same way, the lady in the highest place, who has two flying genii holding a wreath over her head, representing the queen. The Sphinx's riddle has just been solved, and the prisoners appear triumphantly above their prison. The form of the machine containing the masquers and the grouping of them in pyramidal form finds a parallel in The Masque of Queens.

Swinburne (A Study, p. 56) comments on Jonson's 'use of the sweet and simple heptasyllabic metre' in this masque as 'worthy of Richard Barnfield or George Wither: … in purity and fluency of music his verse can seldom be compared, as here it justly may, with the clear flutelike notes of Cynthia and The Shepherd's Hunting'.

2. wilde Instruments. So the Witches in The Masque of Queens, 30, enter 'with a kind of hollow and infernall musique'.

5 note. Ignorance. Cebes, Tabula, iii, ἡ γὰρ Άϕροσύνη τοῖς ἀνθρώποις Σϕίγξ ἐστιν‎.

30. again would Chaos bee. Cf. Beauty, 282–5, 324–7.

60. candor. Alch. v. v. 152.

pg 531

77. rich and purest. A compressed superlative, the richest and purest: Alch. ii. ii. 60, 'the pure, and grauest of Diuines'.

132. her riddle. Compare the riddle of the Theban Sphinx in the Oedipus myth.

172. take me' along. E.M.O. v. iv. 16.

178. the new world i' the Moone. A reference to Galileo's Nuntius Sidereus, March 1610.

186. a world in feature, the microcosm of Hym. 125.

251. To the cliffe. So the Theban Sphinx sat on a hill to propound her riddle.

285. the world without. Cf. Blackness, 248.

292. The Contraries. Ovid, Met. ii. 846–7:

  • Non bene conveniunt nec in una sede morantur
  • maiestas et amor.

312. præcipitate themselues. Like the Sphinx at Thebes when her riddle was solved.

350. lines, appointed lot, as in the Biblical phrase, 'The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places' (Psalm xvi. 6).

375. ayry. For Swinburne's conjecture see vol. vii, p. 358.


1 See page 519.

1 Printed by Reyher, op. cit., pp. 509–10.

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