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"Faire maiden, white and redde,
With this stage direction, "A head comes vp full "-4rfgold; she combes it into her lap."
I must not omit, that Shakspeare seems also to have had an eye on this play. It is in the scene where " The Haruest-men enter with a "song." Again, "Enter the Haruest-men sing"ing, with women- in their handes." Frolicke says, " Who have we here, our amourous haruest"starres?" They sing,
"Loe, here we come a reaping a reaping,
Compare the Masque in the Tempest, a. iv. s. i. where Iris says,
"You sun-burnt sicklemen, of August weary,
Where is this stage-direction, "Enter certain "Reapers, probably habited: they join with the "nymphs in a graceful dance." The Tempest probably did not appear before the year l6l2.
That Milton had his eye on this ancient drama, which might have been the favourite of his early youth, perhaps it may be at least affirmed with as much credibility, as that he conceived the Paradise Lost, from seeing a mystery at Florence, written by Andreini a Florentine in 1617, entitled Adamo. . '„<?..
In the mean time it must be confessed, that Milton's magician Comus, with his cup and wand, is ultimately founded on the fable of Circe. The effects of both characters are much the same. They are both to be opposed at first with force and violence. Circe is subdued by the virtues of the herb moly, which Mercury gives to Ulysses, and Comus by the plant haemony, which the Spirit gives to the Two Brothers. About the year 1615, a Masque called the Inner Temple Masque, written by William Browne, author of Britannia's Pastorals, which I have frequently cited, was presented by the students of the Inner Temple. It has been lately printed from a manuscript in the library of Emanuel College: but I have been informed, that a few copies were printed soon after the presentation. It was formed on the story of Circe, and perhaps might have suggested some few hints to Milton.
The genius of the best poets is often determined, if not directed, by circumstance and accident. It is natural, that even so original a writer as Milton should have been biassed by the reigning poetry of the flay, by the composition most in fashion, and by subjects recently brought forward, but soon giving way to others, and almost as soon totally neglected and forgotten.