In this pastoralized reinterpretation of Homer pleasure is the bait offered to reconcile the young men of the Inner Temple to the company of women. Two manuscripts of William Browne's masque survive. Since the time of its first publication in 1772, the Inner Temple Masque has aroused speculation about a possible relation to Comus. John Milton, deeply versed in Spenserian poetry, may well have seen a manuscript.
Thomas Davies: "The Public is greatly obliged to Mr. Farmer of Emanuel College, Cambridge; he very kindly pointed out such passages in several Authors, as might serve to furnish materials for a short Account of the Author's life. Besides a Poem at the end of the Third Volume, he very obligingly procured from the Library of Emanuel College, the Inner Temple Masque, an excellent little poem, which had never been printed. Milton in all probability borrowed the idea of Comus from W. Browne's Masque" Works of Browne (1772) 1:iii-iv.
Thomas Warton: "There may be mentioned a masque on the story of Circe and Ulysses, called The Inner Temple Masque, written by William Brown, a student of that society, about the year 1620. From this piece, as a specimen of the temple-masques in this view, I make no apology for my anticipation in transcribing the following ode, which Circe sings as a charm to drive away sleep from Ulysses, who is discovered reposing under a large tree. It is address to Sleep. 'Sonne of Erebus and Nighte [. . .]' In praise of this song it will be sufficient to say, that it reminds us of some favourite touches in Milton's Comus, to which it perhaps gave birth. Indeed, one cannot help observing here in general, although the observation more properly belongs to another place, that a masque thus recently exhibited on the story of Circe, which there is reason to think had acquired some popularity, suggested to Milton the hint of a masque on the story of Comus. It would be superfluous to point out minutely the absolute similarity of the two characters; they both deal in incantations conducted by the same mode of operation, and producing effects exactly parallel" History of English Poetry (1774-81; 1840) 2:540-41.
Henry John Todd: "Circe, and her enchantments, appear to have been a favourite theme, subsequent to the age of Spenser; for, besides Milton's adaptation of the story, W. Browne, a true disciple of Spenser, wrote a Mask on the subject, about the year 1615; and I have lately seen an Italian Pastoral Drama entitled "L'Incanto di Circe, Fauola Pastorale del Sig. Pietro Fido da Tossia. In Ronciglione, 1634" Works of Spenser (1805) 4:209n.
Philip Bliss: "Browne's works were collected by Thomas Davies the bookseller, who made some additions from original MSS. particularly The Inner Temple Masque, and printed them in three small volumes 8vo. London 1772. To this edition some short notes, written by the rev. W. Thompson of Queen's coll., were added" Athenae Oxonienses (1815) 2:366.
Thomas Campbell: "His Masque of the Inner Temple was never printed, till Dr. Farmer transcribed it from a MS. of the Bodleian library, for Thomas Davies’s edition of Browne’s works, more than 120 years after the author’s death" Specimens of the British Poets (1819; 1855) 245.
Leigh Hunt: "A masque has come down to us written by William Browne, a disciple of Spenser, expressly for the society of which he was a member, and entitled the Inner Temple Masque. It is upon the story of Circe and Ulysses, and is worthy of the school of poetry out of which he came" "On the Town" (1858) 105; in Moulton, Library of Literary Criticism (1901-05) 2:75.
George Saintsbury: "Perhaps the best place of all, for Browne's power in irregular metres, is the Inner Temple Masque, with its often-quoted and extremely lyrical overture — 'Steer hither, steer your winged pines,' the completion of which does not come for some time in the original; and with a large choice of other lyrical metres, including one of the fantasticalities rather favoured by the Elizabethans older and younger — an 'Echo Song.' In fact, this later bur really 'pleasant Willy' is a very good example of the way in which his master had in his own words 'taught all the woods to answer, and their echoes ring' to tunes and times never imagined before" History of English Prosody (1906-10) 2:122.
Henry Marion Hall: "Samuel Daniel's eclogue, 'Ulysses and the Siren' may have suggested to William Browne the theme for his 'Inner Temple Masque' (1614), in which the wiles of the sea-maiden and the evasions of the crafty Greek furnish humorous situations not unlike those treated by Calderon in 'El Golfo de las Sirenas'" Idylls of Fishermen (1944) 130.
On the history of this edition, see Earl R. Wasserman, Elizabethan Poetry in the Eighteenth Century" (1947) 226-27.
THE DESCRIPTION OF THE FIRST SCENE.
On one side of the hall towards the lower end was discovered a cliffe of the sea done over in part white according to that of Virgill, lib. 5.
Jamque adeo scopulos Sirenum advecta subibat
Difficiles quondam multorumque ossibus albos.
Upon it were seated two Syrens as they are described by Hyginius and Servius, with their upper parts like women to the navell, and the rest like a hen. One of these, at the first discovery of the scene (a sea being done in perspective on the side of a cliffe) began to singe this songe, beinge as lascivious proper to them and beginninge as that of theirs in Hom. lib. [Greek passage: Odyssey 12:184].
Steere hither, steere, your winged pines,
All beaten mariners,
Here lye Love's undiscover'd mynes,
A prey to passengers;
Perfumes farre sweeter than the best
Which make the phoenix urne and nest.
Fear not your ships,
Nor any to oppose you, save our lips,
But come on shore,
Where no joy dyes till love hath gotten more.
The last two lines were repeated as from a grove nere, by a full chorus, and the Syren about to sing againe, Triton (in all parts as Apollonius, lib. 4. Argonaut. shewes him) was seen interrupting her thus:
Leave, leave, alluring Syren, with thy song
To hasten what the Fates would fain prolong:
You sweetest tunes but grones of mandrakes be;
He his owne traytor is that heareth thee.
Tethys commands, nor is it fit that you
Should ever glory you did him subdue
By wyles, whose pollicyes were never spread
'Till flaming Troy gave light to have them read.
Ulysses now furrowes the liquid plaine,
Doubtfull of seeing Ithaca againe,
For in his way more stops are thrust by time,
Than in the path where vertue comes to climbe:
She that with silver springs for ever fills
The shady groves, sweet meddowes, and the hills,
From whose continuall store such pooles are fed,
As in the land for seas are famoused.
'Tis she whose favour to this Grecian tends,
And to remove his ruine Triton sends.
But 'tis not Tethys, nor a greater powre,
Cynthia, that rules the waves; scearce he (each houre)
That wields the thunderboltes, can thinges begun
By mighty Circe (daughter to the Sun)
Checke or controule; she that by charmes can make
The scaled fish to leave the brinye lake,
And on the seas walke as on land she were;
She that can pull the pale moone from her spheare,
And at mid-day the world's all-glorious eye
Muffle with cloudes in long obscuritie;
She that can cold December set on fire,
And from the grave bodyes with life inspire;
She that can cleave the center, and with ease
A prospect make to our Antipodes;
Whose mystique spelles have fearfull thunders made,
And forc'd brave rivers to run retrograde;
She, without stormes, that sturdy oaks can tear
And turne their rootes where late their curl'd toppes were;
She that can with the winter solstice bringe
All Flora's daintyes. Circe bids me singe,
And till some greater pow're her hand can stay,
Whoe'er commande, I none but her obeye.
Then Nereus daughter thus you'le have me telle.
Thinke on her wrath.
I shall. Triton! farewelle.
Vaine was thy message, vaine her haste, for I
Muste tune againe my wanton melodye.
Here she went on with her Songe thus:
For swelling waves, our panting brestes,
Where never stormes arise
Exchange; and be awhile our guestes,
For starres gaze on our eyes.
The compasse, love shall hourely singe,
And as he goes about the ringe,
We will not misse
To telle each pointe he nameth with a kisse.
Then come on shore,
Where no joye dyes till love hath gotten more.
At the end of this songe Circe was seene upon the rocke, quaintly attyr'd, her haire loose about her shoulders, an anadem of flowers on her head, with a wand in her hand, and then makinge towardes the Syrens, call'd them thence with this speech,
Syrens, ynouk; cease; Circe hath prevayl'd,
The Greeks which on the dauncinge billowes sayl'd,
About whose shippes a hundred dolphins clunge,
Wrapt with the musicke of Ulysses' tongue,
Have with their guide, by powrfull Circe's hand,
Cast their hook'd anchors on Aeoea's strand.
Yonde standes a hille crown'd with high waving trees,
Whose gallant toppes each neighb'ringe country sees,
Under whose shade an hundred Sylvans playe,
With gaudy nymphes farre fayrer than the daye;
Where everlastinge springe with silver showres
Sweet roses doth increase to grace our bowres;
Where lavish Flora, prodigall in pride,
Spendes what might well enrich all earth beside,
And to adorne this place she loves so deare,
Stays in some clymats scearcely half the yeae.
When would she to the world indifferent bee,
They should continuall Aprill have as we.
Midway the wood, and from the level'd lands,
A spatious, yet a curious arbour standes,
Wherein should Phoebus once to pry beginne,
I would benight him 'ere he gette his inne,
Or turne his steedes awrye, so drawe him on
To burne all landes but this like Phaeton.
Ulysses neare his mates, by my strong charmes
Lyes there till my return in sleepe's soft armes:
Then Syrens quickly wend we to the bowre,
To fitte their welcome, and shew Circe's powre.
What all the elements do owe to thee,
In their obedience is perform'd in me.
Circe drinkes not of Lethe, then awaye
To helpe the nymphes who now begin their laye.
THE SECONDE SCENE.
While Circe was speaking her first speech, and at these words, "Yond stands a hill, &c.," a travers was drawne at the lower end of the hall, and gave way to the discovery of an artificiall wood, so nere imitatinge nature, that, I thinke, had there been a grove like it in the open plaine, birds would have been faster drawne to that than to Zeuxis grapes. The trees stood at the climbinge of an hill, and lefte at their feete a little plaine, which they circled like a crescente. In this space, upon hillockes, were seen eight musitians in crimsen taffity robes, with chaplets of lawrell on their heades, their lutes by them, which beinge by them toucht as a warninge to the nymphes of the wood, from amonge the trees was heard this songe.
THE SONG IN THE WOOD.
What singe the sweete birdes in each grove?
Nought but love.
What sound our Eccho, day and night?
What doth each wynd breathe as it fleetes?
Is there a place on earth this isle excells,
Or any nymphes more happy live than we,
When all our songes, our soundes, and breathinges be,
That here all love, delighte, and sweetenes dwells.
By this time Circe and the Syrens being come into the wood, Ulysses was seene lying as asleepe, under the coverte of a faire tree, towardes whom Circe coming, bespake thus.
Yet holdes soft sleepe his course. Now Ithacus,
Ajax would offer hecatombes to us,
And Ilium's ravish'd wifes, and childlesse sires,
With incense dym the bright aethereal fires,
To have thee bounde in chaynes of sleepe as here;
But that thou mayst behold, and knowe how deare
Thou art to Circe, with my magicke deepe,
And powerfull verses, thus I banish sleepe.
Son of Erebus and Nighte,
Hye away; and aime thy flighte
Where consorte none other fowle,
Than the batte, and sullen owle.
Where upon the lymber grasse,
Poppy and Mandragoras,
With like simples not a few,
Hange for ever droppes of dewe.
Where flowes Lethe, without coyle,
Softly like a streame of oyle.
Hye thee thither gentle Sleepe,
With this Greeke no longer keepe:
Thrice I charge thee by my wand,
Thrice with Moly from my hand,
Doe I touch Ulysses eyes,
And with the Jaspis: Then arise
Ulysses (as by the power of Circe) awakinge, thus began:
Thou more than mortalle mayde,
Who, when thou listes, canst make (as if afraide)
The mountaines tremble, and with terrour shake
The seate of Dis; and from Avernus lake
Grim Hecate with all the Furyes bringe,
To worke revenge; or to thy questioninge
Disclose the secretes of th' infernall shades,
Or raise the ghostes that walke the under-glades,
To thee, whom all obey, Ulysses bendes,
But may I ask (great Circe) whereto tendes
Thy never-failinge handes? Shall we be free?
Or must thyne anger crush my mates and me?
Neyther, Laertes' sonne, with winges of love,
To thee, and none but thee, my actions move.
My arte went with thee and thou me may'st thanke,
In winninge Rhesus horses, e're they dranke
Of Xanthus' streame; and when with human gore
Clear Hebrus' channell was all stained 'oer;
When some brave Greeks, companions then with thee,
Forgot their country through the Lotus-tree;
I tyn'd the firebrande that (beside thy flight)
Left Polyphemus in eternal nighte;
And lastly to Aeoea brought thee on,
Safe from the man-devouring Laestrygon.
This for Ulysses' love hath Circe done,
And if to live with me thou shalt be wonne;
Aurora's hand shall never drawe awaye
The sable vale that hides the gladsome daye.
But we new pleasures will beginne to taste,
And, better stille, those we enjoyed laste.
To instance what I canne: Musicke, thy voyce,
And of all those have felt our wrath, the choyce
Appeare; and in a dance 'gin that delight
Which with the minutes shall growe infinite.
Here one attired like a woodman, in all poyntes came forth of the wood, and, going towards the stage, sunge this songe to call away the Antimasque.
Come yee whose hornes the cuckold weares,
The witoll too, with asses' eares;
Let the wolfe leave howlinge,
The baboone his scowlinge,
And Grillus hye
Out of his stye.
Though gruntinge, though barkinge, though brayinge yee come,
We'ele make yee daunce quiet, and so send yee home.
No ginne shall snare you,
Nor mastive scare you,
Nor learne the baboone's trickes,
Nor Grillus scoffe,
From the hogge troughe,
But turne againe unto the thickes.
Here's none ('tis hop'd) so foolish, scornes
That any els should weare the hornes.
Here's no curre with howlinge,
Nor an ape with scowlinge,
Shall mock or moe
At what you showe.
In jumpinge, in skippinge, in turninge, or oughte
You shall doe to please us how well or how noughte.
If there be any
Amonge this many,
Whom such an humour steares,
May he still lye,
In Grillus' stye,
Or weare for ever the asse's eares.
While the first staffe of this songe was singinge, out of the thickets on eyther side the passage came rushing the Antimasque, being such as by Circe, were supposed to have been transformed (havinge the mindes of men still) into these shapes followinge:
Two with heartes, heads and bodyes, as Actaeon is pictur'd.
Two like Midas, with asses earse.
Two like wolves, as Lycaon is drawne.
Two like baboons.
Grillus (of whom Plutarch writes in his morralles) in the shape of a hogge.
These together dancinge an antique measure, towardes the latter end of it missed Grillus, who was newly slipte away, and whilst they were at a stand, wond'ringe what was become of him, the woodman stepte forth and sunge this
Grillus is gone; belyke he hath hearde
The dayrie-maid knocke at the trough in the yearde:
Through thicke and thinne he wallowes,
And weighes nor depths nor shallowes.
Harke! how he whynes,
Run all e're he dines;
Then serve him a tricke
For beinge so quicke,
And lette him for all his paines
Behold you turne clean of
And spill all his wash and his graines.
With this the triplex of their tune was plaid twice or thrice over, and by turnes brought out them from the stage; when the woodman sung this other staffe of the last songe, and then ran after them.
And now 'tis wish'd that all such as hee,
Were rooting with him at the troughe or the tree.
Fly, fly, from our pure fountaines,
To the dark vales or the mountaines,
Liste some one whines
With voyce like a swine's,
As angry that none
With Grillus is gone,
Or that he is lefte behinde.
O let there be no staye
In his waye,
To hinder the boare from his kinde.
How likes Ulysses this!
Much like to one
Who in a shipwracke being cast upon
The froathy shores, and safe beholdes his mates
Equally cross'd by Neptune and the Fates.
You might as well have ask'd how I would like
A straine whose equall Orpheus could not strike,
Upon a harpe whose stringes none other be,
Than of the heart of chaste Penelope.
O let it be enough that thou in these,
Hast made most wretched Laertiades:
Let not the sad chance of distressed Greekes,
With other teares than Sorrowe's dewe your cheekes!
Most abject basenesse hath enthral'd that breste
Which laughs at men by misery oppreste.
In this, as lyllies, or the new-falne snowe,
Is Circe spotlesse yet, what though the bowe
Which Iris bendes, appearing to each sight
In various hewes and colours infinite:
The learned knowe that in itselfe is free,
And light and shade make that varietye.
Thinges farre off seen seem not the same they are,
Fame is not ever truth's discoverer;
For still where envy meeteth a reporte,
Ill she makes worse, and what is good come shorte.
In whatsoe'ere this land hath passive beene,
Or she that here 'oer other reigneth Queene,
Let wise Ulysses judge. Some I confesse,
That tow'rds this isle not long since did addresse
Their stretched oares, no sooner landed were,
But (carelesse of themselves) they here and there
Fed on strange fruites, invenominge their bloods,
And now like monsters range about the woods.
If those thy mates were, yet is Circe free:
For their misfortunes have not birth from me.
Who in th' apothecarie's shop hath ta'ne
(Whilst he is wantinge) that which breeds his bane,
Should never blame the man who there had plac'd it,
But his own folly urginge him to taste it.
Aeoea's Queene, and great Hyperion's pride,
Pardon misdoubtes, and we are satisfide.
Swifter the lightninge comes not from above,
Than doe our grants borne on the winges of love.
And since what's past doth not Ulysses please,
Call to a dance the fair Nereides,
With other nymphes, which doe in every creeke,
In woods, on plaines, on mountaines symples seeke
For powerfull Circe, and let in a songe
Ecchos be aydinge, that they may prolonge
My now command to each place where they be,
To bringe them hither all more speedilye.
Presently in the wood was heard a full musicke of lutes, which descending to the stage, had to them sung this followinge songe, the Echos being plac'd in several parts of the passage.
Circe bids you come awaye.
ECHO. Come awaye, come awaye.
From the rivers, from the sea.
ECHO. From the sea, from the sea.
From the greene woods every one.
ECHO. Every one, every one.
Of her maides be missinge none.
Echo: Missing none, missing none.
No longer stay, except it be to bringe
A med'cine for love's stinge.
That would excuse you, and be held more deare,
Than wit or magicke, for both they are here.
ECHO. They are here, they are here.
The Echo had no sooner answered to the last line of the songe, "They are here," but the second Antimasque came in, being seven nymphs, and were thus attir'd:
Foure in white taffita robes, long tresses, and chaplets of flowers, herbs and weeds, on their heads, with little wicker baskets in their handes, neatly painted. These were supposed to be maides attending upon Circe, and used in gatheringe simples for their mistress's inchantments. — (Pausanias in prioribus Eliacis.)
Three in sea-greene robes, greenish haire hanging loose, with leaves of corall and shells intermixt upon it. These are, by Ovid affirmed to helpe the nymphs of Circe in their collections.
These havinge danced a most curious measure to a softer tune than the first Antimasque, as most fitting, returned as they came; the Nereides towardes the cliffes, and the other Maides of Circe towards the woods and plaines. After which Ulysses, thus:
Fame addes not to thy joyes, I see in this,
But like a high and stately pyramis
Growes least at farthest: now faire Circe grante,
Although the faire-hair'd Greeks do never vaunte,
That they in measur'd paces ought have done,
But where the god of Batteles led them on;
Give leave that (freed from sleepe) the small remaine
Of my companions, on the under plaine,
May in a dance strive how to pleasure thee,
Either with skill or with varietye.
Circe is pleas'd: Ulysses take my wand,
And from their eyes each child of sleepe command,
Whilst my choice maides with their harmonious voyces
(Whereat each byrd and dancing springe rejoyces)
Harming the windes when they contrary meete,
Shall make their spirits as nimble as their feete.
THE THIRD SCENE'S DESCRIPTION.
Circe, with this speech, deliveringe her wande to Ulysses, rests on the lower parte of the hill, while he going up the hill, and striking the trees with his wande, suddenly two greate gates flew open, makinge, as it were, a large glade through the wood, and along the glade a faire walke; two seeming bricke walles on either side, over which the trees wantonly hunge; a great light (as the Sun's sudden unmaskinge) being seene upon this discovery. At the further end was descried an arbor, very curiously done, havinge one entrance under an architrave, borne up by two pillers, with their chapters and bases guilte; the top of the entrance beautifide with postures of Satyres, Wood-nymphs, and other anticke worke; as also the sides and corners: the coveringe archwise interwove with boughes, the backe of it girt round with a vine, and artificially done up in knottes towardes the toppe: beyond it was a wood-scene in perspective, the fore part of it opening at Ulysses's approach, the maskers were discovered in severall seates, leaninge as asleepe.
Doublets of greene taffita, cut like oaken leaves, as upon cloth of sylver; their skirtes and winges cut into leaves, deepe round hose of the same, both lin'd with sprigge lace spangled; long white sylke stockings; greene pumps, and roses done over with sylver leaves; hattes of the same stuffe, and cut narrowe-brimmed, and risinge smaller compasse at the crowne; white reathe hatbandes; white plumes; egrettes with a greene fall; ruffe bands and cuffes.
Ulysses severally came and toucht every one of them with the wand, while this was sunge.
Shake off sleepe ye worthy knights,
Though ye dreame of all delights;
Shew that Venus doth resorte
To the campe as well as courte.
By some well timed measure,
And on your gestures and your paces,
Let the well-composed graces,
Lookinge like, and parte with pleasure.
By this the knights being all risen from their seates, were, by Ulysses (the loud musicke soundinge) brought to the stage; and then to the violins danced their first measure; after which this songe brought them to the second.
On and imitate the sun,
Stay not to breathe till you have done:
Earth doth thinke as other where
Do some woemen she doth beare.
Those wifes whose husbands only threaten,
Are not lov'd like those are beaten:
Then with your feete to suffringe move her,
For whilst you beate earth thus, you love her.
Here they danc'd their second measure, and then this songe was sunge, during which time they take out the ladyes.
Choose now amonge this fairest number,
Upon whose brestes love would for ever slumber:
Choose not amisse, since you may where you wille,
Or blame yourselves for chusinge ille.
Then do not leave, though oft the musicke closes,
Till lillyes in their cheekes be turned to roses.
And if it lay in Circe's power,
Your blisse might so persever,
That those you choose but for an howre,
You should enjoy for ever.
The knights, with the ladyes, dance here the old measures, Galliards, Corantoes, the Branles, &c. and then (havinge led them againe to their places) danced their last measure; after which this songe called them awaye.
Who but Time so hasty were,
To fly away and leave you here.
Here where delight
Might well allure
A very stoicke, from this night
To turne an epicure.
But since he calles away; and Time will soone repent,
He staid not longer here, but ran to be more idly spente.