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The Mask was presented in 1634, and consequently in the twenty-sixth year of our author's age. In the title-page of the first edition, printed in 1637, it is said that it was presented on Michaelmas night, and there was this motto:
“ Eheu quid volui misero mihi ! floribus austrum
In this edition, and in that of Milton's poems in 1645, there was prefixed to the Mask the following dedication :
To the Right HONOURABLE LORD JOHN VISCOUNT BRACKLY, Son
and Heir Apparent to the EARL OF BRIDGEWATER, &c.
MY LORD,—This poem, which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your noble family, and much honour from your own person
in the performance, now returns again to make a final dedication of itself to you. Although not openly acknowledged by the author, yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely, and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my several friends satisfaction, and brought me necessity of producing it to the public view; and now to offer it up in all rightful devotion to those fair hopes, and rare endowments of your much promising youth, which give a full assurance, to all that know you, of a future excellence. Live, sweet lord, to be the honour of your name, and receive this as your own,
from the hands of him who hath by many favours been long obliged to your most honoured parents, and as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression
Your faithful and most humble Servant,
[In the edition of 1645 was also prefixed Sir Henry Wotton's letter to the Author, upon the following poem.]
COM U S.
PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634,
BEFORE THE EARL OF BRIDGEWATER, THEN PRESIDENT