Court Masques: Jacobean and Caroline Entertainments, 1605-1640

By David Lindley | Go to book overview

THOMAS CAREW
Coelum Britannicum

A Masque at
Whitehall in the Banqueting House
on Shrove Tuesday Night
the 18 of February, 1634

Non habeo ingenium; Caesar sed iussit: habebo.
Cur me posse negem, posse quod ille putat?˚


The Description of the Scene

The first thing that presented itself to the sight was a rich ornament that
enclosed the scene, 'in the upper part of which were great branches of foliage
growing out of leaves and husks, with a cornice at the top; and in the
midst was placed a large compartment composed of grotesque work, wherein

were harpies˚ with wings and lions' claws, and their hinder parts converted 5
into leaves and branches. Over all was a broken frontispiece, wrought with
scrolls and mask-heads of children, and within this a table adorned with a
lesser compartment with this inscription
: COELUM BRITANNICUM
The two sides of this ornament were thus ordered: first, from the ground
arose a square basement, and on the plinth stood a great vase of gold, richly 10
enchased and beautified with sculptures of great relief, with fruitages
hanging from the upper part. At the foot of this sat two youths naked, in their
natural colours. Each of these with one arm supported the vase, on the cover
of which stood two young women in draperies, arm in arm, the one figuring
the Glory of Princes and the other Mansuetude,˚ their other arms˚ bore up 15
an oval, in which to the King's majesty was this impresa: a lion with an
imperial crown on his head; the word, Animum sub pectore fortio.˚ On the
other side was the like composition, but the design of the figures varied, and
in the oval on the top, being borne up by Nobility and Fecundity, was this
impresa to the Queen's majesty: a lily˚ growing with branches and leaves, 20
and three lesser lilies springing out of the stem; the word, Semper inclita
virtus.˚ All this ornament was heightened with gold, and for the invention
and various composition was the newest and most gracious that hath been done
in this place
.

-166-

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