The Coleorton Masque survives in a single manuscript transcript, from which the present text is taken. The texts of masques by authors other than Jonson have been drawn from the earliest printed copies. Jonson carefully prepared the first Folio of 1616 for publication, and though the status of the posthumous 1640 Folio is somewhat more ambiguous, it has seemed right to base all the texts (with the single exception of the Barriers, for reasons explained in the notes) on these Folios. I have obviously been much aided by the labours of previous editors, and a list of those editions consulted can be found in the list of Abbreviations on p. 214.
Spelling has been modernized throughout. I have attempted to modernize punctuation in a way that aids the modern reader to follow the sense, but inevitably with compromises and inconsistencies. Elisions have not been indicated where the modern reader easily accepts them (in words like 'even' or 'heaven', for example); but every effort has been made to indicate where 'extra' syllables are required for the metre.
The annotation of masques poses particular problems. The allusiveness of the genre, both to the repertory of symbolic and mythological images and to the political circumstances of the time, demands a level of explication rather higher than the norm for this series. It is, furthermore, difficult to steer a course between annotation which is strictly explicatory and that which is interpretative and risks imposing a contentious reading on the reader. I hope I have found a satisfactory middle road.