Lost Muse, The

Anon. (1600)

N.B. The title is Chambers's (ES, 4:113); Wiggins, Catalogue identifies it as "Wedding Masque of Muses" (#1251).

Historical Records

Correspondence of Rowland Whyte

14 June 1600. To Sir Robert Sidney.

Her Maiestie is in very good health, and purposes to Honor Mrs. An Russels marriage with her princely presence yt is thought she will stay there monday and all tuesday my lord cobham prepares his howse for her Maiestie to ly in, becawse it is near the Bridehowse.
     Here is a memorable Maske <. . . . . .> of .8. ladies, they haue a straunge dawnce newly invented, their Attire is this each hath a skirt of cloth of siluer, a rich wastcoat wrought with silkes and golde and siluer, a Mantell of Carnacon taffeta cast vnder the Arme, and their heare loose about their shulders curiously knotted and interlaced. but these are the maskers which I had almost <forgotten>. My lady doritye, Mrs. fitton, Mrs. Carey, Mrs. onslo, Mrs. southwell, Mrs. bes Russell, Mrs. darcy, and my lady Blanche Somersett. Those .8. dawnce to the Musiq Apollo bringes, and there is a fine speach that makes mention of a nineth much to her honor and praise. The preparacion for this feast is sumptuous and great, but yt is feared that the howse in Blackfriars wilbe to litle for such a company. The marriage is vpon Monday, what els may happen in yt, I will signifie when it is past.
(Centre for Kentish Studies [CKS], U1475, C12/253; qtd. Archer 4:124.)

23 June 1600. To Sir Robert Sidney.

This day senight her Maiestie was at Blackfriars to grace the Marriage of the lord Harbert and his wiffe. The bride mett the Queen at the waterside, where my lord Cobham had provided a lectica made like half a litter, wherein she was carried to my lady russels by .6. knights. Her Maiestie dined there, and at night went thorough doctor paddins howse (who gaue the Queen a fanne) to my lord Cobhams, where she supt, after supper the Maske came in which was very delicate as I wryt in my last to see .8. ladies soe pretily and richly attired, Mrs. fitton leade, and after they had donne all their own Ceremonies, these 8. lady maskers choose .8. ladies more to dawnce the measures. Mrs. fitton went to the Queen and woed her to dawnce, Her Maiestie asked what she was. Affection she said. Affection said the Queen? Affection is falce, yet her Maiestie rise and dawnced, soe did my lady Marquis. The bride was lead to the church by the lord Harbert of Cardiffe, and my lord Cobham and from the church by the earles of Rutland and Cumberland.
     The gifts given that day was valewed at 1000li in plate and iewels at least.
     The entertainment was great and plentifull and my lady russell much comended for yt.
(CKS, U1475, C12/254; qtd. Archer 4:125.)

Most of the women mentioned in Whyte's first letter can be identified as Maids of Honour to Elizabeth (Archer 4:124n; but cf. Wiggins 233), although "my lady Blanche Somersett" was the sister of the groom. In the second letter, "my lady Marquis" is Lucy Paulet, Marchioness of Winchester (Collins 2:203; Archer 4:125n) and "doctor paddin" may have been Burghley's sometime physician Sir William Paddy (Sharf 135n, recording the suggestion of John Gough Nichols; Archer 4:125n). In the transcription above, the angled brackets indicate places where the manuscript text is rendered difficult to read by the interventions of Arthur Collins, the letters' eighteenth-century editor (Archer 4:124n).

Correspondence of Jean de Thumery, Sieur de Boissise

18 June 1600 (28 June, new style)

…elle [i.e. Elizabeth] voulut soupper en la dite compaignye, et le soir, ses filles, avec quelques gentilshommes, danserent ung ballet, où la dite dame mesme […] dansa gayement et de belle disposition.
(Bibliothèque Nationale, MS fr. 4128, f. 183r; qtd. Kermaingant 1:415; cited McGee and Meagher 144; date in Wiggins 232.)

De Boissise was Henri IV's ambassador to England.

Correspondence of John Chamberlain

24 June 1600. To Dudley Carleton.

I doubt not butt you haue heard of the great marriage at the Lady Russells. where the .Q. was present, being caried from the water side in a curious chaire and lodged at the .L. Cobhams; and of the maske of eight maides of honour and other gentlewomen in name of the muses that came to seeke one of theyre fellowes…
(The National Archives, SP 12/275, f. 20v.)

Theatrical Provenance

The masque was performed on 16 June 1600 at the house of Henry Brooke, Lord Cobham, in Blackfriars, to celebrate the marriage of Lady Anne Russell, one of Elizabeth's Maids of Honour, to Henry Somerset, Lord Herbert. It was acted by several of the Queen's Maids of Honour and others; Elizabeth herself attended the wedding and the performance.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The Nine Muses are of course conventional classical figures presiding over different arts and sciences, and the apparent presence of Apollo (suggested by Whyte's first letter) reinforces this classical background; however, Mary Fitton's role as "Affection" implies that the masques' muses were not the traditional goddesses.

References to the Play

(Information welcome.)

Critical Commentary

Chambers notes that the masquing gentlemen ("gentilshommes") mentioned by De Boissise are absent from the other records (1:169).

Laoutaris states that the bride's mother, Elizabeth Russell, likely both authored the masque and devised the "straunge dawnce," and that John Dowland (a beneficiary of the Russell's patronage) may have had a role in the evening's entertainment (345).

For What It's Worth

British Library, Additional MS 10444, a seventeenth-century collection of dance and masque tunes, contains music from "A Masque at the Fryers" (ff. 19v, 73v) and a "Blacke Fryars' Masque" (ff. 32v, 84v) (Oliphant and Madden 81; Hughes-Hughes 3:174).

Cobham's Blackfriars house was close to the space acquired by James Burbage in 1596 (Cobham's house was directly adjacent to a "little yard" owned by Burbage [Folger MS L.b.356; qtd. Feuillerat 64]), which would soon be leased by Henry Evans for performances by the Children of the Chapel.

Chambers mentions in a footnote (1:170n) that the famous Procession Picture of Queen Elizabeth (held at Sherborne Castle, Dorset) "probably represent[s]" her "passage through Blackfriars on this occasion," and therefore might also depict the masque's performers and key audience members. The first sustained case for this historical context was made, on the suggestion of John Gough Nichols, by George Sharf in 1866; however, since Chambers, the identification of the painted scene with a specific event has been much contested (see, e.g., Armitage).

Works Cited

Archer, Jayne Elisabeth, ed. "[Letters from Rowland Whyte to Sir Robert Sidney, May–June 1600]." In John Nichols's The Progresses and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth I. Ed. Elizabeth Goldring, Faith Eales, Elizabeth Clarke, and Jayne Elisabeth Archer. 5 vols. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.
Armitage, David. "The Procession Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I: A Note on a Tradition." Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 53 (1990): 301–7.
Collins, Arthur, ed. Memorials and Letters of State. 2 vols. London, 1746.
De Kermaingant, P. Laffleur. L'ambassade de France en Angleterre sous Henri IV. Mission de Jean de Thumery, sieur de Boissise (1598-1602). 2 vols. Paris, 1886.
Feuillerat, Albert. Blackfriars Records. Malone Society Collections II.1. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1913.
Hughes-Hughes, Augustus. Catalogue of Manuscript Music in the British Museum. 3 vols. London: British Museum, 1906–9.
Kermaingant, P. Laffleur de, ed. L'ambassade de France en Angleterre sous Henri IV: Mission de Jean de Thumery, sieur de Boissise (1598-1602). 2 vols. Paris, 1886.
Laoutaris, Chris. Shakespeare and the Countess: The Battle that Gave Birth to the Globe. London: Fig Tree, 2014.
McGee, C. E., and John C. Meagher. "Preliminary Checklist of Tudor and Stuart Entertainments: 1558-1603." Research Opportunities in Renaissance Drama 24 (1981) 51-155.
[Oliphant, Thomas, and Frederic Madden, eds.] Catalogue of the Manuscript Music in the British Museum. London, 1842.
Sharf, George. "Queen Elizabeth's Procession in a Litter to Celebrate the Marriage of Anne Russell at Blackfriars, June 16, 1600." The Archaeological Journal 23 (1866): 131–44. Online
Wiggins, Martin, in association with Catherine Richardson. British Drama, 1533-1642: A Catalogue. Volume IV: 1598–1602. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 29 July 2015.