[Milton-L] who was Sabrina?

Chernaik, Warren warren.chernaik at kcl.ac.uk
Wed Feb 11 12:35:09 EST 2009

Dear Leslie,
I don't think anyone knows who played Sabrina and Comus, though I agree with Cedric Brown that it must have been actors imported for the occasion. Lawes played the Attendant Spirit, and was the music tutor for 15 year old Alice Egerton, who had a large part, involving singing. Campbell and Corns in their new biography point out that there were other entertainments for the Earl of Bridgewater, and that the three Egerton children might have had to do some rehearsing with Lawes while traveling to various venues. As Brown says, it was rare for courtiers to have speaking or singing parts in masques, but danced and showed off their expensive costumes. If there is anyone with information about the original actors at Ludlow, I'd be interested in hearing.
Best wishes,
Warren Chernaik
From: milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu [milton-l-bounces at lists.richmond.edu] On Behalf Of Leslie McMurtry [leslie.mcmurtry at gmail.com]
Sent: 09 February 2009 15:13
To: John Milton Discussion List
Subject: [Milton-L] who was Sabrina?

Hi all,

I just finished reading John Milton's Aristocratic Entertainment by Cedric C. Brown.  In the past, and I think I formed this impression from Roy Flannagan's Riverside Milton & the teaching of Dr. Cheryl Fresch, I thought it was fairly certain that a cousin of the Egertons' named Jane had been called in to the play the part of Sabrina in the masque (Comus).  However, Mr. Brown finds it "unthinkable" that any of the Egerton relatives would have played Sabrina.  Yet, frustratingly, he gives no clue as to who he thought might have played the role.  We know she must have been a good singer, and it's such a great part, with such power and the might of Milton's ideas of virtue and grace conferred upon it, it seems strange to me that the identity should still be unknown, or that an actress could have been picked at random.  (Still, we don't know who played Comus, though I believe Riverside Milton suggested it was an actor friend of Henry Lawes'?)  Lady Alice had quite a few older sisters, but they were all married and presumably not in Ludlow by the time the masque was played.

What are your thoughts?  Who played Sabrina?

Thanks for your insights.

Leslie M.
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