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TO THE RIGHT HONOURABLE
JOHN LORD VISCOUNT BRACKLEY2,
SON AND HEIR-APPARENT TO THE EARL OF BRIDGEWATER, ETC.
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 author3, 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 to a 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,
1 This is the dedication to Lawes's edition of the Mask, 1637.
2 The First Brother in the Mask. Warton.
3 It never appeared under Milton's name till the year 1645.