Comus "An Old And Haughty Nation Proud In Arms"

John Milton

"An Old And Haughty Nation Proud In Arms"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: John Milton composed A Masque, now commonly known as Comus, to celebrate the inauguration of John, Earl of Bridgewater and Viscount Brackley, as President of Wales. It was first presented in the great hall of Ludlow Castle, the Earl's headquarters. The poet says that this region that fronts the setting sun, Wales, an old and haughty nation proud in arms, will now be ruled by a trusted servant of the King. The Welsh are of great antiquity as a people in Britain, having been there for untold centuries before other peoples invaded the island. The valor and pride of the Welsh are traditional. The poet says, speaking in the person of the attendant spirit, that Lord Bridgewater's daughter and two sons are on the way to the castle to witness the inauguration ceremonies, but their way lies through a thick and tangled forest. He says:

. . . And all this tract that fronts the falling sun
A noble peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with tempered awe to guide
An old and haughty nation proud in arms;
Where his fair offspring nursed in princely lore,
Are coming to attend their father's state
And new-entrusted sceptre, but the way
Lies through the perplexed paths of this drear wood . . .