MASQUES. The old masques, fashionable in England in the 17th century, were in reality the kind of private theatricals that then gen erally prevailed at the courts of Europe. Their name is understood to have originated from the use of the head masque, representing either romantic, historical or allegorical types on oc casions of festivity or solemnity. The first of these masques (or ballets, as they were called in Italy and France) that we find recorded was that given by Bergonzio di Botta, at Tortona, to celebrate the marriage of the Duke of Milan in 1489. It was the talk of all the elite of the Western World. Originally a parade or fes tival, a form of dramatic masque quickly de veloped in England under the wits of men as deft as Ben jonson and Fletcher, aided and abetted by the master-designer, Inigo Jones (q.v.), reaching a height of tawdry theatrical beauty that died out almost as quickly as it had flamed. At Versailles and other courts the masque or ballet survived for over a century longer. The masque of to-day is philosophical in character. It is the drama of personified ideas. It is akin to allegory. Its dramatic pur pose is the presentation of universal truths; and in this indirect way to bring their lessons home to the mind and heart alike. The pageant
and masque are distinctly antithetical in char acter. The one is essentially concrete, the other is essentially abstract. The one depends on realism to tell its story, the other depends on symbolism, though either may make use of the elements of the other in subordination. Mr. Percy Mackaye's 'Masque of St. Louis,' per formed in that city in 1914, was perhaps the soundest achievement of the American poet in this new form which has yet to find its authen tic masters. During the Shakespearean ter centenary celebrations of 1916 many com memorative masques were written and per formed. For these and sundry lists of "Masques and Festivals" lately held in the United States consult the bulletins of the American Pageant Association. See Festivm.; PAGEANT. The standard authorities on the English masques are Evans, H. A., 'English Masques' (London 1898); Reyher, Paul, 'Les Masques Anglais: etude sur les ballets et, la vie de tour en Angleterre, 1512-1640' (Paris 1909) ; Brotenak, Rudolf, 'Die Englischen Maskenspiele' (Vienna 1902).