« PreviousContinue »
With whome King Coyll made an agreëment,
For skil in musicke of all in her daies,
The Romane legion in dreadfull fight:
in wedlocke to Maximian,
Who dying left none heire them to withstand; But that they overran all parts with easy
Thewes, gifts, faculties.
2 Hight, reputed.
mother of Constantine) was named Helena, and is said by some writers to have been a British princess.
LXII. The weary Britons, whose war-hable youth Was by Maximian lately ledd away, With wretched miseryes and woefull ruth Were to those Pagans made an open pray, And daily spectacle of sad decay: Whome Romane warres, which now fowr hundred yeares And more had wasted, could no whit dismay ;
Til, by consent of Commons and of Peares,
From sea to sea he heapt a mighty mound,
1 War-hable, able to serve in war.
* Pyonings, works of pioneers. 5 To feare, to-fere, together.
LXII. 9. The second Constantine.] A common soldier of the name of Constantine was made emperor in Britain at the beginning of the fifth century.
LXIII. 2.- Easterlings.] The northern nations.
Them closely into Armorick did beare:
From whence estsoones arrived here three hoyes ?
Then they which sought at first their helping hand, And Vortiger en forst the Kingdome to aband.5
Eftsoones, immediately. * Hoyes, boats.
Hight, were named.
4 Then, than.
LXIV. 5. — Armorick.] Armorica, or Brittany, in France.
LXV. 2. — Hengist and Horsus.] Hengist and Horsa were two noted Saxon chiefs, who, about the middle of the fifth century, were invited by Vortiger, a British chief, to assist his people in repelling the invasion of the Picts and Scots, and afterwards established themselves in Britain, and founded the Saxon dynasty.
LXVI. 5. — Through his faire daughters face, &c.] Vortiger is said to have fallen in love with Rowena, the daughter of Hengist, and married her, by which alliance the Saxons were materially aided in obtaining a permanent foothold in Britain. Hengist, too, is said to
Soone after which, three hundred lords he slew
Whose dolefull moniments who list to rew,
LXVII. By this the sonnes of Constantine, which fled, Ambrose and Uther, did ripe yeares attayne, And, here arriving, strongly challenged The crowne which Vortiger did long detayne; Who, flying from his guilt, by them was slayne: And Hengist eke soone brought to shamefull death. Thenceforth Aurelius peaceably did rayne,
Till that through poyson stopped was his breath ; So now entombed lies at Stoneheng by the heath.
i List to rewo, wishes to pity.
3 Cesure, (cesura, Lat.) stop.
4 Least, last.
have invited the British chieftains to a feast, and treacherously slain them all, except Vortiger. The truth of both of these accounts is matter of dispute among historians. It is certain that there were devastating wars between the Saxons and Britons, in which the latter were commanded sometimes by Vortiger, and sometimes by his son Vortimer. See Turner's History of the Anglo-Saxons, vol. i. pp. 253– 265.
LXVII. 6. — And Hengist, &c.] The events in this stanza are fabulous. Hengist founded the kingdom of Kent, which he transmitted to his posterity.
LXVIII. 2. — There abruptly did it end.] The history is brought down to Uther Pendragon, the father of Arthur, and there ends. Prince Arthur was at that time ignorant of his parentage.
To finish it: that so untimely breach
Yet secret pleasure did offence empeach,
How much to Her we owe, that all us gave;
His worke, for which he was by love depryv'd
· Empeach, prevent.
2 Of, by.
LXX. 9. — Of life himselfe.] Prometheus was not deprived of life by Jupiter, unless Spenser uses the word in the sense of the enjoyment of life.