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OBSOLETE WORDS ARE DISPLACED BY THOSE NOW IN USE ;
A KEY TO THE INTERPRETATION IS ALSO FURNISHED:
THE WHOLE OF THIS NOBLE POEM
IS THUS RENDERED INTELLIGIBLE TO EVERY READER,
“ A VERSE MAY FIND HIM, WHO A SERMON FLIES." ,
SOLD BY JOHN MASON, 66 PATERNOSTER-ROW.
GLASGOW: M'PHUN, ARGYLE-STREET.
AND ALL BOOKSELLERS.
THE EDITOR'S PREFACE.
EDMUND SPENSER was one of the earliest, and is acknowledged by all to have been one of the best, of our English poets. THE KNIGHT OF THE RED Cross is the first book of his FAIRY QUEEN: but it is also a com. plete poem in itself. It is an allegory, the imagery of which is borrowed partly from the exploits of chivalry, and partly from the supposed habits of fairies. It is entitled to rank with that master piece of allegorical composition, the PILGRIM'S PROGRESS. Indeed, as SPENSER's works were read extensively and with great avidity in the seventeenth century, it is no improbable supposition that BUNYAN's wonderful genius for communicating religious instruction under the fascinating guise of allegorical narrative was fostered by the perusal of them. Moreover, the germs of BUNYAN'S PILGRIM are found in the REDCROSS KNIGHT. In one respect SPENSER surpasses BUNYAN: he combines the charms of poetry with the fertile ingenuity of allegory.
We have no hesitation in saying of the REDCROSS KNIGHT, that, for the thrilling interest which it awakens, for the striking pictorial descriptions with which it abounds, for its high poetical merits, and withal for its adaptation to strengthen in the minds of men a just ab. horrence of Popery, and a firm attachment to British Protestant Christianity, it is worthy to be placed by the side of BUNYAN'S PILGRIM, on the library shelf of every cottage throughout the land.
KEY TO THE INTERPRETATION. CANTO I, II.-The design of the poem is to illustrate and recommend Christian holiness. The REDCROSS KNIGHT represents Christianity generally, or the Christian personally, equipped in the whole armour of God, as described by Saint Paul in his cpistle to the Ephesians. UNA is divine truth, whose cause the knight has espoused, and whose wrongs he has undertaken to redress. GLORIANA, at whose instigation he enters upon this enterprise, is primarily and properly heavenly glory ; though sometimes the title is applied, in courtly adulation, to Queen Elizabeth, to whom the poet dedicated his work. The first encounter of the knight is with Error, a monster whom he destroys with all her offspring. ARCHIMAGO is Satan, as a deceiver. In the garb of a hermit, he inveigles the knight, and succeeds by magical devices in inducing him to abandon UNA. The Church, after its first triumphs, gradually become dissatisfied with the simplicity of primitive truth, and parted therefrom. The adoption of Popish principles and rites, from pre-exe istent systems of heathenism, which Christianity superseded, is repre. sented by the knight overcoming Sans Foy, pagan unbelief, and re. ceiving to his favour Duessa, duplicity or falsehood, under the assumed name of FIDESSA, faith. The episode of FRADUBIO and FRÆLISSA exhibits the wretched plight of such as vacillate between Protestantism and Popery; persons brought up in Protestant principles but going over in
greater or less degree to Popery; a class of people, always found in this country ever since the Reformation, and, in these days, como monly designated Puseyites.
CANTO III.-The lion is the representation of kingly authority, by which Protestant truth was upheld and defended at the Reformation, both in our own and other countries. In the death of KIRKRAPINE We see this royal authority abolishing the monasteries. But as the cause of truth was not to depend for its protection on such a power, the poet, with singular sagacity, and almost prophetic foresight, indicates the destruction, in its turn, of civil despotism, by an insurrectionary law. less democracy, personated in Sans Loy, without law. He also vividly depicts the danger to which the cause of truth is subjected, when de. mocratic influences gain the ascendancy.
CANTO IV, V.-The poet's description of LUCIFERA, her palace, her equipage, and her attendants, has always been greatly admired, both for its truthfulness and its bold pencilling. The lesson is that Popery sur. rounds the self-denying religion of the meek and lowly Jesus with the glittering attractions of worldly pomp and splendour. SANS Joy, the third son of old AVEUGLE, or Blindman, as Bunyan would call him, is appropriately met with here; for utterly devoid of all true joy are the votaries of pride. The knight, on becoming acquainted, through the medium of his dwarf, the personification of watchfulness, with the horrors of the dungeon in which the thralls of the haughty princess were held captive, is urged by fear to make his escape.
CANTO VI.- Probably the design of this Canto is to shew the mingled sentiments of admiration and superstitious awe, with which Christian truth was received by the barbarous nations of Europe, in the iniddle ages. SATYRANE seems to be the type of that rude but lofty-minded chivalry which sprung up in those nations; and his contest with the Saracen is perhaps an allusion to the crusades.
CANTO VII, VIII, IX. ORGOGLIO, from an Italian word signifying pride, personifies those tyrannical governments of Europe, by which Popery has been for centuries patronized and sustained; and the beast on which he set Duessa is the secular power of the Popedom. Protes. tant Christianity is oppressed by those governments, and its professors persecuted and crushed. ARTHUR, who befriends Una in her extremity, and liberates the knight, is British magnanimity exerting its resistless might to put down all intolerance, to withstand the tyranny of Rome, and to secure full religious freedom. His squire is the gospel ministry; and the wondrous bugle is the preaching of evangelical doctrine. The knight, after his deliverance, is well nigh overcome by the sophistries of despair, but is extricated by truth.
Canto X, XI, XII.-The knight, being greatly strengthened and improved by the entertainment he receives in the house of holiness, goes forth to his final conflict with the great dragon. How graphic and striking is the description of the monster! It need scarcely be stated that he is the image of Satan, as the destroyer. The struggle is fierce and protracted; but the adversary being vanquished, and the human race disenthralled, the alliance of Christianity with eternal truth is celebrated amidst general rejoicings.
WILLIAM HORTON. EDINBURGH, July, 1850.
KNIGHT OF THE RED CROSS; OR, HOLINESS.
Lo! I, the man whose muse erewhile did mask,
To blazen broad amongst her learned throng :
Help then, O holy virgin, chief of nine,
That I must rue his undeserved wrong:
And thou, dread progeny of highest Jove,
In loves and gentle jollities arrayed,
And with them too, O goddess heavenly bright,
The argument of ine afflict style: