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With Memoir and Critical Dissertations,
REV. GEORGE GILFILLAN.
IN FIVE VOLUMES.
JAMES NICHOL, 104 HIGH STREET.
INTRODUCTION TO THE FAERIE QUEENE.
WE purpose, as what seems to us the best method of making our readers acquainted with the meaning and the merits of the wonderful poem before us, and with the genius of its author, to prefix three essays to the three first volumes of our republication-one, namely, on the design and meaning of the poem, a second on the life of Spenser, and a third on his genius.
We propose, in the present essay, presenting our readers with a short account of the general scope, and with an explanation of a number of the special types and allusions contained in this great allegorical poem. Hazlitt somewhere advises the reader of "The Faerie Queene" not to concern himself with the allegory at all, saying that if we do not make or meddle with the allegory, the allegory will let us alone. No doubt the most delightful way of reading the "Pilgrim's Progress" is that pursued by a child, who surrenders himself implicitly to the stream of the story, who regards all the characters and incidents as real, and allows himself to be pleased he knows not how, and cares not wherefore. But men do not, alas! always continue children, and when in advanced years they read over again the allegory which had enchanted their childhood, they are not satisfied without an explication of its meaning, and begin even to prefer the severe joy springing from the perception of truth, purpose, and order, to the delightful intoxication of ignorance and wonder. Children, however, have seldom patience to read "The Faerie Queene" through, and few persons accomplish this feat till they have attained an age when the intellect begins to ask reasons for the entertainment which the imagination is receiving, and to inquire, What is the tendency of this mighty stream of fancy and poetry