Page images

And take great ioy to publish it to many;
That every matter worse was for her melling1:
Her name was hight Detraction, and her dwelling
Was neare to Envie, even her neighbour next;
A wicked hag, and Envy selfe excelling

In mischiefe; for herselfe she onely vext;
But this same both herselfe and others eke perplext.

36 Her face was ugly, and her mouth distort,
Foming with poyson round about her gils,

In which her cursed tongue full sharpe and short
Appear'd, like aspis sting, that closely 2 kils,
Or cruelly does wound whomso she wils:
A distaffe in her other hand3 she had,

Upon the which she litle spinnes, but spils*;

And faynes to weave false tales and leasings bad, To throw amongst the good, which others had dis


37 These two now had themselves combynd in one,
And linckt together gainst Sir Artegall;
For whom they wayted as his mortall fone, 7
How they might make him into mischiefe fall,
For freeing from their snares Irena thrall:
Besides, unto themselves they gotten had
A monster, which the Blatant Beast men call,

1 Melling, meddling.

2 Closely, secretly.

& I. e. in one of her hands.

4 Spils, spoils.

5 Faynes, delights.

6 Disprad, spread abroad.

7 Fone, foes.

A dreadfull feend, of gods and men ydrad,1

Whom they by slights allur'd and to their purpose lad

38 Such were these hags, and so unhandsome drest :
Who when they nigh approching had espyde
Sir Artegall return'd from his late quest,
They both arose, and at him loudly cryde,
As it had bene two shepheards curres had scryde
A ravenous wolfe amongst the scattered flocks:
And Envie first, as she that first him eyde,

Towardes him runs, and with rude flaring lockes About her eares does beat her brest and forhead knockes.

39 Then from her mouth the gobbet she does take,
The which whyleare she was so greedily
Devouring, even that halfe-gnawen snake,
And at him throwes it most despightfully:
The cursed serpent, though she hungrily
Earst chawd thereon, yet was not all so dead,
But that some life remayned secretly;

And, as he past afore withouten dread

Bit him behind, that long the marke was to be read.

40 Then th' other, comming neare, gan him revile And fouly rayle, with all she could invent:

Saying that he had, with unmanly guile

1 Ydrad, dreaded.

2 Read, perceived.

And foule abusion, both his honour blent,1

And that bright sword, the sword of Iustice lent,
Had stayned with reprochfull crueltie

In guiltlesse blood of many an innocent:
As for Grandtorto, him with treacherie

And traynes having surpriz'd, he fouly did to die.

41 Thereto the Blatant Beast, by them set on,
At him began aloud to barke and bay
With bitter rage and fell contention;

That all the woods and rockes nigh to that way
Began to quake and tremble with dismay;
And all the aire rebellowed againe ;

So dreadfully his hundred tongues did bray :
And evermore those hags themselves did paine
To sharpen him, and their owne cursed tongs did

42 And, still among, most bitter wordes they spake, Most shamefull, most unrighteous, most untrew, That they the mildest man alive would make Forget his patience, and yeeld vengeaunce dew To her, that so false sclaunders at him threw : And more, to make them pierce and wound more deepe,

1 Blent, stained.

XL. 8. - As for Grandtorto, &c.] "But in that sharpe execu tion of the Spaniards, at the Fort of Smerwicke I heard [his cruelty] specially noted, and if it were true as some reported, surely it was a great touch to him in honour, for some say that he promised them life; others, at least hee did put them in hope thereof." See View of the State of Ireland, pp. 434-436. C.

She with the sting which in her vile tongue grew Did sharpen them, and in fresh poyson steepe: Yet he past on, and seem'd of them to take no keepe.1

43 But Talus, hearing her so lewdly 2 raile

And speake so ill of him that well deserved,
Would her have chastiz'd with his yron flaile,
If her Sir Artegall had not preserved,
And him forbidden, who his heast observed:
So much the more at him still did she scold,
And stones did cast; yet he for nought would


From his right course, but still the way did hold To Faery Court; where what him fell shall else be


1 Keepe, heed.

2 Lewdly, impudently, wickedly.


WILL it appear too refining, if we suppose that the Sarazin Pollante (Canto II.), with his trap-falls, and his groome of evill guize, hence named Guizor, alludes to Charles the Ninth, king of France, who by sleights did underfong the Protestants, and thus perfidiously massacred them? If this is allowed, who can help applying the name of Guizor to the head of the Popish League, and chief persecutor, the Duke of Guise? And, to carry on still this allusion, what is ail that plot laid in the dead of night, by the same sort of miscreants, to murder the British Virgin (Canto VI. 27), but a type of that plot laid against the chief of the British, as well as other Protestant noblemen, "that being thus brought into the net," as Camden relates, "both they, and with them the evangelical religion, might with one stroke, if not have their throats cut, yet at least receive a mortal wound"?- -a plot which, though not fully accomplished, yet ended in a massacre, and was begun at midnight, at a certain signal given, on the eve of St. Bartholomew, anno 1572.

What shall we say of the tilts and tournaments at the spousal of fair Florimel? Had the poet his eye on those tiltings, performed at a vast expense, by the Earl of Arundel, Lord Windsor, Sir Philip Sidney, and Sir Fulk Greville, who challenged all comers, and which were intended to entertain the French nobility and the ambassadors, who came to treat of Anjou's marriage with the Queen? Methinks also I sometimes see a faint resemblance between Braggadochio and the Duke of Anjou, and their buffoon servants, Trompart and Simier.

In the fifth canto, Artegal is imprisoned by an Amazonian dame called by a French name, Radigund; for Radegonda was a famous Queen of France. Now as Spenser carries two faces under one hood, and means more always than in plain words he tells you, why, I say, does he, who writes in a "continued allegory," give you this episode, if there is not more meant than what the dull letter contains? The story, I think, is partly moral, but chiefly historical, and alludes to Artegal's father being taken prisoner in France; who almost ruined his patrimony to pay his ransom. See Camden, and Lloyd's Life of Arthur Grey, Baron of Wilton.


« PreviousContinue »