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Is not short payne well borne, that bringes long ease, And layes the soule to sleepe in quiet grave? Sleepe after toyle, port after stormie seas, Ease after warre, death after life, does greatly please."


The Knight much wondred at his suddeine wit,
And sayd; "The terme of life is limited,

Ne may a man prolong, nor shorten, it:
The souldier may not move from watchfull sted,1
Nor leave his stand untill his captaine bed.""
"Who life did limit by Almightie doome,"
Quoth he, "knowes best the termes established;
And he, that points 3 the centonell his roome,4
Doth license him depart at sound of morning droome.5


"Is not His deed, whatever thing is donne

In heaven and earth? Did not He all create
To die againe? All ends, that was begonne :
Their times in His eternall booke of fate

Are written sure, and have their certein date.
Who then can strive with strong necessitie,
That holds the world in his still chaunging state;

Or shunne the death ordaynd by destinie?

When houre of death is come, let none aske whence, nor why.


"The lenger life, I wote 6 the greater sin;
The greater sin, the greater punishment:
All those great battels, which thou boasts to win.
Through strife, and blood-shed, and avengëment,
Now praysd, hereafter deare thou shalt repent :

1 Sted, station.

2 Bed, orders.

3 Points, appoints.

4 Roome, place.

5 Droome, drum.

• Wote, deem.

For life must life, and blood must blood, repay.

Is not enough thy evill life forespent?
For he that once hath missed the right way,
The further he doth goe, the further he doth stray;


"Then doe no further goe, no further stray;
But here ly downe, and to thy rest betake,
Th' ill to prevent, that life ensewen1 may.
For what hath life, that may it loved make,
And gives not rather cause it to forsake?
Feare, sicknesse, age, losse, labour, sorrow, strife,
Payne, hunger, cold that makes the heart to quake;
And ever fickle fortune rageth rife 2;

All which, and thousands mo,3 do make a loathsome life.


"Thou, wretched man, of death hast greatest need, If in true ballaunce thou wilt weigh thy state; For never Knight, that dared warlike deed, More luckless dissaventures 4 did amate 5: Witnes the dungeon deepe, wherein of late Thy life shutt up for death so oft did call ; And though good lucke prolonged hath thy date, Yet death then would the like mishaps forestall, Into the which hereafter thou maist happen fall.


Why then doest thou, O man of sin, desire
To draw thy dayes forth to their last degree?
Is not the measure of thy sinfull hire
High heaped up with huge iniquitee,
Against the day of wrath, to burden thee?
Is not enough, that to this Lady mild

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1 Ensewen, follow. 2 Rife, abundantly.
4 Dissaventures, misfortune.


3 Mo, more.

Amate, subdue.

Thou falsed1 hast thy faith with periuree,
And sold thy selfe to serve Duessa vild,
With whom in all abuse thou hast thy selfe defild?


"Is not he iust, that all this doth behold

From highest heven, and beares an equall eie?

Shall He thy sins up in His knowledge fold,

And guilty be of thine impietie?

Is not His law, Let every sinner die,

Die shall all flesh? What then must needs be donne?

Is it not better to doe willinglie,

Then linger till the glas be all out ronne?

Death is the end of woes: Die soone, O Faries sonne."


The Knight was much enmoved with his speach,
That as a swords poynt through his hart did perse,
And in his conscience made a secrete breach,
Well knowing trew all that he did reherse,
And to his fresh remembraunce did reverse
The ugly vew of his deformed crimes;
That all his manly powres it did disperse,
As he were charmed with inchaunted rimes;
That oftentimes he quakt, and fainted oftentimes.


In which amazement when the Miscreaunt
Perceived him to waver weake and fraile,
Whiles trembling horror did his conscience daunt,
And hellish anguish did his soule assaile;
To drive him to despaire, and quite to quaile,
Hee shewd him painted in a table plaine

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3 As, as if.

4 Table, picture.

The damned ghosts, that doe in torments waile, And thousand feends, that doe them endlesse paine With fire and brimstone, which for ever shall remaine. L.

The sight whereof so throughly him dismaid,
That nought but death before his eies he saw,
Aud ever burning wrath before him laid,

By righteous sentence of th' Almighties law.
Then the Villein him to overcraw,1

And brought unto him swords, ropes, poison, fire,
And all that might him to perdition draw;

And bad him choose, what death he would desire: For death was due to him, that had provokt Gods ire.


But whenas none of them he saw him take,
He to him raught 2 a dagger sharpe and keene,
And gave it him in hand: his hand did quake
And tremble like a leafe of aspin greene,
And troubled blood through his pale face was seene
To come and goe, with tidings from the heart,
As 3 it a ronning messenger had beene.

At last, resolv'd to work his finall smart,

He lifted up his hand, that backe againe did start.


Which whenas Una saw, through every vaine
The crudled cold ran to her well of life,
As in a swowne: but, soone reliv'd 5 againe,
Out of his hand she snatcht the cursed knife,
And threw it to the ground, enraged rife,
And to him said; "Fie, fie, faint-hearted Knight,

1 Overcraw, overcrow, assume a superiority over.
2 Raught, reached.
3 As, as if.
• Crudled, curdled.

Reliv'd, brought to life again.

What meanest thou by this reprochfull strife?
Is this the battaile, which thou vauntst to fight
With that fire-mouthed Dragon, horrible and bright?


"Come; come away, fraile, feeble, fleshly wight,
Ne let vaine words bewitch thy manly hart,
Ne divelish thoughts dismay thy constant spright:
In heavenly mercies hast thou not a part?

Why shouldst thou then despeire, that chosen art? Where justice growes, there growes eke greater grace, The which doth quench the brond of hellish smart, And that accurst hand-writing doth deface: Arise, sir Knight; arise, and leave this cursed place."


So up he rose, and thence amounted 1 streight.
Which when the Carle beheld, and saw his guest
Would safe depart, for all his subtile sleight;
He chose an halter from among the rest,
And with it hong himselfe, unbid, unblest.
But death he could not worke himselfe thereby;
For thousand times he so himselfe had drest,2
Yet nathëlesse it could not doe him die,
'Till he should die his last, that is, eternally.*

1 Amounted, departed.

2 Drest, treated.

LIV. 5.- Unbid.] This word may mean either without being di rected by any one,' or, without praying, i. e. without bidding his beads,' as used in the third stanza of the next canto.

The powerful description of Despair, in this canto, is the portion of the poem which is said to have been submitted, in manuscript, to Sir Philip Sydney, and of which he testified his admiration in the liberal manner already related in the Life of Spenser. The story is, however, very improbable, and (as has been said) seeks to compliment the poet at the expense of the common sense of the patron.

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