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It is remarkable that, in the Second Canto of the Third Book, the poet treats Guyon and the red-cross knight as one and the same person.

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It is proper to refer the reader to faults of less importance than those already described-such as the poet's repetitions, his redundancies, and the occasional obscurities which arise from his frequent use of ellipses; as where he speaks of the "other leg" of Occasion, and the "other blincked eye" of Malbecco, without any antecedent mention of either. These faults are almost entirely owing to the stanza in which the poem is written; for, whilst it exhibits the most perfect specimen of rhythmical modulation in the language, it has subjected the poet to various inconveniences. The necessity of so many identical cadences as this stanza requires, obliged him to resort to expedients which have occasionally diminished its energy; it frequently led him to an amplification of the thought, or to a virtual repetition of it with a slight variation in the circumstances, and compelled him to have recourse to trifling circumlocutions and redundancy of expression, which weaken the force and effect of his sentiments and descriptions. The same necessity has produced occasional meanness or impropriety of expression, and has obliged him repeatedly to alter the orthography of words, that, if he cannot satisfy the ear, he may at least please the eye. After all, we may well wonder at the variety, as well as harmony, which Spenser has communicated to this stanza; and we only mention those little defects, because, in a criticism of such a work, they ought not to be omitted.

Spenser has been censured for his misrepresentations of the mythological creed of the ancients; but a violation of classical fiction is, after all, no very heinous offence, for the ancients themselves did not always agree in their representations of it. His practice of mingling the mysteries of Christian theology with the creations of his own brain, may not be so defensible; although it is manifest, from the uniform tenor of his works, that the poet is blameless as to any intentional irreverence on the subject of religion.

The poet has been also censured, and justly, for the disgusting images and coarse expressions with which he has accompanied some of his descriptions; as, for example, those of Error and Envy,

which are perfectly revolting. His conception of the disagreeable and offensive, was as vivid as his sense of that which is beautiful; and his object being to excite dislike, he appears to have considered that no terms could be too forcible for the purpose. He was injudicious, however, in not distinguishing between that which is forcible and that which is merely calculated to excite loathing and disgust: a portion of these disagreeable sensations is inevitably transferred from the objects represented, to the poem and the poet; and as the images and expressions we have been reprobating are perfectly unnecessary for the purpose of exciting the reader's dislike of the false and the vicious, it is to be lamented that Spenser should not have been more careful in his choice of them.

To increase the obscurity of thi extraordinary production, Spenser has not only given an allegorical turn to it, but has invested it with a political meaning, and designed Queen Elizabeth and her courtiers under the ideal inhabitants of the Land of Faerie. The only one whom he has expressly indicated is Elizabeth, who is represented by Gloriana, or the fairy queen. The other individuals pointed out by critics as being also shadowed forth, are merely conjectural.

Occasional indications of a querulous and dissatisfied disposition break out in different parts of his works, and apparently without any sufficient foundation. For, according to the measure of reward which poets then received, Spenser had no reason to complain; but, on the contrary, until the spoliation of his property, which immediately preceded his death, might have said, in the language of an ancient poet, "The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage." But he had formed a lofty estimate of his own powers, and appears to have considered his remuneration by no means equal to the value of his literary productions.

Spenser has been variously characterized. The celebrated satirist, Thomas Nash, terms him "Fame's eldest favorite;" Drayton, the "learned Colin;" Dryden observes of him, “No man was ever born with a greater genius than Spenser, or had more knowledge to support it." In another place he says, “I must acknowledge that Virgil in Latin, and Spenser in English, have been my masters; " and Milton calls him "our sage, serious Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than

Scotus or Aquinas." Pope speaks of Spenser with delight;"There is something in Spenser,” says he, “that pleases one as strongly in one's old age as it did in one's youth. I read "The Faerie Queene' when I was about twelve, with a vast deal of delight; and I think it gave me as much when I read it over a year or two ago." And Shakspeare has testified his admiration of Spenser in the sonnet in praise of Music and Poetry, printed in "The Passionate Pilgrim," if that sonnet be properly ascribed to him. "The Passionate Pilgrim" was published in 1599; but in the preceding year appeared a Collection of Poems by Richard Barnfield, amongst which this sonnet is found; and, as the publisher of the former has not been very scrupulous, in other instances, in appropriating to Shakspeare property which did not belong to him, there is some reason, from this circumstance, to doubt the propriety of ascribing it to him. It is, however, a pretty sonnet, and would not discredit even Shakspeare. It is deserving of remark, that the expression "dark conceit," which occurs in this sonnet, is also applied by Barnfield to Spenser, in another place.

"If music and sweet poetry agree,

As they must needs, the sister and the brother,-
Then must the love be great 'twixt you and me,
Because thou lov'st the one and I the other.
Dowland to thee is dear, whose heavenly touch
Upon the lute doth ravish human sense;
Spenser to me, whose deep conceit is such,

As, passing all conceit, needs no defence.
Thou lov'st to hear the sweet melodious sound

That Phoebus' lute (the Queen of Music) makes;
And I in deep delight am chiefly drown'd

When as himself to singing he betakes:
One God is God of both, (as poets feign;)
One knight loves both, and both in thee remain!"

VOL. I.

D

Of these characters of Spenser, the most precise and appropriate is that of Milton. But although his genius was rather inclined to the grave than the gay, he was not deficient in the power of depicting the light and airy, the festive and the voluptuous. The accuracy of Dryden's expression, "that no man was ever born with a greater genius," cannot be admitted. Spenser is deficient in pathos. Notwithstanding "The Faerie Queene" abounds with

situations susceptible of the greatest interest, he never succeeds in perfectly engaging our feelings. He is never intensely impassioned. This defect may in some measure be ascribed to the nature of the poem: occupied with a real and an allegorical nature, his attention was necessarily divided; being continually reminded of the propriety of a consistent delineation of allegorical character, he was probably restrained from abandoning himself to the tendencies of his heart. His great excellence is in the description of terror, affright, astonishment, and despair; and in the representation of these passions he sometimes approaches the sublime.

Although Spenser is one of the great names inscribed on the rolls of English poets, he has been much more talked of than read, and less talked of than he really deserves. The perusal of "The Faerie Queene" is confined to comparatively few persons. That it is not resorted to by general readers is, we conceive, to be ascribed in a great measure to the antiquated diction in which it is written, and to the necessity of preserving the ancient orthography-a necessity which arises from the liberties the poet has taken, in changing the spelling of words, for the sake of rhymes. Hughes tried the experiment of reducing "The Faerie Queene" into modern orthography; the consequence of which is, that Spenser is made in his edition the author of many dissonant rhymes. In the opinion of Malone, however, "The Faerie Queene" is written in the language of the poet's age. From this opinion, as a general one, we are constrained to dissent; for although we are aware that whole stanzas may be produced from this poem, written in the diction then in use, yet a great portion of it is clothed in a more antiquated language, as we think will be evident on a comparison of "The Faerie Queene" with the productions of Daniel, Sidney, and other poets of that period. The language of Spenser's pastorals is cast in a still more ancient mould. The difficulty which the diction of "The Faerie Queene” presents, however, is more apparent than real, and will be overcome by the perusal of a few cantos; and when that difficulty is vanquished, and the gates of the temple are once unlocked, the slight effort which it costs will be amply repaid by the variety of its ornaments, and the beauty of the workmanship.

PHILIP MASTERMAN,

INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS

ON

THE FAERIE QUEENE.

IN "The Faerie Queene," we have but a portion of the author's original plan, according to which the poem was to have been completed in twelve books; and, though there is a tradition that it was actually finished, and that the manuscript of the last six books was lost by the carelessness of the person to whom it was intrusted to bring to England, yet the story rests on no sufficient foundation, and is in itself highly improbable. It is much more likely that the sorrows and misfortunes, which clouded the last three years of the poet's life, deprived him of both the will and the power to engage in poetical composition. He has himself sketched the outline which he intended to fill up, in his prefatory letter addressed to Sir Walter Raleigha composition which no one can read without a sigh of regret that so noble a design had not been executed in its whole extent. The portion which we have, beautiful as it is, labors under peculiar disadvantages, since it was the author's intention to bring all his characters back again to the court of the fairy queen, in the Twelfth Book, at the expiration of a year from the period at which they are supposed to have left it; and this book would have contained the introductory and explanatory matter, which, as he himself observes, should have been stated first in a formal history. In this book, all the separate threads of the story were to have been brought together, and the necessary unity given to the whole poem. Had all

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