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First and Second Books are disconnected with each other and with the rest of the poem. The red-cross knight appears for a moment in the second book, it is true, but merely crosses the stage, and takes no part in the drama. Some of the characters, however, who are introduced to us for the first time in this book, are frequently met with afterwards, and deserve a few moments' consideration. Braggadochio and Trompart monopolize all the interest in "The Faerie Queene" which springs from a comic source. In their conception and execution, the poet has not been more than moderately successful. Though there is a good deal of wit and humor shown in their adventures and discourse, yet we have too much of them, and from the want of variety in the manifestation of their folly, the interest is worn off, and the reader feels a relief when Braggadochio is scourged out of the lists (b. V., c. III.) and they are seen no more. In this book, too, the radiant vision of Belphoebe breaks upon us for the first time, (c. III., s. XXI.) She is a flattered likeness of Queen Elizabeth-the woman, as contradistinguished from the queen, who is imaged in Gloriana. The wits of Elizabeth's reign were an exception to the principle involved in the memorable observation of Tacitus,—“gliscente adulatione magna ingenia deterrebantur," for the most gifted of them vied with each other in ministering to their sovereign's morbid appetite for the most highflown adulation. Flattery more highly seasoned may have been offered her, but none more delicate and graceful, than that contained in the finished portrait of Belphœbe. She represents that pure and high-spirited maidenhood, which the ancients imbodied in Diana; and, like her, the forest is her dwelling-place, and the chase her favorite pastime. The breezes have imparted to her their own fleetness, and the swaying foliage, its graceful movement. She comes attended with a train of sylvan images and associations--the dewy meadow, the sunny hill-side, the woven roof of foliage, and the jocund horn, startling Echo from her woodland seat. She has womanly graces, but not womanly affections. She is passionless and pure, self-sustained and selfdependent, "in maiden meditation fancy free," and shines with a cold, lunar light, and not the warm glow of day. The author has mingled the elements of her nature so skilfully, that the result is nothing harsh, unnatural, or unfeminine; and has so combined the

lofty and the ideal with the graceful and attractive, that we behold in her a creature recalling the beautiful line of a living poet,* "Too fair for worship, too divine for love."

In portions of this book, the poetry is more lavish and splendid than in any other part of "The Faerie Queene." The description of the residence of Phædria, in the Sixth Canto, and the whole of the Twelfth Canto, are elaborated with a luxuriance of imagery, a warmth of coloring, and a rich flow of verse unsurpassed in any literature. The Bower of Bliss is painted with an Oriental affluence of fancy, and steeped in the most gorgeous hues of sunset. Spenser is here under considerable obligations to the Italian poets, and especially Tasso; but we may apply to him what Dryden so happily said of Ben Jonson-"He invades authors like a monarch; and what would be theft in other poets, is only victory in him.” The flowers which he transplants from the sunny gardens of Italy gain new bloom and fragrance by being transferred to a colder clime. Sir Guyon's descent into the cave of Mammon, in the Seventh Canto, is not less remarkable for power in the delineation of images of gloom and terror. But the book, taken as a whole, is of unequal merit. Portions of it are in bad taste; and the Tenth Canto contains one of the dullest of chronicles, which few will be induced to read, except from a sense of duty.

Upton, the only one of Spenser's editors who has made any attempts to point out his historical allusions, conjectures that the Earl of Essex is represented in Sir Guyon; and Dr. Whitgift, in the palmer; that the Duke of Anjou, who solicited the hand of Queen Elizabeth, is caricatured in Braggadochio, and his accomplished ambassador, Simier, in Trompart. Upon these points (to borrow a favorite expression of Upton's) I 66 neither affirm nor

by the reader's own

deny," but leave the question to be decided judgment.

The Third Book is entitled the Legend of Chastity, typified by a female warrior, Britomartis, armed with a magic spear, which nothing can resist, and which is emblematic of the protection which purity and innocence insure. In this book, some variations are observable from the design and conception of the two former ones. Sir Scudamore is the knight to whom the fairy queen

* Milman.

had assigned the adventure of subduing the enchanter, Busirane; but he does not represent the virtue which is the subject of the book, nor does he succeed in the enterprise which he undertakes, which is performed by Britomart, upon whom the interest mainly depends. Prince Arthur is introduced, as before, but performs nothing of any consequence, and does not contribute at all to the accomplishment of the adventure.

The Fourth Book may also be considered in immediate connection with the Third, as it is little more than a continuation of the adventures begun in it. It is entitled the Legend of Friendship, which is illustrated in Cambell and Triamond, who, at first enemies, become afterwards attached friends. But no particular enterprise forms the subject of this book; no new champion appears from the court of the fairy queen; the interest springs from the same sources as in the Third Book; and the knights, whose mutual attachment gives to the book its title and ostensible subject, are introduced incidentally, and their story constitutes merely an episode.

The poet's purpose, in these two books, seems to have been to treat of the various relations of the two sexes, and the influences to which woman is exposed in social life, and to show the beauty and power of feminine virtue. The various forms of the passion of love, its different manifestations in different natures, are imbodied in Artegal and Britomart, Marinell and Florimel, and Scudamore and Amoret. Malecasta (b. III., c. I.) is Incontinence, whose six attendant knights are expressive of qualities congenial to her own nature. In Malbecco (b. III., c. IX., X.) we see the selfinflicted torments endured by him "who dotes, yet doubts; suspects, yet strongly loves." Lust is shadowed forth in various monstrous and loathsome shapes. Paridell and Blandamour are fickle and inconstant libertines. In Pæana (b. IV., c. IX.) is delineated a woman of such mingled elements that her character is moulded by the circumstances into which she is thrown, and her salvation is to be ascribed to the purifying influence of a sincere and virtuous attachment.

The main interest of these two books is derived from the sketches which they contain of womanly character. Spenser's tenderness, sensibility, and purity of feeling, gave him peculiar advantages in treating this theme. He understood the strength

and weakness of the female heart, and he felt for woman that respect which is entertained by every man of genius who keeps the primitive whiteness of his soul unstained. There were many feminine elements in his own soft and gentle nature, which gave him a fellow-feeling with the "delicate creatures," whom he has delineated with a beauty and truth which show that his whole heart was in his work. Four distinct forms of feminine excellence are displayed to us in Belphobe, Britomart, Amoret, and Florimel. Belphœbe has been already mentioned. Britomart resembles Belphoebe in her purity and spirit, but differs from her in entertaining that softer passion which the former had never known. She is a dignified and intellectual woman, inspiring awe as well as awakening love; and the passion which she feels and struggles against is of a high ideal nature, kindled by the contemplation of an unsubstantial image of excellence. In order to express the power of chastity as an active principle, quenching the flames of animal appetite, and dissolving the spell by which its victim had been enthralled, the poet has encountered a difficulty which not even his genius has been able entirely to overcome. No wealth of poetry can make a fighting woman attractive. The qualities of a warrior are as inconsistent with feminine softness, as his robust and sinewy limbs and well-defined muscles are with the delicate outline of feminine beauty. Though the poet has stuggled so hard to make Britomart interesting, there is still something repulsive about her. Belphœbe is supernatural, or above nature; but Britomart is unnatural, or opposed to nature. We wonder at Artegal's loving a woman whom he had fought with, and by whom he had been rudely hurled from his horse. Still we must not be blind to the merit of the sketch as a work of art, which is indeed of a high order; and if the poet has not succeeded in all that he attempted, it was because he attempted an impossibility.

Amoret is a beautiful contrast both to her twin-sister Belphabe and to Britomart. She is the complement of Belphebe, and has those properties which the latter is without, and which are essential to the completeness of woman's nature. She differs from Britomart, on the other hand, in her helplessness and constant need of protection and support. Britomart is

"A perfect woman, nobly planned
To warn, to comfort, and command."

But Amoret is of the affections all-compact. She needs a stronger nature to cling to, as the tendrils of the vine require a frame-work to twine themselves about. She expresses the affectionate devotedness of a loving and tender wife, whose whole soul flows into her husband's, as the river into the sea. Sir Scudamour is a chivalrous and accomplished knight, but seems to be introduced merely on account of his relation to Amoret. He relates the manner in which he won his bride in a beautiful allegory, the pith and substance of which is, that "faint heart never won fair lady," and that he who resolves to succeed has already half succeeded.

Timias is a character whom the reader will naturally associate with Amoret. He represents, apparently, the spirit of chivalrous honor and generosity, and is supposed to be intended as a compliment to the poet's friend, Sir Walter Raleigh. In his adventures, certain historical, or rather biographical, allusions are believed to be involved. Here we are again induced to have recourse to the authority of Sir Walter Scott, who remarks that "The affection of Timias for Belphobe is allowed, on all hands, to allude to Sir Walter Raleigh's pretended admiration of Queen Elizabeth; and his disgrace, on account of a less Platonic intrigue with the daughter of Sir Nicholas Throgmorton, together with his restoration to favor, are plainly pointed out in the subsequent events. But no commentator has noticed the beautiful insinuation by which the poet points out the error of his friend, and of his friend's wife. Timias finds Amoret in the arms of Corflambo, or Sensual Passion; he combats the monster unsuccessfully, and wounds the lady in his arms."

We now come to the consideration of Florimel, that beautiful but perplexing vision. Her name is compounded of two Latin words, meaning honey and flowers; thus betokening the sweet and delicate elements of which her nature is moulded. She seems to express the gentle delicacy and timid sensitiveness of woman; and her adventures, the perils and rude encounters to which these qualities are exposed in a world of passion and violence. She flees alike from friend and foe, and finds treachery in those upon whom she had thrown herself for protection; and yet she is introduced to us under circumstances not altogether consistent with feminine delicacy, as having left



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