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the court of the fairy queen, in pursuit of a knight who did not even return her passion. We observe, too, that most of the knights seem acquainted with her person, and familiar with her story; and she is evidently the object of their enthusiastic admiration. Her false image, the "snowy Florimel,” made by the witch, seems to differ from her, as prudery differs from delicacy. But what are the emblems veiled under the form of the monster who pursues her? (b. III., c. VII., s. XXII.)– of the magic girdle, by which he is tamed? (b. III., c. VII., s. XXXVI.) — of the old man in the boat, by whom she is so rudely treated? (b. III., c. VIII.,) &c. Marinell, also, her lover, is a character not readily to be explained. He evidently savors of the sea, and perhaps imbodies the spirit of maritime adventure, for which the reign of Elizabeth was so remarkable. But what is the meaning of the rich strand, and of his overthrow by Britomart? Upton conjectures that Marinell is a type of the celebrated Lord Howard of Effingham, so memorable for the part he took in the defeat of the Armada. In the flight of Florimel, he traces also an allusion to Mary of Scotland's seeking shelter in England from the violence of her rebellious subjects.
In addition to the historical allusions mentioned above, Sir Walter Scott remarks that "The fiery spirit of the unfortunate Earl of Westmoreland is detected under the personage of Blandamour, fickle both in friendship and in love, and easily heated into brawls, even when an exile." Paridel is also conjectured to be a likeness of the Earl of Northumberland, who, in conjunction with the Earl of Westmoreland, engaged in a rebellion against Queen Elizabeth, in which he himself lost his life, and his associate his rank and fortune, and was obliged to abandon his country.
In point of literary merit, the Third Book, though inferior to the First and Second, is superior to the rest of the poem. Indeed, there is an obvious falling off after the Third Book, and the last three books are decidedly inferior to the first three. The Fourth is the least interesting of all. The Masque of Cupid, in the Third Book, (c. XII.,) is an unsurpassed specimen of Spenser's astonishing power of allegorical painting. The thin phantoms of the mind, Hope, Fancy, Desire, pass
before us in a costume as picturesque as it is appropriate; and each is stamped with an individuality as marked as that which distinguishes the men and women whom we meet in the streets. The conception and execution of the character of Florimel are also full of poetry; and the passage (b. III., c. I., s. XV.) in which she is first introduced to us, with her long yellow locks floating meteor-like behind her, from the swiftness of her flight, is one of the most vivid and beautiful in the whole poem. In the account of the birth of Belphobe and Amoret, and in the description of the gardens of Adonis, (b. III., c. VI.,) Spenser has shown a good deal of curious learning, and a familiarity with those mystical doctrines of Plato and Pythagoras which were more favorite objects of study in his age than in our own. He is indeed quite remarkable among poets for his learning, especially his classical learning. His acquaintance with the mythology of antiquity was extensive; and though he has sometimes departed from it, yet, in most cases, he did so intentionally, in order to make the fable suit his purposes better. He has been censured for interweaving so much of heathen mythology into his poem; and without undertaking to defend him unreservedly, it may be remarked, that these stories and allusions had not become then so hackneyed as they are now, and that he has the example of all the prominent writers of his time to bear him out.
The Fifth Book is devoted to the quality of Justice, represented in Artegal, who is attended by Talus, a man of iron, whose invulnerable frame, resistless strength, and passionless nature, are expressive of the power which executes the decrees of justice and the mandates of magistrates. Artegal's main object is to rescue Irena from the tyranny of Grantorto; but, like a chivalrous knight errant, he is ready to turn aside and subdue the spirit of mischief and violence, wherever it may be encountered. The incidents in this book are illustrative of civil justice, the enlightened supporter of social order, and the foe alike of oppression and lawlessness. Pollentè is a tyrant, whose power rests upon the double support of strength and wealth, both of which the knight successfully resists. The "gyant" in the Second Book is a political fanatic, who has turned the brains of the populace with wild visions of reform. It is not easy to perceive exactly what is expressed in Radigund; but in her victory over the knight, the poet shows us that the
perfection of truth and justice is to "reck its own rede," and abide strictly by the same law which is prescribed to others. His captive estate and degrading occupation have an air of moral dignity about them, since they have been brought upon him by his sense of right; and the important truth is taught us, that moral heroism is wholly independent of social position. Prince Arthur shares with Artegal the action and the interest of this book.
The Fifth Book swarms with historical allusions, some of them so obvious as not to be mistaken. Sir Burbon (c. XII.) is King Henry IV. of France, and the Lady Flourdelis is the genius of France. In the assistance given to Belgè (c. XI.) by the British prince, we perceive the aid and protection afforded to the Netherlands by Queen Elizabeth, in their desperate struggle against the power of Spain. The king of Spain, the hush-word of the English nursery in Spenser's time, is imaged in Geryoneo, Grantorto, and the Soudan. Mercilla (c. IX.) is Queen Elizabeth, and Duessa, her unfortunate rival, Mary of Scotland. These historical paral· lels are pursued by Upton much further. Artegal himself, according to his authority, is Arthur Lord Grey of Wilton, the patron of the poet, and a lord deputy of Ireland, where his severe measures against the rebels made him liable to the charge of extreme cruelty; but, if Spenser may be believed, without reason. Irena is also supposed to be Ireland; Sir Gergis is Walsingham; the Seneschall of Gerioneo is the bigoted and merciless Duke of Alva. Prince Arthur, also, he supposes to be the Earl of Leicester, though, so far as conduct and success are concerned, the parallel is very incomplete. In Pollentè (c. II.) he discerns a resemblance to Charles IX. of France, "who by sleights did underfong" the Protestants; and in Guizor, to the Duke of Guize, the head of the Popish league.
The adventures commenced in the Third Book are brought to a close in the Fifth; or rather we hear no more of them, though they are not all concluded. In the Sixth Book, we are introduced to a new set of actors, and a different scene. To Sir Calidore, the graceful representative of courtesy, is assigned the office of subduing the "blatant beast," which seems to be a type of Slander or Calumny; though, in one passage at least, (c. XII., s. XXIV.,) he seems to be emblematic of the sour and austere violence of the Puritans. This adventure, however, occupies but a small portion
of the book, or of the knight's time; nor does the narrative present any allegorical difficulties. Crudor and Turpine express discourtesy. In the wounds and sufferings of Serena, we are shown the dangers to which a young maiden exposes herself by a single imprudent step. In the "salvage" man, we see in the rough ore the attractive qualities which are refined and polished in Sir Calidore. Prince Arthur appears for a moment, but performs nothing of consequence.
The charm of this book dwells chiefly in the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Cantoes. The pastoral reed has never breathed forth sweeter notes than in this beautiful episode, which was probably introduced in compliment to the taste which the "Arcadia" of Sir Philip Sidney had rendered so general. It is an extremely attractive picture of simple sylvan life; that kind of life which busy men of the world sigh for, but which would make them miserable if attained. Spenser has steered between the two extremes of tawdry finery and repulsive coarseness; his shepherds are neither sentimental Strephons, nor brutal boors. Melibee is a character which poets are constantly reproducing, but which are always attractive -a good old man, who has derived a gentle wisdom from the tranquil retreats in which his days have glided away, and who enjoys the "ignorance which is bliss," as a compensation for the want of the "knowledge which is power." Pastorella is a form of female loveliness and excellence, unlike any that have been before presented to us, but conceived with equal power and executed with equal skill. She is full of a fresh, woodland beauty, and painted with a pencil dipped in morning dew. She realizes the fine description of Wordsworth:
"Three years she grew in sun and shower;
On earth was never sown;
This child I to myself will take:
Colin Clout is the poet himself. The "country lass," in the Tenth Canto, is supposed to be the lady whom he married. Upton conjectures that he has inflicted poetical vengeance upon the lady to whom his affections were first given, and who is supposed to have
treated him with heartless caprice, by describing her in the character of Mirabella. Upton also suggests that Sir Philip Sidney is pictured in Sir Calidore.
In the foregoing Observations on "The Faerie Queene," my purpose has been to give a very general view of the allegory, and not to pursue, into any minuteness of detail, the parallel between what is told and what is meant. This would have consumed too much time, and occupied too much space. Besides, readers of imagination may prefer to explain the allegory themselves, and may regard an attempt on the part of an editor to save them that trouble altogether as an impertinent interference between them and their author. The allegory in Spenser is of so indefinite a kind, that it affords ample scope for the most fantastic ingenuity of exposition; and the extent to which a resemblance will be traced between the seen and the unseen will depend upon the character of each individual mind. One will see a whale, and another a weasel, in what, to a common eye, is but a summer's cloud. Indeed, such of my readers as have the "shaping power of imagination" in any considerable degree, will probably regard any explanation of the allegory as superfluous and uncalled for, like "This is a horse," at the bottom of the picture; but, in a popular edition of Spenser, the subject could hardly be passed over in silence; as, on the other hand, it ought not to be pursued to exhaustion.
One word more upon this point. It appears to me that the commentators upon Spenser have disturbed themselves more about the allegory than was necessary or desirable. It has been a kind of bugbear- —a vague image of terror brooding over "The Faerie Queene," and deterring many from ever attempting its perusal. To borrow a lively expression of Hazlitt's, "they are afraid of the allegory, as if they thought it would bite them." But, though it be an allegorical poem, it is only so to a certain extent, and to a limited degree. The poet starts with giving form and substance to certain abstractions of the mind; but, as he goes on, and kindles with the progress of the narrative, he either forgets or voluntarily departs from the allegorical character. It is Sir Guyon or Britomart, the man or the woman, with senses, organs, dimensions, that he