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the legend of King Arthur as the groundwork of his allegory. His Red-Cross Knight is St. George of England; his invincible hero is Arthur himself, the Briton Prince; his invincible heroine Britomart, who is none other than the virgin Queen. He is deeply read in the legends of his country, and he brings both Guyon and Arthur to the House of Temperance, where the Briton Prince finds "an auncient book, hight Briton moniments," in which is traced, in elaborate detail, the whole of the Brutus legend down to the time of Uther Pendragon.
At last, quite ravisht with delight to heare
Cryde out; Deare country! O! how dearely deare
Be to thy foster Childe, that from thy hand
Did commun breath and nouriture receave.
How brutish is it not to understand
How much to her we owe, that all us gave;
That gave unto us all what ever good we have."
In the next book, that of Britomart or Chastity, Spenser takes the opportunity of letting Merlin prophesy to Britomart the future of her country. He chooses the same symbol that tradition had put into the mouth of Edward the Confessor :
For so must all things excellent begin,
And eke enrooted deepe must be that tree
Whose big embodied branches shall not lin
Till they to hevens hight forth stretched bee."
After a rapid sketch of our history Merlin comes to a royall virgin" who shall
W Stretch her white rod over the Belgick shore
And the great Castle (Castille) smite so sore withall That it shall make him shake and shortly learn to fall."
And the prophecy comes to a close with the solemn and inspired words:
"But yet the end is not."
It is in the fifth book that we get the best insight into Spenser's political opinions. In it he treats of Justice,
and Justice with him is the conception of ordered discipline, which had shaped the policy of the Tudors. We must own to a certain distaste for the cold and rather priggish character of the righteous Artegall, champion of Justice; and his squire, Talus, the "iron man" with his flail, devoid of pity or feelings of any kind, is a figure more powerful than pleasing. Artegall is the chosen lover of Britomart, by which we are to understand that Spenser wished to depict Elizabeth as wedded to this stern ideal, though in the character of Mercilla she does, to some very small extent, temper it with mercy, albeit the first object encountered in her palace is some one with his tongue nailed to a post, for writing bad poems about her.
First sheer lawless violence, in the shape of Sanglier, and then corruption in high places, as embodied in the Lady Munera, come in for punishment at the hands of Artegall and Talus. The next enemy is perhaps the most remarkable character in the book, for he is a demagogue giant, who puts forward opinions to his audience that have a strangely modern sound, and which must have been suggested to Spenser by the doctrines of the Anabaptists, and perhaps, less directly, by those of the Calvinists. The giant is, in fact, not only a republican, but a Socialist; he has pushed the dogma of human equality to its logical conclusion; he will level the mountains with the plain and the high rocks with the sea; he will suppress tyrants, curb the lordings who overawe the commons, and give the wealth of rich men to the poor.
This gives the righteous Artegall an opportunity of developing his own theory, which is similar to that of the famous speech of Ulysses in "Troilus and Cressida." He reposes his polity upon the conception of degree, he sees a divine Toryism in the government of the universe, and finds in the sovereignty of God a type of the order
that should prevail among men.
He says of God's
They live, they die, like as he doth ordaine,
No better statement of the Tudor, or indeed, of the pure Tory ideal, could have been made, though the effect of a noble and dignified oration is not enhanced by the way in which Talus, finding the giant still unconvinced, clinches the argument by pitching him over the cliff, a conclusion which it may be noticed moved the indignation of Keats, who wrote a stanza of his own, in which the giant is put together and educated by one Typographus, and subsequently :
"meeting Artegall and Talus grim
The one he stroke stone blind, the other's eyes woxe dim."
In the eighth canto, Arthur, who has entered into league with Artegall, and is at once the Briton Prince and the type of divine grace, overthrows the Souldan, who is Philip II, in single combat. This is an allegory of the Armada: the enemy approaches in a chariot “drawn of cruel steeds," but the champion of England and of all the virtues calmly awaits him "on the green," the green floor of the ocean. After tracing and traversing for some time, like our fleet in the Channel, he flashes his shield in his face, as Howard sent the fireships blazing into Calais Roads, whereupon the horses run away, the chariot is smashed, and the Souldan torn to pieces in the wreckage. Not only are the affairs of England constantly coming into the story, but the introduction of Henry of Navarre's apostasy, and the rebellion of the Netherlands,
testifies to the growing interest aroused by Continental affairs, especially where Philip is concerned.
Mary Queen of Scots is treated throughout with ruthless severity. She is typified by the false Duessa, who is stripped in the first book and put to death in the fifth, Spenser being very careful to lay stress upon Elizabeth's almost superhuman mercy in so much as hesitating about the sentence. Indeed, it cannot be denied that there is something of Talus in Spenser's own character, and it is hard to read without a shudder his deliberate scheme for conquering Ireland by extermination. It was a hard age in which devout men could applaud the Inquisition and the slave trade, the stake for heretics and the whip and brand for the unemployed. It is against such a dark background that the gentleness of Drake on the far seas, and Essex at Cadiz, shows doubly bright. Take it for all in all, Elizabethan England set up a standard of humanity, imperfect though it was, to which neither the Counter-Reformation nor the followers of Calvin could lay claim. Nothing besmirched our scutcheon like the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, or the four days' public torture of Balthasar Gerard.
The political doctrine, which is expounded by Artegall, is developed at greater length by Richard Hooker, the exponent of the deepest thought and loftiest prose of the Elizabethan age. He founds his Church polity, and incidentally his State polity, upon the same conception of law which the righteous knight has already deduced from the workings of the universe. "Of Law," he says,
there can be no less acknowledged than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world: all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, and the greatest as not exempted from her power: both angels and men and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all with uniform consent, admiring her as the
mother of their peace and joy." Spenser, as a poet, had contented himself with visioning the height and ubiquity and divinity of law; Hooker, as a philosopher, must needs analyse it and trace it in all its divers manifestations. He sees God electing to work by His own perfect law; he sees the angels naturally conforming, each in his degree, to that consummate wisdom; he sees the elements blindly impelled by their Maker's behest; and he shows that man, though a sinful and imperfect creature, has the same law, the categorical imperative of a later age, written upon his heart as a standard to which he ought to conform. What the angels do naturally, man must accomplish by his free agency, and hence it is that he is bidden to pray "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven."
Upon this foundation Hooker builds up the essentially legal framework of a Social Compact. This doctrine has an important bearing upon the question of patriotism, for whatever shape it has taken, it has always recognized, at least formally, the principle of consent. The State exists for the good of all, and not only for that of the sovereign, and in so far as the contract is recognized, the sanction is human as well as divine. "Utterly without our consent," says Hooker, can we be at the command of no man living."
Here is obviously a doctrine which can be made to serve purposes most repugnant to the Tudor theory of government. In the hands of Languet and the Scotch Calvinists, this had already been accomplished with the most revolutionary effect. But Hooker was to show how this seemingly uncontrollable steed could be curbed and bridled and made to draw the coach of royalty. Something more than consent is required for a true polity, which we can serve and love. Some principle of continuity is also necessary, the Social Compact cannot be a mere temporary arrangement to be dissolved at the caprice