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Calendar’ and his ‘Mother Hubberd's Tale.” Both of these pieces are full of the spirit of poetry, and his genius displays itself in each in a variety of styles. The Shepherd's Calendar, though consisting of twelve distinct poems denominated AEclogues, is less of a pastoral, in the ordinary acceptation, than it is of a piece of polemical or party divinity. Spenser's shepherds are, for the most part, pastors of the church, or clergymen, with only pious parishioners for sheep. One is a good shepherd, such as Algrind, that is, the puritanical archbishop of Canterbury, Grindall. Another, represented in a much less favourable light, is Morell, that is, his famous antagonist, Elmore, or Aylmer, bishop of London. Spenser's religious character and opinions make a curious subject, which has not received much attention from his biographers. His connexion with Sidney and Leicester, and afterwards with Essex, made him, no doubt, be regarded throughout his life as belonging to the puritanical party, but only to the more moderate section of it, which, although not unwilling to encourage a little grumbling at some things in the conduct of the dominant party among the bishops, and even professing to see much reason in the objections made to certain outworks or appendages of the established system, stood still or drew back as soon as the opposition to the church became really a war of principles. Spenser's puritanism seems almost as unnatural as his hexameters and pentameters. It was probably, for the greater part, the produce of circumstances, rather than of conviction or any strong feeling, even while it lasted; and it appears nowhere in such prominence as in his Shepherd's Calendar, the first work that he published. It has even been asserted that his Blatant

Beast, in the Sixth Book of the Fairy Queen, is meant for a personification of Puritanism. At any rate, it is evident that, in his latter years, his Christianity had taken the form rather of Platonism than of Puritanism. The puritanical spirit of some parts of the Shepherd's Calendar, however, probably contributed to the popularity which the poem long retained. It was reprinted four times during the author's lifetime, in 1581, 1586, 1591, and 1597. Yet it is not only a very unequal composition, but is, in its best executed or most striking parts, far below the height to which Spenser afterwards learned to rise. We may gather from it that one thing which had helped to give him his church-reforming notions had been his study and admiration of the old poetry of Chaucer and the Visions of Piers Ploughman. One of his personages, who, in one of the AEclogues, discourses much in the style of the principal figure in Langland's poem, is called Piers; and Chaucer is not only in various passages affectionately commemorated under the name of Tityrus, but several of the AEclogues are written in a peculiar versification, which appears to be intended as an imitation of that of Chaucer's poetry. So far as Spenser, at this time of his life, can be accounted any authority in such a matter, it inay be admitted that he seems to have regarded the verse of his great predecessor as only accentually, not syllabically, regular; but it is still more evident, at the same time, that these intended imitations of Chaucer in the Shepherd's Calendar do not really give a true representation of his prosody, according to any theory of it that may be adopted. The flow of the verse is rather that of the Visions of Piers Ploughman, only without the regular alliteration and with the addi

tion of rhyme. As a specimen of the Shepherd's Calendar, we will give, from the second AEclogue, which is one of those composed in this peculiar measure, the Tale of the Oak and the Briar, as told by the old shepherd Thenot, who says he conned it of Tityrus in his youth :—

There grew an aged tree on the green,
A goodly Oak sometime had it been,
With arms full strong and lergely displayed,
But of their leaves they were disarrayed;
The body big and mightily pight,"
Throughly rooted, and of wondrous height:
Whilom he had been the king of the field,
And mochel" mast to the husbando did yield,
And with his nuts larded many swine;
But now the grey moss marred his rine;"
His bared boughs were beaten with storms,
His top was bald and wasted with worms,
His honour decayed, his branches sere.
Hard by his side grew a bragging Brere,
Which proudly thrust into th' element,
And seemed to threat the firmament;
It was embellished with blossoms fair,
And thereto aye wonted to repair
The shepherds' daughters to gather flowers,
To paint their garlands with his colours;
And in his small bushes used to shrowd
The sweet nightingale, singing so loud;
Which made this foolish Brere wez so bold.
That on a time he cast him to scold
And sneb the good Oak, for he was old.
Why stand'st there, quoth he, thou brutish block 2
Nor for fruit nor for shadow serves thy stock.
Seest how fresh my flowers been spread,
Dyed in lilly white and crimson red,
With leaves engrained in lusty green,
Colours meet to clothe a o queen 2
Thy waste bigness but cumbers the ground,
And dirks" the beauty of my blossoms round;

* Strongly fixed. b. Much. • Husbandman. d Rind. * Darkens.

The mouldy moss which thee accloyeth'
My cinnamon smell too much annoyeth:
Wherefore soon, I redeg thee, hence remove,
Lest thou the price of my displeasure prove.
So spake this bold Brere with great disdain;
Little him answered the Oak again;
But yielded, with shame and grief adawed”
That of a weed he was over-crawed.
It chanced after upon a day
The husbandman's self to come that way,
Of custom to surview his ground,
And his trees of state in compass round:"
Him when the spiteful Brere had espied,
He causeless complained, and loudly cried
Unto his lord, stirring up stern strife;—
O my liege lord ' the God of my life,
Please of you pond* your suppliant's plaint,
Caused of wrong id cruel constraint,
Which I your poor vassal daily endure:
And, but your goodness the same secure,
Am like for desperate dole to die,
Through felonous force of mine enemy.
Greatly aghast with this piteous plea,
Him rested the goodman on the lea,
And bade the Brere in his plaint proceed.
With painted words tho' gan this proud weed
(As most usen ambitious folk)
His coloured crime with craft to cloak:—
Ah, my Sovereign! lord of creatures all,
Thou placer of plants both humlle and tall,
Was not I planted of thine own hand,
To be the primrose of all thy land,
With flowering blossoms to furnish the prime,”
And scarlet berries in summer time?
How falls it then that this faded Oak,
Whose body is sere, whose branches broke,
Whose naked arms stretch unto the fire,”
Unto such tyranny doth aspire,

f Coils around. # Advise. * Daunted. 'Perhaps the true reading is “encompass round,” that is, circumambulate. k Ponder, consider. Then. "Spring.

"The meaning seems to be, are ready for firewood. WOI,.. III. re

Hindering with his shade my lovely light,
And robbing me of the sweet sun's sight?
So beat his old boughs my tender side,
That oft the blood springeth from woundes wide
Untimely my flowers forced to fall,
That been the honour of your coronal;
And oft he lets his canker-worms light
Upon my branches, to work me more spite •
And oft his hoary locks down doth cast,
Wherewith my fresh flowrets been defast.
For this, and many more such outrage,
Crave I" your goodlyhead to assuage
The rancorous rigour of his might:
Nought ask I but only to hold my right,
Submitting me to your good sufferance,
And praying to be guarded from grievance.
To this the Oak cast him to reply
Well as he couth;P but his enemy
Had kindled such coals of displeasure.
That the goodman" mould stay his leisure,
But home him hasted with furious heat,
Increasing his wrath with many a threat:
His harmful hatchet he hent” in hand
(Alas! that it so ready should stand 1)
And to the field alone he speedeth
(Aye little help to harm there needeth),
Anger mould let him speak to the tree,
Enauntert his rage mought cooled be,
But to the root bent his sturdy stroke,
And made many wounds in the wasted Oak:
The axe's edge did oft turn again,
As half unwilling to cut the grain;
Seemed the senseless iron did fear,
Or to wrong holy eld did forbear;
For it had been an ancient tree,
Sacred with many a mystery,
And often crossed with the priests' crew,
And often hallowed with holy water due;

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