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as it indicates that which is native and give so much of the story as to make the habitual; and character is to be justly characters and pictures intelligible to all drawn only by a large induction from all classes of readers, without taking from the facts that can be known about a the poem the zest of novelty to those man. All men who give charity are not who may have the leisure and the inclinequally benevolent; nor all who commit ation to read it for themselves, and withmurder equally depraved. Neither the out wearying those who have read it treatment which king David showed to already; to penetrate the instructive Uriah, nor the tears of Nero over a death mysteries of Belphæbe, and Amoret, warrant, nor the throwing an open pen- and Britomart, and Florimel; this, let it knife at a friend, by Henry Martyn, can be said, has required something beyond be accepted as deflecting the main drift mere verbal criticism, or bistorical and of testimony respecting those men. But grammatical illustrations. It has been without a basis of facts it is idle to spe- necessary rather to abstraet the mind culate on the conduct of Spenser in from the piles of erndition with which Ireland. Let us say no more than that the subject is loaded, and to read the the enormity of his offences cannot, for poem as the Christian should read his obvions reasons, be inferred from the Bible, with a perpetual appeal to the circamstances which attended his expul- silent expositor within." sion from Kilcolman Castle—in his posi- It is evident, on every page, that the tion, an angel of light would have been taste of Dr. Hart is highly congenial to as ruthlessly expelled—and that the fact the romantic and chivalrous character of that his political treatise, however Ma- Spenser's poem. One proof of this is, chiavelian, was not published by him- the care with which he renders, in his self, but came to light long after his own words, his conceptions of the poet's death, gives him the benefit of a very principal female personages. We quote important doubt.
what we find most detachable :
"Spenser excels in his female characters. The work of Dr. Hart embraces & le possessed not only the genius requisketch of the life of Spenser, with notices site for the successful delineation of chaof, and quotations from all his principal racters generally, but in a special manner miscellaneous peoms. These matters that goodness of heart without which occupy about one-fourth of the volume. there can be no proper appreciation of The remainder is an essay on the “ Fairy the mystery of woman. Queen." This essay comprises critical Britoinart was the only daughter of her and historical notices, and an elaborate father, the king of Wales. Merlin, the re-construction of the poem, wherein the great Magician, had made for this king a essayist, with the design of giving a magic mirror, in which he could see both view of the whole work in a sınall com- the distant and the future. No foe could pass, harries forward the story in his ever attack his kingdom unawares, beown words, interspersed with frequent, cause the king always saw them in his though not long, quotations from the mirror long ere they approached the poem. Many things episodical are passed border. Britomart had been a sort of by: but the thread of the plot is carried Di Vernon' in her time, and had given through to the end. The labor of ren- Dan Cupid bold defiance. But happening dering Spenser's great work in an abbre- to stroll one day into her father's closet, viated forin is, on the whole, ably and she took it into her head to look into faithfully accomplished; and it has ob- this wondrous mirror, which could bring viously been a labor lightened by a devout into the field of vision whatever scene lore and admiration for the genius of the the wishes, interests, or circumstances, poet. Something of the design and spirit of the beholder might happen to suggest. of the essayist may be gathered from the It is difficult to analyze the subtle following quotation :
essences which compose a young maiden's * To catch the spirit and meaning of heart. Whether Britomart was governed the concrete and poetical symbols of the by anything more than mere idle curioanthor; to extract from the flower of sity it is impossible to say. The idea of poesy, and present in marketable form a husband surely had never yet occupied the honey which it contains ; to present her thoughts. But yet as she gazed in to the imagination such pictures as should the mirror there came before her, in the tend to coltivate and elevate the taste, distance, the vision of a knight, of whom and enkindle in the heart a love for the an elaborate description is given. It good, the beautiful, and the true ; to was the portrait of one whom she bad
as she is less womanly she is more an
never seen. Upon his shield was the name ARTEGAL. That was all she knew or could learn of him.
Thenceforth the feather in her lofty crest,
Yet wist she was not well at ease, perdy ;
Henceforth the quiet of her breast is disturbed. She is in love with a mere shadow. But shadow implies substance, and the shadow of Artegal, seen in the mirror, has its representative in a real Artegal somewhere in or out of fairyland. At last under the advice of Merlin, whose cave she visits, she resolves to go forth equipped as a knight, in quest of the unknown and noble stranger whom she had seen in the mirror."
The next is a different character, and more studied in the delineation-BelPHEBE—& woman “having all the grace and delicacy of her sex, without its dependence—not like Britomart, unloving, because she has not seen the right one, or not appearing to others to love because she successfully conceals her feelings—but one who can pity the misfortunes, or admire the noble qualities, of a man as she would those of a woman; who does not love, because in the composition of her heart there is no mixture of that subtle element on which love feeds; whose want of love is not want of feeling, nor the result of disappointment, much less of chagrin ; who can sympathize with the pains, and alleviate the distresses, of a wounded squire, as she would those of a younger brother; in whose bosom there is no latent undeveloped want; to whose eyes the magic mirror of Merlin would rereal only a group of sisterly nymphs, or a medicinal herb, or a wounded deer; in whose tender and graceful stalk (to vary yet once more the expression) neither the germ has been retarded by late spring, nor the bud blasted by untimely frost, nor the flower already faded and fallen, but its sap, by native constitution, contains only that element which produces branches and leaves--a plant flowerless, indeed, but graceful, unchanging, perennial, green. Belphebe is not a perfect wo
Her imperfection, however, is of a kind which makes her more admirable, though less interesting. In proportion
Under the character of Belphebe in the poem, Spenser compliments Queen Elizabeth.
Here is AMORET :-"By the Amoret of Spenser, we are to understand one whose perfections and imperfections are the counterpart of her sister's (Belphæbe's] ; who is both less angelic and more womanly; who is made to love and to be loved ; who finds not only her happiness, but her honor and her protection, in a feeling of dependence upon another;
Amoret is a being too earnest to be coy, too confiding to be jealous. She bestows her love not as a boon to another, but as a necessary gratification to herself. Her love is twice blessed. It blesseth her that gives, and him that takes. Her repose is not inward and within herself, but outward upon another. She experiences a high gratification in knowing that she is loved, but a still higher one in loving."
FLORIMEL:—“Her name (meaning flowers and honey) indicates truly that union of sweetness and delicacy whiclı resides in her person. It breathes of the freshness at once of Flora and Sylva, and those unstudied graces which spring from nature, rather than those which result from cultivated and artificial life.”
MIRABEL:-“What Spenser ineant by Mirabel, perhaps it might not be courteous to say. Perhaps, also, it is not necessary.
* It is, I believe, not uncommon for the woman that trifles, to be trifled with just about the time that she begins to be serious.
In prime of youthful years, when first the flower
And to the door of death for sorrow drew, Complaining out on me, that would not on them rue.
But let them love that list, or live or die;
Did laugh at these that did lament and plain : But all is now repaid with interest again.
Mirabel's character sticks right out. But here is RADIGUND, still more strongminded :
The cause, they say, of this her cruel bate,
The resty reins, regarded now no more : Is for the sake of Bellodant the bold,
He to them calls and speaks, yet nought avails; To whom she bore most fervent love of late
They hear him not, they have forgot his lore; And wooed him by all the ways she could : But go which way they list; their guide they have But when she saw at last that he ne would,
forlore. For ought or nought, be won unto her will, She turned her love to hatred manifold,
Such was the fury of these headstrong steeds, And for his sake vowed to do all the ill
Soon as the Infant's sun-like shield they saw, Which she could do to Knights; which now she doth
That all obedience, both to words and deeds, falfil.
They quite forgot, and scorned all former law:
did draw Prince Arthur, in his knightly wan
The iron chariot and the wheels did tear, dering, comes to a halt before the castle- And tossed the Paynim without fear or awe; gate of a most rancorous and atrocious- From side to side, they tossed him here and minded "Soudan;" and sends in a chal
there, lenge to the venomous Pagan to come
Crying to them in vain that nould his crying hear. out and fight him.
Yet still the Prince pursued him close behind,
Ort making offer him to smite, but found Wherewith the Soudan, all with fury fraught,
No easy means according to his mind; Srearing and banning most blasphèmously,
At last they have all overthrown to ground Commanded straight his armor to be brought:
Quite topside turvy, and the Pagan hound And mounting straight upon a chariot high,
Amongst the iron hooks and grapples keen (With iron wheels and hooks armed dreadfully,
Torn all to rags and rent with many a wound; And drawn of cruel steeds which he had fed
That no whole piece of him was to be seen, With flesh of men, whom through fell tyranny
But scattered all about and strewed upon the green. He slaughtered had, and ere they were half dead, Their bodies to his beasts for provender had spread.)
This very spirited passage breathes
the fierce delight with which the whole So forth he came all in a coat of plate
English vation regarded the overthrow Burnished with bloody rust, whiles on the green of the Spanish Armada. It has, to our The Briton Prince him ready did await
appreciation, a touch of the comic, which In glistering arms right goodly well beseen
perhaps was not intended by “the sage In the Soudan, Spenser typifies Philip with our enlarged ideas of railroad tra
and serious Spenser.” We Americans, of Spain, and his chariot is the Spanish
velling, would not call the catastrophe Armada. The Soudan attacks and
that involved the blasphemous “Soudan," wounds Prince Arthur with missiles, but the prince, mounted on horseback, finds
such a very bad smash-up-only one
car cleaned of the trucks, and the brakehis adversary inaccessible, in his scythe
man killed. armed chariot, to spear or sword. His
Once again we will allow Spenser to horse too shies, and he is completely
speak for himself, in a passage, respectfoiled. But he carries an enchanted
ing which we will say no more than shield, which, ordinarily he keeps cov
that nothing else ever need be quoted in ered with a case of cloth:
vindication of his poetical genius. Ar
chimago, an enchanter, sends an attendAt last, from his victorious shield he drew
ant Spirit to the house of Sleep to proThe veil which did his [its) powerful light impeach;
cure for him a dream. The Spirit And coming full before his (the Soudan's] horses' view,
---Making speedy way through spersèd air, As they upon him pressed, it, plain, to them did And through the world of waters wide and deep, shew.
To Morpheus' house doth hastily repair,
Amid the bowels of the earth; full steep Like lightning flash that hath the gazer burned,
And low, where dawning day doth never peep, So did the sight thereof their sense dismay,
His dwelling is; there Tethys his wet bed That back again upon themselves they turned,
Doth ever wash, and Cynthia still doth steep And with their rider ran perforce away:
In silver dew his ever drooping head, Ne could the Soudan them from flying stay
Whiles sad night over him her mantle black doth With reins or wonted rule, as well he knew :
spread : Nought feared they what he could do or say, Whose double gates he findeth locked fast; Bat th' only fear that was before their view;
The one fair framed of burnished ivory, From which like mazed deer dismayfully they flew. The other all with silver overcast;
And wakeful dogs before them far do lie, Past did they fly as them their feet could bear. Watching to banish care, their enemy, High over hills, and lowly over dales,
Who oft is wont to trouble gentle sleep. As they were followed of their former fear:
By them the Sprite doth pass in quietly, In vain the Pagan bans and swears and raise
And unto Morpheus comes, whom drowned deep And back with both his hands unto him halos In drowsy fit he finds; of nothing he takes keep.
And more to lull him in his slumber soft,
her character of “a most virtuous and A trickling stream from high rock tumbling
beautiful lady." Prince Arthur, the down, And ever drizzling rain upon the loft,
Fairy Queen's most magnificent Knight, Mixt with a murmuring wind, much like the
is the Earl of Leicester; Artegal, the sound
Knight of Justice, is Sidney; the “SouOf swarming bees did cast him in a swown. dan” is Philip, as we have seen &c. No other noise, nor people's troubled cries, Thus, his allegory becomes in many places As still are wont t'annoy the wallèd town,
a double allegory, and the whole forms Might there be heard; but careless Quiet lieg Wrapt in eternal silence far from enemies.
a metrical romance, which, notwithstanding its great length, is carried for
ward with wonderfal facility and rapidity, There are doubtless many before introducing us to knights, ladies, pages, whose eyes this article will come, who squires, Saracens, enchanters, enchanknow little or nothing about the “Fairy tresses, witches, spirits, dreams, draQueen." Let us therefore, before we gons, wild-beasts, blatant-beasts, giants, leave the poem, sketch, briefly, the plan satyrs, wild-men, iron-inen, fishermen, of it:
mermaids, shepherds, shepherdesses, Spenser laid out his work in twelve nymplis, graces, amazons, hermits, Books, six only of which he lived to palmers, old Proteus and innumerable complete. Each of these books is occu- personified virtues and vices. pied with the adventures of a particular And now come we to a point which has Knight, who goes forth as the champion been much discussed among critics: Why of a particular virtue; and the accessory does this great poem, which seems the personages who appear, illustrate, in very embodiment of all that is romantic, their characters and conduct, the virtue wild, and beautiful in the old Gothic fic(or its opposites) treated of in the book tion, remain, in our day, so much in the in which they appear.
Each of the background of publicity ?-Why is not champion Knights figures prominently Spenser as inuch read as Sbakespeare and in a book by himself, and then goes off Milton? In fertility of invention is he the stage, or appears afterwards as an
surpassed by Shakespeare, or equalled by accessory character.
Milton?—or in the genuine poetical value This explanation does not make mani- of his materials, and the moral purity fest the connection between the books, nor and beauty of his creations, has he anythe pertinence of the title to the whole. thing to fear from the comparison? yet But Spenser did not finish his design. it is evident that “The Fairy Queen" is He completed six books, only, and it was not read, as “Hamlet,” and “Paradise not until the twelfth that he proposed Lost," are read. to give his readers a view of his whole In explanation of this fact, various plan. This appears from a letter which reasons have been assigned; such as the he wrote to Raleigh, wherein he says: obsolete language, the allegory, and the “The beginning, therefore of my history, great length of the poem. But the sucif it were to be told by an historiogra- cesses of Shakespeare, Bunyan, and Milpher, should be the twelfth book, which ton, are sufficient to set aside these obis the last; where I devise that the jections. Dr. Hart, near the close of Fairy Queen kept her annual feast twelve his essay, offers a few observations of days, upon which several days the occa- his own on this point. He thinks that sion of the twelve several adventures Spenser's want of entire success is due happened”—not the adventures thein
to a want of art in one particular—that selves, but the “occasion" or cause of his fertile imagination presented him so them--for these several Knights or rapidly with new scenes and adventures, champions who go through these adven- that he neglected to mark his transitions tures, are subjects of the Fairy Queen clearly and boldly—that "he enters so sent out by her on “occasion," and are fully into the present scene that he forabroad occupied for various periods. gets the one just past or just to come.
The ingenuity of Spenser enabled him The story-teller should be to some extent to make these pattern Knights not only like a showman. To pull successfully illustrate the several virtues of Holiness, the wires, he should stand apart, behind Temperance, Chastity, Justice, &c. but
To be so to typify actual personages.
In the enwrapped in the subject as to forget course of the poem we find that the Fairy your audience, is to reckon without your Queen is Queen Elizabeth, in her royal host. Spenser is so absorbed with what character, and Belphæbe, the saine, in is immediately in hand, his imagination
is so completely engrossed with the pre- "he who executes best is best.”. This is sent object, that the wants of the reader going too far. Be it understood of our. are forgotten. The reader is precipitated selves that fine frenzies do not satisfy from one scene to another, without any us, if they are not coherent and consistsufficient warning or preparation. Hoent-if they do not reproduce, in new consequently gets bewildered.”
combinations the true appearances of This is just criticism, so far as it sets the external world and the natural port forth a fault of Spenser; but does it and gesture of the human soul. The thoroughly explain why he is not uni- best poetry is not only the most spirited, versally read? Shakespeare, also, is no- bat it is the most true to nature, the most toriously careless of the order and con- logical, the most inventive; it will bear to nection of his scenes; and writes on in be read forcibly, with full lungs, and the the same absorbed and self-forgetful man- strong atterance of passion; and it will Der; while Milton, on the other hand, bear to be read coolly and critically, betrays more self-consciousness and like a demonstration in geometry. We artistical design to the reader than do not say that such poetry is the only either Shakespeare or Spenser. Yet, poetry; but that it is the best. It satisof the three poets, Shakespeare, unques- ties the reason and judgment, it satisfies tionably, is the most universally appre- the imagination and passions, it rouses ciated. The exposition of Dr. Hart does and exalts the whole soul, it not wholly satisfy us. Let us observe how authors obtain their readers. When
Dissolves us into ecstasies we take up a book that is new to us, do And brings all heaven before our eyes, we generally open at the first page and read it through? Do we not usually it is an eagle-winged eloquence, that first reserve that, until we have first dipped comes down and takes a strong grapple in at random here and there, and with- on the minds of men, with the talons of out understanding the connection, a-cer- reason and judgment, and then bears tained whether what we have lighted them away on the pinions of impaginaupon pleases us? The best writings of tion. Such poetry, once written, makes the best authors have a singular mag- itself known and endures. It is acknownetic power apon minds constituted to ledged as equally supreme,“ o'er the appreciate them. Open them where you mind's sunshine bright and warm," and will, you immediately happen upon
“o'er reason's colder hours." something that grapples your attention. In Spenser's poetry we find such puriny Let us try the experiment. Here is and brilliancy of materials, and suh ** Hamlet." Fling the book across the fertility of invention, as have harıl. y room. It has fallen open. Now go and been excelled; but, in brilliancy of spirit, read the first sentence that you see :- it does not come up to the highest stand
ard. His temper is not high-strung. " A murderer and a villain !
He does not deal with the strongest pasA slate that is not twentieth part the tithe sions in the heartiest manner. There is Or your precèdent lord; a vice of kings:
glow and feeling, but not to the extent A cut parse of the empire and the rule Tha: from a shelf the precious diadem stole
of that divine ardor, which is rapturous, And pat it in his pocket!"
and which kindles rapture. His highest
enthusiasm is in the Epithalamium. His There! you pick the book up and put "Fairy Queen" we read with admiration it in your own pocket, resolved to bor- of its magnificence, yet with a feeling row or steal it till you have read more. that other poets, some of them of much
This power of seizing the attention, less inventive genius, have achieved prolives, alike, in the matter and the man- founder effects in productions of much ner of a writer-and quite as much in less compass, written with more concenthe manner as in the matter. In those trated energy and power. Posterity, literary works, and particularly in those however, will not willingly let his works poems which are most read, we always die. There will always be those who find an intensely vital and vivifying will remember, and by their labors assist spirit, compared with which, in produc- others in remeinbering, the moral purity ing popular effect, unity and coherence and tenderness, and the bountiful ideal of design are of secondary importance. wealth of Edmund Spenser. The perception of this fact has led some. Of his own age he was a conspicuous critics to the extreme of asserting that light, as he is still a shining illustration. winner is everything to a poet, and that His rank is with Bacon and Shakspeare,