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But could youth last, and love still breed,
Tell faith it's fled the city,
Tell how the country erreth, Tell, manhood shakes off pity, Tell, virtue least preferreth.
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie. So when thou hast, as I
Commanded thee, done blabbing :
Yet stab at thee who will,
The Soul's Errand.
Upon a thankless errand !
And give the world the lie.
And shines like rotten wood; Go, tell the church it shows What's good, and doth no good :
If church and court reply,
Then give them both the lie. Tell potentates, they live
Acting by others actions, Not lov'd unless they give, Not strong but by their factions.
If potentates reply,
Give potentates the lie. Tell men of high condition
That rule affairs of state, Their purpose is ambition, Their practice only hate.
And if they once reply,
Then give them all the lic.
They beg for more by spending,
And if they make reply,
Then give them all the lie. Tell zeal it lacks devotion,
Tell love it is but lust, Tell time it is but motion, Tell flesh it is but dust;
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie. Tell age it daily wasteth,
Tell honour how it alters, Tell beauty how she blasteth, Tell favour how she falters.
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie. Tell wit how much it wrangles
In tickle points of niceness : Tell wisdom she entangles Herself in over-wiseness.
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie. Tell physic of her boldness,
Tell skill it is pretension,
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.
Tell nature of decay,
Then give them all the lie.
But vary by-esteeming,
If arts and schools reply,
[Address to the Nightingale.] As it fell upon a day, In the merry month of May, Sitting in a pleasant shade Which a grove of myrtles made; Beasts did leap, and birds did sing, Trees did grow, and plants did spring ; Everything did banish moan, Save the nightingale alone. She, poor bird, as all forlorn, Lean'd her breast up-till a thorn ; And there sung the dolefull’st ditty, That to hear it was great pity. Fie, fie, fie, now would she cry; Teru, teru, by and by; That, to hear her so complain, Scarce I could from tears refrain ; For her griefs, so lively shown, Made me think upon mine own. Ah ! (thought I) thou mourn'st in vain ; None takes pity on thy pain: Senseless trees, they cannot hear thee, Ruthless bears they will not cheer thee: King Pandion he is dead; All thy friends are lapp'd in lead; All thy fellow-birds do sing, Careless of thy sorrowing! Whilst as fickle Fortune smil'd, Thou and I were both beguild. Every one that flatters thee Is no friend in misery. Words are easy, like the wind; Faithful friends are hard to find. Every man will be thy friend Whilst thou hast wherewith to spend : But, if store of crowns be scant, No man will supply thy want. If that one be prodigal, Bountiful they will him call; And with such-like flattering, • Pity but he were a king.' If he be addict to vice, Quickly him they will entice; But if fortune once do frown, Then farewell his great renown : They that fawn'd on him before Use his company no more. He that is thy friend indeed, Ile will help thee in thy need ; If thou sorrow, he will weep, If thou wake he cannot sleep : Thus, of every grief in heart He with thee doth bear a part. These are certain signs to know Faithful friend from flattering foe.
EDMUND SPENSER. These writers bring us to EDMUND SPENSER, whose genius is one of the peculiar glories of the romantic reign of Elizabeth. It is easy,' says
Pope, to mark out the general course of our poetry; deformed by a number of obsolete uncouth phrases Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Dryden, are the great (the Chaucerisms of Spenser, as Dryden designated landmarks for it. We can now add Cowper and them), yet containing traces of a superior original Wordsworth; but, in Pope's generation, the list he genius. The fable of the Oak and Briar is finely has given was accurate and complete. Spenser was, told; and in verses like the following, we see the like Chaucer, a native of London, and like him, also, germs of that tuneful harmony and pensive reflection he has recorded the circumstance in his poetry : in which Spenser excelled :Merry London, my most kindly nurse,
You naked buds, whose shady leaves are lost, That to me gave this life's first native source, Wherein the birds were wont to build their bower, Though from another place I take my name, And now are clothed with moss and hoary frost, An house of ancient fame.
Instead of blossoms wherewith your buds did flower: Prothalamion.
I see your tears that from your boughs do rain,
All so my lustful life is dry and sere,
These lines form part of the first eclogue, in which the shepherd boy (Colin Clout) laments the issue of his love for a country lass,' named Rosalind-a happy female name, which Thomas Lodge, and, fol. lowing him, Shakspeare, subsequently connected with love and poetry. Spenser is here supposed to have depicted a real passion of his own for a lady in the north, who at last preferred a rival, though, as Gabriel Harvey says, the gentle Mistress Rosalind once reported the rejected suitor 'to have all the intelligences at command, and another time christened him Signior Pegaso.' Spenser makes his shepherds discourse of polemics as well as love, and they draw characters of good and bad pastors, and institute comparisons between Popery and Protes. tantism. Some allusions to Archbishop Grindal (* Algrind' in the poem) and Bishop Aylmer are
said to have given offence to Lord Burleigh ; but the Edmund Spenser.
patronage of Leicester and Essex must have made about the year 1553. The rank of his parents, or Burleigh look with distaste on the new poet. For the degree of his affinity with the ancient house of ten years we hear little of Spenser. He is found Spenser, is not known. Gibbon says truly, that the corresponding with Harvey on a literary innovation noble family of Spenser should consider the Faery contemplated by that learned person, and even by Queen as the most precious jewel in their coronet.* Sir Philip Sidney. This was no less than banishing The poet was entered a sizer (one of the humblest rhymes and introducing the Latin prosody into class of students) of Pembroke College, Cambridge, English verse. Spenser seems to have assented to in May 1569, and continued to attend college for it, 'fondly overcome with Sidney's charm;' he sus. seven years, taking his degree of M.A. in June pended the Faery Queen, which he had then begun, 1576. While Spenser was at Pembroke, Gabriel and tried English hexameters, forgetting, to use the Harvey, the future astrologer, was at Christ's Col- witty words of Nash, that the hexameter, though lege, and an intimacy was formed between them, a gentleman of an ancient house, was not likely to which lasted during the poet's life. Harvey was thrive in this clime of ours, the soil being too craggy learned and pedantic, full of assumption and con- for him to set his plough in.' Fortunately, he did ceit, and in his · Venetian velvet and pantofles of not persevere in the conceit; he could not have pride,' formed a peculiarly happy subject for the gained over his contemporaries to it (for there were satire of Nash, who assailed him with every species then too many poets, and too much real poetry in of coarse and contemptuous ridicule. Harvey, how- the land), and if he had made the attempt, Shakever, was of service to Spenser. The latter, on re speare would soon have blown the whole away. As tiring from the University, lived with some friends a dependent on Leicester, and a suitor for court in the north of England; probably those Spensers favour, Spenser is supposed to have experienced of Hurstwood, to whose family he is said to have many reverses. The following lines in Mother Hub. belonged. Harvey induced the poet to repair to bard's Tale, though not printed till 1581, seem to London, and there he introduced him to Sir Philip | belong to this period of his life: Sidney, one of the very diamonds of her majesty's
Full little knowest thou that hast not tried, court.' In 1579, the poet published his Shepherd's
What hell it is in suing long to bide ; Calendar, dedicated to Sidney, wbo afterwards pa
To lose good days that might be better spent; tronised him, and recommended him to his uncle, the powerful Earl of Leicester. The Shepherd's
To waste long nights in pensive discontent;
To speed to-day, to be put back to-morrow; Calendar is a pastoral poem, in twelve eclogues,
To feed on hope, to pine with fear and sorrow; one for each month, but without strict keeping
To have thy prince's grace, yet want her peers'; as to natural description or rustic character, and
To have thy asking, yet wait many years; * It was lately announced, that the family to which the poet's
To fret thy soul with crosses and with cares; father belonged has been ascertained as one settled at Hurst
To eat thy heart through comfortless despairs; wood, near Burnley, in Lancashire, where it flourished til To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run, 1690.
To spend, to give, to wait, to be undone !
Strong feeling has here banished all antique and approved of his friend's poem; and he persuaded affected expression: there is no fancy in this gloomy Spenser, when he had completed the three first books, painting. It appears, from recently-discovered do- to accompany him to England, and arrange for their cuments, that Spenser was sometimes employed in publication. The Faery Queen appeared in January inferior state missions, a task then often devolved 1589-90, dedicated to her majesty, in that strain of on poets and dramatists. At length an important adulation which was then the fashion of the age. appointment came. Lord Grey of Wilton was sent to the volume was appended a letter to Raleigh, to Ireland as lord-deputy, and Spenser accompanied explaining the nature of the work, which the author him in the capacity of secretary. They remained said was a continued allegory, or dark conceit.' there two years, when the deputy was recalled, and He states his object to be to fashion a gentleman, the poet also returned to England. In June 1586, or noble person, in virtuous and gentle discipline, Spenser obtained from the crown a grant of 3028 and that he had chosen Prince Arthur for his hero. acres in the county of Cork, out of the forfeited lands He conceives that prince to have beheld the Faery of the Earl of Desmond, of which Sir Walter Raleigh Queen in a dream, and been so enamoured of the had previously, for his military services in Ireland, vision, that, on awaking, he resolved to set forth and obtained 12,000 acres. The poet was obliged to seek her in Faery Land. The poet further dereside on his estate, as this was one of the conditions vises' that the Faery Queen shall keep her annual of the grant, and he accordingly repaired to Ireland, feast twelve days, twelve several adventures hapand took up his abode in Kilcolman Castle, near pening in that time, and each of them being underDoneraile, which had been one of the ancient strong taken by a knight. The adventures were also to holds or appanages of the Earls of Desmond. The express the same number of moral virtues. The poet's castle stood in the midst of a large plain, by first is that of the Redcross Knight, expressing the side of a lake; the river Mulla ran through his Holiness; the second Sir Guyon, or Temperance; grounds, and a chain of mountains at a distance and the third, Britomartis, a lady knight,' repre
senting Chastity. There was thus a blending of chivalry and religion in the design of the Faery Queen. Spenser had imbibed (probably from Sid. ney) a portion of the Platonic doctrine, which overflows in Milton's Comus, and he looked on chivalry as a sage and serious thing.* Besides his personification of the abstract virtues, the poet made his allegorical personages and their adventures represent historical characters and events. The queen, Gloriana, and the huntress Belphæbe, are both symbolical of Queen Elizabeth; the adventures of the Redcross Knight shadow forth the history of the Church of England; the distressed knight is Henry IV.; and Envy is intended to glance at the unfortunate Mary, Queen of Scots. The stanza of Spenser is the Italian ottava rima, now familiar in English poetry; but he added an Alexandrine, or long line, which gives a full and sweeping close to the verse. The poet's diction is rich and abundant. He introduced, however, a number of obsolete expressions, 'new grafts of old and withered words,' for which he was censured by his contemporaries and their successors, and in which he was certainly not copied by Shakspeare. His Gothic subject
* The Platonism of Spenser is more clearly seen in his hymns
on Love and Beauty, which are among the most passionate and seemed to bulwark in the romantic retreat. Here exquisite of his productions. His account of the spirit of love he wrote most of the Faery Queen, and received the is not unlike Ovid's description of the creation of man: the visits of Raleigh, whom he fancifully styled the soul, just severed from the sky, retains part of its heavenly Shepherd of the Ocean ;' and here he brought home powerhis wife, the Elizabeth' of his sonnets, welcom
And frames her house, in which she will be placed, ing her with that noble strain of pure and fervent
Fit for herself.' passion, which he has styled the Epithalamium, and
But he speculates furtherwhich forms the most magnificent spousal verse'
So every spirit, as it is most pure, in the language. Kilcolman Castle is now a ruin;
And hath in it the more of heavenly light, its towers almost level with the ground; but the spot
So it the fairer body doth procure must ever be dear to the lovers of genius. Raleigh's
To habit in, and it more fairly dight visit was made in 1589, and, according to the figu
With cheerful grace and amiable sight; rative language of Spenser, the two illustrious friends,
For of the soul the body form doth take; while reading the manuscript of the Faery Queen,
For soul is form, and doth the body make.' sat
Spenser afterwards wrote two religious hymns, to counteract . Amongst the coolly shade
the effect of those on love and beauty, but though he spiritual. Of the green alders, by the Mulla's shore.'
ises his passion, he does not abandon his early belief, that the
fairest body encloses the fairest mind : he still says We may conceive the transports of delight with
• For all that's good is beautiful and fair.' which Raleigh perused or listened to those strains
The Grecian philosophy was curiously united with Puritanism of chivalry and gorgeous description, which revealed
in both Spenser and Milton. Our poet took the fable of his great to him a land still brighter than any he had seen in poem from the style of the Gothic romance, but the deep sense his distant wanderings, or could have been present of beauty which pervades it is of classical origin, elevated and even to his romantic imagination! The guest warmly | purified by strong religious feeling.
and story' had probably, as Mr Campbell conjec- | 16th January 1599. He was buried near the tomb tures, made him lean towards words of the olden of Chaucer in Westminster Abbey, the Earl of time,' and his antiquated expression, as the same Essex defraying the expense of the funeral, and his critic finely remarks, “is beautiful in its antiquity, hearse attended (as Camden relates) by his brotber and, like the moss and ivy on some majestic build poets, wino threw mournful elegies' into his grave. ing, covers the fabric of his language with romantic A monument was erected over his remains thuirt and venerable associations.' The Faery Queen was years afterwards by Anne, countess of Dorset. His enthusiastically received. It could scarcely, indeed, widow, the fair Elizabeth, whose bridal bower at be otherwise, considering how well it was adapted | Kilcolman he had decked with such 'gay garlands' to the court and times of the Virgin Queen, where of song, probably remained in Ireland, where txo gallantry and chivalry were so strangely mingled | sons of the unfortunate poet long resided. with the religious gravity and earnestness induced Spenser is the most luxuriant and melodious of by the Reformation, and considering the intrinsic all our descriptive poets. His creation of scenes beauty and excellence of the poem. The few first and objects is infinite, and in free and sonorous stanzas, descriptive of Una, were of themselves suf- | versification he has not yet been surpassed. His ficient to place Spenser above the whole hundred lofty rhyme' has a swell and cadence, and a conpoets that then offered incense to Elizabeth.
tinuous sweetness, that we can find nowhere else. The queen settled a pension of £50 per annum on In richness of fancy and invention he can scarcely Spenser, and he returned to Ireland. His smaller be ranked below Shakspeare, and he is fully as ori poems were next published-The Tears of the Muses, ginal. His obligations to the Italian poets (Ariosto Mother Hubbard, &c., in 1591; Daphnaida, 1592; and supplying a wild Gothic and chivalrous model for Amoretti and the Epithalamium (relating his court- the Faery Queen, and Tasso furnishing the texture ship and marriage) in 1595. His Elegy of Astrophel, of some of its most delicious embellishments) still on the death of the lamented Sidney, appeared leave him the merit of his great moral design-the about this time. In 1596, Spenser was again in conception of his allegorical characters-his exubeLondon to publish the fourth, fifth, and sixth books rance of language and illustration-and that original of the Faery Queen. These contain the legend of structure of verse, powerful and harmonious, which Cambel and Triamond, or Friendship; Artegal, or he was the first to adopt, and which must ever bear Justice; and Sir Caledore, or Courtesy. The double his name. Ilis faults arose out of the fulness of his allegory is continued in these cantos as in the pre- riches. His inexhaustible powers of circumstantial vious ones: Artegal is the poet's friend and patron, description betrayed him into a tedious minuteness, Lord Grey; and various historical events are re which sometimes, in the delineation of his personified lated in the knight's adventures. Half of the ori passions, becomes repulsive, and in the painting of ginal design was thus finished; six of the twelve natural objects led him to group together trees and adventures and moral virtues were produced ; but plants, and assemble sounds and instruments, which unfortunately the world saw only some fragments were never seen or heard in unison out of Faers more of the work. It has been said that the remain- | Land. The ingenuity and subtlety of his intellect ing half was lost, through the disorder and abuse' tempted him to sow dark meanings and obscure of a servant sent forward with it to England. This allusions across the bright and obvious path of his is highly improbable. Spenser, who came to London allegory. This peculiarity of his genius was early himself with each of the former portions, would not displayed in his Shepherd's Calendar; and if Barhave ventured the largest part with a careless ser- leigh's displeasure could have cured the poet of the vant. But he had not time to complete his poetical habit, the statesman might be half forgiven his illiand moral gallery. There was an interval of six berality. His command of musical language led years between his two publications, and he lived him to protract his narrative to too great a length, only three years after the second. During that till the attention becomes exhausted, even with its period, too, Ireland was convulsed with rebellion. very melody, and indifference succeeds to languor. The English settlers, or undertakers,' of the crown Had Spenser lived to finish his poem, it is doubtfal lands, were unpopular with the conquered natives whether he would not have diminished the number of Ireland. They were often harsh and oppressive; of his readers. His own fancy had evidently begun and even Spenser is accused, on the authority of to give way, for the last three books have not the existing legal documents, of having sought unjustly same rich unity of design, or plenitude of imaginato add to his possessions. He was also in office over tion, which fills the earlier cantos with so many inthe Irish (clerk of the council of Munster); he had | teresting, lofty, and ethereal conceptions, and steeps been recommended by the queen (1598) for the them in such a flood of ideal and poetical beauty. office of sheriff of Cork; and he was a strenuous The two first books (of Holiness and Temperance) advocate for arbitrary power, as is proved by a poli- are, like the two first of Paradise Lost, works of contical treatise on the state of Ireland, written by him summate taste and genius, and superior to all the in 1596 for the government of Elizabeth, but not others. We agree with Mr Hazlitt, that the alleprinted till the reign of Charles I. The poet was, | gory of Spenser is in reality no bar to the enjoyment', therefore, a conspicuous object for the fury of the of the poem. The reader may safely disregard the irritated and barbarous natives, with whom · revenge symbolical applications. We may allow the poet. was virtue.' The storm soon burst forth. In Oc- like his own Archimago, to divide his characters tober 1598, an insurrection was organised in Mun- into 'double parts,' while one only is visible at a ster, following Tyrone's rebellion, which had raged time. While we see Una, with her heavenly looks, for some years in the province of Ulster. The in
That made a sunshine in the shady place, surgents attacked Kilcolman, and having robbed and plundered, set fire to the castle. Spenser and his or Belphæbe flying through the woods, or Britomart wife escaped ; but either in the confusion incidental seated amidst the young warriors, we need not stop to such a calamity, or from inability to render as- to recollect that the first is designed to represent the sistance, an infant child of the poet ('new-born,' | true church, the second Queen Elizabeth, or the third according to Ben Jonson) was left behind, and an abstract personification of Chastity. They are experished in the flames. The poet, impoverished and quisite representations of female loveliness and truth, broken-hearted, reached London, and died in about unmatched save in the dramas of Shakspeare. The three months, in King Street, Westminster, on the allegory of Spenser leaves his wild enchantments,
his picturesque situations, his shady groves and lofty A lovely lady rode him fair beside, trecs,
Upon a lowly ass more white than snow; (Not pierceable by power of any star),
Yet she much whiter, but the same did hide
Under a veil that wimpled was full low, his Masque of Cupid, and Bower of Bliss, and all the And over all a black stole she did throw, witcheries of his gardens and wildernesses, without As one that inly mourn'd : 80 was she sad, the slightest ambiguity or indistinctness. There is And heavy sat upon her palfrey slow; no haze over his finest pictures. We seem to walk | Seemed in heart some hidden care she had, in the green alleys of his broad forests, to hear the And by her in a line a milk-white larb she led. stream tinkle and the fountain fall, to enter his
So pure and innocent, as that same lamb, caves of Mammon and Despair, to gaze on his
She was in life and every virtuous lore, knights and ladies, or to join in his fierce combats
And by descent from royal lineage came and crowded allegorical processions. There is no
Of ancient kings and queens, that had of yore perplexity, no intercepted lights, in those fine images
Their sceptres stretcht from east to western shore, and personifications. They may be sometimes fan
And all the world in their subjection held; tastic, but they are always brilliant and distinct.
Till that infernal fiend with foul uproar When Spenser fails to interest, it is when our coarser
Forewasted all their land and them expellid: taste becomes palled with his sweetness, and when we
Whom to avenge, she had this knight from far comfeel that his scenes want the support of common pro
pell’d. bability and human passions. We surrender ourselves up for a time to the power of the enchanter, Behind her far away a dwarf did lag, i and witness with wonder and delight his marvellous That lazy seem'd in being ever last, achievements; but we wish to return again to the Or wcaried with bearing of her bag world, and to mingle with our fellow-mortals in its Of needments at his back. Thus as they past busy and passionate pursuits. It is here that Shaks The day with clouds was sudden overcast, peare eclipses Spenser; here that he builds upon his And angry Jove an hideous storm of rain beautiful groundwork of fancy-the high and durable Did pour into his leman's lap so fast, structure of conscious dramatic truth and living That every wight to shroud it did constrain, reality. Spenser's mind was as purely poetical, and And this fair couple eke to shroud themselves were fain. embraced a vast range of imaginary creation. The Enforced to seek some covert nigh at hand, interest of real life alone is wanting. Spenser's is an
A shady grove not far away they spied, ideal world, remote and abstract, yet affording, in its
That promised aid the tempest to withstand ; multiplied scenes, scope for those nobler feelings and Whose lofty trees, yclad with summer's pride, heroic virtues which we love to see even in transient
Did spread so broad, that heaven's light did hide, connexion with human nature. The romantic cha Nor pierceable with power of any star: racter of his poetry is its most essential and per And all within were paths and alleys wide,
nt feature. We may tire of his allegory and | With footing worn, and leading inward far: dark conceit,' but the general impression remains; Fair harbour, that them seems; so in they entered are. we never think of the Faery Queen without recalling its wondrous scenes of enchantment and beauty, and
And forth they pags, with pleasure forward led, fecling ourselves lulled, as it were, by the recol
Joying to hear the birds' sweet harmony, lected music of the poet's verse, and the endless flow
Which therein shrouded from the tempest dread, and profusion of his fancy
Seem'd in their song to scorn the cruel sky.
The sailing Pine, the Cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop Elm, the Poplar never dry,
The builder Oak, sole king of forests all, A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,
The Aspin good for staves, the Cypress funeral. Yclad in mighty arms and silver shield,
The Laurel, meed of mighty conquerors Wherein old dints of deep wounds did remain,
And poets sage, the Fir that wecpeth still, The cruel marks of many a bloody field;
The Willow, worn of forlorn paramours, Yet arms till that time did he never wield :
The Yew obedient to the bender's will, His angry steed did chide his foaming bit,
The Birch for shafts, the Sallow for the mill, As much disdaining to the curb to yield :
The Myrrh sweet bleeding in the bitter wound, Full jolly knight he seemn’d, and fair did sit,
The warlike Beech, the Ash for nothing ill, As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fit.
The fruitful Olive, and the Plantain round,
The carver Holme, the Maple seldom inward sound: And on his breast a bloody cross he bore, l| The dear remembrance of his dying Lord,
Led with delight, they thus beguile the way,
When, weening to return. whence they did stray. | Upon his shield the like was also scored,
They cannot find that path which first was shown, 1 For sovereign hope, which in his help he had :
But wander to and fro in ways unknown, Right faithful true he was in deed and word;
Furthest from end then, when they nearest ween, | But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad :
That makes them doubt their wits be not their own : Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydrad. So many paths, so many turnings seen,
That which of them to take, in divers doubt they been. Upon a great adventure he was bound, | That greatest Gloriana to him gave, (That greatest glorious qucen of fairy lond,)
[Adventure of Una with the Lion.] To win him worship, and her grace to have, i Which of all carthly things he most did crave; Yet she, most faithful lady, all this while And ever as he rode his heart did yearn
Forsaken, woeful, solitary maid, | To prove his puissance in battle brave
Far from all people's prease, as in exile, Upon his foe, and his new force to learn ;
| In wilderness and wasteful deserts strayed, | Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and steru.
To seek her knight ; who, subtily betrayed