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A bagpipe well he play'd with squeal and croon, And therewithal he brought us out of town.
There was a courteous MANCIPLE of a temple, And caterers all from him might take example, How to be wise in furnishing the board; For whether that he paid, or had it scored, He for his bargain would his time so bide That he was always on the safest side. Now is not that a sign of heaven's good grace, When one of such unlearn'd wit should out-pace The wisdom of a heap of learned men ?
Of gownsmen had he more than three times ten, Who were in law expert and curious ; Of which there were a dozen in that house, Fit to be stewards of the rents and land Of any lord that dwelleth in Englánd ;And make him live well by his own estate In debtless honour-were his squanderings great, Or let him live as sparely as he would ; And all his shire be able to do good In any
ills that fall to mortal lot:And yet this Manciple made them fools, I wot.
The REVE he was a slender choleric man. His beard he shaves as close as ever he can. His formal hair was shorn stiff round his ears ; His crown was dock'd as a priests front appears. Full long were both his spindle legs, and lean; Just like a walking-stick-no calf was seen. Well could he keep a garner and a bin; There was no auditor could on him win.
He knew well by the drought and by the rain,
His dwelling-house stood fair upon a heath ;
This Reve upon a stallion sat, I wot;
" It is easy,” says Pope, “ to mark out the general course of our poetry; Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Dryden are the great landmarks for it."
EDMUND SPENSER was, like Chaucer, a native of London. He was born in 1553, and died in 1599. He was contemporary with Shakspeare and Ben Jonson, and a favourite in the Court of Queen Elizabeth, where he enjoyed the friendship and patronage of Raleigh and Sir Philip Sidney.
His great Poem, the Faery Queen, is a work intended to be in twelve books, of which however only six were completed. It is an extended allegory, with imagery drawn from the popular notions concerning Fairies, and made to illustrate certain virtues, such as Holiness, Temperance, Chastity, &c. Each book contains a separate adventure, undertaken by a particular Knight, who is its hero, and who is the
personification of some one of the virtues.
The plan then comprehends twelve Knights with twelve separate ailventures, all instituted by the Queen of Fairy land, for the purpose of giving practical instruction in the various virtues to the noble Prince Arthur, who visited her court for this purpose, and who is the hero of the whole poem. Notwithstanding the conceit of the allegory, which,
in inferior hands, would have become a mere barren speculation, Spenser contrives to create a lively and abiding interest in his subject. The truth is, the reader forgets the allegory in the absorbing interest of what is, notwithstanding its fantastic garb, a true tale of human passions and feelings. Spenser is considered the most luxuriant and melodious versifier in the English language. In regard to diction, he was led by the nature of his subject to use a general style of expression which was partially obsolete even then, as may be seen by comparing a page of the Faery Queen with a page of Shakspeare or Ben Jonson.
The spelling is modernized. There is also an occasional gloss at the bottom of the page. No other change was believed to be necessary to a full and ready comprehension of the text by ordinary readers of English poetry. '
THE RED CROSS KNIGHT AND THE LADY UNA.
A gentle Knight was pricking on the plain,
Full jolly knight he seemed, and fair did sit,
And on his breast a bloody cross he bore,
But of his cheer did seem too solemn sad;
Upon a great adventure he was bond,
Upon his foe, and his new force to learn,
A lovely Lady rode him fair beside,
Seeméd in heart some hidden care she had;
and innocent, as that same lamb, She was in life and every virtuous lore; And by descent from royal lineage came
* Ydrad, dreaded.