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figure, "in black all clad," suddenly presents herself to his sight. Her form is wasted by suffering, and her countenance is agitated by the most violent emotion.
Her forceless hands together oft she smote. To the poet's inquiries into the cause of her affliction, she replies, that her name is Sorrow,
In endless torments pained
Among the Furies in the eternal lake.
Raising her from the ground, he commiserates her situation, and finally accompanies her to the melancholy habitation
Of worthy men by fortune overthrown. The celebrated scene in the Sixth Book of the JEneid is here recalled to the memory; but Sackville has expanded the romance of Virgil into a Gothic wildness and extravagance. His impersonations of Remorse, Dread, Revenge,, Misery, Care, Sleep—
Heavy sleep, the cousin of death— Old Age, Malady, Famine, and War, are dashed off with a sweep and amplitude of imagination, which have hardly been equalled by the happiest touches of Spenser. We know not where to seek, from JEschylus to Milton, for any picture more vividly delineated than the following:— Lastly stood war in glittering arms 'y clad
With visage grim, stern-looks, and blackly-hued;
That to the hilt was all with blood embrued;
Cities he sackt, and realms that whilom flowered,
He overwhelm'd, and all their fame devoured,
His face forehewed with wounds, and by his side
There hung his terge with gashes deep and wide. VOL. I. C
Proceeding on their journey they arrive at the Lake of Acheron, and Charon recognising Sorrow, hastens to receive her with her companion into his boat. Upon the opposite shore a melancholy spectacle awaits them. The forms of the most celebrated heroes and statesmen pass mournfully along; and at the same moment, Henry duke of Buckingham approaches and begins to relate the story of his misfortunes. Such is Saekville's famous Induction to the Mirrour for Magistrates. It is composed of those "golden verses" which Spenser knew so well how to praise, and how to imitate.
The appearance of the Fairy Queen must have been like the sudden rushing of an " Arabian heaven" upon the night of our poetry. To the reader, whose opinion of Spenser is not formed upon an accurate acquaintance with his poems, John Wesley's advice to the Methodists, who were desirous of proceeding through a course of academical learning, may appear paradoxical: he recommended them, in their second year, to combine with the study of the historic books of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Testament, the reading of the Fairy Queen. And yet nothing more clearly displays the penetration of this remarkable individual than the advice referred to. That Spenser intended the Fairy Queen to be a truly moral and religious poem, setting forth the rules and conduct of life, there can be no question. This fact, indeed, appears to be satisfactorily substantiated by a passage in Lodowick Bryskett's Discourse of Civil Life, published in 1606*, to which Mr. Todd has the merit of having first directed particular attention. In this treatise a desire is expressed, that Spenser would "set down in English the precepts of those parts of moral philosophy, whereby our youth might speedily enter into the right course of virtuous lifeand
* But written, according to the conjecture of Malone, between 1584 and 1589.
the poet is represented as saying, in reply, that "he had already undertaken a work tending to the same effect, which was in heroic verse, under the title of a Faerie Queen, to represent all the moral virtues, assigning to every virtue a knight, to be the patron and defender of the same; in whose actions, the feats of arms and chivalry, the operations of that virtue whereof he is; the protector, are to be expressed; and the vices and unruly appetites that oppose themselves against the same, are to be beaten down and overcome."
Wesley may have referred the theological student to the poetry of Spenser, not more for its copious imagery and beautiful seiifiments, than for its abundant, fervid, and melodious diction.
The happy idea of making poetry the hand-maid of religion was not however introduced by Wesley. The Apostle of the Gentiles is known to have been acquainted with the comic theatre of Athens*; Chrysostom placed under his pillow the dramas of Aristophanes; Bossuet studied Homer; and Archbishop Sharpe, whose popular eloquence has been recorded by Burnet, confessed that he owed, in a great degree, to Shakspeare, his introduction to Lambeth. Philosophy has derived her most powerful implement from the same armoury. When Galileo was asked how he attained his fluent and easy style, he ascribed it to the diligent perusal of Ariosto.
In thus rendering chivalry subservient to a great moral purpose, it should be remembered that Spenser was adopt
* See the allusion to Aratus in the seventh chapter of the Acts v. 28. "The comedies of Aristophanes are frequently quoted by Clement of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzum, called by way of eminence the Theologian, and by Eustathius; and the remarkable use of the verb fiv(ia6ai, by St. Paul (ad Philip, iv. 12), which occurs six times in our poet's eleven remaining plays, would almost tempt one to imagine that the Great Apostle of the Gentiles was conversant with these valuable remains of Antiquity."—Wheelwright's Preface to his translation of Aristophanes.
ing the method most likely to render his poem interesting and successful. The scenes he described had not then faded from the eyes of the people. The gorgeous tournament and the picturesque splendour of knight-pageantry had not become old and forgotten things. They were not the subjects of history, but of experience. Sir Philip■ Sidney tilted at one of the entertainments given to the French Ambassador; and not long before, in the reign of Henry the Eighth, the romantic earl of Surrey had made a pilgrimage to Florence, the birth-place of his mistress, and publicly challenged the world in defence of her beauty. If, therefore, the story of the Fairy Queen awaken no lively sympathy in our bosom, we should remember that Spenser addressed it to the sixteenth, and not to the nineteenth century; and that the "fierce wars .and faithful loves" were only employed "to moralize his song." Thus in allusion to the characteristic features of his poetry, Bishop Hall spoke of his "misty moral types;" Drayton called him "grave moral Spenser;" and Milton mentioned him affectionately, as " our sage serious Spenser," whom he was not afraid to think "a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas."
Spenser has unfolded the general intention of the Fairy Queen in a letter to his friend Sir Walter Raleigh. He calls the poem a continual Allegory, or dark conceit; the aim of " all the book" being "to fashion a gentleman or noble person in virtuous and gentle discipline." In selecting Arthur for his hero, he followed, he said, the example of the most eminent poets of ancient times,—of Homer, who had "ensampled a good governor and virtuous man" in the Iliad and Odyssey; of Virgil, who had designed their union in the iEneid; of Ariosto, who comprised both characters in his Orlando; and lastly, of Tasso, who having dissevered them again, presented the private person and the hero in Rinaldo and Godfredo, The plot of the poem is developed with equal simplicity in this remarkable letter. Arthur, having been brought up by Timon, to whom he had been delivered by Merlin, is supposed to behold in a dream the Fairy Queen, " with whose excellent beauty ravished," writes the poet, "he awakening resolved to seek her out; and so, being by Merlin armed, and by Timon thoroughly instructed, he went to seek her forth in Fairy Land." How far Spenser adhered to this outline of his pencil it would require a protracted examination to determine.
Warton considers the great defect of the Fairy Queen to arise from the poet having made Arthur a subordinate, instead of the principal character. If he gains Gloriana, it is by the aid of the twelve knights. St. George vanquishes the Dragon, and Britomartis overcomes the Magician. We forget the hero of the Poem in the hero of the Book. This is the argument of Warton, and may be regarded as the revival of Dryden's objection somewhat contracted, that the Fairy Queen was deficient in singleness, uniformity, and completeness. Without making any particular reference to the remarks of Upton, who, according to Warton, came
From every mystic tale
■or, to the more ingenious Essay of Hughes, we may pass to the observations of Hurd, one of the most accomplished, though he may not be the most learned, of our critical writers.
"Judge of the Fairy Queen by the classic models," he ■says, "and you are shocked with its disorder; consider it with an eye to its Gothic original, and you find it regular. The unity and simplicity of the former are more complete,
* 1. Observations on the plan of the Fairy Queen. 2. See the versessentto Mr. Upton on his edition of the Fairie Queen. "Warton loved and felt the magical charm of Spenser.