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Yet his own face was dreadfull, ne did need
Strange horror to deform his grisly shade;
A net in th' one hand, and a rusty blade
In th' other was; this Mischiefe, that Mishap;
With th' one his foes he threat'ned to invade,
With th' other he his friends meant to enwrap;
For whom he could not kill he practiz'd to entrap.

Next him was Fear, all arm'd from top to toe,
Yet thought himselfe not safe enough thereby,
But fear'd each shadow moving to and fro;
And his own arms when glittering he did spy
Or clashing heard, he fast away did fly,
As ashes pale of hue, and winged-heel'd;
And evermore on Daunger fixt his eye,
'Gainst whom he always bent a brazen shield,
Which his right hand unarmed fearfully did wield.

With him went Hope, in rank a handsome maid, Of chearfull look and lovely to behold; In silken samite she was light array'd, And her fair locks were woven up in gold; She always smil'd, and in her hand did hold An holy-water sprinkled dipt in dew, With which she sprinkled favours manifold On whom she list, and did great liking shew, Great liking unto many, but true love to few.

Next after them, the winged God himself
Came riding on a lion ravenous,
Taught to obey the menage of that elfe
That man and beast with power imperious
Subdueth to his kingdom tyrannous:
His blindfold eyes he bade awhile unbind;
That his proud spoil of that same dolorous
Fair dame he might behold in perfect kind;
Which seen, he much rejoiced in his cruel mind.

Of which full proud, himself uprearing high, He looked round about with stern disdain, And did survey his goodly company: And, marshalling the evil-ordered train, With that the darts which his right hand did strain, Full dreadfully he shook, that all did quake, And clapt on high his colour'd winges twain, That all his many it afraid did make: Tho' blinding him again, he his way forth did take.”

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The description of Hope, in this series of historical portraits, is
one of the most beautiful in Spenser: and the triumph of Cupid,
at the mischief he has made, is worthy of the malicious urchin
deity. In reading these descriptions, one can hardly avoid being
reminded of Rubens's allegorical pictures; but the account of
Satyrane's taming the lion's whelps and lugging the bear's cubs
along in his arms while yet an infant, whom his mother so
naturally advises to “go seek some other play-fellows,” has even
more of this high picturesque character. Nobody but Rubens
could have painted the fancy of Spenser; and he could not have
given the sentiment, the airy dream that hovers over it!
With all this, Spenser neither makes us laugh nor weep.
The only jest in his poem is an allegorical play upon words,
where he describes Malbecco as escaping in the herd of goats,
“by the help of his fayre horns on hight.” But he has been
unjustly charged with a want of passion and of strength: He
has both in an immense degree. He has not indeed the pathos
of immediate action or suffering, which is more properly the
dramatic; but he has all the pathos of sentiment and romance—
all that belongs to distant objects of terror, and uncertain, ima-
ginary distress. His strength, in like manner, is not strength
of will or action, of bone and muscle, nor is it coarse and palpa-
ble—but it assumes a character of vastness and sublimity seen
through the same visionary medium, and blended with the ap-
palling associations of preternatural agency. We need only
turn, in proof of this, to the Cave of Despair, or the Cave of
Mammon, or to the account of the change of Malbecco into
Jealousy. The following stanzas, in the description of the Cave
of Mammon, the grisly house of Plutus, are unrivalled for the
portentous massiness of the forms, the splendid chiaro-scuro, and
shadowy horror.

“That house's form within was rude and strong,
Like an huge cave hewn out of rocky clift,
From whose rough vault the ragged breaches hung,
Embossed with massy gold of glorious gift,
And with rich metal loaded every rift,
That heavy ruin they did seem to threat:
And over them Arachne high did lift

Her cunning web, and spread her subtle net,
Enwrapped in foul smoke, and clouds more black than jet.

Both roof and floor, and walls were all of gold,
But overgrown with dust and old decay,”
And hid in darkness that none could behold
The hue thereof: for view of cheerful day
Did never in that house itself display,
But a faint shadow of uncertain light;
Such as a lamp whose light doth fade away;
Or as the moon clothed with cloudy night
Does show to him that walks in fear and sad affright.
# * * * * * * * *
And over all sad Horror with grim hue
Did always soar, beating his iron wings;
And after him owls and night-ravens flew,
The hateful messengers of heavy things,
Of death and dolour telling sad tidings;
Whiles sad Celleno, sitting on a clift,
A song of bitter bale and sorrow sings,
That heart of flint asunder could have rift;
Which having ended, after him she flieth swift.”

The Cave of Despair is described with equal gloominess and power of fancy; and the fine moral declamation of the owner of it, on the evils of life, almost makes one in love with death. In the story of Malbecco, who is hunted by Jealousy, and in vain strives to run away from his own thoughts—

“High over hill and over dale he flies”—

the truth of human passion and the preternatural ending are equally striking—It is not fair to compare Spenser with Shakspeare, in point of interest. A fairer comparison would be with Comus; and the result would not be unfavourable to Spenser. There is only one work of the same allegorical kind, which has more interest than Spenser (with scarcely less imagination :) and that is the Pilgrim's Progress. The three first books of the Faery Queen are very superior to the three last. One

* “That all with one consent praise new-born gauds,
Tho' they are made and moulded of things past,
And give to Dust that is a little gilt,
More laud than gold o'er-dusted.”
Troilus and Cressida.

would think that Pope, who used to ask if any one had ever read the Faery Queen through, had only dipped into these last. The only things in them equal to the former are the account of Talus, the Iron Man, and the delightful episode of Pastorella. The language of Spenser is full, and copious, to overflowing: it is less pure and idiomatic than Chaucer's, and is enriched and adorned with phrases borrowed from the different languages of Europe, both ancient and modern. He was, probably, seduced into a certain license of expression by the difficulty of filling up the moulds of his complicated rhymed stanza form the limited resources of his native language. This stanza with alternate and repeatedly recurring rhymes, is borrowe from the Italians. It was peculiarly fitted to their langauge, which abounds in similar vowel terminations, and is as little adapted to ours, from the stubborn, unaccommodating resistance which the consonant endings of the northern languages make to this sort of endless sing-song.—Not that I would on that account part with the stanza of Spencer. We are, perhaps, indebted to this very necessity of finding out new forms of expression, and to the occasional faults to which it led, for a poetical language, rich and varied and magnificent beyond all former, and almost all later, example. His versification is, at once, the most smooth and the most sounding in the language. It is a labyrinth of sweet sounds, “in many a winding bout of linked sweetness long drawn out,”—that would cloy by their very sweetness, but that the ear is constantly relieved and enchanted by their continued variety of modulation—dwelling on the pauses of the action, or flowing on in a fuller tide of harmony with the movement of the sentiment. It has not the bold dramatic transitions of Shakspeare's blank verse, nor the highraised tone of Milton's; but it is the perfection of melting harmony, dissolving the soul in pleasure, or holding it captive in the chains of suspense. Spenser was the poet of our waking dreams; and he has invented not only a language, but a music of his own for them. The undulations are infinite, like those of the waves of the sea; but the effect is still the same, lulling the senses into a deep oblivion of the jarring noises of the world, from which we have no wish to be ever recalled.



In looking back to the great works of genius in former times, we are sometimes disposed to wonder at the little progress which has since been made in poetry, and in the arts of imitation in general. But this is perhaps a foolish wonder. Nothing can be more contrary to the fact, than the supposition that in what we understand by the fine arts, as painting, and poetry, relative perfection is only the result of repeated efforts in successive periods, and that what has been once well done, constantly leads to something better. What is mechanical, reducible to rule, or capable of demonstration, is progressive, and admits of gradual improvement: what is not mechanical, or definite, but depends on feeling, taste, and genius, very soon becomes stationary, or retrograde, and loses more than it gains by transfusion. The contrary opinion is a vulgar error, which has grown up, like many others, from transferring an analogy of one kind to something quite distinct, without taking into the account the difference in the nature of the things, or attending to the difference of the results. For most persons, finding what wonderful advances have been made in biblical criticism, in chemistry, in mechanics, in geometry, astronomy, &c., i. e. in things depending on mere enquiry and experiment, or on absolute demonstration, have been led hastily to conclude that there was a general tendency in the efforts of the human intellect to improve by repetition, and, in all other arts and institutions, to grow perfect and mature by time. We look back upon the theological creed of our ancestors, and their discoveries in natural philosophy, with a smile of pity: science, and the arts connected with it, have all had their infancy, their youth, and manhood, and seem to contain in them no principle

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