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consequently, should have displayed pearances, exactly as they present the same qualities of excellence. To themselves to the imaginative faculsay that he excels Butler, for in ties. With the language of love, the stance, because he has more nature first of these qualities, Spenser was and simplicity, is, I shall not hesi evidently unacquainted; though he tate to assert, downright absurdity; represents the Red Cross Knight enbecause Butler intended that his er- countering danger in all its terrific rant knight should have neither one and subduing aspects for the love of nor other of these qualities. Absurd, fair Una, not a word passes between however, as it may be to compare these devoted lovers, but what they Spenser and Butler with each other, it might express in the presence is on the same principle of absurdity of the world. It is from their arthat so many critics of the present tions alone we can discover they day prefer Spenser to Pope, and the had any regard for each other, but romantic school of Spenser to the each of them appears to have been classic school of Pope and Addison. too proud, stately, and unbending; In calling this principle absurd, I too much of a Gothic character, to am aware I impeach the infallability suffer his affections to be known to of the first critics of the age, but I the other. There is every reason to am not fearful of the result. I have believe that the stately pedantry of said what I meant, and I am prepared feudal times, when every man was a to support it.
lord or a vassal, an imperious ruler, To proceed, then, in our inquiry, or an abject slave, proved not mereI shall examine what qualities of ly a restraint to the free exercise style properly belong to the “Fairy and expression of natural affection, Queen," and how far these qualities but extinguished, in a very great are met with in that poem. I con degree, those congenial sympathies fine myself to the “Fairy Queen,” which unite kindred spirits in the because it is the poem on which his bonds of love, wherever the heart is poetical fame is founded, and which left to the free and unrestrained inis chiefly quoted by all his admirers. pulse of its own spontaneous emoMy limits will not permit me to ex tions. If so, it is but fair to attritend my observations to his other bute Spenser's failure to the vices poems; but the reader must perceive of the time in which he wrote. that they are as applicable to the It is certain that in feudal times one as to the other.
we hear of more heroism and chiThe “Fairy Queen," is a series of valry enlisted on the side of females, Jove adventures alternately retarded and of defenceless innocence, than and promoted by magic plots and we can boast of at present; but are chivalric deeds, The scenes are
we equally certain, that the human chiefly laid in the country, a circum- breast was then capable of a pair stance which gives frequent oppor. love, and a tenderer affection, than tunities of descriptive scenery." The belongs to the degenerate progeny characters are in general of royal or of the nineteenth century? "of this noble parentage, and engaged in we have great doubt; and we doubt great and arduous designs. Here also, whether the heroism and roihen is the subject of the “Fairy mantic bravery, then displayed, was Queen." Let us now see what are not rather the effect of that unculti, the qualities which constitute the vated, barbarian pride, that haughty, excellence of such a poem. The unsocial, and uncompromising spirit
, first quality appears to be that whieh which was the generation of ignomost happily deseribes the emotions rance and intellectual gloom, than of love, which speaks the language the offspring of those milder afferof the heart, and paints, in glowing tions, which characterise our comcolours, the sacred thrill of kindred merce with the fair sex at present. sympathies. Magic plots, and chi- A savage, ferocious spirit is, by its valric deeds, require a strong and very nature, inclined to a turbulent, vigorous imagination; while descrip- and tumultous life; the homely tive scenery requires a microscopic sweets of peace, the elegant delighis attention to the appearances of na- of retirement, the secret charms of ture, and a corresponding simplicity science, the kindling raptures of the of manner in describing these ap- briglit-eyed muse, the softer attrac,
tions of those arts and intellectual all the lustre of brocade." I have pursuits, which subdue the grosser already shewn the absurdity of compropensities of our nature, which paring poems of a different character, win the soul to chaster contempla- which always require a different treattion, and refine the senses with more ment, to give them all that excellence exquisite sympathies, were totally of which they are capable. The scenes unknown to the chivalrous heroes of of nature, it is true, 'are more frethe sixteenth century. If they fre- quently placed before us in the former quently fought in defence of inno than in the latter of these poems; but cence, it is a proof that innocence Mr. Warton and all his followers must was then more frequently in danger be well aware, that the design of the than it is at present, a circumstance“ Rape of the Lock” was to expose which could only arise from the the follies of fashionable life, and, brutal and untamed ferocity of the consequently, that Pope was pretimes. It may also be added, that if vented, by the very nature of the innocence stood in no need of their poem, to embellish it with the “waste-, protection, they would not still have ful solitudes and lurid heaths,” that desisted from fighting. Duels were so peculiarly belonged to the wild so common in France, even in the and romantic character of the “Fairy beginning of the seventeenth cen Queen." To introduce rural scenes tury, when Spenser was no more, and natural affections into the “Rape that Houssaie in his Memoires His- of the Lock," would be, in fact, to toriques, Vol. II. p. 259, informs us, thrust nature out of it altogether; that the first news inquired for every for nothing can be natural and im morning when the people met in the proper at the same moment; and streets or public places, were gene- nothing could be more improper, rally,--Who fought yesterday? And nothing more at variance with the in the afternoon, Who has fought design of the “ Rape of the Lock," this morning ? If the celebrated than those descriptions of nature, the Bouteville heard any person extol absence of which is so much regretted the bravery of another, even in the by Mr. Warton and his followers, most familiar conversation, he im- His criticism is not, therefore, worth mediately addressed him in these repeating, though it has been echoed, words: * Sir, I am told you are a over and over again, by the disciples brave fellow; we must fight toge- of the Spenserian school. If Spenser ther." There remained no alterna owes his fame to the love-lorn Una, tive but a duel, or the most insult- why not estimate the fame of Pope ing abuse. That the language of by the love-lorn Eloisa? Why not love, and the expression of native select from his poetical works such feeling should be unknown at such a poem as would bear a comparison a time, is not at all surprising; and, with the “Fairy Queen?" Does Una therefore, true criticism will refer excite a warmer transport than the Spenser's failure, in pourtraying the impassioned Eloisa? Does she breathe softer affections, to the vices of the a tenderer love, or a purer affection? time in which he wrote.
Are the secret operations of a In making this concession, how wounded spirit, a heart entangled in ever, we concede more to his ad- the witcheries of love, more deeply mirers than they can justly claim. probed, more naturally delineated, Warton who, we believe, was the or more clearly unveiled, in the first to bring him into repute; and Fairy Queen,” than in Pope's who prefers him to Pope, founds his Eloisa ? If they be, give Spenser preference on a comparison between the prize of poetic pre-eminence; ihe “ Fairy Queen," and the “ Rape but whoever thinks they are, has of the Lock." From the former he never consulted his own feelings, derives “ sweeter transport” than and is, therefore, unqualified to offer from the latter, because he finds any opinion on the subject. He more of nature in beholding de- merely thinks so, because he has serted Una wandering forlorn been told so by others; but the slave through wasteful solitudes, than in of authority is not worth consulting. beholding the fated fair,” in the Pope is as inuch superior to Spenser, “ Rape of the Lock," launching “in in the language of love, as Shakspeare
is to the author of " Bertrand." In a perfect tissue of conceit, and would Spenser love assumes too stately and never have proceeded from the reckformal a character, and never veils less heart of a woe-worn, despairing itself in the softer guise and yield lover. If, then, it be allowed that ing languishments of natural and un- the highest province of poetry is to feigned affection. The consequence probe the inmost recesses of the is, that in the “Fairy Queen," there heart, to watch all its secret moveis a total abandonment of nature, ments and vibrations, and the still and even a considerable portion of more secret and less perceptible conceit in many of the love scenes. causes from which they originate; When Prince Arthur meets with Una, to trace the varying aspect which and requests to become acquainted different passions assume in different with the cause of her affliction, the characters, under the diversified infollowing dialogue takes place be Auences of times and situations, it tween them :
must also be allowed that Pope is 40! but," quoth she, “ great griefe will
not only superior to Spenser, but
that the distance between them is so not be tould, And can more easily be thought than
immensely great, that no task could said.”
be more ungrateful to an admirer of « Right 80," quoth he, “but he that Spenser, than to enter into the comnever would,
parison. By an admirer of Spenser, Could never : will to might gives I do not mean, in this place, a progreatest aid.”
fessed disciple of the Spenserian “ But griefe," quoth she, “ does greater school, but a rational admirer, who, grow displaid,
unfettered by the thraldom of schools, If then it find not helpe, and breeds or the canons of “invariable prin. despaire."
ciples of poetry," knows to sepau Despaire breeds not," quoth he, rate his virtues from his vices, his “ where faith is staid.”
beauties from his defects; and whose « No faith so fast,” quoth she, but admiration of the one causes him to
flesh does paire." " Flesh may empaire," quoth he, “ but forget, not to ignore, the existence
of the other. The time in which he reason can repaire.'
wrote, as I have already observed, Is this langage natural in a woman,
rendered it almost impossible that when, the moment before, we are he should excel in the language of told,
love. In the first of the three qualities, « She thrise did sinke adowne in deadly cessary to the excellence of such a
therefore, which I have shewn neswound,"
poem as the “Fairy Queen," Spen. at hearing of her lover's captivity. ser was evidently deficient. Let us It matters little that her replies to examine how far he has excelled in Prince Arthur are true, if they be the other two. out of place. I have already ob A strong and vigorous imaginaserved, that what is improper cannot tion is the quality, which I have obbe natural; and therefore truth and served was necessary to the creation nature are found to be frequently at of magic plots, and the description variance. A writer is not to consi- of chivalric deeds. In this quality, der, for a moment, whether what Spenser has eminently excelled. His he expresses be true : his business is mind was formed to expatiate at to ascertain whether it be a truth large over the face of nature ; to applicable to the time, place, and create solitudes and wilds, peopled circumstance to which it is applied only by the fairy offspring of his Una would not seem, from this dia own imagination; to invent plots, logue, to be at that instant over- and scenes, and circumstances, and whelmed with grief and affliction; situations, that could have presented for she appears evidently more desi- themselves only to a bold, restless, rous of displaying her knowledge and expatiatory spirit ; a spirit than of describing her sorrows to a which explores every recess and knight whose only object was to re- winding in the private retreats and store her lost peace of mind, by res. romantic seclusions of nature, and cuing her lover from captivity. Her discovers a warrior or a fairy in replies to the prince are, therefore, every recess. The mind of Spenser
would seem to have been stamped by From top to toe no place appeared nature with romantic character, and bare, therefore he has excelled most of his
That deadly dint of steele endanger successors in the description of ro
may ; mantic situations, and the accom
Athwart his brest, a bauldrick brave . plishment of heroic designs. His
That shin’d, like twinkling stars, with ideas of chivalry were so clear and
stones most precious rare ; distinct, so characteristic of the time in which he wrote, that his heroes
And, in the midst thereof, one precious are all fit subjects for the canvass. They seem to live and move, and Of wondrous worth, and eke of won. wave their ensigns of destruction in
drous mights, our presence. The colouring is so Shapt like a ladie's head, exceeding faithful, and the images so true to shone, nature, that they appear to lose their , Like Hesperus amongst the lesser lights, imaginary character, and to assume
And strove for to amaze the weaker not only a real, but a renewed ex
lights; istence. Of this the instances are
Thereby his mortall blade full comely
hong so numerous, and the portraits in each are executed with so masterly
In yvory sheath, ycarv'd with curious
sligbts, a hand, and in such bold and ani.,
Whose bilts were burnisht gold; and mated colouring, that perhaps it handle strong may he sufficient to quote the first of mother perle ; and buckled with a stanza of the first book, where the,
golden tong Red Cross Knight, or the Champion of England is introduced on his fiery His haughtie helmit, horrid all with
Both glorious brightnesse and great “ A gentle Knight was pricking on the
terrour bredd: plaine,
For all the crest, a dragon did enfold Ycladd in mightie armes and silver With greedje pawes, and over all did shielde,
spredd Wherein old dints of deepe woundes
His golden wings; his dreadfull hide.. did remaine,
ous hedd, The cruell markes of many a bloody
Close couched on the bever, seemed fielde;
to throw Yet armes till that time did he never
From flaming mouth bright sparckles wield:
fiery redd, His angry steede did chide his foming That suddeine horrour to faint hartes bitt,
did show; As much disdayning to the curbe to
And scaly tayle was stretcht adowne, yield :
his back full low. Full jolly Knight he seem'd, and faire did sitt,
Upon the top of all his loftie crest, As one for knightly giusts, and fierce
A bounch of heares discolour'd di. encounters fitt."
versly, With sprincled pearle, and gold full
richly drest, I cannot forbear, however, to quote Did shake, and seemd to daunce for his inimitable portrait of Prince Ar jollity; thur, arrayed in the enchanted ar Like to an almond-tree ymounted hye inour of Merlin, when he met with On top of greene Selinis all alone, Una, as already related.
With blossoms brave, bedecked dain
tily; At last she chaunced by good hap to
Whose teuder locks do tremble every
one, weet A goodly Knight, faire marching by
At every little breath, that under hea.
ven is blowne.” Together with bis Squyre, arrayed meet; His glittering armour shined far away, The description of Prince Arthur's Like glauncing light of Phæbus' bright.' shield takes up three stanza's more,
in which every thing is painted to Eur. Mag. Vol. 82.
est ray ;
the life. When the Prince died, he descended from a race of patriots, informis us that the “Faery Queene" to some other country, where he is brought this shield
brought up and educated, ignorant
of the land of his fathers, and “ To faery lond; where yet it may be perhaps he may become its most seene, if sought."
formidable enemy. At least it is
certain that he will have no more I admit then, freely, that Spenser attachment for it than he has for excels most of his successors in any other nation upon earth, except the creations of an imagination at what may happen to arise from cit. once vigorous, versatile, and correct, cumstances unconnected with his Milton indeed displays a more ex birth. Such an attachment must be panded grasp of mind, and lifts us
perfectly uninfluenced by any origito the contemplation of sublimer nal laws of his nature, because it prospects, but his pictures are over owes its sole existence to adventi. charged, and he seldom presents tious circumstances which might nature to our eyes in the simple, have never occurred, and in which chaste, and unaffected colouring of case the attachment would have neSpenser. In the "Fairy Queen" we ver been felt. Locke has long since instantly, and instinctively recognize exploded the doctrine of innate the reality and truth of the images ideas: the same reasoning applied which are placed before us.
to innate propensities, would easily have no difficulty in conceiving and prove the absurdity of supposing a picturing to ourselves the originals child possessing a propensity for which they represent; but Milton an art of which he is totally ignotoo often confuses us with images of rant. Propensities, like ideas, are undefined and undefinable being, produced by the agency of sensible which leave no distinct impression and external being. In our fortieth on the mind, and fill it with vague, year we have no propensity for a and'unembodied conceptions. Fancy thing which we never saw, and of then would seem to have been born which we never heard; and we must with Spenser; and indeed, if it were
presume it fair to suppose, that what possible to come into life with the
we have no propensity for at this inheritance of a romantic mind, I
age, cannot be an innate or natural should not hesitate to admit, that propensity; and yet it is certain that Spenser derived his romantic genius we may become strongly attached from this original source. Nothing, to this and many other objects and however, can be more unphilosophic pursuits after this age, though we than to suppose a man born with
never felt, nor possibly could feel, any intellectual propensity as a ge the slightest propensity for them nius, for painting, poetry, astrono. before, because we had been totally my, music, &c. If a person be born unacquainted with them. It is then with a natural propensity for paint as absurd to say poeta nascitur non ing, the propensity necessarily exists fit, as to maintain that a person before he knows, or can conceive deeply in love with a woman was what painting is. This species of born with a natural affection for her. propensity is a perfect riddle; we No poet can be more attached to his cannot assert that we have a pro- muse than an ardent lover is to his pensity for any thing till we first mistress. Why not suppose one atperceive the thing, and perceive also attachment innate as well as the our attachment to it; for if we do other? If the lover, however, had not perceive ourselves inclined to a
never seen his mistress, he would certain object or pursuit, how can not have regarded her a rush, which we pretend to say that we have a evidently would not be the case if propensity for it, in as much as all his attachment had been innate, and our propensities, and all our know- originally derived from the hand of ledge are made known to us through nature. As then we have no prothe medium of our perceptions. It pensity for any object or pursuit, is a popular error, however, to say till we are first made acquainted we are born with a propensity for with it, and as we are not conscious certain arts, we are born with a love of forming any acquaintances beof our country. Remove a child fore our birth, except an instinctive