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differents parts of nature, prevails even in Scotland at this day.
Our old romantic history supposes, that Arthur still reigns in Fairy-land, from which he will one day return to Britain, and reestablished the round table in its original splendour.
He is a king ycrownid in Fairie,
The same tradition is mentioned by Cervantes in Don Quixotet.
Many other examples might be alleged) from which it would be more abundantly
Lydgate, Fall of Princes. b. S. ch. ssv. † Part 1. ch. v.
manifested, that our author's imagination was entirely possessed with that species of reading, which was the fashion and the delight of his age. ] The lovers of Spenser, I hope, will not think I have been too tedious in a disquisition, which has contributed not only to illustrate many particular passages in their favourite poet, but to display the general cast and colour of his poem. Some there are who will censure what I have collected on this subject, as both trifling and uninteresting; but such readers can have no taste for Spenser.
Of Spenser's Use and Abuse of Ancient History
As Spenser sought to produce surprise by extravagant incidents and fantastic descriptions, great part of classical history and mythology afforded ample materials for such a design, and properly coincided with the general aim of his romantic plan. He has accordingly adopted some of their most extraordinary fictions, in many of which he has departed from the received tradition, as his purpose and subject occasionally required or permitted. But with regard to our author's misrepresentation of ancient fable, it may be justly urged, that from those arguments which are produced against his fidelity, new proofs arise in favour of his fancy. Spenser's native force of invention
would not suffer him to pursue the letter of prescribed fiction, with scrupulous observation and servile regularity. In many par- \ ticulars he varies from antiquity, only to substitute new beauties, and from a slight mention of one or two leading circumstances in ancient fable, takes an opportunity to display some new fiction of his own coinage. , He sometimes, in the fervour of composition, misrepresents these matters through haste and inattention. His allusions to ancient history are likewise very frequent, which he has not scrupled to violate, with equal freedom, and for the same reasons.
B. i. c. i. s. xxxvii.
A bold bad man, that dar'd to call by name
Dr. Jortin * has multiplied instances by
* See Remarks on Spenser's Poems.
which it appears, that the ancients were superstitiously fearful of uttering the name of Gorgon or Dæmogorgon. I shall add, that they were no less afraid of calling the Furies by their names.
Electra, in Euripides, says of the Furies, that tormented her brotherm
ΟΝΟΜΑΖΕΙΝ γαρ αιδεμαι θεας
Vereor enim nominare
And in another scene, Orestes says
Εδοξο ειδειν τρεις νυκλι προςφερεις κορας.
Visus sum mihi videre tres puellas nocti similes.
Whom Menelaus answers
Ωιδ' ας ελείας, ΟΝΟΜΑΣΑΙ δ' και βελομαι.
* Orestes, v. 37
ή Ιbid. 430.