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structure of his story. Two reafons may be given for this: the first is, that, at the time when he wrote, the Italian poets, whom he has chiefly imitated, and who were the first revivers of this art among the Moderns, were in the highest vogue, and were univertally read and admired: but the chief reason was, probably, that he chose to frame his Fable after a model which might give the greatest scope to that range of fancy which was so remarkably his talent. "There is a bent in nature which is apt to determine men that particular way in which they are most capable of excelling; and, though it is certain he might have formed a better plan, it is to be questioned whether he could have executed any other so well.

It is probably for the same reason that, among the Italian poets, he rather followed Ariosto, whom he found more agreeable to his genius than Taffo, who had formed a better plan, and from whom he has only borrowed some particular ornaments ; yet it is but justice to say, that his plan is much more regular than that of Ariosto. In the Orlando Furiojo we every where meet with an exuberant invention, joined with great liveliness and facility of defcription, yet debased by frequent mixtures of the comick genius, as well as many shocking indecorums. Besides, in the huddle and distraction of the adventures, we are for the most part only amused with extravagant stories, without being instructed in any moral. On the other hand, Spenser's Fable, though often wild, is, as I have observed, always emblematical; and this may very much excuse likewise that air of romance in which he has followed the Italian author. The perpetual stories of knights, giants, castles, and enchantments, and all that train of legendary adventures, would indeed appear very trifling, if Spenser had not found a way to turn them all into Allegory, or if a less masterly band had filled up his draught; but it is surprising to observe how much the strength of the painting is superiour to the design. It ought to be considered, too, that, at the time when our Author wrote, the remains of the old Gothick chivalry were not quite abolished: it was not many years before that the famous Earl of Surry, remarkable for his wit and poetry in the reign of King Henry VIII., took a romantick journey to Florence, the place of his mistress's birth, and published there a challenge against all nations in defence of her beauty. Jutts and turnaments were held in England in the time of Queen Elizabeth. Sir Philip Sidney tilted at one of these entertainments, which was made for the French Ambaflador, when the treaty of marriage was on foot with the Duke of Anjou : and some of our historians have given us a very particular and formal account of preparations, by marking out lifts, and appointing judges

, for a trial by combat, in the same reign, which was to have decided the title to a considerable estate, and in which the whole ceremony was perfectly agreeable to the fabulous descriptions in books of Knighterrantry. This might render his story more familiar to his first readers; though knights in armour, and ladies-errant, are as antiquated figures to us, as the court of that time would appear, if we could see them now in their ruffs and fardingales.

There are two other objections to the plan of the Faerie Queene which, I confess, I am more at a loss to answer. I need not, I think, be scrupulous in mentioning freely the defects of a Poem which, though it was never supposed to be perfect, has always been allowed to be admirable.

The first is, that the scene is laid in Fairy Land, and the chief actors are Fairies. The reader may see their imaginary race and history in Book II. at the end of Canto X.; but, if he is not prepared be, forehand, he may expect to find them acting agreeably to the common stories and traditions about fuch fancied beings. Thus Shaktpeare, who has introduced them in his Midsummer-Night's Dream, has made them fpeak and act in a manner perfectly adapted to their supposed characters; but the Fairies in this Poem are not distinguished from other persons. There is this misfortune, likewise, attends the choice of such actors, that, ' having been accustomed to conceive of them in a diminutive way, we find it difficult to raise our ideas, and to imagine a Fairy encountering with a monster or a giant. Homer has pursued a contrary method, and represented his heroes above the size and strength of ordinary men; and it is certain that the actions of the Iliad would; have appeared but ill proportioned to the characters, if we were to have imagined them all performed by pigmies.

But, as the actors our Author has chosen are only fancied beings, he might possibly think himself at liberty to give them what stature, customs, and manners, he pleased. I will not lay he was in the right in this; but it is plain that by the literal sense of Fairy Land he only designed an Utopia, an imaginary place; and by his Fairies, persons of whom he might invent any action proper to humankind, without being restrained, as he must have been if he had chosen a real scene and historical characters. As for the mystical sense, it appears both by the Work itself, and by the Author's explanation of it", that his Fairy Land is England, and his Fairy Queen queen Elizabeth, at whose command the

i having been accustomed to conceive of them in a diminutite way) Mr. Warton has shown, in his dissertation on Spenser's Imitations from old Romances, that s littleness is not always implied in Fairy.Todd.

k Vid. Letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, HUGHES.

adventure of every Legend is supposed to be undertaken.

The other objection is, that, having chosen an hiftorical person, Prince Arthur, for his principal hero, who is no Fairy, yet is mingled with them, he has not, however, represented any part of his hiftory: he appears here, indeed, only in his minority, and performs his exercises in Fairy Land as a private gentleman; but we might at least have expected that the fabulous accounts of him, and of his victories over the Saxons, should have been worked into some beautiful vision or prophecy; and I cannot think Spenser would wholly omit this, but am apt to believe he had done it in some of the following Books which were loft'.

In the moral introductions to every Book, many of which have a great propriety and elegance, the Author has followed the example of Ariosto. I will only beg leave to point out some of the principal beauties in each Book, which may yet more particularly discover the genius of the Author.

If we consider the First Book as an entire work of itself, we shall find it to be no irregular contrivance: there is one principal action, which is completed in Canto II.; and the feveral incidents or episodes are proper, as they tend either to obstruct or promote it. The same may be said of some other of the following Books, though I think they are not so regular as this. The Author has shown judgement in making his Knight of the Red Cross, or St. George, no perfect character, without which many

of the following Books which were loft.] I have, in the Life of the Poet, questioned the opinion that any Books were loft.

TODD. m If we consider &c.] This is a mistake, which Mr. Warton has rectified in his differtation on the Plan and Conduct of the Faerie Quecne, TODD.

of the incidents could not have been represented. The character of Una, or Truth, is very properly opposed by those of Dueffa, or Falsehood, and Archimago, or Fraud. Spenser's particular manner, which (if it may be allowed) I would call his painterlike genius, immediately shows itself in the figure of Errour, who is drawn as a monster, and that of Hypocrisy as a hermit. The description of the former of these, in the mixed shape of a woman and a serpent, surrounded with her offspring, and especially that circumstance of their creeping into her mouth on the sudden light which glanced upon them from the Knight's armour, incline one to think that our great " Milton had it in his eye when he wrote his famous episode of Sin and Death. The artifices of Archimago and Dueffa, to separate the Knight from Una, are well invented, and intermingled with beautiful strokes of poetry; particularly in that episode where the magician fends one of his spirits to fetch a false dream from the house of Morpheus :

• Amid the bowels of the earth full steep
« And low, where dawning day does never peep,
“ His dwelling is."

· Mr. Rymer, as I remember, has, by way of com. parison, collected from most of the ancient and modern poets the finest defcriptions of the Night, among all which he gives the preference to the English poets : this of Morpheus, or Sleep, being a poetical subject of the same kind, might be subjected to a like trial ; and the reader may particularly compare it with that in Book XI. of Ovid's Meta

in Milton had it in his eye when he wrote his famous episode of Sin and Death.] Milton then had in his eye the disciple of Spenser, rather than Spenfer himself. I have cited the påtsage from P. Fletcher's Purple Isand, in the note on Par. Loft, B. ii. 650. TODD.

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