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This might, full as well, have been ranged under my fixth and last class of faults in Spenser's Allegories; consisting of such instances as, I fear, can scarce be called by any lofter name, than that of Ridiculous Imaginations. Such, I think, is that "idea of Ignorance, in the first Book, where he is made to move with the back part of his head foremost, C. viii. ft. 31; and that of Danger, in the fourth, with Hatred, Murder, Treafon, &c. in his back, C. x. st. 16, 17, and 20. Such is the sorrowful lady, with a bottle for her tears, and a bag to put her repentance into; and both running out almost as fast as she puts them in, B. vi. C. viii. ft. 24. Such is the thought of a vast giant's shrinking into an empty form, like a bladder, B. i. C. viii. ft. 24; the horses of Night foaming tar, B. i. C. v. ft. 28; Sir Guyon putting a padlock on the tongue of Occasion, B. ii. C. iv. ft. 12; and Remorse nipping St. George's heart, B. i. C. x. 'ft. 27.
Had Spenfer formed his Allegories on the plan of the ancient poets and artists, as much as he did from Ariosto and the Italian allegorifts, he 'might have followed nature much more closely; and would not have wandered fo often into such strange and inconsistent imaginations. I am apt to believe, that he confidered the Orlando Furiofo, in particular, as a poem wholly serious; though the author of it certainly wrote it partly in jest. There are several lines and passages in it, that must have been intended for burlesque; and they surely confider that poem in the truest light, who consider it as a work of a mixed nature; as something between the profeffed gravity of Taffo, and the broad laugh of Berni and his followers. Perhaps Spenser's taking some things to be said seriously, which Ariosto meant for ridicule, may have led him now and then to say things that are ridiculous, where he meant to be very serious.
that idea of Ignorance, &c.] The personifications of Ignorance, and of Pride, are admired by Mr. Upton. Ignorance seems, in some respect, to be copied from Dante. See the note on F. Q. i, viii. 31. And a man inflated, puffed up, or blown up, is a common expression for a proud man. See Colof. ii. 18..“ Vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind." And, as Mr. Upton adds, Rev. xvii. 8. ngiau, à fides, sv, xalexis, which, transated in the words of Spenser, is, that monstrous mass, which thou sawest, was, and now nothing of it is left. See F. Q. i. viii. 24. TODD.
However that be, we may reasonably conclude, from so great failures as I have mentioned in so great a man, (whether they arise from his too much indulging the luxuriance of his own fancy, or from his copying after to irregular a pattern,) that it would be extremely useful for our poets in general, to follow the plan of Allegory, as far as it is settled to their hands by the ancients; at least, till some modern may have invented and established some better plan for them to go upon; a thing, which I do not expect to lee done in our days. SPENCE.
PLAN AND CONDUCT OF THE FAERIE QUEENE,
WHEN the works of Homer and of Aristotle began
to be restored and studied in Italy, when the genuine and uncorrupted sources of ancient poetry and ancient criticism were opened, and every species of literature at last emerged from the depths of Go
thick ignorance and barbarity; it might have been expected, that, instead of the romantick manner of poetical composition introduced and established by the Provencial bards, a new and more legitimate taste of writing would have succeeded. With these advantages it was reasonable to conclude, that unnatural events, the machinations of imaginary beings, and adventures entertaining only as they were improbable, would have given place to justness of thought and design, and to that decorum which nature dictated, and which the example and the precept of antiquity had authorised. But it was a long time before such a change was effected. We find Ariosto, many years after the revival of letters, rejecting truth for magick, and preferring the ridiculous and incoherent excursions of Boyardo to the propriety and uniformity of the Grecian and Roman models. Nor did the restoration of ancient learning produce any effectual or immediate improvement in the state of criticism. Beni, one of the moft celebrated criticks of the fixteenth century, was still so infatuated with a fondness for the old Provencial vein, that he ventured to write a regular differtation", in which he compares Ariofto with Homer.
a " Comparazione di T. Taffo con Omero e Virgilio, insieme con la difesa dell'Ariosto paragonato ad Omero, &c.”
T. WARTON. Mr. Warton appears not to have known the following work, which exhibits a proof of still greater infatuation in the cause of Ariosto. 66 Della Nuova Poesia overo delle Difese del Furioso, Dialogo. Del Signor Giofeppe Malatesta. Nel qual non pur si risponde alle oggettioni, che fi muouono contra questo Poema; & fi mostra, che egli è composto secondo i veri, & piu legitimi precetti Poetici; mà fi fà toccar con mano, che d'artificio, & di eccellenza supera l'opere maggiori di VERGILIO, & di Homero ; &c.” Printed at Verona, in 1589, 12ino. author, in the dedication of this work to the
Triffino, who flourished a few years after Ariofto, had taste and boldness enough to publish an epick poem", written in professed imitation of the Iliad. But this attempt met with little regard or applause for the reason on which its real merit was founded. It was rejected as an insipid and uninteresting performance, having few devils or enchantments to recommend it. To Triffino fucceeded Taffo, who, in his Gierufaleme Liberata, took the ancients for his guides; but was still too tensible of the popular prejudice in favour of ideal beings, and romantick adventures, to neglect or omit them entirely. He had studied, and acknowledged the beauties of classical purity. Yet he still kept his first and favourite acquaintance, the old Provencial poets, in his eye, Like his own Rinaldo, who after he had gazed on the diamond fhield of truth, and with seeming refolution was actually departing from Armida and her enchanted gardens, could not help looking back upon them with some remains of fondness. Nor did Taffo's Poem, though composed in fome measure on a regular plan, give its author, among the Italians, at least, any greater share of esteem and reputation on that account. Ariosto, with all his extravagancies, was still preferred. The superiority of the Orlando Furioso was at length established by a formal decree of the Academicians della Crusca, who, amongst other literary debates, held a folemn court of enquiry concerning the merit of both poems.
Duke of Ferrara, calls the Orl. Furioso, DIUINO POEMA del miracoloso Ariosto." TODD.
b He died 1550. Ariosto 1535. T. WARTON.
c L'Italia Liberata' di Goti, 1524. It is in blank verfe, which the author would have introduced instead of the Terza Rima of Dante, or the Ottava of Boccace. T. WARTON.
Such was the prevailing taste, when Spenser projected the Faerie Queene: a poem, which according to the practice of Ariosto, was to consist of allegories, enchantments, and romantick expeditions, conducted by knights, giants, magicians, and fictitious beings. It may be urged that Spenser made an unfortunate choice, and discovered but little judgement, in adopting Ariosto for his example, rather than Taffo, who had so evidently exceeded his rival, at least in conduct and decorum. But our author naturally followed the poem which was most celebrated and popular. For, although the French criticks universally gave the preference to Taffo, yet, in Italy, the partisans on the side of Ariosto were by far the most powerful, and consequently in England: for Italy, in the age of queen Elizabeth, gave laws to our island in all matters of taste, as France has done ever since. At the fame time it may be supposed, that, of the two, Ariosto was Spenser's favourite; and that he was naturally biassed to prefer that plan which would admit the most extensive range for his unlimited imagination. What was Spenser s particular plan, in consequence of this choice, and how it was conducted, I now proceed to examine.
4. The poet fupposes, that the FAERIE QUEENE, according to an established annual custom, held a magnificent feast, which continued twelve days; 'on each of which, respectively, twelve several complaints are presented before her. Accordingly, in order to redress the injuries which were the occasion of these several complaints, the dispatches, with proper commiffions, twelve different Knights, each of which, in the particular adventure allotted to him, proves an example of some particular virtue, as of holiness,
d See Spenser's Letter to Sir W. Raleigh, &c. T. WARTON,