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Spenser's "Lord! how all creatures laugh'd" is an instance of joyous and impulsive expression not common with English poets, out of the pale of comedy. They have geniality in abundance, but not animal spirits.
AN ANGEL, WITH A PILGRIM AND A FAINTING KNIGHT.
Character, Active Superhuman Beauty, with the finest coloring and contrast; Painter, the same.
During the while that Guyon did abide
In Mammon's house, the palmer, whom whilere
The palmer leant his ear unto the noise,
Which to that shady delve him brought at last,
Beside his head there sat a fair young man,34
Like Phœbus' face adorn'd with sunny rays,
34 “Beside his head," &c.—The superhuman beauty of this angel should be Raphael's, yet the picture, as a whole, demands Titian; and the painter of Bacchus was not incapable of the most imaginative exaltation of countenance. As to the angel's body, no one could have painted it like him,―nor the beautiful jay's wings; not to mention the contrast between the pilgrim's weeds and the knight's armor. See a picture of Venus blinding Cupid, beautifully engraved by Sir Robert Strange, in which the Cupid has variegated wings.
AURORA AND TITHONUS.
Character, Young and Genial Beauty, contrasted with Age,—the accessories full of the mixed warmth and chillness of morning; Painter, Guido.
The joyous day 'gan early to appear,
Of aged Tithon 'gan herself to rear
With rosy cheeks, for shame as blushing red.
THE BRIDE AT THE ALTAR.
Character, Flushed yet Lady-like Beauty, with ecstatic Angels regarding her; Painter, the same.
Behold, while she before the altar stands,
That ev'n the angels, which continually
Oft peeping in her face, that seems more fair 35
But her sad eyes, still fastened on the ground,
That suffers not one look to glance awry,
Which may let in a little thought unsound.
Oft peeping in her face," &c.—I cannot think the words peep
ing and stare, the best which the poet could have used; but he is aggravating the beauties of his bride in a long epithalamium, and sacrificing everything to her superiority. The third line is felicitous.
A NYMPH BATHING.
Character, Ecstacy of Conscious and Luxurious Beauty; Painter, Guido.
-Her fair locks which formerly were bound
Up in one knot, she low adown did loose,
Which flowing long and thick, her cloth'd around,
And the ivory in golden mantle gown'd,
So that fair spectacle was from him reft,
Withal she laughèd, and she blush'd withal,36
36" Withal she laugh'd," &c.—Perhaps this is the loveliest thing of the kind, mixing the sensual with the graceful, that ever was painted. The couplet, So hid in locks and waves, &c., would be an excessive instance of the sweets of alliteration, could we bear to miss a particle of it.
THE CAVE OF DESPAIR.
Character, Savage and Forlorn Scenery, occupied by Squalid Misery; Painter, Salvator Rosa.
Ere long they come where that same wicked wight
His dwelling has, low in a hollow cave.
And all about old stocks and stubs of trees,
Look'd deadly dull, and stared as astoun'd;
His garment naught but many ragged clouts,
Still finer than this description are the morbid sophistry and the fascinations of terror that follow it in the original; but as they are less poetical or pictorial than argumentative, the extract is limited accordingly. There is a tradition that when Sir Philip Sidney read this part of the Faerie Queene, he fell into transports of admiration.
A KNIGHT IN BRIGHT ARMOR LOOKING INTO A CAVE.
Character, A deep effect of Chiaroscuro, making deformity visible; Painter, Rembrandt.
But full of fire and greedy hardiment,
The youthful knight would not for aught be stay'd,