Page images

might be produced. These are sufficient to fhew our author's manner in this point.

I shall now cite some instances in which he contradicts himself, and runs into other absurdities, in consequence of forgetting, or not reviewing, what he had before written; and, in general, from an hasty manner of composition.

B. i. c. iv. f. viii.

Speaking of PRIDE, he says, she

Shane as Titan's ray.

[ocr errors]

And in the following stanza he compares her to Phaeton, where he says, she

Exceeding shone, like Phoebus fairest child.

f. 9.

This is a very striking anticlimax.

B. i. c. xi, f. xlvii.

Another faire like tree eke grew thereby,
Whereof whoso did eat, eftfoones did know

Both good and evil : O mournefull memory,
That tree thro' one man's fault has done us all to die.

Here he tells us, that the tree of knowledge occafioned the fall of man ; in the preceeding stanza, he had affirmed the fame of the tree of life. Vol. II.



The tree of life the crime of our first father's fall.

f. 46.

B. ii. c. i. f. xxvi, xxvii.

In these stanzas Sir Guyon suddenly abases his spear, and begs pardon of the red-crosse knight, for having attacked him; as if he had just now discovered him to be the red-crofle knight: whereas he knew him to be fo, ft, 19. and after that resolves to fight with him.

B. iv. c. v. f. xxxvii.

Speaking of CARE,

He like a monstrous giant seemd in fight,
Far palling Brontes, and Pyracmon great.

If CARE was so monstrous a giant, how could he dwell, with his fix servants, in the little cottage above-mentioned?

They spide a little cottage, like fome poore man's nest.

f. 32.

B. iv. c. i. f. liv,

The aged dame him seeing fo enraged,
Was dead with feare, &c.

The aged dame Glauce might have easily pacified Sir Scudamore, in this place, by telling him, that Bri


tomartis was a woman; and as she was fo much terrified, it was highly natural, that the should affure him of it. But such a declaration would have prevented an entertaining surprise, which the poet reserved for a future canto. 4. 6. 28.

B. i. c. ix. f. vi.

Avead, prince Arthur.

Arthur and Una have been hitherto represented as entire strangers to each other; and it does not appear how Una became acquainted with the name of this new knight.

B. i. c. viii. s. xliü, &c. It is unnatural, that the red-crosse knight should be so suddenly reconciled to Una, after he had forsaken her, for her supposed infidelity and impurity. The poet should certainly first have brought about an eclairciffement between them.

B. vi. c. xi. f. li.

It was an instance of Sir Calidore's courage to restore to Coridon his Aocks; but not of his courtesie, to carry away his mistress Pastorell. The pact should have managed the character of bis PATRON OF COURTESIE with more art.



Courtesie was one of the cardinal virtues of knight errantry. Of this accomplishment, Sir Gawain, king Arthur's nephew, was esteemed the chief pattern. Chaucer, to give the highest idea possible of the reverence and obeisance with which the Strange Knight, on his brazen horse, falutes Cambuscan and his queen, compares him to Sir Gawaine.

This straunge knight, that come thus fodeinly,
All armid, fave his hede, full royally,
Saluted the king and queene, and lordis all,
By ordir as they fittin in the hall,
With so hie reverence and obeisaunce,
As well in fpeche as in countinaunce,
That Syr Gawayne with his old curtefie,
He could him nought amendin in no worde*

As Spenser has drawn the character of his hero prince Arthur from history, he has limited himself to a particular period of real time, in which all the events of his poem, however fictitious or imaginary, are supposed to have happened. Upon this account all difcoveries fince made, are improperly introduced. He is guilty of many such anachronisms. I shall mention one or two, which haste will hardly excuse. His historical mistakes of this kind are often pardonable ; perhaps sometimes allowable.

* Squier's Tale, 110.

B. vi. c. ii. f. v.

All in a woodman's jacket he was clad
Of Lincolne greene.

It would be difficult to prove that a manufacture of green cloth subsisted at Lincoln, in the fairy reign of Arthur. By the way, Skelton mentions this colour in Elinor Ruming. It is also found in Drayton's Polyolbion. It is the same fort of absurdity to describe the walls of CASTLE JOYeous as adorned with costly tapestry made at the cities of Arras and Toure.

The walls about were rich apparelled
With coftly cloth of Arras and of Toure. 3. 1. 34.

B. i. c. xi. s. xiv.

And evermore their hideous ordinance
Upon the bulwarks cruelly did play.

Chaucer, in his description of the battle of Antony and Cleopatra, mentions guns *, Salvator Rosa has placed a cannon at the entrance of the tent of Holofernes. But these examples will not acquit Spenser.

* Leg. of Cleopatra, ver. 58.



« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »