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In Sonnet 40.
When on each eye-lid sweetly doe appeare
And in a verse of his * PAGEANTS preserved by E. K. +
An hundred graces on her eye-lids fate.
Which he drew from a modern greek poem ascribed to Musæus.
Οι δε παλαιου Τρεις χαρίλας ψευσανlo πεφυκεναι· ΕΙΣ δε ΤΙΣ Ηρες ΟΦΘΑΛΜΟΣ γελοων ΕΚΑΤΟΝ ΧΑΡΙΤΕΣΣΙ τεθηλει f.
In the Hymne of heavenly Love we find a thousand graces. Sometimes
upon her forehead they behold A thousand graces masking in delight.
The following passage from Sir T. More's English Works, Rastall, London, 1557, may perhaps give the reader fome idea of the nature of our poet's PAGEANTS.
“ Mayfter Thomas More in hys youth devysed in hys fathers house in London, a goodly hangyng of fyne paynted clothe, with myne pageauntes, and verses over every of those pageauntes : which verses expressed and declared, what the ymages in those pageauntes represented : and also in those pageauntes were paynted, the thynges that the verses over them dyd (in effecte) declare." + Notes on June. I Ver. 63.
But the thought of the graces fitting under the made of her eyebrows, is more exactly like what Tallo fays of Cupid.
Sotto al ombra
B. ii. c. xii. s. lxvii.
And the ivorie in golden mantle gownd.
Thus in the Epithalamion,
Her long loofe yellow lockes
Doe like a golden mantle her attire.
It is remarkable, that Spenser's females, both in the Faerie Queene, and in his other poems, are all described with yellow hair. And in his general de scription of the infuence of beauty over the bravest men, he particularises golden tresses.
And mighty hands forgett their manlineffe,
And wrapt in fetters of a GOLDEN TRESSE. 5.8. 1. This is said in compliment to his mistress t, or to queen Elizabeth, who had both yellow hair ; or per
* Aminta, att, 2. sc. I. Epith. v. 154.
+ Sec 6, 10, 12, 16, Sonn. 15. and
haps in imitation of the italian poets, who give most of their women tresses of this colour. With regard to the queen, Melvil, a minute and critical observer, informs us, that “ She delighted to show her goldencolored hair, wearing a caul and bonnet, as they do in Italy. Her hair was more reddish than yellow, curled in appearance naturally *.” In the Pastoral, April, we have the following verses.
The red-rose meddled with the white yfere
This is said of Syrinx, or queen Elizabeth, the daughter of Pan, or Henry VIII. E. K. observes, that Spenser here alludes to the union of the houses of Lancaster and York, the white and red rose: the two families being united in Henry VIII. the queen's father. This was partly meant; but his chief intention was, at the same time, to pay a compliment to the queen's complexion, which was remarkably delicate, though rather inclining to pale. There is a Sonnet of Lord Brooke, to this purpose.
Under a throne I faw a virgin fit,
* Melvil's Memoirs, pag. 49. + Sonnet 78. pag. 228. Workes, &c, 1633. 4to. VOL. II.
How susceptible this ADMIRED HEROINE was of the most absurd Aattery paid to her person, may be seen from many curious proofs, collected by Mr. Walpole *. The present age sees her charms and her character in their proper colours !
B: iii. c. i. xxxvi.
Of Venus while Adonis was bathing.
And throw into the well sweet rosemaries,
And fragrant violets and pancies trim,
Thus in his Prathalamion,
Then forth they all out of their basketts drew
To these we may add,
Royal and Noble Authors. ed. 2. Lond. 1759. vol. 1. pag. 141. See more compliments to the Queen's beauty, in the pastoral cited above, She was then forty-five years old. This however was more allowable
in a poem.
And ever as the crew About her daunst, sweet flowres that far did smell, And fragrant odours they upon her threw.
6. 10. 14° The circumstance of throwing Alowers into the water, is not unlike what Milton fays of Sabrina's stream.
The shepherds, at their festivals,
Of pancies, pinks, and gaudy daffadils*.
Nec blandus Amor, nec Gratia ceffat,
And in another place he speaks of Venus pouring the fragrance of Amomum over Earinus in great abundance; a circumstance not much unlike that just mentioned concerning Venus and Adonis.
Hunc multo Paphie faturakat amomo I.
* Comus, v. 848. + Eithalam, Sylv. b. 1. 2. V, 19. | Com. Tarin. Sylv, b. 3. 4. ver. 82.