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The fragments of earthen ware. Tile-pard is a common word in many parts of the kingdom. Shakespeare's SHARD-BORN beetle, means a beetle produced, or generated, among such fragments or broken pieces of refufe ftuff; and is a fine ftroke of that poet's accurate observation of nature.
N reading the works of a poet who lived in a
remote age, it is necessary that we Thould look back upon the customs and manners which prevailed in that age. We should endeavour to place ourselves in the writer's situation and circumstances. Hence we shall become better enabled to discover, how his turn of thinking, and manner of composing, were influenced by familiar appearances and established objects, which are utterly different from those with which we are at present surrounded. For want of this caution, too many readers view the knights and damfels, the tour. naments and enchantments, of Spenser, with modern syes; never considering that the encounters of chivalry
subsisted in our author's age; that romances were then most eagerly and universally studied; and that consequently Spenser, from the fashion of the times, was induced to undertake a recital of chivalrous atchievements, and to become, in short, a ROMANTIC Poet.
Spenser, in this respect, copied real manners, no less than Homer. A sensible historian observes, that “ Homer copied true natural manners, which, how
ever rough and unclutivated, will always form an “ agreeable and interesting picture : But the pencil “ of the english poet [Spenser] was employed in i drawing the affectations, and conceits, and fop
peries of chivalry *.” This however, was nothing more than an imitation of real life ; as much, at least, as the plain descriptions in Homer, which corresponded to the simplicity of manners then subsisting in Greece. Spenser, in the address of the Shepherd's Kalendar, to Sir Philip Sydney, couples his patron's learning with his skill in chivalry; a topic of panegyric, which would found very odd in a modern dedication, especially before a sett of pastorals. “ To the noble and « virtuous gentleman, moft worthy of all titles, both of “ Learning and CHIVALRIE, Master Philip Sydney,"
* Hume's Hift. of Engl. TUDOR, vol. 2. 1759. p. 739.
Nor is it fufficiently considered, that a popular practice of Spenfer's age, contributed, in a considerable degree, to make him an ALLEGORICAL Poet. We should remember, that in this age, allegory was applied as the subject and foundation of public shews and spectacles, which were exhibited with a magnificence superior to that of former times. The virtues and vices, distinguished by their respective emblea matical types, were frequently personified, and represented by living actors. These figures bore a chief part in furnishing what they called PAGEAUNTS +; which were then the principal species of entertainment, and were shewn, not only in private, or upon the stage, but very often in the open streets for folemnising public occasions, or celebrating any grand event. As a proof of what is here mentioned, I refer the reader to Hollingshed's * Description of the SHEW OF MANHOOD AND Desert, exhibited at Norwich, before queen Elizabeth ; and more particularly to that historian's account of a TURNEY + performed by Fulke Grevile, the lords Arundell and Windsor, and Sir Philip Sydney, who are feigned to be the children of Desire, attempting to win the Fortress of Beauty. In the composition of the last spectacle, no small share of poetical invention appears.
* Before the Shepherd's Kalendar. The GALLANTRIES of civilised chivalry, in particular, were never carried to a higher pitch than in the queen's Court : of which, says our author, describing the MANNERS of that court.
Ne any there doth brave or valiant seeme,
Colin Clouts come bome. + Spenser himfelf wrote a fett of PAGE AUNTS, which were descriptions of these feigned representations.
Cervantes, whose aim was to expose the abuses of imagination, seems to have left us a burlesque on pageantries, which he probably considered as an appendage of romance, partaking, in great measure, of the fame chimerical spirit. This ridicule was perfectly consistent with the general plan and purpose of his comic history. See the masque at Chamacho's wedding, where Cupid, Interest, Poetry, and Liberality, are the personVOL. II. N
In the mean time, I do not deny that Spenser was, in great measure, tempted by the Orlando Furioso, to
ages. A castle is represented, called the Castle of Discretion, which Cupid attacks with his arrows; but Interest throws a purse at it, when it immediately falls to pieces, &c. D. Quixote, b. 2. ch. 3. But under due regulation, and proper contrivance, they were a beautiful and useful spectacle,
*“ And to keep that shew companie, (but yet furre off) stoode the
SHEWE OF MANHODE and DESART; as first to be presented : and " that shewe was as well furnished as the other : men all, saving one “ boy called BEAUTIE, for which MANHOOD, FAVOUR, and DESART, “ did strive, (or should have contended ;) but GOOD FORTUNE (as vic“ tor of all conquests) was to come in and overthrow MANHOOD, &c."
Hollinshed's Cbron. V. 3. p. 1297. † Exhibited before the queen at Westminster, ibid. p. 1317. et seq. write an allegorical poem. Yet it must still be acknowledged, that Spenser's peculiar mode of allegorising seems to have been dictated by those spectacles, rather than by the fictions of Ariosto. In fact, Ariofto's species of allegory does not so properly confift in impersonating the virtues, vices, and affections of the mind, as in the adumbration of moral doctrine *, under the actions of men and women. On this plan Spenser's allegories are sometimes formed : as in the first book, where the Red-croffe Knight or a True CHRISTIAN, defeats the wiles of Archimago, or the Devil, &c. &c. These indeed are fictitious personages; but he proves himself a much more ingenious allegorist, where his imagination Bodies forth unsub. ftantial things, TURNS THEM TO SHAPE, and marks out the nature, powers, and effects, of that which is ideal and abstracted, by visible and external symbols ; as in his delineations of FEAR, DESPAIR, FANCY,
* It is observed by Plutarch, that “ Allegory is that, in which one “ thing is related and another understood.” Thus Ariosto RELATIS the adventures of Orlando, Rogero, Bradamante, &c. by which is unDERSTOOD the conquest of the passions, the importance of virtue, and other moral doctrines ; on which account we may call the ORLANDO a MOR AL poem ; but can we call the FAIRY QUEEN, upon the whole, a MORAL POEM? is it not equally an HISTORICAL or POLITICAL poem ? For though it be, according to it's author's words, an ALLIGORY OF DARK CONCEIT, yet that which is couched or understood under this allegory is the history, and intrigues, of queen Elizabeth's courtiers; which however are introduced with a Moral design,