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Then turning back in silence soft they stole,
And brought the heavy corse with easy pace
To yawning gulf of deep Avernus hole.
By that same hole, an entrance, dark and base,
With smoke and sulphur hiding all the place,
Descends to hell: there creature never pass'd
That back returned without heavenly grace;

But dreadful furies which their chains have brast,
And damned sprites sent forth, to make ill men aghast.

By that same way the direful dames do drive
Their mournful chariot fill'd with rusty blood,31
And down to Pluto's house are come belive :
Which passing through, on every side them stood
The trembling ghosts with sad amazèd mood,
Chattering their iron teeth, and staring wide
With stony eyes; and all the hellish brood
Of fiends infernal flock'd on every side,

To gaze on earthly wight, that with the night durst ride.

30" So filthy and so foul."-Why he should say this of Night, except, perhaps, in connection with the witch, I cannot say. It seems to me to hurt the "abhorred face." Night, it is true, may be reviled, or made grand or lovely, as a poet pleases. There is both classical and poetical warrant for all. But the goddess with whom the witch dared to ride (as the poet finely says at the close) should have been exhibited, it would seem, in a more awful, however frightful guise.

31 “Their mournful chariot fill'd with rusty blood.”—There is something wonderfully dreary, strange, and terrible, in this picture. By "rusty blood" (which is very horrid) he must mean the blood half congealing; altered in patches, like rusty iron. Be this as it may, the word "rusty," as Warton observes, seems to have conveyed the idea of somewhat very loathsome and horrible to our author."

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Character, Contrast of Impassioned and Unimpassioned Beauty— Cold and Warm Colors mixed; Painter, Titian.

(Yet I know not whether Annibal Caracci would not better suit the demand for personal expression in this instance. But the recollection of Titian's famous Bath of Diana is forced upon us.)

Shortly unto the wasteful woods she came,
Whereas she found the goddess with her crew,
After late chace of their embrewed game,
Sitting beside a fountain in a rew;

Some of them washing with the liquid dew
From off their dainty limbs the dusty sweat
And soil, which did defile their lovely hue;
Others lay shaded from the scorching heat;
The rest upon her person gave attendance great.

She having hung upon a bough on high
Her bow and painted quiver, had unlac'd
Her silver buskins from her nimble thigh,
And her lank loins ungirt and breasts unbrac'd,
After her heat the breathing cold to taste;
Her golden locks, that late in tresses bright
Embraided were for hindering of her haste,
Now loose about her shoulders lay undight,
And were with sweet ambrosia all besprinkled light

Soon as she Venus saw behind her back,

She was asham'd to be so loose surpris'd,

And wak'd half wrath against her damsels slack,
That had not her thereof before aviz'd,

But suffer'd her so carelessly disguiz'd

Be overtaken soon her garments loose 32
Upgathering in her bosom she compriz'd,
Well as she might, and to the goddess rose

Whiles all her nymphs did like a garland her inclose

32 "Soon her garments loose," &c.-This picture is from Ovid, but the lovely and beautifully colored comparison of the garland is Spenser's own.


Character, Budding Beauty in male and female; Animal Passion; Luminous Vernal coloring; Painter, the same.

Then came fair May, the fairest maid on ground,33
Deck'd all with dainties of her season's pride,
And throwing flowers out of her lap around:
Upon two brethren's shoulders she did ride,
The Twins of Leda; which, on either side,
Supported her like to their sovereign queen.
Lord! how all creatures laugh'd when her they spied,
And leap'd and danc'd as they had ravish'd been ;
And Cupid's self about her fluttered all in green.

33" Then came," &c.-Raphael would have delighted (but Titian's colors would be required) in the lovely and liberal uniformity of this picture, the young goddess May supported aloft; the two brethren on each side; animals and flowers below; birds in the air, and Cupid streaming overhead in his green mantle. Imagine the little fellow, with a body of Titian's carnation, tumbling in the air, and playfully holding the mantle, which is flying amply behind, rather than concealing him.

This charming stanza beats the elegant but more formal invocation to May by Milton, who evidently had it in his recollection. Indeed the latter is almost a compilation from various poets. It is, however, too beautiful to be omitted here.

Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.

Hail beauteous May, that dost inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!

Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.

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.


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
That wanton maid of passage had denied,
By further search had passage found elsewhere;
And being on his way, approachèd near
While Guyon lay in trance: when suddenly
He heard a voice that called loud and clear,
"Come hither, hither, O come hastily!"
That all the fields resounded with the rueful cry

The palmer leant his ear unto the noise,
To weet who call'd so importunèdly;
Again he heard a more enforced voice,
That bade him come in haste. He by-and-bye
His feeble feet directed to the cry;
Which to that shady delve him brought at last,
Where Mammon earst did sun his treasury:
There the good Guyon he found slumbering fast
In senseless dream; which sight at first him sore aghast

Beside his head there sat a fair young man,34
Of wondrous beauty and of freshest years,
Whose tender bud to blossom new began,
And flourish far above his equal peers;
His snowy front, curled with golden hairs,

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Like Phœbus' face adorn'd with sunny rays,
Divinely shone; and two sharp wingèd shears,
Decked with diverse plumes, like painted jays,
Were fixed at his back to cut his airy ways

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.


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,
And fair Aurora from the dewy bed

Of aged Tithon 'gan herself to rear

With rosy cheeks, for shame as blushing red.
Her golden locks, for haste, were loosely shed
About her ears, when Una did her mark
Climb to her chariot, all with flowers spread,
From heaven high to chase the cheerless dark:
With merry' note her loud salutes the mounting lark.

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