« EelmineJätka »
over a book, but would have put the history into the mouth of some proper person to relate it. But I have already said that this Work is not to be examined by the strict rules of epick poetry.
The last Canto of this Second Book being designed to show the utmost trial of the Virtue of Tem perance, abounds with the most pleasurable ideas and representations which the fancy of the Poet could assemble together ; but, from the 58th stanza to the end, it is for the most part copied, and many whole stanzas translated, from the famous episode of Armida in Tasso. The reader may observe, that the Italian genius for luxury appears very much in the descriptions of the garden, the fountain, and the nymphs ; which, however, are finely amplified and improved by our English poet. I shall give but one instance in the following celebrated stanza, which, to gratify the curiosity of those who may be willing to compare the copy with the original, I shall set down in Italian.
• Vezzosi augelli, infra le verdi fronde,
Temprano à prova lascivette note:
Spenser has two stanzas on this thought, the last of which only is an imitation of Tasso, but with fner tyras of the verse, which are so. artificial, that he seems to make the musick he describes.
• Eftsoones they heard a most melodious sound
• Of all that mote delight a daintie care,
Right hard it was for wight which did it heare • To read what manner musicke that mote bee; • For all that pleasing is to living eare
Was there consorted in one harmonee; ! Birdes, voices, instruments, windes, waters, all
« Their notes unto the voice aţtempred sweet;
Now soft, now loud, unto the wind did call;
Sir Guyon and the Palmer, rescuing the youth who was held çaptive by Acrasia in this delights ful mansion, resembles that of the two warriours recoveriog Rivaldo from the charms of Armida jo the Italian poem.
In the Third Book, the character of Britomar. tis, a lady-errant, who is the heroine, and performs the chief adventure, resembles Ariosta's
Bradamante, and Tasso's Clarinda ; as they are all copies of the Camilla in Virgil.
Among the chief beauiies in this book, we , may reckon that episode in which Britomartis goes to the cave of Merlin, and is entertained with a prophetical account of her future marriage , and offspring. This thought is remotely taken: from Virgil, but more immediately from Ariosto, . who has represented Bradamante on the like occasion making a visit to the tomb of Merlin, . which he is forced for that purpose to suppose to : be in Gaul; where she sees, in like manner, in a, vision, the heroes and captains who were to be her descendants.
The story of Marinell, and that of the birth of Belphạbe and Amoret, in which the manner of Ovid is well imitated, - are very amusing. That complaint against Night, at the end of Canto IV.
Night! thou foule mother of annoyaunce sad,
though it were only considered as detached from : the rest, might be esteemed a very fine piece of, poetry. But there is nothing more entertaining in this whole Book than the prospect of the Gardens of Adonis, which is varied from the Bower OT Bliss in the former Bool, by an agreeable , mixture of philosophical fable. The figure of
Timę, .walking in this garden, spoiling the beauty of it, and cutting down the flowers, is a very fine and significant Allegory.
I cannot so much commend the story of the Squire of Dames, and the intrigue between Paridell and Hellenore: these passages savour too much of the coarse and comick mixtures in Ari. osto : but that image of Jealousy, at the end of Canto X. grown to a savage, throwing himself into a cave, and lying there without ever shutting one eye, under a craggy elift just threatening to fall, is strongly conceived, and very poetical. There is likewise a great variety of fancy in drawing up and distinguishing, by their
proper emblems, the visionary persons in the Mask of Cupid, which is one of the chief embelplishments of this Book.
In the story of Cambel and Canace, jo Book ly. the author has taken the rise of his invention from the Squire's Tale in Chaucer, the greatest part of which was lost. The battle of Cambel with the three brethren, and the sudden parting of it by that beautiful machine of the appearance of Concord, who by a touch of her wand charmy down the fury of the warriours, and converte them into friends, is one of the most shining passages in this Legend. We may add to this the fiction concerning the Girdle of Florimel, which s a good Allegory ; as also the description of Atè, or Discord; that of Care, working like a
smith, and living amidst the perpetual noise of hammers; and especially the Temple of Venus, which is adorned with a great variety of fancy. The prayer of a lover in this temple, which begins,
* Great Venus ! queene of beauty, and of grace,'
is taken from Lucretius's invocation of the same goddess in the beginning of his poem, and may be reckoned one of the most elegant translations ia our laoguage. The continuation of the fable of Marinel, though not so strictly to the subject of this Legend, gives occasion to the Poet to introduce that admirable episode of the marriage of the Thames and the Medway, with the train of the sea-gods, nymphs, and rivers, and especially those of England and Irelandy that were present at the ceremony; all which are described with a surprising variety, and with very agreeable mixtures of geography; among which Spenser has not forgot to mention his Mulla, the river which ran through his own grounds.
Besides the general morals and allegories in the Faerie Queene, there are some parallel passages and characters which, as I have said, were designed to allude to particular actions and persons; yet no part is so full of them as Book V. which, being framed on the Virtue of Justice, is
kind of figurative representation of Queen