Imágenes de páginas

delicate touch: and as times and circumstances al. tered during the firft planning of the Poem; and the publishing of it, fo the poet was obliged in this particular scheme to alter likewise, and to complicate and perplex, the allufions. Methinks when I fee Braggadochio and his buffoon fervant. Trompart repulsed by Belphoebe, I cannot help thinking them proper 'types of the Duke of Anjou and of Simier. Several of these kind of typical allusions are pointed out, particularly in the notes on the fifth book: and these I am persuaded. will appear very farfetched to any one, who pays but little regard to the doctrine of types, fymbols, and figurative representations : .while others will rather wonder that the subject is not pursued much further. ; It may reasonably be supposed that, if Amoret and Florimel in some particulars are the types of Mary Queen of Scots, political reasons might oblige Spenser to abuse her under the character of Dueffa in the fifth Book; which was published some years after the three first Books. Amoret was Belphcbe's sister, (see F, Q. iii. vi.) and Queen Elizabeth addreffed the Queen of Scots always with the title of Sister. How is it then contrary to the decorum of this Poem to suppose, that by the cruel treatment of Amoret by Busirane is meant, not only in the general moral the vile vaffalage of Love and Beauty under the tyranny of Lust, but, in the particular historical allusion, the cruel confinement and persecutions of the Queen of Scots by the direction chiefly of Burleigh ? we shall find likewise the historical allusions designedly perplexed, if we look

d under the character of Duesa] Compare the account, given by Drummond, in a conversation between him and Ben Jonson: « By the bleating Beast he (Spenser) understood the Puritans, and by the false Duesa the QUEEN OF Scots.” Drummond's Works, fol. edit. Edinb, 1711, p. 225. TODD.

for this persecuted Queen in the persecuted Florimel. See what I have remarked in a note on F.Q. ii. vii. 27, where I suppose the fight of Florimel imaged from the flight of the Queen of Scots: both of them took refuge in a fisherman's boat : and one was treated as cruelly by her false protector Proteus, as the other by those false friends to whom the fled for protection. There are several of these typical and historical allusions (as I said above) pointed out in the notes, and if the reader, with proper knowledge of the history of Queen Elizabeth's reign, delights in such mysterious researches, he may easily, with these hints given, pursue them further. : Upton.

[ocr errors]

:.:.:. DR. HURD'S..


[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

SPENSER, though he had long been nourished with the spirit and fubstance of Homer and Virgil, chose the times of Chivalry for his Theme, and Fairy Land for the Scene of his fictions. He could have planned, no doubt, an heroick design on the exact claffick model: Or, he might have trimmed between the Gothick and Claffick, as his contemporary Taffo did.. But the charms of Fairy prevailed. And if any think he was seduced by Ariosto into his choice, they should consider that it could be only for the sake of his subject; for the genius and character of these poets was widely different

[ocr errors]

• Under this idea then of a Gothick, not classical, Poem, the FAERIE QUEENE is to be read and criticised. And, on these principles, it would not be difficult to unfold its merit in another way than has been hitherto attempted. .. - I have taken the fancy, to try my hand on this curious subject...... : When an architect examines a Gothick structure by Grecian rules, he finds nothing but deformity. But the Gothick architecture has its own rules, by which, when it comes to be examined, it is seen to to have its merit, as well as the Grecian. The question is not, which of the two is conducted in the simplest or truest taste: but, whether there be not sense and design in both, when scrutinized by the laws on which each is projected.

The same observation holds of the two sorts of poetry. Judge of the FAERIE QUEENE by the claffick models, and you are shocked with its disorder : consider it with an eye to its Gothick ori- ' ginal, and you find it regular. The unity and fimplicity of the former are more complete : but the latter has that sort of unity and fimplicity, which results from its nature. Lis t

The FAERIE QUEENE then, as a Gothick poem, derives its method, as well as the other characters of its compofition, from the established modes and ideas of chivalry. :' jis ;; ... .. ..

It was usual, in the days of knight-errantry, at the holding of any great feast, for Knights to appear before the prince, who presided at it, and claim the privilege of being sent on any adventure, to which the folemnity might give occafion. For it was suppoted thatwhen such a throng of knights and barons bold, as Milton speaks of, were got together, the distressed would flock in froin all quarters,

as to a place where they knew they might find and claim redress for all their grievances.. . :

This was the real practice, in the days of pure and ancient chivalry. And an image of this practice was afterwards kept up in the castles of the great, on any extraordinary festival or folemnity: of which, if an inttance be required, I refer to the defcription of a feast made at Lifle, in 1453, in the Court of Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, for a crusade against the Turks : as it is given at large in the Memoirs of Matthieu de Conci, Olivier de la Marche, and Monstrelet.

That feast was held for twelve days: and each day was distinguished by the claim and allowance of fome adventure.

Now laying down this practice, as a foundation for the poet's defign, we shall see how properly the FAERIE QUEENE is conducted.--" I devise, says the poet himself in his Letter to Sir W. Raleigh, that the Faerie Queene kept her annual feaste xii days, upon which xii several days the occasions of the xii. several adventures hapened; which being undertaken by xii several knights, are in these xij books severally handled."

Here we have the poet delivering his own method, and the reason of it. It arose out of the order of his subject. And would we defire a better reason for his choice?

Yes; it will be said ; a poet's method is not that of his subject. I grant it, as to the order of time, in which the recital is made ; for here, as Spenser observes, (and his own practice agrees to the rule,) lies the main difference between the poet historical, and the, historiographer: The reason of which is drawn from the nature of Epick compofition itfelf, and holds egically, let the subject be what it will, and whatever the system of manners be, on which it it is conducted. Gothick or Claffick makes no difference in this respect.

: · But the case is not the same with regard to the general plan of a work, or what may be called the order of distribution, which is and must be governed by the subject-matter itfelf. It was as requisite for the FAERIE QUEEN E to confift of the adventures of twelve knights, as for the Odyssey to be confined to the adventures of one Heró: Justice had otherwise not been done to his fubject. ;.! . So that if we say any thing against the poet's method, we must say that he should not have chofen this subject. But this objection arises from our claffick ideas of Unity, which have no place here; and are in every view foreign to the purpose, if the poet has found means to give his work, though consisting of many parts, the advantage' of Unity. For in some reasonable fenfe or other, it is agreed, every work of art must be one, the very idea of a work requiring it.

If it be afked then, what is this Unity of Spenser's · Poem? I say, it consists in the relation of its feveral adventures to one common original," the appointment of the Faerie Queene; and to one common end, the completion of the Faerie Queene's injunctions. The knights issued forth on their adventures on the breaking up of this annual feast; and the next annual feast, we are to suppose, is to bring them together again from the achievement of their several charges. . .

. . ! ; This, it is true, is not the claffick Unity, which confifts in the representation of one entire action: but it is an Unity of another fort, an unity resulting from the respect which a number of related actions have to one common purpose. In other words, It is an unity of design, and not of action. '; 1 ,

« AnteriorContinuar »