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a true idea, and lost himself by following an unfaithful guide. Though beside Homer and Virgil he had read Tasso, yet he rather suffered himself to be misled by Ariosto, with whom blindly rambling on marvels and adventures, he makes no conscience of probability all is fanciful and chimerical, without any uniformity, or without any foundation in truth; in a word, his poem is perfect Fairy-Land."

Dryden, in the splendid dedication of his translation of Juvenal, thus proceeds: "The English have only to boast of Spenser and Milton in heroic poetry, who neither of them wanted either genius or learning to have been perfect poets, and yet both of them are liable to many censures: for there is no uniformity in the design of Spencer; he aims at the accomplishment of no one action; he raises up a hero for every one of his adventures, and endows each of them with some particular moral virtue, which renders them all equal, without subordination or preference. Every one is valiant in his own legend: only we must do him the justice to observe, that magnanimity, which is the character of Prince Arthur, shines throughout the whole poem, and succours the rest when they are in distress. The original of every knight was then living in the court of Queen Elizabeth, and he attributed to each of them that virtue, which he thought most conspicuous in them; an ingenious piece of flattery, though it turned not much to his account. Had he lived to have finished his poem in the remaining legends, it had certainly been more of a piece; but it could not have been perfect, because the model was not true. But Prince Arthur, or his chief patron Sir Philip Sidney, dying before him, deprived the poet both of means and spirit to accomplish his design.

For the rest, his obsolete language, and ill choice of his stanzas,* are faults but of the second magnitude: for notwithstanding the first, he is still intelligible, at least after a little practice; and, for the last, he is more to be admired, that labouring under such disadvantages, his verses are so numerous, so various, and so harmonious, that only Virgil (whom he has professedly imitated) has surpassed him among the Romans, and only Waller among the English."


Mr. Hughes states, that the chief merit of this poem consists in that surprising vein of fabulous invention which runs through it, and enriches it every where with imaginary descriptions, more than we meet with in any modern poem. The author seems to be possessed of a kind of poetical magic; and the figures, which he calls up to our view, rise up so thick upon us, that we are at once pleased and distracted with their inexhaustible variety; so that his faults may, in a manner, be imputed to his excellences. His abundance betrays him into excess; and his judgement is overborne by the torrent of his imagination.

Upon the whole, Mr. Warton seems to have given the most candid criticism on this celebrated poem. "If the 'Fairy Queen' be destitute of that arrangement and economy which epic severity requires, yet we scarcely regret the loss of these, while their place is so amply supplied by something which more powerfully attracts us; something which engages the affections, the feelings of the heart, rather than the cold

* From the peculiarity of his language and stanza, almost all the imitations of him resemble the original. So likewise, in painting, it is easier to copy the stile of a mannerist, than the simplicity of Raffaelle or Poussin.

approbation of the head. If there be any poem whose graces please, because they are situated beyond the reach of art, and where the force and faculties of creative imagination delight, because they are unassisted and unrestrained by those of deliberate judgement, it is this: In reading Spenser, if the critic is not satisfied, yet the reader is transported."

"It is to be regretted," as Granger suggests, "that such vigour of imagination and harmony of numbers should have been lavished upon an endless and uninteresting allegory, abounding with all the whimsies of knight-errantry. It ought at the same time to be remembered, that it was much more interesting in the days of Elizabeth, than it is in the present day. According to Lord Lyttleton, his poem represents that great Queen as the patroness of the most sublime chivalry, and as sending forth the moral virtues illustrated under the characters of different knights, &c., and may therefore be deemed a state-poem no less than the Æneis of Virgil.'



"His personifications," says Mr. Ellis, "protracted into allegory, affect the modern reader, almost as disagreeably as inspiration continued to madness. This, however, was the fault of the age: and all that genius could do for such a subject, has been done by Spenser. His glowing fancy, his unbounded command of language, and his astonishing facility and sweetness of versification have placed him in the very first rank of English poets."

The View of the State of Ireland' was called forth by the peculiar circumstances of that country, in the time of the rebellion. The fate of Spenser, in

respect of his possessions in Ireland, was necessarily involved in that of the country; and he could not be indifferent to the probable effects of the prevalent commotions. In order to obviate these effects, he undertook to sketch and perfect a plan for the reduction of the island, within the short space of two winters. The plan was well contrived, but never carried into execution; a circumstance, perhaps, to which the rebels were indebted for their subsequent success. In this work, too, Spenser appears a zealous defender of the administration of Lord Grey, who had been represented to Elizabeth as exercising cruelties, which drove the rebels to desperation.

The piece is written in the form of dialogues, between Eudoxus and Irenæus. In the beginning, the author treats at some length of the customs and manners of the inhabitants; and the regulations and measures, which he afterwards proposes, are judiciously adapted to their national character:

Iren. The difference of manners and customs doth follow the difference of nations and people. The which I have declared to you to have been three especially, which seated themselves here: to wit, first, the Scythians; then, the Gauls; and, lastly, the English. Notwithstanding that I am not ignorant, that there were sundry nations which got footing in that land, of the which there yet remain divers great families and septs, of whom I will also in their proper places make mention.

'I will begin, then, to count their customs in the same order that I counted their nations; and, first, with the Scythian or Scottish manners: of the which there is one use among them, to keep their cattle, and to live themselves the most part of the year in boolies,

pasturing upon the mountains and waste wild places, and removing still to fresh land, as they have depastured the former. The which appeareth plain to be the manner of the Scythians, as you may read in Olaus Magnus, and Joh. Boëmus, and yet is used among all the Tartarians, and the people about the Caspian Sea, which are naturally Scythians, to live in heards,' as they call them; being the very same as the Irish boolies are, driving their cattle continually with them, and feeding only on their milk and white meats.

'Eudor. What fault can you find with this custom? For though it be an old Scythian use, yet it is very behoveful in this country of Ireland, where there are great mountains, and waste deserts full of grass, that the same should be eaten down, and nourish many thousands of cattle for the good of the whole realm; which cannot (methinks) well be any other way, than by keeping those boolies there as ye have showed.

Iren. But, by this custom of boolying, there grow in the mean time many great enormities unto that commonwealth. For first, if there be any outlaws, or loose people (as they are never without some) which live upon stealths and spoils, they are evermore succoured and find relief only in these boolies; being upon the waste places, whereas else they should be driven shortly to starve, or to come down to the towns to seek relief, where by one means or other they would soon be caught. Besides, such stealths of cattle as they make they bring commonly to those boolies, being upon those waste places, where they are readily received, and the thief harboured from danger of law, or such officers as might light upon him. Moreover, the people that thus live in those

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