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- how exquisite !-in which he celebrates the double marriage of Lady Elizabeth and Lady Catharine Somerset, likening them to two swans, sailing down the Thames ;

“ With that I saw two Swannes of goodly hewe

Come softly swimming downe along the lee;
Two fairer birds I yet did never see ;
The snow, which doth the top of Pindus strew,
Did never whiter shew,
Nor Jove himselfe, when he a swan would be
For love of Leda, whiter did appeare ;
Yet Leda was (they say) as white as he,
Yet not so white as these, nor nothing near ;
So purely white they were,
That even the gentle stream, the which them bare,
Seem'd foule to them, and bad his billows spare
To wet their silken feathers, least they might
Soyle their fayre plumes with water not so fayre,
And marre their beauties bright,
That shone as heaven's light,
Against their brydale day, which was not long :
Sweet Themmes ! runne softly, till I end my song."

Vol. V. p. 296, 97.

The four “Hymns,” in honor of “ Love,” of “Beauty,” of “ Heavenly Love," and of “ Heavenly Beauty," contain some sublime thought, which is principally Platonic, as, for instance, the fable from “ The Banquet,” about Plenty and Penury being the parents of Love. The most beautiful and highly finished piece of thern all is “ Muiopotmos,” or the fate of the butterfly. In the “ Shepherd's Calendar,” his earliest poem, we have in a rude garb some of the finest specimens, which any language has produced, of the pastoral. "Mother Hubbard's Tale," another of his earliest, in the style of Chaucer, has more of vigor and individuality in its characters, as well as of smart irony, than anything which he has left.

But to Spenser, — high and venerable as we hold him, with all his charm for youth, and with all his power to charm back youth to the care-worn, - the highest poetic character cannot be ascribed. He has the poet's organization, and the poet's love of beauty. The finest senses; clear, quick perceptions ; inexhaustible fancy; great natural command over form; power to do all he undertakes ; a genial fondness for his work, and for


finishing with a sculptor's exactness; the ardor of a young Apollo, forth "starting on his career as God of Day, and his benignity too; the absence of everything morbid; hatred of all impurity and deformity ; faith in innocence, whose triumph it is his chief delight to exhibit; and a religious reverence for his

these are his in a degree possessed by few poets. But there is wanting the poet's discontent; the deep yearning for more than actual life affords ; the thirst for the Infinite; the prophetic sadness; the trembling mixed with joy, as of a soul Auttering on the brink of an untried, boundless ocean of immortality. He knows not how to be sad, except after classic fashion. He can mourn a loss, he can paint sorrow under a particular affliction. But the sadness from an invisible source, the home-sickness of the soul banished into these regions of mortality, does not pervade and make sublime his sense of nature, his adoration of beauty, his confessions of love. All that he has is good. But there are wants he does not satisfy ; there are wants he has not felt. His depth of life, bis aspirations, are all representable in thoughts and words; his poems tell his story, and suggest no depths below. Bard and prophet were once one character ; and the soul of poetry is always prophetic. But not to such poets as Spenser will that apply. 'He has not that lyric fire which thrills the reader's soul. There is scarcely a verse of his which we read with emotion. He can impart the taste of pure pleasure, he can soothe to rest, he can transport the passive mind into a safe Elysium; but he cannot move or inspire ; he can wake neither will nor longing in us. We feel that we have conversed with a gentle, chaste, industrious soul, whom we shall be glad to meet again ; but our bosoms do not burn when he leaves us, nor does his

presence haunt us, like a mystery, and make us serious wherever we go, as do the bards whose words pass into our inmost being, opening depths within our deepest consciousness.

Imagination, in the higher sense of the word, is not his. We mean, not the power of inventing images, of conceiving of things which never were, but that power, which perceives the unity of things, which regards all things as images, manifestations of the one all-pervading life ; that consciousness of Being, to which all phenomena are of infinite interest. He gives us parts of Nature, paints each object truly, remembers faithfully many a tune which she has sung to him; but there is not the key-note of all nature and of all being ringing through his soul.

Where this is felt, it matters not what theme the poet touches,

the same depth of life is implied in all he says, the same spirit moulds and colors all his expressions, and rounds the smallest trifle into an arc of the full orb of nature. The smallest and most careless acts of genius, like the smallest leaf or berry, show how all nature entered into their composition. They seem done not in a corner, but out under the open sky, in the midst of many witnesses, and with the sympathy of many, of all the viewless spirits of the cloud, the stars, the waters and the woods. But a picture-poet, like Spenser, copies or invents this or that, which is beautiful in itself, but conveys no consciousness of a whole, in which it has its being. If his topics chance to be common-place, then, he is. A Shakspeare, a Goethe, a Wordsworth, are never dull ; for the thoughts and images, however common, are always steeped in the music of the man, which is also the music of nature.

Universality, such as Shakspeare's, was by no means an attribute of Spenser's mind. He never goes out of his own individual consciousness, and lives in another. He never identifies himself with his characters. They are seen from without by him, and not unfolded from within. So that we are never so lost in his story, as not to feel who the author is, and that he is standing by, pointing out the objects in his picture to us. Consequently, his characters all lack individuality. They are too much alike. We do not see what they are, but only what they do. Their actions seem invented first, and they are brought in to perform them. They do not seem to live; we should not recognise them in another age and another dress. They are cold, as figures on a phantasmagoria. This is partly owing to the allegorical character of the poem. Being designed, most of them, to represent certain moral qualities, they can hardly help being abstractions; were their individuality to act itself out, it would be all over with the allegory. But Spenser frequently forgets the moral, and becomes interested in the personal adventures of bis knights and ladies; yet they remain as shadowy as before. Moreover, the secondary subaltern actors in the scene do not stamp their likenesses upon our memory ; and that is the surest test of the power of giving individuality to characters. There is not a particle of humor in the poem, unless we take the ridiculous figure of the scapegrace, Braggadochio, for humor; and that "iron man," Talus, who attended the patron knight of Justice, and did such dreadful execution with his flail. His calm, relentless aspect, his dread impartiality, and his angular features remind us of a certain picture, which we have seen, of a cast-iron preacher, who operates by steam.

He is never sublime or grand, like Milton. Nor is he remarkable for depth of thought. He enlightens us with no ideas, beyond what were current with the wits and scholars of his age. How can “Christopher North " liken bim to Wordsworth? Philosophy was not his forte; all that he has exhibited was merely learning. Milton calls him “our sage Spenser.” A certain, proverbial, moralizing wisdom he had ; and it is this which takes also from the naturalness of his characters, and gives his beautiful heroines an air of pedantry. Take, for instance, this parley between Una and Prince Arthur, when, like a true knight, he begs to be permitted to help her in her dis

tress ;

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".0! but,' quoth she, ' great griefe will not be tould,

And can more easily be thought than said.'
· Right so,' quoth he ; “but he, that never would,
Could never : will to might gives greatest aid.'
• But griefe,' quoth she, does greater grow displaid,
If then it find not helpe, and breeds despaire.'
'Despaire breeds not,' quoth he,' where faith is staid.'

No faith so fast,' quoth she, “but flesh does paire.'
“Flesh may empaire,' quoth he, ' but reason can repaire.'

B. I. C. VII. S. xli. Though not one of the great poets, Spenser must always be admired as one of the most beautiful and pure. We cannot but regard it as a happy omen, if “ The Faerie Queene" is becoming more generally read in our community. Certainly the beautiful edition, now presented to us, places it within the reach of most, and removes all the difficulties in point of style and allegorical or learned allusions, which have made it seem a seal

We have never read an old English poet with such comfort, as we now read Spenser in this convenient form. The notes are just enough, and never obtrusive. Would that all the treasures of our old poetry were brought nearer to us in the same way.

ed book to many.

J. S. D.




“Fatigued by reason of our journey of the preceding day, the sun was far advanced into the heavens before the noise of the inn-yard woke us from our slumbers, and we were ready for the pleasing labor yet before us. Crowds of travellers, in not more haste than ourselves, surrounded the gate-ways with their camels, asses, and other beasts of burden; some quarrelling with Jael on account both of their entertainment, and the sum he had demanded of them; some with each other about some idle distinction of nation or tribe; while a large number pursued in quiet their own affairs, or looked on and laughed at those, who, because life did not present enough of necessary evils, were seeking to multiply them. Jael moved among them a sort of monarch, from the power he possessed, not over others, but over himself, therefore indeed, over others also. He

not to be ruffled by any of the reproaches, which, whether justly or not, were showered upon him. Those who had abused him most he did not fail to dismiss from his dominions with some wish of peace, while from the other party he received, perhaps, only curses in return.

Jael,' said Onias, as we stood beneath the shadow of a plane-tree, watching the scene, while Ziba was making the last preparations; • Jael is a man who lives for himself alone. Though you behold him so pliant and so prompt to please and serve, and so patient under what seems undeserved reproach, he is yet as void of faith, both toward man and God, as this pomegranate-shell is of meat. His aim is but one, — his purse. And to fill this in the best manner he thinks, and justly, is to attract by his attentiveness and submissiveness to all, people of all names and nations, — Jew, Samaritan, Arab, or Roman, it is the same to Jael, and Jael is the same to them. He is just to one, as soon as to another; and will defraud one as soon as another. In what proportion he is knave, and in what honest, no one knows. When I am on this road, and weary with the way, my feeling is, and doubtless it is so with all, here now shall I be certain of such observances as hardly my best friend could lavish upon me;' and approach the roof of Jael as if it were another Beth-Harem. Behold there! how to that churl

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