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and defend the possession of the mind against idleness and pleasure, which otherwise at unawares may enter to the prejudice of both.
Again, for that other conceit that learning should undermine the reverence of laws and government, it is assuredly a mere depravation' and calumny, without all shadow of truth. For to say that a blind custom of obedience should be a surer obligation than duty taught and understood—it is to affirm that a blind man may tread surer by a guide than a seeing man can by a light. And it is without all controversy that learņing doth make the minds of men gentle, generous, maniable, and pliant to government; whereas ignorance makes them churlish, thwart3 and mutinous: and the evidence of time doth cleart this assertion, considering that the most barbarous, rude, and unlearned times have been most subject to tumults, seditions, and changes.
And as to the judgment of Cato the Censer, he was well punished for his blasphemy against learning, in the same kind wherein he offended; for, when he was past threescore years old, he was taken with an extreme desire to go to school again and to learn the Greek tongue, to the end to peruse the Greek authors; which doth well demonstrate that his former censures of the Grecian learning was rather an affected gravity than according to the inward sense of his own opinion. And as for. Virgil's verses, though it pleased him to brave the world in taking to the Romans the art of empire and leaving to others the arts of subjects; yet so much is manifest that the Romans never ascended to that height of empire till the time they had ascended to the height of other arts.
THE LATER POETRY OF THE ELIZABETHAN LITERATURE, 1579–1603. EDMUND SPENSER.- «« The later Elizabethan poetry begins with the Shepheardes Calender of SPENSER. Spenser was born in London, 1552, and educated at Merchant Taylor's School and at Cambridge, which he left at the age of twenty-four. His early boyhood was passed in London, and he went frequently to an English home among the glens of Lancashire. He returned thither after he left Cambridge, and fell in love with a 'fair widowe's daughter of the glen,' whom
4 Make çl ar,
he called Rosalind. His love was not returned, and her coldness drove him southward.
His college friend, Gabriel Harvey, made him known to Leicester, and probably, since Harvey was 'Leicester's man,' to Philip Sidney, Leicester's nephew; and it was at Sidney's house of Penshurst that the Shepheardes Calender was made, and the Faerie Queen begun. The publication of the former work in 1579 at once made Spenser the first poet of the day, and its literary freshness was such that men felt that, for the first time since Chaucer, England had given birth to a great poet. It was a pastoral poem, divided into twelve eclogues, one for each month of the year. Shepherds and shepherd life were mixed in its verse with complaints for his lost love, with a desire for Church reform, with loyalty to the Queen. It marks the strong love of old English poetry by its reference to Chaucer, though it is in form imitated from the French pastoral of Clément Marot. The only tie it really has to Chaucer is in the choice of disused English words and spelling, a practice of Spenser's which somewhat spoils the Faerie Queen. The Puritanism of the poem does not lie in any attack on the Episcopal theory, but in an attack on the sloth and pomp of the clergy, and in a demand for a nobler moral life. It is the same in the Faerie Queen.
THE FAERIE QUEEN.—The twelve books of this poem were to represent the twelve moral virtues, each in the person of a knight who was to conquer all the separate sins and errors which were at battle with the virtue he personified. In Arthur, the king of the company, the Magnificence of the whole of virtue was to be represented, and he was at last to arrive at union with the Faerie Queen, that divine glory of God to which all human thought and act aspired. This was Spenser's Puritanism—the desire after a perfectly pure life for State and Church and Man. It was opposed in State and Church, he held, by the power of Rome, which he paints as Duessa, the falsehood which wears the garb of truth, and who also serves to represent her in whom Catholicism most threatened England - Mary, Queen of Scots. Puritan in this sense, he is not Puritan in any other. He had nothing to do with the attack on Prelacy which was then raging, and the last canto of the Faerie Queen represents Calidore, the knight of courtesy, sent forth to bridle the blatant beast, the manytongued and noisy Presbyterian body which attacked the Church.
The poem, however, soars far above this region of debate into the calm and pure air of art. It is the poem of the human soul and all its powers struggling towards the perfect love, the love which is God. Filled full with christianized platonism, the ideas of truth, justice, temperance, courtesy do not remain ideas in Spenser's mind, as in Plato's, but become real personages, whose lives and battles he honors and tells in verse so delicate, so gliding, and so steeped in the finer life of poetry, that he has been called the poet's poet.
As the nobler Puritanism of the time is found in it, so also are the other influences of the time. It goes back, as men were doing then, to the old times for its framework, to the Celtic story of Arthur and his knights, which Geoffrey of Monmouth and Chaucer and Thomas Malory had loved. It represents the new love of chivalry, the new love of classical learning, the new delight in mystic theories of love and religion. It is full of those allegorical schemes in which doctrines and heresies, virtues and vices were contrasted and personified. It takes up and uses the popular legends of fairies, dwarfs, and giants, and mingles them with the savages and the wonders of the New World, of which the voyagers. told in every company. Nearly the whole spirit of the English Renaissance under Elizabeth, except its coarser and baser elements, is in its pages. Of anything impure or ugly or violent, there is not a trace. Spenser walks through the whole of this woven world of faerie,
• With the moon's beauty and the moon's soft pace.'
The first three books were finished in Ireland, whither he
as secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton in 1580. Raleigh listened to them in 1589 at Kilcolman Castle, among the alder shades of the river Mulla, that fed the lake below the castle. Delighted with the poem, he took Spenser to England. The books were published in 1590, and the Queen, the Court, and the whole of England soon shared in Raleigh's delight. It was the first great ideal poem that England had produced, and it is the source of all our modern poetry. It has never ceased to make poets, and it will not lose its power while our language lasts."
“The interest in The Faerie Queen is twofold. There is the interest of the moral picture which it presents, and there is the interest of it as a work of poetical art.
The moral picture is of the ideal of noble manliness in Elizabeth's time. Besides the writers and the thinkers, the statesmen and the plotters, the traders and the commons, of that fruitful and vigorous age, there were the men of action—the men who fought in France and the Netherlands and Ireland; the men who created the English navy, and showed how it could be used; the men who tried for the north-west
with Sir Humphrey Gilbert, and sailed round the world with Sir Francis Drake, and planted colonies in America with Sir Walter Raleigh; the men who chased the Armada to destruction, and dealt the return buffet to Spanish pride in the harbor of Cadiz; men who treated the sea as the rightful dominion of their mistress, and, seeking adventures on it far and near, with or without her leave, reaped its rich harvests of plunder from Spanish treasure-ships and West Indian islands, or from the exposed towns and churches of the Spanish coast. They were at once men of daring enterprise, and sometimes very rough execution; and yet men with all the cultivation and refinement of the time-courtiers, scholars, penmen, poets These are the men whom Spenser had before his eyes in drawing his knights—their ideas of loyalty, of gallantry, of the worth and use of life, —their aims, their enthusiasm, their temptations, their foes, their defeats, their triumphs.
As a work of art The Faerie Queen at once astonishes us by the wonderful fertility and richness of the writer's invention and imagination, by the facility with which he finds or makes language for his needs, and, above all, by the singular music and sweetness of his verse. The main theme seldom varies: it is a noble knight, fighting, overcoming, tempted, delivered; or a beautiful lady, plotted against, distressed, in
danger, rescued. The poet's affluence of fancy and speech gives a new turn and color to each adventure.
But, besides that under these conditions there must be monotony, the poet's art, admirable as it is, gives room for objections. Spenser's style is an imitation of the antique; and an imitation, however good, must want the master charm of naturalness, reality, nple truth. And in his system of work, with his brightness and quickness and fluency, he wanted self-restraint-the power of holding himself in, and of judging soundly of fitness and proportion. There was a looseness and carelessness, partly belonging to his age, partly his own. In the use of materials, nothing comes amiss to him. He had no scruples as a copyist. He took without ceremony any piece of old metal - word or story or image—which came to his hand, and threw it into the melting-pot of his imagination to come out fused with his own materials, often transformed, but often unchanged. The effect was sometimes happy, but not always so.”—R. W. Church.
SPENSER'S MINOR POEMS.—“The next year, 1591, Spenser, being still in England, collected his smaller poems and published them. Among them Mother Hubbard's Tale is a bright imitation of Chaucer, and the Tears of the Muses supports my statement that literature was looked on coldly previous to 1580, by the complaint the Muses make in it of their subjects' being despised in England. Sidney had died in 1586, and three of these poems bemoan his death. The others are of slight importance, and the whole collection was entitled Complaints. Returning to Ireland, he gave an account of his visit in Colin Clout's come Home again, 1591, and at last, after more than a year's pursuit, won his second love for his wife, and found with her perfect happiness. A long series of Sonnets records the progress of his wooing, and the Epithalamion, his marriage hymn, is the most glorious love-song in the English tongue. At the close of 1595 he carried to England, in a second visit, the last three books of the Faerie Queen. The next year he spent in London, and published these books with his other poems, the Prothalamion on the marriage of Lord Worcester's daughters, and his Hymnes to Love and Beauty, and to Heavenly Love and Beauty, in which the love philosophy of Petrarca is enshrined. The end of his life was