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N° 540. WEDNESDAY, NOV. 19, 1712.
-Non deficit alter.
VIRG. Æn. vi. 143.
A second is not wanting.
• There is no part of your writings which I have in more esteem than your criticism upon Milton. It is an honourable and candid endeavour to set the works of our noble writers in the graceful light which they deserve. You will lose much of my kind inclination towards you, if you do not attempt the encomium of Spenser also, or at least indulge my passion for that charming author so far as to print the loose hints I now give you on that subject.
"Spenser's general plan is the representation of six virtues-holiness, temperance, chastity, friendship, justice, and courtesy-in six legends by six persons. The six personages are supposed, under proper allegories suitable to their respective characters, to do all that is necessary for the full manifestation of the respective virtues which they are to exert.
These one might undertake to show under the several heads are admirably drawn; no images improper, and most surprisingly beautiful. The Red ha cross Knight runs through the whole steps of the Christian life; Guyon does all that temperance can possibly require; Britomartis (a woman) observes the true rules of unaffected chastity; Arthegal is in every respect of life strictly and wisely just: Calidore is rightly courteous.
• In short, in Fairy-land, where knights-errant have a full scope to range, and to do even what Ariostos or Orlandos could not do in the world without breaking into credibility, Spenser's knights have, under those six heads, given a full and truly poetical system of Christian, public, and low life.
· His legend of friendship is more diffuse, and yet even there the allegory is finely drawn, only the heads various; one knight could not there support all the parts.
« To do honour to his country, prince Arthur is an universal hero; in holiness, temperance, chastity, and justice, super-excelent. For the same reason, and to compliment queen Elizabeth, Gloriana, queen of fairies, whose court was the asylum of the oppressed, represents that glorious queen. At her commands
all these knights set forth, and only at hers the Redcross Knight destroys the dragon, Guyon overturns the Bower of Bliss, Arthegal (i. e. Justice) beats down Geryoneo (i. e. Philip II. king of Spain) to rescue Belge (i. e. Holland), and he beats the Grantorto (the same Philip in another light) to restore Irena (i. e. Peace to Europe).
Chastity being the first female virtue, Britomartis is a Briton; her part is fine, though it requires explication. His style is very poetical; no puns, affectations of wit, forced antitheses, or any of that low tribe.
• His old words are all true English, and numbers exquisite; and since of words there is the multa renascentur, singe they are all proper, such a poem should not (any more than Milton's) consist all of it of common ordinary words. See instances of descriptions.
Causeless jealousy in Britomartis, v. 6, 14, in its
“ Like as a wayward child, whose sounder sleep
Such was this lady's loves in her loves fond accusing." Curiosity occasioned by jealousy, upon occasion of her
lover's absence. Ibid. Stan. 8, 9.
One coming towards her with hasty speed,
That it was one sent from her love indeed :
Ne would she stay till he in place could come,
Even in the door him meeting, she begun.
Declare at once; and hath he lost or won?"
34, 35. « Not far away, nor meet for any guest, They spy'd a little cottage, like some poor man's nest,
« There entering in, they found the good man's self,
• Homer's epithets were much admired by antiquity: see what great justness and variety there are in these epithets of the trees in the forest, where the Redcross Knight lost Truth. B. i. Cant. i. Stan. 8, 9.
“ The sailing pine, the cedar proud and tall,
The carver holm, the maple seldom inward sound.” " I shall trouble you no more, but desire you to let me conclude with these verses, though I think they have already been quoted by you. They are directions to young ladies oppressed with calumny, vi. 6, 14.
• The best (said he) that I can you advise,
Abstain from pleasure and restrain your will,
N° 541. THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 1712.
Format enim natura prius nos intus ad omnem
HÖR. Ars. Poet, ver. 103.
For nature formas and softens us within,
My friend the Templar, whom I have so often mentioned in these writings, having determined to lay aside his poetical studies, in order to a closer pursuit of the law, has put together, as a farewell essay, some thoughts concerning pronunciation and action, which he las given me leave to communicate to the public. They are chiefly collected from his favourite author Cicero, who is known to have been an intimate friend of Roscius the actor, and a good judge of dramatic performances, as well as the most eloquent pleader of the time in which be lived.