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rewarded by an ample and independent fortune, of which he was only deprived, by a general and national calamity. Few candidates for court favour, with no better pretensions
than great literary merit, have been so successful. Mr. Warton has offered the best excuses that can be alleged
for the defects of the Fairy Queen, ascribing the wildness and irregularity of its plan, to Spenser's predilection for Ariosto. But the Orlando Furioso, though absurd and extravagant, is uniformly amusing. We are enabled to travel to the conclusion of our journey without fatigue, though often bewildered by the windings of the road, and surprised by the abrupt change of our travelling companions; whereas it is scarcely possible to accompany Spenser's allegorical heroes to the end of their excursions. They want flesh and blood; a want for which nothing can compensate. The personification of abstract ideas, furnishes the most brilliant images of poetry; but these meteor forms, which startle and delight us when our senses are flurried by passion, must not be submitted to our cool and deliberate examination. A ghost must not be dragged into day-light. Personification protracted into allegory, affects a 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. It is hoped that the following specimens, selected from his minor compositions, will be found to be tolerably illustrative of his poetical, as well as of his moral character. The three first books of the Fairy Queen, were printed in
quarto, 1590, and the three next in 1596.
Mark, when she smiles with amiable cheer,
And tell me, whereto can ye liken it? When, on each eye-lid sweetly do appears
An hundred graces, as in shade, to sit. . Likest it seemeth, in my simple wit,
. . Unto the fair sun-shine in summer's day, That, when a dreadful storm away is flit, ? Through the broad world doth spread his goodly
ray; At sight whereof, each bird that sits on spray, And every beast that to his den was fled,
Come forth afresh out of their late dismay, And to the light, lift up their drooping head. So my storm-beaten heart likewise is cheer'd With that sun-shine, when cloudy looks are clear’d.
Like as the Culver, on the bared bough,
For his return, that seems to linger late:
So I alone, now left disconsolate,
Mourn to myself the absence of my love ; And, wandering here and there all desolate, Seek with my plaints to match that mournful
(Extracted from the Muiopotmos.]
The woods, the rivers, and the meadows green,
With his air-cutting wings he measured wide; Ne did he leave the mountains bare unseen,
Nor the rank grassy fen's delights untried. But none of these, however sweet they been
Mought please his fancy, nor him cause abide." His choiceful sense with every change doth flit; No common things may please a wavering wit.
To the gay gardens, his unstay'd desire
Him wholly carried, to refresh his sprites, There, lavish nature, in her best attire,
Pours forth sweet odours and alluring sights; And art, with her contending, doth aspire
To excell the natural with made delights:
There he arriving, round about doth fly,
From bed to bed, from one to other border, And takes survey, with curious busy eye,
Of every flower and herb there set in order ; Now this, now that, he tasteth tenderly,
Yet none of them he rudely doth disorder, Ne with his feet their silken leaves deface, But pastures on the pleasures of each place.
And evermore, with most variety
And change of sweetness (for all change is sweet), He casts his glutton sense to satisfy:
Now, sucking of the sap of herbs most meet, Or of the dew which yet on them does lie,
Now in the same bathing his tender feet: And then he percheth on some bank thereby, To weather him, and his moist wings to dry,
THE LOVER'S PRAYER.
[From the Epithalamion.]
Ah! when will this long weary day have end,
And lend me leave to come unto my love? How slowly do the hours their numbers spend ?
How slowly doth sad time his feathers move ? Haste thee ! O fairest planet, to thy home, Within the western foam :
Thy tired steeds, long since, have need of rest. Long though it be, at last I see it gloom,
And the bright evening star, with golden crest,
Appear out of the east.
That all the host of heaven in ranks doth lead,
And guidest lovers through the night's sad dread; How cheerfully thou lookest from above,
And seem'st to laugh atween thy twinkling light,
As joying in the sight Of these glad many, which for joy do sing, That all the woods them answer, and their echoes