Изображения страниц

Let lewdness none, thy life afford.
Be always true of tongue and word.
Let shamefac’dness thy mistress be.
Do these, and wife come cull' with me.

The Wife's Answer.

Husband! if thou wilt pure appear,
E'en as thyself then hold me dear.
So shalt thou please Jehove divine,
So shalt thou make me nourish mine.
See that our house, wherein we dwell,
Be handsome, wholesome, walled well:
And let us have what use requires.
Make servants sweat at work, not fires.
See that thy speech be mild and meek ;
Of froward frumps be still to seek.
If thou wilt have me do for thee,
Then see thou likewise do for me.
If thou on thy friends do bestow,

Be liberal to my friends also. . * From accoller, Fr. to embrace. It is often written coll, to distinguish it from the more usual word cull, from, cucillir.

For servants thine keep tauntings tart:
Admonish gently me apart:
And, when in sport some time I spend,
Do thou not sharply reprehend.
And when I joy with thee to jest,
In angry mood do not molest.
"Tis not enough that I love thee,
But sometime thou must make of me.
If I shall not of thee be jealous,
See thou cleave not to many fellows.
Though thou hast toiled out the day,
At night be merry yet alwày.
Use never much abroad to roam,
But still keep close with me at home.
Thou saidst much, when thou wast a wooer,
Now we are coupled, be a doer.
Penelope if I shall be,
Then be Ulysses unto me.


From satisfactory information that has lately been procured, it

appears that Spenser was born about 1553, and died in 1598-9. He was educated at Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, which he quitted in 1576, and, retiring into the North, composed his “Shepherd's Calendar,” the dedication of which seems to have procured him his first introduction to Sir Philip Sidney. In 1579 he was employed by Leicester, to whom he had been recommended by Sidney, in some foreign commission. In 1580 he became secretary to lord Grey, of Wilton, then appointed lord deputy of Ireland, and in 1582 returned with him to England. In 1586 he obtained a grant of 3000 acres of land in the county of Cork, and in the following year took possession of his estate, where he generally continued to reside, till 1598, when, as Drummond relates, on the authority of Ben Jonson, his house was plundered and burnt by the Irish rebels, his child murdered, and himself with his wife driven, in the greatest distress, to England. It was in the course of the eleven years passed

in Ireland, that he composed his “ Fairy Queen." If these dates be correct, it will follow that, notwithstanding

the illiberal opposition of lord Burleigh, whose memory has been devoted to ignominy by every admirer of Spenser, the period during which our amiable poet was condemned

To fret his soul with crosses and with cares,

To eat his heart with comfortless despairs, was not very long protracted; since he began to enjoy the adfantages of public office at the age of 26, and at 33 was 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 alledged

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. Personificatión 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 again with 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 appear

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, Comes forth afresh out of their late dismay,

And to the light lift up their drooping head. So my storm-beaten heart likewise is cheered With that sun-shine, when cloudy looks are cleared.


LIKE as the culver, on the bared bough,

Sits mourning for the absence of her mate, And, in her songs, sends many a wishful vow

For his return, that seems to linger late:

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »