Page images
PDF
EPUB

MAYNARD'S ENGLISH CLASSIC SERIES.-No. 27

THE

FAERIE QUEENE

CANTOS I.-II.

AND THE PROTHALAMION

BY EDMUND SPENSER

WITH PREFATORY AND EXPLANATORY NOTES

NEW YORK
MAYNARD, MERRILL, & Co.

29, 31, AND 33 East NINETEENTH STREET

New Series, No. 23. January 8, 1898. Published Semi-weekly. Subscription Price, $10.

Entered at Post Office, New York, as Secoud-class Matter.

UNIVERSITY
LIBRARY

A COMPLETE COURSE IN THE STUDY OF ENGLISH.

Spelling, Language, Grammar, Composition, Literature.

Reed's Word Lessons-A Complete Speller.
Reed's Introductory Language Work.
Reed & Kellogg's Graded Lessons in English,
Reed & Kellogg's Higher Lessons in English.
Reed & Kellogg's One-Book Course in English.
Kellogg & Reed's Word Building.
Kellogg & Reed's The English Language.
Kellogg's Text-Book on Rhetoric.
Kellogg's Illustrations of Style.

Kellogg's Text-Book on English Literature.

In the preparation of this series the authors have had one object clearly in view-to so develop the study of the English language as to present a complete, progressive course, from the Spelling-Book to the study of English Literature, The troublesome contradictions which arise in using books arranged by different authors on these subjects, and which require much time for explanation in the schoolroom, will be avoided by the use of the above Complete Course."

Teachers are earnestly invited to examine these books.
MAYNARD, MERRILL, & Co., PUBLISHERS,

New York.

[ocr errors]

LIFE OF SPENSER.

EDMUND SPENSER is supposed to have been born in the year 1553, in East Smithfield, London. Little or nothing is known of his parents: he clalmed connection with the noble House of Spencer or Spenser, and the relationship was recognised by the principal branches of that family, He el tered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as a sizar, May 20,1569, and here ne veems to have remained till he took his degree of M.A. in June 1576. At college, one of his most intimate friends was Gabriel Harvey, himself a poet, who first drew Spenser to London in 1578; Spenser, on quitting the university, having gone to reside with some relations in the north of England, possibly in the capacity of domestic tutor. In London, Spenser became acquainted with Sir Philip Sidney, who took him for some time to his seat of Penshurst in Kent. Here he probably wrote his Shepherd's Calendar, his first published work. In 1580, Spenser accom: panied as secretary Lord Grey of Wilton, appointed Lord deputy of Ireland; and in 1586 he is found in possession of 3028 acres of lard in the county of Cork, presented to him for his services by Queen Elizabeth. Here he lived till 1589, when he accompanied Raleigh to England; and in 1590 published the first three books of the Faerie Queene. In February 1591, the Queen bestowed on Spenser a pension of £50, and in the same year he published a volume of smaller poems. About this time he returned to Ireland, where he lived, occasionally visiting England, till 1598. In 1595, he published a collection of sonnets entitled Amoretti; and, it is supposed, about the same time married an Irish girl of great beauty, but humble birth. In 1596, he presented to the Queen his prose work, A View of the State of Ireland, not printed till 1633; and in the same year he published three more books of the Faerie Queene, together with a new edition of the first three. In October 1598, the insurrection known as “Tyrone's Rebellion ” broke out in Ireland, spreading confusion and desolation over a great part of the land. Spenser was one of the suffer. ers. All his property was plundered or destroyed, and his house burned, he himself, along with his wife and two eldest sons, narrowly escaping from the flames. An infant was left behind, and burned to death among the ruins. He made his way to London and died, January 1599, of a broken heart, at an inn in King Street, Westminster. The Earl of Essex charged himself with the expenses of the funeral; and the poet was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to the grave of Chaucer. His wife survived him some time, and both his sons left descendants.

The Faerie Queene, intended by Spenser to have occupied twelve books, is only little more than half finished.

THE FAERY QUEENE.

WHEN the “ Faery Queene" first appeared, the whole of England seems to have been moved by it. No such poet had arisen in this country for nearly two hundred years. Since Chaucer and the author of “Piers Plowman" there had been no great poem. The fifteenth century had been almost a blank, the darkest period of our literary annals; the earlier part of the sixteenth had been occupied with great theological questions, wbich bad engrossed men's minds till the long reign of Elizabeth gave stability to the Reformation in England, and the first fervor of the Church writers subsided. The tone of society was favorable to a work which, with a strong theological element in it, still dealt with feats of chivalry and heroes of romance. The English mind was filled with a sense of poetry yet unexpressed. Great deeds, great discoveries, and men of capacity moving among them, had roused the spirit of the nation. The people were proud of their Queen and their freedom; the new aristocracy was just feeiing its strength; it was a time of most varied lifc. Nothing was wanted but a great poem to express the universal desire; and Spenser first, and then Shakespeare appeared, to fulfill the national instinct. Drayton, Fletcher (in his “ Purple Island”), Milton, and perhaps Bunyan, show in their writings the effect of our poet's genius. .

In speaking of Spenser, Milton did not hesitate to call him “a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas ”—a better philosopher, a purer moralist, than either one or other of the leaders of scholastic lore; and we may re-echo his words without offense, when we say that a young student is as likely to gain a vivid conception of duty and virtue from his pages as from those works which deal in a more exact manner with the moral constitution of man's nature. Here the qualities and actions of man are set before vs in their living forms; the genius of the poet carries us along with him: we personify with him; we enact the scenes which paint the victory of Good over the monster dragon of Evil.-G. W. KITCHIN, D.D., Dean of Winchester.

A LETTER OF THE AUTHORS,

EXPOUNDING HIS WHOLE INTENTION IN THE COURSE OF THIS WORKE: WHICH,

FOR THAT IT GIVETH GREAT LIGHT TO THE READER, FOR THE

BETTER UNDERSTANDING IS HEREUNTO ANNEXED.

TO THE RIGHT NOBLE AND VALOROUS

Sir WALTER RALEIGH, KNIGHT.

LORD WARDEIN OF THE STANNERYES, AND HER MAIESTIES LIEFETENAUNT

OF THE COUNTY OF CORNEWAYLL.

SIR, knowing how doubtfully all Allegories may be construed, and this booke of mine, which I have entituled the Faery Queene, being a continued allegory, or darke conceit, I haue thought good, as well for avoyding of gealous opinions and misconstructions, as also for your better light in reading thereof, (being so by you commanded,) to discover unto you the general intention and meaning, which in the whole course thereof I have fashioned, without expressing of any particular purposes, or by accidents, therein occasioned. The generall end therefore of all the booke is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous ar 1 gentle discipline: Which for that I conceived shoulde be most plausible and pleasing, being coloured with an historicall fiction, the which the most part of men delight to read, rather for variety of matter then for profite of the ensample, I chose the historye of King Arthure, as most itte for the excellency of his person, being made famous by many mens former workes, and also furthest from the daunger of envy, and suspition of present tinie

In which I have followed all the antique poets historicall: first Homere, who in the persons of Agamemnon and Ulysses hath en sampled a good governour and a vertuous man, the one in his Ilias, the other in his Odysseis: then Virgil, whose like intention was to doe in the person of Aeneas: after him Ariosto comprised them both in his Orlan. do: and lately Tasso dissevered them againe, and formed both parts in two persons, namely that part which they in Philosophy call Ethice, or vertues of a private man, coloured in his Rinaldo; the other named Politice in his Godfredo. By ensample of which excellente poets, I labour to pourtraict in Arthure, before he was king, the image of a brave knight, perfected in the twelve private morall vertues, as Aristotle

« PreviousContinue »