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and in all his dangers devoted to his Lady and his Lord.” (Blackwood's Mag., Nov. 1834.)
7, 2. A shadie grove ;—the wood of Error, which is at first enchanting, but soon leads those astray who wander in it. By it Spenser shadows forth the dangers surrounding the mind that escapes from the bondage of Roman authority, and thinks for itself; and also the ultimate triumph of the man who, with help of God's armour, tracks Error to its den, and slays it there. 5. that beavens light did bide ;-So Ariosto, Orl. Fur. I. 37:
“ E la foglia co’rami in modo è mista
Che'l Sol non v'entra, non che minor vista.” 6. Not perceable with power of any starre ;-Warton notices here that stars were supposed to have a malign influence on trees. But Spenser only wishes to convey an impression of great closeness and gloom in the grove. Cp. Statius, 10. 85:
“ Nulli penetrabilis astro Lucus iners." 8, 5. Much can they praise ;— much they began to praise. Spenser sometimes writes can' for 'gan' So Church quotes Chaucer :
“ Yet half for drede I can my visage hide." Or perhaps can’ is used as an auxiliary verb=do; then can praise' will = do praise.
This description of trees is expanded from Chaucer's Assembly of Foules, 176. It has been objected to with some justice as not true to nature, and laboured, as so many different kinds of trees could not have grown together in a thick wood. But the passage suits well the general conception, as it causes a feeling of bewilderment of details, leading us on to the cave of Error.'
6. The sayling pine ; – the pine whence sailing ships are made.' Chaucer, Assembly, 179, “ the saylynge firre.' The Latin poets use pinus per synecdochen' for ship, as—
“ Non huc Argoo contendit remige pinus.”—Hor. Epod. 16. 57.
the cedar proud and tall ;—Ezekiel 31. 3 : “Behold the Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon ... of a high stature.” ver. 10: • Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height ... and his heart is lifted up in his height,” &c.; and Isaiah 2. 13: “Upon all the cedars of Lebanon, that are high and lifted up." Chaucer, Complaynte of a Loveres Lyfe, 67: “ the cedres high.”
7. The vine-prop elme ; — the elm in ancient Italy was largely used to train up the vine:
“ Amictae vitibus ulmi.”-Ovid. Met. 10. 100. So Chaucer, Assembly, 177, has “the peler elme.”
the poplar never dry ;-—from its flourishing in damp spots, on river banks, &c.
8. The builder oake ;-Chaucer, Assembly, 176, has the same epithet.
9. the cypresse funerall ;—Pliny, Nat. Hist. 16. 33 (60), says, “ Cypressus—funebri signo ad domos posita." Chaucer, Assembly, 179,
- The cipresse deth tò pleyne.” Sir P. Sidney in his Arcadia has “ Cypress branches, wherewith in old time they were wont to dress graves.” There was tradition that the Cross was made of cypress-wood. See the Squyre of Lowe Degree (quoted by Warton on Spenser ; 1. 139):
Cypresse the first tre that Jesu chase (chose).” For the classical legend see notes on c. vi. 14 and 17.
9, 2. the firre that weepeth still ;---distils resin.
3. The willow, worne of forlorne paramours ;-the badge of deserted lovers. See Percy's Reliques, 1. 156, and John Heywood's Song of the Green Willow :
“ All a green willow, willow,
All a green willow is my garland.
For all a green willow is my garland.”
“ Here comes poor Frank ;
We see your willow, and are sorry for 't." 4. The eugb obedient to the benders will ;-referring to the bows made of yew. Chaucer has it “ the sheter (shooter) ewe.” 5. the sallow for the mill ;-Ovid, Met. 10. 96, has
• Omnicolaeque simul salices.” 6. The mirrbe sweete bleeding in the bitter wound;—the myrrh has a bitter taste, but the exudation from its bark is sweet of smell. Chaucer, Complaynte of a Loveres Lyfe, 66:
“ The myrre also that wepeth ever of kynde” 7. The warlike beech ;-suitable for warlike arms, or because the warchariots of the ancients were made of it.
9. The carver holme ;-good for carving. Chaucer, Assembly, 178, has “holme to whippes lasshe.”
10,7. doubt their wits be not their owne ;– doubt'here = fear. See Gloss. Doubt. 11, 2. or in or out ;-'either on the inside or the outside of the maze.'
4. like to lead the labyrinth about ;— likely to lead them out of the labyrinth.' 12, 7, 8.
shame were to revoke The forward footing for an hidden shade ;it would be shame (shameful) to recall our forward movement for (fear of) a concealed shadow of evil.' Here again Spenser uses the impersonal verb without the neut. pron ;-shame were = it were shame.' 13, 6. wandring wood ;- the wood of wandering.'
8. Therefore I read beware ;—therefore I advise you to be cautious.' 14, 2. for ought ;-by any arguments,' or for any reasons.'
4. bis glistring armor, &c. ;—a passage worthy of Rembrandt's most gloomy pencil. The image of Error should be compared with Milton's delineation of Sin, P. L. 2. 650.
9. full of vile disdaine ;—' full of vileness breeding disdain.' She is Falsehood, half human, half bestial, half true and half untrue; parent of a countless brood of lies. Her shape is taken partly from Hesiod's Echidna, Theog. 301 ; and partly from the locusts in Rev. 9.7.
15, 4. Of ber there bred ;—there sprung from her as a mother ;' she had a brood of.'
7. Of sundry shapes ;-i. e. each of a shape different from all the jest: or each one able to vary its shape~lies and rumours being manyformed.
16, 1. upstart, out of ber den effraide ;-pret. of to upstart, to start up. Ed. 1590 puts a comma after upstart," so connecting out of her den' with effraide,'—she started up, frightened out of her den. Later edd. seem to have preferred the meaning started up (and rushed) out of her den, quite frightened.'
4. without entraile ;—untwisted.'
“ to point, completely ;-as armed to point, Spenser.” The Fr. phrase à point=to a nicety, is probably the real origin of the phrase.
17, 1. the valiant Elfe;—the Knight is described as coming from Faerie Land, c. x. 60, 61. The word "elfe' is A. S. ælf, an elf. The A. S. had Dun-ælfen=mountain (or down) fairy; wæter- ælfen = water-baby ; whence the word usually is taken to signify a small sprite, like the Teut. Kobold, &c. E. K., the ingenious commentator on the Shepheards Calender, declares that elfs and goblins were originally Guelfs and Ghibelines: the coincidence is curious, but the derivation absurd.
be lept As lyon fierce ; – cp. Hom. Il. 5. 297.
3. trenchand ;—the older participial form; so glitterand. It is used in the Northumbrian dialect of early English. See Morris, E. E. Specimens, Grammat. Introd. p. xiv. It
may be a relic of Spenser's life in the Northern Counties rather than of French origin (as if from trenchant, &c.).
7. Threatning ber angry sting ;—a Latin phrase; threatening' being used as • brandishing.'
18, 6. traine ;-used in 1. 6 as= long trailing tail, and in l. 9 as = snare. Spenser (like Chaucer) often allows words exactly alike in form to rhyme together, so long as their meaning differs.
19, 6. His gall did grate ;—the gall was supposed to be the seat of anger (so Greek xóaos and xonń and Latin bilis, used for both), and the sense is ' his anger began to be stirred within him.'
20, 1. Therewith, &c.;—this passage is far too coarsely drawn to please the classical critics, who condemn it with averted faces.
6. Her vomit full of bookes and papers was ;—the latter end of the sixteenth century was a time of great activity in polemical pamphleteering; and Spenser hints at the writings which sprang from the Roman Catholic reaction. He probably had in mind Cardinal Allen's book on Queen Elizabeth, and the famous Bull of Sixtus V, both of which had but just appeared, in the year 1588;—if he alludes at all to particular works. At any rate, he refers to the scurrilous attacks on the Queen, which had of late been published in great numbers by the English Jesuit refugees.
21, 5. when his later spring gins to avale ; — when the inundation, towards the end, begins to abate.' In ed. 1590 the passage runs his later ebbe;' but Spenser himself corrected it, in the Errata, to spring.' See Gloss. Avale.
7. Ten thousand kindes of creatures ;-a poetical figure, not a fact; though it was generally believed and related in Spenser's day by both historians and poets.
23, i. As gentle shepbeard ;—here Spenser follows Homer : cp. Iliad 2. 469; 17.641. 4. their basty supper ;-So Milton, Comus, 541:
The chewing flocks Had ta'en their supper on the savoury herb.” 26, 3. on whom, &c. ;—a cumbrous sentence='while he thus gazed on them, who had all satisfied their thirst for blood, he saw their bellies, swollen with fulness, burst,' &c.
7. her life, the which them nurst ;—the life of her who nursed them.' * Which,' in Spenser's day, was used equivalently with who,' and the article was not unfrequently placed before it. In this place it is relative to 'her,' not to life.' The Fr. lequel answers exactly to this usage of the which.' In the Spectator, No. 78, there is a criticism on the Lord's Prayer, in which the writer is clearly unaware of this propriety of usage. “ In the first and best prayer children are taught, they learn to misuse us (who and which): • Our Father, which art in heaven,' should be Our Father, who,' &c.”
9. with whom he should contend ;— should'='should have had to;' - his foes, with whom he otherwise would have had to contend, have slain themselves.' 27, 1. that chaunst ;—that had happened.'
3. borne under happy starre; — refers to the astrological belief in nativities: “O sidere dextro Edite."-Stat. Silv. 3. 4. 63.
5. that armory ;—" the armour of a Christian man.”—Eph. 6. 13, 14.
9. And henceforth ever wish that like succeed it may ;- and I wish that like (similar) success may henceforth follow it;' literally, that like may succeed it.' Another instance of infringement of the natural order of words.
28, 7. with God to frend ; — with God for a friend.' An O. Eng idiom, corresponding to 'to have one to my friend, to my foe:' or “frend' may be a verb and="to befriend.'
29, 2. An aged sire ;-Archimago, the chief enchanter ; who is also called Hypocrisy. From his connection with Duessa he may be intended either for the Pope, or the Spanish King (Philip II), or for the general spirit of lying and false religion. The whole adventure is drawn from Ariosto, Orl. Fur. 2. 12. 30, 1, 2.
louting low, Who faire bim quited, as that courteous was ;• bowing humbly' (as a rustic, in sign of deep humility) to the knight, who returned his salute fairly, as was courteous from a superior.' As that' is exactly equivalent to our present use of as.'
6. Silly old man ;-harmless, simple.
9. sits not ;-' it sits not'=' it is not seemly.' Also in Chaucer. So the French · il ne sied pas. Some editors, following ed. 1609, read. fits.'
31, 6. to shew the place ; - for shewing,' or ' if you will shew.' Like the Greek article with the inf. toll Tolelv, ‘for doing,'' for shewing.'
33, 3. night they say gives counsell best ;—this is a proverb—'Ev Vuktà Boulń, or . La nuit donne conseil,' or 'La notte è madre di pensieri.'-Upton. Dryden refers to this passage when he writes,
“Well might the ancient poets then confer
On Night the honored name of Counseller." 34, 4. a little wyde ;- a little apart,' or 'at a little distance.'
5. edifyde ; — built;' a Latinism (aedificare)—shewing, too, that in the sixteenth century the terms edify,' edification,' had not caught their modern technical and exclusive signification; and that in the time of the translators of the Bible the word conveyed St. Paul's meaning more exactly than it does
Mr. Wright, in his Bible Word-Book, in referring to this passage says that “Spenser affects archaisms ;” perhaps it would be more exact to say that he here affects Latinisms; for “to edify,' and 'edification,' are used by . others of his age in their first sense.
6. wont to say ;-(was) wont. 35, 3. and all thinges at their will ;— rest is as good as the having all things as they might wish.'
36, 3. Morpbeus ;—the god of sleep, who sprinkles the “slombring deaw” of sleep from his horn, or off his wings, or from the branch he carries, dipped in Lethean stream. He is the god of dreams, as his name indicates ;—the formative power in sleep.
37, 3. like terrible; like' is here used for alike,' 'likewise,' or equally.'
4. blacke Plutoes griesly dame ;-—Proserpine. According to Hesiod, and the later mythologists, Pluto (whom Spenser calls • black' because of his ruling over the dark realms, as god of Hades) carried her off to be his wife. The epithet `griesly' well suits her whom the ancients regarded as the avenger of men, and inflicter of men's curses on the dead.
8. Great Gorgon, Prince of darknesse and dead nigbt;--not the mythological Gorgon (or Medusa), who was female; but the mediæval Demogorgon, a mysterious and essentially evil divinity, whom some regarded as the author of creation, and others as a great magician who commanded the spirits of the lower world; which is the view taken by Spenser. He is regarded as a great power in incantations. Milton mentions him, P. L. 2. 964:
“Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Cocytus ; — the river of wailing, in the infernal regions; from Gr. KWHUTÓS, lamentation.
Styx ;--the hateful river ; Gr. OTÚC. The other two rivers were Acheron, the river of grief, and Phlegethon, the river of burning. See canto V. st. 33. So Milton writes:
“ Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate;
Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep;
Par. Lost. 2. 577. 38, 2. like little flyes ;—so Beelzebub is the "god of flies.”
9. The other by bimselfe staide ;-' he stayed (or retained) the other by himself,