« PreviousContinue »
Mr. Spence's Dissertation on the Defects of Spen-
fer’s Allegory, with Notes - -
racter, with Notes -
- Remarks on Spenser's Stanza, Verfi- .
fication, and Language, with Notes - cxxvi
The first Book of the Faerie Queene, Canto I–VI.
IT is a misfortune, as Mr. Waller observes, which attends the writers of English poetry, that they can hardly expect their works thould last long in a tongue which is daily changing ; that, whilst they are new, envy is apt to prevail. against them; and, as that wears off, our language itself fails. Our poets, therefore, he says, should imitate judicious statuaries, that choose the most durable materials; and should carve in Latin or Greek, if they would have their labours preserved for ever.
Notwithstanding the disadvantage he has mentioned, we have two ancient English poets, Chaucer and Spenser, who may, perhaps, be reckoned as exceptions to this remark: There seem to have taken deep root, like old British oaks, and to flourish in defiance of all the injuries of time and weather. The former is, indeed, much more obsolete in his style than the latter; but it is owing to an extraordinary native strength in both that they have been able thus far to survive amidst the changes of our tongue, and seem rather likely, among the curious at least, to preserve the knowledge of our ancient language, than to be in danger of being destroyed with it, and buried under its ruins.