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SPENSER AND HIS POETRY.
THE FAIRY QUEEN,
The Third Book of the Fairy Queen contains the Legend of Britomartis, or of Chastity. Britomartis is one of the names of Diana ; but it was no doubt selected by Spenser partly also on account of the sound, by which he designs to intimate that his heroine is a Britoness. As may be supposed, in celebrating “ that fairest virtue, far above the rest,” full advantage is taken by the poet of so fair an opportunity of complimenting his royal patroness, who was almost as vain of her virginity as of her beauty. In a prelude of five stanzas he asks himself what need he has to fetch foreign examples from Fairy Land of what shines forth with such liveliness and perfection in his sovereign, that ladies, ambitious of distinguishing themselves in a similar manner, have no occasion to look
farther—were it not, he ingeniously adds, that her portraiture can be truly expressed neither by “ life-resembling pencil,” nor artist's “dædal hand, “all were it Zeuxis or Praxiteles,”
Ne poet's wit, that passeth painter far
In picturing the parts of beauty daint. He then glides gracefully into a reference to his friend Raleigh's poem written in celebration of Elizabeth,