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trickling stream, has quoted in his note on this passage some fine lines from Chaucer, in which, describing the "dark valley" of Sleep, the poet says there was nothing whatsoever in the place, save that,
A few wells
Came running fro the clyffes adowne,
Sowne (in the old spelling) is also Spenser's word. In the text of the present volume it is written soun', to show that it is the same as the word sound without the d-like the French and Italian, son, suono.
""Tis hardly possible," says Upton, "for a more picturesque description to come from a poet or a painter than this whole magical scene."-See Todd's Variorum Spenser, vol. ii., p. 38.
Meantime, the magician has been moulding a shape of air to represent the virtuous mistress of the knight; and when the dream arrives, he sends them both to deceive him, the one sitting by his head and abusing "the organs of his fancy" (as Milton says of the devil with Eve), and the other behaving in a manner very unlike her prototype. The delusion succeeds for a time.
11 A fit false dream that can delude the sleeper's sent.
Scent, sensation, perception. Skinner says that sent, which we falsely write scent, is derived a sentiendo. The word is thus frequently spelt by Spenser.-TODD.
21 “A diverse dream.”—“ A dream," says Upton, "that would occasion diversity or distraction; or a frightful, hideous dream, from the Italian, sogno diverso."-Dante, Inferno, canto vi.
Cerbero, fiera crudele e diversa.
(Cerberus, the fierce beast, cruel and diverse.)
Inferno, Orlando Innamorato, Lib. i., canto 4, stanza 66.
Un grido orribile e diverso.
(There rose a cry, horrible and diverse), &c.
See Todd's Edition, as above, p. 42.
The obvious sense, however, as in the case of Dante's Cerberus, I take to be monstrously varied,-inconsistent with itself. The dream is to make the knight's mistress contradict her natural character.
THE CAVE OF MAMMON
GARDEN OF PROSERPINE.
Sir Guyon, crossing a desert, finds Mammon sitting amidst his gold in a gloomy valley. Mammon, taking him down into his cave, tempts him with the treasures there, and also with those in the Garden of Proserpine
"Spenser's strength," says Hazlitt, "is not strength of will or action, of bone and muscle, nor is it coarse and palpable; but it assumes a character of vastness and sublimity seen through the same visionary medium" (he has just been alluding to one), and blended with the appalling associations of preternatural agency. We need only turn in proof of this to the Cave of Despair, or the Cave of Mammon, or to the account of the change of Malbecco into Jealousy.”—Lectures, p. 77.
THAT house's form within was rude and strong,13
From whose rough vault the ragged branches hung
And with rich metal loaded every rift,
Her cunning web, and spread her subtle net,
Enwrapped in foul smoke, and clouds more black than jet.
Both roof and floor, and walls were all of gold,
But overgrown with dust and old decay,
And hid in darkness, that none could behold
Did never in that house itself display,
But a faint shadow of uncertain light;
Does show to him that walks in fear and sad affright.
In all that room was nothing to be seen,
But huge great iron chests and coffers strong,
On every side they placed were along;
But all the ground with skulls was scattered,
And dead men's bones, which round about were flung, Whose lives (it seemed) whilome there were shed,
And their vile carcases now left unburièd.
They forward pass, nor Guyon yet spake word,
Nor ever could within one place be found,
The charge thereof unto a covetous sprite
"Certes" (said he) "I n'ill thine offered grace,14
To them that list, these base regards I lend;
And to be lord of those that riches have,
Than them to have myself, and be their servìle slave
14 N'ill, ne-will, will not.
The Knight is led further on, and shown more treasures, and afterwards taken into the palace of Ambition; but all in vain.
Mammon emmovèd was with inward wrath ;
With herbs and fruits, whose kinds must not be read:
There mournful cypress grew in greatest store ;16
With which the unjust Athenians made to die
The garden of Proserpina this hight ;17
Clothed with leaves, that none the wood might see,
Their fruit were golden apples, glistering bright,
Here also sprung that goodly golden fruit,
Whom he had long time sought with fruitless suit;
That many noble Greeks and Trojans made to bleed.
The warlike elf much wonder'd at this tree
In which full many souls do endless wail and weep.
Which to behold, he climb'd up to the bank;
That with their piteous cries and yelling shrights
Deep was he drenched to the utmost chin,
Of the cold liquor which he waded in:
And, stretching forth his hand, did often think
To reach the food which grew upon the brink;
But both the fruit from hand and flood from mouth
The knight, him seeing labor so in vain.
Lo! Tantalus, I here tormented lie!
Of whom high Jove wont whilom feasted be!