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Amoret should be united, as they actually were in the version of 1590. That Spenser later saw fit to revise the conclusion must be explained in the light of the subsequent books.
Such are the episodes in this allegory of chastity. The book is devoted to the exposition and celebration of virtue in woman. It is a companion study to the allegory of temperance, for as the second book is an exposition of continence in man's life, so this book is an exposition of continence in the life of woman. Though many male characters are introduced, they are merely supporting characters to the women, and every episode is designed to assist in interpreting the theme of the virtuous woman. The poem is built around a central character who serves as the norm, a woman of glowing beauty, ardent but self-contained, firm in wise judgment, gentle, courteous, unselfish, and zealous in good works. She is established in chastity because established in all other virtues. Out of regard for the Queen, a second character of like virtue is introduced, unlike the first only in that she has not yet experienced the power of love. Opposed to these continent women are two altogether incontinent women, differing in that one, The Lady of Delight, is unblushingly carnal, and the other, The Snowy Florimell, cloaks her lust under the guise of chastity. Then there are four intermediate characters, all serving as types: the woman who is pure in thought and deed but not self-reliant, and therefore constantly in need of man's protection; the vain and self-centered woman who would establish her own matrimonial triumphs upon the discomfiture and debasement of other women; the woman who might normally observe conventional chastity but who yields to adultery because married to miserly old age; and finally the bride who finds bodily communion a hindrance to the communion of spirit. Then there are a series of episodes to illustrate the helpful offices of woman in ministering to mankind, sometimes protecting fellow women or teaching them the lessons of chastity, sometimes aiding man in his multiform struggles against lust.
Divertingly varied as are the episodes, and rich as the book is in brilliant picturization, it yet is harmonious and compact and holds closely to the central theme. Wherein can it be said that this book is inferior to its predecessors? Can we not rather do Spenser the justice of recognizing that he was consistently the artist, at all times quite the master of his material.
University of Washington.
REALISTIC ELEMENTS IN SPENSER'S STYLE 1
BY MARGARET ERSKINE NICOLSON
That Spenser's early style, especially in the Shepheardes Calender, constituted one of the most important and one of the most conscious elements of his art modern critics commonly admit; and, indeed, an odd reference in the Faerie Queene to the "sterneness of my style" suggests that this interest continued throughout the latter part of his life. His diction and his grammar, his stanza forms and his metre have received considerable attention; but, in spite of the large corpus of Spenserian criticism during the last three centuries, the realistic touches that give vividness to the pastoral scenes in the Calender, that give much of the sting to the satire in Mother Hubberds Tale and that by contrast lend an added brilliance to the romance of the Faerie Queene, have escaped all but the most casual notice. The critics of Spenser's own age, for example, although they confined themselves almost entirely to his diction and verse form, sometimes in speaking of the Calender praise it as a vivid portrayal of "youth's pleasures, pains and ambitions," as what they consider to be confessions of a personal character." The century immediately following was also concerned largely with his rustic
1I am indebted to Dr. J. W. Draper of Bryn Mawr College for kind assistance and criticism in this study.
E. g., Herford, The Shepheardes Calender; Fletcher, "Areopagus and Pleiade," J. E. G. P. II, 436; Draper, "Spenser's Linguistics in the Present State of Ireland," Dec., 1919, Mod. Phil. 17, 471-86; Draper, "Glosses to Spenser's Shepheardes Calender,'" J. E. G. P. XVIII, 556; Renwick, "Critical Origins of Spenser's Diction," M. L. R., XVII, 1; Cory, Edmund Spenser, Univ. of Cal. Pub. in Mod. Phil., v, 1917.
3 F. Q., VII, 6, 37.
I am indebted to the article of H. E. Cory: Critics of Edmund Spenser, Univ. of Cal. Pub., II, No. 5, 1912, 81-182, for much of the critical bibliography referred to in this paper.
Michael Drayton and Phineas Fletcher prefer the S. C. to the F. Q. for the "personal touch." Cf. Gabriel Harvey, Verse introductory to the F. Q., "To the Learned Shepheard." Sir Philip Sidney, in his Apologie for Poesie, disapproves of the rustic language in the S. C. which is of course partly a realistic element.
language, his verse form, his lack of unity and his riot of imagination; but his realistic touches, perhaps because they were so familiar, perhaps because they were so interwoven with other elements, escaped unnoted. The neo-classicists praised his allegory and censured his exuberant imagination unrestrained by "good taste" and "decorum," and finally the romantic attitude is epitomized in Thomas Warton's observation: "If the critic is not satisfied, yet the reader is transported." The romantic critics try to claim him, with apologies, for one of their own; they feel that the imaginative genius must not be bound by the narrow limits of cut and dried form or of reality. The poet must
Ben Jonson did not like his stanza, his rustic vocabulary nor his matter (Conversations, 1619; Discoveries, 1625). "Spenser," he says, "in affecting the ancients wrote no language." Edmund Bolton (Hypercritia, 1618), Henry Peacham (Compleat Gentleman, 1622), William Lisle (Prefatory Remarks to a translation of Du Bartas, 1625), and Dryden criticise him in this light.
'Henry Reynoulds (Mythomectes, 1631), deplores his unrestrained imagination. Sir William Davenant follows Reynoulds in his preface to Gondibert:-"His allegorical story... resembling (methinks) a continuation of extraordinary dreams, such as excellent poets and painters, by being over studious may have in the beginnings of feavers." Thomas Rhymer takes the same view in his Preface to the Translation of Rapier's Reflections on Aristotle's Treatis of Poesie," 1674.
Addison, Guardian, Sept. 1713. John Hughes (1715), Edition of the F. Q., Essay on Allegorical Poetry. Pope criticises his rustic language in the Discourse on Pastoral Poetry (1717) and the lack of differentiation between a number of seasonal eclogues of the S. C.: "His judgment," he says, "is overborne by the torrent of his imagination. . ." Goldsmith in the Beauties of English Poesy, 1767, vol. I, Introd., remarks to Shenstone's School Mistress, observes: "The imagination of his reader leaves reason behind."
Thomas Warton: Observations on the Faerie Queene (1754). There are other eighteenth century critics who hold somewhat similar views: Richard Hurd in Plan and Conduct of the “Faerie Queene":"The poet has a world of his own where experience has less to do than consistent imagination"; Joseph Warton in his Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope (1756); Sir Walter Scott in his Essay on Todd's Edition of Spenser, Edin. Review, 1805. Hazlitt remarks that "Spenser's poetry is all fairy land. . . we wander in another world of ideal beings . . . by the sound of softer streams, among greener hills and fairer valleys. He paints nature not as we find it, but as we expected to find it, and fulfills the delightful promise of our youth."
be allowed to have a world fancy-free beyond space and time, and partly because they wished in Spenser to find such a world and only such a world, partly because few of them had the scholarship to separate mediaval literary conventions from Elizabethan realism,10 they saw in Spenser their own image and little else. During the Victorian era, with the growth of interest in Spenser's Rosalind," there arose the question of the realism in the Shepheardes Calender. Practically all the nineteenth-century critics from Aikin (1802) to Grosart (1882) and his followers, speak of Spenser's "personal confessions" in the Shepheardes Calender and in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe.12 Aside from this one aspect, however, practically no mention is made of his realism until late in the century, when interest arises in his Irish background. His knowledge of the outer world is held, on the whole, to be as superficial as his knowledge of real people. In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, there is a conflict of opinions among the critics. Grosart and his followers speak of Spenser's nature painting and realism.18 Gosse refers to his world "out of space, out of time," and is followed by Palgrave and Hubbard.'* Aubrey de Vere and Philpot take a half-way position, and consider Spenser one of the most realistic of his age.15 The more
10 Cf. P. M. L. A. "Were the Gothic Novels' Gothic?" XXXVI, 1921. 11 See Higginson, Spenser's "Shepherd's Calendar," Columbia Univ. Press, New York, 1912, Ch. II, for a summary of this debate.
12 Aikin, Ed. 1802. Todd, Ed. 1805. Masterman, Ed. 1825. Craik, The Poetry of Spenser, 1845. Child, Ed. 1855. H. J. Todd, Ed. 1861. Collier, Ed. 1862. Th. Keightly is one of the exceptions. See his Life of Spenser, Frazer's Mag., 1859.
13 Grosart in his 1882 Ed. vol. 3, speaking of Spenser's S. C. says, "If once you be put on the alert in reading the early poetry of England, you come on bits of nature-painting and realism touched by the imagination, all unsuspected. . . It is nonsense to date so modernly the 'seeing of' nature. Wordsworth was heir to all the ages." Dowden holds a somewhat similar view, see Poet and Teacher, Grosart Ed., 1882, vol. 1.
14 Others are: Gosse, Essay on English Pastoral Poetry; Palgrave, Essay on Spenser, Grosart Ed., vol. IV, 1882. Palgrave says, "Spenser sees life . . . through more than one veil, always, though varyingly conventional in character... Spenser seems unable to present real life except in the guise of allegory Colin Clouts Come Home Again is the exception, . . from its realism and its richness in the details of contemporary life and literature, it deserves and rewards general study."
15 Aubrey de Vere, Essay on Characteristics of Spenser's Poetry; Phil
recent material, published chiefly in the learned periodicals, appears to emphasise rather the interpretation of the allegories, the sources, and the verse-forms, than his local color and diction.16
The critics, then, have largely neglected realistic elements in Spenser's style, but, if realism be allowed its common definition, as anything which deals with fact at first hand as opposed to the mere following of literary convention, it certainly is not lacking in either the Minor Poems or in the Faerie Queene. There are characterizing epithets that show that Spenser was not blind to the people who surrounded him. There are, indeed, six types of realism in the poetry of Spenser: (1) references to rural nature in generalized expression or to more specific places or things; (2) references to rural life; (3) descriptions relating to people of a personal or psychological nature; (4) touches of realism or spots of local color introduced by means of a couple of words; (5) efforts at realism through colloquialisms of rustic conversation (in the Calender), as opposed to the rather formal conversational language of pastoral verse; (6) realistic descriptions, satiric in tone, of court, clerical, and other walks of life, drawn as it would seem from Spenser's personal experience.17
pot, Essay on Certain Aspects of the "Faerie Queene" and some of the other poetry of Spenser. Philpot remarks that "All is a true picture of life to those who read between the lines. . . The whole is the stuff that dreams are made of, dreams however which give to the body not only of that time, but for all time its form and pressure and which so have in them more reality than most activities can ever have."
16 E. Greenlaw and H. E. Cory hint at realism in Spenser, but do not discuss the matter. E. Greenlaw, Shepherd's Calendar, Pub. of the Mod. Lang. Assoc. of Amer., XXVI, 19 ff. H. E. Cory, Edmund Spenser: A Critical Study: "If the reader will recapture, then, the authentic note of the Shepheardes Calender as of all the poetry of Spenser, he will recover more than the grace the captivating freshness. . . the blithe if not confident realism. . . the note of Chaucer . . . which have hitherto hardly been appraised at all..." Pp. 47.
It is of course very hard to say positively of any given passage in Spenser that it is first-hand realism; a few even of those that seem at first glance to be undoubted examples, prove on further examination to be imitations of passages from other works, or merely literary conventions; the F. Q., 1, 3, 31 would appear at first glance to be first-hand realism, "Much like as when the beaten marinere
That long hath wandred in the ocean wide,