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and long suffering of courtesy, prevail, at last, over the fury of Malice, and the hundred voices of Slander.
There are two cantos of an unfinished book, which treats of Mutability, in which are some fine passages. Mutability pleads her right to govern the world, and sets forth her argument with much eloquence. She produces, as evidences of her sway, the seasons, months, and hours-day and night, life and death; and in describing these different objects, the poet writes con amore.
• So forth issew'd the Seasons of the year;
Canto VII. ver. 28, 29. The months next pass in succession, of which May, August, and December are the best specimens.
Then came faire May, the fayrest inayd on ground
Yet he, through merry feasting which he made, Vol. II.
And great bonfires, did not the cold remember,
Ver. 41. Spenser has written several smaller poems, but their merits would not have secured him lasting fame, although in some of them we recognise a master's hand. His Shepherd's Calendar is tedious, though it contains some pleasing rural pictures. The following lines are written with much playfulness.
• It was upon a holy-day,
“Colin Clout's come home again” is more laboured, and rises nearer to the level of the Fairy Queen. Mother Hubbard's tale is well known; and those lines in it which present so lively a picture of the miseries of a courtier's life, have become almost proverbial.
From a short piece, called Virgil's Gnat, we select this fine description of a shepherd's life.
O the great happiness which shepherds have
Doe always flow to quench his thirsty heat. The bower in which this happy swain reposes, while it evinces Spenser's taste for the beauties of Nature, proves him to have been her close observer. We find ourselves, however, extracting too freely, and must resist the temptation of inserting the description.
Spenser has also composed numerous sonnets—a species of writing, which, at that period, was held in high esteem. They are mostly disfigured with quaint and far-fetched similes, which, probably, when composed, were considered the chief ornament.
We have thus endeavoured to give some idea of the merit of this antiquated, but genuine poet; and we cannot forbear recom
mending to young authors to study the old English writers, rather than to make Byron and Scott their models. Let them endeavour to catch the nervousness of Chaucer, the gentlevess of Sidney, and the melody and genius of the Fairy Qneen.
Art. II. The Dramatic Works of William SHAKSPEARE.
1. Character of Pistol.
“ Have we not Hiren here?” It is one of Shakspeare's greatest merits, that even his subordinate characters are skilfully drawn, and well sustained, throughout the term of their existence. The wonderful genius which could delineate the character of Hamlet, describe the artful wickedness of Richard, the gradual subversion of a noble soul in Macbeth, and give new fervour and pathos to the passionate grief of a bereaved mother in Constance, did not disdain to embody the lighter shades of human character. The Jovial Knight is not here alluded to, for we consider him (we are bold to say it) as important a personage as either Macbeth or the crooked backed tyrant. But we design to treat of one of the Knight's followers-his boon companion, Ancient Pistol-that most delectable of swaggerers. He is not only a bully who, as the boy says, “ hath a killing tongue and a quiet sword, whereupon he breaks words and keeps whole weapons;" but the gods have made him poetical. The blank verse, the hard words, and endless alliterations, in which he disguises his sentiments, might well cause Falstaff to entreat, “ Prythee now deliver them like a man of this world.” Shakspeare has' effected a twofold purpose by giving the Ancient this monstrous jargon, in not only heightening the originality of the character, but rendering it a vehicle of cutting satire upon the absurd taste of the age.
Pistol ranks above Bardolph and Nym-though whether he take precedence from his superior learning, or his louder swaggering, we know not; for as to courage, they might all say with the candid corporal, “I dare not fight, but I will wink, and hold out mine iron.” The Ancient's reception on his first appearance is rather discouraging, but we must admire the calm dignity with which he repels the abuse of the Knight, mine hostess, and the fair Tear-sheet. How happy are his classical allusionsand the fluent oaths which roll from his lips, might tempt one to exclaim with Stephen, “ I'd as lief as an angel I could swear like him.” Even dame Quickly allows the force of his language when she says, “By my troth, Captain, these are bitter words." But we pass over this scene of our “Hiren's” discomfiture, and hasten to meet him in the new character of a bridegroom—as the loving spouse of Mrs. Quickly, who, with the usual fickleness of the sex, has jilted Corporal Nym, and married his rival. Pistol denies with anger the name of Host, and swears with honest pride his “Nell shall keep no lodgers.” Nell assigns a pathetic rea.son for discontinuing her profession; whereupon Corporal Nym, who has preserved a proud silence, grows indignant, draws his sword, and we are likely to “have incision.” Bardolph, however, interposes with a mighty threat. “He that strikes the first stroke, I'll run him up to the hilts, as I'm a soldier.” Pistol magnanimously sheaths his weapon, as he says, “An oath of mickle might, and fury shall abate." But commend us to the Ancient's manner of treating his creditors. “Base is the slave that pays.” This declaration does not suit Nym's “humour,” and, but for peace-making Bardolph, they would again “ embrue.” He swears by his sword, that the first who thrusts, he'll kill him ; and Pistol, wisely observing that.“ Sword is an oath, and oaths must have their course," drops the quarrel, and promises speedy payment to the Corporal.
Pistol is happy in bis hostess, but “ the stream of true love never yet ran smooth," and the fond pair must separate, for honour calls the Ancient to the field. It is an affecting farewell; his first thoughts belong of right to love, “ My love, give me thy lips ;' his next revert to prudence, “Look to my chattels and my moveables ;" nor does he in this solemn hour forget the shop, “ The word is pitch and pay, trust none;" and at the close, the jealous lover appears, “ Keep close, I thee command.”
We cannot boast much of Pistol's heroism in the commencement of the battle. He echoes most fervently the boy's wish, 6 Would I were in an alehouse in London; I would give all my fame for a pot of ale in safety.” But doubtless he thought of his absent Nell, and that traitor love had stolen away his valour. It is the Ancient's ill luck to come in contact with the blunt Fluellen, with whom he intercedes for Bardolph, entreating him not to let “his vital thread to be cut with edge of penny cord and vile reproach.” Fluellen flatly refuses the Ancient's suit, who exclaims, in virtuous indignation, “Die and be damned, and figo for thy friendship,"--and, in the rashness of his anger, proceeds to insult him. The consequences of his presumption soon visit him; and passing over his valorous rencontre with Monsieur Le Fer, we reluctantly follow him to the presence of the hot-headed Welshman. Pistol is constrained, alas, to eat the scorned and hated leek, and to pocket the sorry groat as a recompense for his cudgeling. But as he eats he swears. He is then left to digest his hasty