Edmund Spenser.

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I. AND n.


















SPENSER is supposed to have been born in the year 1863. tn
East Smithfleld, London. Little or nothing is known of his parents: he
claimed connection with the noble House of Spencer or Spenser, and the
relationship was recognised by the principal branches of that family
fle entered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as a sizar, May 20,1569, and her*
He seems to have remained till he took his degree of M.A. in June 1576.
At college, one of his most intimate friends was Qabriel Harvey, himself
a poet, who first drew Spenser to London in 1578; Spenser, on quitting
the university, having gone to reside with some relations in the north of
England, possibly in the capacity of domestic tutor. In London, Spen-
ser became acquainted with Sir Philip Sidney, who took him for some
time to his seat of Penshurst in Kent. Here he probably wrote hig
Shepherd's Calendar, his first published work. In 1580, Spenser accom-
panied as secretary Lord Grey of Wilton, appointed Lord -deputy of Ire-
land; and in 1586 he is found in possession of 3028 acres of land in the coun-
ty of Cork, presented to him for his services by Queen Elizabeth. Here
he lived till 1589, when he accompanied Raleigh to England; and in 1590
published the first three books of the Faerie Queene. In February 1591,
the Queen bestowed on Spenser a pension of JB50, and in the same year
he published a volume of smaller poems. About this time he returned
to Ireland, where he lived, occasionally visiting England, till 1598. In
1595, he published a collection of sonnets entitled Amoretti; and, it is
supposed, about the same tune married an Irish girl of great beauty, but
humble birth. In 1596, he presented to the Queen his prose work, A View
of the State of Ireland, not printed till 1633; and in the same year he
published three more books of the Faerie Queene, together with a new
edition of the first three. In October 1598, the insurrection known as
'* Tyrone's Rebellion " broke out in Ireland, spreading confusion and
desolation over a great part of the land. Spenser was one of the suffer-
ers. All his property was plundered or destroyed, and his house burned
he himself , along with his wife and two eldest sons, narrowly escaping
from the flames. An infant was left behind, and burned to death among-
the ruins. He made his way to London, and died, January 1599, of a
broken heart, at an inn in King Street, Westminster. The Earl of Essei
charged himself with the expenses of the funeral; and the poet was
buried in Westminster Abbey, close to the grave of Chaucer. His wife
survived him some time, and both his sons left descendants.

The Faerie Queene, intended by Spenser to have occupied twelve
books, is only little more than half finished.

^VO rr^f^n*^
*F\ ^%^-4IVJ' J
~ *-2*J*J+.J t


WHEN the " Faery Queene" first appeared, the whole of Eng-
land seems to have been moved by it. No such poet had arisen
in this country for nearly two hundred years. Since Chaucer
and the author of ' * Piers Plowman " there had been no great
poem. The fifteenth century had been almost a blank, the dark-
est period of our literary annals; the earlier part of the sixteenth
had been occupied with great theological questions, which had
engrossed men's minds till the long reign of Elizabeth gave sta-
bility to the Reformation in England, and the first fervor of the
Church writers subsided. The tone of society was favorable to
a work which, with a strong theological element in it, still dealt
with feats of chivalry and heroes of romance. The English mind
was filled with a sense of poetry yet unexpressed. Great deeds,
great discoveries, and men of capacity moving among them, had
roused the spirit of the nation. The people were proud of their
Queen and their freedom ; the new aristocracy was just feeling its
strength; it was a time of most varied life. Nothing was wanted
but a great poem to express the universal desire ; and Spenser
first, and then Shakespeare appeared, to fulfill the national
instinct. Drayton, Fletcher (in his "Purple Island"), Milton,
and perhaps Bunyan, show in their writings the effect of our
poet's genius. . . .

In speaking of Spenser, Milton did not hesitate to call him "a
better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas " a better philosopher,
a purer moralist, than either one or other of the leaders of scholas-
tic lore; and we may re-echo his words without offense, when we
say that a young student is as likely to gain a vivid conception of
duty and virtue from his pages as from those works which deal
in a more exact manner with the moral constitution of man's
nature. Here the qualities and actions of man are set before us
in their living forms; the genius of the poet carries us along with
him ; we personify with him ; we enact the scenes which paint
the victory of Good over the monster dragon of Evil. G W.
KITCHIN, D.D., Dean of Winchester.








6m, knowing how doubtfully all Allegories may be construed, and this
booke of mine, which I have entituled the Faery Q^eene, being a con-
tinued allegory, or darke conceit, I haue thought good, as well for avoyd-
ing of gealous opinions and misconstructions, as also for your better
light in reading thereof, (being so by you commanded,) to discover unto
you the general intention and meaning, which in the whole course there-
of I have fashioned, without expressing of any particular purposes, or
by accidents, therein occasioned. The general! end therefore of all the
booke is to fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous ani gentle
discipline:' Which for that I conceived shoulde be most plausible and
pleasirigroelng coloured with an historicall fiction, the which the most
part of men delight to read, rather for variety of matter then for profite
of the ensample, I chose the historye of King Arthure, as most fltte for
the excellency of his person, being made famous by many mens former
workes, and also furthest from the daunger of envy, and suspition of
present time. In which I have followed all the antique poets historicall:
first Homere, who in the persons of Agamemnon and Ulysses hath er
sampled a good governour and a vertuous man, the one in his Bias, the
other in his Odysseis: then Virgil, whose like intention was to doe in the
person of Aeneas: after him Ariosto comprised them both in his Orlan-
do: and lately Tasso dissevered them againe, and formed both parts in
two persons, namely that part which they in Philosophy call Ethice, or
vertues of a private man, coloured in his Rinaldo; the other named
Politice in his Godfredo. By ensample of which excellente poets, I
\abour tc pourtraict in Arthure, before he was king, the image of a
brave knight, perfected in the twelve private morall vertues, as Aristotlt


hath derised: the which is the purpose of these first twelve boofces:
which if I flnde to be well accepted, I may be perhaps encoraged to
frame the other part of polliticke vertues in his person, after that nee
came to be king.

To some, I know, this methode will seeme displeasaunt, which had
rather have good discipline delivered plainly in way of precepts, or ser-
aned at large, as they use, then thus clowdily enwrapped in allegori-
*" 3 devises. But such, me seeme, should be satisfide with the use of
these dayes, seeing all things accounted by their showes, and nothing
esteemed of, that is not delightfull and pleasing to commune sence.
For this cause is Xenophon preferred before Plato, for that the one, in
tne exquisite depth of his judgement, formed a commune- welth, such as
it should be; but the other in the person of Cyrus, and the Persians,
fashioned a government, such as -might best be: So much more profit-
able, and gratious is doctrine by ensample, then by rule. So haue I
laboured to doe in the person of Arthure: whome I conceive, after his
long education by Timon, to whom he was by Merlin delivered to be
brought up, so soone as he was borne of the Lady Igrayne, to have scene
in a dream or vision the Faery Queene, with whose excellent beauty
ravished, he awaking resolved to seeke her out; and so being by Merlin
armed, and by Timon throughly instructed, he went to seeke her forth
In Faerye land. In that Faery Queene I meane Glory in my generall in-
tention, but in my particular I conceive the most excellent and glorious
person of our soveraine the Queene, and her kingdome in Faery lande.
And yet, in. some places els, I doe otherwise shadow her. For consider-
ing she beareth two persons, the one of a most royall Queene or Em-
presse, the other of a most vertuous and beautiful Lady, this latter part
in. some places 1 doe expresse in Belphcebe, fashioning her name accord-
ing to your owne excellent conceipt of Cynthia, (Phoebe and Cynthia
being both names of Diana.) So in the person of Prince Arthure I sette
forth magnificence in particular; which vertue, for that (according to
Aristotle and the rest) it is the perfection of all the rest, and conteineth
In it them all, therefore in the whole course I mention the deedes of
Arthure applyable to that vertue, which I write of in that booke. But
of the xii. other vertues, I make xii. other knights the patrones, for the
more variety of the history: Of which these three bookes contayn three.

The first of the knight of the Redcrosse, in whome I expresse Holynes:
The seconde of Sir Guy on, in whome I sette forth Temperaunce: The
third of Britomartis, a Lady Knight, in whome I picture Chastity. But,
because the beginning of the whole worke seemeth abrupte, and as de-
pending upon other antecedents, it needs that ye know the occasion of
these three knights seuerall adventures. For the methode of a poet
historical is not such, as of an Historiographer. For an historiographer
discourseth of affayres orderly as they were donne, accounting as well
the times as the actions; but a poet thrusteth into the middest, even
where it most concerneth him, and there recoursing to the thinges fore-
paste and divining of thinges to come, maketh a pleasing Analysis of all.

The beginning therefore of my history, if it were to be told by an
historiographer, should be the twelfth booke, which is the last; where I
4eviae that the Faery Queene kept her animall feoerte xii. dayes: uppoa


which xii. severall dayes, the occasions of the xii. severall adventures
hapned, which, being undertaken by xii. severall knights, are In these
xii. books severally handled and discoursed. The first was this. In the
beginning of the feast, there presented him self e a tall clownishe younge
man, who falling before the Queene of Faries desired a boone (as tho
manner then was) which during that feast she might not refuse; wJiich
was that hee might have the atchievement of any adventure, which dur-
ing that feaste should happen: that being graunted, he rested him on
the floore, unfltte through his rusticity for a better place. Soone after
entred a faire Ladye in mourning weedes, riding on a white Asse, with a
dwarf e behind her leading a warlike steed, that bore the Armes of a
knight, and his speare in the dwarfes hand. She, falling before tlu
Queene of Faeries, complayned that her father and mother, an ancien.
King and Queene, had bene by an huge dragon many years shut up hi a
brasen Castle, who thence suffred them not to yssew; and therefore be-
sought the Faery Queene to assygne her some one of her knights to take
on him that exployt. Presently that clownish person, upstarting, desired
that adventure: whereat the Queene much wondering, and the Lady much
gainesaying, yet he earnestly Importuned his desire. In the end the
Lady told him, that unlesse that armour which she brought, would serve
him (that is, the armour of a Christian man specified by St. Paul, vi
Ephes.) that he could not succeed in that enterprise; which being forth-
with put upon him, with dewe furnitures thereunto, he seemed the good-
liest man in all that company, and was well liked of the Lady. And
ef tesoones taking on him knighthood, and mounting on that straunge
courser, he went forth with her oa that adventure: where oeglnnetn tne
first booke, via.

A gentle knight was pric king on the playne, Jta.

The second day ther came in a Palmer, bearing an Infant with bloody
hands, whose Parents he complained to have bene slayn by an Enchaunt-
eresse called Acrasia; and therefore craved of the Faery Queene to
appoint him some knight to performe that adventure; which being
assigned to Sir Guyon, hs presently went forth with that same Palmer:
which is the beginning of the second booke, and the whole subject there-
of. The third day there came hi a Groome, who complained before the
Faery Queene, that a vile Enchaunter, called Busirane, had in hand -
most faire Lady, called Amoretta, whom he kpL 111 inost grievous toi *
ment, because she would not yield him the pleasure of her body. Where-
upon Sir Scudamour, the lover of that Lady, presently tooke on him that
adventure. But being vnable to performe it by reason of the hard en-
chauntments, after long sorrow, in the end met with Britomartis, who
succoured him, and reskewed his loue.

But by occasion hereof many other adventures are intermedled; but
rather as accidents then intendments: As the love of Britomart, the
overthrow of Marinell, the misery of Florimell, the vertuouanes of Bel-
phoebe, the lasciviousnes of Hellenora, and many the like.

Thus much, Sir, I have briefly overrowito to direct your uudentandiitr


to the wel-head of the History; that from thence gathering the whole
hi- mtion of the conceit, ye may as in a handfull gripe al the discourse,
which otherwise may happily seeme tedious and confused. So, humbl.y
craving the continuance of your honorable favour towards me, and tb
eternal! establishment of your happines, I humbly take leave.

23. lanuary 1589
Yours most humbly affectionate,



AJ:........ Arabic.

A . S. . . Anglo-Saxon.

bk book.

c canto.

ch chapter.

comp comparative.

Dan Danish.

Eng English.

Fr French.

Gael Gaelic.

Ger German.

Goth Gothic.

Pr Greek.

Ice Icelandic.

Inf Infinitive.

Jntrod Introduction,

Ital Italian.

L Latin.

lit literal or -ly.

orig original or -ly.

pa.p past particle.

pa.t past tense.

pi plural.

Port Portuguese.

pr.p present participle

prob probably.

prov provincial.

Provl Provencal.

Sc Scotch.

Sp Spanish.

st stanza.

V voib,

Lin the references, the first figure refers to the canto, vhs second to &e
stanza, and, the third to the linQ.)




Lo! I, the man whose Muse whylome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst, a farre unfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine oaten reeds,
And sing of knights and ladies gentle deeds;
Whose praises having slept in silence long,
Me, all to meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broade emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithful loves shall moralize my song.


Helpe then, O holy virgin, chiefe of nyne,
Thy weaker Novice to performe thy will;
Lay forth out of thine everlasting scryne
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still,

1. 1. Lo! I, the man. Imitated from the lines prefixed to Virgil's
Mneid whylome, once, formerly. A.S. hwilon, hwilun, awhile, for a
while or time. maske, to be disguised as in a mask or at a masquerade
Fr. masque, perhaps from Ar. maskarah, an object of laughter, or low
L. masca, mascha, a hag.

1. 2. Shepheards weeds. Alluding to his Shepherd's Calendar, a
series of pastoral poems, published 1579.

1. 4. Oaten reeds. Of which the shepherd's or Pan's pipe was made

1. 7. Areeds. Counsels, advises, commands. Sc. rede or read; A.S
rcedan, to declare, reed, arced, counsel.

1. 8. Broade. Abroad.

1. 9. Moralize. Make of the nature of a moral, moral-play, or moral-
ity, a kind of drama in which virtues and vices personified are the char-

2. 1. Holy virgin, chiefe, etc. Clio, the Muse of History and of
Epic Poetry, the first of the nine Muses.

2. 2. Weaker. Too or very weak.

2. 3. Scryne. An escritoire or writing-desk; old Fr escrw, A.S.
L. scriniumscribo, to write.


Of Faerie knights, and fayrest Tanaquili,

Whom that most noble Briton Prince so long

Sought through the world, and suffered so much ill,

That I must rue his undeserved wrong:

O, helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tongt


And thou, most dreaded impe of highest Jove,
Faire Venus sonne, that with thy cruell dart
A.t that good knight so cunningly didst rove,
That glorious fire it kindled in his hart;
Lay now thy deadly heben bowe apart,
And with thy mother mylde come to mine ayde;
Come, both; and with you bring triumphant Mart,
In loves and gentle jollities arraid,
After his murdrous spoyles and bloudie rage allayd.


And with them eke, O Goddesse heavenly bright,
Mirrour of grace and majestic divine,
Great ladie of the greatest isle, whose light
Like Phoebus lampe throughout the world doth shine,
Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne,
And raise my thoughtes, too humble and too vile,
To thinke of that true glorious type of thine,
The argument of mine afflicted stile:
The which to heare vouchsafe, O dearest dread, a while.

2. 5. Tanaquili. An ancient British princess, intended to represent
Queen Elizabeth.
2. 6. Noble Briton Prince. King Arthur.

2. 7. Ana suffered. That is, for whom he suffered.

3. 1. Impe of, etc. Cupid, son of Jove or Jupiter and Venus. Jmji
here = shoot, offspring, child; A.S. impan, to graft.

8. 5. Heben. Ebon.

8. 7. Mart. Mars, god of war; L. Mars, Martis.

4. 1. Eke. Also; v. eke, to increase ; A.S. eac, also, eacan, to increase.
Goddesse, etc., Queen Elizabeth.

4. 4. Phoebus lampe The sun. See II. xxix. 3.

4. 6. Eyne, or eyen. Old pi. eye, still seen in children, kine, oxen, Sa
7w>en, etc.

4. 7. Type, etc. Una, or Truth.

4. 8. Argument. Subject afflicted, low or lowly stile, pen; the Jina
means, " subject of my humble song."

4. 9. Dearest dread. An expression of loving veneration, 8Q.nae.wtwU
m the modern reverence; used in Q, vi, 2. of Una.



[The Redcrosse Knight and Una, with her dwarf, caught by a storm,
are forced to seek shelter in a wood, which turns out to be the wood of
Error. Here the knight encounters Error, half serpent, half woman, hi
her den. The knight attacks the monster, and slays it. After this, they
encounter 'an aged sire,' who turns out to be the enchanter Archimago,
with whom they went home. Archimago, by his witchcraft, makes tine
knight believe that Una is unfaithful to him.]

The patron of true Holinesse,

Foule Errour doth def eate ;
Hypocrisie, him to entrappe, "

Doth to his home entreate.


A GENTLE Knight was pricking on the plaine,
Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
His angry steede did chide his f oming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.


And on his brest a bloodie crosse he bore,
The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,
For whose sweete sake that glorious badge he wore,
And dead, as living ever, him ador'd:
Upon his shield the like was also scor v d,

1. 1. A gentle Knight. The Redcrosse Knight, St. George, the tute-
lary saint of England. See his armor and the nature of his mission
described in the Author's Prefatory Letter. See also Note II. ii. 9.
pricking, riding quickly or caperingly by pricking or spurring on hia

1. 2. Ycladd. Clad. The y is the A.S. and old Eng. ge, often prefixed
to any part of the verb, but especially to the pa.p. ; in Ger. it is the sign
of the pa.p. silver shielde. Hardyng, in his Chronicle, tell us that ' Y a
shield of silver white," with " a cross endlong and overthwart full per-
fect," were regarded as St. George's arms.

1. 8. Jolly. Handsome. Fr. joli, good-looking.

1. 9. Giusts. Jousts, tilts or encounters at a tournament; old Fr
juste, Fr. joute, prob. from L. juxta, together; allied to jostle.

2. 4 And dead, etc. "I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, be-
hold, I am alive for evermore." Eev. i. IS.


For soveraine hope which in his helpe he had.
Right, faithfull, true he was in deede and word;
But of his cheere did seeme too solemne sad;
Yet nothing did he dread, but ever was ydracL


Upon a great adventure he was bond,
That greatest Gloriana to him gave,
(That greatest glorious queene of Faery lond,)
'To winne him worshippe, and her grace to have,
Which of all earthly things he most did crave:
And ever as he rode his hart did earne
To prove his puissance in battell brave
Upon his foe, and his new force to learne;
Upon his foe, a dragon horrible and stearne.


A lovely ladle rode him faire beside,
Upon a lowly asse more white then snow,
Yet she much whiter; but the same did hide
Under a vele, that wimpled was full low;
And over all a blacke stole shee did throw:
As one that inly mournd, so was she sad,
And heavie sate upon her palfrey slow;
Seemed in heart some hidden care she had;
And by her in a line a milkewhite lambe she lad.

2. 6. For soveraine hope, etc. That is, the cross scored on his
shield was a sign of the sovereign hope he had in the help of his Lord.

2. 8. Cheere. Countenance, old Fr. chiere, Ital. cera, the counte-
nance; low L. cara, Gr. kara, head, face. solemne sad, "solemnly
grave," or * solemn and grave." Sad, in old Eng., often means " grave, '

sedate." "staid." A.S. seed, sated, weary; Ice. settr, sedate.

2. 9. Ydrad "Dreaded," pa.p. of dread. See Ycladd, I. i. 2.

3. 2. Gloriana Queen of Fairy Land, representative of Queen Eliza-
beth. See Author's Letter.

3. 4. Worshippe. Worthiness, honor; worth, and affix ship.
8. 6. Earne. Yearn; hence earnest; A.S. georn, desirous.

3. 8. His foe Probably popery.

4. 1. A lovely ladie. Una, or Truth. See Author's Letter faire,
fairly. According to R. Morns, ~e is an early Eng. adverbial termination.

4. 4. Wimpled Plaited or folded like the white linen neckerchief
worn by nuns. A.S. winpel; old Ger. wimpel, a veil, streamer; Fr. guimpe.
4. 5. Stole. A long robe reaching to the feet. Gr. stole, a robe.
4. 6. Sad. See I. ii. tf
4. 8. Seemed That is, it seemed.
4. 9. I-ad.-Led.



So pure and innocent, as that same lambe,
She was in life and every vertuous lore;
And by descent from royall lynage came,
Of ancient kinges and queenes, that had of yore
Their scepters stretcht from east to westerne shore,
And all the world in their subjection held ;
Till that infer nail feend with foule uprore
For wasted all their land, and them expeld;
Whom to avenge she had this knight from far compeld


Behind her farre away a dwarfe did lag;
That lasie seemd, in being ever last,
Or wearied with bearing of her bag
Of needments at his backe. Thus as they past,
The day with cloud es was suddeine overcast,
And angry Jove an hideous storme of raine
Did poure into his lemans lap so fast,
That everie wight to shrowd it did constrain;
And this faire couple eke to shroud themselves were fain*


Enforst to seeke some covert nigh at hand,
A shadie grove not farr away they spide,
That promist ayde the tempest to withstand;
Whose loftie trees, yclad with sommers pride,
Did spred so broad, that heavens light did hide,

5. 3. And by descent, etc. Probably the Church of England is
meant here.

5. 8. Forwasted. Utterly laid waste. For is an intensive prefix, as
In forego, forbid, forlorn = L. per, Ger. ver.

6. 1. A dwarfe. Dwarfs, in the days of knight-errantry, were usual

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