Edward George Harman.

Edmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon online

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Took once a pliant hour, and found good means

To draw from her a prayer of earnest heart

That I would all my pilgrimage dilate.

Whereof by parcels she had something heard,

But not intentively : I did consent.

And often did beguile her of her tears.

When I did speak of some distressful stroke

That my youth suffer'd. My stor>' being done,

She gave me for my pains a world of sighs :

She swore, in faith, 'twas strange, 'twas passing strange,

'Twas pitiful, 'twas wondrous pitiful :

She wish'd she had not heard it, yet she wish'd

That heaven had made her such a man : she thank'd me,

And bade me, if I had a friend that loved her,

I should but teach him how to tell my story.

And that would woo her. Upon this hint I spake :

She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd.

And I loved her that she did pity them. (i. 3.)

Allu.sion to the hardships which Ralegh had gone
through seems also to be intended in the account of
Belphoebe bringing restoratives to the Squire Timias in
the Faerie Queene, Bk. III. v.

The following are the other noticeable passages in
this connection in the play : —

Act i. So. 2 :

I fetch my life and being
From men of royal siege, etc.

(As to this, see pp. 376-378 above.)

Act i. Sc. 3 :

Des. my heart's subdued

Even to the very quality of my lord.


The sea-image in the following (ii. i) :

0th. It gives me wonder great as my content
To see you here before me. O my soul's joy !
If after eveiy tempest come such calms,
May the winds blow till they have waken'd death ;
And let the labouring bark climb hills of seas
Olympus-high and duck again as low
As hell's from heaven !

Othello is represented as in middle life when he
married. Ralegh was the same, being about forty. But
Othello is a vigorous man (as Ralegh was), and dismisses
the thought that that can account for Desdemona's sup-
posed infidelity (iii. 3) :

Haply, for I am black
And have not those soft parts of conversation
That chamberers have, or for I am declined
Into the vale of years, — yet that's not much.

Ralegh, like Othello, was a man of commanding
presence, and at the same time of unusual appearance ;
see Aubrey's account quoted on p. 419. lago's speech
(ii. i) contains a reference to this :

there should be . . . loveliness in favour, sympathy in years,
manners and beauties ; all of which the Moor is defective in.

The following lines put into the mouth of lago (ii. 1)
also perfectly apply to Ralegh on his best side :

The Moor, hovvbeit that I endure him not,
Is of a constant, loving, noble nature.
And I dare think he'll prove to Desdemona
A most dear husband.

Lastly the Moor, like Ralisgh (see letter quoted at
p. 424), had not contemplated marriage.

0th. But that I love the gentle Desdemona,
I would not my unhoused free condition
Put into circumscription and confine
For the sea's worth.

I do not, of course, suggest that an artist in drawing a
character is tied to a particular model, but I do maintain


that all creative artists draw on their experience, and
these parallels are therefore striking enough to deserve

I have given some reasons in Chapter III. for thinking
that the knight " Scudamore " in the Faerie Queene re-
presents Ralegh, I will supplement them here by some
passages from the poem.

In Book IV. i. Paridell attacks Scudamore, and the
shock of their meeting is described as follows :

As when two billowes in the Irish sowndes,
Forcibly driven with contrarie tydes,
Do meete together, each abacke rebowndes
With roaring rage ; and dashing on all sides.
That filleth all the sea with fome, divydes
The doubtfuU current into divers wayes.
So fell those two in spight of both their prydes ;
But Scudamore himselfe did soone uprayse.
And, mounting light, his foe for lying long uprayes. (42.)

Blandamour, who had been wounded in an encounter
with Britomart, being unable to fight, rails at Scudamore,
who restrains his anger :

He little answer'd, but in manly heart
His mightie indignation did forbeare ;
Which was not yet so secret, but some part
Thereof did in his frouning face appeare :
Like as a gloomie cloud, the which doth beare
An hideous storme, is by the Northerne blast
Quite overblowne, yet doth not passe so cleare,
But that it all the skie doth overcast
With darknes dred, and threatens all the world to wast.


Strength and self-reliance, dark colouring, and a
formidable appearance when roused, are the features of
this description, and they accord with the information as
to Ralegh which has been placed before the reader in this
chapter. The Irish allusion is also appropriate in view
of his large interests there.

The same strength of nature is shown in the description


in Book III. xi., where Scudamore is found by Britomart
in despair at the loss of Amoret :

His face upon the grovvnd did groveling ly,
As if he had beene slombring in the shade ;
That the brave Mayd would not for courtesy
Out of his quiet slomber him abrade,
Nor seeme too suddeinly him to invade.
Still as she stood, she heard with grievous throb
Him grone, as if his hart were peeces made,
And with most painefull pangs to sigh and sob,
That pitty did the Virgins hart of patience rob. (8.)

In some noble lines, most applicable to the vicissitudes
of Ralegh's life, Britomart comforts him :

Ah gentle knight ! whose deepe conceived griefe
Well seemes t' exceede the powre of patience,
Yet, if that hevenly grace some goode reliefe
You send, submit you to high providence ;
And ever in your noble hart prepense.
That all the sorrow in the world is lesse
Then vertues might and values confidence :
For who nill bide the burden of distresse.
Must not here thinke to live ; for life is wretchednesse.




I PROPOSE in this chapter to take up the threads of the
Faerie Queene, which I left incomplete in Chapter III.,
and, in the light of the intervening chapters, to endeavour
to make good certain views there expressed as to the
personal element in the poem. I said that the Redcrosse
Knight and Sir Guyon were, in my opinion, both intended
to represent the author at successive stages of his
development. This view rests largely on the impression
left on my mind by the whole trend of the poem and
other studies with which this book deals. But there is
also an indication of the truth of it given in the poem by
the author himself, in a device by which the one character
is (purposely, as I think) confused with the other. I have
drawn attention to other examples of such devices in
Spenser's works, adopted for purposes of mystification
or duplication of the characters ; a very striking one
occurs in the Glasse of Govemenient (see Chapter VIII.).
The Faerie Queene is, on the author's own statement, an
allegory,^ and an allegory is a writing which is intended
to convey a meaning which, for purposes of secrecy,
instruction, and so forth, the author has reasons for not

' " Being a continued Allegory, or darke conceit'' — Introductory Epistle
to Sir Walter Ralegh. It seems probable that there was another paper in
existence of a more explicit character, for the following entries occur in
Drummond's "Notes of Hen Jonson's Conversations" :

"Spenser's stanzaes pleased him not, nor his matter; the meaning of
which Allegoric he had delivered in papers to Sir Walter Raughlie."

"That in that paper S. W. Raughly had of the Allegories of the Fayrie
Queen, by the Hlaling Beast the Puritans were understood, by the false
Duessa the Q. of Scots."



expressing en clair. At the same time, in reading this
poem, it is necessary to exercise discrimination in apply-
ing the allegory to contemporary facts and persons, owing
to the author's practice — partly intentional, with a view to
concealment, partly perhaps unintentional, owing to his
discursive habit — of using the same character to represent
more than one person, and also of using several characters
to represent the same person under different aspects.

The device by which Sir Guyon is identified with the
Redcrosse knight is not easily recognised unless the
poem is read with close attention, but it becomes
apparent when the several incidents are brought together.
At the end of Book I. the Redcrosse knight, having slain
the Dragon and been wedded to Una, remembers that he
is pledged to return to " CleopoHs " and the service of the
" Faery Queene " : " the which he shortly did, and Una left
to mourn." At the opening of Book II. (the legend of
Sir Guyon) Archimago is found lying in wait for the
Redcrosse knight. In the meantime Sir Guyon passes,
and Archimago persuades him to go to the rescue of
Duessa, whom, he says, the Redcrosse knight has out-
raged. Guyon complies, encounters the Redcrosse
knight, and, recognising the cross, shakes hands : " So
beene they both at one," etc. (Canto i. 29). Guyon
salutes the knight on his achievement, and the latter
wishes success to Guyon, " whose pageant next ensewes "

Book II. iii. — Braggadochio (with Trompart) on

Guyon's horse, which he has stolen, meets Archimago, who

supposes him —

a person meet
Of his revenge to make the instrument ;
For since the Redcrosse knight he erst did weet
To been with Guyon knitt in one consent,
The ill, which earst to him, he now to Guyon ment.


Book III. i. — Guyon, riding with Prince Arthur,
encounters, and is overthrown by, Britomart. They are
reconciled and ride on together. They are then separated


by an adventure. Britomart goes on alone (19) and
comes to Castle Joyous, where she finds a knight, whose
name is not given, beset by six others (intended to
represent adherents of Mary, Queen of Scots ^). He turns
out apparently (though it is not directly stated) to be
the Redcrosse knight (42). A disturbance takes place
during the night, and the Redcrosse knight (63) comes
to the rescue of Britomart, and the two leave the
castle together before dawn i^^^y

Canto ii. — The metrical summary begins :

The Redcrosse knight to Britomart
describeth Artegall.

But in stanza 4 Britomart is " travelling with Guyon."
She asks him about Arthegal, whose face she has seen
in the magic mirror, and the conversation ends as
follows :

All which the Redcrosse knight to point aredd.


Canto iii. describes the previous interview of Britomart
and the nurse Glauce with Merlin, and the last stanza,
which refers to their quest for Arthegal, is as follows :

Ne rested they, till to that Faery lond
They came, as Merlin them directed late:
Where, meeting with this Redcrosse knight she fond
Of diverse thinges discourses to dilate,
l5ut most of Arthegall and his estate.
At last their wayes so fell, that they mote part :
Then each to other, well affectionate,
Friendship professed with unfained hart.
The Redcrosse knight diverst, but forth rode Britomart.

In Canto iv. occurs the last allusion to the Redcrosse
knight, where Britomart, having " through speaches with
the Redcrosse knight " learned about Arthegal —

A friendly league of love perpetual

She with him bound, and Congd tooke withall :

' The " Lady of Delight" is evidently intended for Mary, Queen of Scots.


Then he forth on his journey did proceede,
To seeke adventures which mote him befall,
And win him worship through his warlike deed,
Which ahvaies of his paines he made the chiefest meed.


Guyon reappears once again in V. iii. 29 sq. for the
purpose of recovering his stolen horse from Braggadochio.

Of course it is an easy way out of it to attribute the
confusion in III. ii. to carelessness, as in the similar
transposition in the Glasse of Governement, but having
regard to the previous incidents quoted, to the careful
writing in the earlier portions of the poem, and to other
instances of similar practice by the writer to which I
have alluded, I think such an explanation as unsatisfactory
in the one case as in the other. My belief is that there
is a considerable interval between Books I. and II., that
Book I. belongs to 1579,^ and represents the author as
he was at that period, at the age of eighteen, and that
Book II., which is different in tone, was probably com-
posed two or three years later, and is similarly a piece
of self-expression in maturer manhood and consequently
under a different form. But the two characters belong to
the same individuality, and this is indicated accordingly.

The character of Prince Arthur, which will now be
considered, points also to this solution. No satisfactory
explanation of this character in the allegory has, so far,
been suggested. It has been supposed that, in places,
he represents the Earl of Leicester, and that, otherwise,
he is a sort of deus ex machina. But this does not do
justice, as regards the "particular,""" to the elaboration of
description which is bestowed on him, and is otherwise
incompatible, in certain aspects, with the facts. It will
be observed that this personality is more remote and
more idealised than any of the others, and that legendary
colour is used to the full to enhance the conception, which

1 The Faerie Queeue is alluded to in the Harvey-Inimerito correspondence
published in 1580, which is described as belonging to "April last." See
Spenser's Worksy "Globe" edition, p. 708.

2 See remarks on this subject in Chapter III.


is thus incompletely satisfied by Leicester, who, as the
Queen's favourite, is represented, in more mundane
features, under the person of " Arthegal " in its original
intention. I think there is also no doubt that an allusion
to Leicester, in his relations with the Queen, is contained
in the description of the " Lyon " (which here has a
heraldic significance) and Una in the metrical summary
for Book I. iii., where —

Forsaken Truth long seekes her love,
and makes the Lyon mylde.

The allusion, in the " particular," is to the violence
and rapacity of Dudley's nature, and the power of the
Queen over him. Thus, in the canto (st. 5) —

It fortuned, out of the thickest wood
A ramping Lyon rushed suddeinly,
Hunting full greedy after salvage blood.
Soone as the royall virgin he did spy.
With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,

but his nature is subdued when he approaches her.

Compare with this the sarcastic reference to Leicester

(as to which there can be no question) in Mother

Hubberds Tale :

Marie, (said he) the highest now in grace
Be the wilde beasts, that swiftest are in chace ;
For in their speedie course and nimble flight
The Lyon now doth take the most delight ;
But chieflie joyes on foote them to beholde,
Enchaste with chaine and circulet of golde :
So wilde a beast so tame ytaught to bee,
And buxome to his bands, is joy to see ;
So well his golden Circlet him beseemeth.

There is, however, an unmistakable allusion to
Leicester under the person of Prince Arthur in the
scene in Book I. ix., where he relates to Una and the
Redcrosse knight his vision of the Fairy Queen. The
passage is one of such interest that I quote it in full :

" Dear Dame," (quoth he) " you sleeping sparkes awake.
Which, troubled once, into huge flames will grow ;
Ne ever will their fervent fury slake.
Till living moysture into smoke do flow.


And wasted life doe lye in ashes low :

Yet sithens silence lesseneth not my fire,

But, told, it flames ; and, hidden, it does glow,

I will revele what ye so much desire.

Ah. Love ! lay down thy bow, the whiles I may respyrc.

" It was in freshest flowre of youthly yeares,
When corage first does creepe in manly chest,
Then first the cole of kindly heat appeares
To kindle love in every living brest :
But me had warnd old Timons wise behest,
Those creeping flames by reason to subdevv.
Before their rage grew to so great unrest,
As miserable lovers use to rew,
Which still wex old in woe, whiles wo stil wexeth new.

" That ydle name of love, and lovers life.
As losse of time, and vertues enimy,
I ever scornd, and joyd to stirre up strife,
In middest of their mournfull Tragedy ;
Ay wont to laugh when them I heard to cry.
And blow the fire which them to ashes brent :
Their God himselfe, grievd at my libertie,
Shott many a dart at me with fiers intent ;
But I them warded all with wary government.

" But all in vaine : no fort can be so strong,
Ne fleshly brest can armed be so sownd,
But will at last be wonne with battrie long.
Or unawares at disavantage fownd.
Nothing is sure that growes on earthly grownd ;
And who most trustes in arme of fleshly might.
And boastes in beauties chaine not to be bownd.
Doth soonest fall in disaventrous fight.
And yeeldes his caytive neck to victours most despight.

" Ensample make of him your haplesse joy.
And of my selfe now mated, as ye see ;
Whose prouder vaunt that proud avenging boy
Did soone pluck downe, and curbd my libertee.
For on a day, prickt forth with jollitee
Of looser life and heat of hardiment,
Raunging the forest wide on courser free.
The fields, the floods, the heavens, with one consent,
Did seeme to laugh on me, and favour mine intent.

" Forwearied with my sportes, I did alight
From loftie steed, and downe to sleepe me layd,
The verdant gras my couch did goodly dight.
And pillow was my helmett fayre displayd ;


Whiles every sence the humour sweet embayd,
And slombring soft my hart did steale away,
Me seemed, by my side a royall Mayd
Her daintie limbes full softly down did lay :
So fayre a creature yet saw never sunny day.

" Most goodly glee and lovely blandishment
She to me made, and badd me love her deare ;
For dearely sure her love was to me bent.
As, when just time expired, should appeare.
But whether dreames delude, or true it were,
Was never hart so ravisht with delight,
Ne living man like wordes did ever heare,
As she to me delivered all that night ;
And at her parting said. She Queene of Faeries hight.

" When I awoke, and found her place devoyd,
And nought but pressed gras where she had lyen,
I sorrowed all so much as earst I joyd.
And washed all her place with watry eyen.
From that day forth I lov'd that face divyne ;
From that day forth I cast in carefull mynd,
To seek her out with labor and long tyne.
And never vowd to rest till her I fynd :
Nyne monethes I seek in vain, yet ni'll that vow unbynd."

Thus as he spake, his visage wexed pale.
And chaunge of hew great passion did bewray ;
Yett still he strove to cloke his inward bale,
And hide the smoke that did his fire display,
Till gentle Una thus to him gan say :
" O happy Queene of Faeries ! that hast fownd,
Mongst many, one that with his prowesse may
Defend thine honour, and thy foes confownd.
True loves are often sown, but seldom grow on grownd."

" Thine, O ! then," said the gentle Redcrosse knight,
" Next to that Ladies love, shalbe the place,
O fayrest virgin ! full of heavenly light.
Whose wondrous faith, e.Kceeding earthly race,
Was firmest fixt in myne extremes! case.
And you, my Lord, the Patrone of my life.
Of that great Queene may well gaine worthie grace.
For onely worthie you through prowes priefc,
Yf living man mote worthie be to be her liefe."

(Stanzas 8-17.)

Now this description is inappropriate to Leicester's
character, even as a young man, and at the time when


it was written Leicester and the Queen had been on
intimate terms for a period of some thirty years. On the
other hand, the words addressed to Prince Arthur by
the Redcrosse knight, " And you, my Lord, the Patrone
of my life," read in conjunction with the words following,
and with similar expressions in the Minor Poems (see
Chapter VL), can only rationally be interpreted as a tribute
by the poet to his early patron, who was Leicester. The
stanza is difficult to follow, and is an example of one
of those ambiguous utterances by which the writer, on
certain occasions, partially throws off his disguise. The
first lines of it are not addressed to the Prince (as would
be natural after the Prince's speech), or to Una (as might
be supposed, and as is probably intended to be supposed),
but to the Queen, " O fayrest virgin," whose faith, " next
to that Ladies love," namely the love of Una, or Truth,
the Redcrosse knight seems himself to claim, as having
been " firmest fixt in myne extremest case." Having in
this ingenious way expressed his own feelings, the writer
closes the stanza with an address to his " patron," with
the hope that the latter may gain " worthye grace " of
the Sovereign, of whose love he is the worthiest. This
stanza appears to me in itself to justify the view which I
have expressed that the Redcrosse knight is intended to
represent the author. The passage as a whole, however,
indicates that in Prince Arthur also the author sees
himself, under another aspect, and this is the view of
the character, in its special application, which I wish to

First as to the expressions of love in this passage.
I have in several places drawn attention to the use by
Spenser of the language of love in addressing Queen
Elizabeth, and there is a passage in one of Lilly's plays,
Endiinion, which is analogous and illuminating on this
subject. It is as follows :

Cynth. Was there such a time when as for my love thou
didst vow thy selfe to death, and in respect of it loth'd thy life ?
speake Efidimion, I will not revenge it with hate.

End. The time was madame, and is, and ever shall be, that


1 honoured your highnesse above all the world ; but to stretch
it so farre as to call it love, I never durst. There hath none
pleased mine eye but Cynthia, none delighted mine eares but
Cynthia, none possessed my heart but Cynthia. I have forsaken
all other fortunes to follow Cynthia, and heere I stand readie to die
if it please Cynthia. Such a difference hath the gods set betweene
our states, that all must be dutie, loyaltie, and reverence, nothing
(without it vouchsafe your highnesse) be termed love. My un-
spotted thoughts, my languishing bodie, my discontented life, let
them obtaine by princely favour, that which to challenge they
must not presume, onely wishing of impossibilities : with imagin-
ation of which, I will spend my spirits, and to my selfe that no
creature may heare, softly call it love. And if any urge to utter
what I whisper, then will I name it honour. From this sweet
contemplation if I be not driven, I shall live of all men the most
content, taking more pleasure in mine aged thoughts, then ever I
did in my youthfull actions.

Cynth. Endimion, this honorable respect of thine, shall be
christned love in thee, and my reward for it, favour. Persever
Endimion in loving mee, and I account more strength in a true
heart, then in a walled citie. I have laboured to win all, and
studie to keep such as I have wonne ; but those that neither my
favour can move to continue constant, nor my offered benefits
get to be faithfull, the gods shall either reduce to truth, or revenge
their trecheries with justice. Endimion continue as thou hast
begun, and thou shalt find that Cynthia sliineth not on thee in

End. Your highnesse hath blessed me, and your words have
againe restored my youth : me thinks I feele my joynts strong,
and these mouldy haires to molt, and all by your vertue Cynthia^
into whose hands the ballance that weighteth time and fortune
are committed, (v. 3.)

The language used here is in all respects similar to
that of the " Farewell " in the Princely Pleasures attributed
to Gascoigne (see Chapter IX.). There is the same
unsophisticated enthusiasm and sententiousness, and I
find it impossible to doubt that the two pieces are by
the same hand, and that they are the writing of a youth.
No adult person could write in such a strain.^

' Lilly (or Lyiy) is very different as a writer from what niighl be supposed
from the accounts of him in some books. He shows a mind as philosophical
as that of IJacon, though immature ; he wrote some lyrics of the same ([uality
as those of Shakespeare ; and for " wit " and literary equipment he is un-
approached among the writers of his time. Also he introduced into England

xvii " THE FAERIE QUEENE " 479

Next as to the description of Prince Arthur, which, on
his first appearance with his squire, Timias (I. vii.), is very

Online LibraryEdward George HarmanEdmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon → online text (page 42 of 55)