Ethan Allen Hitchcock.

Spenser's poem, entitled Colin Clouts come home againe, explained; with remarks upon the Amoretti sonnets, and also upon a few of the minor poems of other early English poets online

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Online LibraryEthan Allen HitchcockSpenser's poem, entitled Colin Clouts come home againe, explained; with remarks upon the Amoretti sonnets, and also upon a few of the minor poems of other early English poets → online text (page 1 of 13)
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SB 252 552


















ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1865, by


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the
Southern District of New York.


50 Greene Street, New York.


Remarks upon the Amoretti (or Sonnets) of Spenser will be found in the
2d and 3d chapters of this volume ; and the Sonnets themselves, for the con-
venience of the student, have been added to the volume.

The reader of the author's Remarks on the Shakespeare Sonnets, will find
here some striking confirmations of the views there presented ; but may dis-
cover many more by studying the early English poets in view of several
pregnant hints in the Notes of Robert Bell, in his valuable edition of Chau-
cer's poetical works (London, 1862), particularly the note, vol. 4, page 201
on the following lines in the poem entitled the Assembly of Foules [or Birds]
where the curious reader may see the very Queen, the mystical Lady of so
many poets.

"When I was comen ayen [again] into the place [?]

That I of spake, that was so soote [sweet] and greene,

Forth walked I tho [then] my selven to solace :

Tho [then] was I ware [aware], where there sate a QUEENE, [N. B.]

That, as of light the sommer Sunne shene

Passeth the sterre, [stars], right so over mesure, [or, beyond measure)]

She fairer was than any creature.

And in a launde, [lawn], upon a hill of flowers,


The reader will remark the close resemblance between the structure of
this poem [the Assembly of Foules or Birds ] and that of the Court of Love,
already pointed out in the introduction to the latter poem. In these and in
many detached passages of Chaucer's other poems, may be detected A TEN-
DENCY TO PANTHEISM, or the worshipping a principle supposed to pervade the
Universe, rather than a personal Deity.

Some of the poets see this principle as Lady Nature, their mistress.



HUME tells us, in the brief critical notices of lite-
rary works at successive periods embraced in his
history, that Spenser's FAERIE QUEENE was a work
which every scholar, or man of pretension to literary
taste, felt bound to have upon his table ; but he
adds, that no one felt bound to read it. Whether
this criticism, or what, has worked the change we
cannot say, but it is quite certain that the once fam-
ous allegory of Una and the Lamb is no longer, or
but rarely, seen upon the scholar's desk, and is only
seen upon the parlor centre-table when richly bound
in gilt and illustrated with pictures for the eye, while
the book itself is as little read now as it was in the
days of David Hume.

That the cold and self-complacent philosophical
historian should care but little a>out the " idle
fancies," as he no doubt reputed them, of such a
man as Spenser, may not be surprising to those of


his own temper ; but there are others who will be apt
to say, after all, that his criticism may be considered
as indicating only his own taste, or the want of it,
and that of what may be called the visible public of
his day ; while we may be sure there must have
been then, as there are now, a few to delight in fol-
lowing the spirit of the poet, and with more or less
fidelity seek to discover something in nature of an
invisible character " correspondent " to it ; the search
for which will continue to task and to reward the
student in all ages ; for, without adopting the theories
or expositions of Swedenborg, it can hardly be denied,
except by the most downright fatalist, that there is
what may be properly called a spiritual world, where
the genuine poet will be found at home in his own Ar-
cadia. Philosophy is not without a clue to the true
ground of the poet's dreams and visions ; and it lies
chiefly in the dogma, that there can be no modal
manifestation in nature, which is not based upon the
substantial without, or out of which, there is nothing
at all: in which NOTHING, we will add, a certain
class of seekers tell us they find all things.

But we do npt propose to discuss these matters,
and will enter without farther preface upon the pur-
pose we have in view.


Among the minor poems of Spenser, the reader
may have noticed, or may easily turn to, one
entitled Colin Clouts Come Home Again, pub-
lished in 1591 or 1595. It was addressed or dedi-
cated to Sir Walter Raleigh, by the poet himself,
who calls it a " simple Pastoral ;" and whilst, in the
usual strain of dedications, the poet speaks of the
poem as " unworthy " the higher " conceipt " of his
noble friend, for its " meanness of style," he asserts
its agreement " with truth, in circumstance and mat-
ter :" more than hinting, in the same dedication, at
what the poet calls the "malice of evil mouths,
which are always [says he] open to carpe at and
misconstrue [his] simple meaning."

A modern editor quotes from the Retrospective
Review, to show that the object of the poet (in Colin
Clouts) was to give " an account of his return to
England, and of his presentation to Queen Elizabeth,
and of several persons attached to the Court ;" and
the Reviewer remarks, that the poem might have
been highly interesting at the time it was written,
but that its chief interest is now lost, declaring that
" it possesses nothing striking, either in character or
description, to attract a modern reader" but he
should have added, a modern reader of the Hume


school, who would doubtless see as little to attract
in this pastoral as in the more elaborate poem of the
Faerie Queene.

We will now show, by a few notes, the general
purpose of this pastoral, one of the most remarkable
poems in the English language, and leave the reader
to reflect upon the probable result of a study of the
Faerie Queene itself, an acknowledged allegory, if
pursued from some similar point of view ; and as we
feel under no obligations of secresy, we will say at
once, that :

The Pastoral, entitled Colin Clouts Come Home
Again, was not designed to refer, in the remotest
degree, to Queen Elizabeth ; but the poem agrees
" with truth in circumstance and matter " (as the
dedication reads), with a mental journey by the poet
himself, in the very spirit of Christianity, into what
may be called the spiritual world the Arcadia of
the ancient poets,; where the poet meets with the
mystic Queen of Arcadia, the object of so much pas-
sionate devotion by a long succession of spirituelle
poets, who, under the guise of addressing some Delia,
or Celia, or Lilia, Phoebe, Daphne, or Chloe, have
cloaked a love which, because not generally recog-
nised, except as addressed to some veritable woman,


has been usually regarded as having no other subject
than woman ; who, indeed, may become the true ob-
ject of love, as represented in the drama of King
Rene's daughter, when her beauty and perfection
are seen in the light of what must be called, for the
sake of truth, Divine Love.

Let the reader admit for a moment that there is a
land, an unseen land, which, in order to have a name
for it, we will call Arcadia ; but, though called a
land, this word is only used figuratively. It repre-
sents not merely an imaginary land, but the land of
imagination, a word of immense significance ; for
from that land the world receives its Iliads, Odysseys,
and ^neids, a great multitude of Promethean
stories, and innumerable tales of chivalry in both
prose and verse.

Let it be supposed, we say, as a mere hypothesis,
that there is an Arcadian land, a world in which
poets find a congenial home, where they conceive the
great works of Art through which their names
become immortal. This is making but a very small
demand upon the candor of the student, who must
reasonably agree that the ancient and ever-renewed
claim of the poets, that their art proceeds from a


divine gift, the nature of which can perhaps only be
properly known by poets themselves, must have
some truth to rest upon. Genuine poets we do
not refer to mere versifiers, who have often only an
acquired skill in word-jingling are a peculiar class
of men, not as having an actual faculty unknown to
other men, but because of a peculiar awakening of
their faculties which, under favorable circumstances,
opens to them such views of life as, for want of a
better explanation, may be considered a divine gift
very much as the religious faculty, though common
to all mankind, receives at times an extraordinary
illumination, as if from a supernatural source ; and
it may indeed be regarded as supernatural, if we
define nature from a low point of view, as the mere
material fabric of the world.

We desire to induce the reader to accept the
suggestion as probable, that poets of the class
referred to have access, either through nature or
grace, to a certain interior world of ideas and
feelings, which for the present we will call Arcadia ;
not a visible place, yet often figured as a land,
with mountains and streams, where the sun, or we
may say the moon, if we please, never sets, and
where there is a never-ending summer as we find


it referred to in the 18th Sonnet of Shakespeare in
the line :

"Thy eternal summer shall not fade;"
or again in the 97th Sonnet :

"For summer and his pleasures wait on thee."

This land, or Arcadia, is well described in the
little poem of Heriot de Borderie, inserted in the
preface to Remarks on Alchemy and the Alchemists.

"There is an isle

Full, as they say, of good things ; fruits and trees
And pleasant verdure; a very master-piece
Of nature's ; where the men immortally
Live, following all delights and pleasures. There
Is not, nor ever hath been, Winter's cold
Or Summer's heat, the season still the same,
One gracious Spring, where all, e'en those worst used
By fortune, are content. Earth willingly
Pours out her blessing: the words "thine" and "mine"
Are not known 'mongst them: all is common, free
From pain and jealous grudging. Reason rules,
Not fantasy: every one knows well
What he would ask of other; every one
What to command: thus every one hath that
Which he doth ask; what is commanded, does.
This island hath the name of Fortunate;


And, as they tell, is governed by a Queen

Well-spoken and discreet, and therewithal

So beautiful, that, with one single beam

Of her great beauty, all the country round

Is rendered shining. When she sees arrive

(As there are many so exceeding curious

They have no fear of danger 'fore their eyes)

Those who come suing to her, and aspire

After the happiness which she to each

Doth promise in her city, she doth make

The strangers come together; and forthwith,

Ere she consenteth to retain them there,

Sends for a certain season all to sleep.

When they have slept so much as there is need,

Then wake they them again, and summon them

Into her presence. There awaits them not

Excuse or caution; speech however bland,

Or importunity of cries. Each bears

That on his forehead written visibly,

Whereof he hath been dreaming. They whose dreams

Have been of birds and hounds, are straight dismissed ;

And at her royal mandate led away,

To dwell thence-forward with such beasts as these.

He who hath dreamed of sconces broken, war,

And turmoil, and sedition, glory won,

And highest feats achieved, is, in like guise,

An exile from her court; whilst one whose brow

Is pale, and dead, and withered, showing care


Of pelf and riches, she no less denies

To be his queen and mistress. None, hi brief,

Keserves she of the dreamers in her isle,

Save him, that, when awakened he returns,

Betrayeth tokens that of her rare beauty

His dreams have been. So great delight hath she

In being and in seeming beautiful,

Such dreamer is right welcome to her isle.

All this is held a fable : but who first
Made and recited it hath, hi this fable,
Shadowed a Truth.

This isle we take to be the Arcadian land. It is
owned or visited in common by all genuine poets,
who, because they know that admission to that
beautiful country is accorded only to a favored
class, and to those only upon their being in posses-
sion of certain required credentials, rarely give any
hint even of the true character of the country to
the non-elect. They only write of it in ^ mystery,
or under the guise of writing about something else,
which, as in the poem of Colin Clouts, may be
understood, or misunderstood, as a poem in honor
of Queen Elizabeth ; who has> however, as little to
do with that poem as she has with the Apocalypse
and its New Jerusalem. We propose to show that


Colin Clouts Come Home Again, is a poetic hint,
not only of the reality of the Arcadian land, but
that it lets the reader into some acquaintance with
the method of access to it, and particularly gives
us a glimpse of the Queen herself under the name
of Cynthia which may be applicable to the Queen
of the isle in Borderie's poem just recited.

We here give the poem itself, according to its name, with all
its notes, as we find it in the 5th volume of Spenser's Works,
published in Boston by Little & Brown, 1860. The dissent of
the author of the Remarks from the opinion expressed in some
of the notes, will appear in the progress of the Remarks.









THAT you may see that I am not alwaies ydle as yee
thinke, though not greatly well occupied, nor altogither un-
dutifull, though not precisely officious, I make you present
of this simple Pastorall r unworthie of your higher conceipt
for the meanesse of the stile, hut agreeing with the truth in
circumstance and matter. The which I humbly beseech you
to accept in part of paiement of the infinite debt, in which
I acknowledge my selfe bounden unto you for your singular
favours, and sundrie good turnes, shewed to me at my late
being in England ; and with your good countenance protect
against the malice of evill mouthes, which are alwaies wide
open to carpe at and misconstrue my vsimple meaning. I
pray continually for your happinesse. From my house of
Kilcolman, the 27. of December.
1591. [rather perhaps 1595.]

Yours ever humbly,



shepheards boy (best knowen by that name)
That after Tityrus first sung his lay,
Laies of sweet love, without rebuke or blame,
Sate (as his custome was) upon a day,
Charming 1 his oaten pipe unto his peres, 5

The shepheard swaines that did about him play:
Who all the while, with greedie listfull eares,
Did stand astonisht at his curious skill,
Like hartlesse deare, dismayd with thunders sound.

1 Charming, tuning.
Ver. 2. Tityrus.] Chaucer.

* " In the year 1595, Spenser published Colin Clouts come Home againe,
a sort of pastoral, giving an account of his return to England, of his
presentation to Queen Elizabeth, and of several persons attached to the
court. It might be highly interesting at the time it was written, but
its chief interest is now lost. It possesses nothing striking, either in
character or description, to attract a modern reader." Retrospective Review.

[The author of the Remarks dissents from this opinion, and from several
others expressed in the notes to this poem.]


At last, when as he piped had his fill, 10

He rested him: and, sitting then around,

One of those groomes (a iolly groome was he,

As ever piped on an oaten reed,

And lov'd this shepheard dearest in degree,

Hight 1 Hobbinol;) gan thus to him areed. 15

" Colin, my liefe, 2 my life, how great a losse
Had all the shepheards nation by thy lacke!
And I, poore swaine, of many, greatest crosse!
That, sith 3 thy Muse first since thy turning backe
"Was heard to sound as she was wont on hye, 20
Has made us all so blessed and so blythe.
Whilest thou wast hence, all dead in dole 4 did lie :
The woods were heard to waile full many a sythe, 5
And all their birds with silence to complaine :
The fields with faded flowers did seem to mourne, 25
And all their flocks from feeding to refrain:
The running waters wept for thy returne,
And all their fish with languor did lament:
But now both woods and fields and floods revive,
Sith 3 thou art come, their cause of merriment, 30
That us, late dead, hast made againe alive:
But were it not too painefull to repeat
The passed fortunes, which tp thee befell

1 Hight, called. 3 Sith, since. 5 Sythe, time.

a Liefe, dear. * Dole, grief.

Ver. 15. Hdbbinol.} This is Spenser's friend, Gabriel Harvey.


In thy late voyage, we thee would entreat,

Now at thy leisure them to us to tell." 35

To whom the shepheard gently answered thus;
" Hobbin, thou temptest me to that I covet:
For of good passed newly to discus,
By dubble usurie doth twise renew it.
And since I saw that angels blessed eie, 40

Her worlds bright sun, her heavens fairest light,
My mind, full of my thoughts satietie,
Doth feed on sweet contentment of that sight:
Since that same day in nought I take delight,
Ne feeling have in any earthly pleasure, 46

But in remembrance of that glory bright,
My lifes sole blisse, my hearts eternall threasure.
"Wake then, my pipe; my sleepie Muse, awake;
Till I have told her praises lasting long:
Hobbin desires, thou maist it not forsake; 50

Harke then, ye iolly shepheards, to my song."

With that they all gan throng about him neare,
With hungrie eares to heare his harmonie:
The whiles their flocks, devoyd of dangers feare,
Did round about them feed at libertie. 55

" One day (quoth he) I sat (as was my trade)
Under the foote of Mole, that mountaine hore,
Keeping my sheepe amongst the cooly shade


Of the greene alders "by the Mullaes shore :

There a straunge shepheard chaunst to find me out, 60

"Whether allured with my pipes delight,

"Whose pleasing sound yshrilled 1 far about,

Or thither led by chaunce, I know not right:

"Whom when I asked from what place he came,

And how he hight, 2 himselfe he did ycleepe 8 65

The Shepheard of the Ocean by name,

And said he came far from the main-sea deepe.

He, sitting me beside in that same shade,

Provoked me to plaie some pleasant fit 4 ;

And, when he heard the musicke which I made, 70

He found himselfe full greatly pleasd at it:

Yet, semuling 5 my pipe, he tooke in hond

My pipe, before that aemuled of many,

And plaid thereon; (for well that skill he cond 6 ;)

Himselfe as skilfull in that art as any. 75

He pip'd, I sung ; and, when he sung, I piped ;

1 Yshrilled, sounded shrill. 9 Hight, was called.

3 Ycleepe, call.

* Fit, strain. 6 ^muling, rivalling.

6 Cond, knew.

Ver. 59. By the Mullaes shore.} " The Mulla is the river Awbeg,
which runs not far from Kilcolman, Spenser's residence, and washes
Buttevant, Doneraile, Castletown-Roch, &c." TODD.

Ver. 66. The Shepheard of the Ocean.] This is Sir "Walter Raleigh,
whom Spenser accompanied into England, and by whom he was introduced
to Queen Elizabeth.


By chaunge of turnes, each making other mery;

Neither envying other, nor envied,

So piped we, untill we both were weary."

There interrupting him, a bonie swaine, 80

That Cuddy hight, 1 him thus atweene bespake:
" And, should it not thy readie course restraine,
I would request thee, Colin, for my sake,
To tell what thou didst sing, when he did plaie;
For well I weene it worth recounting was, 85

Whether it were some hymne, or morall laie,
Or carol made to praise thy loved lasse."

" Nor of my love, nor of my lasse, (quoth he,)
I then did sing, as then occasion fell:
For love had me forlorne, forlorne of me, 90

That made me in that desart choose to dwell.
But of my river Bregogs love I soong,
Which to the shiny Mulla he did beare,
And yet doth beare, and ever will, so long
As water doth within his bancks appeare." 95

" Of fellowship (said then that bony Boy)
Record to us that lovely lay againe:
The staie whereof shall nought these eares annoy
Who all that Colin makes do covet faine."

"Heare then (quoth he) the tenor of my tale, 100
In sort as I it to that shepheard told:

1 HigM, was called.


No leasing 1 new, nor grandams fable stale,
But auncient truth confirmed with credence old.

" Old father Mole, (Mole hight that mountain gray
That walls the northside of Armulla dale;) 105

He had a daughter fresh as floure of May,
Which gave that name unto that pleasant vale;
Mulla, the daughter of old Mole, so hight 2
The Nimph, which of that water course has charge,
That, springing out of Mole, doth run downe right 110
To Buttevant, where, spreading forth at large,
It giveth name unto that auncient Cittie,
Which Kilnemullah cleped 3 is of old ;
Whose ragged ruines breed great ruth and pittie
To travailers, which it from far behold. 115

Full faine she lov'd, and was belov'd full faine
Of her owne brother river, Bregog hight, 2
So hight 2 because of this deceitfull traine,
Which he with Mulla wrought to win delight.
But her old sire more carefull of her good, 120

And meaning her much better to preferre,
Did thinke to match her with the neighbour flood,
Which Allo hight, 2 Broad- water called farre;
And wrought so well with his continuall paine,

1 Leasing, falsehood. 9 Hight, called. Cleped, named.

Ver. 117. Bregog hight.] Bregog, according to Todd, means false or


That he that river for his daughter wonrie : 125

The dowre agreed, the day assigned plaine,

The place appointed where it should be doone.

Nath'lesse the Nymph her former liking held;

For love will not be drawne, but must be ledde ;

And Bregog did so well her fancie weld, 1 130

That her good will he got her first to wedde.

But for her father, sitting still on hie,

Did warily still watch which way she went,

And eke from far observed, with iealous eie,

"Which way his course the wanton Bregog bent; 135

Him to deceive, for all his watchfull ward,

The wily lover did devise this slight:

First into many parts his streame he shar'd,

That, whilest the one was watcht, the other might

Passe unespide to meete her by the way; 140

And then, besides, those little streames so broken

He under ground so closely 2 did convay,

That of their passage doth appeare no token,

Till they into the Mullaes water slide.

So secretly did he his love enioy: 145

Yet not so secret, but it was descride,

And told her father by a shepheards boy.

"Who, wondrous wroth for that so foule despight,

In great avenge did roll downe from his hill

Huge mightie stones, the which encomber might 150

1 Weld, wield, sway. Closely, secretly.


His passage, and his water-courses spill. 1

So of a River, which he was of old,

He none was made, but scattred all to nought;

And, lost emong those rocks into him rold,

Bid lose his name: so deare his love he bought." 155

"Which having said, him Thestylis bespake ;
"Now by my life this was a mery lay,
"Worthie of Colin selfe, that did it make.
But read now eke, of friendship I thee pray,
What dittie did that other shepheard sing: 160

For I do covet most the same to heare,
As men use most to covet forreine thing."

"That shall I eke (quoth he) to you declare:
His song was all a lamentable lay
Of great unkindnesse, and of usage hard, 165

Of Cynthia the Ladie of the Sea,
"Which from her presence faultlesse him debard.
And ever and anon, with singulfs rife, 2
He cryed out, to make his undersong;
Ah ! my loves queene, and goddesse of my life, 170
"Who shall me pittie, when thou doest me wrong ? "

Then gan a gentle bonylasse to speake,
That Marin hight; "Eight well he sure did plaine,

1 Spill, spoil. * Singulfs rife, frequent sobs.

Ver. 166. Of Cynthia the Ladie of the Sea.] Queen Elizabeth ; prob-

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Online LibraryEthan Allen HitchcockSpenser's poem, entitled Colin Clouts come home againe, explained; with remarks upon the Amoretti sonnets, and also upon a few of the minor poems of other early English poets → online text (page 1 of 13)