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trickling stream, has quoted in his note on this passage some fine lines from Chaucer, in which, describing the “dark valley” of Sleep, the poet says there was nothing whatsoever in the place, save that,
A few wells
Sowne (in the old spelling) is also Spenser's word. In the text of the present volume it is written soun', to show that it is the same as the word sound without the d ;-like the French and Italian, son, suono.
56 'Tis hardly possible,” says Upton, "for a more picturesque description to come from a poet or a painter than this whole magical scene.”—See Todd's Variorum Spenser, vol. ii., p. 38.
Meantime, the magician has been moulding a shape of air to represent the virtuous mistress of the knight ; and when the dream arrives, he sends them both to deceive him, the one sitting by his head and abusing “ the organs of his fancy” (as Milton says of the devil with Eve), and the other behaving in a manner very unlike her prototype. The delusion succeeds for a time.
11 A fit false dream that can delude the sleeper's sent. Scent, sensation, perception. Skinner says that sent, which we falsely write scent, is derived a sentiendo. The word is thus frequently spelt by Spenser.-TODD.
21 “ A diverse dream.”—“A dream,” says Upton, “that would occasion diversity or distraction ; or a frightful, hideous dream, from the Italian, sogno diverso.”—Dante, Inferno, canto vi.
Cerbero, fiera crudele e diversa.
(Cerberus, the fierce beast, cruel and diverse.)
Un grido orribile e diverso.
See Todd's Edition, as above, p. 42.
The obvious sense, however, as in the case of Dante's Cerberus, I take to be monstrously varied,-inconsistent with itself. The dream is to make the knight's mistress contradict her natural character.
THE CAVE OF MAMMON
GARDEN OF PROSERPINE.
Sir Guyon, crossing a desert, finds Mammon sitting amidst his gold in a
gloomy valley. Mammon, taking him down into his cave, tempts him with the treasures there, and also with those in the Garden of Proserpine
“ Spenser's strength,” says Hazlitt, “is not strength of will or action, of bone and muscle, nor is it coarse and palpable ; but it assumes a character of vastness and sublimity seen through the same visionary medium” (he has just, been alluding to one), and blended with the appalling associations of preternatural agency. We need only turn in proof of this to the Cave of Despair, or the Cave of Mammon, or to the account of the change of Malbecco into Jealousy.”—Lectures, p. 77.
That house's form within was rude and strong, 13
Her cunning web, and spread her subtle net,
Both roof and floor, and walls were all of gold,
But a faint shadow of uncertain light;
Or as the moon, clothed with cloudy night,
In all that room was nothing to be seen,
Whose lives (it seemèd) whilome there were shed,
They forward pass, nor Guyon yet spake word,
The charge thereof unto a covetous sprite
To which all men do aim, rich to be made !
“ Certes” (said he) “ I n’ill thine offered grace, 14
And to be lord of those that riches have,
14 N'ill, ne-will, will not.
The Knight is led further on, and shown more treasures, and afterwards taken into the palace of Ambition ; but all in vain.
Mammon emmoved was with inward wrath ;
But direful deadly black, both leaf and bloom,
There mournful cypress grew in greatest store ; 16
Pour'd out his life and last philosophy
The garden of Proserpina this hight;17
Clothed with leaves, that none the wood might see,
Their fruit were golden apples, glistering bright,
And those, with which th' Eubean young man wan
Here also sprung that goodly golden fruit, With which Acontius got his lover true, Whom he had long time sought with fruitless suit; Here eke that famous golden apple grew, The which amongst the gods false Até threw; For which the Idæan ladies disagreed, 19 Till partial Paris deem'd it Venus' due, And had of her fair Helen for his meed, That many noble Greeks and Trojans made to bleed.
The warlike elf much wonder'd at this tree
That is the river of Cocytus deep,
Which to behold, he climb'd up to the bank;
Deep was he drenched to the utmost chin,
The whiles he starv'd with hunger and with droughth : He daily died, yet never thoroughly dyen couth.22
The knight, him seeing labor so in vain,