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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
Came running fro the clyffes adowne,
That made a deadly sleeping sowne.
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.
“ '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.)
Inferno, Orlando Innamorato, Lib. i., canto 4, stanza 66.
Un grido orribile e diverso.
(There rose a cry, horrible and diverse), &c.
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.
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
Like a huge cave hewn out of rocky clift,
From whose rough vault the ragged branches hung
Embost with massy gold of glorious gift,
And with rich metal loaded every rift,
That heavy ruin they did seem to threat ;
And over them Arachne high did lift
Her cunning web, and spread her subtle net,
Enwrapped in foul smoke, and clouds more black than jet.
Both roof and floor, and walls were all of gold,
But overgrown with dust and old decay,
And hid in darkness, that none could behold
The hue thereof; for view of chearful day
Did never in that house itself display,
But a faint shadow of uncertain light;
Such as a lamp, whose life does fade away;
Or as the moon, clothed with cloudy night,
Does show to him that walks in fear and sad affright.
In all that room was nothing to be seen,
But huge great iron chests and coffers strong,
All barr’d with double bands, that none could ween
Them to enforce by violence or wrong;
On every side they placed were along ;
But all the ground with skulls was scattered,
And dead men's bones, which round about were flung,
Whose lives (it seemèd) whilome there were shed,
And their vile carcases now left unburied.
They forward pass, nor Guyon yet spake word,
Till that they came unto an iron door,
Which to them open'd of its own accord,
And show'd of riches such exceeding store,
As eye of man did never see before,
Nor ever could within one place be found,
Though all the wealth which is, or was of yore,
Could gathered be through all the world around,
And that above were added to that under ground.
The charge thereof unto a covetous sprite
Commanded was, who thereby did attend,
And warily awaited, day and night,
From other covetous fiends it to defend,
Who it to rob and ransack did intend.
Then Mammon turning to that warrior, said:
“Lo here the worldè’s bliss! lo here the end,
To which all men do aim, rich to be made !
Such grace now to be happy is before thee laid.”
“ Certes” (said he) “ I n'ill thine offered grace, 14
Nor to be made so happy do intend;
Another bliss before mine eyes I place,
Another happiness, another end :
To them that list, these base regards I lend ;
But I in arms, and in achievements brave,
Do rather choose my fitting hours to spend,
And to be lord of those that riches have,
Than them to have myself, and be their servile slave
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 emmovèd was with inward wrath ;
Yet forcing it to fain, him forth thence led,
Through griesly shadows, by a beaten path,
Into a garden goodly garnished
With herbs and fruits, whose kinds must not be read:
Not such as earth, out of her fruitful womb, 15
Throws forth to men, sweet and well-savored,
But direful deadly black, both leaf and bloom,
Fit to adorn the dead and deck the dreary tomb.
There mournful cypress grew in greatest store ;16
And trees of bitter gall; and heben sad;
Dead sleeping poppy: and black hellebore ;
Cold coloquintida ; and tetra mad;
Mortal samnitis; and cicuta bad,
With which the unjust Athenians made to die
Wise Socrates, who therefore quaffing glad
Pour'd out his life and last philosophy
To the fair Critias, his dearest belamy !
The garden of Proserpina this hight;17
And in the midst thereof a silver seat,
With thick arbor goodly over-dight,
In which she often us'd from open heat
Herself to shroud, and pleasures to entreat:
Next thereunto did grow a goodly tree,
With branches broad dispread and body great,
Clothed with leaves, that none the wood might see,
And loaded all with fruit as thick as it might be.
Their fruit were golden apples, glistering bright,
That goodly was their glory to behold;
On earth like never grew, nor living wight
Like ever saw, but they from hence were sold ;18
For those, which Hercules with conquest bold
Got from great Atlas' daughters, hence began,
And planted there did bring forth fruit of gold;
And those, with which th' Eubean young man wan
Swift Atalanta, when through craft he her out-ran.
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
So fair and great, that shadowed all the ground ;
And his broad branches, laden with rich fee,
Did stretch themselves without the utmost bound
Of this great garden, compass'd with a mound,
Which overhanging, they themselves did steep
In a black flood, which flow'd about it round.20
That is the river of Cocytus deep,
In which full many souls do endless wail and weep.
Which to behold, he climb’d up to the bank;
And, looking down, saw many damnèd wights
In those sad waves which direfull deadly stank,21
Plungèd continually of cruel sprites,
That with their piteous cries and yelling shrights
They made the further shore resounden wide.
Amongst the rest of those same rueful sights,
One cursèd creature he by chance espied,
That drenched lay full deep under the garden side.
Deep was he drenched to the utmost chin,
Yet gaped still as coveting to drink
Of the cold liquor which he waded in :
And, stretching forth his hand, did often think
To reach the food which grew upon the brink;
But both the fruit from hand and flood from mouth
Did fly aback, and made him vainly swinck,
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.
Ask'd who he was, and what he meant thereoy!
Who groaning deep, thus answered him again;
“ Most cursed of all creatures under sky,
Lo! Tantalus, I here tormented lie !
Of whom high Jove wont whilom feasted be!
Lo! here I now for want of food do die !