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But to make humble prefent of good will:
To all the gratious and beautifull Ladies in the Court. HE Chian Peincter, when he was requirde
To pourtraict Venus in her perfect hew, To make his worke more abfolute, defird Of all the fairest Maides to have the vew. Much more me needs, to draw the femblant trew Of beauties Queene, the worlds fole wonderment, To sharpe my fence with fundry beauties vew, And steale from each fome part of ornament. If all the world to feeke I overwent,
A fairer crew yet no where could I fee
Then that brave court doth to mine eie prefent;
That the worlds pride feemes gathered there to bee. Of each a part I ftole by cunning thefte: Forgive it me, faire Dames, fith lesse ye have not lefte.
b Ladies in the Court.] This Sonnet, as well as the preceding, was not reprinted in the later impreffions of the Faery Queene; for what reafon, is, we believe, nowhere stated. C.
THE FIRST BOOK OF
THE FAERIE QUEENE
CONTAYNING THE LEGEND OF THE KNIGHT OF THE RED CROSSE, OR OF HOLINESSE.
O! I, the man whofe Mufe whylome
As time her taught, in lowly Shep-
Am now enforft, a farre unfitter For trumpets fterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds, And fing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds; Whose praises having flept in filence long, Me, all too meane, the facred Mufe areeds To blazon broade emongft her learned throng: Fierce warres and faithful loves fhall moralize my fong.
Helpe then, O holy virgin! chiefe of nyne,"
Thy weaker Novice to performe thy will;
O holy virgin! chiefe of nyne.] This invocation is addreffed to Clio. So, in vii. vii. 1," Thou greater Mufe." See too F. Q. iii. iii. 4, and vii. vi. 37. CHURCH.
bthine everlasting feryne.] An efcritoir, or defk, from the Latin fcri
The antique rolles, which there lye hidden still, Of Faerie knights, and fayreft Tanaquill, Whom that most noble Briton Prince fo long Sought through the world, and fuffered fo much ill, That I must rue his undeferved wrong: O, helpe thou my weake wit, and sharpen my dull tong!
And thou, most dreaded impe of highest Jove,
Faire Venus fonne, that with thy cruell dart
After his murdrous fpoyles and bloudie rage allayd.
And with them eke, O Goddeffe heavenly bright!
Like Phoebus lampe throughout the world doth shine, Shed thy faire beames into my feeble eyne,d
And raise my thoughtes, too humble and too vile,
The argument of mine afflicted ftile:
The which to heare vouchsafe, O dearest dread, a while!
nium. "Scryn, afbrine; anciently a cheft or cofer:" Verstegan. UPTON. Spenfer ufes the word again in B. ii. C. 9, ft. 56. C.
with you bring triumphant Mart.] So the Italians, Marte, the god of war; and fo too our poets: Fairfax, “Taff.” ii. 89. "Thou proud despiser of inconftant Marte." Chaucer, “Kn. Tale,” v. 2023.
"Nought was forgett the infortune of Mart." And Lydgate, "Of the Troj. War," B. ii.
"For aye of Mart doubtous is the cure." UPTON.
d into my feeble eyne.] In the first edit. the text is "into mine feeble eyne," an obvious error, corrected in fubfequent impreffions. C.
Ycladd in mightie armes and filver
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruell markes of many a bloody fielde;
As one for knightly giufts and fierce encounters fitt.
Ycladd in mightie armes and filver fhielde.] Hardyng, from Nennius, says in his Chronicle, printed in 1543, that, when Joseph of Arimathea converted Arviragus, he
- gave hym then a fhilde of filver white,
"For a common figne eche manne to know his nacion
"Saint Georges armes." CHURCH.
b Full jolly knight.] Handfome: Fr. joli. Cotgrave's translation of joli minutely paints a hero of romance, viz. "gay, trim, fine, gallant, neat, handfome, feat, well-fashioned, minion, compt, polite." TODD.