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So oft as I with ftate of present time
The image of the antique world compare,
As that, through long continuance of his
Me feemes the world is runne quite out of fquare
From the first point of his appointed fourse; And being once amiffe growes daily wourfe and wourfe:
For from the golden age, that first was named, It's now at earft become a ftonie one;
II.2. at carft] That is, at length. So the quarto and first folio read. So Chaucer, edit. Urr. p. 104. "And then at erft amongis 'hem thei faye." VOL. VI.
And men themselves, the which at first were
Of earthly mould, and form'd of flesh and bone,
Are now transformed into hardest stone; Such as behind their backs (fo backward bred)
Were throwne by Pyrrha and Deucalione : And if then those may any worse be red, They into that ere long will be degendered.
Let none then blame me, if, in difcipline
I do not forme them to the common line
The fecond and third folios, Hughes, and the edition of 1751, read" as earft." CHURCH.
Mr. Upton and Tonfon's edition in 1758 have also admitted the genuine reading" at eart." Mr. Upton, however, interprets at earft AS FORMERLY, and refers to F. Q. vi. iii. 39. "Full loth am I, quoth he, as now at earst :" That is, as now as formerly. See alfo Tyrwhitt's Gloff. Chaucer, in V. Erft, where At erft is interpreted At first, &c. TODD. II. 9. degendered.] This is Speufer's own word, which Mr. Upton thus illuftrates: "From gender cones gendered: So from degender DEGENDERED, degeneratus." The second and third folios, however, and Hughes, and Church, read degenered. And Mr. Mafon, the author of a Supplement to Dr. Johnfon's Dictionary, has cited this paffage to show that Spenfer introduced the word degenered into our language. But Mr. Mafon did not attend either to the original edition or to the first folio. The fuppofed emendation degenered is in conformity to the French participle degeneré.
But to the antique ufe which was of yore,
When Iuftice was not for moft meed out
But fimple Truth did rayne, and was of all
For that which all men then did Vertue call, Is now cald Vice; and that which Vice was hight,
Is now hight Vertue, and fo us'd of all:
As all things else in time are chaunged quight:
For whofo lift into the heavens looke,
And fearch the courfes of the rowling fpheares, Shall find that from the point where they first
the heavens revolution
Is wandred farre from where it firft was pight,] This is owing to the preceffion of the Equinoxes. See Keil, Aftron. Lect. viii.
Their fetting forth, in these few thoufand
They all are wandred much; that plaine appeares :
For that fame golden fleecy ram, which bore Phrixus and Helle from their stepdames
Hath now forgot where he was plast of yore, And shouldred hath the bull which fayre Europa bore:
And eke the bull hath with his bow-bent horne So hardly butted those two twinnes of love, That they have crusht the crab, and quite him borne
Into the great Nemaan lions grove.
So now all range, and doe at randon rove Out of their proper places farre away, And all this world with them amiffe doe 1 move,
And all his creatures from their course aftray; Till they arrive at their last ruinous decay. Raze Ne is that fame great glorious lampe of light, That doth enlumine all these leffer fyres, In better cafe, ne keepes his course more
But is mifcaried with the other spheres:
For fince the terme of fourteen hundred
That learned Ptolomae his hight did take, He is declyned from that marke of theirs Nigh thirtie minutes to the foutherne lake; That makes me feare in time he will us quite forfake.
And if to thofe Ægyptian wifards old (Which in ftar-read were wont have beft infight)
be given, it is by them told
That fince the time they first tooke the funnes hight,
Foure times his place he shifted hath in fight,
VII. 6. That learned Ptolomae,] Claudius Ptolomæus, a celebrated aftronomer that taught at Alexandria in Ægypt. Spenfer alludes to his book called Almugeftum magnum.
VIII. 1. And if to thofe Egyptian wifards &c.] He refers to a well known tale told in Herodotus, viz. that, according to the Egyptian wifards, the fun had in the space of 11340 years (which space they pretended to have accounts of) four times altered his regular course, having been twice observed to rife where he now fets, and twice to fet where he now rises. UPTON. where he now doth weft,] Set. So
"Till that the hote fonne began to wefte." CHURCH.