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50 G1 LES FLETCHER.
instance of plagiarism, and serves to show us how little
Ere long they came where that same wicked wight,
His dwelling has in a low hollow cave.
Dark, doleful, dreary, like a greedy grave,
The other plagiarism is found in the dress of despair; but the value of the “ragged clouts,” and the thorns that fastened them, is very small, and forms no material feature of the picture. Spenser partly borrowed his own description from Sackville. Fletcher, who was a most diligent student of the works of Spenser, had his great prototype continually before his eyes, and his sweet words floating in his ears. In reading the description of the Cave of Dispair, I have been reminded of one or two passages in the Faerie Queen ; in the second book, where Mammon conducts Guyon to see his treasure, we find “sad Celeno sitting on a clifte.”
Into this cave “the serpent woo'd him with his charms” to enter, but without success. Our Lord is next transported to
The sacred pinnacles that threat
Here was spread the pavilion of Presumption. This allegory is in the style of Spenser; but Milton, by keep
to the scriptural account, has produced a sublimer effect. The “specular mount,” from whence are beheld all the cities and empires of the East, Niniveh and Babylon, and Ecbatana, and the city of the Hundred Gates, is a magnificent picture. when Presumption has in vain endeavoured to tempt the Saviour to throw himself from the mountain, in * and despair, “ herself she tumbled head-long to the floor," while a choir of angels receives our Lord, and bears him to an “airy mountain.” Suddenly an ** chanted garden springs up in that cold solitude,
As if the snow had melted into flowers.
The following stanza might have flowed from the
The aspect of the garden is described in a line breathing the glowing beauty of oriental poetry;
The garden like a ladie fair was cut,
Upon a “hilly bank" was built “the bower of VainDelight," and through this false Eden, the “first destroyer," led our Saviour. Throughout this canto, Fletcher evidently had the pictures of Spenser before his eyes; the fount of silver, the “plump Lyaeus," and
the shadows of the “drunken elms,” all whisper of the
great author of the Faerie Queen. But if Fletcher borrowed from Spenser, he in turn has been imitated by Milton. We are reminded of the
Table richly spread, in regal mode,-(Par. Iteg. b. 2.)
which Satan caused to rise up in the desert before Jesus, with the attending Naiades bearing “fruits and
flowers from Amalthea's horn," and the fair “ladies of
the Hesperides." Milton does not, indeed, like Fletcher,
When wild Pentheus, grown mad with fear,
With eyes flung back upon his mother's ghost,
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And clasps the yielding pillow half asleep,
And as from heaven it tumbled to the deep,
Euripides might have written these stanzas in the season of his solemn inspiration. In the “staring Orestes,” we seem to behold the wretched mourner burst from the enfolding arms of the weeping Electra, and fleeing in horror from the furies surrounding his couch". The poet describes Joseph of Arimathea at the cross. The still grief of the humble and affectionate mourner is very affecting. But long he stood in his faint arms upholding The fairest spoil heaven ever forfeited, With such a silent passion grief unfolding, That had the sheet but on himself been spread, He for the corse might have been buried. The departure of Joseph and his companions from the sepulchre is in the same spirit. Thus spend we tears, that never can be spent On him that sorrow now no more shall see.
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So all the body kist, and homewards went to weep. In the fourth canto, Christ's Triumph after Death,
* Tag a'awara rows sa, *****valus sepas–Euripid. Orest. 1.250.
Fletcher dwells upon the resurrection of our Saviour,
And if a sullen cloud, as sad as night,