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A LETTER OF THE AUTHOR'S
Expounding his whole intention in the course of this Worke ; which, for that it givesh
great light to tbe Reader, for the better understanding is bereunto annexed.
TO TIE RIGBT NOBLE AND VALOROUS
SIR WALTER RALEIGH, KNT.
Lord Warden of the Stanneryes and her Maieftie's liefienaunt of the Country of
Sie, koowing how doubtfully all Allegories may of present time. In which I haue followed all the be construed, and this booke of mine, which i antique poets historicall; first Homere, who in kaue entituled The Faery Queenc, being a conti- the persons of Agamemnon and Ulysses hath ensued Allegory, or darke conceir, I haue thought sampled a good gouernour and a vertuous man, good, as well for auoyding of gealous opinions and the one in his llias, the other in his Odysseis; then wisconstructions, as also for your better light in Virgil, whose like intention was to doe in the perreading thereof, (being so by you commanded) son of Ancas; after him Ariosto comprised them to discouer unto you the general intention and both in his Orlando; and lately Tasso diffeuered meacing, which in the whole course thereof 'I them again, and formed both parts in two perbave faisioned, without exprelling of any par- sons, namely, that part which they in philosophy ticular purposes, or bye-accidents, therein occa- call Ethice, or Vertues of a private man, colours Ligaed. The general end, therefore, of all the ed in his Rinaldo; the other named Politice, in booke, is to fashion a gentleman or noble person his Godfredo. By ensample of which excellente in vertuous and gentle discipline ; which, for that poets, I labour to pourtraia in Arthure, before I conceiued, should be most plausible and pleasing, he was king, the image of a braue knight, pero being coloured with an historical fition, the which fected in the twelue priuatc morall vertues, as the most part of men delight to read, rather for Aristotle hath deuised; the which is the purpose variety of matter, then for profite of the enfam- of these first twelue bookes : which if I finde to be ple, I chose the historye of King Arthure, as most well accepted, I may be perhaps encouraged to fitte for the excellency of his person, being made frame the other part of politicke vertues in his famous by many mens former workes, and also person, after
that hee came to be king. To fcme fartheft from the daunger of enuy, and suspicion i know this methode will scem difpleafaunt, whick
had rather haue good discipline deliuered plainly deuise that the Faery Queene kept her annual in way of precepts, or sermoned at large, as they feaste xii days; uppon which xii seuerall dayes, use, then thus clowdily enwrapped in allegorical the occasions of the xii feuerall aduentures hapdeuises. But such, me seeme, should be satisfide ned, which being undertaken by xii seucral knights, with the use of these days, seeing all things ac- are in these tii books seuerally handled and dircounted by their showes, and nothing esteemed coursed. The first was this : In the beginning of of, that is not delightful and pleasing to commune the feast, there presented himselfe a tall clown scence. For this cause is Xenophon preferred be- young man, who falling before the Queene of fore Plato, for that the one, in the exquisite depth | Faeries desired a boone (as the manner then was) of his judgment, formed a commune-wealth, such which during that feast she might not refuse; as it should be; but the other in the person of Cy- which was that he might haue the acchieument rus, and the Persians, fashioned a gouerment such of any aduenture, which during that feaste should as might belt be; so much more profitable and happen. That being graunted, he refted him on gratious is doctrine by ensample then by rule. So the foore, unfitte through his rufticity for a bet. haue I laboured to doe in the person of Arthure : ter place. Soone after entred a faire ladye in whom I conceiue, after his long education by Ti- mourning weedes, riding on a white asse, with a mon, to whom he was by Merlin deliuered to be dwarfe behind her leading a warlike steed, that brought up, so toone as he was borne of the Lady bore the arms of a knight, and his speare in the Igrayne, to haue seene in a dream or vision dwarfe's hand. Shee falling before the Queche the Faery Queene, with whose excellent beauty of Faeries, complayned that her father and mother, rauished, he awaking resolued to seeke her out; an ancient king and queene, had bene by an huge and so being by Merlin armed, and by 'Timon dragon many years shut up in a brasen castle, who throughly inftrucd, he went to seeke her forth thence suffered them not to yffew : and therefore in Faery Land. In that Faery Queene I meane besought the Faery Queene to assygne her fome glory in my generall intention, but in my parti- one of her knights to take upon him that exployt. cular I conceiue the most excellent and glorious Presently that clownish person aptarting, desired person of our loueraine the Queene, and her king- that aduenture: whereat the Queene much wondom in Faery Land. And yet in some places els, dering, and the lady much gainesaying, yet he i do otherwise shadow her. For considering the earnestly importuned his delire. In the end the beareth two persons, the one of a moft royal | lady told him, that unlesse that armour which she Queene or Empresse, the other of a most vertuous brought would serue him, (that is the armour of and beautifull lady, this latter part in some places a Christian man specified by St. Paule, v. Ephes.) I doe expresse in Belphæbe, fashioning her name that he could not succeed in that enterprise : according to your owne excellent conceipt of Cyn- which being forthwith put upon him with dew thia : Phæbe and Cynthia being both names of furnitures thereunto, he seemed the goodliest man Diana. So in the person of Prince Arthure I sette in al that company, and was well liked of the laforth magnificence in particular, which vertue for dy. And eftesoones taking on him knighthood, that (according to Aristotle and the rest) it is the and mounting on that strange courser, he went perfe&tion of all the rest, and conteineth in it forth with her on fthat adventure : where beginthem all, therefore in the whole course I mention neth the firft booke, viz. the deeds of Arthure applyable to that vertue, which I write of in that booke. But of the xii
A gentle knight was pricking on the playne, &c. other vertues, I make xii other knights the pa- The second day there came in a palmer bear. trones, for the more variety of the history : ofing an infant with bloody hands, whose parents which these three bookes contayn three.
he complained to haue bene flayne by an enchaunThe first of the Knight of the Red-crosse, in tresse called Acrasia : and therefore craued of the whom I expresse Holynesle : the seconde of Sir Faery Queene to appoint him some knight to petGuyon, in whom I seite forth temperaunce: the forme that aduenture, which being alligned to Sir third of Britomartis, a lady-knight, in whom I Guyon, ke presently went forth with that same picture chastity. But because the beginning of palmer: which is the beginning of the second the whole work seenieth abrupte, and as depend- | booke, and the whole fubied thereof. The third ing upon other antecedents, it needs that ye know day there came in a groome, who complained bethe occasion of these three knights seuerall aduen- fore thc Faery Queenc, that a vile enchanter called tures. For the methode of a poet historical is not Busirane had in hand a most faire lady called Asuch, as of an historiagrapher. Foran historiographer moretta, whom he kept in most gricuous turdiscourseth of affayrs orderly as they were donne, ment, because the would not yield him the pleaaccounting as well the times as the actions; but a fure of her body. Whereupon Sir Scudamour the poet thrusteth into the middeft, cuen where it lover of that lady presently cooke on him that admost concerneth him, and there recoursing to the uenture. But beirig unable to performe it by rcathinges forepaste, and diuining of thinges to come; son of the hard enchaunements, after long forrow, maketh a pleasing analysis of all.
in the end met with Britomartis, who succonred The beginning, therefore, of my history, if it him; and reskewed his love. were to be told by an historiographer, should be But, by occasion hereof, many other aduentures the twelfth booke, which is the last, where I are intermedled, but rather as accidents, then in tendments : as the loue of Britomart, the ouer- | uing the continuance of your honourable fauour throw of Marinell, the misery of Florimell, the towards me, and th' eternall establishment of your Fertuousness of Belphabe, the lafciuiousnes of Hel- happiness, I humbly take leaue. Lenara; and many the like.
Thus much, Sir, I haue briefly ouerronne to dire&t your understanding to the wel-head of the
Yours most humbly affectionate, history, that from thence gathering the whole intention of the conceit, ye may as in a handful
ED, SPENSER gripe al the discourse, which otherwise may hapo
23. fan. 1589. füly seem tedious and confused. So humbly cra
To the Most High, Mightie, and Magnificent
Renowmed for Pietie, Vertve, and all Gracious Government,
By the Grace of God,
OVEENE OF ENGLAND, FRAVNCE
AND IRELAND, AND OF VIRGINIA;
Defendovr of the Faith, &c.
HER MOST HVMBLE SERVANT,
Doth, in all Humilitie,
DEDICATE, PRESENT, AND CONSECRATE
THESE HIS L'ABOVRS,
To live with the Eternitie of her Fame.