1811 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Walter Scott

Anonymous, "Spenser and Scott" Harvard Lyceum [Cambridge] 1 (26 January 1811) 358.



Is there not a coincidence of thought worth noticing in the following lines from Spenser's Faerie Queene, and Walter Scott's Lady of the Lake? Both extracts represent a distressed female feelingly alluding to former prosperity. It is difficult to say whether the English or the Scottish bard is the more happy, in the colouring of this exquisite touch of nature.

In the Faerie Queene, Fidessa speaks thus:

The wretched woman, whom unhappy howre
Hath now made thrall to your commandement,
Before that angry heavens list to lowre,
And fortune false betraide me to thy power,
Was, ("O what now availeth that I was!")
Borne the sole daughter of an emperour, &c.

Scott thus describes Ellen Douglas, when insulted in the guard-room:

Her dark eye flashed — she paused — and sighed,
"O what have I to do with pride!"
Through scenes of sorrow, shame, and strife, &c.

It is pleasing to observe any similarity of thought or expression in the writings of those poets, whose labours have been so highly and justly appreciated.