Faerie Queene. Book IV. Canto IX.

The Faerie Queene. Disposed into Twelve Bookes, fashioning XII. morall Vertues. The Second Part of the Faerie Queene. Containing the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Bookes.

Edmund Spenser

George L. Craik: "Canto IX. (41 stanzas). — In this Canto we are to see proved by example how much stronger is friendship than either love or natural affection, although at the same time it will appear that of those two last the former has most power over the heart: — 'For, though Paeana were as fair as morn, | Yet did this trusty squire with proud disdain | For his friend's sake her offered favours scorn, | And she herself her sire of whom she was yborn.'

"The stratagem that Prince Arthur adopts for getting into the castle of the slain tyrant, where Amias is detained, is to take Corflambo's dead body, and, having again imprest, or fastened, the head to it, to set it on his dromedary, with Placidas laid before it, as if he had been taken captive; and then to force the dwarf to lead the beast along. When they come to the gate it is immediately opened without any suspicion by the warder, and Arthur enters. Here he finds the fair Paeana in her delicious bower, playing on a rote (by which Spenser must here be supposed to mean a kind of harp, whatever ground there may be for Ritson's assertion that the instrument, taking its name from the Latin word for a wheel, was really nothing else than what we now call a hurdy-gurdy). She is 'Complaining of her cruel paramour, | And singing all her sorrow to the note;' and that so sweetly, that 'The prince half wrapped began on her to dote; | Till, better him bethinking of the right, | He her unawares attached, and captive held by might.'

"At first she calls to her father for aid, but she soon perceives the state to which he is reduced: — 'Then gan she loudly cry, and weep, and wail, | And that same squire of treason to upbraid: | But all in vain; her plaints might not prevail | Ne none there was to rescue her, ne none to bail.' The prince then compels the dwarf to open the door of the prison, and above a score of knights and squires are released from bondage. Among the rest Amias is brought forth; he is weak and wan, and not like himself; but, as soon as they see him, Aemilia and Placidas both run up, and, clasping him in their arms, kiss him again and again, so that Paeana not only envies them, but falls 'bitterly to ban,' in her jealousy and rage. It would appear from this that Aemilia, and of course Amoret also, had either been sent for by the prince after he had gotten possession of the castle, or had entered along with him, although the poet has forgotten to say so. After regarding the two squires, however, a little longer, as they stand embracing one another, Paeana begins to doubt which of them is the one she so dearly loves — 'For they so like in person did appear, | That she uneath discerned whether whether were.' The Prince, too, and all the other knights and squires are equally amazed at their perfect resemblance.

"A vast store of hoarded treasure is found in the castle: — 'Upon all which the Briton prince made seizure | And afterwards continued there awhile | To rest himself, and solace in soft pleasure | Those weaker ladies after weary toil | To whom he did divide part of his purchased spoil.' For more joy, he even grants her liberty to 'that captive lady fair, the fair Paeana,' and sets her 'in sumptuous chair, to feast and frolic' with the rest; but she nevertheless will show no gladsome countenance, grieving for the loss both of her sire and of her 'land and fee,' but most of all for loss of her love, the handsome squire (though whether she has yet made up her mind which of the two young men it is that she has been attached to, and would like to retain, we are not informed). The Prince, however, takes great pains to mollify her both by 'good thewes,' or courtesy of manner, and kind speeches.... 'Thereto he offered for to make him [Placidas] chief | Of all her land and lordship during life: | He yielded, and her took; so stinted all their strife'.... From that day, it is added, they lived together long in peace and joy; and the fair Paeana, whose beauty, unsurpassed by that of any other lady of her time, had formerly been stained by such irregularities, 'thenceforth reformed her ways, | That all men much admired her change, arid spake her praise.'

"It may be presumed that, Placidas being thus provided for, Amias and Aemilia were also united; but all that is said is, that the Prince 'perfectly compiled (that is, brought together) these pairs of friends in peace and settled rest;' and then, turning to his proper quest, set out again, taking only Amoret with him. Poor Amoret, who has gone through so many dangers, does not find herself left alone and helpless 'in the victor's power, like vassal bond,' without some natural feelings of shame and fear; but she has no ground for any apprehension with so honourable a protector as Arthur: — 'all the while he by his side her bore, | She was as safe as in a sanctuary;' and so they ride together for many miles, she hoping to find her love, he his, and not showing 'their heart's privity' to one another.

"At length they come upon six knights, all, as appears, in a state of great excitement, and fighting with one another, but four of them engaged with especial activity and fury. These are four of the knights from whose competition, as related in the Fifth Canto, the false Florimel had been won and carried off by Braggadoccio — namely, our old acquaintances Blandamour and Paridel, and two others, the stern Druon and the lewd Claribel. The other two are Britomart and Scudamore, whom, it may be remembered, we left setting out together in quest of Amoret at the end of the Sixth Canto; they have only just come up, and are standing aside, wondering at the confused contention of the rest, who, spurred on by Ate and Duessa, were waging this wild and doubtful strife 'for love of that same snowy maid.' And 'sometimes Paridel and Blandamour | The better had, and bet the others back; | Eftsoons the others did the field recoure, | And on their foes did work full cruel wrack'....

"But soon, perceiving Scudamore and Britomart, and remembering how they had been discomfited by the latter at the recent tournay, they all turn upon these two: — 'Who wondering much at that so sudden fit, | Yet nought dismayed, them stoutly well withstood; | Ne yielded foot, ne once aback did flit, | But, being doubly smitten, likewise doubly smit'.... It is in vain that Britomart again and again tries to bring them to parley; they will no more stop for a moment to listen to her than will an eager mastiff be called off by words from the gored beast whose blood he has once tasted. Arthur, however, indignant to see the unequal match, now strikes in; he, too, after he has compelled them somewhat to give way, endeavours to pacify them with mild speeches; but, when this kind attempt produces no effect, he is not long in compelling them by force to crave respite and mercy. They then accuse Britomart of having both despoiled them of their public praise and beguiled them of their private loves; she easily shows the absurdity of these charges; and the Prince declares his judgment that they are much in the wrong. Then Britomart speaks again: — 'And yet,' quoth she, 'a greater wrong remains: | For I thereby my former love have lost; | Whom seeking ever since with endless pains | Hath me much sorrow and much travel cost'.... and so forth.

"This is not quite intelligible. For Britomart had not, as she here states, lost Amoret through anything that the four knights had done; she had lost her, as we have seen, after the tournament was over and she and they had parted and left the place in different directions. It is strange, too, that Amoret should remain all this while unnoticed by either Britomart or Scudamore, and that she herself should not ere now have recognized both the one and the other. If she had retired to a distance, or been left behind by Arthur (which it is not said that she did or was) when he threw himself into the fray, it would seem to be natural that she should now be brought forward when the fighting is all over. And what makes the case the more puzzling is, that, as we shall find, she is spoken of in the beginning of the next Canto as if she never had been absent.

"We think with Upton that something is clearly wanting, and that probably the poet intended to introduce here, after the speech of Scudamore, with some few necessary alterations, the stanzas which originally stood at the end of the Third Book describing the happy, meeting between him and Amoret. As it is, no mention is made of Amoret in this place; but, a general harmony having now been established, and the whole party having agreed to pursue their journey together, Scudamore is besought by Sir Claribel (now characterized by the epithet 'good') to favour them, as they ride along, with a recital of the adventure he had undertaken for his fair lady's love; and all the rest joining in the request, Britomart especially urging it with earnest importunity, Scudamore consents to comply, as he does in the next Canto.

"On the whole, this short Canto has the air of having been hastily composed merely to carry forward the narrative and connect what precedes with what follows, and neither to have been worked up with the poet's customary elaboration, nor even to have received his last corrections. The carelessness with which it would seem to have been thrown off and dismissed appears even in the usual metrical summary with which it is headed, where we are told that 'The Squire of Low Degree, released, | Paeana takes to wife;' whereas it is, indeed, the Squire of Low Degree, Amias, who is released, but his friend Placidas, the Trusty Squire, who marries Paeana. The inferiority of this Canto may have been artfully intended as a foil, the more to set oft the splendid writing upon which we are now about to enter" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 2:139-45.

The Squire of low Degree, releas'd,
Poeana takes to Wife:
Britomart fights with many Knights,
Prince Arthur stints their Strife.

Hard is the Doubt, and difficult to deem,
When all three kinds of Love together meet,
And do dispart the Heart with Pow'r extreme,
Whether shall weigh the Ballance down; to weet,
The dear Affection unto Kindred sweet,
Or raging Fire of Love to Woman-kind,
Or Zeal of Friends combin'd with Vertues meet.
But of them all, the Band of vertuous Mind
Me seems the gentle Heart should most assured bind.

For natural Affection soon doth cease,
And quenched is with Cupid's greater Flame:
But faithful Friendship doth them both suppress,
And them with maistring Discipline doth tame,
Thro Thoughts aspiring to eternal Fame.
For as the Soul doth rule the earthly Mass,
And all the Service of the Body frame;
So Love of Soul doth Love of Body pass,
No less than perfect Gold surmounts the meanest Brass.

All which who list by Trial to assay,
Shall in this Story find approved plain;
In which this Squire's true Friendship more did sway,
Than either Care of Parents could refrain,
Or Love of fairest Lady could constrain.
For tho Poeana were as fair as Morn,
Yet did this trusty Squire with proud Disdain,
For his Friend's take her offer'd Favours scorn,
And she her self her Sire, of whom she was yborn.

Now after that Prince Arthur graunted had,
To yield strong Succour to that gentle Swain,
Who now long time had lyen in Prison sad,
He 'gan advise how best he mote darrain
That Enterprise, for greatest Glory's Gain.
That headless Tyrant's Trunk he rear'd from ground,
And having ympt the Head to it again,
Upon his usual Beast it firmly bound,
And made it so to ride, as it alive was found.

Then did he take that chaced Squire, and laid
Before the Rider, as he captive were,
And made his Dwarf (tho with unwilling Aid)
To guide the Beast, that did his Maister bear,
Till to his Castle they approached near.
Whom, when the Watch, that kept continual Ward,
Saw coming home; all void of doubtful Fear,
He running down, the Gate to him unbar'd;
Whom strait the Prince ensuing, in together far'd.

There he did find in her delicious Bow'r,
The fair Poeana playing on a Rote,
Complaining of her cruel Paramour,
And singing all her Sorrow to the Note,
As she had learned readily by rote;
That with the Sweetness of her rare Delight,
The Prince half rapt, began on her to dote:
Till better him bethinking of the Right,
He her unwares attach'd, and captive held by might.

Whence being forth produc'd, when she perceiv'd
Her own dear Sire, the call'd to him for Aid.
But when of him no Answer she perceiv'd,
But saw him senseless by the Squire up-staid,
She weened well, that then she was betray'd:
Than 'gan she loudly cry, and weep and waile,
And that same Squire of Treason to upbraid.
But all in vain, her Plaints might not prevaile,
Ne none there was to rescue her, ne none to baile.

Then took he that same Dwarf and him compel'd
To open unto him the Prison-door,
And forth to bring those Thralls which there he held.
Thenceforth were brought to him about a score
Of Knights and Squires to him unknown afore:
All which he did from bitter Bondage free,
And unto former Liberty restore.
Amongst the rest, that Squire of low degree
Came forth full weak and wan, not like himself to be.

Whom soon as fair Aemylia beheld;
And Placidas, they both unto him ran,
And him embracing fast betwixt them held.
Striving to comfort him all that they can,
And kissing oft his Visage pale and wan;
That fair Poeana them beholding both,
'Gan both envy and bitterly to ban;
Through jealous Passion weeping inly wroth,
To see the Sight perforce, that both her Eyes were loth.

But when awhile they had together been,
And diversly conferred of their Case;
She, though full oft she both of them had seen
Asunder, yet not ever in one Place,
Began to doubt, when she them saw embrace,
Which was the captive Squire she lov'd so dear,
Deceived through great likeness of their Face,
For they so like in Person did appear,
That she uneath discerned, whether whether woe.

And eke the Prince, when as he them aviz'd,
Their like Resemblance much admired there,
And maz'd how Nature had so well disguiz'd
Her Work, and counterfeit herself so near,
As if that by one Pattern seen somewhere,
She had them made a Paragone to be;
Or, whether it through Skill, or Error were.
Thus gazing long, at them much wondred he,
So did the other Knights and Squires, which them did see.

Then 'gan they ransack that same Castle strong,
In which he found great store of hoorded Treasure;
The which, that Tyrant gather'd had by Wrong
And tortious Pow'r, without respect or measure.
Upon all which the Briton Prince made seisure,
And afterwards continu'd there awhile,
To rest himself, and solace in soft Pleasure
Those weaker Ladies after weary Toil;
To whom he did divide Part of his purchas'd Spoil.

And for more Joy, that captive Lady fair,
The fair Poeana he enlarged free;
And by the rest did set in sumptuous Chair,
To feast and frolick; nathemore would she
Shew gladsome Countenance nor pleasant Glee:
But grieved was for Loss both of her Sire,
And eke of Lordship with both Land and Fee;
But most she touched was with Grief entire,
For loss of her new Love, the Hope of her Desire.

But her the Prince, through his well-wonted Grace,
To better Terms of Mildness did intreat,
From that foul Rudeness, which did her deface;
And that same bitter Cor'sive which did eat
Her tender Heart, and made refrain from Meat,
He with good Thews and Speeches well apply'd,
Did mollify, and calm her raging Heat.
For though she were most fair, and goodly dide,
Yet she it all did mar with Cruelty and Pride.

And for to shut up all in friendly Love,
With Love was first the ground of all her Grief,
That trusty Squire he wisely well did move
Not to despise that Dame, which lov'd him lief;
Till he had made of her some better prief,
But to accept her to his weded Wife.
Thereto he offer'd for to make him chief
Of all her Land and Lordship during Life:
He yielded, and her took; so stinted all their Strife.

From that day forth, in Peace and joyous Bliss,
They liv'd together long without Debate:
Ne private Jar, ne Spite of Enemis
Could shake the safe assurance of their state.
And she whom Nature did so fair create,
That she mote match the fairest of her days,
Yet with leud Loves and Lust intemperate
Had it defac'd; thenceforth reform'd her ways,
That all men much admir'd her Change, and spake her Praise.

Thus when the Prince had perfectly compil'd
These Pairs of Friends in Peace and settled Rest;
Himself, whose Mind did travail as with child
Of his old Love, conceiv'd in secret Breast,
Resolved to pursue his former Guest:
And taking leave of all, with him did bear
Fair Amoret, whom Fortune by bequest
Had left in his Protection whileare,
Exchanged out of one into another Fear.

Fear of her safety did her not constrain:
For, well she wist now in a mighty Hond,
Her Person late in Peril, did remain,
Who able was, all Dangers to withstond.
But now in fear of Shame she more did stond,
Seeing herself all soly succourless,
Left in the Victor's Pow'r, like Vassal bond:
Whose Will her Weakness could no way repress,
In case his burning Lust should break into excess.

But cause of Fear sure had she none at all
Of him, who goodly learned had of yore
The Course of loose Affection to forestall,
And lawless Lust to rule with Reason's Lore;
That all the while he by his side her bore,
She was as safe as in a Sanctuary.
Thus many Miles they two together wore
To seek their Loves dispersed diversly,
Yet neither shew'd to other their Hearts Privity.

At length they came, whereas a Troop of Knights
They saw together skirmishing, as seem'd:
Six they were all, all full of fell Despight;
But four of them the Battel best beseem'd,
That which of them was best, mote not be deem'd.
Those four were they, from whom false Florimel.
By Braggadochio lately was redeem'd;
To weet, stern Druon, and leud Claribel,
Love-lavish Blandamore, and lustful Paridel.

Druon's Delight was all in single Life,
And unto Ladies Love would lend no leisure:
The more was Claribel enraged rife
With fervent flames, and loved out of measure:
So eke lov'd Blandamore, but yet at pleasure
Would change his Liking, and new Lemans prove:
But Paridel of Love did make no Treasure,
But lusted after all that him did move.
So diversly these four disposed were to love.

But those two other, which beside them stood,
Were Britomart, and gentle Scudamore,
Who all the while beheld their wrathful Mood,
And wondred at their implacable Stour,
Whose like they never saw till that same hour:
So dreadful Strokes each did at other drive,
And laid on load with all their Might and Pow'r,
As if that every Dint the Ghost would rive
Out of their wretched Corses, and their Lives deprive:

As when Dan Aeolus in great displeasure,
For loss of his dear Love by Neptune hent,
Sends forth the Winds out of his hidden Treasure,
Upon the Sea to wreak his fell Intent;
They breaking forth with rude Unruliment,
From all four Parts of Heaven do rage full sore,
And toss the Deeps and tear the Firmament,
And all the World confound with wide Uprore,
As if instead thereof, they chaos would restore.

Cause of their Discord, and so fell Debate,
Was for the Love of that same snowy Maid,
Whom they had lost in Turneyment of late;
And seeking long, to weet which way she straid,
Met here together: where, through leud Upbraid
Of Ate and Duessa, they fell out;
And each one taking part in other's aid,
This cruel Conflict raised there-about,
Whose dangerous Success depended yet in doubt.

For sometimes Paridel and Blandamore
The better had, and bet the others back;
Eftsoons the others did the Field recoure,
And on their Foes did work full cruel wrack:
Yet neither would their Fiend-like fury slack,
But evermore their Malice did augment;
Till that uneath they forced were, for lack
Of Breath, their raging Rigour to relent,
And rest themselves, for to recover Spirits spent.

There 'gan they change their sides, and new parts take;
For Paridel did take to Druon's side,
For old despight, which now forth newly brake
'Gainst Blandamore, whom always he envy'd:
And Blandamore to Claribel rely'd.
So all afresh gan former Fight renew:
As when two Barks, this carried with the Tide,
That with the Wind, contrary Courses sue,
If Wind and Tide do change, their Courses change anew.

Thence-forth, they much more furiously gan fare,
As if but then the Battel had begun;
Ne Helmets bright, ne Hawberks strong did spare,
That through the Clifts the vermeil Blood out spun,
And all adown their riven Sides did run.
Such mortal Malice, wonder was to see
In Friends profest, and so great Out-rage done:
But sooth is said, and cry'd in each degree,
Faint Friends when they fall out, most cruel Foe-men be.

Thus they long while continued in fight,
Till Scudamore, and that same Briton Maid,
By Fortune in that Place did chance to light:
Whom soon as they with wrathful Eye bewraide,
They gan remember of the foul Up-braid,
The which that Britoness had to them done,
In that late Turney for the snowy Maid;
Where she had them both shamefully fordone,
And eke the famous Prize of Beauty from them won.

Eftsoones all burning with a fresh Desire
Of fell Revenge, in their malicious Mood,
They from themselves gan turn their furious Ire,
And cruel Blades yet steeming with hot Blood,
Against those two let drive, as they were wood:
Who wondring much at that so sudden Fit,
Yet nought dismaid, them stoutly well withstood;
Ne yielded foot, ne once aback did flit,
But being doubly smitten, likewise doubly smit.

The war-like Dame was on her part assaid
Of Claribel and Blandamore attone;
And Paridel and Druon fiercely laid
At Scudamore, both his professed Fone.
Four charged two, and two surcharged one:
Yet did those to themselves so bravely bear,
That th' other little gained by the lone,
But with their own repayed duly were,
And Usury withal: such Gain was gotten dear.

Full often-times did Britomart assay
To speak to them, and some Emparlance move;
But they for nought their cruel Hands would stay,
Ne lend an Ear to ought that might behove.
As when an eager Mastiff once doth prove
The Taste of Blood of some engored Beast,
No Words may rate, nor Rigour him remove
From greedy hold of that his bloody Feast:
So little did they harken to her sweet Beheast.

Whom when the Briton Prince afar beheld,
With odds of so unequall Match opprest
His mighty Heart with Indignation swell'd,
And inward Grudge fill'd his heroick Breast:
Eftsoones himself he to their aid addrest.
And thrusting fierce into the thickest Prease,
Divided them, however loth to rest,
And would them fain from Battel to surcease,
With gentle words persuading them to friendly Peace.

But they so far from Peace or Patience were,
That all attonce at him 'gan fiercely fly,
And lay on load, as they him down would bear;
Like to a Storm, which hovers under Sky
Long here and there, and round about doth ply,
At length breaks down in Rain, and Hail, and Sleet,
First, from one Coast, till nought thereof be dry;
And then another, till that likewise fleet;
And so from side to side, till all the World it weet.

But now their Forces greatly were decay'd,
The Prince yet being fresh untouch'd afore;
Who them with Speeches mild 'gan first dissuade
From such foul Outrage, and them long forbore:
Till seeing them thro Suffrance heartned more,
Himself he bent their furies to abate;
And laid at them so sharply and so sore,
That shortly them compelled to retreat,
And being brought in danger, to relent too late.

But now his Courage being throughly fir'd,
Me meant to make them know their Folly's Prise,
Had not those two him instantly desir'd
T' assuage his Wrath, and pardon their Mesprise.
At whose Request he gan himself advise
To stay his hand, and of a Truce to treat
In milder Terms, as list them to devise:
Mongst which, the cause of their so cruel Heat
He did them ask, who all that passed gan repeat;

And told at large how that same errant Knight,
To weet fair Britomart, them late had foil'd
In open Turney, and by wrongful Fight,
Both of their publick Praise had them despoil'd,
And also of their private Loves beguil'd;
Of two, full hard to read the harder Theft.
But she that wrongful Challenge soon assoil'd,
And shew'd that she had nor that Lady reft
(As they suppos'd) but her had to her liking left.

To whom, the Prince thus goodly well reply'd;
Certes, Sir Knight, ye seemen much to blame,
To rip up Wrong, that Battel once hath try'd;
Wherein the Honour both of Arms ye shame,
And eke the Love of Ladies foul defame:
To whom the World this Franchise ever yielded,
That of their Loves choice they might Freedom claim,
And in that Right, should by all Knights be shielded,
Gainst which me seems this War ye wrongfully have wielded.

And yet, quoth she, a greater Wrong remains:
For, I thereby my former Love have lost;
Whom seeking ever since with endless pains,
Hath me much Sorrow and much Travel cost:
Aye me! to see that gentle Maid so tost.
But Scudamore, then sighing deep, thus said;
Certes, her Loss ought me to sorrow most
Whose right she is, where-ever she be stray'd,
Through many Perils won, and many fortunes waide.

For, from the first that I her Love profest,
Unto this hour, this present luckless hour,
I never joyed Happiness nor Rest;
But, thus turmoil'd from one to other Stour,
I waste my Life, and do my Days devour
In wretched Anguish and incessant Woe,
Palling the measure of my feeble Pow'r;
That living thus, a wretch, and loving so,
I neither can my Love, ne yet my Life forgo.

Then good Sir Claribel him thus bespake;
Now were it not Sir Scudamore to you
Dislikeful Pain, so sad a task to take,
Mote we intreat you, sith this gentle Crew
Is now so well accorded all anew,
That as we ride together on our way
Ye will recount to us in order due
All that Adventure, which ye did assay
For that fair Lady's Love; past Perils well apay.

So 'gan the rest him likewise to require;
But Britomart did him importune hard
To take on him that pain: whose great Desire
He glad to satisfy, himself prepar'd
To tell through what Misfortune he had far'd,
In that Atchivement, as to him befel,
And all those Dangers unto them declar'd:
Which sith they cannot in this Canto well
Comprised be, I will them in another tell.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 3:655-65]