1596
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Faerie Queene. Book VI. Canto VI.

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. 2 vols.

Edmund Spenser


George L. Craik: "Canto VI. (44 stanzas). — Meanwhile the story proceeds with the cure of Timias and Serena, which, however, is by no means of easy accomplishment. 'No wound, which warlike hand of enemy | Inflicts with dint of sword so sore doth light | As doth the poisonous sting, which infamy | Infixeth in the name of noble wight'.... Such are the wounds inflicted on the bodies of this squire and dame by the Blatant Beast; and they have become much worse than they were at first, from having been neglected. The hermit, nevertheless, does his best 'with many kinds of medicines meet to tame the poisonous humour' that rankles in them....

"But, on searching the wounds of his two patients, he finds at length that internal putrefaction has commenced, so that they seem past help of mere surgery, and rather requiring moral discipline, their corruption, in fact, arising from ill regulated passion. So, proceeding on the rule or old saw, 'Give salve to every sore, but counsel to the mind,' he takes the two one day into his cell, and, knowing as he does wondrous well the art of words, proceeds to address such advice to them as the case requires. It is not from him, he tells them, but from themselves, that they must hope for remedy; if they would recover their health, they must begin by bridling in their outward senses from whatever stirs up frail affection, it being from them that all the evil originally springs, which at first might easily he suppressed, but, being allowed to grow strong, brings anguish into the inner parts, scatters contagious poison through the veins, and never rests till it has done its work of utter destruction. 'For,' he continues, 'that beast's teeth, which wounded you tofore, | Are so exceeding venomous and keen, | Made all of rusty iron rankling sore, | That, where they, bite, it booteth not to ween | With salve, or antidote, or other mean, | It ever to amend'....

"Serena at first loses all hope when she is thus informed that medicine can do nothing for her; Timias, however, requests the hermit, since it is good counsel that they need, to give them such as may suit their case: — 'The best,' said he, 'that I can you advise, | Is, to avoid the occasion of the ill'.... And these wise injunctions the two so well observe that in a short space their malady leaves them, and 'the biting of that harmful beast' is also thoroughly healed in both. They then take their leave of the hermit, but determine, in setting out again upon their wanderings, still to keep each other company — the lady dreading to be left alone, the squire too courteous to forsake her in her need. 'So both together travelled, till they met | With a fair maiden clad in mourning weed, | Upon a mangy jade unmeetly set, | And a lewd fool her leading thorough dry and wet.' The story of this lady, however, is deferred for the present, while we are told that of the fortune that befell the Briton Prince in his encounter with Turpin.

"Arthur, in proceeding upon this adventure, takes no one with him except only the Salvage Man, who will not be prevented from attending him. Arriving at Turpin's castle he finds the gate wide open, and rides straight into the hall. There dismounting, he assumes the appearance of one wearied out with travail and unable to proceed another step, while at the same time his salvage attendant takes his horse and puts him in a stable to feed. Soon a groom makes his appearance, and asks the prince who or what he is who so boldly enters his lord's forbidden hall. The prince, feigning humility, mildly answers that he is a knight errant, who would crave pity on account of many sore wounds he has lately received in fight. But the groom sternly bids him quickly hence avaunt, if he would not pay dear for his audacity; his lord has long hated all errant knights, and will grant lodging to none such: and therewith he lays hands on the prince to thrust him out of doors.

"But just at this moment the Salvage Man enters, and, seeing what the villain is about, flies at him with the fierceness of a lion, and with his teeth and nails rends him and tears him to pieces. Attracted by the noise the other inmates rise in great uproar, and, when they see their fellow lying dead, fall all at once upon the two strangers. They are, however, driven back, and most of them are struck to the ground and slain. The few that are left alive run with the evil tidings to their lord, who, coming to the place, and seeing the ground all strewed with the dead, and the knight and the Salvage Man streaming with their blood, addresses himself to the former in words of rage and scorn, and at the same time makes ready for fight, as do also his forty yeomen by whom he is accompanied.

"They assail the prince all at once and from all sides; in especial, their craven coward leader tries to get behind him that he may murder him before he is aware of his danger; 'for cowardice doth still in villainy delight.' But, perceiving his intent, the prince turns upon him, as might a bull surrounded by many assailants upon a cur trying to bite his heels; he cannot long stand the storm of blows that now falls upon him, but first gives ground, and then, as the prince still presses him hard, at last fairly turns round and takes to flight. Still, however, the prince continues to pursue him, while, as he keeps looking back, terror ever adds new wings to his speed. At last he follows him into the chamber where his love, Blandina, is sitting all alone, and there he smites him senseless to the ground by a stroke with his sword on the head; 'Yet, whether thwart or flatly it did light, | The tempered steel did not into his brainpan bite.'

"The lady on seeing him fall shrieks aloud, and, covering him with her garment, while she falls down on her knees, beseeches the prince to spare him with repeated prayers and vows; so that, in compassion for her wretchedness, he lowers his uplifted hand without giving him a second blow. Still, even after his safety is thus assured, and his protectress has left him again exposed to sight, the miserable craven will not rise, but lies quaking and quivering on the floor till half dragged up by Blandina; and then he stands before them ghastly and full of dread, like a troubled ghost.

"In bitter scorn the prince addresses him: — 'Vile cowherd dog, now do I much repent, | That ever I this life unto thee lent, fly'.... He adds shame to shame, he tells him, and crime to crime by this his coward fear; it was reproach enough to him to have established his wicked custom of stripping knights and ladies of their arms or upper garments; yet not even that evil practice did he maintain with manhood, but only with guile. 'And lastly,' continues the indignant prince, 'Yet, since thy life unto this lady fair | I given have, live in reproach and scorn! | Ne ever arms ne ever knighthood dare | Hence to profess'....

"He now bethinks him of the peril in which he had left his salvage attendant, who he fears must by this time be slain among such a press and throng of foes but, descending to the hall, he there finds him environed about with slaughtered bodies, and still laying about him with unabated vigour. He has got possession of some of the weapons of his numerous adversaries, of which he is making good use; but when the prince makes signs to him to stay his hand he instantly obeys, and, laying his weapons down, follows him up to Blandina's chamber. There, however, as soon as he sees Turpin sitting apparently at his ease, he seizes hold of him to tear him in pieces; but again is at once quieted by the prince's command.

"All things being thus peacefully arranged, the prince rests him for the night in the castle; 'Where him Blandina fairly entertained | With all the courteous glee and goodly feast'.... Turpin, nevertheless, meditates revenge, and lies in wait all night, with his weapons ready, to fall upon the prince while he is asleep; but for very cowardice he lets the night pass away without venturing to make the attempt; and by an early hour in the morning the prince is arisen, and again gone forth on the great enterprise from which no other adventure can ever divert him long" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 3:40-47.



The Hermit heals both Squire and Dame
Of their sore Maladies:
He Turpine doth defeat, and shame
For his late Villanies.

No wound, which warlike Hand of Enemy
Inflicts with dint of Sword, so sore doth light,
As doth the poisonous Sting, which Infamy
Infixeth in the Name of noble Wight:
For, by no Art, nor any Leach's Might
It ever can recured be again;
Ne all the Skill which that immortal Spright
Of Podalyrius did in it retain,
Can remedy such hurts; such hurts are hellish Pain.

Such were the Wounds, the which that Blatant Beast
Made in the Bodies of that Squire and Dame;
And being such, were now much more increast,
For want of taking heed unto the same,
That now corrupt and cureless they became;
How-be that careful Hermit did his best,
With many kinds of Medicines meet, to tame
The poisonous Humour which did most infest
Their rankling Wounds, and ev'ry Day them duely drest.

For, he right well in Leaches Craft was seen;
And through the long Experience of his Days,
Which had in many Fortunes tossed been,
And past through many perilous Assays,
He knew the diverse went of mortal ways,
And in the Minds of Men had great in-sight;
Which, with sage Counsel, when they went astray,
He could inform, and them reduce aright,
And all the Passions heal, which wound the weaker Spright.

For, whylom, he had been a doughty Knight,
As any one that lived in his Days,
And proved oft in many perilous Fight,
In which he Grace and Glory won always,
And in all Battles bore away the Bays.
But being now attacht with timely Age,
And weary of this World's unquiet ways,
He took himself unto this Hermitage,
In which he liv'd alone, like careless Bird in Cage.

One Day, as he was searching of their Wounds,
He found that they had festred privily;
And rankling inward with unruly Stounds,
The inner Parts now 'gan to putrify,
That quite they seem'd past help of Surgery;
And rather needed to be disciplin'd
With wholsom Reed of sad Sobriety,
To rule the stubborn Rage of Passion blind:
Give Salves to every Sore, but Counsel to the Mind.

So, taking them apart into his Cell,
He to that point fit Speeches 'gan to frame,
As he the Art of Words knew wondrous well,
And eke could do, as well as say the same:
And thus he to them said; Fair Daughter Dame,
And you fair Son, which here thus long new lie
In piteous Languor, since ye hither came,
In vain of me ye hope for Remedy,
And I likewise in vain do Salves to you apply.

For, in your self your only help doth lie,
To heal your selves, and must proceed alone
From your own Will, to cure your Malady:
Who can him cure, that will be cur'd of none?
If therefore Health ye seek, observe this one:
First, learn your outward Senses to refrain
From things that stir up frail Affection;
Your Eyes, your Ears, your Tongue, your Talk restrain
From that they most affect, and in due Terms contain.

For, from those outward Senses ill affected,
The Seed of all this Evil first doth spring,
Which at the first before it had infected,
Mote easy be supprest with little thing:
But being growen strong, it forth doth bring
Sorrow, and Anguish, and impatient Pain
In th' inner Parts; and lastly scattering
Contagious Poison close through every Vein,
It never rests, till it have wrought his final Bane.

For, that Beast's Teeth, which wounded you to-fore,
Are so exceeding venomous and keen,
Made all of rusty Iron, rankling sore,
That where they bite, it booteth not to ween
With Salve, or Antidote, or other Mean
It ever to amend: ne marvel ought;
For, that same Beast was bred of hellish Strene,
And long in darksome Stygian Den up-brought,
Begot of foul Echidna, as in Books is taught.

Echidna is a Monster direful dread,
Whom Gods do hate, and Heavens abhor to see;
So hideous is her Shape, so huge her Head,
That ev'n the hellish Fiends affrighted be
At sight thereof, and from her presence flee:
Yet did her Face and former Parts profess
A fair young Maiden, full of comly Glee;
But all her hinder Parts did plain express
A monstrous Dragon, full of fearful Ugliness.

To her the Gods, for her so dreadful Face
(In fearful darkness, furthest from the Sky,
And from the Earth) appointed have her place
'Mongst Rocks and Caves, where she enroll'd doth lie
In hideous Horrour and Obscurity,
Wasting the strength of her immortal Age.
There did Typhaon with her company;
Cruel Typhaon, whose tempestuous Rage
Makes th' Heavens tremble oft, and him with Vows assuage.

Of that Commixtion they did then beget
This hellish Dog, that hight the blatant Beast;
A wicked Monster, that his Tongue doth whet
Gainst all, both good and bad, both most and least,
And pours his pois'nous Gall forth, to infest
The noblest Wights with notable Defame:
Ne ever Knight, that bore so lofty Creast,
Ne ever Lady of so honest Name,
But he them spotted with Reproach, or secret Shame.

In vain therefore it were, with Medicine
To go about to salve such kind of Sore,
That rather needs wise Read and Discipline
Than outward Salves, that may augment it more.
Aye me! said then Serena, sighing sore,
What hope of Help doth then for us remain,
If that no Salves may us to Health restore?
But, sith we need good Counsel, said the Swain,
Aread, good Sire, some Counsel, that may us sustain.

The best, said he, that I can you advise,
Is to avoid th' Occasion of the Ill;
For, when the Cause whence Evil doth arise,
Removed is, th' Effect surceaseth still:
Abstain from Pleasure, and restrain your Will,
Subdue Desire, and bridle loose Delight,
Use scanted Diet, and forbear your Fill,
Shun Secrecy, and talk in open sight;
So shall you soon repair your present evil Plight.

Thus having said, his sickly Patients
Did gladly hearken to his grave Beheast,
And kept so well his wise Commandements,
That in short space their Malady was ceast;
And eke the biting of that harmful Beast
Was throughly heal'd. Tho, when they did perceive
Their Wounds recur'd, and Forces reincreast,
Of that good Hermit both they took their leave,
And went both on their way, ne each would other leave.

But each the other vow'd t' accompany;
The Lady, for that she was much in dread,
Now left alone in great Extremity;
The Squire, for that he courteous was indeed,
Would not her leave alone in her great need.
So both together travel'd, till they met
With a fair Maiden clad in mourning Weed
Upon a mangy Jade unmeetly set,
And a leud Fool her leading thorough dry and wet.

But by what means that shame to her befel,
And how thereof her self she did acquite,
I must awhile forbear to you to tell;
Till that, as comes by course, I do recite
What fortune to the Briton Prince did light,
Pursuing that proud Knight, the which whileare
Wrought to Sir Calepine so foul Despight;
And eke his Lady, though she sickly were
So leudly had abus'd, as ye did lately hear.

The Prince, according to the former token,
Which fair Serene to him deliver'd had,
Pursu'd him straight, in mind to been ywroken
Of all the vile Demean, and Usage bad
With which he had those two so ill bestad:
Ne Wight with him on that Adventure went
But that wild Man; whom though he oft forbad
Yet for no bidding, nor for being shent,
Would he restrained be from his Attendement.

Arriving there, as did by chaunce befall,
He found the Gate wide ope, and in he rode,
Ne staid till that he came into the Hall,
Where soft dismounting like a weary Load,
Upon the Ground with feeble Feet he bode,
As he unable were for very need
To move one Foot, but there must make abode:
The whiles the Salvage Man did take his Steed,
And in some Stable near did set him up to feed.

E'er long, to him a homely Groom there came,
That in rude wise him asked what he was,
That durst so boldly, without lett or shame,
Into his Lord's forbidden Hall to pass.
To whom, the Prince (him faining to embase)
Mild answer made; he was an errant Knight,
The which was fall'n into this feeble case
Through many Wounds, which lately he in fight
Received had, and pray'd to pity his ill plight.

But he, the more outrageous and bold,
Sternly did bid him quickly thence avaunt,
Or dear aby; for why, his Lord of old
Did hate all errant Knights which there did haunt,
Ne Lodging would to any of them graunt:
And therefore lightly bade him pack away,
Not sparing him with bitter words to taunt;
And there-withal, rude Hand on him did lay,
To thrust him out of door, doing his worst assay.

Which, when the Salvage coming now in place
Beheld, eftsoons he all enraged grew;
And running straight upon that Villain base,
Like a fell Lion at him fiercely flew,
And with his Teeth and Nails, in present view
Him rudely rent, and all to pieces tore:
So, miserably him all helpless slew,
That with the Noise, whilst he did loudly roar,
The People of the House rose forth in great Uproar.

Who, when on Ground they saw their Fellow slain,
And that same Knight and Salvage standing by,
Upon them two they fell with might and main,
And on them laid so huge and horribly,
As if they would have slain them presently.
But the bold Prince defended him so well,
And their Assault withstood so mightily,
That maugre all their Might, he did repel
And beat them back, whilst many underneath him fell.

Yet he them still so sharply did pursue,
That few of them he left alive, which fled,
Those evil Tidings to their Lord to shew:
Who, hearing how his People badly sped,
Came forth in haste; where, when-as with the Dead
He saw the Ground all strow'd, and that same Knight
And Salvage with their Blood fresh steeming red,
He wox nigh mad with Wrath and fell Despight,
And with reproachful Words him thus bespake on hight:

Art thou he, Traitor, that with Treason vile
Hast slain my Men in this unmanly Manner,
And now triumphest in the piteous spoil
Of these poor Folk, whose Souls with black Dishonour
And foul Defame do deck thy bloody Banner?
The Meed whereof shall shortly be thy Shame,
And wretched End, which still attendeth on her.
With that, himself to Battle he did frame;
So did his sorry Yeomen, which these with him came.

With dreadful Force they all did him assail,
And round about with boistrous Strokes oppress,
That on his Shield did rattle like to Hail
In a great Tempest; that in such distress,
He wist not to which side him to address.
And evermore that craven coward Knight,
Was at his back with heartless Heediness,
Waiting if he unwares him murder might:
For, Cowardize doth still in Villany delight.

Whereof when-as the Prince was well aware,
He to him turn'd with furious intent,
And him against his Power 'gan to prepare;
Like a fierce Bull, that being busy bent
To fight with many Foes about him ment,
Feeling some Cur behind his Heels to bite,
Turns him about with fell Avengement:
So likewise turn'd the Prince upon the Knight,
And lay'd at him amain with all his Will and Might.

Who, when he once his dreadful Strokes had tasted,
Durst not the fury of his Force abide,
But turn'd aback, and to retire him hasted
Through the thick Press, there thinking him to hide.
But when the Prince had once him plainly ey'd,
He foot by foot him followed alway,
Ne would him suffer once to shrink aside;
But joining close, huge load at him did lay:
Who flying still did ward, and warding fly away.

But, when his Foe he still so eager saw,
Unto his heels himself he did betake,
Hoping unto some refuge to withdraw:
Ne would the Prince him ever foot forsake,
Where-so he went, but after him did make.
He fled from Room to Room, from Place to Place,
Whilst every Joint for dread of Death did quake,
Still looking after him that did him chase;
That made him evermore increase his speedy pace.

At last, he up into the Chamber came,
Whereas his Love was sitting all alone
Waiting what tidings of her Folk became.
There did the Prince him overtake anone,
Crying in vain to her, him to bemone;
And with his Sword him on the Head did smite,
That to the ground he fell in senseless Sowne:
Yet whether thwart or flatly it did lite,
The tempred Steel did not into his Brain-pan bite.

Which when the Lady saw, with great affright
She starting up, began to shrieke aloud;
And with her Garment covering him from sight,
Seem'd under her protection him to shroud;
And falling lowly at his Feet, her bow'd
Upon her Knee, intreating him for Grace,
And often him besought, and pray'd, and vow'd;
That with the Ruth of her so wretched case,
He staid his second Stroke, and did his Hand abase.

Her Weed she then withdrawing, did him discover:
Who now come to himself; yet would not rise
But still did lie as dead, and quake and quiver,
That ev'n the Prince his Baseness did despise;
And eke his Dame him seeing in such guise,
'Gan him recomfort, and from ground to rear.
Who rising up at last in ghastly wise,
Like troubled Ghost did dreadfully appear,
As one that had no Life him left through former fear.

Whom when the Prince so deadly saw dismay'd,
He for such Baseness shamefully him shent,
And with sharp Words did bitterly upbraid;
Vile coward Dog, now do I much repent,
That ever I this Life unto thee lent,
Whereof thou Caitive so unworthy art;
That both thy Love, for lack of Hardiment,
And eke thy self, for want of manly Heart,
And eke all Knights hast shamed with this knightless part.

Yet further hast thou heaped Shame to Shame,
And Crime to Crime, by this thy coward Fear.
For, first it was to thee reproachful blame,
T' erect this wicked Custom, which I hear,
Gainst errant Knights and Ladies thou dost rear;
Whom when thou mayst, thou dost of Arms despoil,
Or of their upper Garment which they wear:
Yet doost thou not with Manhood, but with Guile,
Maintain this evil Use, thy Foes thereby to foil.

And lastly, in approvance of thy Wrong,
To shew such Faintness and foul Cowardize,
Is greatest shame for oft it falls, that strong
And valiant Knights do rashly enterprize,
Either for Fame, or else for Exercise,
A wrongful Quarrel to maintain by Fight;
Yet have, through Prowess and their brave Emprize,
Gotten great Worship in this Worldes sight.
For, greater Force there needs to maintain Wrong than Right.

Yet sith thy Life unto this Lady fair
I given have, live in reproach and scorn;
Ne ever Arms, ne ever Knighthood dare
Hence to profess: for, shame is to adorn
With so brave Badges one so basely born;
But only breathes sith that I did forgive.
So, having from his craven Body torn
Those goodly Arms, he them away did give,
And only suffer'd him this wretched Life to live.

There, whilst he thus was settling things above,
Atween that Lady mild and recreant Knight,
To whom his Life he granted for her love,
He 'gan bethink him in what perillous Plight
He had behind him left that Salvage Wight,
Amongst so many Foes; whom sure he thought
By this quite slain in so unequal fight:
Therefore, descending back in haste, he sought
If yet he were alive, or to Destruction brought.

There he him found environed about
With slaughter'd Bodies, which his Hand had slain;
And laying yet afresh with Courage stout
Upon the rest that did alive remain;
Whom he likewise light sorely did constrain,
Like scatter'd Sheep, to seek for safety,
After he gotten had with busy Pain
Some of their Weapons, which thereby did lie,
With which he lay'd about, and made them fast to flie.

Whom when the Prince so felly saw to rage,
Approaching to him near, his Hand he stay'd,
And sought, by making signs, him to assuage:
Who, him perceiving, straight to him obey'd,
As to his Lord, and down his Weapons laid,
As if he long had to his Heasts been train'd.
Thence he him brought away, and up convey'd
Into the Chamber, where the Dame remain'd
With her unworthy Knight, who ill him entertain'd.

Whom, when the Salvage saw from danger free,
Sitting beside his Lady there at ease,
He well remembred, thee the same was he,
Which lately sought his Lord for to displease:
Tho, all in rage, he on him straight did sieze
As if he would in pieces him have rent;
And were not that the Prince did him appease,
He had not left one Limb of him unrent:
But straight ne held his Hand, at his Commandement.

Thus, having all things well in peace ordain'd,
The Prince himself there all that Night did rest;
Where him Blandina fairly entertain'd,
With all the courteous Glee and goodly Feast,
The which for him she could imagine best.
For, well she knew the ways to win Good-Will
Of every Wight, that were not too infest;
And how to please the Minds of good and ill,
Through tempering of her Words and Looks by wondrous Skill.

Yet were her Words and Looks but false and feign'd,
To some hid end to make more easy way,
Or to allure such Fondlings, whom she train'd
Into her Trap unto their own Decay:
Thereto when needed, she could weep and pray,
And when her listed, she could fawn and flatter;
Now smiling smoothly, like to Summers-day,
Now glooming sadly, so to cloke her Matter;
Yet were her Words but Wind, and all her Tears but Water.

Whether such Grace were given her by kind,
As Women wont their guileful Wits to guide;
Or learn'd the Art to please, I do not find.
This well I wote, that she so well apply'd
Her pleasing Tongue, that soon she pacify'd
The wrathful Prince, and wrought her Husband's Peace:
Who natheless, not therewith satisfy'd,
His rancorous Despight did not release,
Ne secretly from thought of fell Revenge surcease.

For all that Night, the whiles the Prince did rest
In careless Couch, nor weeting what was ment,
He watcht in close await with Weapons prest,
Willing to work his villanous Intent
On him that had so shamefully him shent:
Yet durst he not for very Cowardize
Effect the same, whilst all the Night was spent.
The morrow next, the Prince did early rise,
And passed forth, to follow his first Enterprize.

[Works, ed Hughes (1715) 4:922-33]