1647
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Canto of the Progresse of Learning.

Il Pastor Fido, the Faithfull Shepherd. A Pastorall written in Italian by Baptista Guarini, a Knight of Italie. And now newly translatated out of the original.

Sir Richard Fanshawe


28 Spenserians; a paragone imitating the Mutabilitie Cantos. Richard Fanshawe imitates Spenser's stanza and topics, but not much of his manner in what is, after all, a georgic-inspired poem on the subject of intellectual progress.

Herbert E. Cory: "There were some who inconsistently wrote in different veins. Such a man was Sir Richard Fanshawe, a good friend of the classicist Denham, but having many sympathies with the Elizabethans and Marinists. In 1676 a number of his miscellaneous poems appeared along with his translation of Guarini's Il Pastor Fido. A Canto of the Progress of Learning, though in Spenserian stanzas, is far less florid than some of his sonnets and lyrics. On the other hand its opening line, 'Tell me, O Muse, and tell me Spencer's Ghost,' seems to indicate that the master's poetry was not far from his thoughts. Again he translated Virgil, the idol of the Augustans, in the Spenserian stanza, a form quite generally regarded, even by its admirers in that day, as unfit for heroic poetry" "Critics of Edmund Spenser" UCPMP (1911) 110-11.

John Buxton: "Two versions of this are to be found in his manuscript book, both in Spenserian stanzas, and the final version begins with a twofold invocation to the Muse and to Spenser's ghost" Tradition of Poetry (1967) 111.

Peter Davison: "The figures of Wit and Craft plead before the bar of Nature the relative merits of utilitarian and humane studies, a dilemma felt by Fanshawe in his own hesitation between the law and poetry" Spenser Encyclopedia (1990) 300.

Peter Davison: "The externalization of an interior conflict in the form of a trial owes a debt to Spenser's Mutability Cantos; and particular use is made of the seventh and eighth Cantos of Mutabilitie.... There are other, lesser Spenserian echoes, particularly of the Four Hymnes: Fanshawe's account of creation owes some of its vocabulary to the Hymne in Honour of Love ... and Wit's inspiriting of man has its source in the Hymne in Honour of Beautie.... It is the Hymne in Honour of Love, however, which supplies much of the vocabulary for the apotheosis with which A Canto of the Progresse of Learning concludes" Poems and Translations (1997) 362.

N. W. Bawcutt reprints the alternate version in 12 Spenserians (1964) 93-96, as does Peter Davison.

Edward Phillips mentions a translation of "Spenser's Shepheardes Calender into Latin Verse" Theatrum Poetarum (1675) by Fanshawe, perhaps thinking of Fanshawe's Latin translation of The Faithful Shepherdess (1658).



Tell me O Muse, and tell me Spencers ghost,
What may have bred in knowledge such decay
Since ancient times, that wee can hardly boast
We understand those grounds they then did lay?
Much I impute to th' shortning of the day,
(Our life, which was a stride, being shrunck t' a spanne)
Yet sure there are besides some rubbs i'th way.
Say then how Learnings Sunne to shine began?
And by what darke degrees it did goe backe in man?

Then thus when seeds of all things (from the wombe
Of pregnant Chaos sprung) were perfected,
Another Chaos (yet to be orecome)
Out of the Reliques of the former bred,
With ignorance this infant world orespred,
And having drown'd Reasons deviner Ray
In the dull lumpe of flesh, made men (the head)
Companions of their slaves: The Beasts and they
Promiscuously fed, Promiscuously lay.

As now they are, things were not sorted then;
Nor by division of the parts did breed
The publique harmony. For how should men
Manure the ground, their minds being choakt with weed?
Or adde the last hand, which themselves did need?
Woods yet unto the Mountaines did not passe,
Nor Heards beneath ill grassy Meadowes feed,
Nor Corne inrich the middle Grounds; but Grasse,
And woods, and stifled Corne, were shuffled in one Masse.

When thus sad Nature did her case deplore;
Why is the best of Creatures poore whilst I
Abound in wealth: or what availes my store
Heapt in a common field? O Jove deny
Thy fruitlesse gifts, or else cleare reasons eye:
And grant that they possesse those gifts alone
In whom that Reason most shall fructifie
For till for worth some difference be showne
Twixt man and man, twixt man and beast there will be none.

Jove heard: Nor chose to blame her murm'ring Pray'r,
But remedy the cause, by sending Wit
(Which is the use of Reason.) To his Care
Th' unpollisht minde of man he did commit,
As with a Diamonds point to fashion it,
Bidding him gently glyde into his Heart
By such convenient meanes as he could get,
And that as Soveraigne Lord he should impart
Kingdomes and Provinces to them that tooke his part.

"A pregnant spirit short instructions serve."
So buckling to his taske he did survey
All Creatures in this world, and might observe
To breake from Womans eye a brighter day
Than that which rising Phoebus did display.
On this fraile Basis the great worke begun:
The lesser World which yet in darkenesse lay,
With Weeds and Brambles wildly over-run,
To purge that second Chaos found this second Sunne.

For whil'st Man gaz'd on the bewitching light,
An unknowne Passion entred at his Eye,
Which, strugling with his Reason, did exite
Her languisht spark through secret sympathy
Of flames that were ingendred mutually.
His narrow soule grew larger with her Guest,
And furnisht to enshrine a Deity:
Who now with Language his new love express,
And now with Thousand Tropes his smoother Language drest.

"Love is that fire which wise Prometheus caught
From Heav'n it selfe to forge mans soule anew,
(Which Feavours with it, and dead Palenesse brought
Instead of Health, Repose, and Lively Hiew).
When all these goods out of the Basket flew,
Hope only to the bottome did remove.
Yet had wee rather this sweet Hope pursue
Than have our former State. And some approve
With Losse of all those goods even a hopelesse Love."

Say you by whom this kindly flame's reprov'd,
Who layd the first stone of civilitie?
Whilst men sought sweet converse with them they lov'd,
And for advice in the New Malady,
With others too; which let in Amitie?
Who did the Organs first for Reason fit,
As by experience to this day wee see?
"For properly Love ripens the Fooles wit;
But turnes some wise men Fooles by over rip'ning it."

Men thus conversing, soone the Arts were made,
And, that which all included, Poetry:
Under whose veyle were mystickly convey'd
The solid Grounds of all Phylosophy,
Ev'n to the homely Rules of Husbandry,
Which with such sugred Eloquence were drest,
And Coucht in such Delightfull Harmony,
That they who could not crabbed Texts disgest,
To heare those flowing numbers, without number prest.

And now had Wit his noble taske perform'd;
For what could more for Mortalls be desir'd
Than to be decently susteyn'd, and form'd
With all the Ornaments their minds requir'd!
So to his Contemplations he retir'd,
Leaving the Countryes in propriety
To such as were by him for Rule inspir'd,
Who us'd them with a Liberality
That little differ'd from the old community.

But Nature was not so content, whose thought
Is vast and ever Covetous of more:
For though to such a rare perfection brought,
She held all nothing that was done before.
And therefore farther to improve her store,
Her wily head a counterfeit did frame,
Who in his lookes Wits perfect likenesse bore,
And by that stollen tytle dar'd to clayme
The Government of things. But Craft was his right name.

So well could he his subtile picklocks file
That in most minds his entrance he had made,
Partly deceiv'd with his pretended style,
And partly from their due Allegiance swayd
With Guifts of a strange force before them layd,
Which in the Oceans unknowne waves did lye,
(Now Sayl'd and div'd into) which Earth display'd
Forc't by a thousand tortures to discry
Where her bright Gold was hid from Phoebus's envyous eye.

His precepts art; From every thing to get:
And each from other. But with legall show.
(For that, he sayth, is liveing by his wit.)
But the true Wit which all these things did owe,
From his just right he wrongfully did throw.
That only Title hath a solid Plea
Which he confirmes, if he did not bestow.
He is Lord Paramount of Land and Sea,
And all the world is held of Craft in Capite.

O Witt! next Jove Creator of Mankind,
Where dost thou now in secret corner sit,
Counting the Starrs with avaricious mind
Or brooding some immortall worke of wit
Whereby thou maist affected glory get,
Whilst thy poore Clients, outed of their right,
For nobler Sciences are made unfit,
"Since Lamps that have no Oyle can give no light,
And folly twere to shine when men have lost their sight?"

Thus some: who well affected did remaine,
To the old learned Age. Yet each of these
Had learn't a Craft his livelyhood to gaine;
And learnt withall the Liberall Sciences,
Forc't to give halfe obedience for his ease
To the new Government. But if his soule
(Not needing the dull world) her selfe might please,
She then would passe directly to her Gole,
And spurne the Golden Apples that before her rowle.

These Cryes fetcht Wit from the retyred shade
Of a delightfull Solitary Grove;
Who (wondring) saw what spoil his Foe had made
Of the most precious goods. He cry'd to Jove,
On Nature cry'd, that could such Change approve.
Then learnt he first to be Satyricall,
(Whose bitter'st Argument before was Love)
And let some words of hard Construction fall,
And ev'ry drop of inke was mingled with some Gall.

At last demands the Law. And he will try
By publique Justice before Natures Barre
To whom the World perteynes most rightfully.
Craft, (though possession were his surer farre)
His Plea of merit would not seeme to marre,
But nam'd a day his Title to abet;
On it the Creatures all assembled are,
Raunged by Natures Marshall as they met,
And all on the Successe their expectation set.

First Wit with copious Language did dilate
Those benefits which Man to him did owe,
Whom from a poore dishonourable state,
He made with blessings of all sorts to Bow.
He said, whom he made Rulers first did know
To rule themselves. And if the World new Clad
With a few glitt'ring Trifles, (but for show)
Which Craft with dammage of true Goods did adde,
Seem'd now to have more wealth, it then more honor had.

Here ceas'd his speech. Then Craft reply'd to all
With Such a boldnesse as not blusht to slight
Th' immortall workes of Wit, which he did call
Chymera's of the Fancy, vaine and light,
And urg'd the Learned had renounc't their right
In Earthly things, as he could represent
By diverse Instruments themselves did write,
Knowing they were unfit for Government,
As wholly unto idle Contemplations bent.

But that they did not truely Gold contemne
(Which all that have their Eyes must needs admire),
Only in boasting writings did Condemne
The thing which in their hearts they most desire.
Nor could the World his perfect State acquire,
Whilst not a Mettall was in Earth suppress
But a Fifth Element more bright than fire,
Which Poets ev'n denying had confest,
Styling the Golden Age what they would have The best.

That he found out; And Gemms of wond'rous price
Like which their Mistresse Eyes, Teeth, Lipps, they feign,
As things which have most vertue to entice.
And last, said he; 'Tis hamm'ring in this brayne
To turne all things I touch to golden veyne.
This clos'd his speech; But left such stings behind
In Nature, biteing greedily at gaine,
That (seeming first to spoyle it in her minde)
She judg'd the World to Craft, which Wisedome she defin'd.

Her overpartiall Doome, she colour'd ore
With this pretext, that the worlds Rule (now growne
More intricate through its increased store)
Requir'd a Drudge to tend that worke alone,
But Wit had many things to study on.
Then ended with a smooth-fac'd Complement,
How Him she held in high opinion,
Whom breaking up the Court, she from her sent
As infinitly prais'd, as not a jot content.

For his stout heart felt deepe disgraces wound,
And hardly could dissemble Injury,
Who, having long survey'd the Creatures round,
Leapt lightly on an Eagle perching by,
And Cry'd; The Earth to me she may deny,
But not the Heav'n. So, without making playne,
Directs his Flight to fair Eternity.
(The Muses horse his nimble joynts doth strayne
When he is spurr'd with Love, or nettled with disdaine.)

His active Circles Crowne Sols glorious Spheare:
Heav'n op'ning still new Beauties to his Eye
As he gets up, whilst Earth doth lesse appeare,
Where some presage his fall to Poverty,
The heighth will turne his braine, some others cry;
Some few in judging Eares his raptures poise,
(Who like a Larke doth singing mount the Skyes).
They beare him up with their applausive noise,
At which in secret heart he not a little joyes.

But the faint Bird is not releeved so
Although her Rider cheer'd her what he might,
To whom the whole Terrestriall Globe below
Seem'd a meane Quarry to debase his flight,
Yet forc't ere long for a small bait to light,
The hunger of his Animall to stay,
Though oft he cuffs it first, and oft doth slight.
But need Commands, and Flesh must needs obey,
So at the last he stoops and seazes the skorn'd prey.

As in a Torch wee see the bating flame
Unto its heav'nly country doth aspire,
But the wax softly shrinking from the same
Makes it for food from Heaven to retire,
And tend to Earthward with descending fire:
So Wit is forc't (some Maintenance to get)
To stoop to Earth against his owne desire;
But soone againe the fruitfull Earth doth quit,
To soare in Empty Ayre: (Heav'n send me better wit!)

Yet when this Eagle shall have cast her Bill,
And mew'd her mortall plumes, some thinke that he
Shall then attaine the topp of Heavens hill,
And Coeternall with his writings be,
Taking peculiar felicitie
In penning Hymnes of His Creators praise;
(That is the genuine use of Poetry)
And for reward of those Coelestiall Layes
That hov'ring Cherubins shall Crowne him with fresh Bayes.

[pp. 256-63]