1662
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Defence of the Moral Cabbala.

A Collection of several Philosophical Writings of Dr Henry More Fellow of Christ's Colledge in Cambridge.

Rev. Henry More


Edmund Spenser is used as an illustration in an appendix to "Philosophic Cabbala." In an earlier allusion, Henry More refers to Spenser when explicating the Serpent: "whenas other Passions cannot so slily surprise us, they bidding more open warre to the quiet and happiness of mans life, as that judicious Poet Spenser has well observed in his Legend of Sir Guyon or Temperance" Conjectura Cabbalistica (1653) 226.

Robert Southey: "Three different fashions in writing had prevailed [in the Restoration era], which were alike faulty. There was the dry, dull, dismal manner of the sober Puritans; there was a style of overstrained and elaborate wit, dealing in affectations of every kind; and there was an ornate style, studded with sesquipedalian Latinisms, Grecisms, and Hebraisms, and Arabicisms, which might frequently send the best scholar to his Lexicons. Indeed, a dictionary was published for enabling some persons to read, and others to write in this refined language. The most remarkable examples of it are found in the poems of Henry More, and in the works of Sir Thomas Brown; to whose peculiar genius, however, this sort of language was so well suited, that it would not have been possible for him to have expressed his thoughts so felicitously, or so naturally, in any other manner. But it required the knowledge, and the power, and the feeling of such a man to render it to tolerable. Its effect upon inferior writers was to mar good matter, or to render what was worthless intolerable" "Dr. Sayers's Works" in Quarterly Review 35 (1827) 187-88.

Samuel Austin Allibone: "He was a man of profound learning and of eminent piety. Dr. Outram said that he 'looked upon More as the holiest person upon the faith of the earth'" Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 2:1361.




Whereas therefore it is said that these Flaming Cherubims keep the way to the Tree of Life, being placed before the Garden of Eden, it is but in such a sense as when Hesiod sayes [Greek characters], That God has made Labour the porter of the Gate of Vertue; and in such as Virgil places Grief, and Care, and Sickness, and Old Age at the entrance of Orcus,

Vestibulum ante ipsum primisque in faucibus Orci
Lustus & ultrices posuere cubila Curae, &c.

Of which certainly there is no other sense in either place, then that by being laborious a man shall attain unto Vertue, and no otherwaies; and that by being overcharged with Care, Grief, Sickness, or Old age, a man shall be sent packing into the state of the dead. So Spencer, to omit several other instances in him, in making those two grave personages, Humilita and Ignaro, the one the Porter of the House of Holiness, the other of the Castle of Duessa, can understand nothing else therby but this, That he that would enter into the House of Holiness must be like Humilita, an humble man; and he that can conscientiously passe into the community of the imposturous Duessa, must be a very Ignaro.


[p. 148]