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IIENRY FROWDE, M.A.
PUBLISHER TO THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
LONDON, EDINBURGH, NEW YORK
TORONTO AND MELBOURNE
soteran 2.9-35 29739
The First Book of the Faery Queene pourtrays the struggles and final victory of Truth, intellectual and spiritual, under the name of Holiness. The Second Book sets forth the temptations and triumphs of Moral Purity, under the name of Temperance. The two, between them, contain the substance of man's faith and duty. In the First Book the Christian comes out firmly assured in his belief, and that, not as a mere effort of the imagination, or as a devotional sentiment, but as a severe intellectual enquiry and sifting of the truth, a "proving all things" in order to "hold fast that which is good.” For this combination of reason with religion was deemed not only allowable but essential in the sixteenth century, and bore fruit in the appeals to men's judgment and personal reason as against authority, to common sense as against the iron rules and quibbles of the later Scholastics, to the personal study of the Bible as against a blind reliance on a 'traditional and sacerdotal system. In the Second Book we have the Christian working out, with many lets and slips, the moral ends of his existence, moderate and manly, the true 'gentleman' in the right sense of the word. The Book expresses, in fact, the profound belief of the age in morality as the natural sequel of a true and enlightened faith: and Duessa and Archimago are introduced at the opening of the “pageant,” as Spenser calls it, not merely to act as artistic links, binding Book with Book, but more especially to indicate this close connection of religion with morality. For falsehood and the false Church, said the age, fight against purity of life as well as against truth of doctrine, and the magician and the witch go on “deceiving and deceived”. to the end.
It follows that Spenser, having risen to this high conception