Dragon Rose (Tales of the Latter Kingdoms Book 1)
Or gan to shrinke, or from the right way to stray,. She held him fast, and firmely did upreare,. Why seven? Calvin is here of no help :it is due to the schoolmen, as was shown by Kitchen p. One might ask why Spenser gives such an important place to good works : stanza 30 to 45 seem too much, since he handles faith and hope in stanzas and we may even put stanzas aside.
Two answers may be given. We must not forget that the Faerie Queene is a book of ethics ; therefore we must expect Spenser to lay great stress on the influence of faith in practical life ; his aim is not to do the work of a theologian, but to show how it is possibile to attain to a true moral life.
Hence the works are the best testimony of our election. The more we shall do good works, the more we will have evidence of our salvation ; and as the great preoccupation of the calvinist is to become sure of his election, he finds, by a roundabout, in his conception of good works one of the most powerful motives to accomplish good works.
This conception of the great part plaid by good works helps to explain why Spenser gave such a place, as we have seen, to Charissa and the seven Beadsmen. Further on st. This contemplation has nothing of the monastic contemplation of the roman catholics : it shows that earthly life is beautiful, though not so much as heavenly life, and that the whole life is not to be spent in meditation.
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Calvin makes the Meditation of life to come be a part of the Christian life. For though this life be full of miseries, yet it is rightly counted among God's blessings, which are not to be contemned. The conclusion is nearly superfluos. The Red Cross Knight is not allowed to spend his life in meditation only : according to Calvin, this meditation is a part of Christian Life the other two are the bearing of the cross and self- denial it is not the monastic contemplation, it is a meditation of everyday. The third verse of st. The fasting and praying alluded to in st.
Here is probably in the symbol an influence of Catholicism ; yet Calvin sometimes enjoins fasting. But we come back to Calvinism with st. We are at the end of the canto ; Spenser in it displaid to us the whole doctrine of salvation beginning with the election and ending in good works, and added to it, through the mouth of Contemplation the conclusions which the calvinist draws from his daily meditation on earthly and heavenly life.
In all this he closely followed Calvin's ideas.
A last point of his allegory requires our attention : Gloriana. Why is she called so?
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This last question is important ; for, since Spenser makes all virtues turn round the Faerie Queene, she must represent some high principle. The first answer of course that comes to our lips is that we have here an influence of the Renaissance : desire of glory arose with the great change that renewed the world in the XVth and XVIth centuries.
We have certainly to reckon with such an influence. But this glory is a pagan feeling, impossible to reconcile with the. Christian, and chiefly calvinistic, humility. A comparison between the 2 parts of the Book of Holiness will help us.
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That covet in th'immortall booke of fame To be eternized, that same to haunt. What he served was the pagan glory ; this explains it was through pride he was made a thrall to sin ; now Gloriana receives a religious meaning ;who will enter into the kingdom of God must serve Gloriana. When Spenser tells all knights serve Gloriana who is heavenly born, it means, all men who struggle for virtue, are doing it for the Glory of God.
And this is a favourite idea of Calvin. To it Doumergue devotes the first chapter of his book pp. This idea, of course, was not peculiar to Calvin ; we find it in I Cor. X, 31, IV, But he who taught that man cannot. This is the idea of Spenser : it is for the love of Gloriana that the Red Cross Knight fights for Una ; his love for Una comes after his love for Gloriana I : ix : 17 : Luci- fera is opposed to Gloriana : the pride of man to the glory of God.
All the time during which he was with Duessa he never thought of trloriana. When he is protecting Una, it is for the Glory of God ; when he abandons her, it is clear that the Glory of God cannot be his aim.
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The Dragon. All editors and critics agree as for the interpretation of the Dragon besieging Una's parents : it is original sin reigning in man. But it is all they say. I will not come back to the more caJvinistic meaning I gave to this passage when speaking of Regeneration. What I. That there God's Grace is meant is shown by st. The fall in the well reminds us of baptism by immersion ; and this symbol of regeneration is indeed most fit to represent the working of God's Spirit regenerating man.
Spenser, besides, does not try to hide from us that he thought of baptism and regeneration : cf. Man is baptized only once ; yet Spenser seems to make another allusion to that sacrament in st. And indeetl it must be another allusion to baptism, for in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible, vol.
Yet unction at baptism is as old as Tertullian De Bapt. Hence we have here the two parts of one thing.
A question arises : does Spenser mean by this that man is to be baptized only when conscious of the regeneration that is at work in him? Are the children not to be baptized? Yet, whenever we shal! And in the following chapter :.
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It is most probable that Spenser meant a troubled conscience by st. And through his armour all his body seard,. That he could not endure so cruell cace,. But thought his armes to leave, and helmet to unlace. Woe to the knight if he had put off the whole armour of God and the helmet of salvation! Then all difficulty is loosed : it is not actuall baptism, but the remembrance of his baptism that gives the Knight more confidence, hence more strength against his spiritual foe. The end of the Book we have already explained as being an al- usion to the knight's further sanctification.
With the only Calvin, we have completely explained the second part of the Book of Holiness, the part where Spenser describes the effect of election on man. We must now examine if it is possible to give also a calvinistic meaning to the first part of that book. We will first follow the Red Cross Knight and explain the meaning of all the persons he has to deal with ; afterwards that of the persons Una meets ; and on the interpretation of 'Una will follow that of some last personnages.
The Red Cross Knight. Among the persons the Red Cross Knight meets in the first part of the Book of Holiness, we must try to keep the same unity. The Red Cross Knight is here the man in which faith has not worked regeneration yet ; he seems to be, and believes himself, a Christian : he bears on his breast the token of Christianity :. The deare remembrance of his dying Lord,. For whose sweete sakje that glorious badge he wore,. And dead as living ever him ador'd.