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HOLLAND'S HERITAGE

transmit all these fine, ungovernable and incalculable elements to those who might come after him. If we glance at the position in England we shall see how magnificently the lesson had been taught there — by Edmund Spenser. By his own learning, passion, exquisite sense of form, and by his delicate ear, he had been able to establish to the English language all that it would admit of the tunes and technique previously accumulated, making it certain that he would be henceforth the great teacher of English poets, the Poets' Poet — "Milton's Poet", "Keats's Poet", even "Shakespeare's Poet".

The temptation is very strong. But if we now take Vondel as the Poets' Poet in Holland, the analogy is not to be regarded as by any means complete. More than any other he too subsumed what was best in the poets of the past — Van Maerlant, Anna Bijns, Marnix van Sint-Aldegonde — but also for him, more than for any other, it was a constitutional impossibility to assert in the same way the principle of beauty for its own sake. No doubt as much as anything the time-honoured question of moral intention comes in to complicate the issue. In Holland as in England the Renaissance was ethical — just as in Italy it was unmoral. But exceptions — or partial exceptions — there were too. Notably in Holland, there was Hooft. But in England there was Spenser himself (however preposterous the idea may seem, remembering his open parade of the moral purpose of "The Faery Queen"). Lately, however, it has been proved to us how little, in reality, this ethical intention amounted to; that Spenser's heart was not truly in his morality; that as a moralist he was hopelessly divided. Professor W. L. Renwick has cleared the air. "Spenser's difficulty", he says, "or perhaps rather his readers, lies in his intermediate position, with the inherited habit of allegory strong in him and at the same time the Renaissance instinct of the value of the senses and of their cultivation in art." 1 1 "Edmund Spenser; An Essay in Renaissance Poetry", p. 145.

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