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[171] suit the wider application of his plan's other and more important half, Spenser made all his characters double their parts, and appear in his allegory as the impersonations of abstract moral qualities. When the cardinal and theological virtues tell Dante,

Noi siam qui ninfe e in ciel siamo stelle,

the sweetness of the verse enables the fancy, by a slight gulp, to swallow without solution the problem of being in two places at the same time. But there is something fairly ludicrous in such a duality as that of Prince Arthur and the Earl of Leicester, Arthegall and Lord Grey, and Belphoebe and Elizabeth.

In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall.

The reality seems to heighten the improbability, already hard enough to manage. But Spenser had fortunately almost as little sense of humor as Wordsworth,1 or he could never have carried his poem on with enthusiastic good faith so far as he did. It is evident that to him the Land of Faery was an unreal world of picture and illusion,

The world's sweet inn from pain and wearisome turmoil,

1 There is a gleam of humor in one of the couplets of ‘Mother Hubberd's Tale,’ where the Fox, persuading the Ape that they should disguise themselves as discharged soldiers in order to beg the more successfully, says,—

Be you the soldier, for you likest are
For manly semblance and small skill in war.

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