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The following is chiefly a selection from papers written for English literature classes at the Ladies' College, Cheltenham. Others are reprints from various periodicals. The first two were written for meetings of our Guild of old pupils, at which were given respectively scenes from Dante, and from Spenser's Faëry Queene.
I have thought it best to leave them in their original form.
The allusions in the Britomart paper are to stained glass windows representing six episodes in the story. (1) Britomart is looking into the magic mirror. (2) She is clothing herself in armour in the Church. (3) She is defending the Red-cross Knight. (4) She is passing through the fire. (5) She meets Sir Arthegall. (6) She sends him out to accomplish his work.
LADIES' COLLEGE, CHELTENHAM,
Dante and Beatrice.
This is the fifth time that some members of our Guild have dramatised for us a great poem, and thereby helped to make the ideal of the poet more real, and more influential.
In Tennyson's Princess we sought to bring before you the woman full of noble aspirations, who learns that only in the communion of labour, through men and women seeking together the highest good, can the world be purified; each must bring to the commonwealth his own special gifts, and the ideal must be wrought out in the actual.
In Britomart we beheld the ideal woman of mediæval poetry, strong and brave, a helpmeet for the ideal Knight, ready to do her part in the crusade against wrong, and victorious over evil through the power of inward purity.
In Comus we saw the lady in less martial guise, saved by heavenly grace from the snares of the world, the flesh and the devil.
Last time we turned to the great epic allegory of Greece, and brought before our audience Homeric ideals in Penelope, Nausicaa and Andromache.
This is the six hundredth anniversary of the year to which Dante assigns his vision, and we propose to present in dramatic form some of the teachings of his great poem.
It is a more difficult task than any we have yet attempted.
No poem perhaps forms so good an introduction