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much more liberal: for ordinary it is that 2 young princes fall in love. After many traverses she is got with childe, delivered of a fair boy; he is lost, groweth a man, falls in love, and is ready to get another child: and all this in 2 hours space: which how absurd it is in sense, even sense may imagine and Art hath taught and all ancient examples justified and at this day the ordinary players in Italy will not err in."

Sidney concludes what he calls "this ink-wasting toy of mine" by flinging at those who should continue to scorn the sacred mysteries of poetry, a truly Euphuistic curse, "that while you live, you live in love, and never get favor for lacking skill of a sonnet: and that when you die, your memory die from the earth for want of an epitaph."



SPENSER, b. 1552. At Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, from 1569-1576; in London, acquainted with Sir Philip Sidney, and in Lord Leicester's household, 1579; goes to Ireland as secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton, 1580; returns to London with Sir Walter Raleigh in 1589; returns to Ireland, 1591; his marriage, 1594; visits London, 1595; rebellion in Munster obliges him to return to London; d. Jan. 16, 1598-99. Translations from Petrarch and Du Bellay, written about 1569; The Shepherd's Calendar, 1580; First three books of the Faery Queen, 1590; Complaints, 1591; Second instalment of Faery Queen (4-6), Jan. 1595-96; Colin Clout's Come Home Againe, 1595; Amoretti Sonnets, 1595; Epithalamion, 1595.

SPENSER is distinguished among poets not only because he opened a new epoch in the history of Elizabethan art, but because his was one of the most purely poetic natures that ever artist possessed. Charles Lamb calls him the "poet's poet." His has been the inspiration of many poets of succeeding ages-of Milton, of Browne, and of the Fletchers. Cowley, when a boy, read the Faery Queen, and became "irrecoverably a poet." He was Dryden's master in English. Pope in his old age was enthusiastic about the Faery Queen. "I read the Faery Queen when I was about twelve with a vast deal of delight: and I think it gave me as much when I read it over about a year or two ago." Collins, Gray, Thomson, Akenside, Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley, and Keats, all came under his influence. They all felt the inspiration of that delicate, sensitive spirit, of that refined, fantastic genius, which was nourished by the seclusion in which it lived

"Fashioning worlds of fancies evermore."

Spenser was born in 1552. London was his birthplace, though, as he says in the Prothalamion,—

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He claimed kinship with the family of the Spensers of Althorpe : it was to the "sisters three" of this family, Lady Carey, Lady Compton, and Lady Strange, that he dedicated three of his minor poems to Lady Strange The Tears of the Muses; Mother Hubbard's Tale to Lady Compton; and Muiopotmos to Lady Carey. Spenser, with his chivalrous and aristocratic leanings, would be glad to claim kinship with a noble family. To him noble blood was the natural source of all that was courteous and noble and brave. Sir Calidore, in the Faery Queen, admiring Tristram,

"that gentle boy

Which had himself so stoutly well acquit,
Seeing his face so lovely, stern, and coy,
And hearing th' answers of his pregnant wit,
He prays'd it much, and much admir'd it :
That sure he weened him born of noble blood
With whom these graces did so goodly fit."

He is surprised that one who is "of mean parentage and kindred base" should be decked

"With wondrous gifts of nature's grace."

Spenser's early education was given to him at the Merchant Taylors' School, and in 1569 he entered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as a sizar. A pathetic picture is given by a contemporary of the privation and sufferings of the poorer scholars at the University. If Spenser led the same life as they did, as his poverty would probably oblige him to do, it must greatly have tended to increase his ascetic and puritan tendencies. Two of the most important friendships of his life were made at college: one with Edward Kirke, the E. K. of The Shepherd's Calendar, of whom little is known, his only claim to fame being the English of his preface to The Shepherd's Calendar, and his high and almost prophetic appreciation of the talents of his friend. But I doubt not, so soon as his name shall come into the knowledge of men, and his worthiness be sounded in the trump of fame, but that he shall be not only kist but also beloved of all, embraced of the most, and wondered at of the best." Spenser's other friend, Gabriel Harvey, is better known to fame, as a much-esteemed and respected critic, engaged in vindictive literary quarrels, and much tormented by Nash; known also through Spenser's affectionate lines :—


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Of this world's stage, dost note with critic pen
The sharp dislikes of each condition;

And as one careless of suspicion

Ne fawnest for the favor of the great,
Ne fearest foolish reprehension

Of faulty men, which danger to thee threat,
But freely dost of what thee list entreat
Like a great lord of peerless liberty;
Lifting the good up to high honour's seat;
And the evil damning ever more to die;
For life and death is in thy doomful writing,
So thy renown lives ever by enditing."


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To Gabriel Harvey Spenser was a devoted friend during life; and this devotion to one who was by no means so immaculate in taste as Spenser supposes him to be, was rather dangerous to the development of the poet's genius. Harvey was the leader of that school who wished to make English verse conform to classical rules. To this unpatriotic and mistaken school Spenser for some short time belonged, and wrote some poems under its influence. "Unhappie verse, the witnesse of my unhappy state, Make thyself fluttering wings of thy fast flying

Thought, and fly forth unto my Love wheresoe'er she be."

Attempts such as this at trimetre iambics, together with other "unhappie verse," the results of his efforts at writing English hexameters, were later turned into ridicule by him. Even whilst under the influence of the school he seems half conscious that these efforts were not successful or promising. "I like your English hexameter so exceedingly well," he writes to Harvey, "that I also enure my pen sometime in that kind, which I find indeed, as I have often heard you defend in word, neither so hard nor so harsh but that it will easily yield itself to our mother tongue. For the only or chiefest hardness which seemeth, is in the accent, which sometime gapeth and as it were yawneth ill-favoredly, coming short of that it should, and sometimes exceeding the measure of the number as in 'Carpenter:' the middle syllable being used short in speech, when it shall be read long in verse, seemeth like a lame gosling that draweth one leg after her; and Heaven being used short as one syllable, when it is in verse stretched out with diastole, is like a lame dog that holds up one leg."

How far Harvey's influence may have been beneficial in training and disciplining Spenser's genius-how far it was dangerous as encouraging Spenser's very strong tendency to be artificial cannot be estimated. For any lesser mind Harvey's

influence would have been crushing. If his genius had not known itself and been strong enough to follow its own instincts, Spenser might have followed Harvey's advice, and have taken to an art that was just coming into fashion, and thus have become an artificial playwright instead of an excellent and imaginative poet. "He was standing," says Mr. Church, "at the parting of the ways. The allegory, with all its tempting associations and machinery, with its ingenuities and pictures and boundless license to vagueness and fancy, was on one side; and on the other the drama, with its prima facie and superficially prosaic aspects, and its kinship to what was customary and commonplace and unromantic in human life.” Spenser made nine attempts in the dramatic line; and he sent these nine comedies, composed on the model of those of Ariosto and Machiavelli and other Italians, to Gabriel Harvey in 1579, together with a portion of the Faery Queen. "And must you of necessity have my judgment of her indeed?" writes Gabriel Harvey in return. "To be plain, I am void of all judgment; if your Nine Comedies, whereunto, in imitation of Herodotus, you give the names of the 9 muses (and in one man's fancy not unworthily), come not nearer Ariosto's comedies, either for the fineness of plausible elocution, or the rareness of poetical invention, than that Elvish Queen doth to his Orlando Furioso, which notwithstanding you will needs seem to emulate and hope to overgo, as you flatly professed yourself in one of your last letters. But I will

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If so be your

not stand greatly with you in your own matters. Fairy Queen be fairer in your own eye than the 9 muses, and Hobgoblin run away with the garland from Apollo: mark what I say, and yet I will not say that I thought, but there is an end for this once, and fare you well, till God or some good angel put you in a better mind." Happily for posterity the good angel" for which Harvey longed did not appear, and Spenser, instead of attempting to deal with the real world as a dramatist, an attempt for which, by the nature of his vague fantastic mind, he was unfitted,—followed the natural bent of his genius, and imagined another and a different world, in which his fancies could wander free and unchecked.


Probably immediately after Spenser left Cambridge he came under an influence which acted as a direct stimulus to production. He met Rosalind, who inspired him with "that chivalrous devotion that not even her refusal and her preference for another could destroy." Rosalind was to Spenser what Geraldine was to Surrey and Stella to Sidney: she was to a certain extent that

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