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[Born, 1553. Died, 1599-9.) DESCENDED from the ancient and honourable however, so many admirers, as to pass through family of Spenser, was born in London, in East five editions in Spenser's lifetime ; and though Smithfield, by the Tower, probably about the Dove, a contemporary scholar, who translated year 1553.
He studied at the university of them into Latin, speaks of the author being | Cambridge, where it appears, from his corre unknown, yet when Abraham Fraunce, in 1583,
spondence, that he formed an intimate friendship published his “ Lawyer's Logicke,” he illustrated with the learned, but pedantic, Gabriel Harvey*. his rules by quotations from the Shepheard's Spenser, with Sir P. Sydney, was, for a time, a Calendar. convert to Harvey's Utopian scheme for changing Pope, Dryden, and Warton have extolled those the measures of English poetry into those of the eclogues, and Sir William Jones has placed Greeks and Romans.
Spenser and Gay as the only genuine descendSpenser even wrote trimeter iambicst suffi ants of Theocritus and Virgil in pastoral poetry. ciently bad to counte iance the English hexame This decision may be questioned. Favourable | ters of his friend ; but the Muse would not as the circumstances of England have been to
suffer such a votary to be lost in the pursuit the development of her genius in all the higher after chimeras, and recalled him to her natural walks of poetry, they have not been propitious strains. From Cambridge Spenser went to reside to the humbler pastoral muse. Her trades and with some relations in the north of England, manufactures, the very blessings of her wealth and and, in this retirement, conceived a passion for industry, threw the indolent shepherd's life to a a mistress, whom he has celebrated under the distance from her cities and capital, where poets, name of Rosalind. It appears, however, that she with all their love of the country, are generally trified with his affection, and preferred a rival. found; and impressed on the face of the country,
Harvey, or Hobinol (by so uncouth a name and on its rustic manners, a gladsome, but not did the shepherd of hexameter memory, the romantic appearance. learned Harvey, deign to be called in Spenser's In Scotland, on the contrary, the scenery, eclogues), with better judgment than he had rural economy of the country, and the songs of shown in poetical matters, advised Spenser to the peasantry, sung, “at the watching of the leare his rustic obscurity, and introduced him to fold,” presented Ramsay with a much nearer Sir Philip Sydney, who recommended him to his image of pastoral life, and he accordingly painted uncle, the Earl of Leicester. The poet was it with the fresh feeling and enjoyment of nature. invited to the family seat of Sydney at Penshurst, Had Sir William Jones understood the dialect of in Kent, where he is supposed to have assisted that poet, I am convinced that he would not the Platonic studies of his gallant and congenial have awarded the pastoral crown to any other friend. To him he dedicated his “Shepheard's author. Ramsay's shepherds are distinct, intelCalendar.” Sydney did not bestow unqualified ligible beings, neither vulgar, like the caricatures
praise on those eclogues ; he allowed that they of Gay, nor fantastic, like those of Fletcher. 1
contained much poetry, but condemned the They afford such a view of a national peasantry antique rusticity of the language. It was of these as we should wish to acquire by travelling among eclogues, and not of the Fairy Queen (as has them; and form a draft entirely devoted to been frequently misstated), that Ben Jonson rural manners, which for truth, and beauty, and said, that the author in affecting the ancients extent, has no parallel in the richer language had written no language at all I. They gained, of England. Shakspeare's pastoral scenes are * For an account of Harvey the reader may consult
only subsidiary to the main interest of the plays Wood's Athen Oxon. vol. i. Fasti col. 128.
where they are introduced. Milton's are rather † A short example of Spenser's Iambicum Trimetrum pageants of fancy, than pictures of real life. The will suffice, from a copy of verses in one of his own letters shepherds of Spenser’s Calendar are parsons in to Harvey.
disguise, who converse about heathen divinities Enhappy verse! the witness of my unhappy state, and points of Christian theology. Palinode deMake thyself fluttering wings of thy fast flying
fends the luxuries of the Catholic clergy, and Thouzht, and fly forth unto my love, wheresoever she be Wuether lying restless in heavy bed, or else
Piers extols the purity of Archbishop Grindal ; Situng so cheerless at the cheerful board, or else concluding with the story of a fox, who came to Playing alone, careless on her heavenly virginals. the house of a goat, in the character of a pedlar, (: Ben Jonson's Works, by Gifford, vol ix. p. 215.]
and obtained admittance by pretending to be a
sheep. This may be burlesquing Æsop, but casting her first look of regard on the poet, that certainly is not imitating Theocritus. There are was destined to inspire her future Milton, and fine thoughts and images in the Calendar, but, the other on the maritime hero, who paved on the whole, the obscurity of those pastorals is the way for colonising distant regions of the rather their covering, than their principal, defect. earth, where the language of England was to be
In 1580, Arthur Lord Grey, of Wilton, went spoken, and the poetry of Spenser to be admired. as lord lieutenant to Ireland, and Spenser accom Raleigh, whom the poet accompanied to England, panied him as his secretary; we may suppose by introduced him to Queen Elizabeth. Her majesty, the recommendation of the Earl of Leicester. in 1590-1, conferred on him a pension of 501. a Lord Grey was recalled from his Irish govern year. In the patent for his pension he is not ment in 1582, and Spenser returned with him to styled the laureat, but his contemporaries have England, where, by the interest of Grey, Leicester, frequently addressed him by that title. Mr. Maand Sydney, he obtained a grant from Queen lone's discovery of the patent for this pension Elizabeth of 3028 acres in the county of Cork, refutes the idle story of Burleigh's preventing the out of the forfeited estates of the Earl of Des- royal bounty being bestowed upon the poet, by mond. This was the last act of kindness which asking if so much money was to be given for a Sydney had a share in conferring on him : he song; as well as that of Spenser's procuring it died in the same year, furnishing an almost soli at last by the doggrel verses, tary instance of virtue passing through life un
I was promised, on a time, calumniated.
To have reason for my rhyme, &c. Whether Sydney was meant or not, under the character of Prince Arthur in the Fairy Queen, Yet there are passages in the Fairy Queen which we cannot conceive the poet, in describing heroic unequivocally refer to Burleigh with severity. excellence, to have had the image of Sir Philip
The coldness of that statesman to Spenser most Sydney long absent from his mind.
probably arose from the poet's attachment to By the terms of the royal grant, Spenser was
Lord Leicester and Lord Essex, who were each obliged to return to Ireland, in order to cultivate successively at the head of a party—opposed to the the lands assigned to him. His residence at Lord Chancellor. After the publication of the Kilcolman, an ancient castle of the Earls of Fairy Queen, he returned to Ireland, and, during Desmond, is described by one* who had seen its his absence, the fame which he had acquired by that ruins, as situated on the north side of a fine lake, poem (of which the first edition, however, conin the midst of a vast plain, which was termi tained only the first three books) induced his pubnated to the east by the Waterford mountains, lisher to compile and reprint his smaller piecest. on the north by the Ballyhowra hills, and by the He appears to have again visited London about the Nagle and Kerry mountains on the south and end of 1591, as his next publication, the Elegy on east. It commanded a view of above half the Douglas Howard, daughterof Henry Lord Howard, breadth of Ireland, and must have been, when is dated January 1591-2. From this period there the adjacent uplands were wooded, a most roman is a long interval in the history of Spenser, which tic and pleasant situation. The river Mulla, was probably passed in Ireland, but of which we which Spenser has so often celebrated, ran through
have no account. He married, it is conjectured, his grounds. In this retreat he was visited by in the year 1594, when he was past forty; and it Sir Walter Raleigh, at that time a captain in the appears from his Epithalamium, that the nuptials queen's army
His visit occasioned the first re were celebrated at Cork. In 1596, the secon solution of Spenser to prepare the first books of part of the Fairy Queen appeared, acompanied the Fairy Queen for immediate publication. by a new edition of the first. Of the remaining Spenser has commemorated this interview, and six books, which would have completed the poet's the inspiring influence of Raleigh's praise, under design, only fragments have been brought to the figurative description of two shepherds tuning light; and there is little reason to presume that their pipes, beneath the alders of the Mulla ; they were regularly furnished. Yet Mr. Todd a fiction with which the mind, perhaps, will be has proved that the contemporaries of Spenser much less satisfied, than by recalling the scene
believed much of his valuable poetry to have as it really existed. When we conceive Spenser been lost, in the destruction of his house in reciting his compositions to Raleigh, in a scene
Ireland. so beautifully appropriate, the mind casts a In the same year, 1596, he presented to the pleasing retrospect over that influence which the queen his “ View of the State of Ireland," which enterprise of the discoverer of Virginia, and the remained in manuscript, till it was published by genius of the author of the Fairy Queen, have
Sir James Ware, in 1633. Curiosity turns naturespectively produced on the fortune and language
+ Viz. 1. The Ruins of Time.-2. The Tears of the Muses. of England. The fancy might even be pardoned
-3. Virgil's Gnat.-4. Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubbard's for a momentary superstition, that the Genius of Tale--5. The Ruins of Rome, by Bellay.-6. Muiopottheir country hovered, unseen, over their meeting, mos, or the Tale of the Butterfly.-7. Visions of the
World's Vanitie. —8. Bellay's Visions. - 9. Petrarch's * Smith's History of Cork, quoted by Todd.
rally to the prose work of so old and eminent a returned to Ireland, and in the followir poet, which exhibits him in the three-fold cha was destined to an honourable situation. racter of a writer delineating an interesting recommended by her majesty to be chosen country from his own observation, of a scholar for Cork. But in the subsequent month tracing back its remotest history, and of a poli- year, Tyrone's rebellion broke out, and occa tician investigating the causes of its calamities. his immediate flight, with his family, fro The antiquities of Ireland have been since more colman. In the confusion attending this successfully explored; though on that subject tous departure, one of his children was le Spenser is still a respectable authority. The great hind, and perished in the conflagration value of the book is the authentic and curious house, when it was destroyed by the Irish picture of national manners and circumstances gents. Spenser returned to England with a which it exhibits; and its style is as nervous, as broken by distress, and died at London the matter is copious and amusing. A remark 16th of January, 1598-9. He was buried, a able proposal, in his plan for the management of ing to his own desire, near the tomb of Ch. Ireland, is the establishment of the Anglo-Saxon and the most celebrated poets of the time system of Borseholders. His political views
speare was probably of the number,) follow are strongly coercive, and consist of little more
hearse and threw tributary verses into his than stationing proper garrisons, and abolishing Mr. Todd, the learned editor of his work ancient customs: and we find him declaiming proved it to be highly improbable that he bitterly against the Irish minstrels, and seriously have died, as has been sometimes said, in dwelling on the loose mantles, and glibs, or long lute want. For he had still his pension hair, of the vagrant poor, as important causes of many friends, among whom Essex provided moral depravity. But we ought not to try the for his funeral. Yet that he died broken-he plans of Spenser by modern circumstances, nor
and comparatively poor, is but too much his temper by the liberality of more enlightened feared, from the testimony of his contempor times. It was a great point to commence earnest Camden and Jonson. A reverse of fortune discussion on such a subject. From a note in crush his spirit without his being reducone of the oldest copies of this treatise, it appears absolute indigence, especially with the hoz that Spenser was at that time clerk to the coun recollection of the manner in which his chil cil of the province of Ulster. In 1397, our poet perished.
FAIRY QUEEN, BOOK I., CANTO III.
And makes the Lion mild;
UNA FOLLOWED BY THE LION.
Yet she, most faithful lady, all this while
Forsaken, woeful, solitary maid,
To seek her knight, who, subtily betray'd Nought is there under Heaven's wide hollowness,
Through that late vision, which the encha That moves more dear compassion of mind,
wrought, Than beauty brought t’unworthy wretchedness, Had her abandon'd: she, of nought afraid, Through envy's snares, or fortune’s freaks unkind. Through woods and wasteness wide him daily se I, whether lately through her brightness blind, Yet wished tidings none of him unto her bro Or through allegiance and fast feälty, Which I do owe unto all womankind,
One day, nigh weary of the irksome way, Feel my heart pierced with so great agony, From her unhasty beast she did alight; When such I see, that all for pity I could die. And on the grass her dainty limbs did lay
In secret shadow, far from all men's sight; And now it is impassioned so deep,
From her fair head her fillet she undight, For fairest Una's sake, of whom I sing,
And laid her stole aside : her angel's face, That my frail eyes these lines with tears do steep, As the great eye of heaven, shined bright, To think how she through guileful handelling, And made a sunshine in a shady place ; Though true as touch, though daughter of a king, Did never mortal eye behold such heavenly g Though fair as ever living wight was fair, Though nor in word nor deed ill meriting, It fortuned, out of the thickest wood, Is from her knight divorced in despair,
A ramping lion rushed suddenly, And her due love's derived to that vile witch's Hunting full greedy after savage blood ; share.
Soon as the royal virgin he did spy,
With gaping mouth at her ran greedily,
Where grisly Night, with visage deadly sad, To have at once devour'd her tender corse; That Phæbus' cheerful face durst never view, But to the prey when as he drew more nigh, And in a foul black pitchy mantle clad, His bloody rage assuaged with remorse,
She finds forthcoming from her darksome mew, And, with the sight amazed, forgot his furious force, Where she all day did hide her hated hue.
Before the door her iron chariot stood, Instead thereof he kiss'd her weary feet,
Already harnessed for journey new ; And lick'd her lily hands with fawning tongue, And coal-black steeds, yborn of hellish brood, As he her wronged innocence did weet.
Thaton their rustybits did champas they were woods. O how can beauty master the most strong, And simple truth subdue avenging wrong
So well they sped, that they be come at length Whose yielded pride and proud submission, Unto the place whereas the Paynim lay, Still dreading death, when she had marked long, Devoid of outward sense and native strength, Her heart 'gan melt in great compassion,
Cover'd with charmed cloud, from view of day And drizzling tears did shed for pure affection. And sight of men, since his late luckless fray.
His cruel wounds with cruddy blood congeal’d, “ The lion, lord of every beast in field,”
They binden up so wisely as they may, Quoth she, “his princely puissance doth abate, And handle softly till they can be heal'd : And mighty proud to humble weak does yield, So lay him in her chari't, close in Night conceala. Forgetful of the hungry rage which late Him prick'd, in pity of my sad estate :
And all the while she stood upon the ground, But he, my lion, and my noble lord,
The wakeful dogs did never cease to bay, How does he find in cruel heart to hate
As giving warning of th' unwonted sound, Her that him loved, and ever most adored, With which her iron wheels did them affray, As the God of my life? why hath he me abhorrid ?" And her dark grisly look them much dismay ;
The messenger of death, the ghastly owl, Redounding tears did choke th' end of her plaint, With dreary skrieks did also her bewray; Which softly echoed from the neighbour wood; And hungry wolves continually did howl And, sad to see her sorrowful constraint,
At her abhorred face, so filthy and so foul. The kingly beast upon her gazing stood ; With pity calm’d, down fell his angry mood. By that same way the direful dames do drive At last, in close heart shutting up her pain, Their mournful chariot, fill'd with rusty blood, Arose the virgin, born of heavenly blood,
And down to Pluto's house are come biliveb; And to her snowy palfrey got again,
Which passing through, on every side them stood To seek her strayed champion, if she might attain. The trembling ghosts, with sad amazed mood,
Chattering their iron teeth, and staring wide The lion would not leave her desolate,
With stony eyes ; and all the hellish brood But with her went along, as a strong guard Of fiends infernal flock'd on every side Of her chaste person, and a faithful mate
To gaze on earthly wight, that with the Night durst Of her sad troubles, and misfortunes hard.
BOOK II., CANTO VI.
A HARDER lesson to learn continence
In joyous pleasure than in grievous pain ;
From that which feeble nature covets fain ;
But grief and wrath, that be her enemies
And Guyon in them all shows goodly masteries. So wept Duessa until eventide,
Whom bold Cymochles travelling to find, That shining lamps in love's high house were light;
With cruel purpose bent to wreak on him Then forth she rose, no longer would abide,
The wrath which Atin kindled in his mind, But comes unto the place where th’heathen knight,
Came to a river, by whose utmost brim In slumb'ring swoond, nigh void of vital sp’rit,
Waiting to pass, he saw whereas did swim
Along the shore, as swift as glance of eye,
With boughs and arbours woven cunningly, But to the eastern coast of Heaven makes speedy That like a little forest seemed outwardly ; way.
THE FAITHFUL KNIGHT HAVING KILLED THE SARACEN
SANSFOY, DUESSA THE WITCH MAKES A JOURNEY TO
And therein sate a lady fresh and fair,
Diverse discourses in their way they spent; Making sweet solace to herself alone ;
'Mongst which Cymochles of her questioned Sometimes she sung as loud as lark in air,
Both what she was, and what the usage meant, 1 Sometimes she laugh’d, that nigh her breath was Which in her cot she daily practised?
Yet was there not with her else any one, (gone ; “ Vain man!” said she," that wouldst be reckoned That to her might move cause of merriment; A stranger in thy home, and ignorant Matter of mirth enough, though there were none, Of Phædria (for so my name is read) She could devise, and thousand ways invent Of Phædria, thine own fellow-servant : To feel her foolish humour and vain jolliment. For thou to serve Acrasia thyself dost vaunt. !
Which when far off, Cymochles heard and saw, “ In this wide inland sea, that hight by name He loudly callid to such as were aboard
The Idle Lake, my wand'ring ship I row, The little bark, unto the shore to draw,
That knows her port, and thither sails by aim, And him to ferry over that deep ford :
Ne care ne fear I how the wind do blow, The merry mariner unto his word
Or whether swift I wend or whether slow : Soon heark’ned, and her painted boat straightway Both slow and swift alike do serve my turn : Turn'd to the shore, where that same warlike lord Ne swelling Neptune, ne loud-thund'ring Jove, She in received ; but Atin by no way
Can change my cheer, or make me ever mourn; She would admit, albe the knight her much did My little boat can safely pass this perilous pray.
bourne.” Eftsoons her shallow ship away did slide,
Whiles thus she talked, and whiles thus she toy'd, More swift than swallow sheers the liquid sky, They were far past the passage which he spake, Withouten oar or pilot it to guide,
And come unto an island waste and void, Or winged canvas with the wind to fly:
That floated in the midst of that great lake; Only she turn'd a pin, and by and by
There her small gondelay her port did make, It cut away upon the yielding wave ;
And that gay pair issuing on the shore Ne cared she her course for to apply,
Disburthen's her: their way they forward take For it was taught the way which she would have, Into the land that lay them fair before, And both from rocks and flats itself could wisely | Whose pleasaunce she him shew'd, and plentiful save.
great store. And all the way the wanton damsel found
It was a chosen plot of fertile land, New mirth her passenger to entertain ;
Amongst wide waves set like a little nest, " For she in pleasant purpose did abound,
As if it had by Nature's cunning hand And greatly joyed merry tales to feign,
Been choicely picked out from all the rest, Of which a store-house did with her remain, And laid forth for ensample of the best : 1 Yet seemed nothing well they her became ; No dainty flower or herb that grows on ground,
For all her words she drown’d with laughter vain, Nor arboret with painted blossoms drest,
And smelling sweet, but there it might be found That turned all her pleasaunce to a scoffing game. To bud out fair, and her sweet smells throw all j
around. And other whiles vain toys she would devise No tree, whose branches did not bravely spring ; As her fantastic wit did most delight:
No branch, whereon a fine bird did not sit ; | Sometimes her head she fondly would aguize No bird, but did her shrill notes sweetly sing;
With gaudy garlands, or fresh flowrets dight No song, but did contain a lovely dit.
Careless the man soon woxe, and his weak wit Or to behold the water work and play
Was overcome of thing that did him please : About her little frigate, therein making way. So pleased, did his wrathful purpose fair appease.
Her light behaviour and loose dalliance
Thus when she had his eyes and senses fed