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LIFE OF SPENSER.
EDMUND SPENSER, descended from the ancient and honourable family of Spencer, was born in London in East Smithfield by the Tower, probably about the year 1553. In what school he received the first part of his education, it has not been recorded. But we find that he was admitted, as a sizer, of Pembroke-Hall in Cambridge, on May 20. 1569; that he proceeded to the degree of Batchelor of Arts, Jan, 16. 1572-3; and to that of Master of Arts, June 26. 1576.
That Spenser cultivated, with successful attention, what is useful as well as elegant in academical learning ; is evident by the abundance of classical allusions in his works, and by the accustomed moral of his song. At Cambridge he formed an intimacy with Gabriel Harvey, first of Christ's College, afterwards of Trinity Hall; who became Doctor of Laws in 1585, and survived his friend more than thirty years. The correspondence between Spenser and Harvey will present to the reader several interesting particulars respecting both. That Spenser was an unsuecessful candidate for a fellowship in Pembroke-Hall, in competition with Andrews, afterwards the well-known prelate ; the best-informed biographers of the poet have long since e disproved. The rival of Andrews was Thomas Dove, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough. That some disappointment, however, had occurred, in regard to Spenser's academical views; and that some disagreement had taken place between him and the master or tutor of the society; is rendered highly probable by the following passage in Harvey's Letter to him, at the close of liis short but sharpe and learned iudgement of Earthquakes, dated April 7. 1580, and printed in the same year, p. 29. “And wil you needes have my testimoniall of youre old Controllers new behaviour ? A busy and dizy heade ; a brazen forehead ; a ledden braine ; a woodden
• See his Colin Clouts come home again, ver. 538 ; his Dedication of Muiopotmos to lady Carew; and the circumstanco more fully noticed in the remarks, offered in this account of Spenser's Life, on that Dedication.
b Oldys's manuscript additions to Winstanley's Lives of the most famous English poets, copied by Isaac Reed Esqr.
e Prefixed by Dr. Parmer, in his own hand-writing, to the first volume of Hughes's second edition of Spenser, in the possession of Isaac Reed Esqr. See also Chalmers's Suppl. Apology &c. p. 23.
d See a long account of Harvey in Wood's Athene O.ron. Vol. 1. Fasti. col. 128. And a list of his writings in Tanner's Bibliotheca Brit-Hib. p. 362. See also the remark of E. K. the commentator on the Shepheard's Calender, in the ninth Eclogue, p. 389.-Webbe, in his Discourse of English Poetrie, 1586, asserts that Harvey was the “most special friende" of Spenser. Nash, however, the avowed enemy of Harvey, repeatedly ridicules Harvey's boast of his friendship with Spenser; and, notwithstanding his animadversions on Harvey's railing, rails with equal if not greater flippancy and petulance himself. He may ridicule Harvey's hexameters, as much as he pleases; of wbich kind of verses in English, Harvey indeed pompously announces himself as the inventor. But he cannot detract from the general merit of Harvey both as a poet and a scholar. His beautiful poem, prefixed to the Faerie Queene, and signed Hobbinol, bespeaks an elegant and well-turned mind. Among his works are several productions of great ingenuity and profound research.
• See the Life of Spenser prefixed to the edition of the Faerie Queene, in 1751; the Biographia Britannica, vol. 6. Art Spenser, &c.