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on the twenty-sixth of April, he speaks of his experiences of March and April as giving him the worst time he has ever known in his life, but phrases his life by the number of its years : “If May prove no better with me than March and April have done, I must needs say, and say it truly, it will be the worst spring, yea the worst and roughest winter for me that happened this twenty-two years.” * with the probability that Harvey joined his college at fifteen, and was, therefore, qualified for his Master's degree at the age of twenty-two. Among the contents of Harvey's “ Letter-Book " there is a passage that corroborates this indication of his age.

He transcribed into the book some verses entitled, “The Scholar's Love, or Reconcilement of Contraries. The very first English metre that I made." He entered it as written in September, 1573, and representing “a few idle hours of a young Master of Art.” In measure variously rambling, he first pours exaggerated praise and then exaggerated dispraise upon a Mistress Ellena or Nell, and then disports himself with disputation that mocks the manner of the schools, on likeness in opposites. In a piece written to be inserted somewhere in this rhapsody, he doubles his age by adding twenty to it, and allows by the phrase, “with advantage,” for the fact that he makes forty by adding twenty to a little more than twenty

A strange world and a quaint and a mad fashion,
Who knoweth in wishing how to order his passion ?
Not myself, I fear me, when twenty years to come

Of forty with advantage shall make up the sum.” But, if Harvey was twenty-two years old when he became Master of Arts, he was born in 1551, and could not have been, as has been sometimes supposed, a pedant about seven years older than Spenser. Harvey's “ Letter-Book” contains

* “Letter-Book of Gabriel Harvey,” p. 34. For the next reference to age, see “Letter-Book,” p. 142.

some youthful nonsense in a letter to Spenser, from which it appears that Spenser at Pembroke Hall had advantage over his friend in a moustache and beard, from which his “thrice honourable mustachios and subboscos ” Harvey wanted clippings to cover his blushes when some rhymes of his should be sold at Stourbridge Fair. Another letter to Spenser was written by Harvey as secretary to a group of friends at the university, with whom he was sitting at a tavern fire when a letter from Spenser was delivered to him. He glanced over it, and then, reserving the few sentences that were private, read the rest for the amusement of the company

It seems to have been, after the fashion of the day for moral and sententious letter-writing,* a discourse on the growing evils of a world in which reason is become the slave of appetite. Harvey sits at a table to write what is dictated to him by a succession of young

university men over the ale, in the usual form of Nego argumentum. It is argued, in reply to Spenser, that the world is better, and not worse, than it has been ; that Spenser is a thousand years behind the time in decrying Appetite and Fancy, and upholding the scholar's life as free from apretite and full of reason. “You suppose us students happy," dictates one of the company, “and think the air preferred that breatheth on these same learned philosophers and profound clerks. Would to God you were one of their men but a se'nnight. I doubt not but you would swear ere Sunday next that there was not the like woful and miserable creatures to be found within the compass of the whole world again. None so injurious to themselves, so tyrannous to their servants, so niggardly to their kinsfolks, so rigorous to their acquaintance, so unprofitable to all, so untoward for the commonwealth, and so unfit for the world, mere bookworms and very idols, the most intolerable creatures to come in any good sociable company that ever God created.

* “ E. W.” viii. 295.

Letters between

Look them in the face : you will straight ways affirm they are the driest, leanest, ill-favouredst, abjectest, basemindedst carrions and wretchecks that ever you set your eye on.” So every yea must have its nay, and there was hard banging about each other's ears of words as big and harmless as the fool's air-bladder, that came down with resounding thwack upon the head of friend or foe. Often in tiltings with the pen there was as rough sport as in tiltings with the lance. No murder was meant in either case, but there was eagerness on each side to show power of thrust, whether with tongue or arm.

Five letters between Spenser and Gabriel Harvey were printed “ by H. Bynneman, dvvelling in Thames streate, neere vnto Baynardes Castell,” in the year 1580. They were published in two separate issues, and Published of each of them there is a unique copy in the

Spenser and British Museum. The three letters in the first Harvey. issue were published as “Three proper and wittie familiar Letters : lately passed betyveene tvvo Vniuersitie men : touching the Earthquake in Aprill last, and our English refourmed Versifying. With the Preface of a well-willer to them both.” After the preface, which is dated the nineteenth of June, 1580, the letters are, (1) from Spenser to his "long approued and singular good Frende, Master G. H.," on versifying, with reference to poems of his own; (2) Gabriel Harvey's “ Pleasant and Pitthy Familiar Discourse of the Earthquake in Aprill last,” to his “loouing frende M. Immerito”; (3) Gabriel Harvey's “Gallant familiar Letter, containing an Answere to that of M. Immerito, vvith sundry proper examples, and some Precepts of our English reformed Versifying," addressed to his "very friend M. Immerito.” This pamphlet consists mainly of Gabriel Harvey's two long letters. The short letter of Spenser's that precedes them is not in quantity a fourteenth part of the whole. The publication of these three letters


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was followed by the issue of two more, that had been written earlier but delivered later to the printer. These were entitled, “ Tvvo other very commendable Letters, of the same mens vvriting: both touching the foresaid Artificial Versifying, and certain other Particulars : More lately deliuered vnto the Printer.” They are (1) a letter from Spenser upon versification, addressed “To the worshipfull his very singular good friend, Maister G. H. Fellow of Trinitie Hall in Cambridge," and dated from "Leycester House, this 5 of October, 1579," with (2) Gabriel Harvey's answer, dated from Trinity Hall on the twenty-third of the same month.

These letters add a little to our knowledge of Spenser's early work as a poet, and show how the question of writing modern poems in the versification of the ancient Latin classics-a question which arose in Italy after the Renaissance *—was being discussed in England among scholars at the universities who cared for English verse.

The earliest in date of these five letters—that written by Spenser to Harvey on the fifth of October, 1579, written from Leicester House, in London, to Trinity Hall, Cambridge-touches on question of another little volume by Spenser, “ My Slumber”. -afterwards called “ Dreames”. and other pieces which Harvey wished him to address to Leicester, but which, in fact, although prepared for press, did not appear. This letter refers to Gosson's bad taste in dedicating to Sidney his “School of Abuse.” Spenser speaks of an interview to which he had been admitted by the queen, of which he can say nothing to satisfy his friend's curiosity; and he writes Latin verses of farewell to Harvey before his departure into France, which he expects will be next week. Spenser speaks also of his intercourse with Philip Sidney and his friend Edward Dyer, who

“ have me I thank them in some use of

* “E. W.” viii. 61, 62.

familiarity," and who hold Gabriel Harvey in credit and estimation. The letter tells also that Sidney and Dyer have declared against rhyme, and that they have drawn Spenser to the writing of English verse according to the rules founded on metre of the Greeks and Latins established by them and their friends, and specially drawn up by Thomas Drant. And, says Spenser, “I am of late more in loue with my Englishe Versifying than with Ryming: whyche I should haue done long since, if I would then haue followed your councell.” But he had thought Harvey was only following the scholarship of Ascham, who in the “Schoolmaster " advocated the substitution of Greek metres for rhyme in English poetry. Now, Spenser has found there are good English poets at Court who give him the like counsel. Spenser sends in his letter a taste of his quality in writing Iambic trimeters. They are attempts of which the first two words serve to describe the whole

“ Vnhappie Verse, the witnesse of my vnhappie state,

Make thyself fluttring wings of thy fast flying
Thought, and fly forth vnto my Loue wheresoeuer she be?"

be gone

He says of them that they conform everywhere to Master Drant's rules : “I dare warrant they be precisely perfect for the feete (as you can easily iudge,) and varie not one inch from the Rule.” Harvey, in reply, praises the trimeters, but denies that they are everywhere perfect for the feet. He speaks of his friend's travel over sea, but thinks he will not

“either the next or the nexte week.” Spenser's part in the other three letters consists only of the short letter preceding the two long letters by Harvey. He begins with some discussion of Harvey's writing of English hexameters, and says : “ Loe here I let you see my olde vse of toying in Rymes, turned into your artificial straightnesse of Verse, by this Tetrasticon. I beseech you tell me your fansie without parcialitie

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