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Sidney's works complete were reprinted in 1725, in 3 vols. Svo.
As a writer, lord Brook says of him, " that his end was not writing, even while he wrote; nor his knowledge moulded for tables or schools; but both his wit and understanding bent upon his heart to make himself and others, not in words or opinion, but in life and action, good and great.”
The divine author of the Faery Queen belongs rather to a poetical than a prose series of writers; in prose, he has left only one small though valuable work. Spencer was born in London, about the year 1553 ; and descended from the ancient and honourable family of Spencer, of which himself was the greatest honour. “ The nobility of the Spencers (says Gibbon) has been illustrated and enriched by the trophies of Marlborough; but I exhort them to consider the Faery Queen as the most precious jewel of their coronet." Не was admitted, in 1569,' at Pembroke-hall, Cambridge, in the humble academical rank of sizer; and having taken his degrees in arts, quitted the university, as supposed, and went to reside with some relations in the north of England.
At Cambridge, he had become acquainted with Gabriel Harvey of Trinity-hall, by whose advice he removed, in 1578, to London, Here, Harvey introduced him to sir. Philip Sidney, who extended towards him his
generous and elevating friendship, and introduced him to the earl of Leicester, who gave him an appointment as agent in France and other parts, though it proved abortive. Soon after, however, or in 1580, lord Grey being appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland, Spencer attended him in quality of secretary ; but his lordship being recalled two years after, Spencer returned with him to England, where he continued till the death of his noble-hearted friend, sir Philip Sidney-a loss he never ceased to lament,
He obtained, in 1586, a grant of above 3000 acres out of the forfeited lands of the earl of Desmond, which, as he was obliged by his patent to cultivate, caused his removal to Ireland. His residence was at the castle of Kileolman, in the county of Cork, where he was visited by sir Walter Ralegh, in whose company he came to England, and by whom he was iatroduced at court. Elizabeth granted him. a pension of 501. a year, as laureat, though he is not thus styled in the patent.
The following year he returned to Ireland where, in 1594, he married. In 1596, he again visited England and presented, as is inferred by Mr. Todd, his “ View of the State of Ireland," to the queen. This is his only prose production, for which the queen, it appears; designed to reward him, as it justly merited; for a letter from Elizabeth to the Irish government; discovered by Mr. Malone, dated the last day of September, 1598, recommended him to be sheriff of Cork. But the rebellion of the earl of Tyrone breaking out next month, Spencer was forced to fly from the rebels, who burnt his house, his papers, and one of his children. He arrived in England, with a broken heart, and died in the January following at an inn, or lodging house in King's street, Westminster; not in King's street, Dublin, according to the common accounts. The researches of Mr. Todd in his late edition of Spencer's works, have also disproved most of the anecdotes which have been related of him. Thus, it is not true, that he was introduced to Sidney by ineans of the stanzas describing despair---that he sent to the queen the lines
about rhyme and reason, complaining that her intended bounty was withheld from him lastly, that his merit was left unrewarded. That he died comparatively poor, having lost his large estate in Ireland, is unquestionably true; but he had still his pension from the queen, no inconsiderable sum in those days, and had, besides, abundant friends. Mr. Todd observes, "the burial having been ordered by the earl of Essex, may surely be considered as a mark of that nobleman's respect for the poet, without proving that the poet was starved. Of the man who had this perished, a remarkable funeral might seem almost mockery; and yet the pall was held up by some of the poets of the time.”
The “ View of the State of Ireland," was called forth by the peculiar circumstances of that country in the time of the rebellion. The fate of Spenser, in respect of his possessions in Ireland, was necessarily involved in that of the country, and the could not be indifferent to the probable effects of the prevalent commotions. With a view to obviate these effects, he undertook to sketch and perfect a plan for the reduction of the island, within the short space of two winters. The plan was well con