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f 1888



THE life of Edmund Spenser has few incidents and little certainty. He tells us he was born in Londona, near the Tower, and was connected, though not closely, with the house whose name he bears b. But the date of his birth can only be inferred approximately from his matriculation at Cambridge, and his second courtship. He entered as a sizar at Pembroke Hall in 1569, when he was not likely to be under fifteen or over twenty years of age. His birth, then, will fall between 1549 and 1554. But he tells us (in his both Sonnet) that he was forty years old when his second courtship began. The date of that courtship lies between 1591 and 1593, so that he must have been born between 1551 and 1553. If then we take 1552 for the year of his birth, we shall not be far wrong.

We may conjecture from his writings, especially from his Letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, that, while at Cambridge, he studied Aristotle and Plato as well as the Greek and Latin poets. He became B.A. in 1573, M.A. in 1576. At the University he contracted a close friendship with Gabriel Harvey (the Hobbinol of his Shepheards Calender) the author of many ingenious poems. It was one of those college friendships the influence of which is felt through a man's whole life. For Harvey gave Spenser advice

a Prothalamium, 11. 128-131:

To mery London, my most kyndly nourse,

That to me gave this lifes first native source ;
Though from another place I take my name,

A house of auncient fame."
• Colin Clouts come back again, 11. 538, 539:

The honor of the noble familie

Of which I meanest boast myself to be."
The Spensers of his day were wealthy landowners, not yet ennobled.

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