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and encouragement as to his writings-save that he did not admire the Faery Queene; he induced him to retrace his steps from the north; he also helped him forwards by introducing him to the notice of Sir Philip Sidney, who, in his turn, obtained for him the goodwill ånd patronage of his uncle Lord Leicester.
It is thought that some disappointment, or disagreement with his college authorities, led Spenser to lea Cambridge soon afte taking his M.A. degree; and he went into the north of England. The Shepheards Calender bears some few traces of northern dialect. Thence, by the advice of Harvey ©, he came southwards again, and in the year 1578, or thereabout, settled in London. About the same time Harvey brought him and Sir Philip Sidney together. To Sidney he dedicated his first printed work, the Shepheards Calender, which was published in the year 1579. Next year, Arthur, 'Lord Grey de Wilton, took Spenser with him as his secretary to Ireland, in all probability through Lord Leicester's influence; for just before this time he had been staying at Penshurst, Lord Leicester's seat in Kent. On Lord Grey's recall, in 1582, Spenser returned with him to England. This brief period of active political life must have given Spenser much of that experience in Irish affairs which he afterwards embodied in his “ View of the State of Ireland.”
In 1586 his friends obtained for him from Queen Elizabeth a grant of a large estate, at Kilcolman, in the county Cork, part of the territories forfeited by the Earl of Desmond; and he appears to have gone at once to take possession of his new property.
The battle of Zutphen, in 1587, deprived him of his best friend, Sir Philip Sidney, whose untimely death he tenderly bewailed in an elegy entitled Astrophel.
And now Spenser seems to have passed a few years in literary
c In Eclogue vi. of the Shepheards Calender, Hobbinol (Harvey) prays Colin Clout (Spenser) to “forsake the soyle that thee doth so bewitch," and “ to the dales resort.” On this E. K. (Edward Kirke, the contemporary annotator of the Shepheards Calender) remarks, “ This is no poeticall fiction, but unfeignedly spoken of the poet selfe, who for speciall occasion of private affaires (as I have been partly by himselfe informed) and for his more preferment, remooved out of the north partes, [and] came into the south.”
ease and employment at Kilcolman Castle. There, on the shore of a pleasant lake, with fine distant views of mountains all round, he busied himself in the composition of the first three Books of the Faery Queene. These he shewed in manuscript to Sir W. Raleigh (whose friendship he had gained during his first visit to Ireland). Sir Walter, while banished from court, seems to have spent some time at Kilcolman, and his visit forms one chief topic of the poem headed “Colin Clouts come home again.” To Raleigh, whose opinion of the Faery Queene was most favourable, is addressed the explanatory letter prefixed to the work; and as soon as the three Books were ready for the printer, Spenser went over to England in Raleigh's company, induced partly by the wish to publish the book, and still more tempted by Sir Walter's promise to present him to "his Cynthia,” Queen Elizabeth d. The Queen "unto his oaten pipe enclined her eare, That she thenceforth therein gan take delight.” She received the poet with high favour, and, soon after the publication of the first three Books of the Faery Queene in 1590, granted him a pension of fifty pounds a year, thus in fact making him her laureate.
He returned the same year to Ireland; and so much had his fame grown, that his bookseller eagerly gathered together a volume of his smaller poems, which came out in 1591. One of these pieces e may be briefly noticed here, as having given occasion to a groundless tale about Lord Burleigh's dislike to Spenser, and his endeavour to stop his pension. Spenser, who loved and admired Archbishop Grindalf (the good Algrind of the Shepheards Calender), must have disliked Burleigh, who treated the
d Colin Clout, 11. 184-196:
And wend with him, his Cynthia to see,
So to the sea we came.”-
e Mother Hubberd's Tale, 898.
Archbishop with no little severity; and on the other hand, Burleigh, Lord Leicester's rival at court, cannot have felt much goodwill towards one who was so closely attached to the party of his antagonist. Beyond this, there seems to be no ground for the tale.
Early in life Spenser had worshipped a fair Rosalind, whose faithless trifling with him, and eventual preference of a rival, are recorded in the Shepheards Calender. E. K. & tells us that “the name being well ordered will betray the very name of Spensers love,” whence it has been conjectured that she was a Kentish lass of the name of Rose Lynde, the name of Lynde being found among the gentry of that county. But this may pass. She rejected him, and he remained some twelve or fourteen years without thoughts of marriage. But in the years 1592-3 (if Mr. Todd's reasonings are correct h) he fell in with an Elizabeth, (her surname is lost,) towards whom his heart turned; and after a courtship, set forth in his Amoretti, or Sonnets, he married her in 1594. The wedding took place on St. Barnabas' Day, as he tells us himself, in the city of Cork, near which lies Kilcolman Castle. He was then forty-one or forty-two years of agek. His wife was of lowly origin—“she was certes but a countrey lasse” (Faery Queene, VI. X. 25), but beautiful—“So sweet, so lovely, and so mild as she” (Epithal. 1. 169). Her eyes were “sapphires blue,” her hair of “rippling gold.” He likens her locks to the Queen's; but those were not golden, but red.
In 1596 Spenser was in England, superintending the second
6 Edward Kirke was a friend of Spenser, and compiled a 'Gloss' on the Shepheards Calender.
h I must here record my great obligation to the careful Life of Spenser prefixed to Mr. Todd's edition of his works. i Epithalamium, l. 265:
“ This day the Sun is in his chiefest height,
With Barnaby the bright.” k Sonnet lx.:
“So since the winged God his planet clear
Began in me to move, one year is spent :
edition of Books I-III of the Faery Queene, which came out in that year with Books IV-VI, then first given to the world. In 1597 he returned to Ireland, hoping for an honourable and quiet life at Kilcolman. But it was a vain hope. The Queen had already recommended him to the Irish Government as Sheriff of Cork, when the Tyrone rebellion broke out in 1598, and he was obliged to flee in great haste to save his life. In the confusion and terror of flight one of his little ones by some strange oversight was left behind in the castle; and the rebels, following swiftly after, sacked and burnt the house. The child was never more heard of, and probably perished in the fire. Spenser reached England broken-hearted, and next January, some three months later, his body rested by Chaucer's side in the south transept of Westminster Abbey m.
So his life withered away; he died at the age of forty-five or forty-six. The limits of that life were almost those of the reign of the great Queen; it seemed to take its tone and character from it. Spenser's poems are full of allusions to the young life of England—to her outburst of national feeling, her devotion for the Queen, her resistance to Spain, her ocean adventures, her great men, her high artistic and intellectual culture, her romantic spirit, her championship of freedom abroad, and her reverence for law and authority at home. Spenser comes first in the series of great writers who are the glory of English literature in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Shakespeare appears soon after the publication of the Faery Queene; Hooker's Ecclesiastical Polity is brought out in 1594; Bacon's Essays in 1597. The land is a-glow with every form of life: and Spenser connects the past with the future. Looking back to his master, Chaucer, he draws his own England with a romantic hand, the chivalrous and the imaginative qualities of his mind being
I See Todd's Life, ed. 1863, p. xlvii.
m In the copy of the ed. 1596 in the Bodleian Library there is preserved a tracing of the following note: Qui obiit apud diversorium in platea Regia apud Westmonasterium juxta London, 16 die Janii. 1598  juxtaque Geffereium Chaucer in eadem ecclesia supradicta (Honoratissimi Comitis Essexiae impensis) sepelitur. Henry Capell, 1598 [1599.)”
rather of the past than of his own time. He couches his marvellous creations in a somewhat archaic language; not in an obsolete dialect, as some have said, but with a natural affinity for older forms and turns of idiom, which help to give the proper colouring to his pictures; while at the same time we can trace the real life of his age in every canto of his great work. His star set, wept by the unfortunate Earl of Essex, just as the other lights were rising in the firmament; he had but a glimpse of the coming splendour, when he was cut off in the midst of his days. But he had done enough to entitle him to his acknowledged place among English poets. Shakespeare stands alone; and who can stand by the side of Milton, if it be not Spenser?
Short curling hair, a full moustache, cut after the pattern of Lord Leicester's, close-clipped beard, heavy eyebrows, and under them thoughtful brown eyes, whose upper eyelids weigh them dreamily down; a long and straight nose, strongly developed, answering to a long and somewhat spare face, with a well-formed sensible-looking forehead; a mouth almost obscured by the moustache, but still shewing rather full lips denoting feeling, well set together, so that the warmth of feeling shall not run riot, with a touch of sadness in them;—such is the look of Spenser, as his portrait hands it down to us. A refined, thoughtful, warmhearted, pure-souled Englishman. The face is of a type still current among us; and we may read in it loyalty, ability, and simplicity. Its look is more modern in character than that of most of the portraits of the period,-more modern, but not the Stuart gaiety, or Hanoverian heaviness, but rather, like the best type of our own age in its return to religious feeling, truthfulness, and nobility of thought and character.
We have ample opportunities for studying the poet's mind and education. At Cambridge his love for poetry grew strong, though vitiated at first by the bad taste of his friends, who worshipped the English hexameter, in a rude form, as a new revelation of poetic power and promise: but the strength of the poet was not likely to be held in such bands as these, and the Shepheards Calender, published some three years after he left Cambridge,