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long been wooing the Muses by the classic banks of Cam, but now the time had come when his genius was to shine out in fuller lustre. His fame, as often happens, had its root in a deep sorrow. A lady, whom he calls Rosalind, made a plaything of his heart, and, when tired of her sport, cast it from her. She little knew the worth of the jewel she had flung away. "The sad mechanic exercise" of verse was balm to the wounded poet, who poured forth his tender soul in The Shepheard's Calender, begun in the north but completed under the oak-trees of Penshurst, where dwelt "Maister Philip Sidney."


Spenser owed this brilliant friend to the kindness of Harvey, who had induced him to come to London. Thus he was naturally brought under the notice of Leicester, Sidney's uncle, by whose interest he became secretary to Lord Grey of 1580 Wilton, the newly-appointed Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. The next two years were therefore spent in that country. Grey owed much to the gifted pen of his grateful secretary, who zealously defended his policy and reputation. The poet's services were rewarded in 1586 by a grant from Elizabeth of more than 3000 acres in the county of Cork. These acres the estate of Kilcolman-formed a part of the forfeited lands of the rebel Desmonds, of which Raleigh had already received a large share. This seeming generosity-which, however, cost Elizabeth nothing—is ascribed to the good offices of Grey and Leicester; but there are not wanting hints that the cool and cautious Burleigh, anxious to thin the ranks of his magnificent rival, managed thus to consign to an honourable exile an adherent of Leicester, whose genius made him a formidable foe. The life of Spenser, all but the last sad scene, is henceforth chiefly associated with the Irish soil.

Smitten in the autumn of 1586 with a great grief-the bloody death of Sidney near Zutphen-Spenser hurried across to his estate, of which he was called the Undertaker, and 1586 which he was compelled to cultivate, in terms of the grant. It was a lovely scene, and we cannot quarrel with the causes, friendly or the reverse, which led the author of The Faerie Queene to take up his dwelling among "the green alders by the


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Mulla's shore." The castle of Kilcolman, from which the Desmonds had been lately driven, stood by a beautiful lake in the midst of an extensive plain, girdled with mountain ranges. Soft woodland and savage hill, shadowy river-glade and rolling ploughland were all there to gladden the poet's heart with their changeful beauty, and tinge his verse with their glowing colours. Dearly he loved the wooded banks of the gentle Mulla, which ran by his home, and by whose wave, doubtless, many sweet lines of his great poem were composed. Hither there came to visit him the brilliant Raleigh, then a captain in the Queen's Guard, who seems to have quarrelled with Essex, and to have been "chased from court" by that hot-headed favourite. The result of this remarkable meeting was Spenser's resolve to publish the first three books of "The Faerie Queene," with which Raleigh was greatly delighted.

The two friends-for Raleigh now filled in the poet's heart the place which poor Sidney had once held-crossed the sea together with the precious cantos. The voyage is poetically described in the Pastoral of Colin Clouts come home againe, published in 1591, where Raleigh figures as the "Shepherd of the Ocean." Intro


duced by his friend to the Queen, and honoured with her 1590 approval of what he modestly calls his "simple song," the poet lost no time in giving to the world that part of "The Faerie Queene" which was ready for the press. The success of the poem was so decided, that in the following year the publisher issued a collection of smaller pieces from the same pen. A pension of £50 from Elizabeth-no small sum three centuries ago-rewarded the genius and the flattery of Spenser, who then went back to Ireland to till his beautiful barren acres, and "pipe his oaten quill." He had, besides his farming and his poetry, a public work to do, and that of no easy or pleasant kind. As Clerk of the Council for Munster, and afterwards as Sheriff of Cork, he came much into collision with the Irish people, whom it was his policy to keep down with an iron hand.

The chief events of his later life were his marriage, and the publication of the second three books of "The Faerie Queene." In the fair city of Cork, not far from his castle, he was united, pro

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bably in 1594, to a lady named Elizabeth, in whose honour he sang the sweetest marriage song our language boasts. In 1596 he crossed to England and published the fourth, fifth, and sixth books of his great work.

So, laurelled and rejoicing, he returned to his Irish castle. To all appearance a long vista of happy years, bright with the love of a tender wife and blooming children, lay stretching out before the poet. But in that day life in Ireland resembled the perilous life of those who dress their vines and gather bursting clusters on the sides of Etna or Vesuvius. Scarcely was he settled in his home, when a torrent of rebellion swept the land. Hordes of long-coated peasants gathered round Kilcolman. Spenser



and his wife had scarcely time to flee. In their haste and 1598 confusion their new-born child was left behind, and, when the rebels had sacked the castle, the infant perished in the flames. It was only three months later that Spenser breathed his last at an inn in King Street, Westminster. A common tale Bright hopes-a crushing blow-a broken heart

in human life. -and death!

"Alas for man, if this were all,
And nought beyond the earth.”

In Westminster Abbey, near the dust of Chaucer, the body of this great brother minstrel was laid.

The grandest work of Spenser is his Faerie Queene. Among his numerous other writings the Shepheard's Calender,—Colin Clouts come home againe,—Epithalamion,--and his View of the State of Ireland are worthy of special notice.

In a letter to Sir Walter Raleigh, prefixed to the first three books of "The Faerie Queene," which were published in 1590, the poet himself tells us his object and his plan. His object was, following the example of Homer, Virgil, Ariosto, and Tasso, to write a book, coloured with an historical fiction, which should "fashion a gentleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle discipline." The original plan provided for twelve books, "fashioning XII. morall vertues." Of these twelve books we have only six. The old story of the six remaining books being finished in Ireland,

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and lost by a careless servant, or during the poet's voyage to England, is very improbable. Spenser had only time between 1596 and his death to write two cantos and a fragment of a third. Hallam justly says, "The short interval before the death of this great poet was filled up by calamities sufficient to wither the fertility of any mind." Prince Arthur, who is chosen as the hero of the poem, falls in love with the Faerie Queene, and, armed by Merlin, sets out to seek her in Faery Land. She is supposed to hold her annual feast for twelve days, during which twelve adventures are achieved by twelve knights, who represent, allegorically, certain virtues.

The Red-Crosse Knight, or Holiness, achieves the adventure of the first and finest book. In spite of the plots of the wizard Archimago (Hypocrisy) and the wiles of the witch Duessa (Falsehood), he slays the dragon that ravaged the kingdom of Una's father, and thus wins the hand of that fair princess, (Truth.) Sir Guyon, or Temperance, is the hero of the second adventure; Britomartis, or Chastity-a Lady-Knight of the third; Cambel and Triamond, typifying Friendship, of the fourth; Artegall, or Justice, of the fifth; Sir Calidore, or Courtesy, of the sixth. The six books form a descending scale of merit. The first two have the fresh bloom of genius upon them; the third contains some exquisite pictures of womanhood, coloured with the light of poetic fancy; but in the last three the divine fire is seen only in fitful and uncertain flashes. It was not that the poet had written himself out, but he had been tempted to aim at achieving too much. Not content with giving us the most exquisite pictures of chivalrous life that have ever been limned in English words, and at the same time enforcing with some success lessons of true morality and virtue, he attempted to interweave with his bright allegories the history of his own day. Thus Gloriana the Faerie Queene, and Belphœbe the huntress, represent Elizabeth; Artegall is Lord Grey; Envy is intended for poor Mary Stuart. Spenser's flattery of Queen Bess, whose red wig becomes in his melodious verse "yellow locks, crisped like golden wire," is outrageous. It was a fashion of the day, to be sure; and, after all, poets are only human.



It is almost needless to say that the politics dull and warp the beauty of the poetry,- -a fact nowhere more manifest than in the fifth book, whose real hero is Lord Grey of Wilton.

The language of Spenser was purposely cast in an antique mould, of which one example is the frequent use of y before the past participle. The expletives do and did occur in his pages to a ridiculous extent. The stanza in which this great poem is written, and which bears the poet's name, is the Italian ottava rima, with a ninth line-an Alexandrine-added to close the cadence. It may well be compared to the swelling wave of a summer sea, which sweeps on—a green transparent wall—until it breaks upon the pebbly shore in long and measured flow. Thomson, Campbell, and Byron have proved the power of the grand Spenserian stanza.

In his Pastorals-the "Shepheard's Calender" and "Colin Clout" -Spenser cast aside much of the stereotyped classic form. Instead of Tityrus and Corydon breathing their joys and sorrows in highly polished strains, we find Hobbinoll and Diggon, Cuddie and Piers, chatting away in good old-fashioned English about the Church and its pastors, poets and their woes, and similar themes. The Calender contains twelve eclogues-one for every month in the year.

That Spenser could write capital prose, as well as exquisite verse, is clearly proved by his "View of the State of Ireland," a dialogue in which that land and the habits of its natives are finely described. The views of Spenser as to the government of the Irish people seem to have harmonized with those of relentless Strafford, whose plan was aptly named "Thorough," from its sweeping cruelty. This prose work of Spenser, though presented to Elizabeth in 1596, was not printed until 1633.


A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,
Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruel markes of many a bloody fielde;


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