« AnteriorContinuar »
undergraduate days were embittered by conflicts with the authorities, but we have no reliable
ke data for such opin
my ion. John Aubrey, in a statement which must be examined later, asserted that the poet “missed the fellowship there which Bishop Andrews got,” but throws no further light on the subject. Perhaps the theory that Spenser was unhappy in his student life receives slight support from the fact that, al.
EDMUND SPENSER though he refers with affection to his
Bor issa Down, 19 university, he makes
Grant from him to dr Henry (a junior member of the Roche family), of the Custody of no mention of his
the Woods of Balliganim, dc., county Cork, Ireland. college. It is known that
Be it knowen to all men by these presents that I Edmund Spenser of Kilcolman esqu. doe Spenser left Cam
give unto a Henry the keping of all the woods which I have in Balliganim, and of the rushes bridge in 1576 on
and brakes, without making any spoyle thereof, and also doe covenant with him, that he shall
bave one house within the bawtie of Richardston for himself and his cattell in tyme of warre. taking his M.A.
And also within the space of vij yeares to repayre the castle of Richardston aforesayd, and in all degree, and it is
other thinges to use good neighbourhood to him and hia, also established that
ED. SPENSER: he was in London by October, 1579. Where did he spend the interval? If Mr. Knowles is correctin thinking the poet's parents were now
A WARRANT OF TITLE BY SPENSER living at Burnley, it
This relates to the poet's Kilcolman estate. is natural to suppose that a part of the time there at Sir Erasmus's is still called Spenser's at least was passed in their company. All chamber. Lately in college, taking down the authorities are agreed, and on good evidence, wainscot of his chamber, they found abunthat Spenser went into the North of England dance of cards, with stanzas of the Faerie on leaving Cambridge, but it seems impossi- Queene written on them. From John Dryden, ble to locate his exact whereabouts. Just poet laureate, Mr. Beeston says, he was a little here, however, it is right that the statement man, wore short hair, and little band, and little of John Aubrey, the antiquarian, should be cuffes." considered. In one of his manuscripts he Amid so much that is nebulous in the hissets down these particulars of our poet: “Mr. tory of Spenser it would be a relief to think Edmond Spencer was of Pembroke hall, in that the mask has been removed from the Cambridge. He missed the fellowship there fair face of his Rosalind. Of course there wbich Bishop Andrews got. He was an ac- have not been lacking theories of her idenquaintance and frequenter of Sir Erasmus tification; and they have, in the main, been Dryden: his mistress Rosalinde was a kins- as childish if not as numerous as those which woman of Sir Erasmus's lady. The chamber cluster around the person of Dante's Beatrice.
No one, however, has yet arisen to dissolve One authority declares the poet to have beRosalind away as a myth; she was so real come a member of the household of Leicester to the poet that her personality refuses to be House not later than 1578. Gabriel Hartranslated into a philosophical abstraction. vey roundly told his friend that life was too How real she was, and what a sad time serious a thing to be spent in vain regrets Spenser had with her ! Meeting her when for Rosalind; he had better be off to Lonfresh from college and while full of high don and try his fortune there. And Gabriel hopes as he stood on the threshold of life, Harvey gave more than advice; he, it seems, her image dominated his life to within a few was the means of introducing Spenser to Sir years of its close.
Philip Sidney, and thus opening to him the Although Spenser loved in vain for him- avenue along which such preferment as was self, he did not love in vain for his art—no to be his lot eventually came. poet ever does. From the travail of his So persistent and probable is the tradition unrequited passion there were born children which makes Spenser the companion of Sid
Here Spenser was the guest of Sir Philip Sidney. of fancy who long ago joined the dwellers of ney at Penshurst that one inclines hopefully that dream-world which is peopled with the to the theory which dates the return of the creations of poets. In the words of Dean poet some months, at least, prior to October, Church,“ Rosalind had given an impulse to 1579. Than Penshurst for a home and Sidthe young poet's powers and a color to his ney for a companion, there could have been thoughts, and had enrolled Spenser in that no fitter education for the poet who was band and order of poets—with one exception, to sing the swan-song of English chivalry. not the greatest order—to whom the wonder- Time has dealt tenderly with the gray walls ful passion of love, in its heights and its of the fair Kentish home of Sidney; they depths, is the element on which their imagi- stand to-day little changed by the summers nation works, and out of which it molds its and winters of more than three centuries, most beautiful and characteristic creations.” Here, indeed, are environments amid which
It is certain that Spenser returned to it is easy to frame a picture of the poet and London by October, 1579, and it seems proba- his courtly friend; it would strike no discord ble that an earlier date may be accepted. to meet them in earnest talk in this old-world baronial hall, or wandering arm in arm amid more, and he it was, we may be sure, who the glades of this ancestral park. “The secured the poet a place in the household of generall end of all the booke," wrote Spenser Leicester House. That was a notable riverof the Faerie Queene," " is to fashion a gen- side mansion in Spenser's time. Once the tleman or noble person in vertuous and gentle home of Lord Paget, it was now the abode discipline.” And who but Sidney was his of the Earl of Leicester, and known by his model? He “impressed his own noble and name. Years after it was bequeathed to beautiful character deeply on Spenser's mind. his son-in-law, the Earl of Essex, and as Spenser saw and learned in him what was Essex House it sheltered Spenser when in then the highest type of the finished gentle. London, sixteen years later, on his last quest man."
for “ more preferment.” It has all vanBut the poet had other occupation at Pens- ished now, save the arch and steps at the hurst than that of studying the character of bottom of Essex Street, which once served his host. While it is probable that the as the water-gate of the mansion and saw the “Shepheard's Calendar” was begun in the “two gentle Knights” of the “ Prothalanorth, internal evidence points clearly to its mion " receive those “two faire Brides, their completion amid the southern dales which Loves delight." There are probably no other surround Sidney's home. Wherever begun stones standing in all London which can and ended, the poem was out of Spenser's claim to have figured as these archway pillars hands ere the year closed, for on December did in the life of Spenser. 5, 1579, this entry was made on behalf of Perhaps those were not happy days he one - Hugh Singleton" in the register of spent in Leicester House ; instinctively they Stationers' Hall: “Lycenced unto him the recall the sorrow of the solitary Florentine Shepperdes Calender conteyninge xij ecloges and his proportionable to the xij monthes." Although Thou shalt have proof how savoureth of salt there are reasons for believing that the The bread of others, and how hard a road * Shepheard's Calendar” was by no means The going down and up another's stairs. the first-fruits of Spenser's muse, that vol. It may have been otherwise; we cannot ume was his first serious bid for the suffrages tell; but to the high-spirited man there are of Elizabethan England as its chief poet. few trials so galling as waiting for the opporBut the bid was made in a very modest man- tunity to put out to usury the talents of ner. The volume appeared anonymously, which he is conscious. under the sheltering wing of a dedication to At last Spenser's opportunity came, but in a Sidney, and with a commendatory epistle form he probably little expected. It seems from the pen of E. K.-the initials, as we clear that his heart was set on some State sernow know, of the poet's Cambridge friend. vice which would give him space to approve True, the epistle was bold enough; E. K. the reputation he had won; his letters to his had no doubts about the quality of the poet friend Harvey bristle with poetic projects for whom he stood sponsor. Spenser's suc- and schemes for high achievement in the cess appears to have been instantaneous. realm of letters. That he fulfilled his misEngland was waiting for a new poet, and sion, but independent of the aid he had anhad grace given to recognize him when he ticipated, is not the least jewel in his crown. appeared. “But now yet at the last," wrote While Spenser was still waiting, the Minisone critic while his mind was filled with ters of Elizabeth were struggling with the thoughts of Virgil, "hath England hatched problem which has been the nightmare of one poet of this sort, in my conscience com- English statesmen for countless generations parable with the best in any respect: even the problem of what to do with Ireland. Master Sp., author of the Shepheard's Deputy after Deputy, many of them men of Calendar,' whose travail in that piece of clear vision and high purpose, had returned English poetry I think verily is so commend- home foiled in the task of giving that counable, as none of equal judgement can yield try a stable government. Sidney's father, him less praise for his excellent skill and Sir Henry Sidney, had been the last to reskilful excellency showed forth in the same, sign the hopeless labor, and for two years than they would to either Theocritus or the Queen had no personal representative Virgil."
among her Irish subjects. But circumstances Sidney was the relative of many influential bad arisen which made the appointment of a men in those days, and the friend of many new Deputy an urgent necessity, and in the
contrast to the environment he had left behind : instead of the settled comfort of Elizabethan England, the perturbed life of rebellious Ireland. His verse reflects the change in many passages, some of which are charged
with that pensive feeling which even Fashioning
to-day besets the traveler in some parts XII. Morall vertues.
Our conception of what exactly were Spenser's official occupations in Ireland is by no means so clear as might be wished. He went thither as the new Deputy's secretary, and when that office took end he seems to have passed from one clerkship to another until his days were numbered. Various grants were made to him from time to time. Now he receives a lease of the Abbey of Enniscorthy, and a year later a six years' lease of a house in Dublin. When Munster was settled, he shared with many others in the
grants of land then made, his portion LONDON
being the Castle of Kilcolman and an Winted for William Ponsonbic.
estate of three thousand acres. This 159 0.
was the most considerable prize that
ever fell to his lot, and Kilcolman, as TITLE-PAGE OF THE FIRST EDITION OF
it became his home, is the one definite “ THE FAERIE QUEENE”
mark on the map of Ireland which summer of 1580 Lord Grey of Wilton was Spenser's name suggests. appointed to fill that “great place which had When Spenser went to Ireland, he carried wrecked the reputation and broken the hearts the scheme of the “Faerie Queene" with him. of a succession of able and high-spirited sery. He may have shaped it into some form durants of the English Crown." This appoint ing his college or North of England days; ment was of great moment to Spenser, for, there can be little doubt that he talked it probably at the advice of Philip Sidney, Lord over with Sidney at Penshurst. But, admitGrey made choice of the “new Poet” as his ting that the idea of the poem took early secretary.
root in his mind, the fashioning of it into its For the remainder of Spenser's life we final form was accomplished almost wholly have to think of him as an exile. There on Irish soil. In a curious and very scarce were, it is true, as will be seen, several visits pamphlet, bearing the title of “ A Discourse home, each undertaken apparently in the of Civil Life,” there is given a description of hope of “more preferment” on English soil, a meeting of literary men which took place but those visits are the only relief in the pic- in a cottage near Dublin somewhere between ture. Probably it is quite reasonable to sup- the years 1584 and 1588. The author, Ludopose that the poet distilled some enjoyment wick Bryskett, explains that a debate on out of his life in Ireland, but it is impossible ethics took place at that meeting, and he deto ignore the fact that his absence from scribes himself as asking one member of the London in those days of intense life in litera- company, “ very well read in Philosophy, ture and politics robbed him of much keen both moral and natural,” to favor the rest pleasure. He was in the golden era of Eng- wish his conclusions on the matter. The one lish letters, and yet not of it; it was his fate so appealed to was Edmund Spenser. His to “ live in the Elizabethan age, and to be answer, as reported by Bryskett, inasmuch severed from those brilliant spirits to which as it is practically our only Boswellian glimpse the fame of that age is due."
of the poet, is worth transcribing: “Though Socially, too, his new life presented a sad it may seem hard for me to refuse the request
made by you all, whom every one alone I of events which took him across the Irish should for many respects be willing to gratify; Channel, the “ Faerie Queene” would be yet, as the case standeth, I doubt not but the means of ending his banishment. Rawith the consent of the most part of you I leigh's plan was approved, and Spenser reshall be excused at this time of this task turned to London in his company, bearing which would be laid upon me; for sure I with him the first three books of the “Faerie am that it is not unknown unto you that I Queene.” have already undertaken a work tending to Arriving in England, probably some time the same effect, which is in heroical verse, in November, 1589, Spenser lost no time in under the title of a Faerie Queene,' to repre- arranging for the publication of his first installsent all the moral virtues, assigning to every ment of the “ Faerie Queene." The “Shepvirtue a Knight to be the patron and de- heard's Calendar” had been published by fender of the same, in whose actions and one Hugh Singleton, “at the signe of the feats of arms and chivalry the operations of gylden Tunne;' the “ Faerie Queene” was that vertue whereof he is the protector are intrusted to the hands of William Ponsonby, to be expressed, and the vices and unruly who did business at the sign of the Bishop's appetites that oppose themselves against the Head in St. Paul's Churchyard. When the same, to be beaten down and overcome. “Faerie Queene" proved to be such a success, Which work, as I have already well entered and had set the tongues of men wagging with into, if God shall please to spare me life that Spenser's praise, Ponsonby, on his own initia. I may finish it according to my mind, your tive, raked together such of the poet's minor wish will be in some sort accomplished, though perhaps not so
but guzma - M effectually as you could desire."
One of the principal sharers in the planting of Munster was Sir Walter Raleigh, and a large bay
ร: Se mere window in his house at Youghal is still pointed out as the spot
watno & Condom
Wa862. Laukut & 237 where Spenser wrote many stan
Synonyms England cheyt zas of his great poem. Certainly
on en los
e Frauffamant Raleigh and Spenser renewed Sandover . Lymer com a faltar of filinga their friendship in Ireland, and there is nothing improbable in the legend which makes the poet a guest at Youghal. Raleigh was quick to measure the value of the work Spenser had done, and forthwith urged him to return to Lon. don with him and give it to the
Eng. Ayon me contamos con world. It is impossible to resist
o modelos y salafaz crestere a suspicion that Raleigh was
3. Sement thinking of his own advantage as well as Spenser's. He had left England under the frown of Elizabeth; to return as sponsor to a
du Pogrevanced propia de Gober poet who would reflect luster on
e her person and her reign might
rilafors be a cheap method of changing the frown to a smile. In any case, Spenser can hardly have wanted much persuasion. He had tasted exile for ten years; he had fin
усеге 8-r ys egypt-al
Fordningen som ished enough of his great task to make a considerable volume; it might be that, as the “Shepheard's
ENTRY IN STATIONERS' HALL Calendar” started the sequence
Registry of "The Shepheard's Calendar,” December 5, 1589.