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how he was supported does not appear. These relations, it would seem probable, from the communication of a Mr. F. C. Spenser, in the Gentleman's Magazine of August 1842, quoted by Craik, in his Spenser and his Poetry, were the Spensers, or Le Spensers, of Huntwood, near Burnly, Lancashire, part of which estate abutted on a little property still called Spensers, at the foot of Pendle-hill. This derives confirmation from the fact of Spenser having a son called Lawrence, and of the names of Edmund and Lawrence abounding in the registries of this Lancashire family, as well as of that family only spelling the name with an "s." Here he fell in love with a lady, whom he celebrates under the name of Rosalind, and who deserted him; this is said to be the cause of his writing the Shepherd's Calendar, in which he complains of this faithless mistress. Others, again, think she was a maiden of Kent, a Rose Lynde, the Lyndes being an old family in that county, where he went on his acquaintance with Sir Philip Sidney, while in the south; but this cannot at all agree with the letter of his friend Gabriel Harvey to him. To Sir Philip he was introduced by this old college friend Gabriel Harvey, and dedicated to him the Shepherd's Calendar. If it be true that the dedication was the cause of introduction, this must have been solicited and decided upon while the poem was only in progress, for it appears pretty clearly that he wrote part of the Calendar at Penshurst; especially the eleventh eclogue, in which he laments the death of a "maiden of great blood," supposed to have been a daughter of the Earl of Leicester. In the tenth eclogue he lauds the Earl of Leicester as "the worthy whom the queen loves best;" so that he was now in the high road to preferment, and does not appear to have been backward to walk diligently in it. Leicester and Sidney, near kinsmen as they were, were just the two men of the whole kingdom to push the fortunes of a poet. With this early and regular introduction to these two powerful men, (powerful in politics and literature, and in favour with the queen,) it is difficult to weave in a belief of the fine story of Spenser's pushing his own way with the ninth canto of the first book of the Faerie Queene. It is a pity this should not be true, yet how can it? The story goes thus: One morning Spenser, determined to try his fortune with Sir Philip Sidney, the courtier most celebrated of the time, for his intellectual accomplishments, and for his generous disposition, went to Leicester House, an entire stranger, carrying with him this canto of his great poem in which is contained the fine allegory of Despair. He Obtained admission to Sidney, and presented his MS. for his approbation: that great lover and judge of poetry had not read far before he was so much struck with the beauty of a stanza, that he ordered fifty pounds to be given to the author; proceeding to the next stanza he raised his gift to a hundred, which sum he doubled on reading a third, and commanded his steward to pay instantly, lest he should be induced by a further delay to give away his whole estate. Pity so fine a story was not true! some imaginative person must have pleased himself with fancying how such a thing might
However, Spenser was now a regular inmate of Leicester House, and of Penshurst; so that that latter sweet place has the honour of being as well the haunt of our great romantic poet as of the highhearted Sidney. By Leicester and Sidney Spenser was introduced to Queen Elizabeth, who, it is said, on his presenting some poems to her, conferred on him a gratuity of a hundred pounds. If this be true, it is so unlike Elizabeth's parsimony, that we must set it down as a wonder. Yet it is to this fact that Lord Burleigh's dislike to the rhymer, as he called Spenser, is attributed. He deemed the grant so extravagant as to neglect its payment till he received a repetition of the order from his mistress, with a reproof for his delay. There were, no doubt, plenty of causes for Burleigh's dislike of Spenser. In the first place, he had not a spark of poetry in his constitution. To him it was sheer nonsense, idle and childish nonsense. But, besides this, Spenser was brought forward by the very party of whom Burleigh was most jealous-Leicester. He appeared at court as the particular friend of Leicester and Sidney; and the incautious poet is said to have aggravated the dislike of Burleigh by some satirical rhymes, which were assiduously carried to the clever but cold-blooded minister. There has not been wanting active vindication of Burleigh, and the discovery of a patent granting him a pension of fifty pounds a year, dated 1590-1, which he enjoyed till his death in 1598-9, has been said to be sufficient refutation of all that has been alleged against Burleigh in Spenser's case. But how does this at all remove the statements of Burleigh's dislike of Spenser and reluctance to his promotion? Not in the least. It merely shows that Spenser had friends, and an interest in the queen's good-will, powerful enough to overrule the minister's opposition. It may be, and most likely is, just as true, that on the grant of this pension Burleigh declared "the pension was a good example, too great to be given to a ballad-maker;" and that when the queen ordered him a hundred pounds, he replied-"What! all this for a song?" These facts are so in keeping with Burleigh's character, that we cannot question them. Indeed, Spenser himself has put the truth past a doubt. What means
"To have thy prince's grace, yet want her peeres'?"
What those lines at the close of the sixth book of the Faerie Queene?
"Ne may this homely verse, of many meanest,
Hope to escape his venomous despite,
More than my former writs, all were they clearest,
With which some wicked tongues did it backbite,
Again, in the Ruines of Time, written subsequently to the first edition of the Faerie Queene :
"The rugged foremost that with grave foresight
Thus, whether Spenser, as alleged, or not, gave cause of offence by his satire, one thing is clear, that Burleigh was his bitter and unchangeable enemy. That Spenser had suffered at court is fully shown in his oft-cited verses in his "Mother Hubbard's Tale," the most lively picture of court attendance and its consequent chagrins that ever was painted.
"Full little knowest thou that hast not tryd,
To lose good days that might be better spent ;
Spenser's sole reliance was on Leicester, Sidney, and Raleigh, with whom he became soon acquainted. He is said to have been employed by the Earl of Leicester on a mission to France in 1579; and though this has been questioned, yet his own assertion, in a letter to Gabriel Harvey, confirms it. In 1580 he accompanied Arthur, Lord Grey of Wilton, who went as Lord-Lieutenant to Ireland, as his private secretary. In this post he is said to have displayed great talents for business. He wrote a "Discourse on the State of Ireland," containing many decided plans for the improvement of that country.
In 1581, the first year of his being in Ireland, he was also made clerk to the Irish Court of Chancery, and Mr. Craik has pointed out the fact given in Collins's Peerage, in the account of the Earls of Portsmouth, that in this same year, too, he received from the queen a grant of a lease of the Abbey of Iniscorthy, or Enniscorthy, and the attached castle and manor, in the county of Wexford, at an annual rent of 300l. 68. 8d.; and that he conveyed this property on the 9th of December of the same year to Richard Synot. This leasehold by another sale came into the hands of the family of the Earls of Portsmouth, and is rated by G. Wakefield, in his "Account of Ireland," at 8,000l. a-year.
Lord Grey was recalled in 1582, and Spenser returned with him. But his fate was bound up with Ireland. After hanging about court for four years, during which time there can be little doubt that he experienced much of the bitterness expressed in the lines just quoted, he obtained, through the interest of his friends, Lords Grey and Leicester, and Sir Philip Sidney, a grant of 3,026 acres of land in the county of Cork, part of the forfeited estate of the great Earl of Desmond. Scarcely was his patent made out, when his best friend and patron, Sidney, was killed at the battle of Zutphen. This was the death of his hopes in England, and he set out to reside on and cultivate his newly acquired estate in Ireland; having lamented Sir Philip's death in the pastoral elegy of Astrophel. This was in 1586. In three or four years, 1590 or 1591, Spenser returned
to England with Raleigh, published his first three books of the Faerie Queene, and was presented by Raleigh to Elizabeth, who at this time conferred on him his pension. Spenser, it seems, now returned to Ireland, wrote his second three cantos, and, bringing them over in 1596, published them; and also printed and published his Discourse on the State of Ireland, as a defence of his patron Lord Grey's policy there. From the condition of Ireland at that time, and the sense of insecurity which Spenser felt at his lonely castle of Kilcolman, it is not to be wondered at that his plan abounds with earnest recommendations of a coercive nature, and especially for the stationing of strong garrisons numerously. In 1597, he returned to Ireland, where almost immediately the great rebellion of Tyrone breaking out, he was chased from his castle, and retiring to London, died there heart-broken in 1598.
Such is a brief outline of the life of Spenser. Let us now take a nearer view of his Irish home. One of the best accounts of it is contained in the Dublin University Magazine of November 1843. The writer, evidently not only a genuine lover of the poetry of Spenser, but well acquainted with the scene he describes, goes at much length into the characters and allusions of the poem of the Faerie Queene. He shows us that Spenser draws a noble portrait of his benefactor, Lord Grey, in the second book of that poem. It is the warrior seen by Britomart in the mirror of Merlin, as her future husband.
"A comely knight, all armed in complete wize,
The portrait is certainly a noble one, and limned with the colours of divine poetry. The anonymous but able author leads us justly to notice that, in the Legend of Artegall, the thirteen stanzas opening the first canto of the fifth book "relate to the hapless condition of the Ladye Irena-her tears and her troubles; tears that, alas! have not yet ceased to flow down, and troubles that to the present hour are convulsing her bosom. For Irena is Ireland; and she sends her supplications across the ocean to Gloriana, the Queen of Faerie, the great and good Elizabeth of England, beseeching her to come over and help her. Artegall is the personification of equity and justice; and this is the boon which poor Irena looks for, and hopes to receive at her sister's hand."
Artegall, or, in other words, Lord Grey, passes over to Ireland, and encounters Pollentè, or Gerald, Earl of Desmond, "who was in rebellion against Elizabeth at the time of Lord Grey's appointment to the chief authority in Ireland, and perished miserably in consequence. His prodigious wealth and power would amply bear out such an appellation. His lands extended one hundred and fifty miles in the south of the kingdom, stretching from sea to sea, and comprising the greater portion of the counties of Waterford, Cork, Kerry, and Limerick. We read of his being able to bring together,
by his summons, six hundred cavalry, and two thousand footmen; and of these, nearly five hundred were gentlemen of his own kindred and surname. His castles were numerous, and scattered over this large tract of country in well-chosen places, for its defence and protection; and it is curious that attached to one of them is a tale of blood not unlike what you will find Spenser describing. A few miles above the sea, on a bold cliff overhanging one of the deepest parts of the beautiful river Blackwater, stand the battered remains of the earl's castle of Strancally. Attached to this stronghold is a murderous device, which we had often previously heard of, but never till then beheld. The solid rock had been pierced with a large well-like aperture, communicating with the river; and the neighbouring peasants will tell you, that the unwary, when decoyed within the castle, were tied hand and foot, and flung down the murder-hole-the rapid river hurried by, and soon carried away their gasping shrieks, and the dead told no tales. We have every respect for these local traditions; notwithstanding, we place no faith in the present horrible legend, which is wholly at variance with the received character of the Earl of Desmond. It may be that such things were told of him, even in Spenser's days; and it is certain that about the close of the year 1579, his castle of Strancally was taken by the Earl of Ormond, the President of Munster; a capture which could be easily transferred to the poet's hero, Artegall."
Lord Grey was recalled, in consequence of representations of cruelty and oppression in his administration. "With this event the fifth book of the Faerie Queene concludes: and the poet there enters at large into the facts of the case. Artegall is summoned away to Faerie Court, and on his way thither meets with two illfavoured hags,-'superannuated vipers,' as Lord Brougham would term them,-whom he knows to be Envy and Detraction. These are painted in language that makes the grisly creatures live before you. Every hue and feature of their vile countenances is preservedtheir slavering lips, their tireless tongues, their foul and claw-like hands. We remember nothing in Milton or Dante that surpasses this powerful personification."
Spenser, as we have already stated, accompanied Lord Grey home, and here came in for a share in the partition of the vast estates of the vanquished Earl of Desmond. The plan now devised for more securely attaching Ireland to the British Crown was called the Plantation of Munster. The scheme, which was first put in operation on this vast confiscated territory of the Earl of Desmond, is thus described in Smith's History of Cork :
"All forfeited lands to be divided into manors and seigniories, containing 12,000, 8,000, 6,000, and 4,000 acres each, according to a plot laid down. The undertakers (those who got these grants) to have an estate in fee-farm, yielding for each seigniory of 12,000 acres, for the first three years, 331. 6s. 8d. sterling, viz. from 1590 to 1593, and from Michaelmas, 1593, 66/. 13s. 4d. sterling, and rateably for every inferior seigniory, yielding upon the death of the undertaker the best beast as an heriot. To be discharged of all taxes