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diameter, and had assumed a shape of sylvan massiveness and woodland rudeness, such as before I had no conception of in laurels. Some had been blown down by the winds and grew half prostrate; others had been sawn off, and had left huge stumps, knit, as it were, into one mass with the foot of the rocks. All was one scene of Arcadian greenness, and excess of growth.
Beneath the rock was a sort of damp cave where water stood as if oozing through from the river, and the plants above hung down their long arms, and made a fitting retreat for Spenser's satyrs. Around, seen from the shadow of this spot, lay the deep-green meadow, the swift, broad river, the rich masses of trees, closing in a little world of solitude; and as if to mark it for a spot in which the poet of Fairy-land had sojourned, and left the impress of his spirit, in his own words :
"Beside the same a dainty place there lay,
Of God's high praise, and of their sweet loves' teene,
Perhaps Spenser might reside here till his castle was fitted up for his reception; perhaps it might be a retreat at times from the more open perils of the desolate Kilcolman; and a sweet change from moorland wildness, to a sort of Italian richness and softness of scenery.
The way was still enchanting. Now down into the valley of the Blackwater, amongst mills and rocks, and resounding waters; now aloft again, overlooking the white house of Rennie on its precipice, and opposite to it spreading out the woods and mountains of Ballynahoolly. Now arose a bare district of hedgerows without trees, and little brown huts, with geese, and goats and swine. Now again passing some gentleman's park, with its ocean of trees, and under a sort of tunnel rather than avenue of beeches, which are planted on banks, so that they meet close above, sometimes for half a mile, and which at night are as dark as a dungeon. Then again I passed between hedges of cyder-apple, all grown into trees, and giving the country-for the fields right and left were enclosed with the samea very wild look; and I came out on bare heights, and with view of far-off bleak and brown mountains. Near Doneraile, I saw the ocean of green woods belonging to Lord Doneraile's park and domain lying before me in the valley, and passed through it for a mile or more in highest admiration of the splendid growth and richness of foliage of its beeches, its superb way-side ashes, and other trees. Surely, where it is allowed to produce trees, Ireland does exhibit them in a beauty and prodigality of growth which is almost unrivalled by those of England. To this contributes, not merely the fertility of the soil, but the moisture of the atmosphere.
About two miles beyond Doneraile I found, on a wide plain, the ruins of Kilcolman. These ruins have frequently been drawn and engraved, and the views we have of them are very correct. Indeed, so vividly were the features of the scene impressed on my mind by the views, and by reading of it, that I seemed to know it quite well.
Its old black mass of wall catches your eye as soon as you have passed the woody neighbourhood of Doneraile, standing up on the wild moorland plain, a solitary object amid its nakedness. A tolerable highway, newly constructed, leads up near to it, along which you advance amid scattered Irish cabins, and their usual potato plots. To reach the castle, you have to turn to the left up one of those stony lanes that threaten to jolt a car to pieces, and then have to scale a gate belonging to the farm on which the ruin stands, and advance on foot, through a farm-yard, and along the lake side. The remains of the castle, which consist only of part of the tower, at the southernmost corner, stand on a green mound of considerable extent, overlooking the lake, or rather a winding sort of pond, overgrown with potamogeton. On one side, masses of limestone-rock, on which the castle, too, stands, protrude from the banks, and on the other extends the green marsh, and the black peat-bogs, with their piles of peat-stacks. To the north, at about a mile distant, stretch those brown moorland mountains, called by the natives the Ballyhowra Hills, but dignified by Spenser with the name of Mole. Of either of these names the peasants seemed to know nothing, but assured me the one nearest to the castle eastward was called Slieve Ruark. Southward, at a couple of miles' distance, stands another sombrelooking tower, the remains of an ancient castle, which they called Castle Pook. On a hill, nearer Doneraile westward, are also the ruins of an abbey; so that, probably, in Spenser's time, this scene might be well wooded; these places inhabited by families of the English settlers might furnish some society for him; but at present, nothing can be more wild, dreary, and naked than this scene, and the whole view around. Turn which way you will, you see nothing but naked moorlands, bare and lonely, or scattered with the cabins and potato plots of the peasantry. To the north-east stands, at perhaps half a mile distant, a mass of plantations, enclosing the house of a Mr. Barry Harold; and that is the only relieving object, except the distant mass of the woods of Doneraile Park, and the bare ranges of mountains that close in this unpicturesque plain at more or less distance.
As I stood on the top of the massy old keep, whose walls are three yards thick, and its winding stairs of slippery grey marble, I seemed to be rather in a dream of Spenser's castle, than actually at it. The sun was hastening to set, and threw a clear shining light over the whole silent plain, and thousands of pewits and rooks from Lord Doneraile's woods, spread themselves over the green fields near the weedy water, and seemed to enjoy the calm dreamy light and stillness of the scene. The hour and the scene naturally brought to my mind the melodious stanza of Mickle, which has special reference to this solitary memorial of the history both of Ireland and its troubles, and the English poet of Fairyland and his fate :-
"Awake, ye west winds, through the lonely dale,
Even now, with balmy sweetness breathes the gale,
Through the pale willows faltering whispers wake,
And evening comes with locks bedipped with dew,
And ever and anon sweet Mulla's plaint renew."
Looking round over this stripped and lonely landscape, over "the looming flats," over the dark moorland hills that slumber to the north and east, and then far away to more distant but equally sterile mountain ranges, a strange feeling crept over me of the force of events which could compel, nay, make it desirable for the most imaginative spirit of the age next to Shakspeare, to quit the British capital, the wit and intelligence of Elizabeth's court, to sit down in this wilderness, and in the face of savage and exasperated foes, the poetical eremite, the exile of necessity. But, perhaps, the place then was not so shorn of all embellishment as now. The writer I have quoted seems to imagine that Spenser, by the sheer force of fancy, not only peopled this waste with fauns and nymphs, but clothed it with trees, and other charms of nature. But we must remember, that since then ages of devastation, of desertion, and of an exhausting system, have gone over this country. Then, this castle stood fair and complete, and no doubt had-its due embellishment and garniture of woodland trees. The green alder, very likely, not only overhung the Mulla, but this lake; and a pleasure bark might then add its grace and its life to the view from the castle windows. Todd calls it "the woody Kilcolman," on what authority I know not, and supposes that Spenser called his first-born son Sylvanus on that account, as its heir. Here he spent twelve years, and, if we may judge from his poetry, to his own great satisfaction. We cannot suppose, therefore, that he found the place without some native charms, far less that he left it without those which planting and cultivation could give it. As Sir Walter Raleigh planted and embellished his estate at Youghal with laurels and other evergreens, there is little doubt that Spenser would do the same here. He would naturally feel a lively and active interest in raising that place and estate, which was to be the family seat of his children, to as high a degree of beauty and amenity as possible. Though busily engaged on his great poem, the Faerie Queene, there is evidence that he was also an active and clever man of business; so much so that Queen Elizabeth, in preference to all those more aristocratic and more largely land-endowed gentlemen, who were settled with him on the plantations of Munster, had the very year of his expulsion hence by the Irish rebels, named him to fill the office of sheriff of the county of Cork. That he asserted his rights, appears from a document published by Mr. Hardiman, in his Irish Minstrelsy, showing that he had a dispute with his neighbour, Lord Roche, about some lands, in which, by petitions to the Lord Chancellor of Ireland, it appeared that Edmund Spenser had made forcible claim on these plough-lands at Ballingerath, dispossessed the said Lord Roche, had made great waste of the wood, and appropriated the corn growing on the estate. And the decision was given against Spenser. Spenser was, therefore, evidently quite alive to the value of property.
If we look now at what Doneraile is, a perfect paradise of glorious woods, we may imagine what Kilcolman would have been, if, instead of being laid waste with fire and sword by the Irish kerns, and left to become a mere expanse of Irish rack-rent farms, and potatogrounds, it had been carefully planted, cultivated, and embellished, as the estate of the descendants of one of the proudest names of England.
As it is, it stands one more lonely and scathed testimony to the evil fortunes of poets:
"The poets who on earth have made us heirs
yet who, themselves, of all men are still shown by a wise Providence to be "pilgrims and sojourners on the earth, having no abiding city" in it. Their souls have a heaven-aspiring tendency. They cannot grasp the earth-it escapes from their hold, and they leave behind them, not castles and domains, but golden footprints, which whoever follows, finds them ever and ever leading him upwards to the immortal regions.
"For a rich guerdon waits on minds that dare,
And reason governs that audacious flight
Let us then, at this moment, rather endeavour to look at the happiness which Spenser enjoyed here for twelve bright years, than at the melancholy finale. Here he worked busily and blissfully at his great poem. Forms of glory, of high valour and virtue, of female beauty and goodness, floated richly through his mind. The imperial Gloriana, the heavenly Una,
"whose angel face,
As the great eye of heaven, shinéd bright,
the sweet Belphobe, the gallant Britomart, and the brave troop of knights, Arthur the magnanimous, the Red-Cross Knight, the holy and hardly-tried, the just Artegall, and all their triumphs over Archimagos, false Duessas, and the might of dragon natures. This was a life, a labour which clothed the ground with golden flowers, made heaven look forth from between the clouds and the mountain tops, and songs of glory wake on the winds that swept past his towers. Here he accomplished and saw given to the world half his great work,—a whole, and an immortal whole, as it regarded his fame and great mission in the world,—to breathe lofty and unselfish thoughts into the souls of men,-to make truth, purity, and high principle the objects of desire.
Here, too, he married the woman of his heart, chosen on the principle of his poetry, not for her lands, but for her beauty and her goodness. Nothing is known of her, not even her name, except that it was Elizabeth, that she was eminently beautiful, and of low degree. Some conjecture her to be of Cork, and a merchant's daughter, but Spenser himself says she was a country lass. Thus in the Faerie Queene:
"Such were these goddesses which you did see:
With heavenly gifts from heaven first enraced !
To be the fourth with these three other placed.
So far, as doth the daughter of the day
Ne less in virtue that beseemes her well
For which the Graces that there wont to dwell
Another Grace she well deserves to be,
Pardon thy shepherd, 'mongst so many lays
Faerie Queene, b. vi. c. 10.
These were known in Spenser's days to be an affectionate monument of immortal verse to his wife, still more nobly erected in his Epithalamion; and to identify it more, in his Amoretti he tells us that his queen, his mother, and his wife, were all of the same name
"The which three times thrice happy hath me made
Ye three Elizabeths, for ever live,
That thus such graces unto me did give."
Here, too, he enjoyed the memorable visit of Sir Walter Raleigh, which he commemorates in Colin Clout. He had now ready for the press the three first books of his Faerie Queene; and these he read to Raleigh during his visit, probably as he has described it in pastoral style, as they sat together under the green alders on the banks of the Mulla.
"I sate, as was my trade,
Under the foot of Mole, that mountain hore,
Whose pleasing sound yshrilled far about,
Or thither led by chance, I know not right,
Whom when I asked from what place he came,
And how he hight, himself he did ycleep
The Shepherd of the Ocean by name,