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THE SECOND TIME OF ASKING.
the queenly name, and he loved the initial, which was one with his own. Let him stand excused for not foreseeing possible consequences, he, with the one sole idea in his brain. And thus directed, or misdirected, with the fatal unnecessary E, he took the letter in his hand, and meeting in the passages the young girl whom he knew as the assistant attendant on the young ladies, he bade her carry that to her mistress. And the girl who, being younger attendant, considered Miss Emily as more particularly her charge, having glanced at the quite corresponding address, did as she was ordered.
Half an hour afterwards, Emily in tears, Emily in some wild agony of distress, had burst into Ethelreda's room, and thrown herself into her arms that letter in her hand !
And Ethelreda took it from her and read ; read at first under the old impression, wondering at her sister's tears. Read on, however, with shortened breath, astonishment, overwhelming emotion, which she dared not allow as joy; then turned aside and wept herself—a strange pause succeeding. But when she turned again, holding out wildly tender arms, the younger girl laid herself once more on her bosom, and the two embraced as sisters-sisters at last and for the first time. The adopted life of mother and daughter had ended, the real one of sisterhood had begun. Ethelreda must return to her youth, and Emily must take the plunge which brings the enlarged sympathies of womanhood over the light spirit of the mere girl.
Oh the world that had opened around her in the last brief halfhour! Now at last she realized the meaning of a life-time sacrificed for another, and it flashed upon her as the heroism of an angel-a heroism calling upon her too to show herself worthy of a sister's name ! Now at last too she would have shrunk with horror from calling by the holy name of love-love such as now she saw could be—the lightly pleasant communion, the summer day's fancy, which had half beguiled her into the belief that she had given away her heart. Ethelreda and Emily! happier were ye as sisters even than ye
had been as mother and daughter. For now the younger rose to the elder, and the elder had a friend. And so a thousand times it comes to pass, that by means apparently most unlikely to act favourably-which no educationist could devise, or would dare to use if devised—the best education both of the heart and soul is providentially accomplished.
When Ethelreda and Emily stood before the altar, the one as bride, the other as bridesmaid, people remarked to each other, and for the most part with surprise, how wonderfully alike the two sisters were. Nor was the surprise out of place. The family similarity of feature had escaped notice while the countenances differed so strongly. But now that Ethelreda's spirit had grown young, and Emily's had burst into a higher development, they were wonderfully alike!
ABOUT SPENSER AND HIS WORKS.
The time of Spenser's birth seems to be properly placed in 1552. A MS. note of Oldys' indicates East Smithfield as the bot, but inconclusively. Only the metropolitan birth is certain, for the poet twice calls himself a Londoner. But a thick cloud envelopes his early days. We are left to conjecture the Christian name of his father, and are ignorant of the surname, the rank, and the family of his mother. From himself we learn that her name was Elizabeth. He alludes with frequent and apparent satisfaction to the “house of ancient fame" from which he claimed to have descended. The "house" of Sir John Spencer, of Althorp. The substitution of c for s is unimportant. Dryden spells the name of the poet with the same variation. Gibbon's well known panegyric commends itself to every literary heart, and the “Faerie Queene" still outshines any jewel in the Spencer coronet. The childhood of Spenser is absolutely without a guiding mark. He is supposed to have spent his youth in Warwickshire, where an Edmund Spenser (probably his father) is mentioned as an inhabitant of Kingsbury. The fancy is pleasing that Spenser may have carried his satchel to school in the same air as Shakspeare, but it does not assume a stronger name. Before the completion of his seventeenth year he was admitted a sizar of Pembroke Hall, and took his bachelor's degree at the beginning of 1573. There is an opinion that the poet's studies at Cambridge were interrupted by employment in political business. One Edmund Spenser, we know, on sure testimony, was paid for bringing letters to the Queen from her ambassador in France, and we adopt the suggestion that the Edmund in question was the poet's father. The earliest fruit of Spenser's poetical genius --and it was crude and unripe-appeared in 1569. It gave no promise of the bloom that soon covered the tree. But the specimen is valuable as belonging to the oldest examples of blank verse in English. They were, we may suppose, unknown to Bishop Percy when he prepared his volume of blank verse preceding “Paradise Lost.” At Cambridge, Spenser made the acquaintance of a learned and eccentric scholar, Gabriel Harvey, his senior by seven years, and a fellow of the same college. Such an intimacy is now very uncommon.
The intercourse with Edward Kirke was far more natural, for Kirke had also taken the humble rank of sizar at Pembroke, about a year and a half after Spenser. That Harvey was tutor of both the young men is very likely. A note of Kirke intimates the retirement of Spenser, on leaving Cambridge in 1576, to some friends in the North of England, where he fell in love with the lady whom he celebrated under the name of Rosalind. According to Aubrey she was a kinswoman of the wife of Sir Erasmus
ROSALIND AND THE SHEPHERD'S CALENDAR.
Dryden, of whom he says that Spenser was an acquaintance and frequenter. He also speaks of a room in the house which was called Spenser's chamber. But we believe that no such appellation is known at Canon's Ashby. The tradition, therefore, must have died out, as has very nearly that other tale of the old gossip, that when the wainscot of Spenser's room at college was taken down, many cards were found with stanzas of the “Faerie Queene” written upon them. The information has a dignity not belonging to the antiquary himself. In a note he gives it on the authority of Dryden. Perhaps we may add here the anecdote that Spenser once lived in Hampshire, and in that delicate sweet air "enjoyed his muse and writ good part of his verses." The name of Woodford is given as the voucher of the story. He was born in London in 1636, and died in 1700. Woodford had a great zeal for poetry, and was warmed by a perusal of Cowley into the labour of a paraphrase of the Psalms. He was rector of a parish in Hampshire, and a Prebendary of Winchester. Rosalind had not a prophetic eye for the fame of her lover, whom she jilted for a more favoured swain. But “Rosalind” was embalmed for all time; garlands clustered round the name ; and Spenser's passion became proverbial among pastoral poets. The " Shepherd's Calendar” was given to admiring readers in 1579. Hallam thinks that it made an epoch. But the idea of adapting a pastoral to every month, even when most full of promise and sunshine, was very imperfectly carried out. Certainly the author showed his judgment in not seeking to rival the mild elegance of Tasso in the “ Aminta.” He scarcely supplied its absence. The Doric delicacy of the writer became harshness in English ; and we miss altogether the incomparable sweetness which inspired Dryden's happy image of a fair shepherdess, in her country russet, talking in a Yorkshire tone. Ben Jonson alluded to the “ Calendar” when he said that Spenser, in seeking to copy the elder style, wrote no language at all. Much discord of sound arises from perpetual echoes of Chaucer, whom he proposed for a model, and whose poetical life he sometimes ventured to hope had passed into his own. The“ Calendar” was anonymous, and inscribed to Sir Philip Sidney, whose faint praise might have been tempered by the fact. Sidney was two years younger than Spenser, and the general disposition to attribute the poem to him was assuredly an aid to its diffusion. The praise of the calm and sparing Hallam is somewhat chilled by the composure of Campbell.
But a distant brightness is now darted forward by the Faerie Queene. Far off her coming shone. Harvey had been intrusted with the MS. which he detained for a considerable time, and at length the writer grew impatient, and earnestly requested its return. He also asked for his erudite friend's long-expected judgment.
The Elvish Queen had not found favour in Harvey's sight. He sent her home at last, neither better nor worse than he found her. A dunce may discourage a genius. Probably Spenser laid aside his poem for a season, The student thinks of another work which was gradually assuming shape and proportions at the same time. The summer of 1536 saw the beginning of the “Ecclesiastical Polity," of which four books were completed in 1592. The fantastic architecture of the poet and the grander towers of the divine were being moulded into symmetry together. The growth of the palm was the apt emblem of each. But we are rather in advance of Spenser. In 1580 he was appointed secretary to Lord Grey of Wilton, the new Viceroy of Ireland, where he arrived in August. The interest of Leicester is believed to have opened this door of promise, which, to a young man of twentyseven, gave a cheering prospect. Hope at first realized its anticipations.
Lord Grey's government was soon ended. He relinquished it in 1582, and returned to London, and perhaps took his secretary with him. Spenser always interpreted the severity, of which Lord Grey was accused, by just and necessary firmness and resolution. The poet's residence in England may explain his temporary employment as the envoy whom James VI. “stayed” at St. Andrew's, that he might bear to the Queen a letter written “with his own hand." The unexpected death of Sidney might have clouded a much brighter success. Ben Jonson painted a delicious little sketch of Penshurst:
“Thou hast thy orchard fruit, thy garden flowers,
Hang on thy walls, that every child may reach." And who would dissolve the dream of Spenser and Sidney walking together, in sweet converse, on the broad terrace or under the beechen shade of the same home of the Muses ? The mind willingly receives Sidney with the poetical glow in which he descended to our age, even as Thomson represents him :
“The plume of war with early laurels crowned,
The lover's myrtle, and the poet's bay.” Fuller said, in relation to his own Worthies, that Sidney might be termed a “ubiquitarian,” for he appeared in every column in turnstatesmen, soldiers, lawyers, and writers. His sweet nature always imparts a beauty to this
“ Gentle shepherd born in Arcady." Who ever questions his claim to that perfect beauty which contemporaries claim for him ? A sudden lustre bathes his portrait at Penshurst while