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you behold it. Opening manhood wears a higher grace than its own, and fancy lends to the complexion a richer tinge than the crimson doublet and the scarlet mantle. The recollection of Sidney will preserve its hue longer than the lock of his ruddy brown hair preserved in the little box at Penshurst. We might have hoped that Milton's admiration of Spenser would have embraced his illustrious friend, who will ever be recounted in the solemn cantos that tell the deeds of knighthood. The story of his generosity to Spenser—the gift of a hundred pounds for every stanza in the “Cave of Despair"-is valuable, as it shows the popular estimation of his munificence. It would be surpassed even then by that of Lord Southampton, who is related to have presented Shakspeare with a thousand pounds—a sum which must be multiplied by five to bring it to our present rate of money. Under the shadow of his loss, Spenser must have gone to his task with a faltering heart. But he toiled bravely. The Council of Munster had a difficult enterprise. They were to repair the ravages of war and rebellion by repeopling the province with men willing and able to invest capital in the lands, and so to civilize the inhabitants. Adventurers abounded, and extensive grants were made. Sir Walter Raleigh reaped the largest harvest. He obtained 42,000 acres. The modester share of 3000 and the Castle of Kilcolman fell to Spenser's lot. The situation, when the neighbouring country was well wooded, may have been pleasant; but Mr. Howitt observes, after personal examination :

" When we hear Kilcolman described by Spenser's biographers as romantic and delightful, it is evident that they judged of it from mere fancy; and when all writers about him talk of the Mulla flowing through his grounds and past his castle, they give the reader a most erroneous idea. The castle, it must be remembered, is on a wide plain ; the hills are a couple of miles or more distant; and the Mulla is two miles off. We see nothing at the castle but the wide boggy plain, the distant naked hills, and the weedy pond under the castle walls.''

The scenery only looked lovely in verse. But Kilcolman was to be flushed with a different sunshine. In the summer of 1589 Raleigh visited Spenser. He came, indeed, at an unfavourable season to himself, and his temper could not have been unruffled. A MS. letter at Lambeth (August 17th, 1589) informs us of the reason :- “My Lord of Essex bath chased Mr. Raleigh from Court, and confined him into Ireland.” He found Spenser completing the three books of the “Faerie Queene;" and we can readily believe the poet's report that, when his friend, sitting with him

Amongst the coolly shade

Of the green alders by the Mulla's shore," heard the music that he made

“He found himself full greatly pleased with it.”

The returning favour of the Queen brought Raleigh back to London. Spenser accompanied him.

“He me persuaded forth with him to fare ;

Nought took I with me but mine oaten quill.” The quill rendered the poet very acceptable. · The Queen inclined her ear, as he read “portions of his song" at timely hours. The parts we may not define, but the lines relating to Gloriana would certainly win the lingering attention of the royal Cynthia. When the three books were printed, Elizabeth confirmed her approval by a pension of £50. We must not underrate the reward, which amounted to nearly £300 of our currency. The commonly told and believed story of Fuller may belong to this occasion. Todd ridicules it, and Mr. Collier believes it; so do we. The indirect testimony of a barrister is brought from the Harleian MSS. in support of the anecdote.

Spenser was with Raleigh in London during the autumn of 1589. In the commencing spring of the ensuing year the volume had passed the press. How did Spenser read? Hardly, we apprehend, like his most illustrious contemporary, whose special instructions to the players were doubtless the result of his own practice. If the evidence of Downes, the prompter, is received, they were transmitted through Sir William Davenant to Betterton, who manifested the improving effects of the teaching. A good actor is not implied by a good reader. Few of our poets have read well. Dryden was eminently bad, with neither point nor cadence. Cibber mentions his reading of a play as flat and uninteresting beyond expression. Ben Jonson was admitted admirable, Conjecture willingly bestows musical elocution on Spenser, and attributes the unusual speed of the Printer to the influence of the poetry on the enamoured hearer. The list of faults is an evidence of haste. We are ignorant of the number of copies, but a second edition was not demanded before 1596. A sonnet of Raleigh introduced the Poem.

Let us pause for a moment before this most gifted and remarkable person, who would have been a fitting subject for the stately pen of Gibbon in the biography which he once contemplated. Macaulay pictured Raleigh to himself under an ever-varying aspect. Raleigh changes as you look upon him. Now reviewing the guard, or giving chase to a Spanish galleon, or murmuring a love song too close to the ear of her Highness's maid of honour. At another time poring over the Talmud, or collating Polybius with Livy. Raleigh was universal ; the sailor, the soldier, the scholar, the poet, the historian, the philosopher. A trunk of books in a voyage seemed in him as natural and obvious as a carpet-bag with an excursion train. You would not be surprised to hear that he made a chemical experiment between the broadsides, or to see him reading his “Horace" in the clearing smoke of the guns. Raleigh was the personification of the picturesque-in



See page 576.




satin doublet, with the big diamond that fastened his feather, the chain of jewels round his neck, and the pearls that powdered his shoes. Nothing was too insignificant for his eye in horticulture, books, or economics. In commerce, as in taste, he had the prophetic eye; his projected office of universal agency was a dim anticipation of the advertising columns of the “ Times.” Thomson might say with more than poetical reason

“In Raleigh mark, then, every glory mixed,

Whose breast with all
The sage, the patriot, and the hero burned.

His mind
Explored the vast extent of ages past,
And with his prison hours enriched the world.”

the man.

ing the

The scarlet cloak flung before the Queen in the mud was an emblem of

His originality descended to trifles. He could not chastise an offender in a common way. On one occasion he happened to be annoyed at a tavern by the jabber of a guest, whose perpetual talk made a noise like a drum. Raleigh effectually abated the nuisance. He began by beating the fellow, and then sealed up his mouth by joinupper

and lower beard with wax, and so left him. Such a use of the beard would help to make it popular among quiet folks.

Spenser probably spent more than a year in England in the Court and the society of Raleigh and his friends. He had certainly returned to Ireland by the close of 1591, for he dates a poem from Kilcolman. To this period belong his sonnets, which were printed in 1595. They arose out of his affection for the lady whom he married. Our knowledge of her is restricted to her name- Elizabeth. She is reported to have been the daughter of a merchant in Cork. The poet calls her a country lass. The date of the marriage was June 11, 1594, when Spenser was about forty-two. In Mr. Collier's view this union was his second. Todd feels persuaded that he was a bachelor.

We accept the word of Spenser for the beauty and attractions of his bride, whether first or second. His sonnets appeared fourteen years before Shakspeare's. Reflection confirms our opinion, which is making way. Sismondi thought that the reader of “ Petrarch” should know the history of his attachment in order to appreciate the beauty of its description, and assign to every sonnet the place for which its particular sentiment had destined it. Such knowledge is impossible. Petrarch had it not. He celebrated Laura in more than 300 sonnets, and is believed never to have spoken to her for twenty years, except in the presence of witnesses. His sonnets-those perpetual duns upon pity, to adopt a phrase of Anna Seward—are always knocking at the door. But the heart seldom opens

The sonnets of Spenser partake of the same shadowy unrealness.


VOL. 1.-NO. VI.


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