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author's merit. He was one of the first who discovered it, and recommended it to the notice of the best judges of that time, And so long as this great man lived, Spenser never wanted a judicious friend and a generous patron.
After he had staid for some time in the North, he was prevailed upon, by the advice of some friends, to quit his obscurity, and come to London, that he might be in the way of promotion. The first step he afterwards made towards preferment, was, as I have said, his acquaintance with Sir Phillip Sidney: but whether that acquaintance began immediately upon his addressing to him the Shepherd's Calendar, as to me seems most probable, or some time after, I will not determine. That which makes it somewhat uncertain, is a story of him which I shall only set down as I find it related, not knowing how far it may appear worthy of credit. It is said he was a stranger to Mr. Sidney (afterwards Sir Philip) when he had begun to write his Fairy Queen, and that he took occasion to go to Leicester-House, and to introduce himself by sending in to Mr. Sidney a copy of the ninth canto of the first book of that poem. Mr. Sidney was much surpriz'd with the description of Despair in that canto, and is said to have shewn an unusual kind of transport on the discovery of so new and uncommon a genius. After he had read some stanza's, he turned to his steward, and bid him give the person that brought those verses fifty pounds; but upon reading the next ftanza, he ordered the sum to be doubled. The steward was no less surprized than his master, and thought it his duty to make some delay in executing so sudden and lavish a bounty; but upon reading one ftanza more, Mr. Sidney raised his gratuity to two hundred pounds, and commanded the steward to give ic immediately, left as he read further, he might be tempeed to give away his whole estate. From this time he admitted the author to his acquaintance and conversation, and prepared the way for his being known and received ar Court,
Tho' nothing could have been more happy for him than to be thus introduced, yet he did not immediately reap any great benefit by it. He was indeed created Poet-laureat to Queen Elizabeth, but for some time he wore a barren laurel, and poffeffed only the place without the pension. The lord treasurer Burleigh had not, it seems, the same taste of Spenser's merit with Sir Philip Sidney; and, whether out of neglect, or any particular resentment, or from whatever cause, he is said to have intercepted the Queen's favour to this unfortunate and ingenious man. As the most elegant minds have the quickest sense of repulses from the great and powerful, who should countenance and protect them, it is no wonder this misfortune sunk deep into our author's spirit, and seems to have dwelt upon him for a great space of his life. Accordingly we find him in many parts of his works pouring forth his heart in complaints of so hard and undeserved a treatment; which probaby would have been lefs unfortunate to him, if his noble patron Sir Pbilip Sidney had not been so much absent from Court, as he was obliged to be, by his employments abroad, and by the share he had in the Low-Country wars.
I think I ought not here to omit a little story, which seems founded on the grievance I have mentioned, and is related by some, as a matter of fact commonly reported at that time. It is said the Queen, upon his presenting fome poems to her, ordered him a gratuity of an hundred pounds ; but that the lord treasurer Burleigh objecting to it, said, with some fcorn of the Poet, What! all this for a foing? The Queen replied, bim what is reason. Spenser waited for some time, but had the mortification to find himself disappointed of the Queen's intended bounty. Upon this he took a proper opportunity to present a paper to Queen Elizabeth in the manner of a petition, in which he reminded her of the orders she had given, in the following lines.
I was promis'd on a time
· Then give
This paper produced the desired effect; and the Queen, not without fome reproof of the treasurer, immediately directed the payment of the hundred pounds she had first ordered.
But tho' our author had no better interest with the Lord Treasurer, yet we find him, some time after his appearance at court, in considerable esteem with the moft eminent men of that time. In the year 1579, he was sent abroad by the Earl of Leicester : But in what service he was employed, is uncertain. The most considerable step he afterwards made into business, was upon the Lord Grey of Wilton's being chosen deputy of Ireland, to whom Mr. Spenser was recommended as secretary. This drew him over into another kingdom, and settled him for fome time in a scene of life very different from what he had known before. His life now seemed to be freed from the difficulties which had hitherto perplexed it, and his services to the crown were rewarded by a grant from Queen Elizabeth of 3000 acres of land in the county of Cork. His house was in Kilcolman; and the river Mulla, which he has more than once so beautifully introduced in his poems, ran through his grounds.
It was about this time that he contracted an incimate friendship with the great and learned Sir Walter Raleigh, who was then a captain under the Lord Grey, and did him fome services afterwards at Court; and by his means Queen Elizabeth became more particularly acquainted than before with our author's writings.
In this pleasant situation he finished his celebrated poem of the Fairy Queen, which was begun and continued at different intervals of time; and of which he at first in 1590 published only the three first books. To these were added three more in a following edition, but the six last books (excepting the two canto's of Mutability) were unfortunately loft by his fervant, whom he had in haste sent before him into England. For tho' he passed his life for some time very serenely here, yet. a train of misfortunes fill pursued him; and in the rebellion of the Earl of Desmond, he was plundered and deprived of
his estate. This forced him to return to England, where his afflictions were doubled by the want of his beft friend, the brave Sir Philip Sidney, who died some years before of the wounds he had received in an action. near Zutphen in the Netherlands.
Spenser survived his beloved patron about twelve years, but seems to have spent the latter part of that time with much grief of heart, under the disappointment of a broken fortune. It is remarkable that he died the fame year with his powerful enemy the Lord Burleigh, which was in 1598. He was buried in Westminster Abby, near the famous Geoffry Chaucer, as he had desired. His obsequies were attended by the Poets of that time, and others who pay'd the lait honours to his memory. Several copies of verses were thrown after him into his grave and his monument was erected at the charge of the famous Robert Devereux, the unfortunate Earl of Essex ; the stone of which it is made, is much broken and defaced : the inscription on it is as follows,
“ HEARE lyes (expecting the second Comminge of
our Saviour Christ Jesus) the Body of Edmond Spencer, “ the Prince of Poets in his tyme; whose Divine Spir“ rit needs noe othir Witness, then the Works which he « left behind him. He was born in London in the “ Yeare 1510, and died in the Yeare 1596.”
It is observable that this differs from Camden's account of his death, who says it was in 1598. in the forty first year of the Queen's reign. But this epitaph is, I doubt, yet less to be depended upon for the time of our author's birth, in which there must have been a very gross mis, take. It is by no means probable that he was born so early as 1510, if we judge only by so remarkable a circumstance as that of his standing for a fellowship in competition with Mr. Andrews, who was not born till 1555. Besides, if this account of his birth were true, he must have been above sixty Years old when he first published his Shepherds Calender, an age not the most proper for love poetry; and in his seventieth year, when
he entered into business under the Lord Grey, who was created deputy of Ireland in 1580. For these reasons, I think, we may certainly conclude, either that this. Infcription is false, by the error of the carver, which may seem the more probable, because the spelling likewise is very bad even for that time; or that it was put in sometime afterwards, when the monument perhaps was repaired, and is wholly different from the original one; which indeed is mentioned by Dr. Fuller, and others, to have been in Latin. In a little Latin treatise, describing the monuments of Westminster in the year 1600. published, as is fuppofed, by Mr. Cambden, I find the following account of it.
Edmundus Spenser, Londinensis, Anglicorum Poetarum noftri seculi facilè Princeps, quod ejus poemata, faventibus Mufis & viéturo Genio' conscripta, comprobant. Obiit immatura morte, Anno salutis 1598. & prope Galfredum Cbaucerum conditur, qui fælicisime Poesin Anglicis Literis primus illuftravit. . In quem hæc fcripta Junt Epitaphia. u Hic prope Chaucerum fitus est Spenserius, illi
“ Proximus ingenio, proximus ut tumulo.
“ Conderis, & verfu quam tumulo propior ;
“ Nunc moritura timet, te moriente, mori. The absurdity of fuppofing our author born in 1510. appears yet further by the expression immatura morte, which is here used, and could not have been very proper, if applied to a man who had died at eighty-eight years of age. Winstanley and some others have tranfçribed this whole passage as his epitaph, not considering that the prose is only an eulogy on him, and not a monumental inscription. The reader will likewise observe that the verses are two distinct epitaphs ; of which, the first and second couplets are but the same thought differently expressed. In the last couplet it is not improbable the * Vid. Kepe's Monumenta Wefimoras.