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Tell them that brave it most,
And if they make reply,
Give them likewise the lie.
And wish them not reply,
For thou must give the lie.
And as they shall reply,
Give every one the lie.
And when they do reply,
Straight give them both the lie. Tell Physic of her boldness; Tell skill it is pretension; Tell Charity of coldness; Tell law it is contention :
And as they do reply,
So give them still the lie.
And if they will reply,
Then give them all the lie.
If Arts and Schools reply,
Tell faith it's fled the city;
And if they do reply,
Spare not to give the lie.
Stab at thee who that will,
(ABOUT 1553—1598-9.) EDMUND SPENSER is the second great landmark, to adopt the figure of Pope, “in the general course of our poetry.” Of his pedigree nothing is known further than that he claimed consanguinity with the noble family of his name, whose members so frequently illustrate the county archives of Northamptonshire, and who were themselves descended from a younger branch of the Despensers, anciently Earls of Gloucester and Winchester. His degree of affinity is, however, unknown, and the links of the connection severed or untraceable.
Spenser was born in East Smithfield, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Tower of London, about 1553; and his early years, it has been reasonably surmised, were passed in the cold shade of poverty and dependence. He entered Pembroke Hall, Cambridge, as a sizar, on the 20th of May, 1569; and the “Theatre for Worldings," a collection of fugitive pieces published in the same year, contains some poems which, upon internal evidence, have been referred to him. On the 16th of January, 1573, he took his degree of B.A., and proceeded M.A. in June, 1576. It has been stated that Spenser was a defeated candidate for a fellowship which Andrews, afterwards successively Bishop of Chester, Ely, and Winchester, more fortunately disputed with him. But, in fact, the rival of Andrews was Thomas Dove, afterwards Bishop of Peterborough; and Spenser's prospects of a fellowship were ruined, as we learn from a letter of his friend, Gabriel Harvey, by an unlucky misunderstanding with persons of academical position and influence so powerful as to make their enmity fatal to his chances of advancement at Cambridge. In these circumstances he availed himself of a home offered him by some friends in the north of England, amongst whom he either resided as a guest, or, as is more probable, turned his learning to account in the performance of the duties of a tutor.
It was during his retirement here that he was called upon to prove the anguish of tricked and insulted affection. His mistress had perception enough to discover that he had “all the intelligences at command," and taste enough to transfer her worthless love to some booby-ancestor, it is to be charitably hoped, of the husband of the fickle heroine of " Locksley Hall.” After a time, when the paroxysmal had subsided and softened into the tuneful phase of sorrow, Spenser, in several eclogues of the "Shepherd's Calendar," published in 1579, and dedicated to Sir Philip Sidney, laments his hopeless passion and his blasted life. Whilst he personified himself as Colin Clout-a designation which would severely test the erotic indifference even of a Juliet to nominal peculiarities, Spenser is magnanimous enough to bestow upon his heartless fair one the fresh, blushingly beautiful name of Rosalind-a name which Lodge, appropriating for the heroine of his “Euphues Golden Legacie” (1590), handed down, along with incidents of which the original or the germ is to be found in “ The Coke's Tale of Gamelyn," to be immortalized by Shakespere in “As You Like It.”
Pastoral poetry is very liable to collapse at the first. lude breath of realism. In these days it is simply a “thing which is not;” unless, indeed, by the banks of some trickling tributary of the Yarra Yarra, competitive lyres are sounded for the guerdon of a kangaroo ham, which erst were strung by the Cam or the Isis. Perhaps, therefore, it is not much to object to any pastorals that they are not in strictest conformity with Nature. Spenser's shepherds are skilled in the art dialectic, and his folds are little less abstruse and learned than the council. hall of Milton's Pandæmonium. In an evil hour for the poet--for their animadversions gave lasting offence to Lord Burleigh*_his pastoral and polemical creations discussed the relative merits of Popery and Protestantism; and judged, ultra crepidam, beyond the literal crook, the characters of Bishop Aylmer and Archbishop Grindal.
Harvey, the Hobbinol of the “Shepherd's Calendar," persuaded Spenser to London, and procured for him an
* The following anecdote, though not authentic enough for the text, may be sufficiently amusing for a note. It is quoted from Fuller. “There passeth a story commonly told and believed, that Spenser presenting his poems to Queen Elizabeth, she, highly affected therewith, commanded the Lord Oecil, her treasurer, to give him an hundred pound : and when the treasurer (a good steward of the queen's money) alledged that sum was too inuch, then give him (quoth the queen) what is reason; to which the lord consented, but was so busied, belike, about matters of higher concernment, that Spenser received no reward; whereupon he presented this petition in a small piece of paper to the queen in her progress
I was promised on a time,
I received nor rhyme nor reason.' Hereupon the queen gave strict order (not without some check to her treasurer) for the present payment of the hundred pounds she first intended unto him."
introduction to Sir Philip Sidney, whose patronage and hospitality the poet acknowledged by dedicating his work to that "noble and virtuous gentleman, most worthy of all titles both of learning and chivalry."
In 1579 Spenser was employed by Sidney's uncle, the Earl of Leicester, on some business abroad; and, returning, was sent to Ireland as secretary to Arthur, Lord Grey of Walton, who was appointed lord deputy of that kingdom in 1580. He discharged the duties of his office in such a way as triumphantly to establish the compatibility of poetical genius with business-like routine and precision; whilst his political sagacity is sufficiently evidenced by his “View of the State of Ireland,” which, probably first meditated at this time, was presented in manuscript to the Queen in 1596, and published by Sir James Ware in 1633. On the recall of Lord Grey in 1582, Spenser accompanied him to England, and spent four years there, probably in the composition of the “Faerie Queene.” The favour of Lord Grey, Leicester, and Sidney, procured for Spenser in 1586 a grant of 3028 acres of land in the county of Cork, being a part of the confiscated estates of the Earl of Desmond, of which Sir Walter Raleigh had previously obtained 12,000 acres in acknowledgment of his military services in Ireland. On the 16th of October, in the same year, the gallant and generous Sidney fell at the battle of Zutphen; and his spotless memory was embalmed by Spenser in the pastoral elegy of “ Astrophel,” which is traceably a progenitor of the greater “ Lycidas” of Milton.
Instead of following Spenser through the publication of a number of works from which no specimen is offered, and which are either in everybody's hands or are easily accessible, we may here stay to give a list of his lost or missing pieces. These are said to be his “Translation of Ecclesiasticus;"
;" “Translation of Canticum Canticorum;" “The Dying Pelican ;” “The Hours of our Lord;” “The