Imagens das páginas

'I was promised on a time

an excellent Latin secretary, and Sir To have reason for my rhyme;

Walter Scott made an excellent clerk of From that time until this season session. Upon his return an important I received nor rhyme nor reason.'

political appointment was procured for Hereupon the queen gave strict orders Spenser, which was a most promising (not without some check to her treas- opening for young man of twentyarer) for the present payment of the seven. In 1580, Arthur, Lord Grey, of hundred pounds she first intended unto Walton, was appointed Lord Deputy of him.” I think this familiar story may Ireland. Spenser became his secretary, be accepted. The more I know of Ful and afforded every evidence of political ler the more am I convinced of his in- sagacity, and of abilities that might have tense honesty.

served the State well in the highest poThe life of a poet depending on a pasitions. The kind administration of tron is proverbially uncertain and un- Lord Grey did not last more than two happy. Sir Philip Sidney was a man years. Spenser returned with him to who might be relied upon ; but unhap- England, and appears to have lived in pily he was very much abroad. The London for about four years. He was queen's great minister, Raleigh, took not forgotten, and it was determined to lasting offence at some passages in the make a provision for him in Ireland. poems, of a political and polemical na- The Council of Munster was busily enture, and Spenser still further exasper- gaged in settling the country after an ated him by speaking of “a mighty unhappy era of war and rebellion. They peer's displeasure,” in that canto of his allotted lands to men who were able to poem where a description of Detraction spend money in their cultivation, and is given. Thus, too, the poet sums up who were likely to possess a civilizing the uneasiness and unhappiness of his influence over a then barbarous region. life:

Many thousand acres out of the enfis" To lose good days that might be better cated estate of the Earl of Desmond spent ;

were allotted to Sir Walter Raleigh, in To waste long nights in pensive discon- acknowledgment of his important militent;

tary services. A most modest proporTo speed to-day, and to be put back to- tion fell to the lot of Spenser. An estate morrow;

of 3028 acres, in the county of Cork, To feed on hope, to pine with fear and

was assigned to him, together with the sorrow ; To have thy princess' grace, yet want her castle of Kilcolman. Mr. Howitt has peer's;

personally examined the locality, and To have thy asking, yet wait many years,

his report is not very favorable. “When To fret thy soul with crosses and with we hear Kilcolman described by Spencare ;

ser's biographers as romantic and deTo eat thy heart through comfortless delightful, it is evident that they judged spair;

of it from mere fancy; and when all To fawn, to crouch, to wait, to ride, to run, writers about him talk of the Mulla To spend, to give, to want, to be undone."

flowing through his grounds and past Sir Philip Sidney was not, however, a his castle, they give the reader a most man permanently to neglect a meritori- erroneous idea. The castle, it must be ous and suffering poet. Sidney was remembered, is on a wide plain, the the nephew of the powerful favorite, hills are a couple of miles or more disRobert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and tant, and the Mulla is more than two he commended the poet to his uncle's miles off. We see nothing at the castle good offices. In 1579 Lord Leicester but the wide boggy plain, the distant, sent Spenser abroad on some political naked hills, and the weedy pond under service, the nature of which is unknown, the castle walls.” In the denuded state but in which he appears to have acquit of the country the scene may at present ted himself well. Indeed, he appears to appear barren and desolate; but we have been an excellent man of business. still cling to the idea that when the casIt is quite a mistake to suppose that a tle was still standing, and there were poet is naturally incapacitated for the waving woods between the grounds and ordinary business of life. Milton made the hills and the river, Kilcolman would


of as


not be ill adapted to fulfil the popular Whom, when I asked from what place he notion of a poet's residence. Spenser and Raleigh had probably

And how he hight, himself he did ycleep some business relations, since they were

The Shepherd of the Ocean by name,

And said he came far from the main sea both sharers in the confiscated lands.

deep. But these two great men had, beyond

He, sitting me beside, in that same shade, any business, much in common. Ra Provoked me to play some pleasant fytte; leigh, through all his life of adventure, And when he heard the music that I made, retained his love for the Muse; and He found himself full greatly pleased at it. Spenser, though his life was devoted to the Muse, had also seen something of

Hitherto we have chiefly spoken of adventure. Raleigh now came to visit the “Faerie Queene,” which only in a Spenser. It was in a season unfortunate subordinate sense can be called a sacred for himself. This was in 1589; and a poem, and which Spenser himself speaks MS. letter at Lambeth, of that

a work in heroical verse, tending

year, says: “My lord of Essex hath chased to represent all the moral virtues, asMr. Raleigh from court, and confined signing to every virtue a knight, to be him into Ireland.” Raleigh was one of patron and defender of the same, in those “that go down to the sea in ships,

whose actions, feats of arms and chivalthat do business in great waters." He

rie the operations of that virtue whereof gave himself the appropriate title, ac- he is the protector are to be expressed, cording to the quaint fashion of those and the vices and unruly appetites that days, "The Shepherd of the Ocean." oppose themselves against the same to Spenser was then busy with his continu- be beaten down and overcome.”

now turn aside from this noble poem, ation of his great poem, and in the quiet retreat of Kilcolman Raleigh himself which, according to Campbell, makes seems at this time to have touched the Spenser the Rubens of poetry, and to lute. How interesting and instructive which nearly all our great. poets have must have been the conversation of those

acknowledged their obligations: Cowtwo marvellous men; and often, we are

ley, Pope, Dryden, Addison, Shenstone, persuaded, as they wandered along the

Thomson, Gray, Beattie, Collins. Re. banks of the Mulla, would their conver- ferring to those poems which are of a sation deepen into heartfelt earnestness. professedly religious character, we first For each felt deeply the marvellous make some selections from the “ Hymn providence that characterized that won

of Heavenly Love.” The poet, in the derful transition age in which they lived,

dedication to the Countesses of Cumber

land and Warwick, gives the following each possessed the sensibilities of an enlightened conscience, and each, through the green times of my youth, composed

account of its production : “ Having, in various errors and through many sorrows, clung fast to the hope of redemp- in the praise of love and beauty, and tion through the Saviour. Doubtless it finding that the same too much pleased is on account of Raleigh that we find in those of like age and disposition, which, the “Faerie Queene" an eloquent allu- being too vehemently carried with that sion to Virginia. To Spenser the com- poison to their strong passion than honey

kind of affection, do rather suck out ing of Raleigh must have realized one of his own beautiful lines, and have

to their bonest delight, I was moved by

the one of you two most excellent ladies “Made a sunshine in a shady place.” to call in the same; but being unable The autobiographic verses in which to do so, by reason that many copies he relates this incident of his life have thereof were formerly scattered abroad, always been highly valued for their ex- by way of retraction, to reform them, quisite taste and feeling:

making (instead of those two hymns of “I saile, as was my trade,

earthly or material love and beauty) two Under the foot of Mole, that mountain hoar. others on heavenly and celestial, the Keeping my sheep amongst the coolly shade which I do dedicate jointly unto you two Of the green alders by the Mulla's shore; honorable sisters." There a strange shepherd chanced to find me out,

"Love, lift me up upon thy golden wings

From this base world unto thy heaven's

height, Where I may see those admirable things Which there thou workest by thy sov

ereign might, Far above feeble reach of earthly sight, That I thereof a heavenly hymn may sing,

Unto the God of Love, high heaven's King. “ Many lewd lays (ah! woe is me the more !) In praise of that mad fit which fools call

love I have in th' heat of youth made hereto.

fore, That in light wits did loose affection move;

But all those follies now I do reprove, And turned have the tenor of my string, The heavenly praises of true love to sing. "And

ye that wont with greedy, vain desire To read my fault, and, wond'ring at my

flame, To warm yourselves at my wide sparkling

fire, Sith now that heat is quenchèd, quench

my blame, And in her ashes shroud my dying shame; For who my passèd follies now pursues Begins his own, and my old fault renews.

"Man, forgetful of his Maker's grace, No less than angels whom he did ensue, Sell from the hope of promised heavenly

place Into the mouth of Death, to sinners due, And all his offspring into thraldom threw, Where they for ever should in bonds re

main Of nerer-dead, yet ever-dying pain. “Till that great Lord of Love which him at

first Made of mere love, and after liked well, Seeing him lie like creature long accurst

In that deep horror of despairèd hell,
Him wretch in dool would let no longer

dwell, But cast out of that bondage to redeem, And pay the price all were his debt ex

treme. “ Out of the bosom of eternal bliss, In which he reigned with his glorious

He down descended, like a most demyss

And abject thrall, in flesh's frail attire,
That he for him might pay sin's deadly

Most lively image of thy Father's face,

Eternal King of Glory, Lord of Might,
Meek Lamb of God, before all worlds

behight, How can we thee requite for all this good ? Or what can prize that thy most precious

blood ? “Yet nought thou ask'st in lieu of all this

love, But love of us for guerdon of thy pain : Ay me! what can us less than that behove? Had he required life for us again, Had it been wrong to ask his own with

gain ? He gave us life, he it restored lost;

Then life were least that us so little cost. “But he our life hath left unto us free; Free that was thrall, and blessed that

was bond ; Nor aught demands but that we loving be,

As he himself hath loved us aforehand,

And bound thereto with an eternal band, Him first to love that was so dearly bought, And next our brethren to his image

wrought. “ Him first to love great right and reason is,

Who first to us our life and being gave, And after, when we farèd had amiss, Us wretches from the second death did

save; And last, the food of life, which now we

have, Even he himself, in his dear sacrament,

To feed our hungry souls unto us lent. “ Then next to love our brethren. that were

made Of that self mould and that self Maker's

hand That we, and to the same again shall fade, Where they shall have like heritage of

land, However here on higher steps we stand, Which also were with self-same price re

deemed That we, however of us light esteemed. “ And were they not, yet sith that loving

Commanded us to love them for his sake,
Even for his sake, and for his sacred word,

Which in his last bequest he to us spake,
We should them love, and with their

needs partake, Knowing that whatsoe'er to them we give, We give to him by whom we all do live.”

Here we see Spenser's religion, simple and practical, presenting clearly the great outlines held by the holy catholic church throughout all the world : the deep consciousness of weakness and error, the entire trust in the Saviour's love and mercy and atoning work, and the


And him restore unto that happy state In which he stood before his hapless fate.

“O blessed Well of Love! 0 Flower of

Grace !
O glorious Morning Star! O Lamp of


love of God to be manifested in the love dependence and the free use of the Protof man, made after God's image. estant religion. Fuller relates — but I

The following is from one of Spenser's am not aware of his authority--that Sir sonnets :

Philip might have been raised to the “Most glorious Lord of Life! that on this day most sweet nature, that“gentle shepherd

throne of Poland. He was a man of And, having harrowed hell, did bring away born in Arcady;" his work, Arcadia, Captivity thence captive, us to win : being the reflex of his mild genius and This joyous day, dear Lord, with joy begin, eminently pleasing disposition. A most And grant that we, for whom thou diddest striking anecdote is told of him on the die,

fatal field of Zutphen. Mr. Motley, in Being with thy dear blood clean washed his history of the United Netherlands, from sin,

says that he has not been able to discovMay live for ever in felicitie ! And that thy love we weighing worthily,

er a trace of the anecdote.

He might May likewise love thee for the same again." have found it in the writings of Lord

Broke, Sidney's friend, and also his One more brief quotation from the biographer. Lord Broke says: “In other of his hymns :

which osad progress, passing along by “But lowly fall before His mercy-seat,

the rest of the army where his uncle the Close covered with the Lamb's integrity, general was, and being thirsty with From the just wrath of his avengeful excess of bleeding, he called for some threat

drink, which was presently brought That sits upon the righteous throne on high: him; but, as he was putting the bottle His throne is built upon eternity.

to his mouth, he saw a poor soldier car“ His sceptre is the rod of righteousness,

ried along, who had eaten his last at the With which he bruiseth all his foes to same feast, ghastly casting up his

eyes dust,

at the bottle ; which, Sir Philip perceivAnd the great dragon strongly doth repress ing, took it from his head before he

Under the rigor of his judgment just. drank, and delivered it to the poor man His seat is Truth, to which the faithful with these words : ‘Thy necessity is yet

trust, From whence proceed her beams so pure

greater than mine.'” He was removed and bright,

to Arnheim, where, after severe sufferThat all about him sheddeth glorious light." ing, he died in the arms of his wife.

Spenser lamented him in a collection of It was probably through the kindly poems entitled Astrophel. The followoffices of Sir Walter Raleigh that Spen- ing is taken from them, a noble descripser obtained a pension. The grant of tion of the face of a Christian man : this pension was discovered by Mr. “ A sweet attractive kind of grace, Malone, in the chapel of the Rolls. He A full assurance given by looks, appears also to have happily married Continual comfort in a face, during his stay in Ireland. His wife's The lineaments of gospel books ; name was Elizabeth, the same name as

I trow that countenance cannot lie his mother. In his studious retirement

Whose thoughts are legible in the eye." he projected some important works, The “Astrophel " poems are the earliwhich, had his life been spared to ac- est examples in our language of that complish them, would have greatly added mournful poetry which afterwards beto his fame. Several of the subjects are came so famous by the “ Lycidas” of entirely sacred : translations of Ecclesi- Milton, and in our own days by Mr. Tenastes, and the Song of Songs; “ The nyson's “In Memoriam.

There is no House of our Lord;" “The Seven place oftener visited than Penshurst, dear Psalms ;" “ The Sacrifice of a Sinner." from the familiar memory of Sidney, and In the year in which Raleigh visited very few that are more celebrated. In him he had the great misfortune to lose old days Spenser may have visited Sidhis illustrious friend Sir Philip Sidney. ney there. “And who would dissolve He was mortally wounded at the battle the dream of Spenser and Sidney walkof Zutphen, in a most glorious cause, ing together in sweet converse on the fighting in aid of the Dutch, in their broad terrace, or under the beechen heroic attempts to achieve national in shade

According to the terms of his grant, For if that the ancient godly fathers, Spenser was obliged to reside upon the which first converted them when they property which he had acquired. He were infidels to the faith, were able to appears to have loved the country, and pull them from idolatry and paganism has given a glowing description of it. to the true belief in Christ, as St. Pat“And sure it is yet a most beautiful and rick and St. Columb, how much more sweet country as any is under heaven, easily shall godly teachers bring them to being stored throughout with many the true understanding of that which goodly rivers, replenished with all sorts they already possessed ? ... Some of of fish; most abundantly sprinkled with our idle ministers, having a way for credmany very sweet islands and goodly it and estimation open for them, and lakes like little inland seas, that will car- having the livings of the country offered ry even ships upon their waters; adorn- unto them, without pains and without ed with goodly woods, even fit for build- peril, will neither for the same, nor any ing of houses and ships; also full of very love of God, nor zeal of religion, nor for good ports and havens opening upon all the good they may do, by winning England, as inviting us to come unto souls to God, be drawn forth from their them, to see what excellent commodities warm nests to look out into God's har. that country can afford; besides, the soil vest, which is ever ready for the sickle, itself most fertile, fit to yield all kind of and all the fields yellow long ago.” We fruit that shall be committed thereunto; are sure our readers will admire “the and lastly, the heavens most mild and sweet and voluble prose” of Spenser. temperate, though somewhat more moist These extracts are from his View of than the parts towards the west.”. Spen- the State of Ireland, the only prose work ser saw that the unhappiness of the coun- the poet ever attempted. It illustrates try lay in the sinfulness of the inhabi- the familiar criticism, that the prose of tants themselves : “so little feeling have poets is generally very good. According they of God or their own souls' good.” to Isaac Disraeli this work should make He speaks earnestly of the blessing of us regret that Spenser only wrote verses. Christianity, "to make, as it were, one The historical value of this little book is blood and kindred of all people, and each very great. All historical writers who to have knowledge of Him.' “The care deal with the state of Ireland during the of the soul and soul matters is to be pre- time of Queen Elizabeth are in absolute ferred before the care of the body, in dependence upon it. For instance, Mr. consideration of the worthiness there. Hallam, in his Constitutional History, of." Spenser bitterly regrets that so few follows Spenser with the utmost strictministers of religion come over from ness. England, and that those few were so ill Spenser's two last visits to London provided for. His only hope for the show his life in that phase of sorrow and Irish people is through the regenerating uncertainty by which it is most frequenteffects of religion. “ Nothing will bring ly characterized. On the first of these them from their uncivil life sooner than occasions he was engaged in a law.suit learning and discipline, next after the respecting some lands on which he was knowledge and fear of God; ... ac- accused of wasting corn and timber. He cording to the saying of Christ, 'Seek had the vexation of losing his cause, first the kingdom of heaven and the which must also have involved a heavy righteousness thereof.'» Then, too, he pecuniary loss. His second visit was his deplores the lukewarmness that then last, and in it he died, and under circumsubsisted on this great subject, and com- stances than which it is difficult to imagpares it with the proselytizing system of ine anything more tragic and affecting. the Church of Rome. “It is expedient The flames of rebellion burst out in Irethat some discreet ministers of their land. The fight at Blackwater ended own countrymen be sent over amongst disastrously for the English arms. Tythem, which, by their meek persuasions rone and his adherents attacked Kilcoland instructions, as also by their sober man Castle, and set it on fire. The poet lives and conversations, may draw them and most of his family hurriedly effected first to understand, and afterwards to their escape. The last six cantos of the embrace, the doctrine of their salvation. immortal poem are believed to have been

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