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names of the Nine Muses, come not as near Ariosto's Comedies, either for the fineness of plausible elocution or the rareness of poetical, as the Fairy Queen doth to his Orlando.” But he published nothing more for some years. In his Letter to Harvey written from Leicester House in October, 1579, and more especially in a long Latin valedictory poem included in it, he speaks of being immediately about to proceed across the seas in the service of Leicester, to France, as it would appear, if not farther. “I go thither,” he writes, “as sent by him, and maintained (most-what) of him; and there am to employ my time, my body, my mind, in his honour's service.” But whether he actually went upon this mission is unknown. In the beginning of August, 1580, on the appointment of Arthur Lord Grey of Wilton as Lord Deputy of Ireland, Spenser accompanied his lordship to that country as his secretary; in March, the year following, he was appointed to the office of Clerk in the Irish Court of Chancery; but on Lord Grey being recalled in 1582 Spenser probably returned with him to England. It has been conjectured that he may have been the person mentioned in a letter to Queen Elizabeth from James VI. of Scotland, dated at St. Andrews, the 2nd of July, 1583 (the original of which is preserved among the Cotton MSS.), where James says in the postscript, “Madam, I have stayed Maister Spenser upon the letter quilk is written with my awin hand, quilk sall be ready within twa days.” Of how he was employed for the next three or four years nothing is known;
* See Note by Mr. David Laing on p. 12 of his edition of
“Ben Jonson's Conversations with William Drummond,’ printed for the Shakespeare Society, 8vo, Lond. 1842.
but in 1586 he obtained from the crown a grant of above 3000 acres of forfeited lands in Ireland : the grant is dated the 27th of July, and, if it was procured, as is not improbable, through Sir Philip Sidney, it was the last kindness of that friend and patron, whose death took place in October of this year. Spenser proceeded to Ireland to take possession of his estate, which was a portion of the former domain of the Earl of Desmond in the county of Cork; and here he remained, residing in what had been the earl's castle of Kilcolman, till he returned to England in 1590, and published at London, in 4to., the first three Books of his Fairy Queen. If he had published anything else since the Shepherd's Calendar appeared eleven years before, it could only have been a poem of between 400 and 500 lines, entitled “Muiopotmos, or the Fate of the Butterfly,’ which he dedicated to the Lady Carey. He has himself related, in his “Colin Clout's Come Home Again, how he had been visited in his exile by the Shepherd of the Ocean, by which designation he means Sir Walter Raleigh, and persuaded by him to make this visit to England for the purpose of having his poem printed. Raleigh introduced him to Elizabeth, to whom the Fairy Queen was dedicated, and who in February, 1591, bestowed on the author a pension of 50l. This great work immediately raised Spenser to such celebrity, that the publisher hastened to collect whatever of his other poems he could find, and, under the general title of ‘Complaints; containing sundry small poems of the World's Vanity;' printed together, in a 4to. volume, “The Ruins of Time,’ “The Tears of the Muses,' ‘Virgil's Gnat,’ ‘Mother Hubberd's Tale,’ ‘The Ruins of Rome' (from the French
of Bellay), “ Muiopotmos” (which is stated to be the only one of the pieces that had previously appeared), and “The Visions of Petrarch,’ &c., already mentioned. Many more, it is declared, which the author had written in former years were not to be found. Spenser appears to have remained in England till the beginning of the year 1592: his ‘Daphnaida,’ an elegy on the death of Douglas Howard, daughter of Lord Howard, and wife of Arthur Gorges, Esq., is dedicated to the Marchioness of Northampton in an address dated the 1st of January in that year, and it was published soon after. He then returned to Ireland, and probably in the course of 1592 and 1593 there composed the series of eighty-eight sonnets in which he relates his courtship of the rustic beauty whom he at last married, celebrating the event by a splendid Epithalamion. But it appears from the eightieth sonnet that he had already finished six Books of his Fairy Queen. His next publication was another 4to. volume which appeared in 1595, containing his “Colin Clout ’s Come Home Again,” the dedication of which to Raleigh is dated “From my house at Kilcolman, December the 27th, 1591,’ no doubt a misprint for 1594; and also his “Astrophel,’ an elegy upon Sir Philip Sidney, dedicated to his widow, now the Countess of Essex; together with ‘The Mourning Muse of Thestylis,’ another poem on the same subject. The same year appeared, in 8vo., his sonnets, under the title of ‘Amoretti,' accompanied by the ‘Epithalamion.” In 1596 he paid another visit to England, bringing with him the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Books of his Fairy Queen, which were published, along with a new edition of the preceding three books, in 4to, at London, in that year. In the latter part of the same year appeared, in a volume of the same form, a reprint of his ‘Daphnaida, together with his ‘Prothalanion,’ or spousal verse on the marriages of the Ladies Elizabeth and Catharine Somerset, and his ‘Four Hymns' in honour of Love, of Beauty, of Heavenly Love, and of Heavenly Beauty, dedicated to the Countesses of Cumberland and Warwick, in an address dated Greenwich, the 1st of September, 1596. The first two of these Hymns he states had been composed in the greener times of his youth, and, although he had been moved by one of the two ladies to call in the same, as “having too much pleased those of like age and disposition, which, being too vehemently carried with that kind of affection, do rather suck out poison to their strong passion than honey to their honest delight,” he “had been unable so to do, by reason that many copies thereof were formerly scattered abroad.” At this time it was still common for literary compositions of all kinds to be extensively circulated in manuscript, as used to be the mode of publication before the invention of printing. These Hymns were the last of his productions that he sent to the press. It was during this visit to England that he presented to Elizabeth, and probably wrote, his prose treatise entitled ‘A View of the State of Ireland, written dialogue-wise between Eudoxus and Irenaeus;’ but that work remained unprinted, till it was published at Dublin by Sir James Ware in 1633. Spenser returned to Ireland probably early in 1597; and was the next year recommended by the Queen to be sheriff of Cork; but, soon after the breaking out of Tyrone's rebellion in October, 1598, his house of Kilcolman was attacked and ourned by the rebels, and, one child having perished
in the flames, it was with difficulty that he made his escape with his wife and two sons. He arrived in England in a state of destitution; but it is absurd to suppose that, with his talents and great reputation, his powerful friends, his pension, and the rights he still retained, although deprived of the enjoyment of his Irish property for the moment, he could have been left to perish, as has been commonly said, of want: the breaking up of his constitution was a natural consequence of the sufferings he had lately gone through ; but all that we know is that, after having been ill for some time, he died at an inn in King-street, Westminster, on the 16th of January, 1599. Two Cantos, undoubtedly genuine, of a subsequent Book of the Fairy Queen, and two stanzas of a third Canto, entitled “Of Mutability,’ and forming part of the Legend of Constancy, were published in an edition of his collected works, in a folio volume, in 1609; and it may be doubted if much more of the poem was ever written. . As for the poem called ‘Britain's Ida,’ in six short Cantos, which also appeared in this volume, it is certainly not by Spenser. Besides the works that have been enumerated, however, the following compositions by Spenser, now all lost, are mentioned by himself or his friends:– His Pageants, The Canticles Paraphrased, a poetical version of Ecclesiastes, another of the Seven Penitential Psalms, The Hours of our Lord, The Sacrifice of a Sinner, Purgatory, A Se’ennight's Slumber, The Court of Cupid, and The Hell of Lovers. He is also said to have written a treatise in prose called The English Poet. The most remarkable of Spenser's poems written before his great work, The Fairy Queen, are his ‘Shepherd's