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It is said, that the Lord Treasurer, who perhaps at first, only neglected Spenser, conceived afterwards a haired of him on account of some reflections which he conceived were made on himself in Mother Hubberd's Tale. And it is true that in this poem Spenser has painted, in the most lively manner, the misfortunes attending on dependance on Court-favour.
A story which seems founded on the grievance before mentioned is related by some as a matter of, fact commonly reported at that time. It is said that the Queen, on Spenser's presenting sonie poems to her, ordered him a gratuity of one hundred pounds, but that the Lord Treasurer Burleigh objecting to it said, with some scorn of the poet-"What! all this for a song!"-1 he Queen replied “Then, give him what is reason”-Spenser waited for some time, but had the mortification to find himself dis; appointed of the Queen's intended bounty. On 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
This paper produced the desired effect; and the Queen, not without some reproof of the Treasurer, immediately directed the payment of the hundred pounds she had at first ordered.
But though Spenser had so little interest with the Lord I reasurer, yet we find him, sonie'tinie after his appearance at Court,in considerable esteem with the most eminent men of that time. In the year 1579 he was sent abroad by the Earl of Leicester as appears by a copy of Latin verses dated from Leicester-house, and addressed to his friend Mr. Harvey; but in what service he was employed is uncertain. He afterwards made a considerable advance towards promotion on the appointment of the Lord Grey of Wilton to the situation of Deputy of Ireland, to whom he was recommended as secretary. This drew him over into another kingdom, and settled him for some time in a scene of life very different from what he had known before. There can be no doubt of his having discharged the duties of his employment with fidelity and capacity. This appears manifest from his Discourse on the state of Ireland, in which there are many solid and judicious remarks, which shew him no less qualified for business of state than for cultivating the favours of the Muses.
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 Corke. His house was in Kilcolmian, and the River Mulla, which he has more than once. so beautifully introduced into his Poems, ran thro' his grounds. · It was about this time that he contracted an intimate friendship with Sir Walter Raleigh, who
was then a Captain under the Lord Grey. The poem intitled, “ Colin Clout's come honie again," in which Sir Walter is described under the name of the Shepherd of the Ocean, is a beautiful memorial of this friendship, which took its rise from a likeness of taste in the polite arts, and is agreeably described by our author, after the pastoral manner, in the following lines :
I sate, as was my trade
Sir Walter rendered him some services afterwards at Court, and by his means Queen Elizabeth became more particularly acquainted than before with his writings.
*He was here a more successful lover than when he courted Rosalind. The collection of his Sonnets is a kind of short history of the progress of a new amour, which we find ended in marriage, and gave occasion to an excellent Epithalamium, which no one could so well write as himself.
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 published at first only the three first books. To these were added three more in a following edition; but the last six, excepting the two cantos of Mutability, were unfortunately lost by his servant, whom he had sent in haste before him to England : for though he passed his life for sometime very serenely in his retreat, yet a train of misfortunes still pursued him; and in the Rebellion of the Earl of Desmond he was plundered and de prived of his estate. This forced him to return to England, where his afflictions were doubled from the want of his best 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 sanie year with his powerful enemy the Lord Burleigh, which was in 1998. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the famous Geoffry Chaucer, as he had himself desired.
His obsequies were attended by the poets of that time, and others who were eager to pay the last honours to his memory. Several copies of verses were thrown 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 time; whose 66 divine spirit needs no other witness than the
works which he left behind him. He was borne « 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 1998, in the forty-first year of the Queen's reign. But still less dependance is to be put upon this epitaph with respect to the time of his birth, in which it appears there must have been some very gross mistake. It is altogether improbable that he was born so early as 1510, if we judge only by so remarkable a circumstance as that of his being a candidate for a fellowship in competition with Mr. Audrews, 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 Shepherd's Calendar, an age not very compatible with Love Poetry, and in his seventieth year when he entered into business with the Lord Grey, who was created Deputy of Ireland