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To frame God's image as his worth required ; His might, his skill, his word and will conspired.
All that he had, his image should present;
BORN 1560-DIED ABOUT 1592,
Was a native of London, and studied the common law, but from the variety of his productions (Vide Theatrum Poetarum, p. 213), would seem to have devoted himself to lighter studies. Mr. Steevens has certainly overrated his sonnets in preferring them to Shakespeare's.
THE NYMPHS TO THEIR MAY QUEEN.
From England's Helicon.
O beauteous queen of second Troy,
Now th' air is sweeter than sweet balm,
Now birds record new harmony,
ACTÆon lost, in middle of his sport,
I leave my life, in that each secret thought
Descended from the ancient and honourable family of Spenser, was born in London, in East Smithfield, by the Tower, probably about the year 1553. He studied at the university of Cambridge, where it appears, from his correspondence, that he formed an intimate friendship with the learned, but pedantic, Gabriel Harvey! Spenser, with Sir P. Sydney, was, for a time, a convert to Harvey's Utopian scheme for changing the measures of English poetry into those of the Greeks and Romans.
Spenser even wrote trimeter iambics o sufficiently
· For an account of Harvey the reader may consult Wood's Athen. Oxon. Vol. I.-Fasti col. 128.
? A short example of Spenser's Iambicum Trimetrum will suffice, from a copy of verses in one of his letters to Harvey.
Unhappy verse! the witness of my unhappy state,
bad to countenance the English hexameters of his friend; but the Muse would not suffer such a votary to be lost in the pursuit after chimeras, and recalled him to her natural strains. From Cambridge Spenser went to reside with some relations in the north of England, and, in this retirement, conceived a passion for a mistress, whom he has celebrated under the name of Rosalind. It appears, however, that she trifled with his affection, and preferred a rival.
Harvey, or Hobinol, (by so uncouth a name did the shepherd of hexameter memory, the learned Harvey, deign to be called in Spenser's eclogues), with better judgment than he had shewn in poetical matters, advised Spenser to leave his rustic obscurity, and introduced him to Sir Philip Sydney, who recommended him to his uncle, the Earl of Leicester. The poet was invited to the family seat of Sydney, at Penshurst, in Kent, where he is supposed to have assisted the Platonic studies of his gallant and congenial friend. To him he dedicated his “ Shepheard's Calendar.” Sydney did not bestow unqualified praise on those eclogues; he allowed that they contained much poetry, but condemned the antique rusticity of the language. It was of these eclogues, and not of the Fairy Queen (as has been frequently misstated), that Ben Jonson said, that
Whether lying restless in heavy bed, or else
the author, in imitating the ancients, had written no language at all. They gained, however, so many admirers, as to pass through five editions in Spenser's lifetime; and though Dove, a contemporary schoJar, who translated them into Latin, speaks of the author being unknown, yet when Abraham Fraunce, in 1583, published his "Lawyer's Logicke," he illustrated his rules by quotations from the Shepheard's Calendar.
Pope, Dryden, and Warton, have extolled those eclogues, and Sir William Jones has placed Spenser and Gay as the only genuine descendants of Theocritus and Virgil in pastoral poetry. This decision may be questioned. Favourable as the circumstances of England have been to the developement of her genius in all the higher walks of poetry, they have not been propitious to the humbler pastoral muse. Her trades and manufactures, the very blessings of her wealth and industry, threw the indolent shepherd's life to a distance from her cities and capital, where poets, with all their love of the country, are generally found; and impressed on the face of the country, and on its rustic manners, a gladsome, but not romantic appearance. : In Scotland, on the contrary, the scenery, rural economy of the country, and the songs of the peasantry, sung“ at the watching of the fold,” presented Ramsay with a much nearer image of pastoral life, and he accordingly painted it with the fresh feeling and enjoyment of nature. Had Sir