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him two works in prose, which abound in beauty and pathos, Mary Magdalene's Funeral Tears, and the Triumphs over Death.
TIMES GO BY TURNS.
Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower ;
The driest soil suck in some moistening shower:
She draws her favours to the lowest ebb:
Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web:
Not endless night, yet not eternal day:
The roughest storm a calm may soon allay.
That net that holds no great takes little fish;
Few all they need, but none have all they wish.
SCORN NOT THE LEAST.
Where mightier do assault than do defend,
And silent sees that speech could not amend :
And crouch in privy creeks with smaller fish;
These fleet afloat, while those do fill the dish;
The merlin cannot ever soar on high,
Nor greedy greyhound still pursue the chase;
And fearful hare to run a quiet race.
Yet God did turn his fate upon his foe;
Yet he to heaven-to hell did Dives go.
[Born 1553—died 1599.) EDMOND SPENSER, descended from the ancient family of that name, was born in London about the year 1553. In 1569 he en. tered Pembroke College, Cambridge. He was the intimate friend of two of the greatest men who distinguished the Elizabethan age, Sir Philip Sidney and Sir Walter Raleigh. He was a frequent guest of the former, at Penshurst; and the latter visited him at Kilcolman, his Irish home. Both of them are recorded in his verse. Spenser accompanied Lord Grey of Wilton to Ireland, as his secretary, and obtained, in the county of Cork, a grant of 3026 acres out of the forfeited lands of Desmond. He married, in the year 1594, a lady whom he has celebrated in many of his sonnets, as well as in his “Epithalamion.” The next three years of his life were spent apparently in domestic happiness and literary labour; and in his Fairy Queen, much of which was composed during that period, we have many records of the delight with which he regarded the beautiful scenery, at that time for the most part a forest, in the neighbourhood of which his castle was placed. This period of repose was followed by a calamity in which his fortunes were wrecked. In the war consequent upon the rising of Tyrone, Spenser's house was burned by a party of the Irish. The poet with his wife escaped ; but one of his children perished in the flames. His former friend and patron, Essex, would doubtless have restored his fortunes; nor is it likely that he would have been neglected by the Queen, who had, several years previously, conferred upon him a pension of 501., and to whom he had, in 1596, presented his remarkable tract on the government of Ireland: but his heart was broken. He died in January 1599, and was buried, at the expense of Essex, in Westminster Abbey, not far from the grave of Chaucer. All the poets of the age attended his funeral, and threw verses into his grave.
His great poem, long as it is, carries out but half of the author's
design. It has been believed by some that the remaining portion of it was burned with his castle; while others have asserted that it had been sent to England, but was lost through the carelessness of a servant. We possess, however, no conclusive evidence that the work was completed.
The poetry of Spenser belongs to the first order. There is a salutary purity and nobleness about it. He is a connecting link between Chaucer and Milton: resembling the former in scriptive power, his tenderness, and his sense of beauty, though inferior to him in homely vigour and dramatic insight into character. In ideality and imagination he has an affinity with Milton, but with Milton rather as represented by his “ Comis," and other early poems, than at that later period when his genius had submitted to the chains of Puritanism. The Fairy Queen is the chief representative in English poetry of the romance which once delighted hall and bower. In this respect Spenser is in British verse what Ariosto is in Italian ; except that in the northern poet there exists, with a more serious mind, a far deeper appreciation of what was best and truest in the spirit of chivalry. In his freshness of moral, and warmth of religious sentiment, Spenser reminds us yet more of Tasso than of Ariosto. Notwithstanding his polemical allegory of Duessa, a sorry tribute to the age, nothing is more striking than the Catholic tone that belongs to Spenser's poetry. The religion and the chivalry of the Middle Ages were alike the inspirers of his song. He belongs to the order of poets who are rather the monument of a time gone by than an illustration of their own. He was admirable in his appreciation of classical mythology, as well as in his use of the chivalrous legend; and merits, in a peculiar sense, those epithets of “learned” and “sage,” which he applies to poets. In the legend of Irena (or Ierne), the distressed and captive lady whom Artegal (Fairy Queen, book v. canto l) was sent to deliver from thrall, Spenser has been said to have alluded to the condition of Ireland. If so, the difference of his views, as poet, from those indicated in his political tract is remarkable.
THE HOUSE OF HOLINESS.
To House of Holinesse;
The way to hevenly blesse.
Or from the fielde most cowardly doth fly!
If any strength we have, it is to ill;
There was an auncient house not far away,
All night she spent in bidding of her bedes,
Dame Cælia men did her call, as thought
But faire Charissa to a lovely fere
Arrived there, the dore they find fast lockt;
Hight Humilta. They passe in, stouping low;
Each goodly thing is hardest to begin ;
Did labour lively to expresse the same, And gladly did them guide, till to the hall they came. companion.
2 freeman, or gentleinan.
There fayrely them receives a gentle squyre,
But simple, trew, and eke unfained sweet,
And afterwardes them to his dame he leades,
Her heart with ioy unwonted inly sweld,
And, her embracing, said; “O happy earth,
Straunge thing it is an errant knight to see
Then with a few to walke the rightest way:
O matrone sage,” quoth she, “I hether came;