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writers had asserted that the dedication of the Shepheards Calender seems to have procured Spenser his first introduction to Sir Philip Sidney. But the letter, part of which we quoted above, shows that he was known to him previously to the publication of the Shepheards Calender in 1579. Spenser's next letter to Harvey contains some further discussion on their favourite versifying: he says, "I like your late Englishe Hexameters so exceedingly well, that I also enure my pen sometime in that minde, whyche I find indeede, as I have heard you often defende in worde, neither so harde, nor so harshe, that it will easily and fairely yielde itselfe to our mother tongue. For the onely or chiefest hardnesse whyche seemeth, is in the accente: whyche sometime gapeth, and as it were yawneth ilfavouredly comming shorte of that it should, and sometime exceeding the measure of the number, as in carpenter,' the middle syllable being used shorte in speache, when it shall be read long in verse, seemeth like a lame gosling, that draweth one leg after hir: and' Heaven' beeing used shorte as one sillable when it is in verse, stretched out with a diastole, is like a lame dogge that holds up one legge. But it is to be wonne with custome, and rough wordes must be subdued with use. For why, in God's name, may not we, as also the Greeks, have the kingdome of our
* This point is discussed in Upton's preface to Spenser, p. vi. vii.
owne language, and measure our accentes by the sounde, reserving the quantitie to the verse?" &c. Spenser then requests Harvey to send him the rules and precepts of art which he observes in quantities; or else to follow those which Drant* had devised, Sidney improved, and himself augmented; lest their discrepancy in this important point should destroy each other's system. He then mentions his design, at convenient leisure, to set forth a book entitled "Epithalamion Thamesis," in this Englishe versifying, to which he has special liking; he says, "that his Dreames and Dying Pellicane are fully printed, and that he will in hande forthwith with his Faerie Queene." He adds, " of my Stemmata Dudleiana, and especially of the sundry apostrophes therein, addressed you knowe to whom, moste men advisement he had than so lightly to sende them abroade: how beit, trust me (though I doe never very well) yet in your fancie I never dyd better." Harvey writes, "Commend me to thine own good selfe, and tell the Dying Pellicane and thy Dreames from me, I will now leave dreaming any longer of them, til with these eyes I see them forthe indeede and then againe I imagine your magnificency will holde us in suspense, as long for your nine English comedies, and your Latin
* Mr. Todd says, "that he has not been able, among Drant's publications, to discover these 'rules;' yet Tanner's list of his publications is copious." See Warton's Hist. of Engl. Poetry, vol. iii. p. 429, 4to.
Stemmata Dudleiana, which two shal go for my money when all is done; especially if you would but bestow one seven nights polishing and trimming uppon eyther; whiche I pray thee doe, for my pleasure, if not for their sake, nor thine own profite." In another letter of Harvey addressed to Spenser, he says, 66 Thinke upon Petrarch's
"Arbor vittoriosa, trionfale
and perhappes it will advaunce the wynges of yr imagination a degree higher: at the least, if any thing can be added to the loftinesse of his conceite, whom gentle Mistresse Rosalinde once reported to have all the intelligences at commandement, and an other time christened him Segnior Pegaso." So enamoured was Harvey of his new system of versifying, that he sent Spenser his Emblem to his Third Eclogue turned into hexameters by a pupil of his, not passing a worde or two corrected by mee." And he thus remarks upon the Faerie Queene: "In good faith I had once againe nigh forgotten your Faerie Queene: howbeit, by good chaunce I have nowe sent hir home at the laste, neither in better nor worse case than I founde hir. And must you of necessitie have my judgment of hir in deede? To be plaine. I am voyde of al judgment of your Nine Comedies, whereunto in imitation of Herodotus, you give the names of the Nine Muses, (and in one man's fansie not unworthily), come not nearer to Ariosto's comedies eyther for the finenesse of plausible elocution,
or the rarenesse of poetical invention, than that Elvish Queene doeth to his Orlando Furioso : which nottwithstanding you wil needes seeme to emulate, and hope to overgo, as you flatly proposed yourself in one of your last letters. Besides that you knowe it hath been the usual practise of the most exquisite and odde wittes in all nations, and specially in Italie, rather to shine and advaunce themselves that way than any other; as namely, those three dyscoursing heads, Bibiena, Machiavel, and Aretine did, (to let Bembo and Ariosto passe) with the great admiration and wonderment of the whole countrey: being indeede reputed matchable in all points, both for conceyte of witte and eloquent decyphering of matters, either with Aristophanes and Menander in Greek, or with Plautus or Terence in Latin, or with any other in any other tong. But I will not stand greatly with you in your owne matters. If so be, the Faery Queene be fairer in your eye than the Nine Muses, and Hobgoblin run away with the garland from Apollo: marke what I saye and yet I will not saye that (which) I thought; but there an end for this once, and fare you well, till God, or some good aungell putte you in a better minde."*
* In this letter was one amatory couplet, written by Harvey "To my good Mistresse Anne, the very lyfe of my lyfe," &c.
"Gentle Mistresse Anne, I am plaine by nature,
In July, 1580, Arthur, Lord Grey of Wilton, departed from England, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, to whom Spenser was appointed secretary. He owed the appointment probably to the interest of Lord Leicester: Lord Grey was recalled in 1582, and Spenser returned with him. Philips's account* that Spenser had previously been secretary to Sir Henry Sydney is evidently erroneous, and probably arose from the fact of another person of the name of Spenser being employed in a confidential capacity, under the Irish administration, soon after Sir Henry's time.
The secretaryship, though held for a short time, seems to have led the way to fortune. By the interest of Lord Grey, joined to that of Lord Leicester and Sir Philip Sidney, Spenser probably owed the grant from Queen Elizabeth of 3028 acres in the county of Cork, out of the forfeited lands of the Earl of Desmond: the grant is said to be dated, June 27, 1586.† In the October
It appears that Mr. Chalmers attributed these lines by mistake to Spenser, and contended that they were the precedent for Shakespeare's Epistle, and the archetype of his Verses to Anna Hathaway. This mistake is properly corrected by Mr. Todd, v. Life, p. xlvii. and Chalmers' Apology for the Believers of the Shakespeare MSS. p. 176.
* See Philips's Theatrum Poet. Anglicanorum, art. Spenser. + Dr. Aikin, in his Life of Spenser, says that the Poet owed this grant to his Discourse on the State of Ireland," for which service he was rewarded; but this was not written
before 1596, ten years after. See Todd's Life of Spenser, p. xlix. Spenser has spoken handsomely and gratefully of