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28 Je, 24, EHW
THE Faerie Queene is here reproduced from the text edited by Mr. J. C. Smith and published by the Clarendon Press in 1909; the text of Spenser's Minor Poems, save for the correction of a few errors, follows my edition of 1910. To the poems has been added the Correspondence of Spenser and Harvey, printed from the original editions of 1580. The Glossary has been compiled by Mr. H. Alexander.
I have prefixed to the volume a biographical and critical essay. My excuse is that of late years the poetry of Spenser has occupied far less attention than is warranted either by its own intrinsic beauty or by its importance as a vital influence upon the development of our literature. Since the publication in 1884 of Grosart's Life of Spenser little has been written in England either to advance our knowledge or to increase our appreciation of his life and work; and I gladly recognize the debt owed by me, as by all students of Spenser, to the valuable researches of American scholars, in particular of Mr. R. A. Neil Dodge, Mr. E. A. Greenlaw, and Mr. P. Long. A full interpretation of his genius, worthy of its theme, is yet to be written.
I wish to record my thanks to Mr. J. C. Smith for reading the proofs of my essay, and to acknowledge my debt to my friend Miss Darbishire of Somerville College for many suggestions made in the course of its composition.
E. DE SELINCOURT.
BOOK II. THE LEGEND OF SIR GVYON, OR OF TEMPERAVNCE
DAPHNAIDA. AN ELEGIE VPON THE DEATH OF THE NOBLE AND VERTVOVS
ASTROPHELL. A PASTORALL Elegie VPON THE DEATH OF THE MOST NOBLE
AND VALOROVs KNIGHT, SIR PHILIP SIDNEY.
OF Spenser's life something may be learned from official documents and from the writings of his contemporaries, but the most valuable information is to be found in his poetry. The art of an idealist is in a peculiar sense the expression of his mind and character, and of his relation with the world about him; and along with this intimate though often intangible autobiography Spenser has incidentally recorded some details capable of more definite interpretation. From a sonnet written in 1593, the year of his courtship, a year which, he tells us, seems longer Than al those fourty that my life outwent,
we conjecture that he was born about 1552; from the Prothalamion, where he speaks of
mery London, my most kindly nurse,
we learn that he was born in London, but that his parents were not Londoners. The 'house of auncient fame' with which he was connected was the Spencers of Althorpe, Northampton. Of three of the daughters of Sir John Spencer he hymns the praises in Colin Clouts Come Home Againe, and to each of them he dedicated one of his minor poems, claiming a relationship with them that they seem gladly to have acknowledged.
His mother's name, he tells us, was Elizabeth; his father has been identified with one John Spenser, a gentleman by birth, and a member of the clan of Spensers whose home was in the Pendleton district of north-east Lancashire. But John Spenser had settled in London, and become a free journeyman of the Merchant Taylors Company, living in East Smithfield near the Tower. Here his three children, Edmund the poet, John, and Elizabeth were born. He was evidently in humble circumstances, for when his boys went, as 'pore schollers', to the newlyfounded school of the Merchant Taylors, he received bounties for their maintenance from the Nowells,2 a wealthy Lancashire family; and this generosity was repeated when they proceeded as sizars to Pembroke College, Cambridge. The poet was fortunate in his school. Mulcaster,
1 II. 536-71.
Cf. Grosart: Life of Spenser, p. 16, and The Spending of the Money of Robert Nowell.