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DMUND SPENSER, the author of "The Faerie Queene" and of the other poetical works contained in the ensuing volumes, was born in 1552, twelve years

earlier than Shakespeare. It has been usual to fix this event in 1553; but Spenser himself tells us, in the sixtieth sonnet of his "Amoretti," printed in 1595, entered at Stationers' Hall in 1594, and, in all probability, written at the close of 1593, that he had already completed his fortieth year. His birth is thus carried back to 1552.1

Although he was unquestionably born in London, a point to which we shall more particularly advert presently, there is some reason to think that he may have spent his youth in Warwickshire, and that his father was resident in that county in 1569: an Edmund Spenser, who may have been the poet's father,

1 For Spenser's sixtieth sonnet, see vol. v. p. 185. He tells the lady whom he was then addressing, that the year of his courtship, just ended, appeared to him longer

"Than all those forty which my life outwent."

"This was in the end of the year 1593, so that he would appear to have been born in 1552."-Professor Craik.


is mentioned, in the muster-book of the Hundred, as an inhabitant of Kingsbury. We do not at that date find the name of Edmund, in connection with Spenser, in any other family of the same name; and, since it is not at all known where the poet received his early education, we trust we may be allowed to conjecture that it was in the county which gave birth to Shakespeare. In his seventeenth year Spenser was sent to the University of Cambridge, having been admitted, as the College records testify, a sizar of Pembroke Hall on 20th May, 1569.

Wherever Spenser may have passed his youth, and been educated, whether at Kingsbury, in London, or elsewhere, we have it on his own assertion, in one of the last separate poems he ever wrote, that he was born in the metropolis, though he does not inform us in what part of it :—

"At length they all to mery London came,
To mery London, my most kyndly Nurse,
That to me gave this Life's first native sourse,
Though from another place I take my name,
An house of auncient fame."1

This passage has, necessarily, been cited or referred to by all the biographers of Spenser; and they have justly considered it so decided and unequivocal, that some of them have passed over, without due notice, the testimony of Camden, who, giving an account of the unhappy death of the author of "The Faerie Queene," twice over states that he was "a Londoner."2

1 "Prothalamion," printed in 1596, and probably written early in that year. See vol. v. p. 281.

2 See "History of England," by Kennett, vol. ii. p. 612, edit. 1719. Camden, having spoken of the deaths of Doctors Stapleton and Cozens, thus proceeds :

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"The last was Edmund Spenser, born at London, and a student in Cambridge, who had so happy a genius for poetry that he outwent all the poets before him, not excepting his fellow-Londoner, Chaucer himself; but, through a fate common to that fraternity, he was always poor, though he had

Camden was himself born in the Old Bailey, the year before Spenser, and may have felt some pride in recording that he was a townsman. We subjoin, in a note, the whole of what he says of the poet in his "Life and Reign of Queen Elizabeth," in the obituary for the year 1598-9, although it anticipates various points requiring future notice: to these we shall recur at the proper time.

Camden says nothing of the poet's immediate family, nor of the "house of ancient fame," from which, in other places and at earlier dates, Spenser (perhaps more frequently and vauntingly than became his own pre-eminence) claimed to have been descended. This "house" was that of Sir John Spencer of Althorp, and our poet alludes to it again in his "Muiopotmos," specially dated 1590, though published in a collection called " Complaints" in 1591; in his "Tears of the Muses," of the later year; and in his "Prosopopoia, or Mother Hubberd's Tale," also of 1591. These three productions are severally dedicated to as many of the daughters of Sir John; and there Spenser mentions his "kindred" and affinity to the "house of ancient fame" of which they were ornaments,1 and we have no reason to believe that they in any way disowned or slighted the relationship. On the contrary, we may hope and believe that they were proud of a connection with the author of the then just published “Faerie Queene,” the best,

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been secretary to the Lord Grey, Lord Deputy of Ireland. For he had scarce fixed himself in his new retirement, and had got a little leisure to pursue his studies, but the rebels rifled and threw him out of house and home, so that he returned to England in a bare condition, where he died not long after, and was interred in Westminster, not far from Chaucer, at the Earl of Essex's charge. His hearse was attended by the gentlemen of his faculty, who cast into his tomb some funeral elegies, and the pens they were wrote with."

1 See vol. iv. p. 314; vol. v. pp. 2, 56.

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