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of Error," the “Rich Strand,” the “Idle Lake,” the “Bower of Bliss,” and all the other wondrous dream-scenery of the future “Faerie Queene.” But what he found not in the country without, he found in the studies—then chiefly classical—of the University within. His great poem is worth a hundred Degrees in attesting the extent and variety of his learning. Even if on bad terms with his tutor, and if too proud and shy to seek academic distinction, the young sizer, feeling already the stirrings of genius and ambition, would spare no pains in laying in stores of knowledge, and thus in the language of a kindred spirit of after days, who of all British poets has come nearest Spenser in multitudinous allegory and luxuriant fancy, he
“ Wrought link'd armour for his soul, before
It might walk forth to war among mankind.” One loves to see him stealing out from under the arches of the University into the quiet streets of the town, and thence into the country, where, with its levels and marshes, its weeds and willows, there is nothing either to intensify or to disturb the divine dream which slumbers in his eye, and steeps in still sunshine his solitary brow. College Dons, Proctors, “Old Controllers,” care nothing for the wandering youth, and he cares nothing for them; but Genius and God are communing with him, and as, perhaps, he lies down, and shuts his eyes to the sterile scenery around, the heavens are opened to his imagination, and visions of beauty, lights which never were on sea or shore, ladders of glory, and palaces of enchantment, swim before him, till, whether he be sleeping or waking, in the body or out of the body, he cannot tell. That he was little recognised at college is proved by this, that although two pictures of him are still found in Pembroke Hall, there lingered there, when George Chalmers wrote, sixty or seventy years ago, not a single tradition or recorded trace of the poet. He had passed over it “like a summer's cloud,” and had awakened no “special wonder.”
With one man only in the University does Spenser appear to have been intimate. This was the above-mentioned Gabriel Harvey, who, although he belonged to another college, Christ's Church, was Spenser's constant companion. This friendship, doubtless, even at the time, contributed to our poet's progress.
Neglected by the University, and slighted by the tutor, he found, in intercourse with this friend, an expression for his mind, and a reservoir into which to pour the emotions of his heart. There are feelings too timorous and evanescent for the daylight of ordinary society, but which look beautiful in the twilight atmosphere of confidential friendship. And there are thoughts too daring, idiosyncrasies too peculiar, and flights of fancy too strangely original, to be intrusted to, or blazoned before any save one whose “heart is like your heart,” whose face answereth your face as in a glass, and who has, in his turn, bared the inmost secrets of his soul to you. Thus Hall and Mackintosh perhaps learned more from each other's converse when walking along the banks of the Dee, or leaning over “Balgounie's brig's black wa'," than from all the lectures they heard from the Gerards and Ogilvies of their college. It seems certain too, that Harvey was in some points worthy of being Spenser's associate. The portions of his writing which have been preserved, shew an ingenious and fanciful mind, full of the fantastical wit which was the fashion of the time, but not crippled or drowned by it; and even the fact that he became ultimately an astrologer augurs somewhat for the power of his imagination. Indeed, the elements of an astrologer and an alchymist were, at the particular stage which science had reached in that day, bound up in the constitution of all earnest and poetical thinkers. Bacon himself did not entirely escape from the tendency of his time; and we doubt not, if Harvey threw out his astrological theory to Spenser, that the latter would catch up the bright ball, and cause it to spin away to still remoter firmaments and giddier altitudes, ere it returned to the hand of his companion. Thought was then in its morning dream; it was just about to awake; but morning dreams, although often, it is said, true in substance, are generally monstrous in shape, and never did more extraordinary delusions possess the minds of men, Bacon himself included, than just before the “ Novum Organon,” like the crowing of the cock, remanded them to Chaos and Old Night for a season. One important service was certainly rendered by Harvey to Spenser. He was the means of inducing him to repair to London, and of introducing him to Sir Philip Sidney.
Before following him, however, to the metropolis, we have to glance at his residence in the north, where he must have spent these two years, from 1576, when he left Cambridge, to 1578, when he arrived in London-years otherwise unaccounted for in his life. We have seen already that he probably lived all that time with the Spensers of Hurstwood, acting, perhaps, as a tutor. And here he is generally supposed to have met with, and fallen in love with Rosalind.
Let us, at this point, try to condense into a small compass all that is known about this celebrated love affair of our poet. The information on this subject, it may be confessed, is at best scanty, and leaves it obscure. It comes, in the first instance, from Spenser's own writings, as interpreted by "E. K.," who, if not, as some suppose, the poet himself, seems to have been one of his closest friends. In “The Shepherd's Calendar," Colin Clout, who is undoubtedly the poet, loves a certain damsel called Rosalind, called “ The Widow's Daughter of the Glen." This lady, Colin woos to no purpose, she preferring Menalcas, another shepherd. Now, who is Rosalind ? “E. K." asserts, that although she is spoken of as a lowly maiden, she was in reality “a gentlewoman, of no mean house, nor endued with any vulgar and common gifts, both of nature and manners.” He hints also, that “perhaps the name being well ordered, will betray the very name of Spenser's loved mistress.” And this is nearly all that this anonymous annotator tells us about the first love of the poet. The hint thrown out by him, however, has led to divers theories. One biographer says, “That as Rose is a common Christian name, so in Kent among the gentry, under Henry VI., in ‘Fuller's Worthies,' we find in Canterbury the name of John Lynde ; thus, Rose Lynde, Rosalind.” Another conjectures that " Rosalind's real name was Eliza Horden
an anagram of Rosalind, the aspiration being omitted," and adds that “ Thomas Horden, as well as Mr Linde, was a gentleman of Kent, in the time of Henry VI.” But that Rosalind, whoever she was, belonged to the north of England, is pretty clear from Spenser's own poetry, and from “ E. K.'s” notes upon it. In the sixth eclogue, “Hobinol, or Harvey,” says Mr Craik, "entreats him to forsake the hilly soil that so bewitched him, and where he
had been treated by his mistress with so much cruelty, and to resort to the fruitful dales where Harvey himself was; and ‘E. K.' explains the hills to be the north country, where the poet then dwelt, and the dales the south parts, or Kent, 'where he now abideth,' that is, where he resided when the poem was published.”
The fact here asserted, that Rosalind came from the north, serves to dispose of another recent theory on the subject, which is ingeniously pled in the Atlantic Monthly for November 1858. In a paper entitled, “ Colin Clout and the Faery Queen,” the writer asserts that Rosalinde is an anagram of Rose Daniel, the sister of Samuel Daniel, an intimate friend and brother-poet of Spenser, author of many tragedies and comedies, an eightcalled “The Civil Wars of England," "A Vision
" of Twelve Goddesses," a prose History of England, and “Musa,” a defence of rhyme. In defence of this conjecture, a number of plausible circumstances are recounted. Daniel, undoubtedly, had a sister of the name of Rose, who was married to an eccentric scholar named John Florio. This man (the prototype of Shakspeare's “Holofernes” in “Love's Labour Lost"), an Italian by descent, was born in London in the same year with Spenser, and was a class-fellow with Daniel at Oxford. He was the author of several popular works, such as, “ First Fruits," " Second Fruits,” “Garden of Recreation,"
, &c., also of a good Italian and English Dictionary, of a translation of Montaigne, and of some verses which were much admired by Queen Elizabeth, and her successor James. The American writer maintains that he was the “Menalcas” of “The Shepherd's Calendar," and the “carle and fool ” who leads Mirabella in “The Faerie Queene" (Book VI., Canto VII., and Stanza XXVII.), and in proof that he was, although a scholar, entitled to these opprobrious epithets, he says, “Rose Daniel's husband, maugre his celebrity and places of dignity and profit, was beset with tempers and oddities which exposed him, more perhaps than any man of his time, to the ridicule of contemporary wits and poets. He was, at least in his literary career, jealous, envious, irritable, vain, pedantic and bombastical, petulant and quarrelsome,-ever on the watch for an affront, and always in the
attitude of a fretful porcupine, with a quill pointed in every direction against real or supposed enemies. He adopted a formidable prefix to his name; and to any · bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation,' to every address, prelude, preface, introduction, or farewell, accompanying any of his numerous works, he subscribed himself the Resolute, — Resolute John Florio.'” And it is remarkable that the Greek word Menalcas means "resolute."
There can be little doubt, too, that Spenser, from his connexion with Sir Philip Sidney, who was the brother of the Countess of Pembroke, the patron of Daniel, must have often met him and probably his sister too. The theory, in fact, is complete on all sides but one. Spenser's “Rosalinde,” if E. K. may be believed, was from the north of England, but the Daniels came from Somersetshire, and we never hear of Samuel, the poet, residing in the north. He was educated in Oxford, held an office under the Court at London, and died at Beckington in his native shire. So that thus the mask still conceals the face of the fair jilt Rosalinde, whom Spenser loved and sang in vain. “Whoever she was, she must," says Christopher North,
” “have been a delightful creature." She was familiar with Petrarch in his own choice Italian. She was a wit too, and on one occasion christened Spenser “Seignior Pegaso.” His passion for her seems to have awakened his muse. Whether he sung of her before she rejected him we cannot tell, but afterwards he soothed his soul by producing his two fine Hymns in the praise of Love and Beauty. His disappointment did not embitter him against the object of his affection; and we find him, in a poem published, if not written, after his marriage, praising his “Widowe's Daughter of the Glen," as of “divine regard and heavenly hue.” Poets, and men of poetical temperament, loving once, love for ever. Burns sings his " Mary in Heaven' years after her death, and old Dr Chalmers stands before the portrait of an early object of attachment, who had been long in her grave, till tears of pensive joy bedew his cheeks.
Spenser arrived in London in 1578. He is said to have taken this step by the advice of his friend Harvey, who was now settled in the capital. Here a new and nobler sphere of action and ambition opened upon the poet. Through his friend he was