« PreviousContinue »
it exhibits; and its style is as nervous, as the matter is copious and amusing. A remarkable proposal, in his plan for the management of Ireland, is the establishment of the Anglo-saxon system of Borseholders. His political views are strongly coercive, and consist of little more than stationing proper garrisons, and abolishing ancient customs: and we find him declaiming bitterly against the Irish minstrels, and seriously dwelling on the loose mantles and glibs, or long hair, of the vagrant poor, as important causes of moral depravity. But we ought not to try the plans of Spenser by modern circumstances, nor his temper by the liberality of more enlightened times. It was a great point to commence earnest discussion on such a subject. From a note in one of the oldest copies of this treatise, it appears, that Spenser was at that time clerk to the council of the province of Ulster. In 1597, our poet returned to Ireland, and, in the following year, was destined to an honourable situation, being recommended by her majesty to be chosen sheriff for Cork. But in the subsequent month of that year, Tyrone's rebellion broke out, and occasioned his immediate flight, with his family, from Kilcolman. In the confusion attending this calamitous departure, one of his children was left behind, and perished in the conflagration of his house, when it was destroyed by the Irish insurgents. Spenser returned to England with a heart broken by distress, and died at London in January 1599. He was buried, according to his own desire, near the tomb of Chaucer; and the most celebrated poets of the time (Shakespeare was probably of the number), followed his hearse, and threw tributary verses into his grave.
Mr. Todd, the learned editor of his works, has proved it to be highly improbable that he could have died, as has been sometimes said, in absolute want. For he had still his pension, and many friends, among whom Essex provided nobly for his funeral. Yet that he died broken-hearted and comparatively poor, is but too much to be feared, from the testimony of his contemporaries, Camden and Jonson, the latter of whom held the pall at his funeral. A reverse of fortune might crush his spirit without his being reduced to absolute indigence, especially with the horrible recollection of the manner in which his child had perished.
FAIRY QUEEN, Book I. Canto 3.
UNA FOLLOWED BY THE LION.
Forsaken Truth long seeks her love,
NOUGHT is there under Heaven's wide hollowness,
I, whether lately through her brightness blind,
And now it is impassioned so deep,
these lines with tears do steep,
Yet she, most faithful lady, all this while
wrought, Had her abandon'd: she, of nought afraid, Through woods and wasteness wide him daily
sought; Yet wished tidings none of him unto her brought.
One day, nigh weary of the irksome way,
And on the grass her dainty limbs did lay
behold such heavenly gráce.
It fortuned, out of the thickest wood,
Instead thereof he kiss'd her weary feet,
“ The lion, lord of every beast in field,”
And mighty proud to humble weak does yield,
Redounding tears did choke th' end of her plaint,
The lion would not leave her desolate,