Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 53.djvu/402

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did not enhance the pictorial beauty of his spacious achievement.

Spenser's influence on English poetic literature cannot be readily over-estimated. In his own day he found professed imitators of all degrees of ability, from William Smith, the author of ‘Chloris’ (1595), and Richard Niccols, author of ‘The Beggar's Ape’ (1627), to William Browne, the author of ‘Britannia's Pastorals,’ one of his fittest disciples. Richard Barnfield, Thomas Nashe, Thomas Dekker, Michael Drayton, Joseph Hall, and Sir William Herbert (in ‘Praise of Cadwallader,’ 1604) were whole-hearted panegyrists. Spenser is very largely represented in the many anthologies that were issued within two years of his death. In ‘England's Parnassus’ (1600) he is quoted 225 times, while Shakespeare is quoted only seventy-nine. Ben Jonson, among his literary contemporaries, stands alone in the confession that ‘Spenser's stanzas pleased him not, nor his matter’ (Conversations, p. 2), and even Ben Jonson knew by heart ‘some verses of Spenser's “Calendar” about wine’ (ib. p. 9; cf. ‘Eclogue’ for October ad fin.) Of a later generation, Phineas and Giles Fletcher and Henry More acknowledged Spenser as their master, and in Milton's eyes ‘our sage and serious poet Spenser’ was a sure guide as thinker as well as poet (cf. Milton, Prose Works, ed. St. John, ii. 68, iii. 84). Dr. Johnson was convinced that Bunyan's ‘Pilgrim's Progress’ owed very much to the ‘Faerie Queene.’ A perusal of that poem in youth made Cowley ‘irrecoverably a poet.’ Dryden recognised in Spenser not merely his own master in English, but one who was endowed with greater innate genius, and ‘more knowledge to support it,’ than any other writer of any age or country. Pope derived from his work as much stimulating enjoyment in boyhood as in old age. Dr. Johnson, writing in the ‘Rambler’ in 1751, lamented that ‘the imitation of Spenser’ was still ‘gaining upon the age.’ The ‘Faerie Queene’ was one of the few books that Lord Chatham knew well. Coleridge, Wordsworth, Southey, and Sir Walter Scott were indefatigable readers. Of poems written during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in Spenser's own stanza, and more or less under his inspiration, the long list includes ‘The Castle of Indolence’ by James Thomson; ‘The Schoolmistress’ by Shenstone; ‘The Minstrel’ by Beattie; ‘The Cotter's Saturday Night’ by Burns; ‘Lines in the Manner of Spenser’ by Coleridge (1795?); ‘Gertrude of Wyoming’ by Campbell; ‘The Female Vagrant’ by Wordsworth; ‘The Tale of Paraguay’ by Southey; ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ by Keats; ‘The Revolt of Islam’ by Shelley; and ‘Childe Harold’ by Byron. ‘No other of our poets,’ wrote James Russell Lowell, ‘has given an impulse, and in the right direction also, to so many and so diverse minds.’ Charles Lamb bestowed on Spenser his just title when he described him as ‘the poet's poet.’

Bibliography.—All the editions of Spenser's works published in his lifetime are rare. In the British Museum and the Bodleian Libraries are copies of the original editions of all—‘Shepheards Calender’ (1579), the ‘Faerie Queene’ (both parts, 1590 and 1596), ‘Daphnaïda’ (1591), ‘Complaints,’ ‘Colin Clouts come home againe,’ ‘Amoretti,’ ‘Foure Hymnes,’ and ‘Prothalamion.’ The Rowfant, the Huth, and the Britwell Libraries each lack one work—the ‘Shepheards Calender’ (1579) in the case of Rowfant, and the ‘Daphnaïda’ in those of the Huth and Britwell Libraries. At Chatsworth are ‘Faerie Queene’ (both parts), ‘Complaints,’ ‘Daphnaïda,’ and ‘Prothalamion.’ In the Ashburnham collection (to be sold in 1898) are the ‘Faerie Queene’ (both parts), ‘Colin Clout,’ and ‘Fowre Hymnes.’ The ‘Shepheards Calender’ (1579) and the ‘Faerie Queene’ (both parts) are at Trinity College, Cambridge. A copy of the ‘Amoretti’ is in the Edinburgh University Library.

The second edition of the first volume of the ‘Faerie Queene’ (1596) is the rarest of the works published in the poet's lifetime; the British Museum possesses two copies and the Britwell Library one copy; very few others are known. Of the second and later lifetime editions of the ‘Shepheards Calender’ (1581, 1586, 1591, and 1597) all are at Britwell. The British Museum has those of 1591 and 1597, the Huth Library that of 1581, and the Rowfant those of 1586 and 1597.

The first publication which bore Spenser's name on the title-page after Spenser's death was a reissue in folio of ‘The Faerie Qveene, Disposed into xii Bookes Fashioning twelue Morall Vertues. At London. Printed by H. L. for Mathew Lownes, 1609.’ To this edition were added, as ‘never before imprinted,’ the ‘Two Cantos of Mutabilitie,’ of which the genuineness has been impugned without warrant. They are doubtless all that survived of a continuation of the great poem, and were intended to form the sixth, seventh, and part of the eighth cantos of the seventh book of the ‘Faerie Queene,’ which was to treat of constancy. Todd credits Gabriel Harvey with the editing of this first folio edition of the ‘Faerie Queene.’ A copy of an edition in 1613 of