Page:Lives of Poets-Laureate.djvu/48

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'Yes, Meg,' quoth she, 'do thy best!' and with that it was a question who should stand first. 'Marry, that I will, Sir,' quoth she, and so stood to abide Sir James's blow, who, forcing himself with all his might, gave her such a box that she could scarcely stand. Yet she stirred no more than a post. Then Sir James he stood, and the hostess willed her not to spare her strength. 'No,' quoth Skelton; 'and if she fell him down, I'll give her a pair of new hose and shoes.' 'Mistress,' quoth Meg (and with that she strook up her sleeve), 'here is a foul fist, and it hath past much drudgery, but, trust me, I think it will give a good blow!' and with that she raught at him so strongly, that down fell Sir James at her feet. 'By my faith,' quoth Will Somers, 'she strikes a blow like an ox, for she hath struck down an ass.' At this they all laughed, Sir James was ashamed, and Meg was entertained into service."

We have ventured, in our extracts, to modernise the spelling, for the greater convenience of those readers who may not be familiar with our older authors.

Edmund Spenser was born in London about the year 1553, in East Smithfield, near the Tower, if we may trust the uncertain whisper of tradition. He was descended from the stock of the Spensers, afterwards Spencers of Hurstwood, near Burnley, in Lancashire, his own branch being probably seated on a small estate still called Spencers, situated at Filley Close, in the forest of Pendle, at the foot of Pendle Hill. The direct ancestor of the poet, Adam le Spenser, held lands of King Edward II., by military tenure, in the township of Worsthorne, a few miles from Spencers; and though the branch to which he belonged had sunk into obscurity, the remote connection was acknowledged by the Spencers of Althorpe, afterwards distinguished by the trophies and dukedom of Marlborough.