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Spenser   By: (1815-1890)

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Transcriber's Note: Variations in spelling and hyphenation have been left as in the original. Some typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected. A complete list follows the text. Words in Greek in the original are transliterated and placed between =equal signs=. Words italicized in the original are surrounded by underscores . Words in bold in the original are surrounded by plus signs. Characters inside {braces} are superscripted in the original. In quoted material, a row of asterisks represents an ellipsis. Ellipses match the original.

SPENSER

BY

R. W. CHURCH,

DEAN OF ST. PAUL'S, HONORARY FELLOW OF ORIEL COLLEGE.

London: MACMILLAN AND CO. 1879

The Right of Translation and Reproduction is Reserved.

NOTICE.

As the plan of these volumes does not encourage footnotes, I wish to say that, besides the biographies prefixed to the various editions of Spenser, there are two series of publications, which have been very useful to me. One is the series of Calendars of State Papers, especially the State Papers on Ireland and the Carew MSS. at Lambeth, with the prefaces of Mr. Hans Claude Hamilton and the late Professor Brewer. The other is Mr. E. Arber's series of reprints of old English books, and his Transcript of the Stationers' Registers, a work, I suppose, without parallel in its information about the early literature of a country, and edited by him with admirable care and public spirit. I wish also to say that I am much indebted to Mr. Craik's excellent little book on Spenser and his Poetry .

R. W. C.

March, 1879.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. PAGE SPENSER'S EARLY LIFE (1552 1579) 1

CHAPTER II.

THE NEW POET THE SHEPHERD'S CALENDAR (1579) 29

CHAPTER III.

SPENSER IN IRELAND (1580) 51

CHAPTER IV.

THE FAERY QUEEN THE FIRST PART (1580 1590) 81

CHAPTER V.

THE FAERY QUEEN 118

CHAPTER VI.

SECOND PART OF THE FAERY QUEEN SPENSER'S LAST YEARS (1590 1599) 166

SPENSER.

CHAPTER I.

SPENSER'S EARLY LIFE.

[1552 1579.]

Spenser marks a beginning in English literature. He is the first Englishman who, in that great division of our history which dates from the Reformation, attempted and achieved a poetical work of the highest order. Born about the same time as Hooker (1552 1554), in the middle of that eventful century which began with Henry VIII., and ended with Elizabeth, he was the earliest of our great modern writers in poetry, as Hooker was the earliest of our great modern writers in prose. In that reviving English literature, which, after Chaucer's wonderful promise, had been arrested in its progress, first by the Wars of the Roses, and then by the religious troubles of the Reformation, these two were the writers who first realized to Englishmen the ideas of a high literary perfection. These ideas vaguely filled many minds; but no one had yet shown the genius and the strength to grasp and exhibit them in a way to challenge comparison with what had been accomplished by the poetry and prose of Greece, Rome, and Italy. There had been poets in England since Chaucer, and prose writers since Wycliffe had translated the Bible. Surrey and Wyatt have deserved to live, while a crowd of poets, as ambitious as they, and not incapable of occasional force and sweetness, have been forgotten. Sir Thomas More, Roger Ascham, Tyndale, the translator of the New Testament, Bishop Latimer, the writers of many state documents, and the framers, either by translation or composition, of the offices of the English Prayer Book, showed that they understood the power of the English language over many of the subtleties and difficulties of thought, and were alive to the music of its cadences... Continue reading book >>




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