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In truth, O Love, with what a boyish kind Thou doest proceed, in thy most serious wayes? That when the heaven to thee his best displayes,
Yet of that best, thou leav’st the best behinde;
For like a childe that some faire booke doth find,
But never heeds the fruit of writer's mind :
So when thou saw'st in nature's cabinet
In her cheekes' pit, thou didst thy pit-fould set,
Playing and shining in each outward part;
O eyes! which do the spheares of beautie move, Whose beames be joyes, whose joyes all virtues be,
Who, while they make love conquer, conquer love, The schooles where Venus hath learned chastitie.
O eyes ! where humble lookes most glorious prove, Onely, loved tyrants, just in cruelty,
Do not, I do not from poore me remove, Keep still my zenith, ever shine on me:
For though I never see them, but straight-wayes My life forgets to nourish languish't sprites,
Yet still on me, O eyes, dart downe your rayes;
Oppressing mortall sense, my death proceed,
the noble and unfortunate Earl of Essex, was the eldest son of Walter Earl of Essex, by Lettice, daughter of Sir Francis Knollys, K.G. He was born at Netherwood, in Herefordshire, on the 10th of November, 1567. In the tenth year of his age he succeeded to the estates and honours of his family. At the end of the year 1578, Essex became a student of Trinity College, Cambridge. In 1582, he took the degree of Master of Arts, and soon after retired into South Wales, to one of his family mansions. In temper and manners he was peculiarly graceful and engaging; and whilst a collegian, it is recorded, much to his honour, that his dignity and moral conduct were not disgraced by vice. By the Earl of Leicester, who had married the widowed Countess of Essex, the youthful Earl was introduced at Court, in 1584, where he soon rose to a measure of favour with the Queen, which his father-in-law had never enjoyed. He received the commission of General of the Horse, when little more than eighteen years old, while in Holland, and was distinguished for his bravery and gallantry, in the battle of Zutphen. He married the widow of Sir Philip Sidney, by whom he had a son, the last Earl of the noble house of Devereux.
Essex was possessed of great genius; his knowledge was infinitely varied; he was considered the first English prose writer of his day, and his poems, which research has brought to light, have added new lustre to a name already great; he was the friend and patron of Spenser, and caused his obsequies to be performed at his own expense, which admirable feeling towards the unfortunate poet, speaks well in favour of the qualities of his heart. His unfortunate expedition to Ireland, and sudden return to England, together with his subsequent unaccountable conduct, (unless it be attributed to insanity,) and the tragical termination of his life, are too long to be entered upon here, and too well known to need comment. He suffered death with a calm heroism which only the truest piety could have afforded. Happier far would have been his life, could it have been passed in the tranquil seclusion of which he himself has left so sweet a picture.
“ Happy he could finish forth his fate
EDMUND SPENSER, was born in London, about the year 1553, but of what family is uncertain ; and, as his fame could receive no additional lustre from high birth, is of little importance. He was entered as a sizar at Pembrokehall, Cambridge, in the year 1569. He took the degrees of Bachelor and Master of Arts, the latter in 1576, in which year he was an unsuccessful competitor for a fellowship. Upon this disappointment, he retired into the north of England, where he met with the object of his first attachment,
who is known by no other name than the fanciful one of Rosalind, given to her by the poet, after the fashion of the day. He was doomed to see his Rosalind prefer another, after having, as he hoped, made some progress in her affections. From the north he was recalled to London, by his friend Gabriel Harvey, through whose introduction, aided by his own transcendent merits, he was patronized by Sir Philip Sidney. He was afterwards appointed Poet Laureat to Elizabeth, and subsequently secretary to the new Lord Deputy in Ireland. Soon after his recall, he was rewarded by a grant of land in Ireland, from the forfeited estate of Desmond, Plunged in grief for the death of his friend and patron, Sir Philip Sidney, he gladly retired to these new scenes. Here he first made the acquaintance of Sir Walter Raleigh, to whom he gave the title in his pastoral, of “Shepherd of the Ocean;" and subsequently, by his marriage with his Elizabeth, healed the wound inflicted by the levity and coquetry of Rosalind. His sonnets chiefly refer to this second attachment; his hopes and fears about which continued three years, ere he was finally rewarded with the lady's hand, and are described in some of his most exquisite sonnets. Elizabeth, though not of noble birth, appears to have been rather a haughty beauty; for which she is alternately flattered and reproved, in a quaint and beautiful manner, by the poet. In the Tyrone rebellion his estate was plundered, his house and one of his children burnt: and with his wife and remaining children he escaped into England, and died in an obscure 'lodging in London, in extreme indigence, in 1559. The noble-minded Earl of Essex made an effort for him, which came too late. He was afterwards interred in Westminster Abbey, near the remains of Chaucer, and attended by several of his brother poets, who threw into his grave copies of verses to his memory.
HAPPY, ye Leaves! when as those lilly hands,
More than most fair, full of the living fire