Edward George Harman.

Edmund Spenser and the impersonations of Francis Bacon online

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Under Hobbinol (by whom, in a later note, he says
Gabriel Harvey is intended) the writer makes some
observations about " Platonic " love, which are suggested
rather by the relations of the author of the poems with
his friend " Hobbinol " than by the passage in imitation
of Virgil. These remarks would be inapplicable, on the
ground of age, to relations between Harvey and Spenser,
and it appears to me obvious that, read with them, the
poem applies to a boy just verging on adolescence, who
has fallen seriously in love with a girl for the first time.
Up till then, like many young people of either sex,
especially where the intellect or imagination is highly
developed, he had conceived a strong attachment for
some one older than himself of his own sex, by whom his
affection was returned. Owing to the early age at which
boys were sent to college in those days, school conditions
existed at the Universities, and there is a reference to the
bad side of them in the Harvey-Immerito correspondence.
I conceive that the author of the poems, who, as a youth
at college, had an intimacy with Gabriel Harvey, is here
defending himself from the imputations, sometimes serious,


sometimes in the nature of badinage, which arise under
such circumstances.^ It may seem revolutionary to some
readers to suggest that these poems were the work of a
youth, but I shall expect to produce evidence later which
will show that there is nothing improbable in this.

Under " Februarie " the " glosse " states that Gride
means " perced " : " an old word much used of Lidgate,
but not found (that I know of) in Chaucer" ; that Threnot
is the " name of a Shepheard in Marot his ^Eglogues " ;
that TJie Sovereign of Seas " is Neptune the god of the
seas. The saying is borowed of Mimus Publianus";
that Phyllis is " the name of some mayde unknowen,
whom Cuddie, whose person is secrete, loved. The
name is usuall in Theocritus, Virgile and Mantuane " ;
that my liege is " a manner of supplication wherein is
kindly coloured the affection and speache of ambitious
men " ; and under There grew there is a note that " This
tale of the Oake and the Brere he telleth as learned of
Chaucer, but it is cleane in another kind, and rather like
to yEsope's fables. It is very excellente for pleasaunt
descriptions being altogether a certaine Icon or Hypo-
typosis of disdainfull younkers."

On " Threnots Embleme " —

Iddio, perche h vecchio.
Fa suoi al suo essempio,

" E. K." imposes the following essay :

This embleme is spoken of Thenot, as a moral of his former
tale : nanielye, that God, which is himselfe most aged, being
before al ages, and without beginninge, maketh those, whom he
loveth, like to himselfe, in heaping yeares unto iheyre dayes, and
blessing them wyth longe lyfe. For the blessing of age is not
given to all, but unto those whome God will so blesse. And
albeit that many evil men reache unto such fulnesse of yeares,
and some also wcxe old in myserie and thraldome, yet therefore
is not age ever the lesse blessing. For even to such evill men
such number of yeares is added, that they may in their last dayes

' "William Wchlie " recurs to the subject, the allusion to which in the
Shepheards Calender he liad " hearde some curious headcs call in question "
as " skant allowable to linylish earcs," and he explains that " theyr nyce
opinion ouer shooteth the Poets meaning.'


repent, and come to their first home : So the old man checketh
the rash-headed boy for despysing his gray and frostye heares.

Whom Cuddye doth counterbuff with abyting and bitter
proverbe, spoken indeede at the first in contempt of old age
generally : for it was an old opinion, and yet is continued in
some mens conceipt, that men of yeares have no feare of God at
al, or not so much as younger folke ; for that being rypened with
long experience, and having passed many bitter brunts and
blastes of vengeaunce, they dread no stormes of Fortune, nor
wrathe of God, nor daunger of menne, as being eyther by longe
and ripe wisedome armed against all mischaunces and adversitie, or
with much trouble hardened against all troublesome tydes : lyke
unto the Ape, of which is sayd in ^sops fables, that, oftentimes
meeting the Lyon, he was at first sore aghast and dismayed at
the grimnes and austeritie of hys countenance, but at last, being
acquainted with his lookes, he was so furre from fearing him, that
he would familiarly gybe and jest with him : Suche longe
experience breedeth in some men securitie. Although it please
Erasmus, a great clerke, and good old father, more fatherly and
favourablye to construe it, in his Adages, for his own behoofe.
That by the proverbe, " Nemo senex metuit Jovem," is not meant,
that old men have no feare of God at al, but that they be furre
from superstition and Idolatrous regard of false Gods, as is
Jupiter. But his greate learning notwithstanding, it is to plaine
to be gainsayd, that olde men are muche more enclined to such
fond fooleries, then younger heades.

It will be observed that this is in the manner of
Bacon's Essays. The same thought about old age occurs
in his essay " Of Youth and Age " : " But for the moral
part, perhaps, youth will have the pre-eminence," etc. ; and
more fully in the " Differences between Youth and Old
Age " in his History of Life and Death. The treatise is
in Latin, but I give the passage from Spedding's trans-
lation ( Works, V. 319):

Youth hath modesty and a sense of shame, old age is some-
what hardened ; a young man has kindness and mercy, an old
man has become pitiless and callous . . . youth is inclined to
religion and devotion by reason of its fervency and inexperience
of evil, in old age piety cools through the lukewarmness of charity
and long intercourse with evil, together with the difificulty of
believing \i.e. believing what people say].

The expression in " E. K.'s " note, " God, which is him-



selfe most aged," is, no doubt, partly suggested by the
representations in the " mystery " plays and in Christian
art. The idea is used with striking effect in Khig Lear,
where Lear, seeing Goneril enter, exclaims —

O heavens,
If you do love old men, if your sweet sway
Allow obedience, if yourselves are old,
r.Iake it your cause ; send down, and take my part ! (ii. 4.)

Under " March " a verse-translation by the author is
announced in a note which is in the same manner as
Bacon's Wisdom of the Ancients. It also (with the note
on the " Embleme " which follows) belongs to the train of
thought out of which the " Maske of Cupid " in Book III.
of the Faerie Queene is constructed :

Swaine, a boye : For so is he described of the Poetes to be a
boye, s. always freshe and lustie : blindfolded, because he maketh
no difference of personages : wyth divers coloured winges, s. ful
of flying fancies : with bowe and arrow, that is, with glaunce of
beautye, which prycketh as a forked arrowe. He is sayd also to
have shafts, some leaden, some golden : that is, both pleasure
for the gracious and loved, and sorow for the lover that is
disdayned or forsaken. But who liste more at large to behold
Cupids colours and furniture, let him reade ether Propertius, or
Moschus his Idyllion of winged love, being now most excellently
translated into Latine, by the singuler learned man Angelus
Politianus : whych worke I have scene, amongst other of thys
Poets doings, very wel translated also into Englishe Rymes.

The " glosse " on the " Embleme " is in the poet's own
vein whenever he comments on the effects of passing love.
It is always a matter for regret, a waster of time and
talent, a folly, a triumph of " will " (the natural appetites)
over " wit " (the rational faculty) ; but when it comes
through the sight of physical beauty and the fatal glance
of the eye, there is no escape from it. Such is the fate
of the soul imprisoned in this " clayey lodging," in " the
dungeon of the body." ^ He praises faithful love in the
highest language, but, in his own experience, the higher
form of passion is rather a love of love or beauty, and the

• These words occur in Sidney's Apolojiie, and in one of Nashc's writings,
but ihc same thought occurs, in various terms, in Spenser's works.


feeling is always subordinate to the ideals of wisdom and
power. It is also shadowed by the consciousness of
" mutability," which is the burden of the poet's " Com-
plaints." The " glosse " referred to is as follows :

Hereby is meant, that all the delights of Love, wherein wanton
youth walloweth, be but follye mixt with bitternesse, and sorow
sawced with repentaunce. For besides that the very affection
of Love it selfe tormenteth the mynde, and vexeth the body
many wayes, with unrestfulnesse all night, and wearines all day,
seeking for that we cannot have, and fynding that we would not
have : even the selfe things which best before us lyked, in course
of time, and chaung of ryper yeares, whiche also therewithall
chaungeth our wonted lyking and former fantasies, will then
seeme lothsome, and breede us annoyaunce, when yougthes
flowre is withered, and we fynde our bodyes and wits aunswere
not to suche vayne joUitie and lustfuU pleasaunce.

Under " April " a hint is given as to the identity of
" Colin " (the name under which the poet refers to
himself) :

Seemeth merely that Colin perteyneth to some Southern
nobleman, and perhaps in Surrye or Kent, the rather bicause
he so often nameth the Kentish downes, and before, As lythe as
lasse of Kefit.

The allusion is, no doubt, to Penshurst, the home of
the Sidneys. There are also similar references to Kent
in the Harvey " Letter-book."

The much-quoted note about "Rosalind" follows.
Written by any one but the author, it seems to me it
would be both foolish and impertinent.

The IVidowes, He calleth Rosalind the Widowes daughter of
the glenne, that is, of a country Hamlet or borough, which I
thinke is rather sayde to coloure and concele the person, then
simply spoken. For it is well knowen, even in spighte of Colin
and Hobbinoll, that shee is a Gentlewoman of no meane house,
nor endowed with anye vulgare and common gifts, both of nature
and manners : but suche indeede, as neede nether Colin be
ashamed to have her made knowne by his verses, nor Hobbinol
be greved, that so she should be commended to immortalitie
for her rare and singular vertues : Specially deserving it no lesse,
then eyther Myrto the most excellent Poete Theocritus his


dearling, or Lauretta the divine Petrarches Goddesse, or Himera
the worthye Poete Stersichorus hys idol ; upon whom he is sayd
so much to have doted, that, in regard of her excellencie, he
scorned and wrote against the beauty of Helena. For which
his pr?esumptuous and unheedie hardinesse, he is sayde by
vengeaunce of the Gods, thereat being offended, to have lost
both his eyes.

There is also a note about the Queen in the extrava-
gant style invariably adopted by Spenser when writing
about Queen Elizabeth :

In all this songe is not to be respected, what the worthinesse
of her Majestic deserveth, nor what to the highnes of a Prince
is agreeable, but what is moste comely for the meanesse of a
shepheard witte, or to conceive, or to utter. And therefore he
calleth her Elysa, as through rudenesse tripping in her name ;
and a shepheards daughter, it being very unfit, that a shepheards
boy, brought up in the shepefold, should know, or ever seme
to have heard of, a Queenes roialty.

Another in the same kind, of a more extraordinary
character, follows, where the writer of the notes explains
that by the god " Pan " in this poem is meant " the
famous and victorious king, her highnesse Father, late
of worthy of memorye, K. Henry the eyght, and by
that name, oftymes (as hereafter appeareth) be noted
kings and mighty Potentates : and in some place Christ
himselfe, who is the verye Pan and god of Shepheardes "
(see under " Maye"). I do not think such a note could
possibly have occurred to any one but the author himself,
and I also regard it (among much other evidence) as
indicating that the writer was still very young.

The style and cadence of the following is, or should
be, unmistakable for readers of Bacon's prose works :

By the mingling of the Redde rose and the White is meant
the uniting of the two principall houses of Lancaster and Yorke :
by whose longe discord and deadly debate this realm many yeares
was sore travelled, and almost cleane decayed. Til the famous
Henry the seventh, of the line of Lancaster, taking to wife the
most vertuous Princesse Elisabeth, daughter to the fourth
Edward of the house of Yorke, begat the most royal Henry
the eyght aforesayde, in whom was the first union of the Whyte
rose and the Redde.


Compare Bacon's History of King Henry VH. ; also
the fragment of his History of King Henry VHI. : " He
was the first heir of the White and Red Rose."

Under " Maye " occurs an interesting note, owing to
the parallel passage in Shakespeare :

For such, the gotes stombling is here noted as an evill signe.
The like to be marked in all histories : and that not the leaste
of the Lorde Hastingues in King Rycharde the third his dayes.
For, beside his daungerous dreame (whiche was a shrewde
prophecie of his mishap that folowed) it is sayd, that in the
morning, ryding toward the tower of London, there to sitte uppon
matters of counsell, his horse stombled twise or thrise by the
way : which, of some, that ryding with him in his company were
privie to his neere destenie, was secretly marked, and afterward
noted for memorie of his great mishap that ensewed. For being
then as merye as man might be, and least doubting any mortall
daunger, he was, within two howres after, of the Tyranne put
to a shamefull deathe.

Compare Richard III., iii. 4 :

Hastings. If they have done this thing, my gracious lord, —
Gloucester. If! thou protector of this damned strumpet,

Tellest thou me of " ifs " ? Thou art a traitor :

Off with his head ! Now, by Saint Paul I swear,

I will not dine until I see the same.

Lovel and Ratcliflf, look that it be done :

The rest, that love me, rise and follow me.

\Exeuiit all but Hastings, Ratcliff, and Lovel.
Hast. Woe, woe for England ! not a whit for me ;

For I, too fond, might have prevented this.

Stanley did dream the boar did raze his helm ;

But I disdain'd it, and did scorn to fly :

Three times to-day my foot-cloth horse did stumble,

And startled, when he look'd upon the Tower,

As loath to bear me to the slaughter-house.

O, now I want the priest that spake to me :

I now repent I told the pursuivant,

As 'twere triumphing at mine enemies,

How they at Pomfret bloodily were butcher'd.

And I myself secure in grace and favour.

O Margaret, Margaret, now thy heavy curse

Is lighted on poor Hastings' wretched head !

Under the same month is a note in which the writer
appears to give as his own some English hexameter


verses which are found in a letter of" Immerito " to Harvey
in Three proper and zvittie familiar letters^ etc., pubh'shed
in I 580 :

Tho with them doth imitate the Epitaphe of the ryotous
king Sardanapalus, which he caused to be written on his tombe
in Greeke : which verses be thus translated by Tullie.

Ha^c habui qute edi, quasque exaturata libido
Hausit, at ilia manent multa ac pneclara relicta.

Which may thus be turned into English.

All that I eate did I joye, and all that I greedily gorged :
As for those many goodly matters left I for others.

The following is the passage in " Immerito's " letter :

Loe, here I let you see my olde use of toying in Rymes
turned into your artificial straightnesse of Verse by this Tetrasticoti.
I beseech you tell me your fansie without parcialitie.

See yea the blindfoulded pretie God, that feathered Archer,
Of Lovers Miseries which maketh his bloodie game?

Wote ye why, his Moother with a Veale hath coovered his Face .•*
Trust me, least he my Loove happely chaunce to beholde.

Seeme they comparable to those two, which I translated you
ex ternpore in bed, the last time we lay togither in Westminster ?

That which I eate did I joy, and that which I greedily gorged,
As for those many goodly matters leaft I for others.

The following note under "June," including the
fanciful derivation.s, is very characteristic of Bacon :

Friendly faeries. The opinion of Faeries and Elfes is very
old, and yet sticketh very religiously in the myndes of some.
But to roote that rancke opinion of Elfes oute of mens hearts, the
truth is, that there be no such thinges, nor yet the shadowes
of the things, but onely by a sort of bald Friers and knavish
shavelings so feigned \ which, as in all other things, so in that,
soughte to nousell the common people in ignoraunce, least,
being once acquainted with the truth of things, they woulde in
tyme smell out the untruth of theyr packed pelfe, and Massepenie
religion. But the sooth is, that when all Italy was distraicte
into the Factions of the Guelfes and the Gibelins, being two
famous houses in Florence, the name began through their great
mischiefes and many outrages, to be so odious, or rather dread-


full, in the peoples eares, that, if theyr children at any time were
frowarde and wanton, they would say to them that the Guelfe
or the Gibeline came. Which words nowe from them (as many
things els) be come into our usage, and, for Guelfes and Gibelines,
we say Elfes and Goblins. No otherwise then the Frenchmen
used to say of that valiaunt captain, the very scourge of Fraunce,
the Lorde Thalbot, afterward Erie of Shrewsbury, whose noblesse
bred such a terrour in the hearts of the French, that oft times
even great armies were defaicted and put to flyght at the onely
hearing of hys name. In somuch that the French wemen, to
affray theyr chyldren, would tell them that the Talbot commeth.

I am not aware of any source for this notion, but there
is an analogous passage in the Harvey " Letter-book "
( TJie Schollers Loove) :

Not if I were very Rhetorick herselfe
Could I sufficiently displaye sutch an Elfe ;
Neither hard hearted Gibiline nor desperate Guelphe
Made ever profession of so wicked pelfe.

Compare the lines in the Faerie Queene, II. x. 73,
in a fantastic passage as to the fairy lineage of Queen
Elizabeth, under the name of "Glorian":

His Sonne was Elfinell, who overcame
The wicked Gobbelines in bloody field.

Under " September " is a note mentioning more books
by Gabriel Harvey, but, with the exception of the two
Latin works first referred to, nothing is known about them.^
In my opinion this is a piece of intentional mystification,
as I have already suggested, and the author of the note is
probably also laughing in his sleeve at Harvey.

Colin cloute : Now I thinke no man doubteth but by Colin is
meant the Authour selfe, whose especiall good freend Hobbinoll

1 The " Anticosmopolita " is referred to by Harvey's younger brother,
Richard, in an address dated 23rd January 1581 (=1582) to John Aylmer,
Bishop of London, prefixed to his " Astrological Discourse " (published in
1583). He apologises for not being "practised in writing English," and
hopes for acceptance on the strength of " that favourable acceptation which
from time to time it hath pleased you to vouchsafe the like writings of diverse
Universitie men, being little past my standing there, and namely my brothers
Anticosmopolita, when he was not mucli aliove the same continuance."
Richard Harvey evidently greatly admired his elder brother, who, it appears,
was his tutor. Richard Harvey's writings suggest that he was a well-
meaning man, but of small ability.


sayth hee is, or more rightly Mayster Gabriel Harvey : of whose
speciall commendation, aswell in Poetrye as Rhetorike and
other choyce learning, we have lately had a sufficient tryall in
divers his workes, but specially in his Miisanim Lachrymce,
and his late Graiulationutn Valdine7isiiim} which boke, in the
progresse at Audley in Essex, he dedicated in writing to her
Majestie, afterward presenting the same in print to her Highnesse
at the worshipful! Maister Capells in Hertfordshire. Beside other
his sundrye most rare and very notable writings, partely under
unknown tytles, and partly under counterfayt names, as his
Tyranfiomastix, his Ode Natalitia, his Jiameidos, and esspecially
that parte of Fhtlomusus, his divine Anticosmopolita^ and divers
other of lyke importance. As also, by the name of other
shepheardes, he covereth the persons of divers other his familiar
freendes and best acquayntaunce.

The Eclogue for " October " is interesting as an
expression of youthful disillusionment. " Cuddie," who
in this Eclogue evidently is intended to represent the
author of the poems, complains of the contempt in which
poetry is held (see the "Argument" quoted at p. 13 above) :

What I the bett for-thy ?
They ban the pleasure, I a sclender prise ;
I beate the bush, the byrds to them doe flye :
What good thereof to Cuddie can arise ?

• • • • ■

But ah ! Maecenas is yclad in claye,
And great Augustus long ygoe is dead.
And all the worthies liggen wrapt in leade.
That matter made for Poets on to play.

Piers encourages him to fresh efforts :

Piers. Abandon, then, the base and viler clowrte ;
Lyft up thy selfe out of the lowly dust.
And sing of bloody Mars, of wars, of giusts ;
Turne thee to those that weld the awful crowne.
To doubted Knights, whose woundlcsse armour rusts,
And helmes unbruzed wexen dayly browne.

There may thy Muse display her fluttryng wing.
And stretch her selfe at large from East to West ;
Whitlier thou list in fayre Elisa rest,
Or, if thee please in bigger notes to sing,
Advaunce the worthy whome shee loveth best,
That first the white beare to the stake did bring.

' I'lihlishcd in 1578. * See note on previous page,


And, when the stubborne stroke of stronger stounds

Has somewhat slackt the tenor of thy string,

Of love and lustihead tho mayst thou sing,

And Carroll lowde, and leade the Myllers rownde,

All were Elisa one of thilke same ring ;

So mought our Cuddies name to heaven sownde.

The " glosse " has the following characteristic note
explaining the reference in the eleventh line of Piers's
speech above. Leicester was probably the poet's patron
at the time.

The tvorthy, he meaneth (as I guesse) the most honorable
and renowmed the Erie of Leycester, whom by his cognisance
(although the same be also proper to other) rather then by his
name he bewrayeth, being not likely that the names of worldly
princes be known to country clowne.

With the following discourse about poets, compare the
observations in the same sense and style in Bacon's
Advancement of Learning.

" E. K." :

J^or ever : He sheweth the cause why Poetes were wont to be
had in such honor of noble men, that is, that by them their
worthines and valor shold through theyr famous Poesies be
commended to al posterities. Wherefore it is sayd, that Achilles
had never bene so famous, as he is, but for Homeres immortal
verses, which is the only advantage which he had of Hector.
And also that Alexander the great, comming to his tombe in
Sigeus, with naturall teares blessed him, that ever was his hap to
be honoured with so excellent a Poets work, as so renowmed and
ennobled onely by hys meanes. Which being declared in a
most eloquent Oration of Tallies, is of Petrarch no lesse woorthely
sette forth in a sonet.

Giunto Alexandro a la famosa tomba

Del fero Achilla, sospirando disse :

O fortunato, che si chiara tromba. Trouasti, &c.

And that such account hath bene alwayes made of Poetes, as
well sheweth this, that the worthy Scipio, in all his warres against
Carthage and Numantia, had evermore in his company, and that
in a most familiar sort, the good olde poet Ennius ; as also that
Alexander destroying Thebes, when he was enformed, that the
famous Lyrick poet Pindarus was borne in that citie, not onely
commaunded streightly, that no man should, upon payne of
death, do any violence to that house, by fire or otherwise : but


also specially spared most, and some highly rewarded, that were
of hys kinne. So favoured he the only name of a Poete, which
prayse otherwise was in the same man no lesse famous, that when
he came to ransacking of king Darius coffers, whom he lately

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