1579
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Shepheardes Calender: To His Book.

The Shepheardes Calender conteyning Twelve Aeglogues proportionable to the Twelve Monethes. Entitled to the noble and vertuous Gentleman most worthy of all Titles both of Learning and Chevalrie M. Philip Sidney.

Edmund Spenser


Eighteen lines in triplet rhymes: Edmund Spenser dedicates his volume to Sir Philip Sidney and signs himself "Immerito."

Thomas Birch: "The Dedication of the Shepherd's Calendar seems to have been his first Introduction to the Acquaintance with Mr. (afterwards Sir PHILIP) SIDNEY, tho' another Account is given of it, which, tho' less probable, deserves to be related here. It is said, that he was a Stranger to Mr. SIDNEY, when he had begun to write his Fairy Queen, and that he took Occasion to go one Morning to Leicester House, where Mr. SIDNEY liv'd with his Uncle the Earl of Leicester, and to introduce himself by sending in to Mr. SIDNEY a Copy of the Ninth Canto of the First Book of that Poem. Mr. SIDNEY, surpriz'd with the Description of Despair in that Canto, shew'd an unusual Kind of Transport on the Discovery of so extraordinary a Genius. After he had read some Stanzas, he turn'd to his Steward, and order'd him to give the Person, who brought those Verses, Fifty Pounds; but upon reading the next Stanza, his Admiration was so much increas'd, that he directed the Sum to be doubled. The Steward, astonish'd at the Exorbitance of the Present, mutter'd, that from the Appearance of the Bearer of those Papers, Five Pounds would be an ample Reward for him; when Mr. SIDNEY, having read another Stanza, commanded him to give Two Hundred Pounds immediately, lest, as he read farther, he should think himself oblig'd to raise the Present beyond what his own Circumstances would allow. But this Story, when strictly examin'd, will be found embarras'd with Difficulties, that weaken and even destroy the Credibility of it" Faerie Queene (1751) 1:vii-viii.



Go, little Book; thy self present,
As Child whose Parent is unkent,
To him that is the President
Of Nobleness and Chivalrie:
And if that Envy bark at thee,
As sure it will, for Succour flee
Under the shadow of his Wing.
And, asked who thee forth did bring,
A Shepherd's Swain say did thee sing,
All as his straying Flock he fed:
And when his Honour hath thee read,
Crave pardon for thy Hardy-head.
But if that any ask thy Name,
Say, thou wert base begot with blame:
Forthy thereof thou takest shame.
And when thou art past Jeopardy,
Come tell me what was said of me,
And I will send more after thee.
IMMERITO.

[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 4:1042]