1592
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the right worshipfull, my singular good Frend, M. Gabriell Harvey, Doctor of the Lawes.

Foure Letters, and certaine Sonnets: especially touching Robert Greene, and other Parties, by him abused: but incidently of divers excellent Persons, and some Matters of Note. To all Courteous Mindes, that will Voutchsafe the Reading.

Edmund Spenser


Edmund Spenser's sonnet to Gabriel Harvey, which concludes the volume, is dated "Dublin: this xviii of July: 1586." It was not reprinted with Spenser's poems before the nineteenth century, and in fact may not be by Spenser at all, as Thomas Nashe suggests in Strange News (1592): "Onely I will looke upon the last Sonnet of M. Spencers to the right worshipfull Maister G. H., Doctour of the lawes: or it may so fall out that I will not looke upon it too, because (Gabriell) though I vehemently suspect it to bee of thy owne doing, it is popt foorth under M. Spencers name, and his name is able to sanctifie any thing though falsely ascribed to it" Sig. L2v.

Charles Lamb transcribed the sonnet for William Wordsworth with this comment: "I have copied from my own copy, and primarily from a book of Chalmers' on Shakspeare, a sonnet of Spenser's never printed among his poems. It is curious as being manly and rather Miltonic, and as a sonnet of Spencer's with nothing in it about love or knighthood" 1 February 1806; in Letters, ed. Thomas Noon Talfourd (1837) 1:281-82.



Harvey, the happy above happiest men
I read: that sitting like a Looker-on
Of this worldes Stage, doest note with critique pen
The sharpe dislikes of each condition:
And as one carelesse of suspition,
Ne fawnest for the favour of the great:
Ne fearest foolish reprehension
Of faulty men, which daunger to thee threat
But freely doest, or what thee list, entreat,
Like a great Lord of peerelesse liberty:
Lifting the Good up to high Honours seat,
And the Evill damning evermore to dy.
For Life, and Death is in thy doomefull writing:
So thy renowme lives ever by endighting.

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