1680 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edmund Spenser.

The Life and Remains of Ralph Bathurst. [By Thomas Warton.]

John Aubrey


John Aubrey's notes on Edmund Spenser apparently were first printed by Thomas Warton in his life of Ralph Bathurst (1761), from Bodleian Lib. MSS. Aubrey 6 and 8. In the biography of Sir Philip Sidney Aubrey gives an account of the supposed first meeting of Spenser and Sir Philip Sidney. Aubrey's version may have been taken from the 1679 life of Spenser; he gives no source. Not seen.

The Sidney story was later given a new twist by the Edinburgh Magazine or Weekly Amusement: "When Spencer has finished his famous poem of the Fairy Queen, he carried it to the Earl of Southampton, the great patron of the Poets of those days. The manuscript being sent up to the Earl, he read a few pages, and then ordered his servant to give the Writer £20. — Reading on, he cried in rapture, 'Carry that man another £20.' Proceeding still, he said, 'Give him £10 more;' but at length he lost all patience, and said, 'Go turn that fellow out of the house, for if I read on I shall be ruined'" 45 (30 June 1779) 13.

Samuel Allibone: "John Aubrey, 1627-1697, an eminent antiquary and naturalist, was entered a gentleman-commoner of Trinity Coll. Oxf. in 1642. His Miscellanies is a very curious collection of remarks upon a variety of of supernatural subjects, such as Transportation in the Air, Day Fatality, Local Fatality, Blows Invisible, Knockings, Impulses, Converse with Angels and Spirits, &c.; published in 1696, and often reprinted. He left a number of works in MS." Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71; 1882) 1:81.

W. Davenport Adams: "John Aubrey, antiquary (b. 1626, d. 1700), wrote the Natural History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey (1719), Miscellanies upon Various Subjects (1696), and A History of Wiltshire, besides contributing Minutes of Lives of eminent men to Wood's Athenae Oxonienses, and aiding Dugdale in the preparation of his Monasticon Anglicanam. A biography of Aubry by Britton was published in 1845 by the Wiltshire Topographical Society, and an edition of the Lives, &c. was issued in 1813" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 44.




Mr. Edmund Spencer was of Pembrooke-hall in Cambridge; he misst the fellowship there which bishop Andrewes gott. He was an acquaintance and frequenter of Sir Erasmus Dreyden. His mistris, Rosalind, was a kinswoman of Sir Erasmus' lady's. The chamber there at Sir Erasmus' is still called Mr. Spencer's chamber. Lately, at the College takeing-downe the wainscot of his chamber, they found an abundance of cards, with stanzas of the Faerie Queen written on them — from John Dreyden, esq., Poet Laureate.

Mr. Beeston sayes he was a little man, wore short haire, little band and little cuffs.

Edmund Spenser: — Mr. Samuel Woodford (the poet, who paraphras'd the Psalmes) lives in Hampshire neer Alton, and he told me that Mr. Spenser lived sometime in these parts, in this delicate sweet ayre; where he enjoyed his muse, and writt good part of his verses. I have said before that Sir Philip Sydney and Sir Walter Ralegh were his acquaintance. He had lived some time in Ireland, and wrote a a description of it, which is printed with Morison's History, or Description, of Ireland.

Sir John Denham told me, that archbishop Usher, Lord Primate of Armagh, was acquainted with him, by this token: when Sir William Davenant's Gondibert came forth, Sir John askt the Lord Primate if he had seen it. Said the Primate, "Out upon him, with his vaunting preface, he speakes against my old friend, Edmund Spenser."

In the south crosse-aisle of Westminster abbey, next the dore, is this inscription:

"Heare lies (expecting the second comeing of our Saviour Christ Jesus) the body of Edmund Spencer, the Prince of Poets of his tyme; whose divine spirit needs no other witnesse then the workes which he left behind him. He was borne in London, in the yeare 1510, and dyed in the yeare 1596."


[ed. Clark (1898) 2:232-33]