"Sweet" Spenser appears in a catalogue of Italian and British poets (Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, Cowley, Shakespeare, Chatterton). The poem probably made its first appearance earlier in 1814 as Moonlight, a Poem, with Several Copies of Verses. Thurlow was issuing some of his poems in private volumes.
Francis Hodgson: "It is painful to us that our duty to the public obliges us to give so unfavourable a report of these works; especially as, on a former occasion, we felt justified in expressing a more commendatory opinion and better hopes of his Lordship's muse. We still think, however, that he is capable of smooth and easy versification; and we must do him the justice to say that those passages in his poems which display the most thought are also the best executed. He seems to succeed principally in blank verse, and in the didactic style; and, perhaps, with more care and practice, translation might be more suitable to his powers than original composition" Monthly Review NS 75 (September 1814) 36.
Thomas Moore: "The Noble author had evidently been reading Dante; and the same process appears to have taken place, which, from his Lordship's peculiar affinities, must always occur upon his immersion into any such writers, — he comes out incrusted with a rich deposit of their faults. Not all the authority of Dante can reconcile us to hearing the dog Cerberus called 'a worm' with 'an iron throat'" Edinburgh Review 23 (September 1814) 417.
William Henry Ireland: "Lord Thurlow first presented himself to the public as the extravagant panegyrist of various living characters; whom he extols, in sonnets, according to their respective degrees of rank in society, with a poetic enthusiasm that vies with the flights of the gallant Sir Philip Sidney: since which he has also favoured the literary world with a poem called Moonlight; wherein is described, with much poetic sentiment, the contemplations of a bard during that period of solemnity and repose. In this effort it is obvious that our nobleman has constantly kept Milton in view; not only by imitating the structure of his versification, but even borrowing his very images, and placing to his own account many favourite expressions scattered throughout the poems of that sublime epic writer. Upon the whole, however, the productions of Lord Thurlow indicate a considerable share of metrical energy: so that, if he cannot attain the summit of his ambition, he nevertheless evinces the most enthusiastic love for the pursuit in which he has so meritoriously engaged" Scribbleomania (1815) 73n.
Where now is Homer? or great Virgil where?
Or in what shadow does Ariosto walk,
That with Orlando's madness charm'd the world?
Where now is Dante? in what region pure
Of that unbounded World he sung so well?
Or Petrarch, that to love was sworn to death?
Or Tasso, in whose stately verse we see
Whatever the great Roman was before?
Where is Malvezzi, in whose bitter sense
The World may smile at it's own Tragedy?
Or, if we turn to England in our thought,
Tell me, where Chaucer may be found? or where
Sweet Spenser, that from rebels fled to death,
His heart quite broken with the faulty time?
Where now may Milton meditate? or he,
That sung the praises of a country life,
Himself condemn'd in cities to abide,
The rebel's foe, forsaken by his king,
Ingenuous Cowley? but, above them all,
Tell me, O Muse, for thou alone canst tell
Where is immortal Shakespeare, at whose birth
Great Nature was expended to the lees,
And Death forsook his empire o'er the world?
Or that extravagant and erring soul [Chatterton],
That fled in youth from out the bounds of time,
Since nothing here was equal to his thought?
May God forgive him! wheresoe'er they be,
Or in the Moon, or in the sprinkled stars,
Dividing day and night with punctual love,
Or else laid up within the silent earth,
To bud abroad, like flow'rets, in the prime
Of summer, when the wakeful trump shall blow;
This I pronounce without the awe of fear,
Time, were it lengthen'd out beyond the space,
That yet has pass'd o'er the created globe,
Redoubled to our sense, shall never yield
A harvest of such spirits to our hope....