Spenser and Shakespeare are mentioned as glories of the age of Elizabeth: "Then Shakspeare's deathless lays | Were heard, and Spenser pour'd the song in Gloriana's praise." John Herman Merivale seems to have inherited an interest in antiquarian matters from his uncle, the poet Richard Hole.
Another age, and yet another, must succeed,
Ere charity be understood, or wiser England freed
From persecution's stain, which dimm'd her face no less
In confiscation's garb, or mere exclusion's milder dress,
Than when her fiery robe in Smithfield she put on,
And stupid ignorance half excused the deeds in darkness done.
The more it was repress'd, the more opinion grew;
Geneva sounded through the land, and Knox the trumpet blew.
That fierce and stirring blast uprooted Scotland's throne;
The sister queen — the beauty — pleads in misery's humbled tone.
O blot of Tudor's line! O England's lasting shame!
Again the ruthless steel descends on woman's sacred frame—
That frame, an outraged queen's — the third since Boleyn bled,
Who on the thirsty block laid down her unresisting head.
Yet not for this the mighty debt we owe to thee,
And thy great name, Elizabeth! can ever cancell'd be.
No — Britain first may sink beneath her subject main,
Ere she forget the dauntless arm that quell'd the pride of Spain,
O'er native freedom threw a broad protecting shield,
And England's rising energies to her own sons reveal'd.
Then was her golden age in arts and learned lore,
When free-born genius burst away, to heights unknown before,
And never equall'd since. Then Shakspeare's deathless lays
Were heard, and Spenser pour'd the song in Gloriana's praise.