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dence of Spenser was at Kilcolman, in the county of Cork ; thus described by Smith--" Two miles north west of Doneraile, is Kilcolman, a ruined castle of the carls of Desmond ; but more celebrated for being the residence of the immortal Spenser, where he composed his divine poem, “ The Faerie Queene.” The castle is now almost level with the ground. It was situated on the north side of a fine lake, in the midst of a vast plain, terminated to the east by the county of Waterford mountains, Dallynoura hills to the north ; or, as Spenser terms them, the mountains of Mole ; Nagle mountains to the south; and the mountains of Kerry to the west. It commanded a view of above half of the breadth of Ireland ; and must have been, when the adjacent uplands were wooded, a most pleasant and somantic situation ; from whence, no doubt, Spenser drew several parts of the scenery of his poem. The river Mulla, which he more than once has introduced in his poems, ran through his grounds."* Here indeed the poet has described himself as keeping his flock under the foot of the mountain Mole, amongst the cool shades of green alders by the shore of Mulla ; and charming his oaten pipe (as his custom was) to bis fellow shepherd swains.
In this delightful retreat he was visited by sir
* Jistory of the County and City of Cork, vol. 1. p. 333,
Walter Raleigh, with whom he had formed an intimacy on his first arrival in Ireland; Raleigh being at that tiine a captain in the queen's army. As Raleigh had greatly contributed by his activity to suppress the rebellion of Desmond, a considerable portion of that nobleman's forfeited property had been granted to him. Whether Raleigh came voluntarily to take a view of his late acquired seignory; or whether he retired from the court of England in consequence of a disagreement with the earl of Essex, which some writers believe ; it appears that his visit to Kilcolman occasioned an event of high importance in the history of literature; the determination of Spenser to prepare his first three books of the “ Faerie Queen” for immediate publication.
Raleigh being a poet himself, could not but listen with delight to the design which Spenser had formed ; and the latter tells us that Raleigh sitting beside him under the shady alders, on the banks of the Mulla, often “provoked him to play some pleasant fit."
These two friends returned to England together, and the last ingenious biographer and editor of Spenser says, that he was introduced by Raleigh to the queen, who " inclined her ear to his simple song,” as the poet modestly denominates bis productions. But from the letter to Harvey already mentioned, it appears that Spenser was not unknown to hier majesty, having already been formally introduced to her either by his friend Sidney, or the great court favourite Leicester.
It has long been a received opinion that Spenser was nominated Poet Laureate before 1586 ; and this appears to have some countenance from the writings of some of his contemporaries.-Nash, in particular, in his supplication of Pierce Pennilesse, published in 1586; says that he intended to “decipher the excesse of gluttonie at large, but that a new Laureat saved him the labor,” evidently alluding to “ the gulfe of greedinesse” described in Spenser's Faeirie Queene.
But the real fact is as Mr. Malone has stated; “ Elizabeth had no poet-laureat till in February, 1590-1, she conferred on Spenser a pension of fifty pounds a year, the grant of which was discovered some years ago in the chapel of the Rolls; from which time to his death in 1598-9, he may properly be considered as filling this office, though like most of his predecessors, and his two im mediate successors, he is not expressly styled Laureate in his patent. *
Here Spenser's biographer introduces the well known story of the laureate and the lord treasurer Burleigh, as follows: “ that Burleigh told the queen the pension was beyond example, and too great to be given to a ballad maker; that the payment of the pension was intercepted by Burleigh ; that when the queen, upon Spenser's
* Malone's Lise of Dryden, p. 84.