INTRODUCTION


spacer1. According to William Camden (Annales Rerum Anglicarum et Hibernicarum Regnante Elizabetha) for the year 1598, writing of the death of Edmund Spenser:

Vix enim ibi secessum et scribendi otium nactus, cum a rebellibus e laribus eiectus et bonis spoliatus in Angliam inops reversus statim expiravit, et Westmonasterii prope Chaucerum impensis comitis Essexiae inhumatus, poetis funus ducentibus, flebilibus carminibus et calamis in tumulum coniectis.

[“For scarce had hee there gotten a solitary place and leasure to write, when hee was by the Rebels cast out of his dwelling, despoyled of his goods, and returned into England a poore man, where shortly after he died and was interred at Westminster neere to Chaucer, at the charges of the Earle of Essex, his Hearse being carried by Poets, and mournfull Verses and Pennes throwne into his Tombe.”]

The present poem, by “R. H.,” preserved in Newberry Library ms. Philipps 28939, is sometimes thought to be a copy of a poem written by Spenser’s friend Richard Harvey, [d. 1630] a Cambridge philosopher and brother of the better-known Gabriel, for that occasion, NOTE 1 an interpretation favored by two considerations. First, it has been pointed out (by Carpenter, p. 71) that lines 35f. seem to support this conjecture, presumably because he identified the domus of line 36 as the Abbey. Also, as printed by Carpenter, lines 27f. are exceedingly difficult to understand:

Tenuia vitalis servat spiracula vitae.
spacerNon vitae integritas: ergo quid illa valent?

I have changed the full stop after vitae to a comma and altered valent to valet according to the understanding that vitae integritas = good works, and that the author is writing about the issue of faith vs. good works according to the perspective set forth by Luther, i. e. that Man is saved by faith alone, and not, as Catholics held, by both. This well accords with Harvey’s religious attitudes, which, like Spenser’s own, were very Low Anglican. NOTE 2 The identification of “R. H.” is not assured, but seems very likely.
spacer2. The Latin text of this poem is printed by Carpenter, p. 70, but evidently it has never been translated, or studied in its own right, and hence it seems suitable for inclusion in The Philological Museum. The text is based on Carpenter’s transcript, which requires correction in a few places; I do not know if the faults are in the ms. text or in his transcription. I wish to thank Prof. Jean Brink of Arizona State University and the Huntington Library for drawing this item to my attention.

 

Notes

spacerNOTE 1 Frederick Ives Carpenter, A Reference Guide to Edmund Spenser (Chicago, 1923, repr. New York, 1969) 70f.; R. M. Cummings, Edmund Spenser (London - New York, 1995) 10.

spacerNOTE 2 Albert. H. Tolman, “The Relation of Spenser and Harvey to Puritanism,” Modern Philology XV:9 (1918) 549 - 64.