At length an insurrection broke out, and his home was set on fire: he fled from his flaming castle, and in the confusion his infant child was left behind and burned to death. A few months after, he died in London, on January 16, 1598-9, broken-hearted and poor, at an humble tavern, in King Street. Buried at the expense of the Earl of Essex, Ann Countess of Dorset bore the expense of his monument in Westminster Abbey, in gratitude for his noble championship of woman. Upon that are inscribed these words: Anglorum poetarum nostri seculi facile princeps—truer words, great as is the praise, than are usually found in monumental inscriptions.
Whatever our estimate of Spenser, he must be regarded as the truest literary exponent and representative of the age of Elizabeth, almost as much her biographer as Miss Strickland, and her historian as Hume: indeed, neither biographer nor historian could venture to draw the lineaments of her character without having recourse to Spenser and his literary contemporaries.
OTHER WRITERS OF THE AGE OF SPENSER.
Richard Hooker, 1553-1598: educated at Oxford, he became Master of the Temple in London, a post which he left with pleasure to take a country parish. He wrote a famous work, entitled “A Treatise on the Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity,” which is remarkable for its profound learning, powerful logic, and eloquence of style. In it he defends the position of the Church of England, against Popery on the one hand and Calvinism on the other.
Robert Burton, 1576-1639: author of “The Anatomy of Melancholie,” an amusing and instructive medley of quotations and classical anecdotes, showing a profound erudition. In this all the causes and effects of melancholy are set forth with varied illustrations. His nom de plume was Democritus, Jr., and he is an advocate of the laughing philosophy.
Thomas Hobbes, 1588-1679: tutor to Charles II., when Prince of Wales, and author of the Leviathan. This is a philosophical treatise, in which he advocates monarchical government, as based upon the fact that all men are selfish, and that human nature, being essentially corrupt, requires an iron control: he also wrote upon Liberty and Necessity, and on Human Nature.
John Stow, 1525-1605: tailor and antiquary. Principally valuable for his “Annales,” “Summary of English Chronicles,” and “A Survey of London.” The latter is the foundation of later topographical descriptions of the English metropolis.
Raphael Hollinshed, or Holinshed, died about 1580: his Chronicles of Englande, Scotlande, and Irelande, were a treasure-house to Shakspeare, from which he drew materials for King Lear, Cymbeline, Macbeth, and other plays.
Richard Hakluyt, died 1616: being greatly interested in voyages and travels, he wrote works upon the adventures of others. Among these are, “Divers Voyages Touching the Discoverie of America,” and “Four Voyages unto Florida,” which have been very useful in the compilation of early American history.