in Munster was declared forfeit, and it was determined to plant it with English colonists. Spenser heartily approved the ‘plantation’ scheme, and shared the accepted belief of Elizabethan officials that the natives might justly and wisely be expropriated, and, as far as possible, exterminated. In the articles for the ‘Undertakers,’ which received the royal assent on 27 June 1586, Spenser was credited with 3028 acres. The final patent, securing his title to this property at an annual rent of 8l. 13s. 9d. for three years, and double that rent subsequently, was passed on 26 Oct. 1591 (see Grosart, i. 150–1). On the property was the old castle of Kilcolman, three miles from Doneraile, co. Cork. A little to the east the Bregoge river flows into the Awbeg (Spenser's ‘Mulla’), and some distance south-east the Awbeg flows into the Blackwater (Spenser's ‘Awniduff,’ see Colin Clouts come home againe; Faerie Queene, IV. xi. 41, and VII. vi. 40).
In Kilcolman Castle Spenser settled in 1588 on taking up his duties as clerk of the Munster council. It is alleged that a sister kept house for him, presumably Sarah Spenser. She afterwards married John Travers of a Lancashire family, who held some office in Munster. In 1589 the poet had six householders settled on his lands. But his relations with at least one of his neighbours, Maurice, viscount Roche of Fermoy, a harsh-tempered landlord, who was hostile to the English rule, involved him in a long and harassing litigation. On 12 Oct. 1589, soon after the poet took up his residence at Kilcolman, Lord Roche accused Spenser, in a petition to the queen, of intruding on his property, and of ill-treating his servants, tenants, and cattle. Roche proclaimed that ‘none of his people should have any trade or conference with Mr. Spenser or Mr. Piers, or any of their tenants being English,’ and caused one Teige O'Lyne to be fined ‘for that he received Mr. Spenser in his house one night as he came from the session at Limerick’ (see Grosart, i. 157). The quarrel dragged on for fully five years. Greater satisfaction Spenser derived from intercourse with another neighbour, a fellow ‘undertaker’ in the Munster plantation, Sir Walter Ralegh, whose acquaintance Spenser had doubtless already made in London or Dublin. In 1589 Ralegh was residing at the manor house of Youghal at the mouth of the Blackwater. Ralegh visited Spenser at Kilcolman, and to him the poet confided the sense of desolation which residence in Ireland engendered. He was still working at the ‘Faerie Queene,’ and he showed his guest a draft of the first three books. Ralegh was enchanted. In Spenser's words (in the subsequently written ‘Colin Clouts come home againe’), Ralegh
'Gan to cast great liking to my lore
And great disliking to my luckless lot
That banisht had myself, like wight forlore,
Into that waste, where I was quite forgot.
The which to leave thenceforth he counselled me,
Unmeet for man in whom was aught regardful,
And wend with him his Cynthia to see,
Whose grace was great, and bounty most rewardful.
Ralegh's ‘Cynthia’ was Queen Elizabeth. Spenser styled his sanguine friend ‘The Shepherd of the Ocean,’ and crossed the St. George's Channel with him in October 1589, resolved to publish his poem and seek the favour of his sovereign.
Arrived in London, doubtless in November 1589, Spenser lost no time in entrusting his manuscript to the publisher, William Ponsonby [q. v.], who, on 1 Dec. 1589, procured a license for the publication of ‘the fayre Queene dysposed into xij bookes’ (Arber, ii. 536). Three of the projected twelve books were alone completed, and these, in which Spenser portrayed the adventures of his knights of Holiness, Temperance, and Chastity, were published in quarto next year. In the fewest possible words Spenser dedicated the volume ‘to the most magnificent empresse Elizabeth.’ A prefatory letter from the author to Ralegh, dated 23 Jan. 1589–90, explained ‘his whole intention in the course of this worke,’ and six friends—Ralegh, Harvey (under the name of Hobynoll), H. B., R[ichard?] S[tapleton?], W. L., and Ignoto—prefixed verses, while the author supplied seventeen prefatory sonnets, addressed to Sir Christopher Hatton, Essex, Lord Grey de Wilton, Ralegh, Burghley, and other great officers of state or court-ladies, with whom his residence in Dublin or at Leicester House had made him acquainted. The success achieved by his ‘Shepheards Calender’ was far more than sustained by the publication of the first three books of the ‘Faerie Queene.’ His right to supremacy among such poets as were yet familiar to the English public was rendered indisputable. Men of letters, with whom he now passed much of his time, were unanimous in their applause. A second edition appeared in 1596.
Although Spenser was welcomed at court, he failed in his efforts to secure more congenial occupation than Ireland could afford. In some of the pithiest and most masculine verses that he penned he had already depicted ‘what hell it is in suing long to bide,’ and these lines soon afterwards appeared in print with invigorated point (cf. Mother