tent which the ‘plantation’ had fomented among the native Irish in Munster at once grew active. In October O'Neill sent a force of his Irish levies into the province, and rebellion broke out. Eight thousand clansmen, under the ‘sugan’ Earl of Desmond, overran county Cork. Panic seized the English officials. Spenser, the newly appointed sheriff, seems to have been taken completely unawares. In October all Munster was in the hands of the insurgents, Kilcolman Castle was burnt over the poet's head, and he fled to Cork with his wife and four children. According to Ben Jonson, whose evidence as that of a contemporary cannot be lightly disregarded, but is on this point controvertible, one of his children perished in the flames. At Cork Spenser drew up a ‘briefe note of Ireland,’ which he inscribed to the queen. In it he entreated Elizabeth to show unto ‘these vile caitiffs’ the terror of her wrath, and to equip ten thousand men with a competent force of cavalry, to exterminate them (Cal. State Papers, Irish, 1598–9, p. 431–3; Grosart, i. 537–55). Among the Irish state papers for 1598–9 is an unpublished manuscript, describing in dialogue form the attack on the English settlers in King's County between the harvest of 1597 and All Saints' day of 1598. It claims to be from the pen of Thomas Wilson, although it is dedicated by ‘H. C.’ to Essex. The interlocutors are named Peregryn and Silvyn (the names of two of Spenser's sons); and the tone of their conversation closely resembles that of Irenæus and Eudoxus in his ‘View of the Present State of Ireland’ (Cal. State Papers, Irish, 1598–9, pp. 505 seq.) It probably embodies expressions of opinion which Spenser had communicated to its author. On 9 Dec. Sir Thomas Norris, the president of Munster, sent Spenser from Cork to London, with a despatch reporting the progress of the rebellion (ib. p. 414). Norris doubtless intended that Spenser should also advise the government in London of the general situation. But his physique was overstrained by the anxieties and hardships he had undergone. He found shelter at an ‘inn’ or lodging in King Street, Westminster, but a month after his arrival—on Saturday, 16 Jan. 1598–9—he died there. John Chamberlain, the letter-writer, wrote next day to his friend Carleton: ‘Spencer, our principall poet, comming lately out of Ireland, died at Westminster on Saturday last’ (Letters temp. Eliz. Camden Soc. p. 41). Ben Jonson asserts that he perished ‘for lack of bread,’ and that the Earl of Essex, learning of his distress in his last hours, sent him ‘20 pieces,’ which the poet refused, saying ‘he was sorrie he had no time to spend them’ (Conversations with Drummond, Shakespeare Soc., pp. 7, 12). But this story cannot be literally accepted. Camden so far corroborates Ben Jonson as to assert that Spenser's life was a long wrestle with poverty, and that he returned to London ‘a poor man.’ John Weever, in an epigram published in the year of Spenser's death, declared:
Spencer is ruined, of our latest time
The fairest ruine, Faeries foulest want.
The author of the ‘Returne from Parnassus’ asserts that in his last hours ‘maintenance’ was denied him by an ungrateful country. Fletcher, in the ‘Purple Island,’ wrote of Spenser:
Poorly, poor man, he lived; poorly, poor man, he died.
Nevertheless, he was, at the period of his death, a pensioner of the crown, and came from Ireland as the bearer of official despatches of moment. It is incredible that his destitution should have proved so complete as to issue in death by starvation. Friends, too, were numerous in London, and they procured for him burial in Westminster Abbey. His grave was at the south end of the south transept, a few yards from Chaucer, the ‘Tityrus’ whom he delighted to acknowledge as his poetic master. Essex, according to abundant contemporary evidence, paid the expenses of his funeral (cf. Camden, Annales, ed. 1688, p. 565; Phineas Fletcher, Purple Island; Fuller, Worthies). According to Camden ‘his hearse’ was ‘attended by poets, and mournful elegies and poems, with the pens that wrote them, were thrown into his tomb.’
A beautiful passage in Browne's ‘Britannia's Pastorals’ (Bk. 2, Song 1, ll. 1005–1025) attests that Elizabeth ordered a monument to Spenser's memory, but that the order was intercepted, and the allotted sum embezzled by an avaricious courtier. A monument of grey marble was finally erected by Nicholas Stone at the cost (40l.) of Ann Clifford, countess of Dorset [q. v.], in 1620. An English inscription (inaccurate as to dates) described Spenser as ‘the Prince of Poets in his tyme, whose Divine Spirrit needs noe othir witnesse then the Works which he left behinde him.’ It is reported that on the original gravestone were inscribed two Latin distichs, of which the first, according to Camden, ran:
Hic prope Chaucerum, Spensere, poeta poetam
Conderis, et versu quam tumulo propior
(Camden, Reges Reginæ, 1600, s. v. ‘In