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Autograph of Edmund Spenser the Poet.
EDMUND SPENSER'S AUTograph. IN compliance with the wish expressed by C. L. G., SENEX, W. T. and other Correspondents, we have obtained permission to print a fac-simile of the document bearing the signature of Edmund Spenser, the immortal author of the Fairy Queen," which was recently exhibited to the Society of Antiquaries. It runs thus:
"Be it knowen to all men by these p'nts (presents) that I Edmund Spenser of Kilcolman, esq, doe give unto McHenry the keping of all the woods wch I have in Balliganiin, & of the rushes and braks, wout making any spoyle thereof, and also doe covenent wt him, that he shall have one house win the bawne of Richardston for him self and his cattell in tyme of warre. Aud also wtin the space of vij yeares to repayre the castle of Richardston aforesayd, and in all other things to use good neighbor hood to him and his
ED SP'SER." This document is written on paper, and is without date. The signature alone is Spenser's autograph, and we have as far as possible endeavoured to convey an idea of the seal attached to it, which is impressed on wax through the medium of paper. The crest on the seal is apparently a griffin statant. A griffin's head and wings was the crest of several houses of Spencer, as appears from the Ordinary in Edmondson's Heraldry; and they are still borne, rising from a ducal coronet, by the Duke of Marlborough and Earl Spencer.
McHenry, the person alluded to, was a junior member of the Roche family, who assumed the name of Me Henry, in order that he might be "sui nationis capitanus," or chief of his
The remains of the Castle of Richarston are still in existence, one mile west of the town of Doneraile in the county of Cork; and distant about four miles from the solitary ruin of Kilcoleman, the poet's residence.
The original document was discovered among a collection of papers belonging to the Roche family, which has been recently brought out of Ireland, and which forms a most interesting chain of family history, illus trative of the monastic, political, and civic affairs of the south of Ireland in GENT. MAG. April, 1832.
general, and the city and county of Cork in particular, from the commencement of the thirteenth to the middle of the eighteenth century.—In a future number we trust we shall be able to lay a selection from the Roche Manuscripts before our readers.
SCRAPS of literary history appeal to you as their legitimate, if not their only patron; allow me, therefore, to place under your protection copies of some unpublished Letters of Bishop Nicolson. The labours of this worthy prelate upon subjects connected with our national history, have entitled him to be had in honourable remembrance. The circumstance of the late excellent Mr. Nichols having published a portion of Bishop Nicolson's Correspondence, gives these Letters a peculiar claim upon your care ;-and I trust that even another claim exists in the contents.
I will take them according to the dates. The first Letter relates to a subject of some importance in our literary history; namely, the publication of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. It is well known that public attention was first drawn to this valuable historical record by Professor Wheloc, who appended some portions of it to his edition of Bede, published at Cambridge in 1643, folio. Wheloc deserves, however, no other credit than that of having led the way. His publication was meagre and incomplete, and amongst many MSS. he consulted only two, which brought the history no further down than A.D. 1070. Francis Junius and other learned men, some years after the date of Wheloc's work, suggested the publication of the Chronicle in a separate volume, and more complete form. The project was warmly seconded by Bishop Fell, and the editorship confided to Mr. Nicolson, who had lately returned from Germany with a well-founded reputation for a knowledge of northern antiquities. The progress made by Nicolson will be seen from the following Letter. It seems that his preferment to the archdeaconry of Carlisle occasioned his removal from Oxford, the consequent delay and final relinquishment of the contemplated
Carlile, Nov. 20, 1684.
By a late letter from your Lord' to my Lord of Carlile, I find myself in a greater hazard of forfeiting your Lordship's countenance then I was aware of. I confess, my Lord, the perfecting of the Saxon Chronicle (which I took upon me at Oxford) has not gone on with that good success that I could have wish'd. But, besides the great want of assistance which I now ly under, for the finishing of such a work, I did not apprehend that any quick and speedy dispatch was expected from me; or otherwise I should have endeavour'd to have bin in a better readiness then I am at pr'sent. I have since heard that a far different
account has bin given your Lordship of the reasons of this delay, by some that had inform'd your Lordship, that the work was already finish'd; but that I was resolv'd not to part with it, till I knew how to be satisfy'd for my pains. I hope, my Lord, your Lordship will not be very prone to believe me guilty of soe much ingratitude as the latter part of this story would insinuate. I am extremely sensible that the best services I can do your Lordship will fall infinitely short of a due return to the many great and undeserv'd favours which your Lordship was pleas'd to confer on me in Oxon; and therfore I have good reason to be far (very far) from the thoughts of huxtering wth your Lordship at this rate. No, my Lord, on the contrary, I have still that hearty zeall for your Lordship's service, that (immediately upon my Lord's acquainting me with your Lordship's desires) I made it my bu
siness to borrow such of our English historians as this country would afford me; and as I judg'd might be useful to me in the carrying on the work. With some of these my Lord himself was pleas'd to furnish me; and others I have since receiv'd from several of our gentry. By these helps I hope, at last, to be able to answer your Lordship's expectations: tho' when I receiv'd your LordsPs last commands, the work was no otherwise finish'd then that I had by me an entire (and well examin'd) copy of A.B. Laud's MS. carefully compared with the other imperfect transcript in the Library. Out of these and Mr. Wheloc's printed Chronicle, 'tis my design (and I presume your Lordship's desire) to have one complete copy translated into plain and easy Latin; neither confineing my self verbatim to ye original, nor paraphraseing too freely. I had once thoughts of compareing them all with our other antient historians; and of noteing the disagreement there is among them, as to ye Chronological part but this I found would be an endless drudgery, and not worth the while. All the notes I now think of makeing will be onely to observe the differences in the Saxon copies y"selves, and which of their accounts seems most agreable to truth. If any other method be thought adviseable, your Lordship's commands shall be most punctually observ'd by, my Lord,. your Lordship's most dutiful and grateful servant, WILL. NICOLSON..
The second Letter contains little of importance, but shows the manner in. which the friendship between Nicolson and Ralph Thoresby commenced, a friendship which led the way to Thoresby's intimacy with Gibson, Archbishop Sharp, and other celebrated antiquaries, and to which in all probability we are mainly indebted for Thoresby's additions to Gibson's Camden, and perhaps even for his own publications. I am inclined to attribute most of Thoresby's works, to the spur which his antiquarian and collecting propensities received from his friendship with Nicolson and Gibson. There was even another result, which I think no one who reads Thoresby's Diary and Correspondence, lately published, can fail to attribute in some degree to the same cause, I
Original Letters of Bishop Nicolson.
mean, his ceasing to be a dissenter from the Church of England. The lives of these good men was "a living rhetoric," which, assisted by the eloquence of "the good vicar" of Leeds, gradually overcame Thoresby's early horror of copes and vestments, the kneeling at altar rails, and the sign of the cross in baptism. Perhaps I may here be excused for remarking, what convincing instances are to be found in Thoresby's biography, of how little the world knows of "the quiet joys" of those whom it politely esteems to be dull and moping antiquaries. The
studies of the antiquary may possess neither the brilliancy nor the importance of many men's pursuits; but, equally with all other species of mental employment, they confer upon the student a rich harvest of satisfaction, and are calculated, perhaps more than many other studies, to promote "peace and good will" amongst those who are connected by similarity of antiquarian tastes and occupations. Some of the best passages in Thoresby's Diary relate to his friendship with Nicolson and Gibson. The picture which he draws (vol. I. p. 275) of Nicolson's 66 pleasant habitation," of his " museum, into which they presently retired from the company," of the delicate collection of natural curiosities," ""the coins and medals," 'the many choice authors in print,' "and above all his own excellent MSS." is really a very enticing one, and we may well excuse Thoresby for "longing to be back again in that little paradise," his friend's study, all the while that the Archdeacon in his politeness was exhibiting to him" the lions" of Salkeld. "After supper," continues Thoresby, Diary, vol. I. p. 276, "he showed us several remarkable sea-plants, and obliged us with most excellent converse, that I almost grudged my sleeping time." The next morning he tells us he rose early "to enjoy Mr. Archdeacon's most acceptable converse and papers, which were the most pleasing and instructive that I could tell how to wish for;" and even when Thoresby had taken leave of the Archdeacon's "modest good lady and family," his friend himself, whom he describes as "the nonesuch Mr. Nicolson," accompanied him to Appleby, delighted him on the road with visions of Roman camps and stations, and concluded by
introducing him to "a noble entertainment and much good company at a venison feast. Such is the friendship of antiquaries!
Mr. Wilkinson, to whom this Letter is addressed, is frequently mentioned in Thoresby's Diary, and sometimes in a manner which this Letter will explain. Thus, vol. 1. p. 209: "1691. Aug. 29. Up early, writing to the Archdeacon of Carlisle, about antiquities, per parson W. of A. by whom sent some coins and inscriptions." Parson W. of A." is clearly the gentleman to whom this letter is addressed.
I am very much indebted to you for your kind enquiry after such matters, as you know I love to hear off. I should be thankful for information more particular about the gentleman of Leeds's collection of Antiquities; which you mention to me. If he be a person curious in either Roman, Brittish, or Saxon Antiquities (or all of 'em) you cannot oblige me more then to procure for me a correspondence wth him and I promise myself that I shall be able to make such returns as will not be unacceptable.
I know not what time your Ecclesiastical men of York (who design to visit us this year) will give us leave to visit our friends in Yorkshire. assure yourself an opportunity of that kind is long'd for by, Sr, yr very affe friend to serve you
WILL. NICOLSON. All yr friends here are well, and my family wholly at your service and Mrs.
Addressed, for the Rev. Mr. Wilkinson, at Armley, nigh Leeds, post pd 2d. in Yorkshire. There is upon this letter the following memorandum: "This was the beginning of my lord Bishop of Carlile's correspondence with R. W."
The next Letter is addressed to the same Mr. Wilkinson, and seems to have been written at a time when Mr. W. was hoping, through the influence of Mr. Thoresby, to obtain from Lord Wharton some benefice rendered vacant by an act of parliament, probably by that act which prescribed the oath of allegiance to King William. Lord Wharton made Thoresby the medium
of his bounty to the poor of Leeds. Many notices of his Lordship, and two of his letters, are to be found in Thoresby's Diary and Correspondence. He is the same Lord Wharton who is said to have hid himself in a saw-pit during the battle of Edgehill, and who was committed by the House of Lords to the Tower in 1677, with Buckingham and Shaftesbury, for denying the legality of the parliament. His son was the Lord Wharton who contemptuously inquired of the twelve peers created at one time in the reign of Queen Anne, "Whether they voted by their foreman ?"
I am troubled to hear of the death of my sweet little God-daughter: but both my Commr & you are young enough to have that loss often repair'd. 'Tis well Mr. Thoresby has an interest in my Lord Wharton. I doubt not but he will befriend you to the uttermost of his power. Our Bishop has not yet given His L'ship any notice of the lapse; and perhaps he never will. Some of our lawyers are of opinion that (tho' upon deprivation by sentence in the Ecclesiastical Court, the ordinary be oblig'd to give notice to ye patron before any lapse can accrue, yet) an ipso facto Deprivation by Act of Parliament, as this is, requires no notice at all. I presume I need not inform you what sort of character 'twill be convenient that Mr. Thoresby give of you. You know my Ld Wharton is no hot Stickler for uniformity; so that a man must not come recommended to him by the title of an exact Canonist, but a moderate man. It's likely my Lord will think of presenting same man over again; unless He can some way be convinced of (a great truth) the little credit he is like to have by sending such a fellow among us. It will be much more for his Ldship's honour to drop him, upon this fair opportunity, than to have him violently thrown off, in an open and scandalous manner.
I think you told me you had thoughts of transcribeing the MS. you were speaking off here. I wish you would acquaint me how high it goes, and what ages it chiefly treats on. But 1 must touch these things as lightly as 1 can. They putt me upon longing to see Leeds, a thought which should not
enter into my lead till the dayes lengthen and wayes mend. Yet-give my humble service to Mr. Thoresby. I'll endeavour to come well fraught, when once I sett forward. All my family give their respects to yourself and Mrs. Wilkinson: and I hope you will both easily believe that I am (more particularly), Yrs, W. N.
Salkeld, Dec. 2, 1691.
Addressed, for the Rev. Mr. Wilkinson,
at Armley, near Leeds.
The fourth letter presents to us Nicolson no longer dwelling in the "pleasant habitation, with the little paradise of a study," which had so much delighted Thoresby, but the occupant of Rose Castle, and Bishop of Carlisle. He was elected to that See in 1702, and continued in possession of it until 1718, when he was translated to Derry.
Mr. Killingbeck, the vicar of Leeds, to whom this letter is addressed, was a Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge, and the author of some printed sermons; but his best memorial is to be found in the following mention of him in Thoresby's Diary (vol. 1, p. 194). "The revolution had deprived us of one learned and pious vicar, Mr. Milner; but a kind Providence furnished us with a worthy successor, anno 1690, the excellent Mr. Killingbeck, a public blessing to this parish; whose preaching was with so peculiar an energy and fervency of spirit as was very affecting; and his life was answerable to his preaching-truly excellent." The Rev. Geo. Plaxton, one of Thoresby's correspondents, in a letter written in 1716, upon receipt of intelligence of the death of Mr. Killingbeck, describes him thus: "Mr. Killingbeck was a man in whom my soul delighted; a man without guile or cozenage; a friend who, by above fifty years acquaintance, was not only engrafted but grown up into my affections, and united in a happy friendship with me." (Correspondence, vol. II. p. 338.) Another of Thoresby's correspondents, writing upon the same occasion, remarks, "It is glory enough to his memory that Archbishop Sharp, at one of his Visitations, recommended him as a standard and example to his clergy." (Correspondence, vol. II. p. 340.) We may suppose that the preaching of this gentleman had some