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They mark no stage in the history of pastoral poetry.The title, borrowed from a French almanack of the year 1496, which was translated into English in 1503 and frequently reprinted, is attractive but hardly tallies with the subject. Spenser had too strong a genius not to make his own individuality felt in any form that he attempted, and his buoyant dexterity in handling various schemes of verse must always afford delight to the connoisseur in such things.
The revival and advancement of English literature was a passion of the time, and Harvey was fully possessed by it.Dr Grosart conjectures with considerable plausibility that he was in Ireland in 1577. K.'s preface to the Shepherd's Calendar point that way.Spenser undoubtedly entered the service of the Earl of Leicester either in 1578 or a year earlier (Carew Papers).We know from the Prothalamion that London was his birthplace.This at least seems the most natural interpretation of the words "Merry London, my most kindly nurse, That to me gave this life's first native source." In the same poem he speaks of himself as taking his name from "an house of ancient fame." Several of his pieces are addressed to the daughters of Sir John Spencer, head of the Althorp family; and in Colin Clout's Come Home Again he describes three of the ladies as "The honour of the noble family Of which I meanest boast myself to be." Mr R. Knowles, however, is of the opinion (see the Spending of the Money of Robert Nowell, privately printed, 1877) that the poet's kinsmen must be sought among the humbler Spencers of north-east Lancashire.