John Upton's Faerie Queene was the first attempt at an original-spelling, annotated edition of the Faerie Queene. The extensive notes, tracing sources and identifying historical personages, are still valuable; all later annotators are indebted to Upton's erudition.
Ralph Church: "It should be mentioned that, within these few months, the Faerie Queene has appeared, for the eighth time, in a new form, in two Volumes Octavo. But, as three fourths of our Work was then printed off, it cannot be expected we should consider it minutely. As far as we have examined, it appears to be a servile Copy of that which we have distinguished by H. 2. [Hughes's text, 1750] only the Blunder of H. 2. at the end of the third Book is corrected, by restoring the three Stanzas which that Edition had excluded" Faerie Queene (1758) 1:ix.
Monthly Review: "The Admirers of Spenser, in the number of whom we include all who have a true taste for poetry, will be pleased to hear, that two good editions of the British Virgil have lately appeared. For the first we are indebted to the learned Mr. Upton; who has here, as in his former publications, shewn himself a very judicious critic and annotator" 20 (June 1759) 566.
Critical Review: "Though we do not generally make a practice of apprizing our readers of new editions of books, yet, when any of peculiar merit appears, we think it our duty, and all who even look upon the present publication will certainly acknowledge it. For whether we consider the type, the exactness of punctuation, or the correctness of the text, Mr. Upton certainly deserves all the commendation of a careful and laborious editor. But the beauty of this edition is not its only excellency; this gentleman deserves the highest applause as a commentator. Whatever faults the invidious, or those who have opposite interests, may think proper to find, he certainly is possessed of an immense fund of erudition, and testifies an universal acquaintance with the excellent writers of almost every polite nation" 8 (September 1759) 245.
Richard Foster Jones: "He gives an account of the old quartos and folios and takes as standard the same editions as Church. Although he consulted and mentions in his notes the later editions, he holds them of little authority; he cannot conceal his contempt for Hughes' production and the edition published under Dr. Birch's care, though really Mr. Kent's. While Upton is not as thorough in his recording variant readings as Church, he gives a large number of those he thinks worth while. Refusing to introduce any of his own conjectures into the text, he consistently relegates them to the notes. In this respect he was far ahead of his time" Lewis Theobald (1919) 242-43.
Jewel Wurtsbaugh: "Professor F. J. Child said that the student of Spenser was more indebted to Upton 'than to any other writer for elucidations of obscure passages' in the Faerie Queene, 'particularly in the allegory, and for curious expositions of the authors whom Spenser had read or has imitated.' Certainly he was easily the greatest of the eighteenth-century editors, and was surpassed only by Warton as a commentator" Two Centuries of Spenserian Scholarship (1936) 102.
Herbert F. Tucker Jr.: "The commentary in Upton's 1758 edition of the poem, for all its inconsistencies, represents a more genuinely original and substantial contribution to Spenser criticism [than Warton's Observations]; as a champion of Spenser's artistry, Upton finally encourages a reading which we may call 'modern'" "Spenser's Eighteenth-Century Readers" (1977) 322.
The British Museum copy has further MS notes by John Upton. See also "Upton" in the index to Todd's Works of Spenser (1805). A copy of this volume appears in the 1769 sale catalogue of the books of Joseph Spence and William Duncombe; see A. N. L. Munby, Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons (1971-75) 2:155.
A gentle knight was pricking on the plaine,
Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruel markes of many' a bloody fielde;
Yet armes till that time did he never wield:
His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,
As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:
Full jolly knight he seem'd, and faire did sitt,
As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.