1758
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser.

The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser. A new Edition with Notes critical and explanatory, by Ralph Church, M.A., late Student of Christ Church, Oxon. 4 vols.

Edmund Spenser


Ralph Church's edition of the Faerie Queene was published with an anonymous life of Spenser.

Monthly Review: "The pains that have lately been taken to do justice to this excellent old Bard, by improved editions of his works, in order to make them better understood, and to place their beauties in a more conspicuous light, will, it is hoped, revive a taste for Spenser, and occasion his being more universally read; which is all that is wanting to his being more universally admired. Mr. Church's edition differs somewhat from that given us by Mr. Upton. The latter is more of a commentator, and makes a greater display of his poetical reading and judgment. Mr. Church seems to have rather confined himself to, and chiefly valued himself upon, a correct edition of his Author. He appears, indeed, to have bestowed great labour in collating and examining all the former impressions, in order to settle the genuine reading of the texts, and also the punctuation, the errors of which he has rectified, in almost numberless instances. This last circumstance is an article of much more consequence than is generally imagined by superficial Readers: since it but too commonly happens, that by mis-pointing, an Author is made to utter such sense, or such nonsense, as in reality never did, or possibly could, flow from his pen" 20 (June 1759) 566.

Critical Review: "With all his faults, no poet enlarges the imagination more than Spenser. Cowley was formed into poetry by reading him; and many of our modern writers, such as Gray, Akenside, and others, seem to have studied his manner with the utmost attention.... The verses of Spenser may, perhaps, one day be considered as the standard of English poetry" 7 (1759) 103-04.

Richard Foster Jones: "The year 1758 saw two critical editions of the Faerie Queene. The preface of the first, edited by Ralph Church, a master of arts of Oxford and a scholar of some note, gives a careful account and full description of the old editions. Since the various editions are denoted by letters and numerals, the first instance of such a procedure, and since many variant readings are recorded at the bottom of the page, the volumes present a very modern appearance. For the first three books of the poem Church adopted as the standard text the quarto of 1590; for the second three books the quartos of 1596; and for the two cantos of the incomplete book the folio of 1609. He held that the later editions were of no authority, but in his footnotes he gave readings from them. Church's collation was careful and thorough; his faithfulness in recording variant readings surpassed that of any previous editor" Lewis Theobald (1919) 241.

Jewel Wurtsbaugh: "Church's emendations are sensible rather than Spenserian" Two Centuries of Spenserian Scholarship (1936) 106; Wurtsbaugh speculates that the anonymous life was written by William Oldys.

Calvin Riley Wallace's 1930 master's thesis tabulates the 1851 words glossed by Church, in comparison to 2875 by Richard Morris (1899), 1873 by R. E. Dodge (1908), and 4183 by Smith and De Selincourt (1912).

Dedication to the Right Honourable the Lady Viscountess Parker: "A New Edition of the Faerie Queene, with a Name prefixed which is wholly unknown to the learned World, will want every Recommendation to introduce it to the notice of the Public. It was generous therefore in You, Madam, to permit me to say, that your Ladyship first encouraged it's Appearance. For when it shall be known that the Performance has already received such an Approbation; it may reasonably be presumed, that the Fair Sex (at least as many of them as know your Ladyship) will entertain a favourable opinion of a Work which was chiefly intended for their Use and Entertainment; and the more learned Critic may be restrained (by good Manners at least) from treating with Severity, what your Ladyship has most obligingly taken under your Protection" Sig. A2-A2v.

For discussions of Church's emendations, see the index in Todd, Works of Spenser (1805).



A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,
Yclad in mightie armes and silver shield,
Wherein old dints of deepe woundes did remaine,
The cruell markes of many' a bloody field;
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.

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