« PreviousContinue »
ent edition of Spenser is intended for popular - professed scholar will find little in it that is s been undertaken in compliance with a wish hers to offer to the American public the works poet at a moderate price, and accompanied tes and explanations as might remove, in some = difficulties which have kept many from atread him. The edition published by Pick25, was taken for the basis of the present one, of Spenser contained in it has been repub5. The Introductory Observations upon the eene," the glossarial and explanatory notes, lded by the present editor. The obsolete and s have been explained at the bottom of each plan seems preferable to that of putting them y by themselves. The flavor of a fine passage orate while the reader is looking for the meaning the end of the volume, or perhaps in another motes have been made with a view of explaining that required it, and in as few words as
has been made of the labors of previous ediconsiderable number of the notes are original. by Henry James Todd, published in London
in 1805, has furnished the materials for a large part of the annotations. This is what is technically called a variorum edition, containing a reprint of all the labors of the previous editors, Hughes, Upton, and Church, and of the obser vations of Warton. The merits of this edition are not commensurate with Spenser's rank in English literature. There is a great deal of learned rubbish in it; much trouble is often wasted in elucidating what is plain, and really difficult points are frequently passed by in silence.*
This edition, it may be remarked, has been heretofore the only one to be procured with notes and explanations of the text; and the price of this has put it quite out of the reach of a large majority of readers.
In the performance of his task, which has formed the agreeable employment of such leisure hours as could be snatched from an engrossing profession, the editor has felt a painful sense of his own incompetency, and claims merit for little more than a most conscientious desire to be faithful to his trust, and to do justice to his author. The amount of labor, which it has required, is much more considerable than is obvious at first blush, and will only be correctly estimated by such as have themselves undertaken a similar task. His work has been, however, a labor of love, and has brought its own reward; and he will have nothing to regret should he have succeeded in awakening and gratifying a taste for the poetry of Spenser in his countrymen.
* For an estimate of the value of this edition, see a review of it, written by Sir Walter Scott, in the thirteenth number of the Edinburgh Review, for October, 1805.
Verses addressed by the Author to several Noblemen, &c..
LIFE AND WRITINGS
EDMUND SPENSER was born in East Smithfield, London, about the year 1553. In what situation of life his father was does not appear; but he was probably not very wealthy, as his son was, in 1569, admitted a sizer in Pembroke Hall, Cambridge. Spenser, however, in different parts of his works, claims kindred with the Spencers of Althorpe, in Northamptonshire-a claim which seems to have been allowed by that ancient family. He took his bachelor's degree in January, 1572-3, and that of master of arts in 1578. At Cambridge he became acquainted with Gabriel Harvey, with whom he maintained a close intimacy during the rest of his life. The allegation of some of his biographers, that he was an unsuccessful candidate for a fellowship in Pembroke Hall, is now considered to be incorrect. From Cambridge it is supposed he went to reside with some relations in the north; but whether merely as a visitor, or for the purpose of filling some situation, is not known. His continuance there, however, was not of long duration; though long enough, it appears, for him to fall in love. By the advice of his friend Harvey, he was induced, "for special occasions of private affairs, and for his more preferment," as his commentator E. K. says, to leave his residence in the north, and come to London event which took place, it is supposed, in 1578.