THE WORKS.(London: Bell and Daldy, 1862). 229 x 152 mm (9 x 6"). Five volumes. Edited by John Payne Collier.
VERY ATTRACTIVE DEEP BLUE PEBBLE-GRAIN MOROCCO, HANDSOMELY GILT, covers with frames of one dogtooth and three plain rules, raised bands, spines in antique-style compartments with delicate scrolling cornerpieces and intricate central fleuron surrounded by small tools, densely gilt floral turn-ins, marbled endpapers, all edges gilt. With frontispiece portrait of Spenser in volume I. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Herbert Lionel Bashford, M. A., Dibon Lodge, Godalming. Spines just a shade darker than covers, corners with a hint of rubbing, but AN EXTREMELY FINE SET IN VERY ATTRACTIVE BINDINGS, the text fresh and bright, and the leather especially lustrous and with only the most insignificant wear.
The first modern English poet to achieve major stature, Spenser (ca. 1552-99), in Day's words, demonstrated "with his fluency in many meters and stanzaic forms . . . that English was at least the equal to any other language as a vehicle of great poetry." While his poems, particularly "The Faerie Queene," look backward as the culmination of the allegorical verse tradition of the Pearl Poet, Langland, and Chaucer, he has influenced with "his fertile imagination and especially his sensuous imagery and melodic language" nearly every important English poet who followed him. (Day) DNB praises Collier's "Spenser," first published in 1862, as "an excellent edition, with the completest life of the poet that had as yet appeared." Despite his great knowledge and love of early English authors, Collier (1789-1883) suffered a certain diminished respect because of his propensity for textual fabrication. This was true particularly in the case of the notorious "Perkins folio," supposedly containing an early copy of Shakespeare's works with superior variant readings, which turned out to be forged. Britannica comments that these "fabrications . . . may charitably . . . be attributed to literary monomania, but . . . it is difficult to speak with patience [of them], so completely did they for a long time bewilder the chronology of Shakespeare's writings." Apart from its important content, this set is quite lovely on the shelf (the bindings are unsigned, but they have the feel and appearance of Hayday work). (ST11462a-114)