Small folio, pp. , 399, , wanting the preliminary blank, small hole to M4 affecting three letters, a few marginal repairs without loss; a very good copy in full red morocco, gilt, by Zaehnsdorf, joints slightly rubbed.
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First edition. Beaumont was one of the royalist fellows ejected from Cambridge in 1644, and he devoted his enforced retirement to the composition of this poem, a ‘religious epic’ representing ‘a Soule led by divine Grace, and her Guardian Angel ... through the difficult Temptations and Assaults of Lust, of Pride, of Heresie, of Persecution, and of Spiritual Dereliction ... to heavenly Felicitie.’ The result, some 30,000 lines in six-line stanzas, is by far the longest work of the ‘English Spenserians’ of the seventeenth century (Drayton, Wither, Henry More, Giles and Phineas Fletcher), although Beaumont’s stylistic affinities lie more with Donne and with his fellow student at Peterhouse, Richard Crashaw.
When a second edition was published in 1702 ‘much enlarged in every canto by the late Reverend Author’, the first edition was described as ‘very scarce and very dear’, which is difficult to believe.
Wing B 1625; Hayward 96.
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First edition. The Shepherd’s Calendar was a work of long gestation and many delays, partly because of the inchoate form in which Clare presented his original manuscript to Taylor and partly because of Taylor’s slash and burn editorial policy. Though the work was finally ready by November 1826, the first drawing for the frontispiece was deemed unsuitable and two months were lost as a second was made and engraved. The delays were not in Clare’s favour: tastes had moved on, the work was not a commercial success, and Clare was left with a stack of remainders. The Shepherd’s Calendar has since, however, acquired a critical reputation for its ‘extraordinary blend of observation and delicate fantasy’ (Jonathan Wordsworth, Visionary Gleam).