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THE THIRD BOOKE OF THE FAERIE QVEENE. Contayning, THE LEGEND OF BRITOMARTIS. OR Of Chastitie.
[1]
I Tt falles me here to write of Chastity,
That fairest vertue, farre aboueabove the rest;
For which what needs me fetch from Faery
Forreine ensamples, it to hauehave exprest?
Sith it is shrined in my SouerainesSoveraines brest,
And form’d so liuelylively in each perfect part
That to all Ladies, which hauehave it profest,
Need but behold the pourtraict of her hart,
If pourtrayd it might be by any liuingliving art.
[2]
But liuingliving art may not least part expresse,
Nor life-resembling pencill it can paint,
All were it Zeuxis or Praxiteles:
His daedale hand would faile, and greatly faint,
And her perfections with his error taint:
Ne Poets wit, that passeth Painter farre
In picturing the parts of beautie daint,
So hard a workmanship aduentureadventure darre,
For fear through want of words her excellence to marre.
[3]
How 3.1. then: thanthenthan shall I, Apprentice of the skill,
That whylome in diuinestdivinest wits did raine,
Presume so high to stretch mine humble quill?
Yet now my lucklesse lot doth me constraine
Hereto perforce. But dred Soueraine
Thus farre forth pardon, sith that choicest wit
Cannot your glorious pourtraict figure plaine
That I in colourd showes may shadow it,
And antique praises vntounto present persons fit.
[4]
But if in liuingliving colours, and right hew,
Your selfe you couetcovet to see pictured,
Who can it doe more liuelylively, or more trew,
Then that sweet verse, with Nectar sprinckeled,
In which a gracious seruantservant pictured
His Cynthia, his heauensheavens fairest light?
That with his melting sweetnesse rauishedravished,
And with the wonder of her beames bright,
My senses lulled are in slomber of delight.
[5]
But let that same delitious Poet lend
A little leaueleave vntounto a rusticke Muse
To sing his mistresse prayse, and let him mend,
If ought amis her liking may abuse:
Ne let his fairest Cynthia refuse,
In mirrours more 5.6. then: thanthenthan one her selfe to see,
But either Gloriana let her chuse,
Or in Belphoebe fashioned to bee:
In th’one her rule, in th’other her rare chastitee.
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Introduction

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Textual Changes

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Off: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, (blest. And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely (FQ I.ii.18.8-9) On: That a large share it hewd out of the rest, And glauncing downe his shield, from blame him fairely blest.

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Off: Sweet slõbring deaw, the which to sleep them biddes: (FQ I.i.36.4)

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Off: And all the world in their subiection held, Till that infernall feend with foule vprore (FQ I.i.5.6-7) On: And all the world in their subjection held, Till that infernall feend with foule uprore

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Off: But wander too and fro in waies vnknowne (FQ I.i.10.5) On: But wander to and fro in waies vnknowne.

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Most lothsom, filthie, foule, and full of vile disdaine (FQ I.i.14.9) 14.9. Most lothsom] this edn.; Mostlothsom 1590

(The text of 1590 reads Mostlothsom, while the editors’ emendation reads Most lothsom.)

Apparatus

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And shall thee well rewarde to shew the place, (FQ I.i.31.5) 5. thee] 1590; you 15961609

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To my long approoved and singular good frende, Master G.H. (Letters I.1) 1. long aprooved: tried and true, found trustworthy over a long period