1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Fairfax

Henry Hallam, in Introduction to the Literature of Europe of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries (1837-39; 1882) 2:227.



Fairfax's Tasso has been more praised, and is better known. Campbell has called it, in rather strong terms, "one of the glories of Elizabeth's reign." It is not the first version of the Jerusalem, one very literal and prosaic having been made by Carew in 1594. That of Fairfax, if it does not represent the grace of its original, and deviates also too much from its sense, is by no means deficient in spirit and vigor. It has been considered as one of the earliest works, in which the obsolete English, which had not been laid aside in the days of Sackville, and which Spenser affected to preserve, gave way to a style not much differing, at least in point of single words and phrases, from that of the present age. But this praise is equally due to Daniel, to Drayton, and to others of the later Elizabethan poets. The translation of Ariosto by Sir John Harrington, in 1591, is much inferior.