1874 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Harington

William Minto, in Characteristics of English Poets (1874) 214n.



Sir John Harington might be taken as a typical Elizabethan courtier — a handsome young fellow, possessed of a keen eye for fun as well as for beauty, and a very ready command of language. Besides translating Orlando Furioso, which the Queen is said to have imposed upon him as a punishment for translating the episode of Alcina and Ruggiero, he wrote Epigrams, composed Polidore and Flostella, a mock-heroic poem in couplets, full of fresh feeling and cleverness, and expounded the merits of one of the most valuable sanitary contrivances of civilized life in a prose treatise — Ajax Metamorphosed — boiling over with gross Rabelasian humour.