1745 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Fairfax

Anonymous, in "Milton's Art of Verse" Universal Spectator (11 May 1745).



SPENCER every where abounds in all his Works with Alliterations. To produce only one, which is exceeding beautiful.

The "Lilly, Lady" of the "Flow'ry Field."

Here is a double Initial Alliteration, and a continual mix'd Alliteration of the Liquid "L," which makes the Verse so very musical, that there are few such Lines in our or any other Language.

FAIRFAX, who was one of the first curious Versifiers amongst us, embellishes his Lines continually with this Ornament. In his Description of a Troop of fighting Monks, in the first Book of his Translation of TASSO, are these Lines:

Their jolly Notes they "chanted" loud and "clear,"
And "horrid Helms high" on their "Heads" they bear.

But to go father back than either FAIRFAX or SPENCER, those celebrated Lines in our antient Translation of the Psalms owe their greatest Beauty to their Alliteration.

The Lord descended from above
And bow'd the "Heavens high,"
And underneath his Feet he cast
The Darkness of the Sky;
On "Cherubs" and on "Cherubims"
Full "royally" he "rode,"
And on the "Wings" of mighty "Winds,"
Came flying "all abroad."

A Line of CHAUCER'S just now offers itself to Memory, which has almost all the Arts of Poetry in it.

A "Sheffield Whittle" bare "he" in "his Hose."

There is a fine Alliteration in the Conclusion of the Line, Bare "he" in "his Hose," and a mix'd one at the Beginning of it, by the "H" in the first syllables of the second and third Words: And the inversion of the Phrase, Bare "he," where the Nominative is put immediately after the Verb, is extremely poetical.