Edward Fairfax

Francis Godolphin Waldron, "Some Account of Fairfax [by Richard Farmer]" The Monthly Magazine 11 (April 1801) 211-12.


Some account of Fairfax, or his works, having been requested in your last Magazine, I send you the following memoranda, copied from some MS. of the late Dr. Farmer, in the first folio edition of Fairfax's Godfrey of Bulloigne, 1600; purchased by me at the sale of the Doctor's library, and now in my possession:

"M. Hill's traduit [viz. the Jerusalem of Tasso] en vers Anglois, & sa traduction a ete imprimee a Londres en 1713." (qu?) Niceron. T. 25. P. 79.

"Eusden, the Poet Laureate, left in M.S. a translation of the greater part of Tasso. Carter, p. 324.

"A translation by Hoole, 2 vols. 12mo. 1764.

"A translation by Doyne, 2 vols, 12mo. 1761.

"This youth fell mad for the love of an Italian lass, descended of a great house, when I was in Italie." I. Eliot's Orthoepedia Gallica. 1593.

"N.B. Hoole's translation is in heroics, and Doyne's (Philip, esq.) in blank verse.

"The first part containing five cantos, imprinted in both languages — (see Ames, p. 412) — by R. C. esq. 1594. The publisher says, that 'The doer of them commanded a staie of the rest till sommer.' — never printed. N.B. Same stanza with Fairfax.

"'Fairfax has translated Tasso with an elegance and ease, and at the same time with an exactness, which for that age are surprizing. Each line in the original is faithfully rendered by a correspondent line in the translation.' — Hume's History, vol. I. p. 138.

"N.B. The last observation is by no means true: there are indeed, except in the 7th canto, the same number of stanzas; but many lines of the original are transposed, and more omitted. In the 7th canto or book, Fairfax has a stanza more than Tasso.

"Fairfax was reprinted at Dublin, 2 vols. 8vo. 1726. — Modernized, 1749, (and in earlier edit.) Gent. Mag. Aug. 1764. — Reprinted in folio, 1624 by John Bill, the King's Printer, by his command; and dedicated to Prince Charles, with a Sonnet to him, and the Life of Godfrey. See Emanuel Library."

Thus far from Dr. Farmer's MS.

I have a copy of Bill's edition, folio, 1624; but it contains no Sonnet to Prince Charles, nor any other verses besides the Poem itself; excepting stanzas "To her High Majestie." [Queen Elizabeth] signed "Your Majesties humble Subject, Edward Fairefax;" that being the orthography of his name in the title page to this edition; in that of edit. 1600, in which these four stanzas first appeared; and in the subscription to the stanzas in both. In the Epistle Dedicatorie to Prince Charles, by Bill, he says "All ornament I could adde to this edition, was to illustrate the chiefe subject of the booke, that is Godfrey of Bullen, the great Champion of Christendome, which I have done as well as I could, by prefixing his pourtraict, as it was brought from Hiersusalem, and by a briefe description of his life, out of the best writers." The life, containing five pages, is inserted, but there is no "pourtraict" of Godfrey in my copy.

In the Monthly Magazine, it is said that the second edition, 1624, having been edited by Mr. Bill, is an indirect proof of the previous death of Fairfax.

The Epistle Dedicatorie in Bill's edition contains no intimation of the death of Fairfax; Mrs. Cooper, in her Muse's Library, says, that "the year he died is uncertain; and the last we hear of him is, that he was living in 1631."

In the preface to the 8vo. edition, 1749, after specifying the editions of 1600, and 1624, it is said "a third impression of this work appeared in the year 1686, recommended to the public by Sir Roger L'Estrange, who at that time was the Licencer of the Press: but the scarcity of the first and second editions, the incorrectness of the third, and the excellence of the work itself, have given reason to imagine, that a new impression of it would not be unacceptable."

I am, &c.

F. G. W.