1779 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir John Denham

Samuel Johnson, in "Life of Waller" Lives of the English Poets (1779-81); ed. Hill (1905) 1:251.



His [Waller's] versification was in his first essay such as it appears in his last performance. By the perusal of Fairfax's translation of Tasso, to which, as Dryden relates, he confessed himself indebted for the smoothness of his numbers, and by his own nicety of observation, he had already formed such a system of metrical harmony as he never afterwards much needed or much endeavoured to improve. Denham corrected his numbers by experience, and gained ground gradually upon the ruggedness of his age; but what was acquired by Denham was inherited by Waller.