1728
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Arts of Logick and Rhetorick.

The Arts of Logick and Rhetorick, illustrated by Examples taken out of the best Authors, antient and modern, in all the Polite Languages. Intepreted and Explain'd by that learned and judicious Critick, Father Bouhours. To which are added, parallel Quotations out of the most eminent English Authors.

John Oldmixon


In a note commenting on a passage that Edward Fairfax translated from Book 5 of Tasso, John Oldmixon compares the use of stanzas in poetry to reviving "the Ruff and Fardingale." Perhaps more interesting is his report that someone was considering a translation of Ariosto in Spenserian stanzas. Many of the English illustrations Oldmixon adds to Bouhour's treatise are drawn from Fairfax and Milton; Spenser appears to have been considered beyond the pale of taste.

In the preface to Amintas (1698), a translation of Tasso's Aminta, John Oldmixon writes "I can't imagine what was said lately [by Dryden in Dedication to the Pastoral of Virgil, 1697), with too much severity, that the Shepherds Calendar excels the Aminta, prejudic'd the world against it; or that any body who have read it, will think Spencer's comparable to the story of the Bee in the first Act, or the account which Daphne gives of Sylvia's admiring herself in the Fountain, in the second Act of the Aminta" Sig Av.

Robert Watt: "An English Historian, and a malevolent critic" Bibliotheca Britannica (1824) 2:716.

Robert Southey: "They only who have made themselves well acquainted with the current poetry and criticism of those days, can understand or imagine how thoroughly both had been corrupted and debased.... Even those who found some attractions in the imagery and story of this great poem, complained of its versification and style. 'It is great pity,' said Oldmixon, 'Spenser fell into that kind of versifying; and very odd that after it had been so generally and justly condemned, a poet in our time should think to acquire merit by imitating it. The ruff and the fardingale might as well be renewed in dress, as the long stanza in poetry, where the sense is fettered up in eight or ten lines'" Life and Works of Cowper (1835-37) 2:179-80.

W. Davenport Adams: "John Oldmixon, dramatist, and miscellaneous writer (b. 1673, d. 1742), published Poems in imitation of Anacreon (1696); Amyntas: a Pastoral (1698); The Grove: or, Love's Paradise (1700); The Governor of Cypress (1702); Amores Britannici: or, Heroic Epistles in imitation of Ovid's (1703); Court Tales (1717); a History of England (1730, 1735, and 1739); and many other works. He is satirized by Pope in The Dunciad in the lines beginning — 'In naked majesty Oldmixon stands'" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 442.

Earl R. Wasserman: "Precisely what the neoclassicists disliked in Elizabethan poetry is made clear in the preface to John Oldmixon's 'versification' of Drayton's Heroical Epistles [Amores Britannici (1703)]. Though he was obviously pleased with Drayton's matter, Oldmixon found that the 'Language is now obsolete, his Verses rude and unharmonious, his Thoughts often poor and vulgar, affected and unnatural'" "Elizabethan Poetry Improved" Modern Philology 37 (1940) 358.




These Hands were made to shake sharp Spears and Swords
Not to be ty'd in Gyves and twisted Cords.
FAIRF.

The Italian is more nobly express'd than the English, but the alternate Jingle of the Stanza-Rhime seems to take away much of the Nobleness of Thought. It is great Pity Spencer fell into that way of Versifying, and very odd, that after it had been so generally and justly condemn'd, a Poet in our Time shou'd think to aquire Merit by imitating it. The Ruff and Fardingale might as well be reviv'd in Dress, as the long Stanza in Poetry, where the Sense is fetter'd up in eight or ten Lines more than Rinaldo's Hands and Feet were like to be. A Man of great Note, who was extreamly desirous to see a new Version of Ariosto a few Years ago, oblig'd the Person he wou'd have put upon it to imitate the Stanza of Spencer, which the Translator was so soon weary of, that he gave off after two or three Stanza's, and whoever will make the same Tryal, will as soon give over, if he has any Ear and Genius. . . .


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