The Preface to Spenserus Redivivus (1687), sigs. As-A7v:
There are few of our Nation that have heard of the Name of Spencer, but have granted him the repute of a famous Poet.
But I must take leave to affirm, that the esteem which is generally allow'd to his Poetical Abilities, has rather been from an implicite or receiv'd Concession, than a knowing Discernment paid to the Value of his Author: Whose Design, in his Books of the Fairy Queen, howsoever admirable, is so far from being familiarly perceptible in the Language he delivered it in, that his Stile seems no less unintelligible at this Day, than the obsoletest of our English or Saxon Dialect.
On which ground I believe it ought to have been long ago wish'd, as well as readily embrac'd, by all politely judicious, that something of this Eminent Poet had been genuinely and succinctly convey'd by the Purity of our Tongue.
An Endeavour undertaken by me, supposing it could not be less acceptable to others than my self. By which I have not only discharg'd his antiquated Verse and tedious Stanza, but have likewise deliver'd his Sense in Heroick Numbers: much more sutable to an Epick Poem, the deserv'd Denomination of his, than can possibly be accomplish'd by any sort of Measures in Stanza's, both in respect of their Freedom & Pleasure above any other Form that can be us'd in a Poem of this Nature.
For as the Writing in Stanza's must render Verse sententious and constraint, the most weighty part of their meaning still being to be expected at the Period of the Stanza; so, in that consideration, their Composure must needs be less difficult than where the force of each single Line is to be weigh'd apart. As who can judge, had Virgil writ or been render'd by any alternate Meeter, that either his design or expressions had appear'd so unconfin'dly elevate, as he is to be acknowledged in his own, or in such measures as should most resemble the unlimited nature and freedom proper to the greatness of his Subject.