1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Merry

William Clarke and Robert Shelton Mackenzie, in The Georgian Era: Memoirs of the most eminent Persons who have flourished in Great Britain (1832-34) 3:571.



ROBERT MERRY, the founder of what is known as The Della Cruscan School of Poetry, was born in London, in April, 1755. His father was governor of the Hudson's Bay Company, and is said to have been the first Englishman who returned home over land from the East Indies. The subject of our memoir was educated at Harrow, and Christ College, Cambridge; on leaving which, he became a student of Lincoln's Inn, but, instead of going to the bar, purchased a commission in the dragoons, on the death of his father, and was, for some time, adjutant. On quitting the service, he went abroad; and, during a stay on the continent of nearly eight years, passed the chief part of his time at Florence, where he studied the Italian language, engaged in poetical composition, and was elected a member of the Academy of Della Crusca. The name of the academy was that by which, on his return to England, he distinguished his contributions to the various periodical journals of the day, and which produced so many imitators, and were for a time so popular, that he was considered the founder of a new school in poetry. The Della Cruscan School, however, was short-lived, and was ridiculed, by Gifford, in his Baviad and Maeviad, with a severity which the indifference of posterity seems likely to justify, as there is not one of Mr. Merry's poems which is now generally read. He died on the 24th of December, 1798, at Baltimore, in America, whither he had retired, in 1796, with his wife, formerly Miss Brunton, an actress, (sister to the Countess of Craven) to whom he was married in 1791. Besides his poems, he was the author of some dramatic pieces, none of which had any great success. He is said to have been an accomplished gentleman, but to have become gloomy and morose in the latter part of his life, and to have attached himself to low company.