1806 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges

Peter L. Courtier, in Lyre of Love (1806) 2:81-82.



Samuel Egerton Brydges, Esq. allied to the noble families of Chandos and Bridgewater, was born in November 1762. He entered himself of the Middle Temple in 1782; and entirely quitted Queen's College, Cambridge, at which he had been educated, early in the following year. In 1787 he was called to the bar. Favoured, however, with an independent fortune, and possessing a mind ill-constituted to endure the dull technicalities of legal plodding, Poetry withdrew his footsteps from the uncongenial paths of Jurisprudence, and "toilsome Law" gave to the Muse a fitter votary. He retired into Kent, where he purchased the manor and seat of Denton, adjoining the place of his nativity, on which he continues to reside. His Poems appeared in 1785, and Mary de Clifford in 1792: of these publications there have been two editions. In 1798 he gave to the world his novel of Arthur Fitz-Albini; in 1800, an improved edition of Phillips's Theatrum Poetarum; two years afterwards, the novel of Le Forester; and, in 1804, Memoirs of the Peers of England: he also engaged in editing the Topographer. He is now the conductor of an interesting literary melange, published periodically, entitled Censura Literaria.

Mr. Brydges has been twice married. His first wife was the niece of Thomas Barrett, Esq. of Lee, near Canterbury, by whom he had a son, who promises to inherit the beautiful seat of Lee. In 1797 he married Miss Mary Robinson, niece of the late Lord Rokeby. Since the exquisite story of Mary de Clifford was written five years after his first marriage, and previously to the decease of his wife, conjecture in vain demands, who was the heroine of that work? Woodville, undoubtedly, is Brydges; but, who was his Mary? The enquiry cannot be uninteresting to those who have contemplated the uncommon character of the author, and are acquainted with the volume now alluded to; a production of unprecedented worth, written in the high spirit of ancestral dignity, and with an enthusiasm scarcely mortal. Happy is the man, be it only in fiction, who, uncontaminated by the views of venal and spiritless times, can invest himself with the glory of a better age; who, standing continually in the presence of departed greatness, feels himself called upon not to diminish, if he cannot augment, the moral inheritance of his progenitors!