1831 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

James Brydges Willyams

Richard Polwhele, in Biographical Sketches in Cornwall (1831) 2:82-93.



COLONEL JAMES BRYDGES WILLYAMS had more of the os magna sonaturum, than Boscawen. Yet his Influence of Genius was received rather coldly by the critics. It is injudiciously spun out to a tedious length; and it is deficient in invention: But it has many stanzas, of which Beattie would not have been ashamed.

Colonel Willyams, several years before his death, had planned an Epic, under the title of King Arthur, if I understood him rightly. For the loan of Whitaker's quarto edition of The Manchester, he thanked me most cordially: whence I conclude, that he had made a poetical use of it — greatly to his satisfaction. His MSS. were by a midnight irruption into his study at Truro, stolen from his writing desk; and various articles of value from his house. He regretted only the loss of the MSS. which, after a diligent search, were found in a ditch a a little distance from the town. The Colonel had "wit with a satiric song;" though he was by no means ill-natured. I remember a little jeu de esprit with some caricature sketches — a fair expression of his talent for ridicule. Never idle for a moment, Colonel Willyams when not at the desk, was employed in some active pursuit; and, if debarred by the inclemency of the weather from bodily exercise in the open air, would sometimes produce in his work-shop a tea-chest, or a tea-cade, finished beyond the utmost art of any cabinet-maker in Cornwall. That he died suddenly in an epileptic fit, I have elsewhere, I believe, intimated.