1690 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Benlowes

Anthony Wood, Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91; 1721) 2:F 204-05.



To this learned person [Francis Junius] I must add another of less name (much noted in his time, but since not, for the Art and Faculty of Poetry) who had spent about eight Years in Oxon, partly in custody, but mostly in liberty and freedom in the public Library, and conversation with ingenious Scholars. The Anagram of his Sirname is Benevolus, given to him by Flatterers and Pretenders to Poetry for his Benevolence to them. His Christian name was Edward, Son and Heir of Andrew Bendlowes Esq; Son of Will. Bendlowes Esq; Son and Heir of Andrew Bendlowe Serjeant at Law, &c. all Lords of Brent Hall and of other Lands in Essex, but descended from those of their name of Bendlowes in Yorkshire. When he was young he was very carefully educated in Grammar learning, and when of St. Joh. College in Cambridge, to which he was afterwards a Benefactor. Thence he was sent to travel with a Tutor or Guide, and having rambled through several Countries and visited seven Courts of Princes, he returned a most accomplished Person as to behaviour and discourse, yet tinged with Romanism: but being a very imprudent Man in matters of worldly concern, and ignorant as to the value or want of Money, he did, after he was invested in his Estate at Brent Hall and elsewhere, which amounted to seven hundred, some say a thousand, Pounds per an. make a shift, though never married, to squander it mostly away on Poets, Flatterers, (which he loved) in buying of Curiosities (which some called Baubles) on Musicians, Buffoons, &c. He also gave from his said Estate a large Portion with a Niece named Philippa, who was married to one Blount of Maple-durham in Oxfordshire Esq, supposing thereby that so long as they lived he should not want, but the case being otherwise, he lived afterwards in a mean condition. He also very imprudently entred himself into Bonds for the payment of other Mens debts; which he being not able to do, he was committed to Prison in Oxford, which was the matter that first brought him thither; but being soon after released, he spent the remainder of his days there in studies, till the time of his death. This Person, who was esteemed in his younger days a great Patron of Poets, especially of Franc. Quarles, Will. Davenant, Payne Fisher, &c. who had either dedicated Books, or had written Epigrams and Poems on him, hath several things (whereby he hath obtained the name of a Divine Author) extant; among which are these (1) Sphinx Theologica, seu Musica Templi, ubi discordia concors, Camb. 1626, oct. (2) Honorifica armorum cessatio, sive pacis & fides associatio Feb. 11 an. 1643, oct. (3) Theophila, or Love's Sacrifice. A divine Poem, Lond. 1652, fol. with his Picture before it. Several parts thereof had Ayres set to them, or were fitted for Ayers by the incomparable Musician John Jenkyns, who had been favoured much and patronized by Benevolus. A whole Canto of this Theophila, consisting of above 300 verses, was turned into elegant Latin Verse in the space of one day by that great prodigy of early parts John Hall of Durham (mentioned in the first Vol. p. 534) having had his tender affections ravished with that divine piece. (4) Summary of divine Wisdom, Lond. 1657. qu. (5) A glance at the glories of sacred Friendship, Lond. 1657, printed on one side of a large sheet of Paper. (6) De sacra Amicitia. Printed with the former in Latin Verse and Prose. (7) Threnothriambeuticon. Or Latin Poems on King Ch. II. his Restoration, Lond. 1660, printed on a side of a large sheet of paper. Some he caused to be printed on white Sattin, a copy of which, in a frame suitable to it, he gave to the public Library at Oxon. (8) Oxoni Encomium, Ox. 1672, in 4 sheets in fol. It is mostly in Latin Verse. (9) Oxonus Elogia. Oxon, 1673. 'Tis a Latin Poem printed on side of a large sheet of paper. These three last, under the 8th 9th and 10th heads, were, with other things, composed at Oxon, while he was conversant there. (11) Echo Veridica Joco seria, Oxon, 1673, printed on one side of a sheet of paper — 'Tis a large Latin poem mostly against the Pope, Papists, Jesuits, &c. He hath also a Matissa to Rich. Fenn's Panegyricon inaugurale, entit. De celeberissima & florentiss. Trinobantiados Augustae civ. Praetori veg. Senatui populoq; Lond. 1637, qu. In the Title of which Mr. Bendl. stiles himself Turmae equestris in Com. Essex praefectus. (12) Truth's Touchstone, printed on one side of a long sheet of paper written in 100 Distichs, ded. To his Niece Mrs. Philippa Blount. (13) Annotations for the better confirming the several truths in the said Poem. — 'Tis not mentioned when this Poem and Annotations were printed. He hath other things extent, which I have not yet seen, and therefore I shall only tell you, that after he had been courted and admired for his antient Extraction, Education, and Parts by great Men in this Nation, and had been a Patron to several ingenious Men in their necessities, and by his generous mind, void of a prudential foresight, had spent a very fair Estate without keeping little or any thing to support him, did spend his last days at Oxon, but little better than in obscure condition: in which, for want of conveniencies required fit for old age, as Clothes, Fewel, and warm things to refresh the body, he marched off in a cold season, on the 18th of Dec. at eight of the clock at night, an. 1676, aged 73 Years or more: whereupon, by a collection of money among certain Scholars, who knew what he had been, he was decently buried with Escutchions in the North Isle or Alley joining to the body of St. Mary's Church in Oxon, near to the door that leads thence into Adam Brome's Chappel. In his younger Years, he would take occasion oftentimes to dispute against Papists and their Opinions, (which not at all acceptable to his Nephew and Niece Blount before-mentioned, which was the cause that his room, rather than company, was desired by them) and could not endure any Person that seemed to favour the Opinions of Arminus or Socinus. His picture now hangs in the Gallery belonging to the public Library at Oxon.