1769 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Edward Benlowes

James Granger, in Biographical History of England (1769; 1824) 4:38-39 & n.



There is a portrait of him in the master's lodge, at St. John's College, in Cambridge, where he was educated, ad to which he was a benefactor. There is another in the picture gallery at Oxford.

Edward Benlowes (or Bendlowes) was a man of genteel accomplishments. He was a patron of the poets and other writers of his time, upon whom he lavished a great part of his fortune. He was author of a considerable number of poems in Latin and English, the chief of which is his Theophila, which gives us a higher idea of his piety than his poetical talents; though there are many uncommon and excellent thoughts in it. But his metaphors are often strained and far-fetched, and he sometimes loses himself in mystical divinity. His Latin verses are generally better than his English. He died, in great want, 1686, Aet. 73. See more of him in the Athen. Oxon. See also Howel's Letters, vol. ii. letter LXVI.

His prayer, at p. 19, of his Theophila, has been deservedly admired. The following is a quotation from it: "Let religion and right reason rule as sovereign in me, and let the irascible and concupiscible faculties be their subjects! Give me an estate balanced between want and waste, pity and envy: give me grace to spend my wealth and strength in thy service: let all my melancholy be repentance, my joys spiritual exultations, my rest hope, my peace a good conscience, and my acquiescence in Thee! In Thee as the principle of truth, in thy word as the measure of knowledge, in thy law as the rule of life, in thy promise as the satisfaction of hope, and in thy union as the highest fruition of glory."