1901 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bryan Waller Procter

Rowland E. Prothero, in Byron, Letters and Journals, ed. Rowland E. Prothero (1898-1901) 5:37-38n.



Bryan Waller Procter (1787-1874), father of Adelaide Procter (1825-1864), entered Harrow School in February, 1801. He became a solicitor, then a barrister, and finally (183261) a metropolitan commissioner in lunacy. But though the law was his profession, literature, especially before his marriage (1824) with Miss Skepper, was his passion. Under the disguise of "Barry Cornwall," a partial anagram of his real name, he published his Dramatic Scenes in 1819; his Marcian Colonna appeared in the next year, his Sicilian Story in 1821. In the two last-named works the influence of Leigh Hunt was conspicuous, as Byron remarks (p. 217); but Moore gratified his feeling against Hunt by omitting the name, now for the first time restored, at the expense of Byron's critical insight. Procter's Mirandola was produced at Covent Garden, January 9, 1821, with Macready as the "Duke of Mirandola;" Charles Kemble as his son, "Guido;" Miss Foote as "Isidora;" and Mrs. Faucit as "Isabella." Genest (English Stage, vol. ix. pp. 102, 103) calls it "a pretty good play," and says that it was acted sixteen times. Some of Procter's best poetical work is contained in his English Songs and other Smaller Poems (1832). As an intimate friend of "Elia," he wrote a charming biography of Charles Lamb (Charles Lamb: a Memoir, 1866-68). He made himself responsible for part of the expenses of the publication of Shelley's posthumous poetry.