1854 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Lisle Bowles

Robert Shelton Mackenzie, Note in Noctes Ambrosianae, ed. Mackenzie (1854) 2:61-62n.



Mr. Bowles, albeit described by Byron (in English Bards) as

The maudlin prince of mournful sonneteers,

exercised an important influence upon English literature. In 1789, he published a volume of sonnets, which so much attracted the notice and won the admiration of Coleridge, when a school-boy, that he transcribed all of them, more than once, for himself and others — the "res angustae domi" not permitting him to buy. He subsequently wrote a large quantity of poetry, besides touching upon antiquities and theology in prose, and became Canon of Salisbury and Rector of Bremhill in Wiltshire. This last location made him neighbour to Thomas Moore, with whom he became very intimate. Editing Pope's works, he got involved in a controversy with Lord Byron, and, in one of his replies, wittily adopted the motto, "He who plays at 'bowles' must expect rubbers." He died in 1850, at the age of eighty-eight. One of his best poems was a generous tribute to the memory and genius of Byron, his old antagonist.