1807 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Nathaniel Lee

Robert Southey, in Specimens of the Later English Poets (1807) 1:60.



NATHANIEL LEE, commonly called the Mad Poet. He had, however, the good sense to relinquish the chase after church preferment, and the vain pursuit of court favour. He has left little besides his plays, from one of which the following specimen is taken. Lee was confined during four years of his life in Bedlam, where, when a sane idiot of a scribbler mocked his calamity, and observed, that it was easy to write like a madman. Lee answered, "No sir, it is not easy to write like a madman, but very easy to write like a fool." If all the patients could make such answers, one might well suspect that the hospital were the Temple of Reason. Lee died in 1691, aged about five and thirty.