1829 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Henry James Pye

Charles Lamb to Sarah James, 16 April 1829; Works of Charles Lamb, ed. Lucas (1903-05) 7:806.



The name of the late Laureat was Henry James Pye, and when his 1st Birthday Ode came out, which was very poor, somebody being asked his opinion of it, said:

And when the Pye was opened
The birds began to sing,
And was this not a dainty dish
To set before the King!

Pye was brother to old Major Pye, and father to Mrs. Arnold, and uncle to a General Pye, all friends of Miss Kelly. Pye succeeded Thos. Warton, Warton succeeded Wm. Whitehead, Whitehead succeeded Colly Cibber, Cibber succeeded Eusden, Eusden succeeded Thos. Shadwell, Shadwell succeeded Dryden, Dryden succeeded Davenant, Davenant God knows whom. There never was a Rogers a Poet Laureat; there is an old living Poet of that name, a Banker as you know, author of the Pleasures of Memory, where Moxon goes to breakfast in a fine house in the green Park, but he was never Laureat. Southey is the present one, and for anything I know or care, Moxon may succeed him. We have a copy of Xmas for you, so you may give your own to mar as soon as you please. We think you need not have exhibited your mountain shyness before M. B. He is neither shy himself, nor patronizes it in others. — So with many thanks, good-bye. Emma comes on Thursday.

C. L.

The Poet Laureat, whom Davenant succeeded was Rare "Ben Jonson," who I believe was the first regular Laureat with the appointment of 100 a year and a Butt of Sack or Canary — so add that to my little list. — C. L.