1801 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Bagshaw Stevens

"W.," "Dr. Stevens" Gentleman's Magazine 71 (April 1801) 316-17.



March 11.

MR. URBAN,

I give your respectable correspondent F. S. [Samuel Egerton Brydges] all credit for his letter, and for his worthy and benevolent intentions; but must be permitted to dissent from him in that part of it, where he represents the late Dr. Stevens as having been "shy and awkward" in his manners and address. This is, I am sensible, a very subordinate trait in character after death, and in some degree a matter of opinion. But it will, I conceive, be generally admitted by those who knew the subject of our remarks, that no person of rather retired habits could well have less of an ungraceful shyness about him, and that his behaviour (to say the least of it) was in no inconsiderable degree polite and impressive.

There is too another particular (your correspondent will pardon me) in which I cannot but acknowledge, that F. S. appears to me (undesignedly, I am well aware,) to bear somewhat hard on the respected subject of this letter; but which I shall refer to no father than by suggesting, that if from circumstances he had known Dr. S. more fully, he would, I believe, in the instance alluded to, have varied from his statement. It may not be improper, with a view to accuracy, just to mention, that Dr. S. was born in 1756, elected into Magdalen college in 1772, and became fellow of that society in 1794. He was appointed to the mastership of Repton in July 1779, almost immediately upon taking his degree of A.M.

I should not, Mr. Urban, have ventured to trouble you with the foregoing little important particulars, but that they lead me to bear my testimony with that of your correspondent to the memory of one, who, though evidently circumscribed by situation, seemed (it is not, I believe, too much to say) in a particular manner gifted by Nature, and qualified by his attainments, to support the character of the gentleman, the man of learning and of genius, and assuredly that of a most interesting companion and friend.

W.