1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. William Lisle Bowles

Mary Russell Mitford to Sir William Elford, 1 July 1821; L'Estrange, Life of Mary Russell Mitford (1870) 1:363.



I had the honor a week or two ago to be introduced to your friend Mr. Bowles, the poet. I must tell you the story. Going into Dr. Valpy's the back way, I met the old butler. "Are the ladies in the parlor, Newman?" "Yes, ma'am — and, ma'am, there's Mr. Bowles, the poet," quoth Newman. Well, I thought, I shall be very glad to see him, and in I walked. The doctor met me at the door, snatched my hand, led me triumphantly up to the window where Mr. Bowles was standing, and then snatched his hand and endeavored to join the two after the fashion of the marriage ceremony (you know how that is, my dear Sir William) introducing him as "Mr. Bowles, the poet," but calling me, as I have since remembered, nothing but "Mary." Mr. Bowles, rather astounded, drew back. I, astonished in my turn at such a way of receiving the daughter of an old acquaintance (for my father has known him these thirty years), drew back too, and between us we left the dear doctor in worse consternation than either, standing alone in the window. A minute after Miss Valpy asked after Dr. Mitford, and all was immediately right. Mr. Bowles was very pleasant and sociable, talked a great deal of Lord Byron and the Pope question, in which we exactly agree, and in which, from not having read the prosy pamphlet in which he has so marred his own good cause, I was able to agree with him most conscientiously. Pray do you like his wife? Is not she a coarse, cold, hard woman, and rather vulgarish? All this she seemed to me. He is very affable and agreeable.