1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Sotheby

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 249.



Sotheby (1757-1833), an accomplished scholar, poet, and translator, was a native of London. He was of good family, and educated at Harrow school. At the age of seventeen he entered the army, but quitted it in 1780, purchased a place at Southampton, and resided there ten years. In 1789 he published a translation of Wieland's Oberon, which was a success. He now wrote poems, translations, and tragedies in great profusion. His translations were the chief sources of his fame: that of Virgil's Georgics is one of the best in the language; those of the Iliad and Odyssey have their peculiar merits. Wieland, the German poet, is said to have been charmed with the version of his Oberon. Byron said of Sotheby that he imitated everybody, and occasionally surpassed his models.