1882 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges

Epes Sargent, in Harper's Cyclopaedia of British and American Poetry (1882) 264.



Sir Samuel Egerton Brydges (1762-1837) first saw the light at the manor-house of Wootton, between Canterbury and Dover. By his mother, an Egerton, he claimed to have inherited the most illustrious blood of Europe. Having entered Queen's College, Cambridge, he left it without a degree. He tried the law, was admitted to the Bar, but made no mark as a lawyer. In 1785 he published a volume of poems; and in 1814 his volume of Occasional Poems appeared. His Bertram, a poem, was given to the world in 1815. Byron writes of him as "a strange but able old man." He was immensely proud of his noble ancestry, sensitive, and morbidly anxious for literary fame, as some of his sonnets show. The latter part of his life, having involved himself in pecuniary embarrassments, he resided chiefly at Geneva. His sonnet upon Echo and Silence was pronounced by Wordsworth the best sonnet in the language; and Southey said he knew of none more beautifully imaginative — commendation that now must seem extravagant and inappropriate. Brydges was too self conscious, introspective, and jealous of what he thought his dues, to warble any "native wood-notes wild." His long poems have little poetic value; but he shows imaginative power, and some of the high gifts of the poet. He edited with much ability an edition of Milton, which was republished in New York, and is still in demand.