Sonnet III. To F. K. [Francis Knollys] Esq.

A Collection of Poems in three Volumes. By Several Hands. Second Edition. [Robert Dodsley, ed.]

Thomas Edwards

One of three Spenserian sonnets published in Robert Dodsley's Collection of Poems. The poem was later explicitly addressed "To Francis Knollys, Esq." and the asterisk's filled in with "Harrison's." Harrison was a close friend and neighbor of Edwards in Pitshanger; John Dussinger informs me that after Harrison's death Edwards was so depressed that he decided to retire to the farm at Terrick, Buckinghamshire.

Isaac Reed: "He [Francis Knollys] was descended from Sir Francis Knollys, Knight of the Garter, and treasurer of the household to Queen Elizabeth" note in Dodsley, Collection of Poems (1782) 2:339n.

Samuel Egerton Brydges: "Perhaps there are not above 100 sonnets in the whole language, which are perfectly good, if we confine them to the strictness of the Petrarchan form. Among them are one or two of Edwards', one or two of Tom. Warton; one or two of John Bampfylde; one or two of Mrs. Smith and Miss Seward; and above all two or three of Kirke White" British Bibliographer 4 (1814) 17.

Oliver Elton: "In the true examples, the metre varies [in eighteenth-century sonnets]; Spenser's 'linked music' is not uncommon; but the usual structure is the Petrarchan, more or less exactly followed. Milton is the chief model; and in his sonnets, it may be observed, Milton holds up for imitation a simpler and plainer, though not therefore an easier, style than he does in Il Penseroso or Paradise Lost. A kind of wraith of this style can be found in the most accomplished of the sonneteers, Thomas Edwards, the author of the Canons of Criticism (1747). To some later editions of that deadly and amusing assault on Warburton's edition of Shakespeare are appended forty-five sonnets, some new, some already in print. Some are ferocious, and are aimed at Warburton himself; others blandly commend the quiet life which Edwards, a barrister who turned country gentleman, himself preferred" Survey of English Literature 1730-1780 (1928) 2:27.

O sprung from worthies, who with counsils wise
Adorn'd and strengthen'd great Elisa's throne
Who yet with virtuous pride, mayst well despise
To borrow praise from merits not thy own,
Oft as I view the monumental stone
Where our lov'd H***'s cold ashes rest;
Musing on joys with him long past and gone,
A pleasing sad remembrance fills my breast.—
Did the sharp pang we feel for friends deceas'd
Unbated last, we must with anguish die,
But nature bids it's rigour should be eas'd
By lenient time, and strong necessity:
These calm the passions, and subdue the mind,
To bear th' appointed lot of human kind.