1814
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Robert Southey, Esq. Poet Laureate.

Moonlight: The Doge's Daughter: Ariadne: Carmen Britannicum, or the Song of Britain: Angelica, or the Rape of Proteus: by Edward, Lord Thurlow.

Edward Thurlow


Edward Thurlow addresses Robert Southey as the laureate heir of Petrarch and Spenser: "thy immortal verse | Shall be to Petrarch, and to Spenser dear." Southey took the position in 1813, replacing Henry James Pye.

The Champion: "This is altogether an interesting publication. Not that the poems are of much value; for they are very little better than such as most gentlemen or ladies, after a proper course of poetical reading, might indite, — but that there is throughout the work an enthusiastic admiration, a fierce devoted fondness of the muses, which has been nearly extinct since the days of Spenser and Milton, and which one would not expect to see revive in a nobleman of modern education.... [Lord Thurlow] might pass for some young protege of Sir Philip Sidney, who was touched with his patron's enthusiasm, and was learning to write verses under his direction; or he might be considered a page of honour, who, struck with admiration for the great poem of the day, endeavoured to win the smiles of his favourite lady by imitating the enchanting strains in which the poet of chivalry has celebrated his peerless Gloriana" (23 January 1814) 30.

Robert Southey to William Taylor of Norwich: "The Laureateship without my knowledge was asked for me by Croker and given by the Prince, because, he said, he had heard that Mr. S. had written well in support of the Spaniards. The Marquis of Hertford and Lord Liverpool meantime had taken counsel together concerning the disposal of the vacant dignity upon the principle of 'detur digniori'; and fixing upon W. Scott, they wrote and offered it to him. When the Prince was informed of this he was displeased, and said that his pleasure ought to have been consulted; he had given it to me and I should have it. Upon this Croker of course interposed, observing that he was upon friendly terms with Scott, that Scott and I were friends, and that for the sake of all three the business must be allowed to rest where it was. A letter soon came to me from Scott, telling me he had refused it, as not thinking it becoming in him, who held two lucrative professional situations, to accept of the only thing which seemed exclusively to belong to a man of letters; and he urged me to take the office, if, as he had solicited, it should be proffered to me. It would raise Scott in your opinion if you saw the frank and handsome manner in which he refuses the office, considering it, as a mark of honour, was more due to me than to himself. Upon this I wrote to Croker, expressing my unwillingness to write verses at stated times on stated subjects, like a school-boy exercise; but saying, that if, on great public occasions, it was understood that I should be at liberty to write or to be silent, as the spirit moved, in that case the appointment would become a mark of honour, and as such I should gladly accept it. At the same time it was not for me to propose terms to the Prince; but I left him to judge how far such a reformation was practicable, and in what manner it might be effected. He told me that at some fitting opportunity he would suggest to the Prince that it would be for his honour and for mine to drop the regular odes" 18 November 1813; in Robberds, Memoir of William Taylor (1843) 2:415-17.

Literary Chronicle: "should his Select Poems reach a second edition, he should prefix the date when the following sonnet was written, that we may know whether it was Wat Tyler or the Vision of Judgment that called for such an eulogy on the Poet Laureate" Review of Thurlow, Select Poems; 4 (5 January 1822) 11.



Poet, whose soul, to Liberty devote,
Has finely spoken in immortal song,
And with her borne all English hearts along,
That can th' uplifted mind from evil note,
I think thee fit, though envy be afloat,
To walk, a peer, amid that learned throng,
That, sweet in fancy, and in virtue strong,
Have sway'd the ear of glory with their note.
When Time shall throw his laurels on thy herse,
And weeping lays be sprinkled on thy bier,
But be that long! then thy immortal verse
Shall be to Petrarch, and to Spenser dear;
To whose sweet souls thou sweetly shalt rehearse
Thy musick, born for that Angelick sphere!

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