A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Bowles, William Lisle

Bowles, William Lisle (1762-1850).—Poet and antiquary, b. at King's Sutton, Northamptonshire, of which his f. was vicar, and ed. at Winchester and Oxf., was for the most of his life Vicar of Bremhill, Wilts, and became Prebendary and Canon Residentiary of Salisbury. His first work, pub. in 1789, was a little vol. containing 14 sonnets, which was received with extraordinary favour, not only by the general public, but by such men as Coleridge and Wordsworth. It may be regarded as the harbinger of the reaction against the school of Pope, in which these poets were soon to bear so great a part. B. pub. several other poems of much greater length, of which the best are The Spirit of Discovery (1805), and The Missionary of the Andes (1815), and he also enjoyed considerable reputation as an antiquary, his principal work in that department being Hermes Britannicus (1828). In 1807 he pub. a Life of Pope, in the preface to which he expressed some views on poetry which resulted in a rather fierce controversy with Byron, Campbell, and others. He also wrote a Life of Bishop Ken. B. was an amiable, absent-minded, and rather eccentric man. His poems are characterised by refinement of feeling, tenderness, and pensive thought, but are deficient in power and passion.

Other works are Coombe Ellen and St. Michael's Mount (1798), The Battle of the Nile (1799), The Sorrows of Switzerland (1801), St. John in Patmos (1833), etc.