1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bridges, Robert
BRIDGES, ROBERT (1844–), English poet, born on the 23rd of October 1844, was educated at Eton and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and studied medicine in London at St Bartholomew’s hospital. He was afterwards assistant physician at the Children’s hospital, Great Ormond Street, and physician at the Great Northern hospital, retiring in 1882. Two years later he married Mary, daughter of Alfred Waterhouse, R.A. As a poet Robert Bridges stands rather apart from the current of modern English verse, but his work has had great influence in a select circle, by its restraint, purity, precision, and delicacy yet strength of expression; and it embodies a distinct theory of prosody. His chief critical works are Milton’s Prosody (1893), a volume made up of two earlier essays (1887 and 1889), and John Keats, a Critical Essay (1895). He maintained that English prosody depended on the number of “stresses” in a line, not on the number of syllables, and that poetry should follow the rules of natural speech. His poetry was privately printed in the first instance, and was slow in making its way beyond a comparatively small circle of his admirers. His best work is to be found in his Shorter Poems (1890), and a complete edition of his Poetical Works (6 vols.) was published in 1898–1905. His chief volumes are Prometheus (Oxford, 1883, privately printed), a “mask in the Greek Manner”; Eros and Psyche (1885), a version of Apuleius; The Growth of Love, a series of sixty-nine sonnets printed for private circulation in 1876 and 1889; Shorter Poems (1890); Nero (1885), a historical tragedy, the second part of which appeared in 1894; Achilles in Scyros (1890), a drama; Palicio (1890), a romantic drama in the Elizabethan manner; The Return of Ulysses (1890), a drama in five acts; The Christian Captives (1890), a tragedy on the same subject as Calderon’s El Principe Constante; The Humours of the Court (1893), a comedy founded on the same dramatist’s El secreto á voces and on Lope de Vega’s El Perro del hortelano; The Feast of Bacchus (1889), partly translated from the Heauton-Timoroumenos of Terence; Hymns from the Yattendon Hymnal (Oxford, 1899); and Demeter, a Mask (Oxford, 1905).