Brydges, Samuel Egerton, Bart. (1762–1837)
To anyone disposed to make a psychological study of a defunct antiquary, topographer, essayist, bibliographer, poet, novelist, and critic, and who added to these occupations the study of political economy and occasional authorship in that science, Sir Egerton Brydges would afford an excellent subject. On the good side may be placed his industry and power of research, considerable originality, and a deep acquaintance with the ancient literature of England and of foreign countries. On the bad side should be ranged his excessively morbid temperament, a craze about an assumed right to an ancient barony, an intense suspicion of the motives of those who differed from him, and an unfounded notion that he was not sufficiently rewarded for his services in the cause of learning. Much material bearing on all this exists in his Autobiography and Letters from the Continent, as well as in his voluminous published and privately printed works, which in the course of his long life extended to no less than one hundred and forty volumes. We find in a quantity of his letters, which have never been printed, addressed, from 1818 to 1832, to Mr. James S. Brooks, member of a firm of solicitors who acted for him, and with whom, in a characteristic manner, he often fell out, many striking examples of Sir Egerton Brydges’ talent as a political economist. It is a curious fact that in his most desponding and brooding moments he would fly to political economy as a relaxation of thought and as a favourite study, just as many of our first-class English statesmen have relieved tension of mind and the excitement of political conflict by Homeric studies or the composition of Greek and Latin verses.