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there is emulation there will be vanity, and where there is vanity
there will be folly. 12 The pleasure of Shenstone was all in his eye; he valued what
he valued merely for its looks: nothing raised his indignation
more than to ask if there were any fishes in his water', 13 His house was mean, and he did not improve it?: his care was
of his grounds. When he came home from his walks he might find his floors flooded by a shower through the broken roof; but
could spare no money for its reparation :. 14
In time his expences brought clamours about him, that overpowered the lamb's bleat and the linnet's song; and his groves were haunted by beings very different from fauns and fairies *. He spent his estate in adorning it, and his death was probably hastened by his anxieties. He was a lamp that spent its oil in blazing. It is said that if he had lived a little longer he would vent it upon,... so vexed will they 'He builds such huts as, in foul be to find themselves under a neces- weather,
(neither.' sity of commending.'
Are fit for sheep nor shepherd Horace Walpole wrote of Hagley Progress of Taste, Eng. Poets, lix. 230, in 1753:—There is a ruined castle That his groves were haunted built by Miller. ... It has the true by duns I believe to be a groundless rust of the Barons' Wars.' Letters, surmise.' Graves's Recollections, p.72.
For Miller, the great 5 Ante, SOMERVILE, 3. On Aug. gardener' see ante, J. PHILIPS, 15. 21, 1748, he wrote:- My affairs are See also Graves's Recollections, p. 86; miserably embroiled by my own John. Misc. ii. 3.
negligence and the non-payment of ' 'Johnson used to laugh at Shen- tenants.' Works, iii. 142. In his stone for not caring whether there Progress of Taste (Eng. Poets, lix. was anything good to eat in the 231), after describing his embellishstreams he was so fond of,
ments, he adds:(says he) one could fill one's belly *Ah me! ('twas Damon's own conwith hearing soft murmurs or looking fession) at rough cascades." MRS. Piozzi, Came poverty and took possession.' John. Misc. i. 323.
In Oeconomy (ib. p. 254) he tells of By his own good taste and his 'the sad survey of present want mechanical skill he acquired two And past profusion.' tolerably elegant rooms from a mere His estate, says Dodsley, was not farm-house.' Graves's Recollections, more than £300 a year. He left p. 72.
more than sufficient to pay all his (Bishop Percy in 1805 writes :- debts.' Works, i. 9. Johnson grosslymisrepresented both 'I am afraid that he died of misery,' Shenstone's circumstances and his Johnson recorded, after visiting the house, which was small but elegant Leasowes. Boswell's Johnson, v. 457. and displayed a great deal of taste in For the various owners of the the alteration and accommodation of estate and the prices paid for it see the apartments, &c. On his sideboard N. & l. 3 S. xii. 289. Bishop Percy he had a neat marble cistern which by says the Leasowes was so improved turning a cock was fed with living by Shenstone's taste that when it was water.' Nichols's Lit. Illustr. vii. sold by auction in 1795, £17,000 was 157.)
obtained. Nichols's Lit. Illustr. vii. Of himself, as Damon, he says :- 152.)
have been assisted by a pension : such bounty could not have been ever more properly bestowed; but that it was ever asked is not certain : it is too certain that it never was enjoyed'.
He died at the Leasowes of a putrid fever about five on Friday 15 morning, February 11, 1763 ?, and was buried by the side of his brother in the church-yard of Hales-Owen 3.
He was never married, though he might have obtained the 16 lady, whoever she was, to whom his Pastoral Ballad was addressed*. He is represented by his friend Dodsleys as a man of great tenderness and generosity, kind to all that were within his influence, but, if once offended, not easily appeased ; inattentive to economy, and careless of his expences; in his person larger than the middle size, with something clumsy in his form®;
· Boswell's Johnson, v. 457. Shen- Shenstone see Phillimore's Memoirs stone believed that, owing
to Wedder- of Lyttelton, i. 282. burne's application to Lord Bute, Eng. Poets, lix. 154; post, SHEN'the patent for a pension was ordered STONE, 25. Graves, who speaks of her to be made out. Graves, p. 165. as Miss C-doubts whether she For Wedderbure and Johnson's would have married a man of so small pension see Boswell's Johnson, i. a fortune. As he was sensible his in373.
come was not sufficient to support a Shenstone's latest letters refer to a lady of her description he never aspired scheme for publishing his works by to that happiness. Recollections, p.105. subscription. Works, iii. 326, 339, In an earlier passage (p. 47) Graves 342, 348, 351.
says a 'Miss G. took entire posses'*' The Gent. Mag. 1763, p. 98, just sion of his heart for some years.' notices his death :-- Feb. 10. Wm. $ In his brief Memoir prefixed to Shenstone, Esq., at Birmingham.' Shenstone's Works, p. 8. The Ann. Reg. has no notice of it. 6 'He had a dull heavy look,' writes
'Shenstone,' writes Malone, 'had Graves, unless when his features a housekeeper, who lived with him were animated by any sprightly sentiin the double capacity of maid and ment, which rendered them extremely mistress; being offended with her on pleasing. His favourite dress was a some occasion he went out of his plain blue coat and a scarlet waistcoat house and sat all night in his post- with a broad gold lace. ... Every chaise in much agitation, in conse- schoolboy, as soon as he was entered quence of which he caught a cold at the University, cut off his hair and that eventually caused his death.' put on a wig. Mr. Shenstone wore Prior's Malone, p. 340.
his own hair. It often exposed him Graves mentions a different version to ill-natured remarks. After I was of this story, but denies its truth. elected at All Souls (to a Fellowship? Recollections, p. 167.
where there was often a party of Akenside at the same age died of loungers in the gateway, on my exa putrid fever. Post, AKENSIDE, 13. postulating with him for not visiting Johnson, in his Dictionary, quotes me so often as usual, he said “he Quincy's definition of it as that was ashamed to face his enemies in kind of sever, in which the humours, the gate" (see Psalm cxxvii].' Reor part of them, have so little circu-collections, pp. 25, 178. Malthus was latory motion that they fall into an Graves's pupil for some years. Malintestine one and putrefy.'
thus, by James Bonar, p. 403. 3 For a Frenchman's epitaph on Dr. A. Carlyle (Auto. p. 370) de
LIVES OF POETS. III
very negligent of his cloaths, and remarkable for wearing his grey hair in a particular manner, for he held that the fashion was no rule of dress, and that every man was to suit his appear
ance to his natural form. 17 His mind was not very comprehensive, nor his curiosity active ;
he had no value for those parts of knowledge which he had not
himself cultivated'. 18 His life was unstained by any crime; the Elegy on Jessy”,
which has been supposed to relate an unfortunate and criminal amour of his own, was known by his friends to have been
suggested by the story of Miss Godfrey in Richardson's Pamela. 19 What Gray thought of his character, from the perusal of his Letters, was this:
• I have read too an octavo volume of Shenstone's Letters. Poor man! he was always wishing for money, for fame, and other distinctions; and his whole philosophy consisted in living against his will in retirement’, and in a place which his taste had adorned, but which he only enjoyed when people of note came to see and commend it: his correspondence is about nothing else but this place and his own writings, with two or three neighbouring clergymen, who wrote verses too *.'
scribes him in 1758 as a large heavy fat man, dressed in white clothes and silver lace, with his gray hairs tied behind and much powdered, which, added to his shyness and reserve, was not at first prepossessing. His reserve and melancholy abated, and he became good company:'
For Johnson wearing his own hair in early life see Boswell's Johnson, i.
'any consideration would have bribed
- Mitford's Gray, v. 93.
Horace Walpole wrote of these Letters on June 14, 1769:-—'I felt great pity for the narrow circumstances of the author, and the passion for fame that he was tormented with; and yet he had much more fame than his talents entitled him to. Poor man! he wanted to have all the world talk of him for the pretty place he had made.' Walpole's Letters, v. 169. On Jan. 24, 1778, Walpole wrote: 'I have got two more volumes of Shenstone's Correspondence, and they are like all the rest, insipidity itself.'
' Johnson agreed with Shenstone that it was wrong in the brother of one of his correspondents to burn his letters; "for (said he) Shenstone was a man whose correspondence was an honour.” Boswell's Johnson, v. 268. His letters to Whistler were burnt. Works, iii. 234.
Gray wrote of him in 1758:'There is Mr. Shenstone, who trusts to nature and simple sentiment, why does he do no better? hopping along his own gravel walks, and never deviates from the beaten paths for fear of being lost.' Letters, ed. Tovey, ii. 25.
· Elegy xxvi.
3 'Shenstone and Gray were two men, one of whom pretended to live to himself, and the other really did so.... Shenstone affected privacy that he might be sought out by the world. HAZLITT, Table Talk, 1869,
16. vii. 24.
I do not think,' writes Graves,
His poems consist of elegies, odes, and ballads, humorous 20 sallies, and moral pieces.
His conception of an elegy he has in his Preface very judiciously 21 and discriminately explained. It is, according to his account, the effusion of a contemplative mind, sometimes plaintive, and always serious, and therefore superior to the glitter of slight ornaments'. His compositions suit not ill to this description. His topicks of praise are the domestick virtues, and his thoughts are pure and simple, but wanting combination they want variety. The peace of solitude, the innocence of inactivity, and the unenvied security of an humble station can fill but a few pages. That of which the essence is uniformity will be soon described. His Elegies have therefore too much resemblance of each other ?.
The lines are sometimes, such as elegy requires, smooth and 22 easy; but to this praise his claim is not constant: his diction is often harsh }, improper, and affected“; his words ill-coined or ill-chosen?, and his phrase unskilfully inverted .
The Lyrick Poems are almost all of the light and airy kind, 23 such as trip lightly and nimbly along, without the load of any
"This is an abstract of Shenstone's *Tedious again to curse the drizzling words. Eng. Poets, lix. 5-13.
day, Burns, in the Preface to the first Again to trace the wintry tracks edition of his Poems, writes :-'It is an observation of Shenstone, whose Or, sooth'd by vernal airs, again divine Elegies do honour to
survey language, our nation and our species, The selfsame hawthorns bud, and that "Humility has depressed many cowslips blow.' a genius to (into] a hermit, but never
Elegy xi, Eng. Poets, lix. 36. raised one to fame (but never yet 3 In Elegy jsi he says of the raised one into a poet of eminence.
Muse :Shenstone's Works, ii. 13]."'
‘She tempts patricians from the fatal ? E. FitzGerald wrote to Frederic
doors Tennyson on Dec. 10, 1843:—'In the Of vice's brothel forth to virtue's garden I see the heads of the snow
fane.' drops and crocuses just out of the In Elegy v within three lines he earth. Another year with its same has reliev'st, cheer'st, and deserv'st. Aowers and topics to open upon us.
^ Of the ancient Britons he says Shenstone somewhere sings :
(El. xv) “Tedious again to mark the drizzling 'They ting'd their bodies, but unday,
mask'd their mind.' Again to trace the same sad tracts s «The boastive rill, El. x; 'disof snow;
treams a tear,' El. xix ; 'we drain Or, lull'd by vernal airs, again the mine's embowell'd gold, El. xx. survey
6'O teach them you to spread the The selfsame hawthorn bud, and sacred base.' El. ii. cowslips blow."!
''Twas on those Downs, by Roman FitzGerald's Letters, 1894, i. 146. hosts annoy'd, Shenstone wrote:
Fought our bold fathers, rustic, un
refin'd.' El, xy.
weighty meaning'. From these, however, Rural Elegance' has some right to be excepted. I once heard it praised by a very learned lady 3; and though the lines are irregular, and the thoughts diffused with too much verbosity, yet it cannot be denied to contain both philosophical argument and poetical
spirit“. 24 Of the rest I cannot think any excellent; The Skylark pleases
me best, which has, however, more of the epigram than of the odes. 25
But the four parts of his Pastoral Balladó demand particular notice. I cannot but regret that it is pastoral”; an intelligent reader acquainted with the scenes of real life sickens at the mention of the crook, the pipe, the sheep, and the kids, which it is not necessary to bring forward to notice, for the poet's art is selection, and he ought to shew the beauties without the grossness of the country life. His stanza seems to have been
chosen in imitation of Rowe's Despairing Shepherd . 26
In the first part are two passages, to which if any mind denies its sympathy it has no acquaintance with love or nature:
'I priz'd every hour that went by,
Beyond all that had pleas'd me before ;
And I grieve that I priz'd them no more
"When forc'd the fair nymph to forego,
What anguish I felt in [at] my heart !
'Twas with pain that she saw me depart.
? 'Poor Shenstone was labouring 'Bring me the bells, the rattle bring, through his whole life to write a And bring the hobby I bestrode, perfect song, and, in my opinion at When pleas'd in many a sportive least, neveronce succeeded.' HORACE
ring WALPOLE, Letters, viii. 509.
Around the room I jovial rode ; 'I wanted to write one good song,' Ev'n let me bid my lyre adieu, wrote Shenstone, "and could never And bring the whistle that I blew.' please myself.' Works, i. 11.
5. The diction of the first line ‘is Eng. Poets, lix. 81.
harsh':Mrs. Carter was the most leamed 'Go, tuneful bird, that glad'st the lady Johnson knew. Boswell's John- skies. Ib. p. 121. son, i. 122. Of her translation of Epictetus George Long wrote: Ante, MILTON, 182. "Perhaps no Englishman at that time 8 Ante, ROWE, 33 n. 7. would have made a better translation.' Johnson wrote soon after Levett's Long's Epictetus, 1877, Preface, p. 14. death:- How much soever I valued
The Ode to Memory (Eng. Poets, him, I now wish I had valued him lix. 91) has a pretty stanza
more.' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 145.
6 Ib. p. 154.