Imágenes de páginas

'She gaz'd, as I slowly withdrew;

My path I could hardly discern;
So sweetly she bade me adieu,

I thought that she bade me return?' In the second this passage has its prettiness, though it be not 27 equal to the former :

'I have found out a gift for my fair ;

I have found where the wood-pigeons breed :
But let me that plunder forbear,

She will say 'twas a barbarous deed:
For he ne'er could be true, she averr'd,

Who could rob a poor bird of its young;
And I lov'd her the more, when I heard

Such tenderness fall from her tongue?' In the third he mentions the common-places of amorous poetry 28 with some address :

''Tis his with mock passion to glow;

'Tis his in smooth tales to unfold,
How her face is as bright as the snow,

And her bosom, be sure, is as cold :
*How the nightingales labour the strain,

With the notes of his charmer to vie;
How they vary their accents in vain,

Repine at her triumphs, and die 3.'
In the fourth I find nothing better than this natural strain of 29

Alas! from the day that we met,

What hope of an end to my woes?
When I cannot endure to forget

The glance that undid my repose.
'Yet Time may diminish the pain :

The flower, and the shrub, and the tree,
Which I rear'd for her pleasure in vain,

In time may have comfort for me t.'
His Levities are by their title exempted from the severities of 30

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

criticism; yet it may be remarked in a few words that his

humour is sometimes gross, and seldom spritely". 31 Of the Moral Poems' the first is the Choice of Hercules, from

Xenophon". The numbers are smooth, the diction elegant, and the thoughts just ; but something of vigour perhaps is still to be wished, which it might have had by brevity and compression. His Fate of Delicacys has an air of gaiety, but not a very pointed general moral. His blank verses, those that can read them may probably find to be like the blank verses of his neighbours 6. Love and Honour' is derived from the old ballad Did you not hear of a Spanish Lady &– I wish it well enough to

wish it were in rhyme. 32 The School-mistress, of which I know not what claim it has to

stand among the Moral Works, is surely the most pleasing of Shenstone's performances. The adoption of a particular style in light and short compositions contributes much to the increase

Among the Levities are the lines taken 'a cool leave.' Recollections, Written at an Inn at Henley. Henley p. 151. Edge Hill is full twenty miles is Henley in Arden, where Johnson from Henley. Probably he finished and Boswell slept the night of the the poem next day at the inn. day on which Johnson quoted them E FitzGerald (Letters, ii. 184) in the inn where they dined. “No, writes :-Carlyle had the use of a Sir (he said); there is nothing which phaeton and pony, which latter he has yet been contrived by man, by calls Shenstone" from a partiality which so much happiness is produced to stopping at every inn door.' as by a good tavern or inn." He Moral Pieces. Eng. Poets, lix. then repeated, with great emotion,

199* The Judgement of Hercules. Ante, Shenstone's lines : “Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull SHENSTONE, 8. 'Mr. Shenstone had round,

the satisfaction at a coffee-house to Where'er his stages may have hear some young people come to a been,

(found resolution that it must certainly be May sigh to think he still has either Pope's or Mr. Dodsley's.' The warmest welcome at an Graves, p. 93; inn."

* [Memorabilia, ii. 1.) Boswell's Johnson, ii. 452. s The Progress of Taste, or The For the lines see Eng. Poets, lix. Fate of Delicacy. Eng. Poets, lix. 185; and for an earlier and fuller version see Dodsley's Collection, v.51; John. Misc. ii. 253. 'Life's dull round' Eng. Poets, lix. 275. Shenstone may have borrowed from 8. Will you hear a Spanish Lady, Johnson's Adventurer, No. 108. 'He Percy's Reliques, Book v. 23. 'If Shengrew weary of the same dull round stone had done nothing more than of life.'

suggest to Percy the scheme of pubGraves says that this stanza was lishing the Reliques he would have written in a summer-house at Edge been a great benefactor to the literaHill, on the evening of a day which ture of his country.' SOUTHEY, he had passed travelling homewards Specimens, ii. 306. For the suggestion from his friend Whistler's house in see John. Letters, i. 89 n. South Oxfordshire, of whom he had 9 Ante, SHENSTONE, 2, 8.

217: Ante, MILTON, 274


of pleasure: we are entertained at once with two imitations, of nature in the sentiments, of the original author in the style, and between them the mind is kept in perpetual employment'.

The general recommendation of Shenstone is easiness and 33 simplicity; his general defect is want of comprehension and variety. Had his mind been better stored with knowledge, whether he could have been great I know not; he could certainly have been agreeable?.


'Being himself a poet, Johnson was peculiarly happy in mentioning how many of the sons of Pembroke were poets ; adding with a smile of sportive triumph, “Sir, we are a nest of singing birds.” Boswell's Johnson, i. 75. He left the College in 1729; his Life of Shenstone appeared in 1781, so that he does not fall within the half-century. Neither, of course, does Sir Thomas Browne. In the half-century come Shenstone; Richard Graves, author of The Spiritual Quixote, one of the poets of Dodsley's Collection (iv. 323, v. 62); Anthony Whistler, another of the poets (ib. iv. 320, v. 60); Sir William Blackstone, also of the poets with his Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse (ib. iv. 224); and William Hawkins, Professor of Poetry (1751-6), of whom Goldsmith wrote (Works, iv. 253):—'Be it enough to say in general that he was not born a poet, or that imitation has spoiled him.' When Whistler died Shenstone wrote to Graves :-'The triumvirate, which was the greatest happiness and the greatest pride of my life, is broken.' Graves was the third member. Shenstone's Works, iii. 228.

Whitfield also falls within the half-century (Boswell's Johnson, i. 78 n.); John Henderson (ib. iv. 298; John. Misc. ii. 197); J. L. Smithson,

Ii The Schoolmistress is excellent if he had used quite the Goody's own in its kind and masterly.' GRAY, language?' Letters, ii. 42. Letters, i. 183.

'Shenstone's poems are indifferent 'That water-gruel bard Shenstone and tasteless, except his Pastoral never wrote anything good but his Ballad ... and his Schoolmistress, Schoolmistress.' HORACE WALPOLE, which last is a perfect piece of writing. Letters, vii. 54.

HAZLITT, Lectures on the English 'This poem is one of those happi- Poets, 1819, p. 236. See also Wordsnesses in which a poet excels himself, worth's Works, 1857, vi. 373. as there is nothing in all Shenstone 2 'To some lady who was praising which any way approaches it in merit. Shenstone's poems very much, and

The antiquity of the style pro- who had an Italian greyhound lying duces a very ludicrous solemnity.' by the fire, Johnson said, “Shenstone GOLDSMITH, Works, iii. 436.

holds amongst poets the same rank Lamb, attacking 'a rustic Cock- your dog holds amongst dogs; he neyism,'continues: _The true rustic has not the sagacity of the hound, style I think is to be found in Shen- the docility of the spaniel, nor the stone. Would his Schoolmistress, the courage of the bull-dog, yet he is still prettiest of poems, have been better a pretty fellow.”' John. Misc. ii. 5.

founder of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington; and Dr. Thomas Beddoes. Macleane's Hist. of Pemb. Coll. pp. 370-81, 389-93.

Among the singing birds' of later days were T. L. Beddoes, that 'forgotten Oxford poet,' said Browning, on whom, if I were ever Professor of Poetry, my first lecture should be';

R. S. Hawker, whose Trelawny ballad deceived Macaulay; William Fulford, editor of The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine; R. W. Dixon and S. J. Stone. Dr. Edwin Hatch, the theologian, and Dr. Edward Moore, editor of Dante, were also members. So also were Professors Rolleston and Chandler, Sir John Scott, K.C.M.G., late Judicial Adviser to the Khedive, Mr. Sydney Prior Hall, and Mr. Charles Eamer Kempe.

Neither must I pass over the last master, Professor Bartholomew Price, who did so much for the Clarendon Press, in the improvement of which Johnson had taken a strong interest (Boswell's Johnson, ii. 424). Macleane's Pemb. Coll. pp. 240, 424, 470–2, 475, 478, 491.

'Sir Thomas Browne,' writes Johnson, 'was the first man of eminence graduated from the new college, to which the zeal or gratitude of those that love it most can wish little better than that it may long proceed as it began.' Works, vi. 476. Floreat Collegium Pembrochiae !


HE following life was written at my request by a gentle-1

man who had better information than I could easily have obtained ; and the publick will perhaps wish that I had solicited and obtained more such favours from him.

Johnson, who had undertaken only to write Prefaces but had given Lives, grew weary of his task before he reached the end. Of the last Life of all-Lyttelton's—he wrote to Mrs. Thrale :- I sent to Lord Westcote about his brother's life, but he says he knows not whom to employ; and is sure I shall do him no injury. There is an ingenious scheme to save a day's work, or part of a day, utterly defeated. Then what avails it to be wise? The plain and the artful man must both do their own work.-But I think I have got a life of Dr. Young.' John. Letters, ii. 189. A week later he wrote :- I shall have Young's life given me to spite you.' Ib. p. 190.

Boswell describes the author, Herbert Croft, as 'then a Barrister of Lincoln's Inn, now a clergyman.' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 58. In 1784 Croft met Johnson at Pembroke College.

'I am afraid,' writes Boswell, "he was somewhat mortified by Dr. Johnson's not being highly pleased with some Family Discourses which he had printed; they were in too familiar a style to be approved of by so manly a mind.' 16. iv. 298.

Croft, in a passage first printed in the second edition, says that he could not prevail on Johnson 'to make any alterations, though he insisted on striking out one passage.' Post, YOUNG, 153

Johnson wrote of Croft's work to Nichols :- What is crossed with black is expunged by the authour; what is crossed with red is expunged by me. If you find anything more that can be well omitted I shall not be sorry to see it

yet shorter.' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 58.

The Rev. John Hussey (John. Misc. Preface, p. 12) recorded in a marginal note :- Soon after the publication of the Prefaces, on my telling Dr. Johnson that I heard some reflections on the Life of Young being too long, and that he was too frequently called the Author of the Night Thoughts, he replied :-"Nay, I can acquit myself of the first charge, and Mr. Croft of the other.

I expunged nearly half that was written, and he was called the Author of the Night Thoughts by my recommendation.”

Of this Life by Croft Boswell writes :—' It has always appeared to me to have a considerable share of merit, and to display a pretty successful imitation of Johnson's style. When I mentioned this to a very eminent literary character [Burke), he opposed me vehemently, exclaiming, No, no, it is not a good imitation of Johnson; it has all his pomp without his force; it has all the nodosities of the oak without its strength.” This was an image so happy, that one might have thought he would have been satisfied with it ; but he was not. And setting his mind again to work, he added, with exquisite felicity, " It has all the contortions of the Sybil, without the inspiration.' Boswell's Johnson, iv.59.

It is strange that Boswell, whose own style is excellent, should have liked this intolerable piece of affectation. Happily for me it is no duty of mine to edit Croft.

(Sir Leslie Stephen, in his article on


« AnteriorContinuar »