Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

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?
In the fourth I find nothing better than this natural strain of 29
Hope:

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.'
His Levities are by their title exempted from the severities of 30

[ocr errors][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 Poemso 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 8 – 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 traveli'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 Graves, p. 93, inn."

* Memorabilia, ii. 1.) Boswell's Johnson, ii. 452. 5 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 217. version see Dodsley's Collection, v.51; Ő Ante, MILTON, 274. 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 Réliques, 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 Ante, SHENSTONE, 2, 8.

an

9

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’.

APPENDIX T (PAGE 349)

'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,

[ocr errors]

1 The Schoolmistress is excellent in its kind and masterly.' GRAY, Letters, i. 183.

"That water-gruel bard Shenstone never wrote anything good but his Schoolmistress.' HORACE WALPOLE, Letters, vii. 54.

'This poem is one of those happinesses in which a poet excels himself, as there is nothing in all Shenstone which any way approaches it in merit.

The antiquity of the style produces a very ludicrous solemnity.' GOLDSMITH, Works, iii. 436.

Lamb, attacking 'a rustic Cockneyism,'continues :-'The true rustic style I think is to be found in Shenstone. Would his Schoolmistress, the prettiest of poems, have been better

if he had used quite the Goody's own language?' Letters, ii. 42.

Shenstone's poems are indifferent and tasteless, except his Pastoral Ballad ... and his Schoolmistress, which last is a perfect piece of writing: HAZLITT, Lectures on the English Poets, 1819, p. 236. See also Wordsworth's Works, 1857, vi. 373.

? "To some lady who was praising Shenstone's poems very much, and who had an Italian greyhound lying by the fire, Johnson said, “Shenstone holds amongst poets the same rank your dog holds amongst dogs; he has not the sagacity of the hound, the docility of the spaniel, nor the courage of the bull-dog, yet he is still a pretty fellow.”' John. Misc. ii. 5.

[ocr errors]

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 !

YOUNG

THE

'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.

[ocr errors]

Johnson, who had undertaken yet shorter. Boswell's Johnson, iv. only to write Prefaces but had given 58. Lives, grew weary of his task before The_Rev. John Hussey, John. he reached the end. Of the last Life Misc. Preface, p. 12) recorded in a of all-Lyttelton's—he wrote to Mrs. marginal note :- Soon after the Thrale : I sent to Lord Westcote publication of the Prefaces, on my about his brother's life, but he says telling Dr. Johnson that I heard some he knows not whom to employ; and reflections on the Life of Young is sure I shall do him no injury. being too long, and that he was too There is an ingenious scheme to save frequently called the Author of the a day's work, or part of a day, utterly Night Thoughts, he replied :—“Nay, defeated. Then what avails it to be I can acquit myself of the first charge, wise? The plain and the artful man and Mr. Croft of the other.

I exmust both do their own work.—But punged nearly half that was written, I think I have got a life of Dr. and he was called the Author of the Young.' John. Letters, ii. 189: A Night Thoughts by my recomweek later he wrote :- I shall have mendation.” Young's life given me to spite you.' Of this Life by Croft Boswell Ib. p. 190.

writes :— It has always appeared to Boswell describes the author, Her- me to have a considerable share of bert Croft, as 'then a Barrister of merit, and to display a pretty successLincoln's Inn, now a clergyman. ful imitation of Johnson's style. Boswell's Johnson, iv. 58. In 1784 When I mentioned this to a very Croft met Johnson at Pembroke Col- eminent literary character [Burke), lege. 'I am afraid,' writes Boswell, he opposed me vehemently, ex'he was somewhat mortified by Dr. claiming, “No, no, it is not a good Johnson's not being highly pleased imitation of Johnson; it has all his with some Family Discourses which pomp without his force; it has all he had printed; they were in too the nodosities of the oak without its familiar a style to be approved of by strength.” This was an image so so manly a mind.' 16. iv. 298. happy, that one might have thought

Croft, in a passage first printed in he would have been satisfied with it ; the second edition, says that he could but he was not. And setting his not prevail on Johnson 'to make any mind again to work, he added, with alterations, though he insisted on exquisite felicity, “ It has all the constriking out one passage.' Post, tortions of the Sybil, without the inYOUNG, 153. Johnson wrote of spiration.". Boswell's Johnson, iv.59. Croft's work to Nichols :-'What is It is strange that Boswell, whose crossed with black is expunged by own style is excellent, should have the authour; what is crossed with liked this intolerable piece of affectared is expunged by me.

If you find

tion. Happily for me it is no duty of anything more that can be well mine to edit Croft. omitted

I shall not be sorry to see it (Sir Leslie Stephen, in his article on

« AnteriorContinuar »