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WILLIAM SHENSTONE, a popular and agreeable the life which he invariably pursued, and which poet, was born at Hales-Owen, Shropshire, in 1714. consisted in improving the picturesque beauties of His father was an uneducated gentleman farmer, the Leasowes, exercising his pen in casual effusions who cultivated an estate of his own, called the Lea- of verse and prose, and cultivating such society as sowes. William, after passing through other in- lay within his reach. The fame of the Leasowes struction, was removed to that of a clergyman at was widely spread by an elaborale description of Solihull, from whom he acquired a sund of classical Dodsley's, which drew multitudes of visitors to the literature, together with a taste for the best English place; and the house being originally only a farm, writers. In 1732 he was entered of Pembroke Col- became inadequate to his grounds, and required enlege, Oxford, where he formed one of a set of young largement. Hence he lay continually under the men who met in the evenings at one another's cham- pressure of narrow circumstances, which preyed bers, and read English works in polite literature. upon his spirits, and rendered him by no means a He also began to exercise his poetical talent upon happy inhabitant of the little Eden he had created. some light topics; but coming to the possession of Gray, from the perusal of his letters, deduces the his paternal property, with some augmentation, he following, perhaps too satirical, account.
“ Poor indulged himself in rural retirement, and forgetting man! he was always wishing for money, for fame, his calls to college residence, he took up his abode and other distinctions; and his whole philosophy at a house of his own, and commenced gentleman. consisted in living against his will in retirement, In 1737 he printed anonymously a small volume of and in a place which his taste had adorned, but juvenile poems, which was little noticed. His first which he only enjoyed when people of note came to visit to London, in 1740, introduced him to the ac- see and commend it." quaintance of Dodsley, who printed his “ Judgment Shenstone died of a fever in February, 1763, in of Hercules,” dedicated to his Hagley neighbor, Mr. his fiftieth year, and was interred in the church(afterwards Lord) Lyttleton. It was followed by a yard of Hales-Owen. Monuments to his memory work written before it, “ The School-mistress," a were erected by several persons who loved the man, piece in Spenser's style and stanza, the heroine of and esteemed his poetry. Of the latter, the general which was a village dame, supposed to have given opinion is now nearly uniform. It is regarded as him his first instruction. The vein of benevolence commonly correct, elegant, melodious, and tender and good sense, and the touches of the pathetic, by in sentiment, and often pleasing and natural in dewhich this performance is characterized, render it scription, but verging to the languid and feeble. extremely pleasing, and perhaps place it at the head His prose writings, published in a separate volume, of his compositions.
display good sense and cultivated taste, and someAfter amusing himself with a few rambles to times contain new and acute observations on manplaces of public resort, Shenstone now sat down to kind.
Lend me thy clarion, goddess! let me try
To sound the praise of Merit, ere it dies,
Such as I oft have chaunced to espy,
Lost in the dreary shades of dull Obscurity.
In every village mark'd with little spire,
Embower'd in trees, and hardly known to Fame
There dwells in lowly shed, and mean altire,
A matron old, whom we School-mistress name; What particulars in Spenser were imagined most proper for the author's imitation on this occasion,
Who boasts unruly brals with birch to tame; are his language, his simplicity, his manner of
They grieven sore, in piteous durance pent, description, and a peculiar tenderness of senti
Aw'd by the power of this relentless dame; ment remarkable throughout his works.
And oft-times, on vagaries idly bent,
For unkempt hair, or task unconn'd, are sorely shent. Au me! full sorely is my heart forlorn, To think how modest Worth neglected lies, And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree, While partial Fame doth with her blast adorn Which Learning near her little dome did stowe, Such deeds alone, as pride and pomp disguise; Whilom a twig of small regard to see, Deeds of ill sort, and mischievous emprise : Though now so wide its waving branches flow;
And work the simple vassal's mickle woe ; One ancient hen she took delight to feed,
Into her school, begirt with chickens, came!
Fragment of bread, she would collect the same ; So have I seen (who has not, may conceive) For well she knew, and quaintly could expound. A lifeless phantom near a garden plac'd; What sin it were to waste the smallest crumb she So doth it wanton birds of peace bereave,
found. Of sport, of song, of pleasure, of repast; They start, they stare, they wheel, they look Herbs too she knew, and well of each could speak aghast;
That in her garden sipp'd the silvery dew; Sad servitude! such comfortless annoy
Where no vain flower disclos'd a gaudy streak; May no bold Briton's riper age e'er taste!
But herbs for use, and physic, not a few, Ne superstition clog his dance of joy,
Of grey renown, within those borders grew: No vision empty, vain, his native bliss destroy. The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme,
Fresh baum, and marigold of cheerful hue; Near to this dome is found a patch so green, The lowly gill, that never dares to climb; On which the tribe their gambols do display ; And more I fain would sing, disdaining here to rhyme And at the door imprisoning-board is seen, Lest weakly wights of smaller size should stray; Yet euphrasy may not be left unsung, Eager, perdie, to bask in sunny day!
That gives dim eyes to wander leagues around; The noises intermix'd, which thence resound, And pungent radish, biting infant's tongue; Do Learning's little tenement betray;
And plantain ribb’d, that heals the reaper's wound; Where sits the dame, disguis'd in look profound, And marjoram sweet, in shepherd's posie found; And eyes her fairy throng, and turns her wheel And lavender, whose spikes of azure bloom around.
Shall be, erewhile, in arid bundles bound,
To lurk amidst the labors of her loom, Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow, And crown her kerchiefs clean, with mickle rare Emblem right meet of decency does yield :
perfume. Her apron dy'd in grain, as blue, I trow, As is the hare-bell that adorns the field :
And here trim rosemarine, that whilom crown'd And in her hand, for sceptre, she does wield The daintiest garden of the proudest peer; Tway birchen sprays; with anxious fear entwin'd, Ere, driven from its envied site, it found With dark distrust, and sad repentance fillid: A sacred shelter for its branches here ;
And sted fast hate, and sharp affliction join'd, Where edg'd with gold its glittering skirts appear, And fury uncontrol'd, and chastisement unkind. Oh wassal days! O customs meet and well!
Ere this was banish'd from his lofty sphere: Few but have kenn'd, in semblance meet por- Simplicity then sought this humble cell, tray'd,
Nor ever would she more with thane and lordling The childish faces of old Eol's train;
dwell. Libs, Notus, Auster: these in frowns array'd, How then would fare or Earth, or Sky, or Main, Here oft the dame, on Sabbath's decent eve, Were the stern god to give his slaves the rein ? Hymned such psalms as Sternhold forth did mete, And were not she rebellious breasts to quell, If winter 't were, she to her hearth did cleare, And were not she her statutes to maintain,
But in her garden found a summer-seat; The cot no more, I ween, were deem'd the cell, Sweet melody! to hear her then repeat Where comely peace of mind, and decentorderdwell. How Israel's sons, beneath a foreign king,
While taunting foemen did a song entreat, A russet stole was o'er her shoulders thrown; All, for the nonce, untuning every string, A russet kirile fenc'd the nipping air;
Uphung their useless lyres-small heart had they 'Twas simple russet, but it was her own;
to sing 'Twas her own country bred the flock so fair! 'Twas her own labor did the fleece prepare ; For she was just, and friend to virtuous lore, And, sooth to say, her pupils, rang'd around, And pass'd much time in truly virtuous deed; Through pious awe, did term it passing rare ; And in those elfins' ears, would oft deplore For they in gaping wonderment abound,
The times, when Truth by Popish rage did bleed; And think, no doubt, she been the greatest wight on And tortious death was true Devotion's meed; ground.
And simple Faith in iron chains did mour,
That nould on wooden image place her creed; Albeit ne flattery did corrupt her truth,
And lawny saints in smouldering flames did burn; Ne pompous title did debauch her ear; Ah! dearest Lord, forefend, thilk days should e'er Goody, good-woman, gossip, n'aunt, forsooth,
return. Or dame, the sole additions she did hear; Yet these she challeng'd, these she held right dear: In elbow-chair, like that of Scottish stem Ne would esteem him act as mought behove, By the sharp tooth of cankering eld defac'd, Who should not honor'd eld with these revere : In which, when he receives his diadem, For never tille yet so mean could prove,
Our sovereign prince and liefest liege is plac'd, But there was eke a mind which did that title love. The matron sate; and some with rank she grac'd,
(The source of children's and of courtiers' pride !) By turns, astonied, every twig survey, Redress'd affronts, for vile affronts there pass d ; And, from their fellow's hateful wounds, beware;
And warn'd them not the fretful to deride, Knowing, I wist, how each the same may share ; But love each other dear, whatever them betide. Till fear has taught them a performance meet,
And to the well-known chest the dame repair ; Right well she knew each temper to descry; Whence oft with sugar'd cates she doth them greet, To thwart the proud, and the submiss to raise ; And ginger-bread y-rare; now certes, doubly sweet! Some with vile copper-prize exalt on high, And some entice with pittance small of praise, See to their seats they hie with merry glee, And other some with baleful sprig she 'frays: And in beseemly order sitten there ; E'en absent, she the reins of power doth hold, All but the wight of bum y-galled, he While with quaint arts the giddy crowd she sways: Abhorreth bench, and stool, and form, and chair;
Forewarn'd, if little bird their pranks behold, (This hand in mouth y-fix'd, that rends his hair :) "Twill whisper in her ear, and all the scene unfold. And eke with snubs profound, and heaving breast,
Convulsions intermitting! does declare Lo now with state she utters the command ! His grievous wrong; his dame's unjust behest; Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair; And scorns her offer'd love, and shuns to be caress'd. Their books of stature small they take in hand, Which with pellucid horn secured are,
His face besprent with liquid crystal shines, To save from finger wet the letters fair:
His blooming face that seems a purple flower, The work so gay that on their back is seen, Which low to earth its drooping head declines, St. George's high achievements does declare; All smear'd and sullied by a vernal shower. On which thilk wight that has y-gazing been,
O the hard bosoms of despotic power! Kens the forth-coming rod, unpleasing sight, I ween! All, all, but she, the author of his shame,
All, all, but she, regret this mournful hour: Ah luckless he, and born beneath the beam Yet hence the youth, and hence the flower shall Of evil star! it irks me whilst I write :
claim, As erst the bard * by Mulla's silver stream, If so I deem aright, transcending worth and fame. Oft, as he told of deadly dolorous plight, Sigh'd as he sung, and did in tears indite.
Behind some door, in melancholy thought, For brandishing the rod, she doth begin
Mindless of food, he, dreary caitiff! pines, To loose the brogues, the stripling's late delight!
Ne for his fellows' joyaunce careth aught, And down they drop; appears his dainty skin,
But to the wind all merriment resigns ; Fair as the furry-coat of whitest ermilin.
And deems it shame, if he to peace inclines :
And many a sullen look askance is sent, O ruthful scene! when from a nook obscure, Which for his dame's annoyance he designs ; His little sister doth his peril see:
And still the more to pleasure him she's bent, All playful as she sate, she grows demure; The more doth he, perverse, her havior past resent. She finds full soon her wonted spirits flee: She meditates a prayer to set him free:
Ah me! how much I fear lest pride it be! Nor gentle pardon could this dame deny
But if that pride it be, which thus inspires, (If gentle pardon could with dames agree) Beware, ye dames, with nice discernment see, To her sad grief that swells in either eye,
Ye quench not too the sparks of nobler fires : And wings her so that all for pity she could die. Ah! better far than all the Muses' lyres,
All coward arts, is Valor's generous heat; No longer can she now her shrieks command; The firm fixt breast which fit and right requires, And hardly she forbears, through awful fear, Like Vernon's patriot soul! more justly great To rushen forth, and, with presumptuous hand, Than Craft that pimps for ill, or flowery false Deceit. To stay harsh Justice in its mid career. On thee she calls, on thee her parent dear!
Yet nurs'd with skill, what dazzling fruits appear! (Ah! too remote to ward the shameful blow!)
E'en now sagacious Foresight points to show She sees no kind domestic visage near,
A little bench of heedless bishops here, And soon a flood of tears begins to flow;
And there a chancellor in embryo, And gives a loose at last to unavailing woe.
Or bard sublime, if bard may e'er be so,
As Milton, Shakspeare, names that ne'er shall die! But ah! what pen his piteous plight may trace ?
Though now he crawl along the ground so low, Or what device his loud laments explain ?
Nor weeting how the Muse should soar on high, The form uncouth of his disguised face?
Wisheth, poor starveling elf! his paper kite may fly The pallid hue that dyes his looks amain? The plenteous shower that does his cheek distain ?
And this perhaps, who, censuring the design, When he, in abject wise, implores the dame,
Low lays the house which that of cards doth
build, Ne hopeth aught of sweet reprieve to gain; Or when from high she levels well her aim,
Shall Dennis be! if rigid Fate incline, And, through the thatch, his cries each falling stroke
And many an epic to his rage shall yield; proclaim.
And many a poet quit th' Aonian field;
And, sour'd by age, profound he shall appear, The other tribe, aghast, with sore dismay,
As he who now with 'sdainful fury thrillid Attend, and con their tasks with mickle care :
Surveys mine work; and levels many a sneer,
And furls his wrinkly front, and cries, “What stuff * Spenser.
is here ?"
But now Dan Phæbus gains the middle skie,
Describing the sorrow of an ingenuous mind, on the With boisterous revel-rout and wild uproar;
melancholy event of a licentious amour. A thousand ways in wanton rings they run, Heaven shield their short-liv'd pastime, I im- Why mourns my friend? why weeps his downeast plore !
eye, For well may Freedom erst so dearly won,
eye where mirth, where fancy us'd to shine? Appear 10 British elf more gladsome than the Sun. Thy cheerful meads reprove that swelling sigh;
Spring ne'er enamel'd fairer meads than thine. Enjoy, poor imps ! enjoy your sportive trade, And chase gay flies, and cull the fairest flowers; Art thou not lodg'd in Fortune's warm embrace ? For when my bones in grass-green sods are laid,
Wert thou not form'd by Nature's partial care ? For never may ye taste more careless hours Blest in thy song, and blest in every grace In knightly castles, or in ladies' bowers.
That wins the friend, or that enchants the fair? O vain to seek delight in earthly thing!
“Damon," said he, “thy partial praise restrain ; But most in courts where proud Ambition towers; Deluded wight! who weens fair Peace can spring Alas! his very praise awakes my pain,
Not Damon's friendship can my peace restore ; Beneath the pompous dome of kesar or of king.
And my poor wounded bosom bleeds the more. See in each sprite some various bent appear! “For oh! that Nature on my birth had frown'd, These rudely carol most incondite lay;
Or Fortune fix'd me to some lowly cell; Those sauntering on the green, with jocund leer Then had my bosom 'scap'd this fatal wound, Salute the stranger passing on his way;
Nor had I bid these vernal sweets farewell. Some builden fragile tenements of clay; Some to the standing lake their courses bend,
“But led by Fortune's hand, her darling child, With pebbles smooth at duck and drake to play ;
My youth her vain licentious bliss admir'd : Thilk to the huxter's savory cottage tend,
In Fortune's train the syren Flattery smild, In pastry kings and queens th' allotted mite to And rashly hallow'd all her queen inspir’d. spend.
“Of folly studious, e'en of vices vain,
Ah vices! gilded by the rich and gay! Here, as each season yields a different store,
I chas'd the guileless daughters of the plain, Each season's stores in order ranged been ;
Nor dropp'd the chase, till Jessy was my prey. Apples with cabbage-net y-cover'd o'er, Galling full sore th’unmoney'd wight, are seen; Poor artless maid! to stain thy spotless name, And goose-b'rie clad in livery red or green; Expense, and art, and toil, united strove; And here of lovely dye, the catharine pear, To lure a breast that felt the purest flame, Fine pear! as lovely for thy juice, I ween: Sustain’d by virtue, but betray'd by love.
O may no wight e'er penniless come there, Lest smit with ardent love he pine with hopeless “School'd in the science of love's mazy wiles, care !
I cloth'd each feature with affected scorn;
I spoke of jealous doubts, and fickle smiles, See! cherries here, ere cherries yet abound,
And, feigning, left her anxious and forlorn. With thread so white in tempting posies tied,
“Then, while the fancied rage alarm'd her care, Scattering like blooming maid their glances round,
Warm to deny, and zealous to disprove; With pamper'd look draw little eyes aside;
I bade my words their wonted sofiness wear,
And seiz'd the minute of returning love.
Whose honor'd names * th' inventive city own, Will yet thy love a candid ear incline? Rendering through Britain's isle Salopia's praises Assur’d that virtue, by misfortune prest, known;
Feels not the sharpness of a pang like mine. Admir'd Salopia! that with venial pride
“Nine envious moons matur'd her growing shame, Eyes her bright form in Severn's ambient wave, when, scorn'd of virtue, stigmatiz'd by fame,
Erewhile to flaunt it in the face of day;
Low at my feet desponding Jessy lay.
Who cheerless o'er her darkling region stray; I sigh in shades, and sicken at the Sun. Till Reason's morn arise, and light them on tkeir way.
“. Amid the dreary gloom of night, I cry,
When will the morn's once pleasing scenes retum?
Yet what can morn's returning ray supply, * Shrewsbury cakes.
But foes that triumph, or but friends that mourn'
A PASTORAL BALLAD,
* Alas! no more that joyous morn appears
That led the tranquil hours of spotless fame; For I have steep'd a father's couch in tears,
And ting'd a mother's glowing cheek with shame.
IN FOUR PARTS. 1743.
Arbusta humilesque myricæ.–Virg.
«• The vocal birds that raise their matin strain,
The sportive lambs, increase my pensive moan; All seem to chase me from the cheerful plain,
And talk of truth and innocence alone.
u • If through the garden's flowery tribes I stray,
Where bloom the jasmines that could once allure, Hope not to find delight in us, they say,
For we are spotless, Jessy; we are pure.
a • Ye flowers! that well reproach a nymph so frail ;
Say, could ye with my virgin fame compare ? The brightest bud that scents the vernal gale
Was not so fragrant, and was not so fair.
« • Now the grave old alarm the gentler young ;
And all my fame's abhorr'd contagion flee : Trembles ench lip, and falters every tongue,
That bids the morn propitious smile on me.
u Thus for your sake I shun each human eye;
I bid the sweets of blooming youth adieu ; To die I languish, but I dread to die,
Lest my sad fate should nourish pangs for you.
*• * Raise me from earth; the pains of want remove,
And let me silent seek some friendly shore : There only, banish'd from the form I love,
My weeping virtue shall relapse no more.
Whose flocks never carelessly roam ;
Oh! call the poor wanderers home. Allow me to muse and to sigh,
Nor talk of the change that ye find; None once was so watchful as I;
I have left my dear Phyllis behind. Now I know what it is, to have strove
With the torture of doubt and desire ; What it is to admire and to love,
And to leave her we love and admire. Ah! lead forth my flock in the morn,
And the damps of each evening repel; Alas! I am faint and forlorn :
-I have bade my dear Phyllis farewell. Since Phyllis vouchsaf'd me a look,
I never once dreamt of my vine: May I lose both my pipe and my crook,
If I knew of a kid that was mine! I priz'd ev'ry hour that went by,
Beyond all that had pleas'd me before ; But now they are past, and I sigh ;
And I grieve that I priz'd them no more. But why do I languish in vain ;
Why wander thus pensively here ? Oh! why did I come from the plain,
Where I sed on the smiles of my dear? They tell me, my favorite maid,
The pride of that valley, is flown; Alas! where with her I have stray'd,
I could wander with pleasure, alone.
What anguish I felt at my heart !
'Twas with pain that she saw me depart. 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. The pilgrim that journeys all day
To visit some far-distant shrine, If he bear but a relic away,
Is happy, nor heard to repine. Thus widely remov'd from the fair,
Where my vows, my devotion, I owe, Soft Hope is the relic I bear,
And my solace wherever I go.
«• Be but my friend ; I ask no dearer name;
Be such the meed of some more artful fair; Nor could it heal my peace, or chase my shame,
That pity gave, what love refus'd to share.
•• Force not my tongue to ask its scanty bread;
Nor hurl thy Jessy to the vulgar crew ; Not such the parent's board at which I fed !
Not such the precept from his lips I drew!
• • Haply, when Age has silver'd o'er my hair,
Malice may learn to scorn so mean a spoil ; Envy may slight a face no longer fair;
And pity, welcome, to my native soil.'
- She spoke-nor was I born of savage race ;
Nor could these hands a niggard boon assign; Grateful she clasp'd me in a last embrace,
And vow'd to waste her life in prayers for mine.
" I saw her foot the lofty bark ascend ;
I saw her breast with every passion heave; I left her-torn from every earthly friend ;
Oh! my hard bosom, which could bear to leave!
"-Brief let me be; the fatal storm arose ;
The billows rag'd, the pilot's art was vain; O'er the tall mast the circling surges close ;
My Jessy_floats upon the watery plain!
Whose murmur invites one to sleep;
And my hills are white over with sheep. I seldom have met with a loss,
Such health do my fountains bestow : My fountains all border'd with moss, Where the hare-bells and violets grow.
* And see my youth's impetuous fires decay ;
Seek not to stop Reflection's bitter tear; But warn the frolic, and instruct the gay, From Jessy floating on her watery bier!"