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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 elaborate description of Solihull, from whom he acquired a fund 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 de. which 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 sometimes contain new and acute observations on mankind.
After amusing himself with a few rambles to places of public resort, Shenstone now sat down to
But now Dan Phoebus gains the middle skie,
For well may Freedom erst so dearly won, Appear to British elf more gladsome than the Sun.
Enjoy, poor imps! enjoy your sportive trade,
Describing the sorrow of an ingenuous mind, on the melancholy event of a licentious amour.
WHY mourns my friend? why weeps his downeast
That eye where mirth, where fancy us'd to shine? Thy cheerful meads reprove that swelling sigh÷
Spring ne'er enamel'd fairer meads than thine.
Art thou not lodg'd in Fortune's warm embrace?
That wins the friend, or that enchants the fair?
* Shrewsbury cakes.
"Damon," said he, "thy partial praise restrain ;
Not Damon's friendship can my peace restore;
Alas! his very praise awakes my pain,
And my poor wounded bosom bleeds the more.
"For oh! that Nature on my birth had frown'd, Or Fortune fix'd me to some lowly cell;
Nor had I bid these vernal sweets fare well.
See in each sprite some various bent appear!
Here, as each season yields a different store,
'But led by Fortune's hand, her darling child,
"Of folly studious, e'en of vices vain,
Ah vices! gilded by the rich and gay!
See! cherries here, ere cherries yet abound,
Poor artless maid! to stain thy spotless name,
I cloth'd each feature with affected scorn;
And, feigning, left her anxious and forlorn.
Warm to deny, and zealous to disprove;
And seiz'd the minute of returning love.
Admir'd Salopia! that with venial pride
"To thee, my Damon, dare I paint the rest?
Will yet thy love a candid ear incline?
Feels not the sharpness of a pang like mine.
See the sad relics of a nymph undone!
Amid the dreary gloom of night, I cry,
But foes that triumph, or but friends that mourn'
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!"
A PASTORAL BALLAD, IN FOUR PARTS. 1743.
Arbusta humilesque myrica.-Virg.
YE shepherds so cheerful and gay, Whose flocks never carelessly roam; Should Corydon's happen to stray,
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 fed 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. When forc'd the fair nymph to forego,
What anguish I felt at my heart! Yet I thought-but it might not be so"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.
My banks they are furnish'd with bees,
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.