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Sportive; while oft the gaunt and rugged wolf
So taught of Jove e'en the fell savage fed
Her speedy growth alarm'd the states around,
And now the world unrival'd they enjoy'd
Dissolv'd in ease and soft delights they lie,
Withers each nerve, and opens every pore
Swift is the flight of wealth; unnumber'd wants,
He cleaves the yielding skies! Cæsar meanwhile
But see along the north the tempests swell
Vain end of human strength, of human skill,
Bane of elated life, of affluent states,
Didius Julianus, who bought the empire
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 So wes. 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 piece in Spenser's style and stanza, the heroine of which was a village dame, supposed to have given him his first instruction. The vein of benevolence and good sense, and the touches of the pathetic, by which this performance is characterized, render it extremely pleasing, and perhaps place it at the head of his compositions.
After amusing himself with a few rambles to places of public resort, Shenstone now sat down to
were erected by several persons who loved the man, and esteemed his poetry. Of the latter, the general opinion is now nearly uniform. It is regarded as commonly correct, elegant, melodious, and tender in sentiment, and often pleasing and natural in description, but verging to the languid and feeble. His prose writings, published in a separate volume, display good sense and cultivated taste, and sometimes contain new and acute observations on mankind.
IN IMITATION OF SPENSER.
Auditæ voces, vagitus et ingens,
АH me! full sorely is my heart forlorn,
Lend me thy clarion, goddess! let me try
In every village mark'd with little spire,
And all in sight doth rise a birchen tree,
And work the simple vassal's mickle woe;
And as they look'd they found their horror grew, And shap'd it into rods, and tingled at the view.
So have I seen (who has not, may conceive)
Sad servitude! such comfortless annoy
Near to this dome is found a patch so green,,
The noises intermix'd, which thence resound,
Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow, Emblem right meet of decency does yield: Her apron dy'd in grain, as blue, I trow, As is the hare-bell that adorns the field: And in her hand, for sceptre, she does wield Tway birchen sprays; with anxious fear entwin'd, With dark distrust, and sad repentance fill'd: And stedfast hate, and sharp affliction join'd, And fury uncontrol'd, and chastisement unkind.
Few but have kenn'd, in semblance meet portray'd,
The childish faces of old Eol's train; Libs, Notus, Auster: these in frowns array'd, How then would fare or Earth, or Sky, or Main, Were the stern god to give his slaves the rein? And were not she rebellious breasts to quell, And were not she her statutes to maintain, The cot no more, I ween, were deem'd the cell, Where comely peace of mind, and decent order dwell.
A russet stole was o'er her shoulders thrown; A russet kirtle fenc'd the nipping air; 'Twas simple russet, but it was her own; 'Twas her own country bred the flock so fair! "Twas her own labor did the fleece prepare; And, sooth to say, her pupils, rang'd around, Through pious awe, did term it passing rare ; For they in gaping wonderment abound, And think, no doubt, she been the greatest wight on ground.
Albeit ne flattery did corrupt her truth, Ne pompous title did debauch her ear; Goody, good-woman, gossip, n'aunt, forsooth, Or dame, the sole additions she did hear; Yet these she challeng'd, these she held right dear: Ne would esteem him act as mought behove, Who should not honor'd eld with these revere: For never title yet so mean could prove, But there was eke a mind which did that title love.
One ancient hen she took delight to feed, The plodding pattern of the busy dame; Which, ever and anon, impell'd by need, Into her school, begirt with chickens, came! Such favor did her past deportment claim : And, if Neglect had lavish'd on the ground Fragment of bread, she would collect the same, For well she knew, and quaintly could expound, What sin it were to waste the smallest crumb she found.
Herbs too she knew, and well of each could speak That in her garden sipp'd the silvery dew; Where no vain flower disclos'd a gaudy streak; But herbs for use, and physic, not a few, Of grey renown, within those borders grew: The tufted basil, pun-provoking thyme, Fresh baum, and marigold of cheerful hue; The lowly gill, that never dares to climb; And more I fain would sing, disdaining here to rhyme
Yet euphrasy may not be left unsung,
And here trim rosemarine, that whilom crown'd
A sacred shelter for its branches here;
Here oft the dame, on Sabbath's decent eve, Hymned such psalms as Sternhold forth did mete, If winter 't were, she to her hearth did cleave, But in her garden found a summer-seat; Sweet melody! to hear her then repeat How Israel's sons, beneath a foreign king, While taunting foemen did a song entreat, All, for the nonce, untuning every string, Uphung their useless lyres-small heart had they to sing.
For she was just, and friend to virtuous lore, And pass'd much time in truly virtuous deed; And in those elfins' ears, would oft deplore The times, when Truth by Popish rage did bleed; And tortious death was true Devotion's meed; And simple Faith in iron chains did mourn, That nould on wooden image place her creed; And lawny saints in smouldering flames did burn: Ah! dearest Lord, forefend, thilk days should e'er
In elbow-chair, like that of Scottish stem
(The source of children's and of courtiers' pride!) Redress'd affronts, for vile affronts there pass'd; And warn'd them not the fretful to deride, But love each other dear, whatever them betide.
Right well she knew each temper to descry; To thwart the proud, and the submiss to raise ; Some with vile copper-prize exalt on high, And some entice with pittance small of praise, And other some with baleful sprig she 'frays: E'en absent, she the reins of power doth hold, While with quaint arts the giddy crowd she sways: Forewarn'd, if little bird their pranks behold, "Twill whisper in her ear, and all the scene unfold.
Lo now with state she utters the command! Eftsoons the urchins to their tasks repair; Their books of stature small they take in hand, Which with pellucid horn secured are, To save from finger wet the letters fair: The work so gay that on their back is seen, St. George's high achievements does declare; On which thilk wight that has y-gazing been, Kens the forth-coming rod, unpleasing sight, I ween!
Ah luckless he, and born beneath the beam Of evil star! it irks me whilst I write : As erst the bard* by Mulla's silver stream, Oft, as he told of deadly dolorous plight, Sigh'd as he sung, and did in tears indite. For brandishing the rod, she doth begin To loose the brogues, the stripling's late delight! And down they drop; appears his dainty skin, Fair as the furry-coat of whitest ermilin.
O ruthful scene! when from a nook obscure, His little sister doth his peril see: All playful as she sate, she grows demure; She finds full soon her wonted spirits flee: She meditates a prayer to set him free: Nor gentle pardon could this dame deny (If gentle pardon could with dames agree) To her sad grief that swells in either eye, And wings her so that all for pity she could die.
No longer can she now her shrieks command; And hardly she forbears, through awful fear, To rushen forth, and, with presumptuous hand, To stay harsh Justice in its mid career. On thee she calls, on thee her parent dear! (Ah! too remote to ward the shameful blow!) She sees no kind domestic visage near, And soon a flood of tears begins to flow; And gives a loose at last to unavailing woe.
But ah! what pen his piteous plight may trace? Or what device his loud laments explain? The form uncouth of his disguised face? The pallid hue that dyes his looks amain? The plenteous shower that does his cheek distain? When he, in abject wise, implores the dame, Ne hopeth aught of sweet reprieve to gain; Or when from high she levels well her aim, And, through the thatch, his cries each falling stroke proclaim.
The other tribe, aghast, with sore dismay, Attend, and con their tasks with mickle care:
By turns, astonied, every twig survey, And, from their fellow's hateful wounds, beware; Knowing, I wist, how each the same may share, Till fear has taught them a performance meet, And to the well-known chest the dame repair; Whence oft with sugar'd cates she doth them greet, And ginger-bread y-rare; now certes, doubly sweet! See to their seats they hie with merry glee, And in beseemly order sitten there; All but the wight of bum y-galled, he Abhorreth bench, and stool, and form, and chair; (This hand in mouth y-fix'd, that rends his hair ;) And eke with snubs profound, and heaving breast, Convulsions intermitting! does declare
His grievous wrong; his dame's unjust behest; And scorns her offer'd love, and shuns to be caress'd.
His face besprent with liquid crystal shines,
If so I deem aright, transcending worth and fame.
Behind some door, in melancholy thought, Mindless of food, he, dreary caitiff! pines, Ne for his fellows' joyaunce careth aught, But to the wind all merriment resigns; And deems it shame, if he to peace inclines: And many a sullen look askance is sent, Which for his dame's annoyance he designs; And still the more to pleasure him she's bent, The more doth he, perverse, her havior past resent.
Ah me! how much I fear lest pride it be! But if that pride it be, which thus inspires, Beware, ye dames, with nice discernment see, Ye quench not too the sparks of nobler fires: Ah! better far than all the Muses' lyres, All coward arts, is Valor's generous heat; The firm fixt breast which fit and right requires, Like Vernon's patriot soul! more justly great Than Craft that pimps for ill, or flowery false Deceit.
Yet nurs'd with skill, what dazzling fruits appear! E'en now sagacious Foresight points to show A little bench of heedless bishops here, And there a chancellor in embryo, Or bard sublime, if bard may e'er be so, As Milton, Shakspeare, names that ne'er shall die! Though now he crawl along the ground so low, Nor weeting how the Muse should soar on high, Wisheth, poor starveling elf! his paper kite may fly
And this perhaps, who, censuring the design, Low lays the house which that of cards doth build,
Shall Dennis be! if rigid Fate incline, And many an epic to his rage shall yield; And many a poet quit th' Aonian field; And, sour'd by age, profound he shall appear, As he who now with 'sdainful fury thrill'd Surveys mine work; and levels many a sneer, And furls his wrinkly front, and cries, "What stuff is here ?"
But now Dan Phoebus gains the middle skie,
For well may Freedom erst so dearly won,
Enjoy, poor imps! enjoy your sportive trade,
But most in courts where proud Ambition towers;
See in each sprite some various bent appear!
Describing the sorrow of an ingenuous mind, on the melancholy event of a licentious amour.
WHY mourns my friend? why weeps his downcast
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? Wert thou not form'd by Nature's partial care? Blest in thy song, and blest in every grace
That wins the friend, or that enchants the fair? "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;
Those sauntering on the green, with jocund leer Then had my bosom 'scap'd this fatal wound,
Salute the stranger passing on his way;
In pastry kings and queens th' allotted mite to
Nor had I bid these vernal sweets farewell.
"But led by Fortune's hand, her darling child, My youth her vain licentious bliss admir'd: In Fortune's train the syren Flattery smil'd, And rashly hallow'd all her queen inspir'd. "Of folly studious, e'en of vices vain,
Ah vices! gilded by the rich and gay!
I chas'd the guileless daughters of the plain,
Sustain❜d by virtue, but betray'd by love.
I cloth'd each feature with affected scorn;
I bade my words their wonted softness wear,
Feels not the sharpness of a pang like mine.
Henry,' she said, 'by thy dear form subdu'd,
I find, I find this rising sob renew'd:
"Amid the dreary gloom of night, I cry,
When will the morn's once pleasing scenes return? Yet what can morn's returning ray supply,
But foes that triumph, or but friends that mourn