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rival, whofe empire, fpacious and opulent, looked with difdain on the petty State that appeared behind it. For a while the inhabitants of Hagley affected to tell their acquaintance of the little fellow that was trying to make himself admired; but when by degrees the Leafowes forced themfelves into notice, they took care to defeat the curiofity which they could not fupprefs, by conducting their vifitants perverfely to inconvenient points of view, and introducing them at the wrong end of a walk to detect a deception; injuries of which Shenftone would heavily complain. Where there is emulation there will be vanity, and' where there is vanity there will be folly.
The pleasure of Shenftone was all in his eye; he valued what he valued merely for its looks; nothing raised his indignation more than to ask if there were any fishes in his water.
His house was mean, and he did not improve it; his care was of his grounds. When he came home from his walks, he might find his floors flooded by a fhower through the broken roof; but could fpare no money for its reparation.
In time his expences brought clamours about him, that overpowered the lamb's bleat and the linnet's fong; and his groves were haunted by beings very different from fawns and fairies. He spent his eftate in adorning it, and his death was probably haftened by his anxieties. He was a lamp that fpent its oil in blazing. It is faid, that if he had lived a little longer he would have been affifted by a penfion: fuch bounty could not have been ever more properly bestowed; but that it was ever afked is not certain; it is too certain that it never was enjoyed.
He died at the Leafowes of a putrid fever, about five on Friday morning, February 11, 1763; and was buried by the fide of his brother in the churchyard of Hales-Owen.
He was never married, though he might have obtained the lady, whoever fhe was, to whom his Paftoral Ballad was addreffed. He is reprefented by his. friend Dodfley as a man of great tenderness and generofity, kind to all that were within his influence; but, if once offended, not eafily appeafed; inattentive to œconomy, and careless of his expences; in his perfon larger than the middle size, with something clumsy in his form; very negligent of his cloaths, and remarkable for wearing his grey hair in a particular manner; for he held that the fashion was no rule of dress, and that every man was to fuit his appearance to his natural form.
His mind was not very comprehenfive, nor his curiofity active; he had no value for those parts of knowledge which he had not himself cultivated.
His life was unftained by any crime; the Elegy on Fee, which has been fuppofed to relate an unfortynate and criminal amour of his own, was known by his friends to have been fuggefted by the story of Mifs Godfrey in Richardfon's Pamela.
What Gray thought of his character, from the perufal of his Letters, was this:
"I have read too an octavo volume of Shenstone's "Letters. Poor man! he was always wifhing for money, for fame, and other diftinctions; and his "whole philofophy confifted in living against his will "in retirement, and in a place which his tafte had "adorned; but which he only enjoyed when people
"of note came to fee and commend it: his correspondence is about nothing elfe but this place and "his own writings, with two or three neighbouring "clergymen, who wrote verfes too."
His poems confift of elegies, odes and ballads, humorous fallies and moral pieces.
His conception of an Elegy he has in his Prefacevery judiciously and difcriminately explained. It is, according to his account, the effufion of a contempla-tive mind, fometimes plantive, and always ferious, and therefore fuperior to the glitter of flight ornaments. His compofitions fuit not ill to this defcription. His topicks of praise are the domeftic virtues, and his thoughts are pure and fmple; but, wanting combination, they want variety. The peace of folitude, the innocence of inactivity, and the unenvied fecurity of an humble ftation, can fill but a few pages. That of which the effence is unformity will be foon defcribed. His Elegies have therefore too much refemblance of each other.
The lines are fometimes, fuch as Elegy requires, fmooth and eafy; but to this praise his claim is not conftant his diction is often arfh, improper, and affected; his words ill-coined, or ill-chofen, and his phrase unskilfully inverted.
The Lyrick Poems are almɗt all of the light and airy kind, such as trip lightly and nimbly along, without the load of any weighty neaning. From thefe, however, Rural Elegance has fom right to be excepted. I once heard it praised by a very learned lady; and though the lines are irregular, and the thoughts diffufed with too much verbofity, yet it cannot be de
nied to contain both philofophical argument and po. etical fpirit.
Of the reft I cannot think any excellent; the Skylark pleases me best, which has however more of the epigram than of the ode.
But the four parts cf his Paftoral Ballad demand particular notice. I cannot but regret that it is paftoral; an intelligent reader, acquainted with the scenes of real life, fickens at the mention of the crook, the pipe, the beep, and the kids, which it is not neceffary to bring forward to notice, for the poet's art is selection, and he ought to fhev the beauties without the grofsnefs of the country life. His ftanza feems to have been chofen in imitation of Rowe's Despairing Shepberd.
In the first part are two paffages, to which if any mind denies its fynpathy, it has no acquaintance with love or nature:
I priz'd every hour hat went by,
Beyond all that had pleas'd me before;
And I grieve that ❘ priz'd them no more.
My path I could hardly difcern;
I thought that the bade me return.
In the fecond this piffage has its prettiness, though it be not 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 fay 'twas a barbarous deed:
For he ne'er could be true, the averr'd,
Such tenderness fall from her tongue.
In the third he mentions the common-places of amorous poetry with some address:
'Tis his with mock paffion to glow!
'Tis his in fmooth tales to unfold, How her face is as bright as the snow, And her bofom, be fure, 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 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 fhrub, and the tree,
In time may have comfort for me.
His Levities are by their title exempted from the feverities of criticism; yet it may be remarked in a few words, that his humour is fometimes grofs, and feldom fpritely.