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appear by one of Shenstone's letters that he occasionally used his pencil as well as his pen.
His rank as a poet cannot be thought very high. Yet we have few more beautiful specimens of tenderness and sensibility than in his Elegies on the Blackbirds and Goldfinches. The fable of Labour and Genius has a pleasing mixture of elegance and humour.
The Elegy on the Blackbirds appeared first in The Adventurer, to the editor of which it was sent by Gilbert West, and published as his. The author claimed it, however, when added to Dodsley's collection, a circumstance which Dr. Johnson has noted, but not with sufficient precision, in his life of West. Even when Mr. Jago put his name to it, a manager of the Bath theatre endeavoured to make it pass for his own, and with great effrontery asserted that Jago was a fictitious name adopted from the play of Othello.
His longest poem, Edge-Hill, has some passages not destitute of animation, but it is so topographically exact, that to enjoy it the reader must have a map constantly before him ; and perhaps with that aid, if he is not conversant with the various scenery, the effect will be languor and indifference. Even his friend Shenstone seems to speak coldly of it. “ You must by no means lay aside the thoughts of perfecting Edge-hill, at your leisure. It is possible, that in order to keep clear of flattery, I have said less in its favour than I really ought-but I never considered it otherwise than as a poem which it was very adviseable for you to complete and finish." Shenstone did not live to see it published in its finished state, and whatever his objections, probably bestowed the warmest praise on the tender and simple episode of Lydia and the Blind Lover, taken from a story in The Tatler.
His other pieces requires no distinct notice.--Shenstone, in a letter dated 1759, mentions an Essay on Electricity written by Jago, but whether published, I have not been able to discover. In 1755, he printed a very sensible and seasonable discourse, entitled The Causes of Impenitence considered, preached at Harbury, May 4, 1755, on occasion of a conversation said to have passed between one of the inhabitants and an apparition, in the churchyard belonging to that place. From this incident, which he does not consider it as his business either to contirm or disprove, he takes an opportunity to enforce the necessity of repentance. Another sermon, 1763, is attributed to him in Cooke's Historical Register, of which I can find no mention any where else.
FOR ANY AUTHOR, AND FOR ANY BOOK.
The following sheets were fairly transcribed, the title-page was adjusted, and every thing, as the writer thought, in readiness for the press, when, upon casting his eyes over them for the last time, with more than usual attention, something seemed wanting, which, after a short pause, he perceived to be the Preface. Now it is fit the reader should know, as an apology for this seeming inattention, that he had formerly rejected this article onder a notion of its being superfluous, and uninteresting to the reader; but now, when matters were come to a crisis, and it was almost too late, he changed his mind, and thought a preface as essential to the figure of a book, as a portico is to that of a building,
Not that the author would insinuate by this comparison, that his paper edifice was entitled to any thing superb and pompous of this sort; but only that it wanted something plain and decent, between the beggarly style of Quarles, or Ogilby, and the magnificence of the profuse Dryden. Far be it from him, by calling this small appendage to his work by the name of a portico, or an antechamber, or a vestibule, or the like, to raise the reader's expectations, or to encourage any ideas but those of the most simple kind, as introductory to his subsequent entertainment: neither would he, like some undertakers in literary architecture, bestow as much expense on the entrance, as, prudently managed, might furnish the lofty town apartments, or pastoral villa of a modem poet. On the con trary, he reserves all his finery of carving and gilding, as well as his pictures and cabinets, for theis proper places within.
Bat for the further illustration of his meaning, he chooses to have recourse to allusions more Dearly related to his subject, such as the prelude to a song, or the prologue to a play, there being evidently a great affinity between rhyming and fiddling, writing verses and playing the fool.
Another consideration, which greatly influenced the author in this point, was the respect which he bears to the public. For conceiving himself now in the very act of making his appearance before every circle of the polite and learned world, he was struck with awe, and felt as if he had been guilty of some indecorum, like a person abruptly breaking into good company with his hat on, or withont making a bow. For though by his situation in life he is happily relieved from any personal embarrassment of this kind, yet he considered his book as his proxy, and he would by no means have his proxy guilty of such an impropriety as to keep his hat on before all the learned men of Europe, or to omit making his bow upon being admitted to an audience, or presented in the drawing-room.
Great is the force of this little article of gesticulation, from the lowest class of orators in this street, to those in the highest departments in life; insomuch that it has been thought a prudent, attentive, and skilful manager, either on the stage, or at the bar, as well as the bowing dean in his walk, may acquire as much success amongst polite and well-bred people, and particularly the ladies, who are the best judges, by the magic of his bow, as by any other part of his action or oratory.
Yet, notwithstanding all that the author has said concerning this external mark of reverence, he is sensible that there is a set of cynical philosophers, who are so far from paying it due regard, that they count it no better than a refined species of idolatry, and an abomination utterly unbecoming so noble and erect a creature as man. Upon these gentlemen it is not to be expected that the best bow which the author or his book could make, would have any effect; and therefore he shall decline that ceremony with them, to take them by the hand in a friendly manner, hoping that they will make some allowance for his having been tauglit against his own consent to dance, and scribble from his infancy.
He is aware likewise that there is another sect of philosophers, whom his ingenious friend Mr. G. author of the Spiritual Quixote, distinguishes by the name of censorious Christians, “who," as he expresses it, “ will not suffer a man to nod in his elbow-chair, or to talk nonsense without contradicting or ridiculing him."—But as the writer of this admirable work has shown himself so able and successful a casaist in a similar instance of a petulant and over officious zeal, he hopes these gentlemen will, in imitation of Mr. Wildgoose, for the future refrain from a practice so injurious to their neighbours' repose, and so contrary to all the laws of civility and good manners.
It is true, some of these literati may be considered under a more formidable character, from their custom of holding a monthly meeting, or office for arraigning the conduct of all whom they suspect of maintaining heretical opinions contrary to their jurisdiction. In this view these good fathers scruple sot to put an author upon the rack for the slightest offence, and not content with their claims of inspiration and infallibility, will torture his own words to prove his guilt. In the execution of this office they judge all men by their own standard, and, like the tyrant Procrustes, regardless of the acute pain they inflict at every stroke, will lop off a foot, or any other portion of an author's matter, or lengthen it out, as best suits their purpose, to bring him to their measure.
But to the inexpressible comfort of himself, and of every free-born English writer, the author reflects that the competence of such a court cannot be admitted in a protestant country: and to speak the truth, from experience, its power, as exercised amongst us, though still very tremendous, is tempered with a gentleness and moderation unknown to those of Spain and Portugal.
But though the author is not without hopes, by his complaisance and condescension, to conciliate the affections of all those various sects of the learned in every part of the world, yet his principal dependence is upon the gentle and humane, whose minds are always open to the feelings of others, as well as to the gratification of their own refined taste and sentiments; and to these he makes his appeal, which he hopes they will accept as a tribute due to their superior merit, and a testimony of the profound respect with which he is their
ARGUMENT. Salve, magna parens frugum, Saturnia tellus,
The subject proposed. Address. Ascent to the hill. Magna virum ! tibi res antiquæ laudis, et artes
General view. Comparison. Philosophical acIngredior, sanctos ausus recludere fontes.
count of the origiu and formation of mountains,
&c. Morning view, comprehending the southOur sight is the most perfect and most delight
west part of the scene, interspersed with elements ful of all our senses. It fills the mind with the
and examples of rural taste; showing, at the same largest variety of ideas, converses with its objects
time, its connection with, and dependence upon at the greatest distance, and continues the longest
civil government; and concluding with an hisin action without being tired, or satiated with its
torical episode of the Red-horse. proper enjoyment. Spect. No. 411, On the Pleasures of Imagination.
RITANNIA'S rural charms, and tranquil scenes,
Far from the circling ocean, where her fleets, PREFACE.
Like Eden's nightly guards', majestic ride,
I sing; O may the theme and kindred soil Tus following poem takes its name from a ridge of Propitious prove, and to th' appointed hill hills, wbich is the boundary between the counties Invite the Muses from their cloister'd shades, of Oxford and Warwick, and remarkable for its With me to rove, and harmonize the strain! beautiful and extensive prospect, of which the latter Nor shall they, for a time, regret the loss forms a considerable part. This circumstance af. Of their lovid Isis, and fair Cherwel's stream, forded the writer an opportunity, very agreeable to While to the north of their own beauteous fields him, of paying a tribute to his native country, by The pictur'd scene they view, where Avon shapes exhibiting its beauties to the public in a poetical His winding way, enlarging as it flows, delineation ; divided, by an imaginary line, into a Nor hastes to join Sabrina's prouder wave. number of distinct scenes, corresponding with the Like a tall rampart ! here the mountain rears different times of the day, each forming an entire Its verdant edge; and, if the tuneful maids picture, and containing its due proportion of objects Their presence deign, shall with Parnassus vie. and colouring.
Level and smooth the track, which thither leads ! In the execution of this design, he endeavoured Of champaign bold and fair! its adverse side to make it as extensively interesting as he could, Abrupt and steep! Thanks, Miller 2! to thy paths, by the frequent introduction of general reflections, That ease our winding steps ! Thanks to the fount, historical, philosophical, and moral; and to enliven the description by digressions and episodes, 1 Milton. Paradise Lost, book iv. naturally arising from the subject.
Sanderson Miller, esq. of Radway.