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'She gaz'd, as I slowly withdrew;
My path I could hardly discern;
I thought that she bade me return '.'
In the second this passage has its prettiness, though it be not 27 equal to the former:
'I have found out a gift for my fair;
I have found where the wood-pigeons breed:
She will say 'twas a barbarous deed:
Who could rob a poor bird of its young;
In the third he mentions the common-places of amorous poetry 28 with some address:
"Tis his with mock passion to glow;
With the notes of his charmer to vie ;
In the fourth I find nothing better than this natural strain of 29 Hope:
'Alas! from the day that we met,
What hope of an end to my woes?
The glance that undid my repose.
The flower, and the shrub, and the tree,
His Levities are by their title exempted from the severities of 30
Eng. Poets, lix. 155. Boswell recorded in 1773:-'We talked of Shenstone. Dr. Johnson said he was a good layer-out of land, but would not allow him to approach excellence as a poet. He said he believed he had tried to read all his Love Pastorals, but did not get through them. I re
criticism; yet it may be remarked in a few words that his humour is sometimes gross, and seldom spritely 1.
Of the Moral Poems 2 the first is the Choice of Hercules3, from Xenophon. The numbers are smooth, the diction elegant, and the thoughts just; but something of vigour perhaps is still to be wished, which it might have had by brevity and compression. His Fate of Delicacy has an air of gaiety, but not a very pointed general moral. His blank verses, those that can read them may probably find to be like the blank verses of his neighbours. Love and Honour' is derived from the old ballad Did you not hear of a Spanish Lady3—I wish it well enough to wish it were in rhyme.
The School-mistress, of which I know not what claim it has to stand among the Moral Works, is surely the most pleasing of Shenstone's performances. The adoption of a particular style in light and short compositions contributes much to the increase
I Among the Levities are the lines
Where'er his stages may have
Boswell's Johnson, ii. 452. For the lines see Eng. Poets, lix. 185; and for an earlier and fuller version see Dodsley's Collection, v.51; John. Misc. ii. 253. 'Life's dull round' Shenstone may have borrowed from Johnson's Adventurer, No. 108. 'He grew weary of the same dull round of life.'
Graves says that this stanza was written in a summer-house at Edge Hill, on the evening of a day which he had passed travelling homewards from his friend Whistler's house in South Oxfordshire, of whom he had
of pleasure: we are entertained at once with two imitations, of nature in the sentiments, of the original author in the style, and between them the mind is kept in perpetual employment'.
The general recommendation of Shenstone is easiness and 33 simplicity; his general defect is want of comprehension and variety. Had his mind been better stored with knowledge, whether he could have been great I know not; he could certainly have been agreeable2.
APPENDIX T (PAGE 349)
'Being himself a poet, Johnson was peculiarly happy in mentioning how many of the sons of Pembroke were poets; adding with a smile of sportive triumph, "Sir, we are a nest of singing birds." Boswell's Johnson, i. 75. He left the College in 1729; his Life of Shenstone appeared in 1781, so that he does not fall within the half-century. Neither, of course, does Sir Thomas Browne. In the half-century come Shenstone; Richard Graves, author of The Spiritual Quixote, one of the poets of Dodsley's Collection (iv. 323, v.62); Anthony Whistler, another of the poets (ib. iv. 320, v. 60); Sir William Blackstone, also of the poets with his Lawyer's Farewell to his Muse (ib. iv. 224); and William Hawkins, Professor of Poetry (1751-6), of whom Goldsmith wrote (Works, iv. 253):-'Be it enough to say in general that he was not born a poet, or that imitation has spoiled him.' When Whistler died Shenstone wrote to Graves :-'The triumvirate, which was the greatest happiness and the greatest pride of my life, is broken.' Graves was the third member. Shenstone's Works, iii. 228.
Whitfield also falls within the half-century (Boswell's Johnson, i. 78 n.); John Henderson (ib. iv. 298; John. Misc. ii. 197); J. L. Smithson,
'The Schoolmistress is excellent in its kind and masterly.' GRAY, Letters, i. 183.
'That water-gruel bard Shenstone never wrote anything good but his Schoolmistress.' HORACE WALPOLE, Letters, vii. 54.
'This poem is one of those happinesses in which a poet excels himself, as there is nothing in all Shenstone which any way approaches it in merit. ... The antiquity of the style produces a very ludicrous solemnity.' GOLDSMITH, Works, iii. 436.
Lamb, attacking a rustic Cockneyism,' continues:-'The true rustic style I think is to be found in Shenstone. Would his Schoolmistress, the prettiest of poems, have been better
founder of the Smithsonian Institute, Washington; and Dr. Thomas Beddoes. Macleane's Hist. of Pemb. Coll. pp. 370-81, 389-93.
Among the singing birds' of later days were T. L. Beddoes, that 'forgotten Oxford poet,' said Browning, 'on whom, if I were ever Professor of Poetry, my first lecture should be'; R. S. Hawker, whose Trelawny ballad deceived Macaulay; William Fulford, editor of The Oxford and Cambridge Magazine; R. W. Dixon and S. J. Stone. Dr. Edwin Hatch, the theologian, and Dr. Edward Moore, editor of Dante, were also members. So also were Professors Rolleston and Chandler, Sir John Scott, K.C.M.G., late Judicial Adviser to the Khedive, Mr. Sydney Prior Hall, and Mr. Charles Eamer Kempe.
Neither must I pass over the last master, Professor Bartholomew Price, who did so much for the Clarendon Press, in the improvement of which Johnson had taken a strong interest (Boswell's Johnson, ii. 424). Macleane's Pemb. Coll. pp. 240, 424, 470-2, 475, 478, 491.
'Sir Thomas Browne,' writes Johnson, ' was the first man of eminence graduated from the new college, to which the zeal or gratitude of those that love it most can wish little better than that it may long proceed as it began.' Works, vi. 476. Floreat Collegium Pembrochiae !
HE following life was written at my request by a gentle- 1 man who had better information than I could easily have obtained; and the publick will perhaps wish that I had solicited and obtained more such favours from him.
Johnson, who had undertaken only to write Prefaces but had given Lives, grew weary of his task before he reached the end. Of the last Life of all-Lyttelton's-he wrote to Mrs. Thrale: 'I sent to Lord Westcote about his brother's life, but he says he knows not whom to employ; and is sure I shall do him no injury. There is an ingenious scheme to save a day's work, or part of a day, utterly defeated. Then what avails it to be wise? The plain and the artful man must both do their own work.-But I think I have got a life of Dr. Young.' John. Letters, ii. 189. A week later he wrote:-" 'I shall have Young's life given me to spite you.' Ib. p. 190.
Boswell describes the author, Herbert Croft, as 'then a Barrister of Lincoln's Inn, now a clergyman.' Boswell's Johnson, iv. 58. In 1784 Croft met Johnson at Pembroke College. 'I am afraid,' writes Boswell, 'he was somewhat mortified by Dr. Johnson's not being highly pleased with some Family Discourses which he had printed; they were in too familiar a style to be approved of by so manly a mind.' Ib. iv. 298.
Croft, in a passage first printed in the second edition, says that he could not prevail on Johnson 'to make any alterations,' though he insisted on striking out one passage.' Post, YOUNG, 153. Johnson wrote of Croft's work to Nichols :-'What is crossed with black is expunged by the authour; what is crossed with red is expunged by me. If you find anything more that can be well omitted I shall not be sorry to see it
yet shorter.' 58.
Boswell's Johnson, iv.
The Rev. John Hussey John. Misc. Preface, p. 12) recorded in a marginal note:-'Soon after the publication of the Prefaces, on my telling Dr. Johnson that I heard some reflections on the Life of Young being too long, and that he was too frequently called the Author of the Night Thoughts, he replied :-"Nay, I can acquit myself of the first charge, and Mr. Croft of the other. I expunged nearly half that was written, and he was called the Author of the Night Thoughts by my recommendation." ›
Of this Life by Croft Boswell writes:-'It has always appeared to me to have a considerable share of merit, and to display a pretty successful imitation of Johnson's style. When I mentioned this to a very eminent literary character [Burke], he opposed me vehemently, exclaiming, "No, no, it is not a good imitation of Johnson; it has all his pomp without his force; it has all the nodosities of the oak without its strength." This was an image so happy, that one might have thought he would have been satisfied with it; but he was not. And setting his mind again to work, he added, with exquisite felicity, "It has all the contortions of the Sybil, without the inspiration." Boswell's Johnson, iv. 59.
It is strange that Boswell, whose own style is excellent, should have liked this intolerable piece of affectation. Happily for me it is no duty of mine to edit Croft.
[Sir Leslie Stephen, in his article on