Page images

And paint that sweetly vacant scene,

When, all beneath the poplar bough, My spirits light, my soul serene, i

I breath'd in verse one cordial vow ; _ That nothing should my soul inspire, But friendship warm, and love entire.

Dull to the sense of new delight,

On thee the drooping Muse attends : As some fond lover, robb’d of sight,

On thy expressive pow'r depends; Nor would exchange thy glowing lines, To live the lord of all that shines.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Bring me the bells, the rattle bring,

And bring the hobby I bestrode; When pleas’d, in many a sportive ring,

Around the room I jovial rode: Ev'n let me bid my lyre adieu ! And bring the whistle that I blew,

IX. Then will I muse, and pensive say, .

Why did not these enjoyments last ? How sweetly wasted I the day,

While innocence allow'd to waste?
Ambition's toils alike are vain,
But ah ! for pleasure yields us pain."

: Our author also wrote twenty-six 'elegies, some of which have.

* at excellence. Many of his pieces were first published in Dodsley's · lection of poems. Among his smaller pieces, are the following 6.28; written at an inn at Henley:

“ TÖ thee, fair Freedom! I retire,

From flattery, cards, and dice, and din;
Nor art thou found in mansions higher

Than the low cot, or humble inn.
'Tis here with boundleas power I reign;

And every health, which I begin,
Converts dull port to bright champaign;

Sach freedom crowns it at an inn.
I fly from pomp, I fly from plate,

I fly from Falshood's specious grin ;
Freedom I love, and form I hate,

And choose my lodgings at an inn.
Here, waiter ! take my sordid ore,

Which lacquey's else might hope to win;
It buys what courts have not in store,

It buys me freedom at an inn.
And now once more I shape my way

Thro’rain or shine, thro' thick or thin,
Secure to meet, at close of day,

With kind reception-at an inn.
Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,
: "Where'er his various tour has been,
May sigh to think how oft he found

His warmest welcome at an inn."

One of Mr. Shenstone's principal amusements, was an epistolary correspondence with several of his friends, particularly Mr. Graves, Mr. Jago, Mr. Whilster, and lady Luxborough, sister to lord Bolingbroke. A volume of this lady's letters to Mr. Shenstone, were published, in 8vo. in 1775. It is said, that at the latter end of his life, he was upon the point of being made easy, so far as increase of fortune could effect it, by the good offices of some who were concerting measures for proc-iring him a pension ; and it is observed, that such bounty could not have been more properly bestowed: but whilst these kind friends were indulging themselves

in the pleasing thought of having provided for his future ease, and tranquil enjoyment of life, their generous intentions were frustrats ed by his death, which was probably hastened by his angietiess He died at Leasowes, of a putrid fever, on the 11th of February; 1763 ; and was buried by the side of his brother in the church. yard of Hales-Owen, under a plain flat stone, inscribed with his name.

. The character of Shenstone was very amiable. Dr. Johnson, though he has not done justice to his talents or his writings, says of him, that “bis life was unstained by any crime.” The elegy on Jessey, which has been supposed to relate an unfortunate and criminal amour of his own, was known by his friends to have been suggested by the story of Miss Godfrey in Richardson's Pamela.” Mr. Dodsley says of Shenstone, that “ tenderness, in every sense of the word, was his peculiar characteristic; his friends, his domestics, his poor neighbours, all daily experienced his benevolent turn of mind. Indeed, this virtue in him was often carried to such excess, that it sometimes bordered upon weakness ; yet if he was convinced that any of those, ranked among the number of his friends, had treated him ungenerously, he was not easily reconciled. He used a maxim, however, on such occasions, which is worthy of being observed and imitated: “I never (said he) will be a revengeful enemy; but I cannot, it is not in my nature, to be a half friend." He was in his temper quite unsuspicious ; but if suspicion was once awakened in him, it was not laid asleep again without great difficulty.

“ He was no economist ; the generosity of his temper prevente ed him from paying a proper regard to the use of money; he exceeded therefore the bounds of his paternal fortune, which before he died was considerably encumbered. But when one recollects the perfect paradise he had raised around him, the hospitality with which he lived, his great indulgence to his servants, his charities to the indigent, and all done with an estate not more than three hundred pounds a year, one should rather be led to wonder that he left any thing behind him, than to blame his want of economy. He left however more than sufficient to pay all his debts, and by his will appropriated his whole estate for that purpose. 1. It was perhaps from some considerations on the narrowness of

[ocr errors]

his fortune, that he forbore to marry; for he acknowledged it was his own fault that he did not accept the hand of the lady whom he so tenderly loved, and whose charms he had so affectingly sung in his celebrated “ Pastoral Ballad.”

.“ In his person, Mr., Shenstone, as to height, was above the middle stature, but largely and rather inelegantly formed ; his face seemed plain till you conversed with him, and then it grew very pleasing. In his dress, he was negligent, even to a fault ; though when young, at the university, he was accounted a beau. He wore his own hair, which was quite grey very early, in a particular manner ; not from an affectation of singularity, but from a maxim he had laid down, that without too slavish a regard to fashion, every one should dress in a manner most suitable to his own person and figure.”

The whole of Mr. Shenstone's works have been printed in three volumes, 8vo. The last volume consists entirely of letters to his his friends.

** Authorities. Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Grave's Re. collections of some particulars in the Life of William Shenstone; esq. Brit. Biog 8vo. vol. x.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

This learned prelate was born at Lichfield, on the first of January, 1704. He was son to John Newton, a considerable brandy and cyder merchant in that city. He received the first part of his education in the free school of Lichfield, whence he was removed to Westminster-school, in 1717. During the time he was at Westminster, there were, he observes, more young men who inade

Vol. IV.

a distinguished figure afterwards in the world, than perhaps at any other period, either before or since. He particularly mentions William Murray, afterwards earl of Mansfield, with whom he

lived on terms of the highest friendship to the last. : · He continued six years at Westminster-school, five of which he

passed in college. He went to Cambridge, and entered at Trinity college. Here he constantly resided eight months, at least, in every year, till he had taken his bachelor-of-arts' degree. Soon after he was chosen fellow of Trinity college, he came to settle in London. As it had been his inclination from a child, and he was also designed for holy orders, he had sufficient time to prepare himself, and composed some sermons, that he might have a stock in hand when he entered on the ministry. His title for orders was his fellowship; and he was ordained deacon in December, 1759; and priest in the February following, by bishop Gibson.

At his first setting out in the world, he officiated-as curate at St George's, Hanover-square ; and continued for several years assistant-preacher to Dr. Trebeck. His first preferment was that of reader and afternoon-preacher at Grosvenor-chapel, in South Audley-street. This introduced him into the family of lord Tyrconnel, to whose son he became tutor. He continued in this situtation for many years, very much at his ease, and on terms of great intimacy and friendship with lord and lady Tyrconnel, without so much (says he) as an unkind word, or a cool look ever intervening.

In the spring of 1744, he was, through the interest of the eart of Bath (who was his great friend and patron, and whose friendship and patronage were returned by grateful acknowledgements, and the warmest encomiums), presented to the rectory of St. Mary le Bow ; so that he was forty years old before he obtained any living.

At the commencement of 1745, he took his doctor's degree.

In the spring of 1747, he was chosen lecturer of St George's, Hanover-square, by a most respectable vestry of noblemen and gentry of high distinction.

In August following, he married his first wife, the eldest daughter of Dr. Trebeck, an unaffected, modest, decent, young womally

« PreviousContinue »