1758 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Alexander Carlyle, 1758; in Autobiography of Dr. Alexander Carlyle (1910) 387-88.



On agreement with John Home, we set out for Lord Lyttleton's, and were to take the Leasowes, Shenstone's place, in our way. Shenstone's was three or four miles short of Lyttelton's. We called in there on our way, and walked all over the grounds, which were finely laid out, and which it is needless to describe. The want of water was obvious, but the ornaments and mottoes, and names of the groves, were appropriate. Garbett was with us, and we had [seen] most of the place before Shenstone was dressed, who was going to dine with Admiral Smith. We left one or two of the principal walks for him to show us. At the end of a high walk, from whence we saw far into Gloster and Shrop shires, I met with what struck me most, — that was an emaciated pale young woman, evidently in the last stage of a consumption. She had a most interesting appearance, with a little girl of nine or ten years old, who had led her there. Shenstone went up and stood for some time conversing with her, till we went to the end of the walk and returned: on some of us taking an interest in her appearance, he said she was a very sickly neighbour, to whom he had lent a key to his walks, as she delighted in them, though now not able to use it much. The most beautiful inscription he afterwards wrote to the memory of Maria Dolman put me in mind of this young woman; but, if I remember right, she was not the person. It is to me the most elegant and interesting of all Shenstone's works.

We set all out for Admiral Smith's, and had Mr. Shenstone to ride with us. His appearance surprised me, for he was a large heavy fat man, dressed in white clothes and silver lace, with his grey hairs tied behind and much powdered, which, added to his shyness and reserve, was not at first prepossessing. His reserve and melancholy (for I could not call it pride) abated as we rode along, and by the time we left him at the Admiral's, he became good company, — Garbett, who knew him well, having whispered him, that though we had no great name, he would not find us common men.