1798 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Anna Seward to Mrs. Jackson, 13 February 1798; Letters, ed. Scott (1811) 5:49-50.



The above mentioned complete burlesque on verse-analyzation, can see no beauty in the tender ballads and elegies of Shenstone, with all their coy elegance and unobtrusive charms — Shenstone! who has struck the true pastoral chords, which Virgil and Pope missed, by want of simplicity — by making their shepherds scholars and courtiers; and Gay and Philips, by vulgarness — by making theirs mere clowns and rustics. Shenstone loved, and lived the pastoral life he drew — with a mind highly cultivated by classic education, he literally tended his sheep, his bees, and his flowers, and nursed in retirement the tender and natural sentiments of a love-impressed heart. They will find an echo in every bosom susceptible of the power of enamoured passion, and of the coyer charms of poetry.

He lived in happy times, when England was wise and great, the arbitress of Europe, at leisure to investigate the claims of classical talents; and the claims of Shenstone, genuine as they were modest, passed not away without their fame. National danger, with all that clamour of dissonant opinion which it excites, drowned not the tones of his silver lyre!