1742 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Somervile

William Shenstone to Richard Jago, 1742; Letters, ed. Mallam (1939) 42-43.



Our old good friend Somervile is dead! I did not imagine I could have been so sorry as I find myself on this occasion — "Sublatum quaeriumus." I can now excuse all his foibles; impute them to old age, and to distress of circumstances: the last of these considerations wrings my very soul to think on. For a man of high spirit, conscious of having (at least in one production) generally pleased the world, to be plagued and threatened by wretches that are low in every sense; to be forced to drink himself into pains of the body in order to get rid of the pains of the mind; is a misery which I can well conceive, because I may, without vanity, esteem myself his equal in point of economy, and consequently ought to have an eye on his misfortunes: (As you kindly hinted to me about twelve o'clock at the Feathers) I should retrench; — I will; but you shall not see me: — I will not let you know that I took your hint in good part. I will do it at solitary times; as I may; and yet there will be some difficulty in it; for whatever the world might esteem in poor Somervile, I really find, upon critical inquiry, that I loved him for nothing so much as his flocci-nauci-nihili-pili-fication of money.