1757 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Robert Dodsley

William Shenstone to Richard Graves, 7 March 1757; Shenstone, Works (1769) 3:301-02.



The poor man has been afflicted with the most lasting fit of the gout he ever underwent before. — His patience, on these occasions, is inimitable. — His excursion to the Regions of Terror and Pity [Melpomene] is not the only instance of his ability to compose verses in the midst of pain. When he sent me a copy of it, he let me know, that he had transmitted another to you by the same post. I should be glad to receive your remarks upon it, ere I communicate my own: I have, for some weeks past, found my head so terribly confused, that it has been with difficulty I could think or express myself on the most superficial topic. I hope, in a little time, to be able to examine it more attentively than I can at present; yet, in the mean while, must acknowledge, that I think his subject capable of furnishing extraordinary beauties for an Ode: and such, I think he should call it; dropping the narrative parts, and the connexions as much as possible. I cannot wish him to print it without very material alterations; and what would occasion almost the same trouble as it would require to new-write it. I do not mean this as a condemnation of what he has already done; so much, as a proof of my opinion how much he will be able to improve it. After all, it will scarce affect me half so much as his Tragedy. He is so honest a man, that the work he has to give the world is much better than the specimen: or, to borrow an idea from my situation, the grain that he has to deliver will prove much better than the sample. It is with shame I acknowledge I have not yet sent him his epilogue; and I feel the greater compunction of mind upon this score, as it is possible he may impute my neglect to Garrick's refusal of his play.