1761 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Cotswouldia [Mrs. John Thomas], "To William Shenstone, Esq. The Production of half an hour's Leisure, Aug. 30, 1761" London Magazine 31 (January 1762) 46-47.



Health to the bard, in Leasowes' happy groves;
Health, and sweet converse with the Muse he loves!
The humblest vot'ry of the tuneful Nine,
With trembling hand, attempts the artless line,
In numbers such as untaught Nature brings,
As flow, spontaneous, like thy native springs.

But ah! what airy forms around me rise,
The russet mountain glows with richer dyes!
In circling dance a pigmy croud appear,
And hark! an infant voice salutes my ear!

"Mortal, thy aim we know, thy task approve;
His merit honour, and his genius love:
For us what verdant carpets has he spread,
Where, nightly, we our mystic mazes tread!
For us each shady grove and rural seat,
His falling streams and flowing numbers sweet.
Didst thou not mark amid the winding dell,
What tuneful verse adorns the root-wove cell?
There ev'ry fairy of our sprightly train
Resorts, to bless the woodland and the plain:
There as we move unbidden beauties glow,
The green turf brightens, and the violets blow;
And there with thought sublime we bless the swain,
Nor we inspire, nor he attends in vain.

"Go, simple rhymer, bear this message true,
The truths that fairies dictate none shall rue.

"Say to the bard, in Leasowes happy grove,
Whom dryads honour, and whom fairies love,—
Content thyself no longer that thy lays,
By others foster'd, lend to others praise;
No longer to the fav'ring world refuse,
The welcome treasures of thy polish'd muse;
Collect the flowers that own thy valu'd name,
Unite the spoil, and give the wreath to Fame.
Ne'er can thy morals, taste, or verse engage
More solid fame, than in this happier age;
When sense, when virtue's cherish'd by the throne,
And each illustrious privilege their own.
Though modest be thy gentle Muse, I ween,
O, lead her blushing, from the daisy'd green,
A fit attendant on Britannia's Queen!"

Ye sportive elves, as faithful I relate
Th' intrusted mandates of your fairy state,
Visit these wilds again with nightly care,
So shall my kine, of all the herd, repair,
In healthy plight, to fill the copious pail;
My sheep be penn'd, with safety, in the dale;
My poultry fear no robber in the roost;
My linen more than common whiteness boast:
Let order, peace, and housewif'ry, be mine:
SHENSTONE! be taste, and fame, and fortune thine!