1836 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Shenstone

Hartley Coleridge, in "William Roscoe" Worthies of Yorkshire and Lancashire (1836) 487.



If we might indulge a conjecture as to which among these was Roscoe's favourite, we should be tempted to fix upon Shenstone. Boys who have any thing of a poetical turn themselves, are often better pleased with verses which they think that they can imitate, than with those that defy emulation. No boy ever imagines himself a poet while he is reading Shakspeare or Milton, The thoughts, too obviously, are not his own. But Shenstone has much to charm, and nothing to overpower, the mind of boyhood. His pastoral imagery is pretty, and must have been new to Roscoe, though it was not to Shenstone. His versification is smooth and imitable; his sentiments, sometimes plaintively tender, and sometimes breathing disdain and defiance to the world, find a ready sympathy with those whose warmer feelings are just beginning to glow; and he has much of a temper with which all ages are ready to sympathize — namely, discontent.