1745
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the same [Rev. Richard Graves], with Observations on the Rebellion, and its probable Consequences.

The Works in Verse and Prose, of William Shenstone, Esq; Volume III. Containing Letters to Particular Friends, from the Year 1739 to 1763.

William Shenstone


At the end of the letter William Shenstone announces to Richard Graves that he has re-read Spenser and made considerable additions to the School-Mistress.

Virginia F. Prettyman: "The successive alterations were adversely criticized, however, by Richard Graves, who prized the burlesque element and thought the poem interesting only as a parody. Graves unfortunately persuaded Shenstone to discard some fifteen or twenty stanzas of the unpublished third version of 'The Schoolmistress'; and as Shenstone's literary executor he may well have been responsible for reproducing this cut version in the posthumous collection of Shenstone's poems, for it seems almost certain that the poet himself would have preserved the additional stanzas" "Shenstone's Reading of Spenser" (1949) 227.




The Leasows,

Nov. 22, 1745.

Dear Mr. Graves,

My life, for aught I see, will pass away just as it has done, without introducing sufficient improvement into my circumstances to give a chearful cast to my correspondence. In one respect, in regard to my inviolable friendship for you, I hope you will bear with some satisfaction that I continue still the same. And this kind of identity, I think, I could promise you, though every circumstance in my fortune, every particle of my body, were changed; and others, ever so heterogeneous, substituted in their place. After this, it would be no compliment to say, that the pretended heir to these kingdoms could not alter it, were he to subvert the British constitution; which must, out of all doubt, be the consequence of his success. The rebellion, you may guess, is the subject of all conversation. Every individual nailer here takes in a news-paper (a more pregnant one by far than any of the London ones), and talks as familiarly of kings and princes as ever Master Shallow did of John of Gaunt. Indeed it is no bad thing that they do so; for I cannot conceive that the people want so much to be convinced by sermons, of the absurdities of popery, as they do by news-papers, that it may possibly prevail. The reasons and arguments too in favour of the present Government are so strong and obvious, that even I, and every country 'squire, and every country clerk, and Sam Shaw the taylor, seem to be as much masters of them as the Bishops themselves. I must not say we could express them so politely. — I like Secker's the best of any sermon on this occasion. He gives his audience a view of such evil consequences from a change, as no man of sense can possibly doubt of, when fairly stated: and, I own, I cannot see one single good it could produce, in compensation for its inevitable and abundant mischiefs. — I have read Dr. Sherlock's sermon on this occasion: and I have read Mr. Warburton's; and, at your request, I will read his Legation.

I have often thoughts of a jaunt as far as your country this winter. Some kind of pilgrimage I must make, to avoid a lethargy. — Public places I want to visit a little; to peep at and renew my idea of the world's vanity; but either Bath or London would steep me in poverty, that I should not probably emerge before the middle of next summer. I have spent this last summer agreeably enough with some of my young relations, Mr. Dolman's children. — They have an excellent taste for their years. — I have been upon several jaunts with the son to Litchfield, Worcester, Mr. Fletcher's, &c. amusing him, what I could, under the loss of his father. Miss W— F— asked very earnestly after you. Two of the sisters have been with me at The Leasows, and upon several parties of pleasure in my chair. — Broom is disposed of — I do not undertand upon what inducement. — After all, I am miserable; — conscious to myself that I am too little selfish: that I ought now or never to aim at some additions to my fortune; and that I make large advances towards the common catastrophe of better poets, poverty. — I never can attend enough to some twelve-penny matter, on which a great deal depends. — My amour, so far as I indulge it, gives me some pleasure, and no pain in the world. — I have read Spenser once again: and I have added full as much more to my School-mistress, in regard to number of lines; something in point of matter (or manner rather) which does not displease me. I would be glad if Mr. — were, upon your request, to give his opinion of particulars, for two reasons; as you say he has some taste for this kind of writing, and as he is my enemy, and would, therefore, find out its deficiencies.

I have a reason, of a most whimsical kind, why I would wish you to preserve this letter. Pray write soon, and believe me most affectionately

Your friend and humble servant,

W. Shenstone.


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