1755 ca.
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Studley Park. To the Rev. Mr. Farrer.

The Poetical Works of John Langhorne. In Two Volumes.

Rev. John Langhorne


In the concluding lines of his topographic poem, a young John Langhorne hails Abraham Cowley and Edmund Spenser as landscape poets: "Such were the scenes where Spenser once retired, | When great Eliza's fame the Muse inspir'd; | When Gloriana led her poet's dreams | O'er flow'ry meadows, and by murm'ring streams" 1:49. While Spenser's landscapes tended to be distinctly emblematic, eighteenth-century readers were inclined to think of them as naturally or wildly "picturesque," a sensibility graphically represented in William Kent's 1751 illustrations to the Faerie Queene. Studley Park appears to have been first published in 1804.

Richard Alfred Davenport: "It is said to have been written with the view of obtaining patronage from the owner of the spot which he celebrated; and that his expectations were disappointed. That, for some reason or other, he consigned it to oblivion is certain; but it has since been admitted into the collection of his works, and it is not undeserving of a place. The versification is musical, and the description is often picturesque and spirited. If it be true that his hopes of finding a patron were frustrated, we may suppose that he remembered the circumstance resentfully; for there seems to be, in his 'Hymn to Plutus,' a bitter allusion to the present possessor of Studley Royal" Chiswick British Poets (1822) 65:7.

W. Davenport Adams: "John Langhorne, D.D., poet and miscellaneous writer (b. 1735, d. 1779), wrote various poems, collected and published in 1802, of which Genius and Valour, The Visions of Fancy, The Enlargement of the Mind, The Death of Adonis, The Tears of Music, and The Country Justice are the most important. He also wrote Letters of Theodosius and Constantia (1763); Solyman and Almena (1762); a translation of Plutarch's Lives; and many other publications, a list of which is given in Dr. Anderson's Life of the author, prefixed to his Poems" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 335.

Oliver Elton: "There are many flashes of poetry in John Langhorne, a Westmorland man and a Somersetshire parson, who is best known as the co-translator, with his brother William, of Plutarch's Lives (1770). Langhorne was termed by Hannah More 'harmonious Langhorne,' and told that his name would live as long as the 'adamantine hills.' Short of this, we can still admire his Hymn to the Valley of Irwan. Like Thomson and Akenside, he is one of the writers who show upon what stray patterns and precedents the style of Wordsworth was formed, by keeping their essential poetry and shedding their artifice or convention" Survey of English Literature 1730-1780 (1928) 1:345.



O say! where bloom those time-surviving groves
Where ancient bards first sung their sacred loves:
Those sadly-solemn bowers, ye Muses! say,
Where once the melancholy Cowley lay?
When long perplex'd with Life's deluding snares,
Her flattering pleasures, and her fruitless cares;
Obscure he fled to sylvan shades alone,
And left mankind, to be for ever known.

Such were the scenes where Spenser once retired,
When great Eliza's fame the Muse inspir'd;
When Gloriana led her poet's dreams
O'er flow'ry meadows, and by murm'ring streams.

Immortal bards! whose death-contemning lays
Shall shine, distinguish'd with eternal praise.
Knew my poor Muse like these to soar sublime,
And spurn the ruins of insulting Time,
Where'er I stray: where blooming Flora leads,
O'er sunny mountains, and through purple meads;
Or careless in the sylvan covert laid,
Where falling rills amuse the mournful shade,
Ye, rural fields, should still resound my lay,
And thou, fair Studley! smile for ever gay.

[1:48-49]