1765
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Stanzas, addressed to Mr. Woodhouse.

Lloyd's Evening Post (30 January 1765) 98.

Abraham Portal


Seven double-quatrain stanzas addressed to James Woodhouse, the cobbler-poet patronised by William Shenstone. The lines express gratitude to Woodhouse for his love of Shenstone, and concern for the fate of the cobbler and his wife now that Shenstone has died: "O, is there no Corydon now | To offer at Pallas's shrine, | That has riches and heart to bestow! | If there was — they would surely be thine." Abraham Portal was a London silversmith and sometimes poet; he contributes to an ongoing series of verses in Lloyd's Evening Post concerned with Shenstone and Woodhouse; Portal's poem attracted answering verses by "W. R." in the same "Shenstone" stanza the following week.

Headnote: "Sir, The inclosed simple Stanzas, sacred to undignified merit, beg the favour of a place in your Paper, from, You humble servant, Ab. Portal. Ludgate Hill, Jan. 22, 1765."

Author's note: "Mr. Shenstone, in one of his Egotisms, says, if his fortune was sufficient to afford it, he would build near his seat several elegant little boxes, at the expence of £2000 each, and give them to persons of merit who had no fortune, settling on them £200 a-year for life, to render them independent, and entitle them his friends."



Sweet Shepherd, that pip'st on the plains,
So lately by Corydon blest,
What bosom that shares not thy pains,
And echoes the woes in thy breast?
Not the nightingale, perch'd on a thorn,
Can her sorrows so tunefully plead,
Not the skylark, that gladdens the morn,
Can thy artless soft warblings exceed.

Tho' no flock thou canst boast of thy own,
Nor meads that are cover'd with flow'rs,
Thy fair one shall weave thee a crown,
And the Muses embellish thy bow'rs.
The gifts that blind fortune bestows,
And the honours she heaps on her train,
Since from merit they never arose,
From merit should meet with disdain.

The blessings of genius and love
Are richer than ought she can give;
With these you are favour'd by Jove,—
May you reap them as long as you live!
Yet surely so tender your grief,
When your Daphne's sharp woes are the theme,
He that would not contribute relief,—
May no Daphne have pity on him!

When her fingers by crimson distain'd,
Th' effect of hard labour, you mourn,
O, how to my heart am I pain'd!
And my bosom will bleed in return.
Yet, I never was blest with her smiles,
Her beauties I never have seen,
For me had she suffered such toils,
Ah! what then must my anguish have been?

When you rove o'er those hillocks and dales,
Embellish'd by Corydon's taste,
We listen with joy to your tales,
And wish they forever would last:
But when his sad fate you lament
In numbers that flow from the heart,
Our heart-strings with sorrow are rent,
And, with him, we could wish to depart.

His bosom was gentle and kind,
Unblemish'd by av'rice or pride,
The Muses had polish'd his mind,
Yet Love his fond wishes deny'd.
Had not fortune been deaf to his prayer,
Your troubles had soon found an end,
In a box with two hundred a-year,
And the title of Corydon's friend.

O, is there no Corydon now
To offer at Pallas's shrine,
That has riches and heart to bestow!
If there was — they would surely be thine.
On thee and thy Daphne so sweet
May the raptures of virtue attend!
May plenty find out your retreat,
And each Muse and each Sage be your friend!

[p. 74]