1765
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To Abraham Portal on the Death of William Shenstone.

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

W. R.


Five double-quatrain stanzas, signed "W. R." These are answering verses to Portal's "Stanzas addressed to Mr. Woodhouse," which had appeared in Lloyd's Evening Post the previous week. Portal's ode was written in the measure of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, and W. R. first imagines that the poet of the Leasowes has returned from the dead, and then has Shenstone naming Portal as his literary successor: "Well skill'd in the carrol and song, | 'Tis PORTAL, go bear him this reed, | No voice can his sonnet exceed | When prompted by friendship and love." Portal was a London silversmith, Woodhouse a shoe-maker poet patronized by Shenstone.

Headnote: "Sir, By inserting in your Paper the following tribute to the generosity of Mr. Portal, you will oblige your humble servant, W. R., Salopian Coffee-house, Charing Cross."



What Shepherd so sweetly complains,
In ditties so mournful and kind?
Sure Corydon gladdens the plains,
And murmurs his woes in the wind;
Releas'd from the mansions of death,
In pity to Woodhouse's grief,
Once more he makes use of his breath,
To grant him a sigh, or relief.

Sweet fancy continue the dream,
And let me not lose him again,
O my heart how delightful the theme
To imagine it Corydon's strain;
But, alas, busy thought pushes on,
And bids the delusions depart,
It tells me for ever he's gone,
And grief again strikes thro' my heart.

Yet still there's some comfort remains;
Whoever was Corydon's friend,
Ye Lovers, ye Nymphs, and fond Swains,
To the Shepherd's last will now attend:
When death grimly stalk'd o'er the field
And ended his exquisite song,
The Dryads assistance to yield
Around their dear favourite throng:

They cull'd from the stores of the woods
Each herb for its virtue renown'd,
The Naiads too gave from their floods
Each water that wholesome was found;
When Corydon rear'd up his shead,
And cry'd ye kind Nymphs 'tis in vain,
I soon shall be told with the dead,
No balsam can lessen my pain;

Then tell my last words to the Swains,
When they miss me their pastimes among,
A Corydon to them remains
Well skill'd in the carrol and song,
'Tis PORTAL, go bear him this reed,
No voice can his sonnet exceed
When prompted by friendship and love.

[p. 98]