1783
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elegy in imitation of Shenstone, on Mrs. Yates.

Public Advertiser (18 July 1783).

George Lennox


Eight anapestic quatrains, "written by Master George Lenox, at eleven years of age." In this amusing contribution to the Pastoral Ballad series young master Lenox makes precocious love to the actress Mary Ann Yates (1728-1787), a woman who at the time of publication was still acting though old enough to be his grandmother: "Jove gave to her Figure such Charm, | Of Grandeur and Softness combin'd; | But, oh! ere I saw that fair Form, | Would to Heaven that I had been blind!" The poet was the son of the novelist Charlotte Lennox (1720-1804), author of The Female Quixote. Lenox's biographer, Miriam Rossiter Small, was unable to establish the date of the son's birth, or even his name.

Note: "This young Gentleman is the Son of Mrs. Lenox, the celebrated Author of the Female Quixote, and other well known literary Productions."

Miriam Rossiter Small: "Mrs. Lennox's son was born soon after her daughter [1765] although I have been unable to find any record of his baptism. References indicate that he was a little younger than the daughter, though still a noisy 'little boy' in 1777. Judging from the circumstances and occupations of Mrs. Lennox, I should think it most probable that he was born in 1766 or 7, although there is a possibility that he was not born until 1770-71, for during those years Mrs. Lennox's literary activity lapsed again" Life of Charlotte Ramsay Lennox (1935) 31.



Ah! Strephon, your Strains are too gay!
They ill suite the poor tortur'd Mind;
I wish not to see the bright Day,
For Calista has prov'd most unkind.

She despises the Heart she has won,
And laughs at the Pains I endure;
Ah! Strephon, your Friend is undone,
Since for Love there, alas! is no Cure.

Yet surely I cannot be blam'd,
Tho' I yielded my Heart up her Prey;
Far and near has her Beauty been fam'd,
And Calista's the Theme of each Lay.

Jove gave to her Figure such Charm,
Of Grandeur and Softness combin'd;
But, oh! ere I saw that fair Form,
Would to Heaven that I had been blind!

Her Eyes have such Softness and Fire,
As my Pen can never express;
At once they excite soft Desire,
And at once the loose Passion repress.

Ah! gaze not upon them, ye Swains,
Each Glance wing'd with Poison will fly;
The Goddess will laugh at your Pains,
And despises the Heart breaking Sigh.

From her Lips, Gods! what Nectar is press'd;
For I their soft Witchcraft have prov'd,
When fondly she lean'd on my Breast,
And swore that like Edwin she lov'd.

But where are your Vows, perjur'd Fair?
And where are the Oaths that you swore?
Alas! they are melted in Air,
And shall charm the lost Edwin no more!

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