1774
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

On Mr. Shenstone's Pastoral Writings.

Town and Country Magazine 6 (April 1774) 217.

Charles Graham


A belated elegy for William Shenstone, in seven anapestic quatrains, signed "C. Graham, Penrith, March 25": "What Muse can with Shenstone's compare? | Like him sing the sports of the plain? | Or melt the soft hearts of the fair, | In Elegy's tenderer strain?" Charles Graham collected his poems in Miscellaneous Pieces in Prose and Verse (1778) with a preface explaining that he was a mechanic who "never was taught the rudiments of the English language." While Graham was a prolific poet, it appears that no one in Cumberland recorded his biography, and his dates of birth and death are unknown.



Ye nymphs from Parnassus descend,
Contribute your aid to my verse;
The humblest of bards now befriend,
And the merits of SHENSTONE rehearse.

The loveliest of swains now is fled,
Who painted the verdure of May;
Who rural diversions display'd,
And sung the sweet pastoral lay.

His numbers, which flow with such ease,
Such tender emotions impart,
As might the most savage appease,
Or touch the most obdurate heart.

What Muse can with Shenstone's compare?
Like him sing the sports of the plain?
Or melt the soft hearts of the fair,
In Elegy's tenderer strain?

Not a song did their bard e'er compose,
That was not both pure and refin'd;
Such amazing variety shows
The turn of an elegant mind.

Had his bosom ne'er felt the soft flame,
He ne'er had pourtray'd it so well;
That he felt it, and nourish'd the same,
The strains of his Corydon tell.

[p. 241]