1800
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Elegy to the Memory of the Rev. Josiah Relph.

Original Poems, by Thomas Sanderson.

Thomas Sanderson


A pastoral elegy in sixteen anapestic quatrains for the Cumberland poet Josiah Relph by the editor of his poems. Relph, who died in 1747, was the schoolmaster at Sebergham. The poem imagines a former student, now grown old, relating his character to the poet: "What bosom refuses to mourn, | Beside the green leaf of his yew? | He gave us a lesson to learn, | As, dying, he bade us adieu!" The general model here is John Cunningham's "Corydon, a Pastoral to the Memory of William Shenstone." J. Lowthian's long and interesting memoir of Sanderson in Life and Poetical Remains (1829) attempts to delineate the manners of Cumberland in both Relph's time and Sanderson's.

British Critic: "Very ample and respectable is the patronage given to this Cumbrian poet in all parts of the kingdom, from which we cannot but conclude that he had already obtained some celebrity, before his volume appeared.... The talents of Mr. Sanderson are evidently versatile; but, in our opinion, the style of this little Poem [quatrains in Approach of Winter] is written, is that in which he most completely succeeds" 17 (January 1801) 78-79.

Critical Review: "It too frequently happens, that, when an author undertakes to present to the public a collection of the fugitive productions which have been received with civility or applause by the partiality of is acquaintance, the desire of making up a volume supersedes that nicety of selection which is requisite to the acquisition of true poetical fame. This seems to have been the case with Mr. Sanderson, who appears before us as a writer of miscellanies, odes, epistles, tales, fables, elegies, epitaphs, sonnets, and songs. Uniform success in these different styles of composition is a rare acquirement indeed. It is therefore no severe censure on Mr. Sanderson to affirm that some of his poetical effusions, especially those which seem to have been produced on the spur of the occasion, do not rise above that mediocrity which Horace has pronounced to be incompatible with genuine inspiration. He does not offend by gross faults; nor does he very frequently enrapture by striking beauties, either of language or sentiment. The Ode to the Genius of Cumberland, however, indicates much poetical capability: some passages of which are majestic, as the whole of it is pleasing" S2 32 (June 1801) 228.



I ask'd of a Shepherd who press'd
A bank where the primroses blow,
Whose cares had not sadden'd his breast,
Though AGE had indented his brow—

I ask'd him to shew me the seat,
The arbour where CORYDON play'd,
Whose warblings so sweetly did meet
The chorus that came from the glade.

"That arbour" (he said with a sigh)
"With chaplets of Sorrow is crown'd,
Since the pipe, that bade Rapture be nigh,
No more spreads the magic of sound!

"Can the sun, when it crimsons the hill,
Or gilds, with rich lustre, the lawn—
Can the soft-soothing voice of the rill
Delight when our CORYDON'S gone!

"Beneath yon rude thorn he repos'd,
When SPRING had enamell'd each scene;
When SUMMER, in splendour, had clos'd,
And AUTUMN had mellow'd the green.

"In Winter so wild and so drear,
In woodlands depriv'd of their shade,
He roam'd 'mid the waste of the year,
And mourn'd o'er each flow'ret decay'd!

"Where dew-dropping willows complain
To streamlets that wander beneath,
The ECHOES repeated his strain,
While the MUSES were twining his wreath.

"The first time he breath'd on his reed,
And gave its wild notes to the wind,
The Swains of the valley decreed
A garland — the type of his mind.

"The pink and the lily were there—
The laurel (the emblem of fame)—
The rose that can vie with the FAIR,
But, in blushes, renounces its claim.

"Still sacred to GRIEF be the bow'rs
That rise on the verge of yon grove,
Where INNOCENCE gathers her flow'rs,
To weave the fond garlands of LOVE:

"There CORYDON'S health did decline,
Like lilies that droop in the dale;
There SORROW did sprinkle his shrine,
Like dew that descends on the vale!

"What bosom refuses to mourn,
Beside the green leaf of his yew?
He gave us a lesson to learn,
As, dying, he bade us adieu!

"Sunk in the shade lies the pride of the grove,
When the beam fades at eve on yon height;
But we saw all his virtues improve,
When the ray of his life set in night.

"REMEMBRANCE shall dwell on his lay,
That chas'd every woe but DESPAIR;
That sooth'd, at the fall of the day,
So sweetly the vigils of CARE.

"On the breast of yon stream, as it flows,
Shall the tribute of sorrow be shed;
While the yew drops the dews from its boughs,
To impearl the green turf of his bed!"

The Shepherd then rose on his crook,
As the shades of the Ev'ning were near:
In silence he paus'd on a brook,
And I bade him farewell with a tear!

[pp. 183-87]