A pastoral lyric in eight anapestic stanzas. The poet praises his mistress in a little allegory imitated from John Cunningham's "Content, a Pastoral": "Long, long on the plains has she smil'd | With sweetness, untaught to deceive; | The light of her eye is as mild | As the sun-beam, when mellow'd at eve!" Sanderson was an eccentric, if not mad, poet who when not teaching school lived as a recluse in Cumberland. Among his small circle of acquaintances was Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who once suggested that Sanderson undertake a Pleasures of Religion on the model of Rogers and Campbell.
Advertisement: "A great part of the following Poems was written in a sequestered village in the north of Cumberland. If the Reader find pleasure in their perusal, I shall not consider that I have written wholly in vain: if he complain of wearisomeness and shut the book, I shall not, like many unsuccessful Candidates for the laurel, charge him with want of taste and discernment; but consider myself as deficient in those powers which are necessary to the success of the work, whether its object be pleasure or instruction. T. S., Burnside, August 16, 1800" sig. a2.
Monthly Review: "The productions of this Cumbrian bard are offered to the public with great modesty. They were written, we are told, in a deep retirement; and the author throws himself, with Arcadian simplicity, on the mercy of his readers. Full gladly, therefore, would we have placed the bays on Mr. Sanderson's head, if the laws of our court would permit such a decision: but we cannot award to diffidence the wreath which is due to genius alone; and although Mr. S.'s poems have given us an impression of his worth and good sense, they have not excited our admiration of his talents for composition One commendation, however, we can bestow on his lines; they are free from the affected turn which we have had so much reason to censure in other late publications. If we can here discover no passages which rise above mediocrity, we at least receive no shocks from mock sublimity, or false simplicity" S2 35 (July 1801) 318-20.
Anti-jacobin Review: "The respectable list of subscribers, prefixed to the little volume, conveys a favourable idea of the Author's character, though it may possibly not be admitted as a decisive proof of his poetical abilities. His merit, however, as a poet will not be disputed by any one who reads the book before us with an unprejudiced mind" 10 (September 1801) 81.
J. Lowthian: "He vacillated for some time in the choice of a subject for his muse. A poetical friend (Mr. Coleridge) suggested The Pleasures of Religion. 'I liked the subject, says he, but thought the title too common. We have already had the Pleasures of Hope, and the Pleasures of Solitude'" in Life and Literary Remains of Thomas Sanderson (1829) lxxi-lxxii.
O shepherds, how sweet are the bow'rs,
That rise on the verse of yon grove!
I wove there a garland of flow'rs,
To give to the nymph whom I love.
In native attractions array'd,
Till Nature decay she will reign;
Her praises be sung by each maid,
And ENVY will flout her in vain.
Her air has the magic of ease,
Her manners are artless and free;
Her voice is as soft as the breeze
That stirs the green leaf on the tree.
Long, long on the plains has she smil'd
With sweetness, untaught to deceive;
The light of her eye is as mild
As the sun-beam, when mellow'd at eve!
Oft on some soft bank she reposes,
To catch all the sweets of the gale;
Her garlands are made of the roses,
That bloom in the grove or the vale.
Her breast, that is always at ease,
The wild notes of Nature approves,
The streamlet that plains to the breeze,
And the music that comes from the groves.
Her songs to the Shepherds can give
A sweetness that softens the breast;
Can bid brightest images live
In the bosom that SORROW has prest.
This Damsel (the theme of my praise),
Who steals from the notice of Fame,
In vallies and woodlands oft strays—
SIMPLICITY there is her name.