1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

To the Memory of Mr. Thomas Sadler. A Pastoral Elegy.

Town and Country Magazine 7 (July 1775) 382-83.

John Richardson


Nine anapestic quatrains in the pastoral ballad mode signed "Traveller." In John Richardson's Poems (1796) the title is given as "A Pastoral Elegy, on the Death of Mr. Tho. Sadler, of Whitchurch, in Shropshire; a famous Diarian." Sadler (fl. 1766-68) was a local poet who published several pastorals published in Shrewsbury, including The Harvest Field, the Shropshire Wedding, and The Merry Miller

While his fame seems to have been strictly local, Sadler must have been an inspiration to Richardson, who taught school for many decades at Sheffield Park: "Ye Swains, bring me hither his Flute, | The Flute that my DAMON would use, | And let me, for none will it suit, | Now break it, or give it his Muse." Since Sadler seems not to have published a diary, perhaps "Diarian" is intended to refer to descriptions of local affairs. Elsewhere in Richardson's Poems there is a reference to a friend, Thomas Coughron, who published in The Gentleman's Diary: or Mathematical Repository."

The model for this poem is John Cunningham's "Corydon, a Pastoral to the Memory of William Shenstone" (1763). Like Sadler, Shenstone was a west-country poet. Echoes of Milton's Lycidas, make an unusual appearance in pastoral ballad.



Ye shepherds since Damon is dead,
Our Damon that sweetly could sing;
Since nature's glad songster is fled,
Accept the glad triubute I sing.

The soft thrilling sisters lament,
They grieve on the Helicon shore;
And thus, whilst their anguish they vent,
Exclaim, "Is our Damon no more?"

The fates thus they chide as they weep,
"Why spun yet his life-time so fast?
Or, why the choice few that we'd keep,
To kill are ye ever in haste?"

For Damon, fond shepherd, they lov'd,
Who piped so sweet on the plains;
The meads and the lawns he approv'd,
Where now but dull languidness reigns.

The nymphs that were wonted on Dee,
To listen his song, and be glad;
That danc'd to his metre with glee,
Are hypochondriacal and sad.

Consumbed are all the gay flow'rs,
At the milking no singing is heard;
The birds are all mute in the bow'rs,
And nature declines for her bard.

How mild, yet how jocund his lays,
Diana would call him her own;
He dropt, but encircled with bays,
He fell, but enwrapt with renown.

Ye swains, bring me hither his flute,
The flute that my Damon wou'd use;
And let me, since none it will suit,
Now break it, or give it his muse:

And each bring his straw-pipe along,
The straw-pipe that Pastora gave;
We'll commemorate him in song,
We'll join in a dirge by his grave.

[pp. 382-83]