« AnteriorContinuar »
he had the misfortune to be smitten with the rage of improvement. The Leasowes was converted into a poet's farm, and at length rivalled the pastoral plains of Arcadian romance. Woods, walks, sylvan deities, seats, cascades, and inscriptions, displaced the productions of Ceres, and the focks that should have fed and clothed the proprietor. It is for ever to be regretted that his fortune was not equal to his taste. He dissipated his estate in adorning it; and though it still continues one of the most beautiful fermès ornèes in the kingdom, it involved him in debts, which disturbed his peace, and probably shortened bis days. He died in 1763, and was buried in Hales Owen Churchyard. The sensibility of Shenstone and his delicate and refined feelings are conspicuous in every page of his writ. ings. As a pastoral and classic poet, he remains unrivalled; and had his fortune been equal to his benevolence, he would probably have been, what he deserved to be, as happy as he was amiable.
Rejecting the unjust severity of Johnson, and the fastidious disdain of Gray, I shall adopt the opinions of Graves and Dodsley, both men of candour, liberality and judgment. They assert, in the language of affection, sanctioned by experience, that he was the warmest and most affectionate friend, and never an inveterate enemy; that nothing could be more aniable than his social, or more unexceptionable than his moral character, And Mr. Anderson, agreeally to the honorable practice of his character, has, in his valuable, though voluminous edition of the whole of the British Poets, thus tenderly defended him from the censure incurred by converting his farm into pleasure grounds. “ If he cliose to resign emolument for the charms of ease and independence, he had a right to employ his own patrimony as he thought proper.” More especially as he was unconnected by any ties; which, had they subsisted, might, and no doubt would, have operated on his good heart, in full force to have allowed their claims.
E L EGY.
TO MR, GRAVES.
THROUGH the dim veil of evening's dusky shađe,
Near some lone fane, or yew's funereal green, What dreary forms has magic fears survey'd !
What shrouded spectres superstition seen! But you secure shall pour your sad complaint,
Nor dread the meagre phantom's wan array ; What none but fear's officious hand can paint,
What none but superstition's eye survey. The glimmering twilight and the doubtful dawn
Shall see your step to these sad scenes return: Constant, as crystal dews impearl the lawn,
Shall Strephon's tear bedew Ophelia s urn! Sure nought unhallow'd shall presunie to stray
Where sleep the relics of that virtuous maid: Nor aught unlovely bend its devious way,
Where soft Ophelia's dear iemains are laid. Haply thy muse, as with unceasiog sighs
She keeps late vigils on her urn reclin'd, May see light groups of pleasing visions rise,
And phantoms glide, but of celestial kind.
Shall seek forgiveness of Ophelia's shade;
Why, like the desert's lily, bloom'd to fade?" Then young simplicity, averse to feign,
Shall unmolested breathe her softest sigh : And candour with unwonted warmin complain,
And innocence indulge a wailful cry.
Then elegance, with coy judicions hand,
Shall cull fresh flowrets for Ophelia's tomb : And beauty chide the Fates' severe command,
That show'd the frailty of so fair a bloom! And fancy then, with wild ungovern'd woe,
Shall her lov'd pupil's native taste explain ;. For mournful fable all her hues forego,
And ask sweet solace for the muse in vain! Ah, gentle forms, expect no fond relief;
Too much the sacred Nine their loss deplore: Well may ye grieve, nor find an end of grief
Your best, your brightest favourite is no more.
Os distant heaths, beneath autumnal skies,
Pensive I saw the circling shades descend ; Weary and faint I heard the storm arise,
While the sun vanishd, like a faithless friend. No kind companion led my steps aright;
No friendly planet lent its glimmering ray; Ev’n the lone cot refus'd its wonted light,
Where toil in peaceful slumber clos'd the day. Then the dull bell bad given a pleasing sound;
The village cur 'twere transport then to hear ; In dreadful silence all was hush'd around,
While the rude storm alone distress'd mine ear. As led by Orwell's winding banks I stray'd,
Where towering Wolsey breath’d his native air ; A sudden lustre chas'd the fitting shade,
The sounding winds were hush'd, and all was fair.
Instant a grateful form appear'd confest;
White were his locks, with awful scarlet crown'd, And livelier far than Tyrian seem'd his vest,
That with the glowing purple ting'd the ground. Stranger, he said, amid this pealing rain,
Benighted, lonesome, whither would'st thou stray ? Does wealth or power thy weary step constrain?
Reveal thy wish, and let me point the way. For know I trod the trophy'd paths of power;
Felt every joy that fair ambition brings;
To stand beneath the canopies of kings.
Nor meanly rose, to bless my self alone :
And bade his wholesome dictate guard the throne. Low at my feet the suppliant peer I saw;
I saw proud empires my decision wait; My will was duty, and my word was law,
My smile was transport, and my frown was fate.” Ah me! said I, nor power I seek, nor gain ;
Nor urg'd by hope of fame these toils endure; A simple youth, that feels a lover's pain,
And, from his friend's condolence, hopes a cure. He, the dear youth, to whose abodes I roam,
Nor can mine honours, nor my tields extend; Yet for his sake I leave my distant hone,
Which oaks embosom, and which hills defend. Beneath that home I scorn the wintery wind ;
The spring, to shade me, robes her fairest tree; And if a friend my grass-grown threshold find,
O how my lonely cot resounds with glee! Yet, though averse to gold in heaps amass'd,
I wish to bless, I languish to bestow; And though no friend to fame's obstreperous blast,
Still, to her dulcet murmurs not a foe.
Too proud with servile tone to deign address ;
Too mean to think that honours are my due : Yet should some patron yield my stores to bless,
I sure should deem my boundless thanks were few.
But tell me, thou! that, like a meteor's fire,
Shot'st blazing forth ; disdaining dull degrees; Should I to wealth, to fame, to power aspire,
Must Į not pass more rugged paths than these?
Must I not groan beneath a guilty load,
Praise him I scorn, and him I love betray? Does not felonious envy bar the road ?
Or falsehood's tfeacherous foot beset the way!
Say, should I pass through favour's crowded gate,
Must not fair truth inglorious wait behind? Whilst I approach the glittering scenes of state,
My best companion no admittance find ? Nurs’d in the shades by freedom's lenient care,
Shall I the rigid sway of fortune own?
To spurn an altar, and allore a throne?
And when it leaves me no unshaken friend,
Which oaks embosom, and which hilis defend : Oh! if these ills the price of power advance,
Check not my speed where social joys invite !--The troubled vision cast a mournful glance,
And sighing vanish'd in the shades of night.