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parts of knowledge which he had not himfelf cultivated.

His life was unftained by any crime; the Elegy on fee, which has been supposed to relate an unfortunate and criminal amour of his own, was known by his friends to have been fuggefted by the ftory of Mifs Godfrey in Richardfon's Pamela.

What Gray thought of his character, from the perufal of his Letters, was this:

"I have read too an octavo volume of "Shenftone's Letters. Poor man! he was always wishing for money, for fame, and "other diftinctions; and his whole philofophy confifted in living against his will in retirement, and in a place which his tafte “had adorned; but which he only enjoyed "when people of note came to fec and com"mend it: his correfpondence is about nothing else but this place and his own writings, with two or three neighbouring clergymen, who wrote verfes too."


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His poems confift of elegies, odes, and ballads, humorous fallies, and moral pieces.

His conception of an Elegy he has in his Preface very judiciously and difcriminately explained. It is, according to his account, the effufion of a contemplative mind, fometimes plaintive, and always ferious, and therefore fuperior to the glitter of flight ornaments. His compofitions fuit not ill to this defcription. His topicks of praise are the domestick virtues, and his thoughts are pure and fimple; but, wanting combination, they want variety. The peace of folitude, the innocence of inactivity, and the unenvied fecurity of an humble station, can fill but a few pages. That of which the effence is uniformity will be foon defcribed. His Elegies have therefore too much resemblance of each other.

The lines are fometimes, fuch as Elegy requires, fmooth and easy; but to this praise his claim is not conftant: his diction is often harsh, improper, and affected; his words illcoined, or ill-chofen, and his phrase unskilfully inverted.


The Lyrick Poems are almost all of the light and airy kind, fuch as trip lightly and nimbly along, without the load of any weighty meaning. From thefe, however, Rural Elegance has fome right to be excepted. I once heard it praised by a very learned lady; and though the lines are irregular, and the thoughts diffused with too much verbofity, yet it cannot be denied to contain both philosophical argument and poetical spirit.

Of the reft I cannot think any excellent ; the Skylark pleases me beft, which has however more of the epigram than of the ode.

But the four parts of his Paftoral Ballad demand particular notice. I cannot but regret that it is pastoral; an intelligent reader, acquainted with the scenes of real life, fickens at the mention of the crook, the pipe, the fheep, and the kids, which it is not neceffary to bring forward to notice, for the poet's art is felection, and he ought to fhew the beauties without the groffness of the country life. His ftanza feems to have been chofen in imitation of Rowe's Defpairing Shepherd.

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In the first part are two paffages, to which if any mind denies its fympathy, it has no acquaintance with love or nature:

I priz'd every hour that went by,
Beyond all that had pleas'd me before;
But now they are paft, and I figh,

And I grieve that I priz'd them no more.

When forc'd the fair nymph to forego,
What anguish I felt in my heart!
Yet I thought-but it might not be fo,
'Twas with pain that she saw me depart.

She gaz'd, as I flowly withdrew;

My path I could hardly difcern;
So fweetly the bade me adieu,

I thought that she bade me return.

In the fecond this paffage has its prettiness, though it be not equal to the former :

I have found out a gift for my fair;

I have found where the wood-pigeons breed: But let me that plunder forbear,

She will fay 'twas a barbarous deed:

For he ne'er could be true, she averr'd, Who could rob a poor bird of its young; And I lov'd her the more, when I heard Such tenderness fall from her tongue.

In the third he mentions the commonplaces of amorous poetry with fome address:

'Tis his with mock paffion to glow;

'Tis his in fmooth tales to unfold, How her face is as bright as the fnow, And her bofom, be sure, is as cold:

How the nightingales labour the strain,

With the notes of his charmer to vie;
How they vary their accents in vain,
Repine at her triumphs, and die.

In the fourth I find nothing better than this natural strain of Hope:

Alas! from the day that we met,
What hope of an end to my woes?
When I cannot endure to forget

The glance that undid my repose.

Yet Time may diminish the pain:

The flower, and the fhrub, and the tree,
Which I rear'd for her pleasure in vain,
In time may have comfort for me.

His Levities are by their title exempted from the feverities of criticifm; yet it may be

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