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IN VERSE AND PROSE,
WILLIAM SHENSTONE, Efq;
In TWO VOLUMES. With DECORATIONS.
His ego longos
LONDON: Printed by H. S. WOODFALL,
P R E F A C E.
Great part of the poetical works of Mr.
SHENSTONE, particularly his Elegies and Pastorals, are (as he himself expresses it) “ The exact transcripts of the situation of his own mind;" and abound in frequent allusions to his own place, the beautiful scene of his retirement from the world. Exclusively therefore of our natural curiosity to be acquainted with the history of an author, whose works we peruse with pleasure, some short account of Mr. SHENSTONE's personal character, and situation in life, may not only be agreeable, but absolutely necessary, to the reader; as it is impoffible he should enter into the true spirit of his writings, if he is entirely ignorant of those circumstances of his life, which fometimes fo greatly influenced his reflections. A 3
I could with however that this task had been allotted to some person capable of performing it in that masterly manner which the subject so well deserves. To confess the truth, it was chiefly to prevent his remains from falling into the hands of any one still less qualified to do him justice, that I have unwillingly ventured to undertake the publicatien of them myself.
Mr. SHENSTONE was the eldest son of a plain uneducated country gentleman in SHROPSHIRE, who farmed his own estate. The father, sensible of his son's extraordinary capacity, resolved to give him a learned education, and sent him a commoner to PemBROKE College in Oxford, designing him for the church: but tho' he had the most aweful notions of the wisdom, power, and goodness of God, he never could be persuaded to enter into orders. In his private opinions he adhered to no particular fect, and hated all religious disputes. But whatever were his own sentiments, he always shewed great
tenderness to those who differed from him. Tenderness,
indeed, in every sense of the word, was his peculiar characteristic ; his friends, his domestics, his poor neighbours, all daily experienced his benevolent turn of mind. Indeed, this virtue in him was often carried to such excess, that it sometimes bordered upon weak.ness; yet if he was convinced that any of those ranked amongst the number of his friends, had treated him ungenerously, he was not easily reconciled. He used a maxim, however, on such occasions, which is worthy of being observed and imitated; “I never (said he) will be a revengeful enemy; but I cannot, it is not in my nature, to be half a friend.” He was in his temper quite unsuspicious; but if suspicion was once awakened in him, it was not laid asleep again without difficulty.
He was no economist; the generosity of his temper prevented him from paying a proper regard to the use of money: he exceeded therefore the bounds of his paternal fortune, which before he died was considerably encumbered. But when one recollects the perfect