Shenstone, Woodhouse, and mid-eighteenth-century poetics: genre and the elegiac-pastoral landscape.
Steve Van-Hagen observes that in his magnum opus, the epic Life and Lucubrations of Crispinus Scriblerus, Woodhouse "was compelled to innovate because of the problematic nature of laying claim to an identity as a labourer and class warrior within existing poetic forms." (5) Van-Hagen has convincingly demonstrated that Woodhouse's Life and Lucubrations de serves greater attention, while Bridget Keegan has recently drawn attention to the poet's little-known descriptive verse, especially Norbury Park (1805), insisting on its importance in the development of Woodhouse's skill as a poet and his voice as a laboring-class author. She argues persuasively that Woodhouse's garden poetry "seeks to claim aesthetic and ultimately political rights for the poet." (6)
While recent scholars only cursorily discuss Woodhouse's early poems, accepting, as Christmas suggests, that they are the productions of a sycophantic imitator, this very privileging of the later works fails to recognize Woodhouse's considerable skill in the use of forms and the lyric mode that few of his later more expansive works demonstrate. Keegan's nuanced approach to laboring-class poetry acknowledges that "those poets whose work evinces more recognizable proto-proletarian perspectives have typically been privileged by critics. Labouring-class poets who favoured themes that were not explicitly socio-economic have been overlooked and considered to be less interesting." (7) Keegan's work helps to reread poetry that does not explicitly engage with the social concerns of work and status and facilitates a historicist reading of form that earlier critics relegated in favor of discussions of ideology. She follows Roger Lonsdale's groundbreaking editorial work which has contributed to developing a better understanding of the alternative canon. This new canon can include both a writer such as the laboring-class Woodhouse and a gentleman-poet such as William Shenstone. Both poets worked within the same or similar poetic tradition and both experimented with modes and genres. While Shenstone had been educated formally at Pembroke College, Oxford, Woodhouse was largely self-taught, but, nevertheless, from as early as the 1760s, demonstrated a sensitivity to generic models that critics have commonly read in terms of unimaginative imitation. Yet, imitation--integral to eighteenth-century poetics--entailed a process of experimentation, interpretation, and invention. Without formal instruction or reference to classical precedent, a self-taught poet theorizes the poetic models he reads and then translates this theory into practice. In fact, imitation not only is an essential part of the poet's learning experience but also a central means of aligning oneself with the Neoclassical tradition. While scholars have implicitly juxtaposed Woodhouse and Shenstone, Richard Graves, Shenstone's friend and correspondent, in his Recollection of Some Particulars in the Life of the Late William Shenstone (1788) offers a hitherto neglected comparison between Shenstone and Thomas Gray, in which he focuses on Shenstone's early, "rustic" education. Shenstone, "who spent his infancy in a farm-house, or under the roof of a country school-dame, amidst the children of the lowest plebeians" is seen to be disadvantaged. The poet, often styled shy and awkward in company, owing to his parents' early death, did not develop his skills of politeness or sense of familiarity with forms of upper-class social interaction. Graves concedes that his friend did not have the parental guidance to enable him to develop and encourage an active life of study and scholarship (such as Gray's) but notes at the same time that Gray had a "trifling advantage" only over Shenstone. (8) Graves therefore accords him a mediating and intermediate position which equips him ideally to assist others--less advantaged than himself--who strive to improve their skills in writing through study and application. This unique position obscures the clearly demarcated boundaries between the academic and the plebeian poet, and Shenstone's firsthand description of the dame school and his teacher Sarah Lloyd in The School-Mistress provides the background against which his early education should be understood. Shenstone's early education, therefore, may be regarded as lessening the social distance between himself and Woodhouse.
It is the laboring-class writer's desire, especially at the beginning of his career, to align himself with the writing culture of his day and to imitate closely the poetics of authors with whom he has established or wishes to establish a relationship that furthers the professionalization of his writing activity. Successful laboring-class writing--that is, writing that consciously negotiates and interrogates the division between classes, between high culture poetics of politeness and an attempt to work consciously within this tradition as an alien--is predicated on a conscious familiarity with generic conventions and distinctions between modes and kinds. Donna Landry has explored eighteenth-century laboring-class women's poetry in terms of the "socio-textual articulation of class and gender in a largely forgotten literary discourse" and offered persuasive case studies of poetry that was both imitative and successful. (9) Van-Hagen similarly has dealt with the "aestheticisation of laboring experience," (10) but--with the renewed recent interest in poetics and form--a formal reading of some of Woodhouse's poetry will yield insights that complement those studies with a focus on class and the later poems. Such a discussion does not take for granted that a poet's works progressively improve but that he is capable of deploying forms and modes in ways that are responding dynamically to other poets' uses of genres and mid-century practice generally. In this context, Woodhouse is restored to being a man of his time engaging with the literary culture of the mid-century, and not declassified as a sycophantic copyist, unimaginatively and unquestioningly using the models that Shenstone made available to him.
In the preface to the subscription-supported collection of Poems on Sundry Occasions (1764), Woodhouse acknowledges Shenstone not only as an early supporter of his writing, but also implicitly as his muse. When Woodhouse was introduced to Shenstone, he had had little formal education, having left school at age seven or eight. However, as early as 1760, he was "teaching in elementary schools, alongside shoemaking" and his rise to keeper of a small school is revealed in "The Author's Apology" to the second edition of Poems (1766). (11) By the time Shenstone had made his library available to Woodhouse, he had already assisted writers such as Richard Jago and Mary Whateley and corrected the latter's poetry for publication in magazines. (12) As Klaus points out, Shenstone "did not act as an open-handed benefactor but was rather a kind of bridge between the author and the publisher." (13) Both Woodhouse and Whateley eventually published collections of their poetry with James Dodsley.
The two collections contained poems that deployed the elegiac-pastoral mode that Shenstone had been developing from the early 1740s. Shenstone's, Woodhouse's, and Whateley's collections were all issued in 1764 and reviewed alongside each other in the Monthly Review and Criticai Review. (14) In the preface to Shenstone's Works, Robert Dodsley hailed his deceased friend as a master of the elegiac and pastoral: "In the tenderness of elegiac poetry he hath not been excelled; in the simplicity of pastoral, one may venture to say he had very few equals." (15) Dodsley also included a prose description of Shenstone's celebrated ornamental farm, the Leasowes, which at the rime of the poet's death was well-known throughout the British Isles. Implicitly, Dodsley links the elegiac-pastoral vision of a golden age of contemplation that pervades much of Shenstone's poetry with his landscape gardening at the Leasowes.
John Langhorne reviewed Whateley's and Shenstone's collections for the Monthly Review and reveals his interest in the pastoral. In the early 1760s, he expressed his admiration for the internationally popular Idylls of Salomon Gessner by rendering them into English. Langhorne was also interested in the genre of the pastoral elegy and included such elegies in his Poems (1760). Shenstone's lifelong friend and correspondent, the Reverend Richard Jago, author of Edge-Hill, also produced elegies from the 1750s onwards and read numerous drafts of Shenstone's poems that the latter had scribally published in a number of manuscript albums which he circulated among his friends. Jago uses the contemplative elegiac genre to engage with the pastoral of the landscape and a desire to comprehend the mystery that is nature. In "To William Shenstone, Esq. On receiving a gilt pocket-book, 1751," Jago addresses the owner of the Leasowes as the guide who can unlock the secrets of nature and make them readable and understandable to Jago. He asks Shenstone to:
Teach me to read fair Nature's book, Wide opening in each flow'ry plain; And with judicious eye to look On all the glories of her reign. (25-28) (16)
It is the training of the "judicious eye to look" the cultivation of the ability to see and, more importantly, interpret the meaning of nature that he desires. Ultimately, the realm of pastoral nature furnishes insight (through reflection) into nature and human nature and therefore Jago, like Woodhouse would several years later, requests
Thro' arched walks, o'er spreading lawns, Near solemn rocks, with her to rove; Or court her, 'mid her gentle fawns. In mossy cell, or maple grove. (33-36) (17)
Jago's rhetoric of excursion, discovery, and courtship intimates that his speaker is eager to understand both Nature and "fair Nature's book" the laws that regulate the Arcadian setting of Shenstone's surrogate Eden at the Leasowes. The petition for admission to this realm is central to Jago's poem and represents one of the stock generic features of Shenstone's pastoral elegy. The proposed discussion of Shenstone's poetics and Woodhouse's formal use of pastoral and elegiac poetics, especially his generically hybrid constructs of a pastoral elegy and ode, aims to demonstrate the poets' ability to use and rewrite literary conventions. Woodhouse does not imitate the classics but takes as his model the original generic hybridity of Shenstone's poetry. In contextualizing Woodhouse's imitative practice, I shall not primarily focus on the plebeian ideology that scholars have identified in Woodhouse's poetry bur on the poet's skilful adoption of a poetics and generic repertoire to which Shenstone had probably introduced him. At the same time, this essay will reconsider Shenstone's contribution to mid-eighteenth-century poetic theory and argue for a recognition of the generic novelty of his pastoral elegies and odes. (18) I shall elaborate further the argument on Shenstone's self-construction that David Fairer has recently advanced and go beyond "Johnson's narrative of petty pride and frustrated hopes" in the Lives of the Poets to read Shenstone, as Fairer does in a different context, "not [as] self-reflecting, but self-questioning." (19)
Shenstone's use of the pastoral first needs to be defined before Woodhouse's own deployment of the mode can be understood. To that end, I shall offer a brief account of Shenstone's pastoral poetics and his understanding of genre and relate his preoccupation with the idyll to his ode, "Rural Elegance." His inter-generic use of poetic forms of expression such as the ode and the pastoral provides the canvas on which I shall outline Shenstone's theory of the descriptive pastoral ode. My study of Woodhouse's conscious deployment of Shenstone's genre of the pastoral ode will serve to underline in what ways Shenstone's ability to experiment generically could be appropriated by the young and aspiring "poetical shoemaker." Shenstone largely designs a poetics that supports his centralized construction as the owner of the Leasowes. In the different versions of his "Pastoral Ballad" (1743-51), he offers lists of pastoral elements such as the names of trees and plants (bilberries, myrtle, willow, woodbine, linden, jessamine, and others). The setting in which the pastoral swain laments Phyllis's loss and celebrates her (encouraging) response to his song is one where the landscape serves as an iconic grove of love. As long as he is separated from Phyllis, he is sick at heart; his native pastoral environment, however, is one of health, plenty, and activity:
My Banks they are furnish'd with bees Whose murmur invites one to sleep, My Waters are shaded with trees, And my hills are white over with Sheep. I seldom have met with a Loss, Such health do my Pastures bestow, And where they are cover'd with moss Ev'n there do the Bilberries grow. (Percy version, 41-48) (20)
In the published version of the poem, Shenstone introduces flowers such as the harebells and violets which are emblematic of love and adds further visual detail to highlight the natural variety of the landscape. (21) The landscape becomes more idealized than before.
In the "Pastoral Ballad" and the elegies, Shenstone reworks the pastoral tradition and links it modally with the elegiac. He does not invoke Theocritus or Virgil (although these poets feature as sources for inscriptions at the Leasowes), the representatives of primary and secondary pastoral, but his version of the genre represents the tertiary stage in the development of the pastoral in the eighteenth century, a stage that has traditionally been explored with reference to the early eighteenth-century debate on the pastoral by Alexander Pope and Ambrose Phillips. (22) Alastair Fowler notes that the pastoral is generally an "impersonal genre" a feature that Shenstone revises in his use of it. The poet's redefinition of the genre "interiorize[s] the earlier kind" (23) and, as David Fairer has remarked, lyrically "retunes" the mode. (24)
Johnson notes that, shortly after leaving the University of Oxford, Shenstone developed "his ambition of rural elegance." (25) It is especially evident in his collected works that examples of his paradoxical genre of "rural elegance" and "elegant pastoral" denominate him as the master of a genre which fashions "a form of publicized privacy." (26) To that effect, in "Rural Elegance" he combines the genre of public poetry with the more private concerns of the pastoral. He relies on modal cooperation between genres and fundamentally subverts and restructures generic expectations. In his "Essay on Elegy," for instance, the occasion for mourning is of little importance; rather, he interprets (and reinvents) the genre as a pastoral medium "to encourage virtue." (27) In his theory of the pastoral elegy, a terra that confusingly is generically closer to the descriptive ode than to Gray's Elegy, he states that
as pastoral conveys an idea of simplicity and innocence, it is in particular the task and merit of elegy to shew the innocence and simplicity of rural life to advantage: and that, in a way distinct from pastoral, as much as the plain and judicious landlord may be imagined to surpass the tenant both in dignity and understanding. (28)
Shenstone admired Rowe's The Despairing Shepherd and consciously developed his elegiac theory in response to James Hammond's love elegies, which were largely imitations of Tibullus. (29) In his review of Shenstone's Works, Langhorne offers an insightful comparison between Hammond and Shenstone that highlights Hammond's derivativeness and dependence on models while Shenstone's elegies are singled out for their originality:
In his elegiac capacity Mr. Shenstone seems to have formed himself principally on the tender, the easy, and sweetly plaintive Hammond, whom, if he has not equalled in some departments of beauty, he has excelled in others. Hammond is generally more easy in his expression, more natural and passionate; but then be is frequently less elegant, and, from too close a classical imitation, infinitely less original than Shenstone. (30)
In the elegies, Shenstone excludes low subject matter and fashions his pastoral environment in line with his realized design at the Leasowes. In his view, elegy, cooperating with the pastoral mode, should "tend to elevate the most tranquil virtues of humility, disinterestedness, simplicity, and innocence: but then there is a degree of elegance and refinement, no way inconsistent with these rural virtues; and that
raises elegy above the merum rus, that unpolished rusticity, which has given our pastoral writers their highest reputation." (31) As John Dolan has remarked, Shenstone's generic understanding of elegy entails "the redefinition and expansion of 'occasion', from a public event to a private, mental one, of which the elegy is the effusion." Shenstone's elegy is characterized by "an ethos-centered mentally-occasioned lyric" requiring simple diction, in which "the transfer of the definitive elegiac component ('its peculiar characteristic') from subject (mourning) to tone" becomes centrally theatricalized. "Ethos, in Shenstone's case, means something like literal, as well as figurative enclosure--private ownership of the rural setting in which new elegies are to be produced." (32)
Written and revised over a period of almost twenty years, Shenstone's elegies deal with different themes which are, however, always linked in some way with the pastoral. "Elegy 1" praises simplicity and natural retirement and argues for natural authenticity in preference to art. The "rural virtues" (1) of retirement in a setting of trees and "fountains bubbling" (3, 4) encourage a cathartic release of emotional energy--"verse" flowing "from the heart" (11)--akin to Hammond's "fond heart effus[ing] the melting theme." The speaker advises his friend to "Write from thy bosom" (31), resisting the forms of art in favor of genuine feeling and unadulterated truth. In "Elegy 4," Shenstone's speaker sets a theatrical, Gothic scene at the time of "ev'ning's dusky shade" (1) and offers a melancholy description of, and reflection on, Ophelia's tomb. Simplicity, Elegance, Beauty, and Fancy attend the tomb and muse on "the fates' severe command" to decree Ophelia's death. While the elegy celebrates the chaste virtues of the deceased, Shenstone's introduction of the four personifications defines his notion of a pastoral that assembles sentimental and melancholy features while imbuing them with the spiritual essence of tributary deities. Shenstone's isolation from the world and its commerce is compensated by the company of spirits and the genius loci who guard his realm of pastoral melancholy, a sensation that is not destructive but contemplatively soothing. Shenstone outlines his elegiac-pastoral mode specifically in "Elegy 7." The lover's complaint that had featured in his other elegies is marginalized in the elegy, and the speaker relates his encountering a vision of "a grateful form" (17): "White were his locks with awful scarlet crown'd, / And livelier far than Tyrian's seem'd his vest, / That with the glowing purple ting'd the ground" (18-20). The sage requests to know the speaker's "wish" (24) and whether he pursues "wealth or pow'r" (23). The speaker, suffering from "a lover's pain" (39), relates that he is on his way to a friend:
He, the dear youth, to whose abode I roam, Nor can mine honours, nor my fields extend; Yet for his sake I leave my distant home, Which oaks embosom, and which hills defend. Beneath that home I scorn the wintry 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! (41-48)
The realm that Shenstone's speaker describes serves as a protective sphere in which he (and his guests) can find lasting happiness. It appears to be a supertemporal country in which the seasonal cycle is suspended. While "Elegy 7" contrasts the two spheres, the public business- and gain-centered world of commerce and ambition with the retirement of pastoral happiness, the other elegies introduced draw a landscape in which loss and grief can be mediated through song and soothing, melancholy reflection. The elegies develop some of the concerns of the garden poetry that he deployed in his literary-architectural construction of the Leasowes and they further some of the Edenic associations that Shenstone tentatively explored in his early printed poetry.
His earliest vision of a pastoral Eden can be found in his poem "Eve's Speech in Milton, upon her Expulsion out of Paradise," published in his juvenile Poems upon various Occasions (1737). In the poem, he offers a glimpse of the Eden that he aims to reconstruct at the Leasowes. Eve's sudden awareness that she has forfeited a continued life of happiness is expressed as a lament and the realization that the breach she has effected between herself and immortality is irreparable. The rhetorical question "Must I then leave these blissful Walks, and Bow'rs, / My teeming Fruit-trees, and my rip'ning Flow'rs?" (3-4), especially in its referring to the architectural loci of the "blissful Walks, and Bow'rs," anticipates Woodhouse's anxious petition to Shenstone not to experience a second expulsion from paradise. (33)
Abraham Cowley's Essays, quoted by Shenstone in his letters, inform Shenstone's construction of his landscaped garden and genre of the pastoral. In "Of Solitude" Cowley recommends the retirement from public politics to a realm of privacy and happiness, and in his essay on "The Garden" he explains that, following Horace's topos of retirement from "all [political] ambitions and hopes in this world," the garden furnishes the contentment of reflection that public and restless life does not afford. Cowley states that in retirement, the garden becomes the locus of the "pleasantest work of human industry, the improvement of something which we call (not very properly, but yet we call) our own." (34) The type of leisure that retirement offers is related to a creative impulse and "human industry," which anticipates Shenstone's ceaseless efforts to shape his parkland and gardens, as well as his rhetorical question: "How is it possible to possess improvable scenes, and not to wish to improve them?" (35) Apart from relating man and nature more closely together, man's effort to cultivate the landscape is also a means of studying the order underlying the creation. Cowley even attributes the vegetative metaphor of 'planting' a garden to God:
He did a garden for him plant By the quick hand of his omnipotent word. As the chief help and joy of human life, He gave him the first gift; first, ev'n before a wife. (26-29)
The bestowing of the garden as God's "first gift" to man antedates the creation of Eve. In terms of a harmonious relationship between man and nature, the garden--through its natural responsiveness and ability to grow--therefore offers an environment that is ideal to cater for man's happiness.
Nor does this happy place only dispense Such various pleasures to the sense; Here health itself does live, That salt of life, which does to all a relish give, It's standing pleasure, and intrinsic wealth, The body's virtue, and the soul's good fortune, health. (139-44)
While Cowley's garden is an Edenic place of health and happiness, it is preferably a place of solitude. Cowley clearly opposes the public concerns of politics with the happiness experienced in the solitary environment of the garden. Shenstone, by contrast, advocates a politics of feeling and fellowship. His garden needs to be visited, experienced, and viewed. It functions as a realm of the home to which visitors are welcomed and where the virtues of retirement are publicized. In this sphere, human relationships are necessarily redefined, as every visitor--and this is borne out in Shenstone's poetry--is implicitly welcomed as a friend, irrespective of class status. Addressing John Evelyn, the author of Sylva, Cowley observes: "I know nobody that possesses more private happiness than you do in your garden; and, yet no man, who makes his happiness more public, by a free communication of the art and knowledge of it to others." (36) Shenstone's breaking down of (physical and ideological) boundaries favors the dissemination and experience of the knowledge of his pastoral vision in terms of a republic of taste that can be visited freely. Departing from the idealized types of retirement that both Horace and Cowley advocate, Shenstone anchors his notion of the idyllic garden in the real-life garden and landscape project at the Leasowes.
Unlike any other major writer of odes in the period, Shenstone used the genre (especially in "Rural Elegance") to threatricalize a persona of himself as refined pastoral swain who celebrates both nature and his ability to "improve" nature in terms of the Japanese gardening principle of sharawadgi. (37) In fact, this idea--with its artful mimetic and both structurally and compositionally improved representation of the environment--seems to underlie Shenstone's theory of the generic hybridity of the pastoral ode. He does not comprehend the ode in definitively heroic or public terms, thereby departing from classical models of the ode; nor does he celebrate the country patriotically, as ode writers such as Mark Akenside, James Thomson, or William Collins did. Rather, he injects into his poetics a version of stylized, elegant pastoralism, a mode that aspires to being pre-Georgic in the sense that the vision painted in the ode of pastoral solitude will secure man's happiness--if only he is content to exert himself in the prescribed pastoral sphere. Shenstone's poetics combine the traditional separate modes of the pastoral eclogue with the rapturous, greater lyric of the ode. Frequently, he rewrites pastoral convention by using the genre as a personalized form in which he can express feelings of proximity and friendship.
Richard Graves celebrated Shenstone in the Recollection and noted that he "contributed ... to diffuse that natural and simple taste in rural ornaments" More than that, Shenstone understood that his pastoral vision at the Leasowes and in his verse could serve moral purposes and define meaningfully human relationships and the relationship between man and the environment. Graves identified that there is an analogy between "picturesque landscape" and "moral landscape" and explained that "Shenstone had generally an eye to utility, as well as ornament, in his plans; as in the ruinated priory, for instance, which was, at the same time, a beautiful object in his prospect, and an useful dwelling for a labourer or a tenant." (38) As Fairer has demonstrated, Shenstone in his efforts at landscape gardening at the Leasowes "takes pleasure in subjective experience, but is always conscious of how it can be repositioned to reflect the experience of others" Such a reading of the poet rightly moves away from considering Shenstone as egotistical and highlights the moral dimension of his poems and landscaped garden. His invitation to his friends to visit the Leasowes and to see and understand the plan of his landscape (and the divine and contemplative order within it) reflects the importance that he attached to "scenes that are repeatedly reconfigured" and thereby made meaningful in more ways than one. (39)
Although Shenstone initially intended "Rural Elegance" (which, as Graves points out, responds generically to odes by Gray, Mason, and Warton) as a patronage tribute to Frances Seymour, Duchess of Somerset, probably owing to her premature death, he rewrote the poem during its long gestation process and removed the invocatory petition common to odes; (40) therefore, the encomiastic, hymnal element is varied with the pastoral descriptions of the beauty, solitude, and health of a life in a setting such as the Leasowes. Shenstone's pastoral speaker celebrates this Arcadia as one of those who have been admitted into the realm that shuts out the stresses and pressures of a public world (the duchess's realm of public engagement) and the disharmonious and disruptive signs and influences of work.
Shenstone not only uses "Rural Elegance" (1750-53 and published in volume 5 of Dodsley's Collection of Poems by Several Hands in 1758) to celebrate the Duchess of Somerset, but he also deploys it as a canvas on which he can outline his ideas of pastoralism which, as one contemporary styled it, is "pregnant with sensibility and natural pathos." (41) Containing (according to Samuel Johnson) "both philosophical argument and poetical spirit," (42) the poem distinguishes two versions of pastoral. Shenstone differentiates his mode of the pastoral from what he considers the false imitation of urban art. The concluding stanza of "Rural Elegance" offers a vision of nature as facilitating solitude and happiness. It is nature which celebrates the duchess's grace and dignity through "noblest lay." "Rural Elegance" descriptively paints a space that is safe from the invasive influence of "the strepent horn" of the chase and, by extension, death. The "lay" that the "songsters of the grove" "warble forth" is not "inelegant and rude" but noble and expressive of the sacred realm over which the duchess presides. Shenstone's nature is crafted and related to what Winckelmann termed "noble simplicity"; his nature is the nature of sentimental and pastoral art. David Hill Radcliffe has noted that in "Rural Elegance" "Shenstone uses the lyric ode to define and promote a disinterested republic of taste." (43) As in the elegies, the rural landscape at the duchess's home at Percy Lodge comprises true taste and genius. Reclaiming the duchess's public persona in a private environment, Shenstone no longer considers her as formerly belonging to the corrupted and busy world of the court but rereads her virtues as transcending the conventional boundaries of public and private: as Radcliffe observes, "Shenstone argues that private taste is public virtue." (44)
Shenstone's landscape is an inclusive one; he does not understand the "lowly shepherd's votive strain" as inelegant and intrusive but as conducive to the peace of the sacred sphere that the duchess inhabits, for he "tunes his reed amidst his rural chear, / Fearful, yet not averse, that Somerset should hear" While Shenstone's shepherds always remain idealized and vague, it is a new type of pastoral poet, Woodhouse, who in 'An Elegy to William Shenstone, Esq.; Of the Leasowes" (first communicated to Shenstone in 1759) petitions the poet to admit him to his Arcadia. The vision of "rural bliss without alloy" is an attractive one to Woodhouse, and with "the boldness of a village swain" (2) he offers his elegy to Shenstone. Christmas observes that in the elegy "Woodhouse succeeds in representing himself as an ideal subject of those polite attitudes about work and writing circulating in the period." He "exploits Shenstone's vanity well in this 'Elegy' for the bulk of the poem is given to detailing the natural beauties of The Leasowes." (45) Woodhouse's choice of the title "Elegy" is clearly meant as a compliment to Shenstone as the leading proponent of the new pastoral. Instead of following Christmas in reading the "Elegy" as a production merely calculated to gratify Shenstone's vanity, I suggest that the poem's successful and sophisticated use of the new poetics should be recognized.
The introduction of the figure of the "muse's suitor" "a sandal'd swain" and the mention of his laboring-class status posit Woodhouse's speaker as a poet who petitions for entry to the sphere of inspiration and genius. At the same rime, the insistence that both be and Shenstone "boast the same origin divine" and the concluding note that "the peasant [will rank] equal with the peer" allow him to formulate a plea for equality that is facilitated through the imagined and imaginative freedom engendered in the spiritual realm of the Leasowes. Keegan notes that "Woodhouse describes a relationship to a landscape that serves simultaneously as locus of distinction and as a possible social equalizer" The garden functions as "a utopia where social differences might be erased because of a common aesthetic appreciation for beauty, one shared by both the 'refined' and 'rustic."' (46) The image of Shenstone that Woodhouse evokes in the "Elegy" is one that characterizes his patron as a rewarder of intrinsic worth, rather than as a gentleman intent on asserting his leisured status by shutting out genius from a lower social order. The ideas of liberty and equality pervade the poem, and Woodhouse even states that ir was "liberal nature" which bestowed on the shoemaker the gift of "read[ing] her works" He not only wants to associate himself as a poet with Shenstone but he also draws an analogy between their shared ability to read nature and inscribe her with meaning. The center of the estate of the Leasowes where Shenstone and the allegorical personification of Melancholy "love ... to dwell" is "the dusky twilight cell" and "the mournful grove:' Woodhouse combines his description of Melancholy's haunt with a locus amoenus in which Shenstone entertains intercourse with Apollo and the "Aeonian maids." The generic alignment of Woodhouse's elegy with the ode is evident, even though he does not use the hymnal elements that writers such as Collins and the Wartons did. Woodhouse's petition to be recognized as Shenstone's friend and, by extension, equal is part of the conventional approximation of speaker and deity in mid-century odes. However, in its removal from the anti-personal mode of classical pastoral and Shenstone's own use of the genre in 'A Pastoral Ballad" Woodhouse's petition centralizes his desire as speaking persona to express his hope that he may be admitted to a realm in which class difference and social status no longer signify.
Christmas insists that Woodhouse does not consciously use the mode of the pastoral to align himself in a stance of self-assertion with Shenstone, (47) but the poet's use of the mode was informed by a sophisticated understanding of his patron's poetics and responds in novel ways to the landscape and the elegiac essence Shenstone identified in it. Also, Shenstone was more engaged in procuring financial support for Woodhouse's writing activities than has previously been assumed, as is evidenced by recently unearthed manuscript material, (48) and it is evident that his mentorship and commenting on Woodhouse's poems in progress goes further than what has been suggested previously. (49)
In 1762 Woodhouse produced "To William Shenstone, Esq; On his indisposition in the spring, 1762" and communicated it to Shenstone who, in a letter to his neighbor Sherington Davenport of Worfield, forwards a copy of the verses and comments on them: "Would you think" he asks his correspondent, <'the verses I inclosed were written on that occasion [his sickness] by a young journeyman shoemaker; and one that lives at the village of Rowley, near me? He considered my disorder in somewhat too grave a light... but allowing for this, and the partiality he shews me, you will think the lines pretty extraordinary for one of his occupation." (50) Shenstone's comments on Woodhouse in his letter to Davenport help a reassessment of both Shenstone and Woodhouse. His use of italics in his letters is indicative: he anticipates the critical reader's (Davenport's) response to the poem by noting that his illness (influenza) had not been life-threatening (a fact likely to be known to Davenport) and a recognition of the "partiality" that Woodhouse shows in the poem. He indicates that allowance needs to be made for these two aspects only and that the poet's verse "is pretty extraordinary for one of his occupation," Shenstone's stress on the poetical shoemaker's profession leads him to explain further that:
These are not, however, the only, or perhaps, the chief specimens of his genius; and yet, before he came to me, his principal knowledge was drawn from Magazines. For these two or three years past, I have lent him Classics, and other books in English. You see, to him, I am a great Maecenas; although you and my friend expect me to become an author by subscription. (51)
Shenstone acknowledges that Woodhouse is self-taught, having used the poetry published in magazines as models. His lending Woodhouse books enabled him to mould his taste further and encouraged a self-conscious imitation of, and experimentation with, a known tradition of poetic conventions. He also downplays his own importance in bringing Woodhouse to public notice (especially Robert Dodsley's) and relativizes the dynamics of their relationship as portrayed by earlier scholars.
A brief consideration of "To William Shenstone" evidences Woodhouse's familiarity with not only the tradition and poetic diction, but also his desire to move from classical machinery to sincere prayer to God. He uses the four-line stanza of alternating tetrameters and trimeters that Shenstone had frequently used in his poems and offers the poem to Shenstone as a token of his esteem. The conventional descriptive catalogues of attributes that readers have identified in James Thomson's The Seasons and the paraphrastic poetic diction of the earlier decades of the century are deployed in the first part (stanzas 1-17) of the twenty-one-stanza poem. The turning point is reached in stanza 17 when Woodhouse's speaker moves from "ye gods of Pagan days! / Chimeras of the brain!" to "mild omnipotence! / Our Father, King, and God!" Whereas the first part in paraphrastic neoclassical register introduces the Fates, "the plumy throng;' and the "little murm'ring rills;' the second part focuses on the expression of the speaker's religious faith in God to restore Shenstone's "valu'd health" bur also to accept his will if he in his "boundless wisdom" sees fit to call the poet to him. The poem thus undergoes a shift from one mode to another that Van-Hagen has identified in Woodhouse's later works. Analogically, the speaker's stylized relationship with the sick Shenstone (who is invoked synecdochally through his "tuneful breath;' the Muses' "love," and his "warbling lyre") is redefined in the second part of the poem when the speaker sheds the artificial diction of the earlier descriptive mode and moves towards a sympathetic prayer to the "Blest pow'r;' culminating in the statement: "Nor let the sons of genius weep; / Nor ler the good deplore:' Woodhouse sees Shenstone as a sufferer and no longer contextualizes him in the detached, impersonal, and artificial diction of the earlier part in which he characterized Shenstone by means of the pastoral setting that he had developed both at the Leasowes and in his poetry. The prayer at the end of the poem brings him closer to Shenstone, and it is this proximity of two men writing poetry in the cultivated rurality of the landscape that Shenstone constructed that Woodhouse aims to express in "Wrote at the Lessowes, after Mr. Shenstone's Death" (written in November 1763), which occurred on 11 February 1763. The second stanza of the poem, opening with "For still I fondly range these shades, / Where Shenstone fondly rov'd" uses the repetition of the adverb not only to describe the frequenting of the estate but also to link Woodhouse with Shenstone through the semantic field of fondness. He combines his address of Shenstone as "my friend" (in stanza 4) with an extended identification of the deceased poet with nature:
Then, fancy'd paint on shady seat, His image in my mind, Or hear his voice in each retreat, Or feign his step behind; But soon, at reasons wak'ning call, The mimic phantasm flees; His voice was bur a water fall, His step--was but a breeze.
Woodhouse relates Shenstone to the genius loci without which the landscape becomes barren and uncanny. Shenstone's death results in "melancholy gloom" and a gothic environment that depress the speaker's spirits and culminate in a phantasmagoric vision of Shenstone's "lifeless body laid, / Bereft of all those pow'rs, / That vernal beauties brighter made, / And chear'd the wintry hours." The element of anagnorisis that Alastair Fowler has declared to be central to elegy is therefore realized as Woodhouse recognizes that the Leasowes without Shenstone will not be the same. (52) He does not deal with Shenstone the poet, but offers a vision of the man integrated in a harmonious pastoral landscape. Without him, the restored paradisal order is disrupted, and, as the concluding stanza indicates, all that is left to Woodhouse is "Sweet hope! the balm of every woe" that he will "meet" Shenstone "in heav'n."
In the preface to Poetas on Sundry Occasions, Woodhouse eulogizes Shenstone and recalls that his benevolence was such, that he permitted the lowest of his neighbours the benefit of these delightful scenes; amongst whom was poor Crispin, our author; bur his happiness was not of long continuance, for the liberty Mr. SHENSTONE'S good-nature granted was soon turned into licentiousness; the people destroying the shrubs, picking the flowers, breaking down the hedges, and doing him other damage, produced a prohibition to everyone without application to himself or principal servants. (53)
Woodhouse portrays Shenstone as the benevolent proprietor-gardener-gentleman who admits "the lowest of his neighbours" to his ferroe ornee. Shenstone controls the level of communication with the outside world and, once his "benevolence" has been abused, regulates the traffic of incoming visitors. Ultimately, he tries to secure his pastoral vision and protect it from harmful influences, thereby ideally transforming it into a supertemporal locus engendering his own new idea of Arcadia. Woodhouse explains that the vandalism at the Leasowes "was originally the cause of our poet's being known to Mr. SHENSTONE, he sending him, on that occasion, the first poem in this book; which not only gave him the liberty of passing many leisure hours in those charming walks, but introduced him to Mr. SHENSTONE himself." (54) The image of Shenstone as benevolent pastoral poet was one that was especially cultivated after his death. Thomas Nicholls's Shenstone: or, the Force of Benevolence (1776) noted in the preface to his poem that "Benevolence was his bosom's chief tenant; and if ever he sighed to Providence for wealth, it was only to do good, and to improve a taste which might become the greatest monarch upon earth." (55) He recalls an anecdote to illustrate Shenstone's benevolence and states that in the pastoral environment of the Leasowes, the poet was preoccupied with praising nature and its Creator: "Nature they [Shenstone and his pastoral lover Delia] prais'd, and all that she had giv'n, / They knew but love and gratitude to Heav'n." (56) Nicholls echoes Robert Dodsley's characterization of Shenstone's benevolent character in his edition of the poet's works and anticipates Graves's more extended narrative in the Recollection.
While Woodhouse interpreted Shenstone's permission to him to frequent the grounds of the Leasows as an instance of benevolence, Shenstone's motivation was likely inspired by the calculated morally beneficiai effect he expected to produce in his visitors. The harmony, innocence, and "naturalness" of his surrogate Eden served to illustrate the moral character of the landscape. It was essential for his plan that his landscape garden be appreciated and experienced, very much in the way in which his pastoral poetry was consumed by its readers. Drawing on Addison's theory of the pleasures of the imagination, Shenstone in his "Unconnected Thoughts of Gardening" relates the experience of the variety of the landscape and prospects to an ideal of moral sentiment. He focuses on those aspects of "picturesque-gardening" which "serve to connect ideas, that convey reflexions of the pleasing kind." Objects in the landscape, he argues, "strike" "the judgment or well-formed imagination" It is the physical anatomy of the garden from which be derives a "peculiar character" which, in turn, impacts on the different dispositions and characters of the viewers. He opposes uniformity and recommends the laying out of interesting objects and viewing these so that these different objects can inspire different (moral) reflections. The landscape, in this regard, serves as a canvas that is inscribed with information, and objects such as ruins not only represent present decay and sublimity but also carry an inherent historical narrative capable of inspiring mental engagement with the past or one's position in relation to the representational power of the ruin. (57)
Woodhouse's sentiments about the spiritual qualities of the landscape at the end of his poem to Shenstone are consonant with those that Geoffry Wildgoose, the protagonist of Richard Graves's The Spiritual Quixote: or, the Summer's Ramble of Mr. Geoffry Wildgoose (1774) would articulate. Shenstone makes a cameo appearance in chapter 7 of his friend's novel, and Graves (through Wildgoose) comments on the need to look beyond Shenstone's constructed appearance of pastoralism and deduce spiritual meaning from the landscape, a reading that develops Fairer's argument regarding the moral utility of visitors' viewing the variety and (spiritual) harmony of different prospects of nature at the Leasowes. (58)
The quixotic Wildgoose advocates detachment from "rural embellishments" and through his religious enthusiasm recontextualizes the Arcadian landscape and Shenstone's moralistic use of it. Wildgoose, like Woodhouse and Shenstone, is an observer in the landscape that is the Leasowes. Following accounts of Shenstone's landscape garden such as Dodsley's or Woodhouse's own description in verse, the observer can partake of the elegiac-pastoral spirit and melancholy evoked through carefully placed objects and contrived vistas and prospects. The garden serves as a symbol and locus of community which stimulate reflection and elegiac-pastoral celebration. (59) The sharing of the landscape signifies the construction of a virtual, literary, and landscaped meeting ground that is protected and free from social or seasonal pressures. (60) In "A Pastoral Ode. To the Honourable Sir Richard Lyttelton" Shenstone had made a persuasive argument for the retirement to the country, as seclusion would ensure safety from "fame's obstreperous noise" and vice. In fact, this retirement attracts personages of true worth (especially aristocratic patrons!) who, like the Duchess of Somerset in "Rural Elegance," animate the landscape and imbue it with their particular virtues. Owing to Shenstone, as hospitable guardian of the place, the pastoral landscape transforms from a locus of solitude into a locus of "social warmth sincere" and "social mirth."
Shenstone's and Woodhouse's relationship should be understood in the light of the social bonds that the owner of the ferme ornee established at the Leasowes. I do not encourage a reading that focuses primarily on their class difference but one that takes into account the shared poetics and experimentation with the pastoral and elegiac. Of course, the encounter of two classes in which the patron dominates the recipient's creativity presents a constellation of powers which can be one-sided, culminating frequently in a subversive subtext in the lower-class writer's work but can also ideally create a union of both the laboring-class writer's represented and literalized personality and the tradition and authority that the patron embodies. Literary patronage from one poet to another has often been read as a conditioning power that results in imitative, rather than interesting and original, work. It should be stressed, however, that the imitation of generic repertoire enabled, rather than restricted, the inventive impulses of Woodhouse's pastoral odes.
I acknowledge the generous support of a British Academy grant which enabled me to write this article. I am also grateful to Carson Bergstrom and David Radcliffe, who commented on an earlier version of the essay.
(1) William J. Christmas, The Lab'ring Muses: Work, Writing and the Social Order in English Plebeian Poetry, 1730-1830 (Newark: U. of Delaware Press, 2001), 187.
(2) Christmas, Lab'ring Muses, 187. Steve Van-Hagen, "The Life, Works and Reception of an Evangelical Radical: James Woodhouse (1735-1820), the 'Poetical Shoemaker,"' Literature Compass 6 (2009): 385, complicates Christmas's account of Woodhouse's personae by speaking of "the complexities of Woodhouse's multiple, fluid identities."
(3) H. Gustav Klaus, The Literature of Labour: Two Hundred Years of Working-Class Writing (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1985), 11.
(4) Keegan, British Labouring-Class Nature Poetry, 1730-1837 (Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2008), 38.
(5) James Woodhouse, The Life and Lucubrations of Crispinus Scriblerus: A Selection, ed. Steve Van-Hagen (Cheltenham: Cyder Press, 2005), xiii.
(6) See Van-Hagen, "Life, Works and Reception and Keegan, "Return to the Garden: James Woodhouse and Polite Cultivations," British Labouring-Class Nature Poetry, 37-64, 38.
(7) Keegan, British Labouring-Class Nature Poetry, 4.
(8) Richard Graves, Recollection of Some Particulars in the Life of the Late William Shenstone, Esq. In a series of letters (London: printed for J. Dodsley, 1788), 139, emphasis mine. See also Linda Zionkowski's chapter on Gray, class, and the educated professional poet in Men's Work: Gender, Class, and the Professionalization of Poetry, 1660-1784 (New York: Palgrave, 2001).
(9) Donna Landry, The Muses of Resistance: Laboring-Class Women's Poetry in Britain, 1739-1796 (Cambridge U. Press, 1990), 3.
(10) Steve Van-Hagen, "Literary Technique, the Aestheticization of Laboring Experience, and Generic Experimentation in Stephen Duck's The Thresher's Labour," Criticism 47 (2005): 421-50.
(11) See Van-Hagen, "Life, Works and Reception;' 3, 5.
(12) See Sandro Jung, "Mentorship and 'Patronage' in Mid-Eighteenth-Century England: William Shenstone Reconsidered;' Bulletin de la societe d'etudes anglo-americaines des XVIIe et XVIIIe siecles 54 (2002): 193-94, and Anne Messenger, Woman and Poet in the Eighteenth Century: The Life of Mary Whateley Darwall (New York: AMS Press, 2000), 44.
(13) Klaus, The Literature of Labour, 8.
(14) Reviews of Woodhouse's work appeared in Monthly Review 30 (1764): 415; Critical Review 17 (1764): 392-93; and General Magazine 1 (1764): 198. Reviews of Shenstone's work: Monthly Review 30 (1764): 378-89, 450-63; Critical Review 17 (1764): 338-44; and General Magazine 1 (1764): 198. Whateley's collection was reviewed in: Monthly Review 30 (1764): 445-50; Critical Review 18 (1764): 114-18; and British Magazine 5 (1764): 377.
(15) Works of William Shenstone, 2 vols. (London, 1764), 1:11. Shenstone's poems will be cited from this edition, unless indicated otherwise.
(16) Richard Jago, Poems, Moral and Descriptive (London, 1784), 187.
(17) Jago, Poems, 188.
(18) Few scholars have worked on Shenstone over the past decade: For some of the standard discussions, see Marjorie Williams, William Shenstone: A Chapter in Eighteenth-Century Taste (Birmingham: Cornish Brothers, 1935), and A. R. Humphreys, William Shenstone: An Eighteenth-Century Portrait (Cambridge U. Press, 1937). E D. A. Burns, "William Shenstone: A Biographical and Critical Study" (PhD diss., University of Sheffield, 1970), an unpublished doctoral dissertation, offers the best account to date of Shenstone's oeuvre. On his collaboration with Bishop Thomas Percy on the Reliques of Ancient Poetry, see Cleanth Brooks, ed., Correspondence of Thomas Percy and William Shenstone (Yale U. Press, 1977), and Nick Groom, The Making of Percy's "Reliques" (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999). Recent work has largely concentrated on Shenstone's popular poem, The School-Mistress: see Paul Baines, "Writing, Gender and Discipline in Shenstone's The School-Mistress: 'Tway Birchen Sprays'" British Journal for Eighteenth-Century Studies 26 (2003): 177-87; and David Hill Radcliffe, "The Poetry Professors: Eighteenth-Century Spenserianism and Romantic Concepts of Culture," 1650-1850: Ideas, Aesthetics, and Inquiries in the Early Modern Era 5 (2000): 121-50.
(19) David Fairer, "'Fishes in his water': Shenstone, Sensibility, and the Ethics of Looking,' The Age of Johnson 19 (2009): 129, 142. Richard Graves in his Recollection disputed some of the "intelligence" on the basis of which Dr. Johnson wrote his account of Shenstone. See Graves, Recollection, 5, 71. See also, more recently, Sandro Jung, "Idleness Censured and Morality Vindicated: Johnson's 'Lives' of Shenstone and Gray;' Etudes Anglaises 60 (2007): 80-91.
(20) This version was not published in Shenstone's lifetime and antedates the published, more pessimistic version. I reproduce the text--which was transcribed by Bishop Thomas Percy--from David Nichol Smith, "The Early Version of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad" RES 17 (1941): 47-54. For another variant of the "Pastoral Ballad;' see A. J. Sambrook, "Another Early Version of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad;' RES 18 (1967): 169-73, and E D. A. Burns, "The First Published Version of Shenstone's 'Pastoral Bailad," RES 24 (1973): 182-85.
(21) Stanza 2 of the second part, "Hope," offers more vegetative detail that the earlier version did not use:
Not a pine in the grove there is seen, But with tendrils of woodbine is bound; Not a beech's more beautiful green Bur a sweetbriar entwines it around: Not my fields in the prime of the year, More charms than my cattle unfold; Not a brook that is limpid and clear, But it glitters with fishes of gold.
(22) Renato Poggioli, The Oaten Flute: Essays on Pastoral Poetry and the Pastoral Ideal (Harvard U. Press, 1975), and J. E. Congleton, Theories of Pastoral Poetry in England, 1684-1798 (Gainesville: U. of Florida Press, 1952).
(23) Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature: An Introduction to the Theory of Modes and Kinds (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1982), 79, 163.
(24) David Fairer, "Persistence, Adaptations and Transformations in Pastoral and Georgic Poetry," The Cambridge History of English Literature, 1660-1780, ed. John Richetti (Cambridge U. Press, 2005), 261, 274.
(25) Samuel Johnson, The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, ed. Roger Lonsdale (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006), 4: 127.
(26) William Levine, '"Beyond the Limits of the Vulgar Fate': The Renegotiation of Public and Private Concerns in the Careers of Gray and Other Mid-Eighteenth-Century Poets;' Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture 24 (1995): 224.
(27) William Shenstone, Selected Poems, ed. Sandro Jung (Cheltenham: Cyder Press, 2005), xix.
(28) Shenstone, Selected Poems, xix.
(29) J. Fisher, "Shenstone, Gray, and the 'Moral Elegy,"' MP 34 (1937): 273-94.
(30) Monthly Review 30 (1764): 383.
(31) Shenstone, Selected Poems, xx.
(32) John Dolan, Poetic Occasion from Milton to Wordsworth (Basingstoke, England: Macmillan, 2000), 185, 188, 189.
(33) William Shenstone, Poetas upon Various Occasions (Oxford, 1737), 40.
(34) Prose Works of Abraham Cowley (London, 1826), 170-71.
(35) "Shenstone to Richard Jago, 11 June 1750," The Letters of William Shenstone, ed. Marjorie Williams (Oxford: Blackwell, 1939), 276.
(36) Prose Works of Abraham Cowley, 172.
(37) See Richard Terry, "Lamb, Shenstone and the Icon of Personality;' Charles Lamb Bulletin 76 (1991): 124-32. For the mid-century context of Shenstone's gardening activity, see Yu Liu, Seeds of a Different Eden: Chinese Gardening Ideas and a New English Aesthetic Ideal (Columbia: U. of South Carolina Press, 2008), and Stephen Bending, "Prospects and Trifles: The Views of William Shenstone and Richard," QWERTY 10 (2000): 125-31.
(38) Graves, Recollection, 9, 65, 55.
(39) Fairer, "Fishes," 133, 135.
(40) Graves, Recollection, 124.
(41) Monthly Review 30 (1764): 451. See also Helen Sard Hughes, "Shenstone and the Countess of Hertford," PMLA 46 (1931): 1113-27.
(42) Johnson, The Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, 4:129.
(43) David Hill Radcliffe, "Genre and Social Order in Country House Poems of the Eighteenth Century: Four Views of Percy Lodge," SEL 30 (1990): 447.
(44) Radcliffe, "Genre and Social Order;' 456.
(45) Christmas, Lab'ring Muses, 192, 191.
(46) Bridget Keegan,"Rural Poetry and the Self-Taught Tradition," A Companion to Eighteenth-Century Poetry, ed. Christine Gerrard (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), 571; and Keegan, British Labouring-Class Nature Poetr), 40.
(47) Christmas, Lab'ring Muses, 195, comments on Woodhouse's poem, "The Lessowes" stating that "he layers poetic convention, importing aspects of 'Wish' poetry into a loco-descriptive poem that aims to celebrate his patron and his park, without realizing the subversive potential available in those forms, especially as issued from a plebeian pen." (48) See Sandro Jung, "William Shenstone and Mrs Jane Bennett Again," N&Q 49 (2002): 381-84.
(49) See Sandro Jung, "Mentorship and 'Patronage;" 187-98.
(50) "Shenstone to Sherington Davenport, 4 January 1763;' The Letters of William Shenstone, 648.
(51) Letters of William Shenstone, 648.
(52) Alastair Fowler, Kinds of Literature, 207. See also Patrick Vincent, "Elegiac Muses: Romantic Women Poets and the Elegy;' Romantic Poetry, ed. Angela Esterhammer (Amsterdam: Benjamins, 2002), esp. 197-201. Chris Mounsey, "Persona, Elegy, Desire;' SEL 46 (2006): 601-18, has focused on the homosocial/homoerotic potential of elegy. This element is not prominent in Woodhouse's elegies.
(53) James Woodhouse, Poetas on Sundry Occasions (London, 1764), iii-iv.
(54) Woodhouse, Poetas on Sundry Occasions, iv.
(55) Thomas Nicholls, Shenstone: or, the Force of Benevolence (London, 1776), unpaginated preface.
(56) Nicholls, Shenstone, 7.
(57) See Shenstone, "Unconnected Thoughts on Gardening;' 111, 112, 117.
(58) See Richard Graves, The Spiritual Quixote: or, the Summer's Ramble of Mr. Geoffry Wildgoose, 3 vols. (London, 1792), 3: 25-26:
"As Wildgoose knew the elegance of Mr. Shenstone's taste, he could not but add his suffrage to those of the rest of the world, in admiring his place; and observed, 'that, doubtless, the pleasures we receive from gardens, woods, and lawns, and other rural embellishments, were the most innocent of any amusements; but then we should consider them as amusements only, and not let them engross too much of our attention; that we ought to spiritualize our ideas as much as possible; and that it was worth while to inquire, how too violent a fondness for these merely inanimate beauties might interfere with our love of God, and attach us too strongly to the things of this world:" (59) See Keegan, "Rural Poetry and the Self-Taught Tradition," 569, for a class-specific reading of the landscape garden and ferme ornee. Keegan also observes: "Bringing together the instrumental and non-instrumental value of land, its agricultural and aesthetic uses, the ferme ornee foregrounds what would become an increasing disparity of these two functions" (British Labouring-Class Nature Poetry, 45).
(60) See John Archer, "Landscape and Identity: Baby Talk at the Leasowes, 1760," Cultural Critique 51 (2002): 143-85.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2009|
|Previous Article:||The 1740 Roxana: Defoe, Haywood, Richardson, and domestic fiction.|
|Next Article:||The English destiny of Tennyson's Camelot.|