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without too flavish a regard to fashion, every one should dress in a manner most suitable to his own person and figure. In short, his faults were only little blemishes, thrown in by nature, as it were on purpose to prevent him from rising too much above that level of imperfection allotted to humanity.
His character as a writer will be distinguished by fimplicity with elegance, and genius with correctness. He had a sublimity equal to the highest attempts; yet from the indolence of his temper, he chose rather 'to amuse himself in culling flowers at the foot of the mount, than to take the trouble of climbing the more arduous steeps of PARNASSUS. But whenever he was difposed to rise, his steps, tho' natural, were noble, and always well supported. In the tenderness of elegiac poetry he hath not been excelled ; in the fimplicity of pastoral, one may venture to say he had very few equals. Of great sensibility himself, he never failed to engage the hearts of his readers : and amidst the nicest attention to the harmony of his numbers, he always took care to express with propriety the sentiments of an elegant mind. In all his writings, his
greatest difficulty was to please himself. I remember a passage in one of his letters, where, speaking of his love songs, he says" Some “ were written on occasions a good deal ima
ginary, others not so; and the reason there " are so many is, that I wanted to write ONE
good song, and could never please myself.” It was this diffidence which occasioned him to throw aside many of his pieces before he had bestowed upon them his last touches. I have suppressed several on this account; and if among those which I have selected, there should be discovered some little want of his finishing polish, I hope it will be attributed to this cause, and of course be excused: yet I flatter myself there will always appear something well worthy of having been preserved. And though I was afraid of inserting what might injure the character of my friend, yet as the sketches of a great master are always valuable, I was unwilling the public should lose any thing material of fo accomplished a writer. In this dilemma it will easily be conceived that the talk I had to perform would become somewhat difficult. How I have acquitted myself, the public must judge. Nothing, however, except what he had al
ready published, has been admitted without the advice of his most judicious friends, nothing altered, without their particular concurrence, It is impossible to please every one ; but 'tis hoped that no reader will be so unreasonable, as to imagine that the author wrote solely for his amusement: his talents were various; and though it may perhaps be allowed that his excellence chiefly appeared in subjects of tenderness and simplicity, yet he frequently condescended to trifle with those of humour and drollery: these, indeed, he himself in some measure de. graded by the title which he gave them of LËVITIES: but had they been entirely rejected, the public would have been deprived of some JEUX D'ESPRITS, excellent in their kind, and Mr. SHENSTONE's character as a writer would have been but imperfectly exhibited.
But the talents of Mr. SHENS'T'ONË were not confined merely to poetry; his character, as a man of clear judgment, and deep penetration, will best appear from his prose works. It is there we must search for the acuteness of his understanding, and his profound knowledge of he human heart. It is to be lamented indeed, that some things here are unfinished, and can be regarded only as fragments : many are left as single thoughts, but which, like the sparks of diamonds, thew the richness of the mine to which they belong; or like the foot of a HerCULES, discover the uncommon strength, and extraordinary dimensions of that hero. I have no apprehension of incurring blame from any one, for preserving these valuable remains : they will discover to every reader, the author's fentiments on several important subjects. And there can be very few, to whom they will not impart many thoughts, which they would never perhaps have been able to draw from the source of their own reflections.
But I believe little need be said to recommend the writings of this gentleman to public attention. His character is already sufficiently established. And if he be not injured by the inability of his editor, there is no doubt but he will ever maintain an eminent station among the best of our English writers.