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- Oft has good-nature been the fool's defence,
And honest meaning gilded want of sense.
- "Verses to a Lady" (1736), in Poems upon Various Occasions (Oxford: Leon Lichfield, 1737), p. 65.
The Schoolmistress (1737-48)
- Her cap, far whiter than the driven snow,
Emblem right meet of decency does yield.
- Stanza 6
- Pun-provoking thyme.
- Stanza 11
- A little bench of heedless bishops here,
And there a chancellor in embryo.
- Stanza 28
Works, Vol. I: Verse (1764)
- The Works in Verse and Prose of William Shenstone, Vol. I (London: R. and J. Dodsley, 1764)
- Love is a pleasing, but a various clime!
- "Elegy V", st. 3; p. 23.
- I trimm'd my lamp, consumed the midnight oil.
- "Elegy XI", st. 7; p. 41.
- Perish the lover, whose imperfect flame
Forgets one feature of the nymph he lov'd.
- "Elegy XXII", st. 6; p. 82.
- For seldom shall she hear a tale
So sad, so tender, yet so true.
- Jemmy Dawson: A Ballad (1745), st. 20; p. 188.
- So sweetly she bade me adieu,
I thought that she bade me return.
- "A Pastoral Ballad" (1743), Part I: Absence; p. 190.
- My banks they are furnish’d with bees,
Whose murmur invites one to sleep.
- "A Pastoral Ballad" (1743), Part II: Hope; p. 191.
- I have found out a gift for my fair;
I have found where the wood-pigeons breed.
- "A Pastoral Ballad" (1743), Part II: Hope; p. 192.
- Whoe'er has travell'd life's dull round,
Where'er his stages may have been,
May sigh to think he still has found
The warmest welcome, at an inn.
- "Written at an Inn at Henley" (1758), st. 6; p. 228.
- Compare: " From thee, great God, we spring, to thee we tend,— Path, motive, guide, original, and end", Samuel Johnson, Motto to the Rambler, No. 7.
- She pleas'd while distant, but, when near, she charm'd.
- "The Judgment of Hercules", p. 246.
- Let the gull'd fool the toil of war pursue,
Where bleed the many to enrich the few.
- "The Judgment of Hercules", p. 249.
- Theirs is the present who can praise the past.
- "The Judgment of Hercules", p. 258.
- Sloth views the tow'rs of fame with envious eyes;
Desirous still, still impotent to rise.
- "The Judgment of Hercules", p. 259.
Essays on Men and Manners (1764)
- Let us be careful to distinguish modesty, which is ever amiable, from reserve, which is only prudent.
- "On Reserve, a Fragment", p. 42.
- A large, branching, aged oak, is perhaps the most venerable of all inanimate objects.
- "Unconnected Thoughts on Gardening", p. 90.
- A man of remarkable genius may afford to pass by a piece of wit, if it happens to border on abuse. A little genius is obliged to catch at every witticism indiscriminately.
- "On Politics", p. 98.
- Laws are generally found to be nets of such a texture, as the little creep through, the great break through, and the middle size are alone entangled in.
- "On Politics", p. 99.
- It is a miserable thing to love where one hates; and yet it is not inconsistent.
- "Egotisms, from my own sensations" XI, p. 102.
- Love can be founded upon nature only; or the appearance of it.
- "On Dress" VII, p. 109.
- Every good poet includes a critic; the reverse will not hold.
- "On Writing and Books" LXXIX, p. 128
- Necessity may be the mother of lucrative invention, but it is the death of poetical invention.
- "On Writing and Books" LXXXIV, p. 129
- Zealous men are ever displaying to you the strength of their belief, while judicious men are shewing you the grounds of it.
- "Of Men and Manners" XIV, p. 138.
- While we labour to subdue our passions, we should take care not to extinguish them. Subduing our passions, is disengaging ourselves from the world; to which however, Whilst we reside in it, we must always bear relation; and we may detach ourselves to such a degree as to pass an useless and insipid life, which we were not meant to do. Our existence here is at least one part of a system.
A man has generally the good or ill qualities which he attributes to mankind.
- "Of Men and Manners" XLIV, p. 143.
- A fool and his words are soon parted; a man of genius and his money.
- "Of Men and Manners" LIX, p. 147.
- Some men are called sagacious, merely on account of their avarice: whereas a child can clench its fist the moment it is born.
- "Of Men and Manners" LXXXVI, p. 155.
- There seem near as many people that want passion as want reason.
- "Of Men and Manners" LXXXVI, p. 162.
- Independency may be found in comparative, as well as absolute abundance: I mean when a person contracts his desires within the limits of his fortune.
- "Of Men and Manners" LXXXVI, p. 164.
- Second thoughts are oftentimes the very worst of all thoughts.
- "Of Men and Manners" LXXXVI, p. 166.
- The fund of sensible discourse is limited; that of jest and badinerie is infinite.
- "On Men and Manners", p. 176.
- Prudent men should lock up their motives, giving only their intimates a key.
- "On Men and Manners", p. 178.
- Health is beauty, and the most perfect health is the most perfect beauty.
- "On Taste", p. 197.
- Shenstone and the Leasowes at the Revolutionary Players website
- Text of The Schoolmistress
- Essay, William Shenstone and the Leasowes: the English Landscape Garden in Transition, c.1740-1763
- Complete text, with annotations, of Shenstone's Unconnected Thoughts on Gardening (1764)
- Selected Works
- Free eBook of Familiar Quotation at Project Gutenberg has quotations by William Shenstone