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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume X. The Age of Johnson.

XI. Letter-Writers

§ 18. Somerville

Of Somerville, a scholar and a gentleman (though his writing does not always suggest it) some account has already been given in an earlier chapter: his prose, in prefaces and letters, many of the latter still unpublished, is of the good, sonorous, somewhat pedantic kind which was beginning, even when he wrote, to be old-fashioned. Another country gentleman was Anthony Whistler of Whitchurch, an Eton boy, who imbibed “such a dislike to learning languages that he could not read the Classics, but no one formed a better judgment of them,” and was “a young man of great delicacy of sentiment.” As an undergraduate, he published anonymously, in 1736, a poem entitled The Shuttlecock. He died in 1754, aged forty. For many years he had corresponded with Shenstone and Graves, and, on his death, the former wrote to the latter “the triumvirate which was the greatest happiness and the greatest pride of my life is broken.” Few of their letters, unfortunately, are preserved. Through Sanderson Miller, the squire of Radway at the foot of Edge-hill and the friend of all the noble builders and gardeners of the age (except Horace Walpole who rarely lost an opportunity of laughing at him), the Warwickshire coterie had links at once with the great world and with the greatest writer of the age. It was in his drawing-room that Fielding read the manuscript of Tom Jones to an admiring circle of ladies and gentlemen; and for an improvement which Pitt generously designed in his garden Miller happily thanked

  • The Paymaster, well skilled in planting,
  • Pleased to assist when cash was wanting,
  • He bid my Laurels grow: they grew
  • Fast as his Laurels always do.