Friday, April 02, 2010


Shenstone's Inscription

Dear Mr. Gilleland,

Knowing your propensity for a certain type of humor, I would call to your attention Shenstone's "Inscription," mentioned in Schopenhauer's The World as Will and Representation, Vol. II, Ch.VII. You can read the short poem at

Daily Reader

To save any other readers the trouble of following the link, here is Shenstone's Inscription:
To the memory of
A. L., Esquire,
Justice of the Peace for this county:
Who, in the whole course of his pilgrimage
Through a trifling ridiculous world,
Maintaining his proper dignity,
Notwithstanding the scoffs of ill-disposed persons,
And wits of the age
That ridiculed his behaviour,
Or censured his breeding;
Following the dictates of Nature,
Desiring to ease the afflicted,
Eager to set the prisoners at liberty,
Without having for his end
The noise or report such things generally cause
In the world,
(As he was seen to perform them of none)
But the sole relief and happiness
Of the party in distress;
Himself resting easy
When he could render that so;
Not griping or pinching himself
To hoard up superfluities;
Not coveting to keep in his possession
What gives more disquietude than pleasure;
But charitably diffusing it
To all round about him:
Making the most sorrowful countenance
To smile
In his presence;
Always bestowing more than he was asked,
Always imparting before he was desired;
Not proceeding in this manner
Upon every trivial suggestion,
But the most mature and solemn deliberation;
With an incredible presence and undauntedness
Of mind;
With an inimitable gravity and economy
Of face;
Bidding loud defiance
To politeness and the fashion,
Dared let -- --.
In other words, A.L. availed himself of the Claudian dispensation. See Suetonius, Life of Claudius 32:
He is even said to have thought of an edict allowing the privilege of breaking wind quietly or noisily at table.

dicitur etiam meditatus edictum, quo veniam daret flatum crepitumque ventris in convivio emittendi.


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