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Virgil, who copies Theocritus, refines upon his original: and in all points, where judgment is principally concerned, he is much superior to his master. Though some of his subjects are not pastoral in themselves, but only seem to be such; they have a wonderful variety in them, which the Greek was a stranger to! He exceeds him in regularity and brevity, and falls short of him in nothing but simplicity and propriety of style; the first of which perhaps was the fault of his age, and the last of his language.
Among the moderns, their success has been greatest who have most endeavoured to make these ancients their pattern. The most considerable genius appears in the famous Tasso, and our Spenser. Tasso in his Aminta has as far excelled all the pastoral writers, as in his Gierusalemme he has outciune the epic poets of his country. But as his piece seems to have been the original of a new sort of poem, the pasó toral comedy, in Italy, it cannot so well be considered as a copy of the ancients. Spenser's Calendar, in Mr. Dryden's opinion, is the most complcte work of this kind which any nation has produced ever since the time of Virgil?: not but that he may be thought imperfect in some few points. His eclogues are somewhat too long, if we compare them with the ancients. He is sometimes too allegorical, and treats of matters of religion in a pastoral style, as the Mantuan had done before him. He has employed the lyric measure, which is contrary to the practice of the old poets. His stanza is not still the same, nor always well chosen. This last may be the reason his expression is sometimes not concise enough; for the tetrastic has obliged him to extend his sense to the length of four lines, which would have been more closely confined in the couplet.
In the manners, thoughts, and characters, he comes near to Theocritus himself; though, not withstanding all the care he has taken, he is certainly inferior in his dialect : for the Doric had its beauty and propriety in the time of Theocritus; it was used in part of Greece, and frequent in the mouths of many of the greatest persons: whereas the old English and country phrases of Spenser were either entirely obsolete, or spoken only by people of the lowest condition. As there is a difference betwixt siniplicity and rusticity, so the expression of simple thoughts should be plain, but not clownish. The addition he has made of a calendar to his eclogues, is very beautiful; since by this, besides the general moral of innocence and simplicity, which is common to other authors of pastoral, he has one peculiar to himself; he compares human life to the several seasons, and at once exposes to his readers a view of the great and little worlds, in their various changes and aspects. Yet the scrupulous division of his pastorals into months, has obliged him either to repeat the same description, in other words, for three months together; or, when it was exhausted before, entirely to omit it: whence it comes to pass that some of his eclogues (as the sixth, eighth, and tenth, for example) have nothing but their titles to distinguish them. The reason is evident, because the year has not that variety in it to furnish every month with a particular description, as it may every season.
Of the following eclogues I shall only say, that these four comprehend all the subjects which the cri. tics upon Theocritus and Virgil will allow to be fit for pastoral: that they have as much variety of description, in respect of the several seasons, as Spenser's: that, in order to add to this variety, the several times of the day are observed, the rural employments in each scason or time of day, and the rural scenes or places proper to such employments; not without some regard to the several ages of man, and the different passions proper to each age.
But after all, if they have any merit, it is to be attributed to some good old authors, whose works as I had leisure to study, so, I hope, I have not wanted care to imitate.
! Rapin. Refl. on Arist. part. 2. Ref. 27,
-Pref. to the Ecl, in Dryden's Virg: - Dedication to Virg. Ecl.
TO SIR WILLIAM TRUMBULL.
Pour figures rising from the work appear
The various seasons of the rolling year;
And what is that which binds the radiant sky,
Where twelve fáir signs in beauteous order lie? THE FIRST PASTORAL, OR DAMON.
Then sing by turns, by turns the Muses sings First in these fields I try the sylvan strains, Now hawthorns blossom, now the daisies spring, Nor blush to sport on Windsor's blissful plains: Now leaves the trees, and flowers adorn the ground; Fair Thames, flow gently from thy sacred spring, Begin, the vales shall every note rebound. While on thy banks Sicilian Muses sing ;
STREPHON. Let vernal airs through trembling osiers play,
Inspire me, Phoebus, in my Delia's praise, And Albion's cliffs resound the rural lay.
With Waller's strains, or Granville's moving lays ! You that, too wise for pride, too good for power, A milk-white bull shall at your altars stand, Enjoy the glory to be great no more,
That threats a fight, and spurns the rising sand. And, carrying with you all the world can boast, To all the world illustriously are lost!
O Love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize, 49 O let my Muse her slender reed inspire, Till in your native shades you tune the lyre:
And make my tongue victorious as her eyes ; So when the nightingale to rest removes,
No lambs or sheep for victims I'll impart, The thrush may chant to the forsaken groves,
Thy victim, Love, shall be the shepherd's heart. But charm'd to silence, listens while she sings, And all th' aërial audience clap their wings.
Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain, Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews, Then, hid in shades, eludes her eager swain; Two swains, whom love kept wakeful, and the Muse, But feigns a laugh, to see me search around, Pour'd o'er the whitening vale their fleecy care,
And by that laugh the willing fair is found. Fresh as the morn, and as the season fair:
DAPHNIS. The dawn now bhishingon the mountain's side, The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green, Thus Daphnis spoke, and Strephon thus reply'd. She runs, but hopes she does not run unseen;
While a kind glance at her pursuer flies, Hear how the birds, on every bloomy spray,
How much at variance are her feet and eyes ! With joyous music wake the dawning day! Why sit we usute, when early linnets sing,
O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow, 61
Ver. 49. Originally thus in the MS.
Thy Parian statue shall be chang'd to gold. I'll stake yon lamb, that near the fountain plays, Ver. 61. It stood thus at first : And from the brink his dancing shade surveys. 34 Let rich Iberia golden fleeces boast, DAPHNIS.
Her purple wool the proud Assyrian coast, And I this bowl, where wanton ivy twines,
Blest Thames's shores, &c.
Go, flowery wreath, and let my Sylvia know,
Compard to thine how bright her beauties Ver. 34. The first reading was,
show: And his own image from the bank surveys. Then die; and dying, teach the lovely maid Ver. 36. And clusters lurk beneath the curling vines. How soon the brightest beauties are decay'd
TO DR. GARTU.
Blest Thames's shores the brightest beauties yield,
THE SECOND PASTORAL, OR ALEX15.
Where dancing sun-beams on the waters play'd,
And verdant alders form’d a quivering share.
Soft as he mouru'd, the streams forgot to flow,
The Naiads wept in every watery bower, The skies to brighten, and the birds to sing.
And Jove consented in a silent shower.
Accept, ( Garth, the Muse's early lays, All Nature laughs, the groves are fresh and That adds this wreath of ivy to thy bays; The Sun's mild lustre warms the vital air; [fair, 69 | Hear what from love unpractis'd bearts endure, If Sylvia smiles, new glories gild the store, From love, the sole disease thou canst not cure: And vanquish'd Nature seems to charm no more. Ye shadly beeches, and ye cooling streams,
Defence from Phæbus', not from Cupid's beams, STREPHON.
To you I mourn; nor to the deaf I sing, In spring the fields, in autuinn hills I love,
The woods shall apsiler, and their echo ring. At mom the plains, at noon the shady grove, The hills and rocks attend my doleful lay, But Delia always; absent from her sight,
Why art thou prouder and more hard than they Nor plains at morn, nor groves at noon delight. The bleating sheep with my complaints agree,
They pareh'd with heat, and I inflam'd by thee. Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet inild as May,
The sultry Sirius burns the thirsty plains, More bright than noon, yet fresh as early day;
While in thy heart eternal winter reigns. Ev'n spring displeases, when she shines not here;
Where stray ye, Muses, in what lawn or grove, But, bless'd with her, 'tis spring throughout the year.
While your Alexis pines in hopeless love?
In those fair ticids where sacred Isis glides,
Or else where Cam his winding rales divides?
Once I was skills in every herb that grew, Nay, tell me first, in what more happy fields
And every plant that drinks the moruing dew; The thistle springs, to which the lily yields:
Ah, wretched shepherd, what avails thy art, And then a nobler prize I will resign;
To cure thy lambs, but not to heal thy heart!
Let other swajus attend the rural eare, For Sylvia, charming Sylvia, shall be thine.
Feed fairer flocks, or richer fleeces sheer:
But nigh yon mountain let me tune my lays, C'ease to contend; for, Daphnis, I decree, Embrace my love, and bind my brows with bays. The bowl to Strephon, and the lamb to thee. That fute is mine which Colin's tuneful breath Blest swains, whose nymphs in every grace excel; Inspir'd when living, and Bequeath'd in death : Blest nymphs,whose swains those graces sing so well! He said: Alexis, take this pipe, the same Now rise, and haste to yonder woodbine bowers, That taught the groves my Rosalinda's name. A soft retreat from sudden vernal showers;
But now the reeds shall hang on yonder tree, The turf with rural dainties shall be crown'd, 99 For ever silent, since despis'd by thee. While opening blooms diffuse their sweets around. O! were I made by some transform ing power For see! the gathering flocks to shelter tend, The captive bird that sings within thy bower! And from the Pleiads fruitful showers descend. Then might my voice thy listening cars employ,
And I those kisses he receives enjoy.
All Nature mourns, the birds their songs deny,
The brouks to murmur, and the birds to sing.
The turf with country dainties shall be spread,
A faithful swain, whom love had taught to sing,
There to the winds he plain'd his hapless love,
And Amaryllis fill'd the vocal grove.
Oft in the crystal spring I cast a view,
And yet my numbers please the rural throng, Whose sense instructs us,and whose humour charms, Rough satyrs dance, and Pan applauds the song: Whose judgin'nt sways us, and whose spirit warins ! The nymphs, forsaking every cave and spring, Oh, skill'd in Nature! see the hearts of swains, Their early fruit and milk-white turtles bring! Their artless passions, and their tender pains. Fach amorous nymph prefers her gifts in vain, Now setting Phæbus shone serenely bright, On you their gitts are all bestow'd again :
And fercy clouds were strak'd with purple light ; For you the swains the fairest towers design, When tuncful Hylas, with melodious moan, And in one garland all their beauties join; Taught rocks to werp, and inade the mountains Accept the wreath which you deserve alone,
groa). In whom all beauties are compris'd in one.
Go, gentle gales, and bear my sighs away! See what delights in sylvan scenes appear ! To Delia's ear the tender notes courey. Descending gouis have found Elysium here,
As some sad turtle bis lost love deplores, In woods bright l'enus with Adonis stray'd, And with deep murmurs tills the sounding shores ; And chaste Diana haunts the forest shade.
Thus, far from Delia, to the winds I mouru, Come, lovely nymph, and bless the silent hours, Alike unheard, unpity'd, and forlorn. When saains from socaring seektheir nightly bowers; Go, gentle gales, and bear niy sigbs along! When weary reapers quit the sultry field,
For her, the feather'd quires neglect their song : And crown'd with corn their thanks to Ceres yield. For her, the limes thuir pleasing shades deny! This harınless grove no lurking viper hides, For her, the lilies hang their heads and die. But in my breast the serpent Love abides.
Ye flowers that dioop, forsaken by the Spring, Here bees from blossoms sip the rosy dew,
Ye birds, that, left by Summer, cease to sing, But your Alexis knows no sweets but you.
Ye trees that face when Autumn heats remove, Oh deign to visit our forsaken seats,
Say, is not absence death to those who love?
What have I said? where'er my Delia tlies,
Go, gentle gales, and bear my sighs along!
But see, the shepherols shun the noon-day heat, Not balmy sleep to labourers faint with pain, The lowing herds to inurinuring brooks retreat, Not showers to larks, or sun-shine to the bee, To closer shades the panting flocks remove;
Are half so charming as thy sight to me. Ye gods! and is there no relief for love?
Go, gentle gales, and bear my sighs away!
Ye powers, what pleasing frenzy sooths my mind !
And ceasc, ye gales, to bear my sighs away!
Next Agon sung, while Windsor groves admir'd; THE THIRD PASTORAL, OR HYLAS AND Æcox.
Rehearse, ye Muses, what yourselves inspir’d.
Resound, ye hills, resound my mournful strain? Of perjur'd Doris, dying I complain ;
Hire where the mountains, lessening as they rise, Beneath the shade a spreading beech displays,
Lose the low vales, and steal into the skies; Hylas and Ægon sung thcir rural lays :
While labouring oxen, spent with toil and heat, This mour'd a faithless, that an absent love;
In their loose traces from the field retreat; And Delia's name and Doris' fill'd the grove.
While curling smokes from village-tops are seen, Ye Mantum nymphs, your sacred succours bring; And the ticet shades glide o'er the dusky green. Hylas and Egon's rural lays I sing.
Resound, ye hills, resound my mournful lay! Thou, whom the Nine with Plautus' wit inspire, Beneath yon poplar oft we pass'd the day: The art of Terence and Menander's fire;
Oft on the rind I carv'd her amorous vows,
While she with garlands hung the bending boughs: VARIATIONS.
The garlands fade, the vows are worn away ; Ver. 79, 80.
So dies her love, and so my hopes decay. Your praise the tuneful birds to Heaven shall bear,
And listening wolves grow milder as they hear. So the verses were originally written ; but the Ver. 48. Originally thus in the MS. author, young as he was, soun found the absurdity, With him through Libya's burning plains I'll go, thích Spenser himself over-looked, of introducing On Alpine mountains tread th' «ternal snow; wolves into England.
Yet feel no heat but what our loves iinpart, Ver. 91. Me Love infiames, nor will his fires allay, And dread no coluiness but in Thyreis' heart.
TO MR. WYCHER LEY.