Слике страница

But after all, if they have any merit, it is to be attributed to fome good old Authors, whose works as I had leisure to study, fo I hope I have not wanted care to imitate.

ing, aware that the defcription of that Cup contains touches of the most delightful and highly finished landfcape? The old fisherman, and the broken rock, in one scene; in another, the beautiful contraft of the little boy weaving his rush-work, and fo intent on it, that he forgets the vineyard he was fet to guard; we see him in the fore-ground of the piece: then there is his scrip and the fox eyeing it afkance; the ripe and purple vineyard, and the other fox treading down the grapes, whilft he continues at his work: and, as is beautifully exprefs'd,

ετε τι πήξης
Ούτε φυτων τοσσηνον, οσον περί πλεγματι γαθει

Idyll. I. line 54Add to thefe circumftances the wild and beautiful Sicilian fcenery; and where can there be found more perfect landscapes in the works, which these pictures peculiarly refemble, of Vernet, or Gainsborough Confidered in this view, how rich, wild, and various, are the landscapes of the old Sicilian! and we cannot but wonder that fo many ftriking and original traits should be paffed over by a " youthful bard," who profeffed to felect from, and to copy, the ancients. сору,







IRST in these fields I try the fylvan strains,
Nor blush to sport on Windfor's blissful plains:
Fair Thames, flow gently from thy facred spring,
While on thy banks Sicilian Muses sing;



These Pastorals were written at the age of fixteen, and then passed through the hands of Mr. Walsh, Mr. Wycherley, G. Granville afterwards Lord Lanfdown, Sir William Trumbal, Dr. Garth, Lord Hallifax, Lord Somers, Mr. Mainwaring, and others. All thefe gave our Author the greatest encouragement, and particularly Mr. Walsh, whom Mr. Dryden, in his Poftfcript to Virgil, calls the best Critic of his age. "The Author (fays he) feems to have a particular genius for this kind of Poetry, and a judgment that much exceeds his years. He has taken very freely from the Ancients. But what he has mixed of his own with theirs is no way inferior to what he has taken from them. It is not flattery at all to say that Virgil had written nothing fo good at his Age. His Preface is very judicious and learned." Letter to Mr. Wycherley, Ap. 1705. The Lord Lanfdown, about the fame time, mentioning the youth of our Poet, fays (in a printed Letter of the Character of Mr. Wycherley), " that if he goes on as he hath begun in the Paftoral way, as Virgil first tried his ftrength, we


Let vernal airs through trembling ofiers play,
And Albion's cliffs refound the rural lay.



may hope to fee English Poetry vie with the Roman," &c. Notwithstanding the early time of their production, the Author efteemed these as the most correct in the verfification, and musical in the numbers, of all his works. The reafon for his labouring them into fo much foftnefs, was, doubtless, that this fort of poetry derives almoft its whole beauty from a natural ease of thought and fmoothness of verfe; whereas that of most other kinds confifts in the ftrength and fulness of both. In a letter of his to Mr. Walsh about this time, we find an enumeration of feveral niceties in Verification, which perhaps have never been ftrictly observed in any English poem, except in these Pastorals. They were not printed till 1709. POPE.

Sir William Trumbal.] Our Author's friendship with this gen tleman commenced at very unequal years; he was under fixteen but Sir William above fixty, and had lately refign'd his employ. ment of Secretary of State to King William.


[ocr errors]

LINE 1. First in thefe fields, &c.] It feems natural for a young Poet to initiate himfelf by Paflorals, which, not profeffing to imi tate real life, require no experience, and exhibiting only the fimple operation of unmingled paffions, admit no fubtle reafoning or deep enquiry. Pope's Paftorals, however, are not composed but with clofe thought. JOHNSON.

In this fentence, Dr. Johnfon does not appear fufficiently attentive to the true character and nature of Paftoral Poetry. No doubt it is natural for a young Poet to initiate himself by Paftorals; for what youthful heart does not glow at the defcriptions of rural nature, and fcenes that accord with its own innocence and cheerfulnefs; but although Paftorals do not, in the fenfe of Dr. Johnson, imitate real life, nor require any great infight into human paffions and characters, yet there are many things neceffary in this fpecies of compofition, more than Dr. Johnson feems to require. The chief thing is an eye for picturefque and rural fcenery, and an intimate acquaintance with those minute objects and particular appearances of nature, which alone can give a lively and original colour to the painting of Paftoral

[ocr errors]

You, that too wife for pride, too good for pow'r, Enjoy the glory to be great no more, And carrying with you all the world can boast, To all the world illustriously are loft! O let my Muse her slender reed inspire, Till in your native fhades you tune the lyre




Pastoral Poetry. To copy the common defcriptions of Spring or Summer, Morning or Evening, or to iterate from Virgil the fame complaints of the fame fhepherds, is not furely to write Paftoral Poetry. It is alfo difficult to conceive where is the "clofe thought," with which Johnson says Pope's Pastorals are compofed. They are pleafing as copies of "the Poems of Antiquity," although they exhibit no ftriking taste in the “felection," and they certainly exhibit a series of musical verfification, which, till their appearance, had no precedent in English Poetry.

VER. 7. You, that too wife] This amiable old man, who had been a Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, and Dr. of Civil Law, was fent by Charles II. Judge Advocate to Tangier, and afterwards in a public character to Florence, to Turin, to Paris; and by James II. Ambaffador to Conftantinople; to which city he went through the continent on foot. He was afterwards a Lord of the Treafury, and Secretary of State with the Duke of Shrewsbury, which office he refigned 1697, and retiring to East Hampstead, died there in December 1716, aged feventy-feven. Nothing of his writing remains but an elegant character of Archbishop Dolben. WARTON.

VER. 12. in your native shades] Sir W. Trumbal was born in Windfor-forest, to which he retreated, after he had refigned the poft of Secretary of State of King William III. POPE.



VER. 1. "Prima Syracofio dignata eft ludere verfu, Noftra nec erubuit fylvas habitare Thalia." This is the general exordium and opening of the Pastorals, in imitation of the fixth of Virgil, which fome have therefore not


« ПретходнаНастави »