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eity Wm cultivated and revered. Though we are sometimes struck with the rays of hii genius breaking out into more exalted descriptions, pastoral appears to be his favourite province *.
Considering him as a writer who drew his sentiments from the principles of nature, we may rather admire that his Idylliums are so engaging, than cavil at his blemishes; we may reflect upon Theocritus as the hive whence the most established writers of Eclogues have derived their sweets, or as a diamond, whose intrinsic wurth has received a lustre from the refinement of succeeding times.
There is a very considerable gap in the history of pastoral, between the age of Theocritus and Virgil, who was reserved for the noon of its perfection. It would scarcely at first fight appear, that the period when civil war desolated the provinces, and spread all its horrors over the neighbourhood of Rome, should tend to the improvement of the pastoral mule, whose spirit it was likely to have totally destroyed. Yet to this seemingly unfavourable situation, we owe the most pleasing "aud interesting bucolis of Virgil, who has made the history of his country subservient to the efforts of his genius f.
In those several pieces to which the distresses of his times, or other political consideration? gave rife, he seems more elaborately to have exercised the faculty of invention. But where t genuine nature was to be represented, he borrowed largely from Thcactitus ; many of his similes, sentiments, and descriptions, being literal translations from his Grecian master.
Even in this less original talk, the merits of the Roman are conspicuous; he has separated the ore from the dross, and transplanted those flowers aIone which could add a fragrance to his work.
On the who'e, the pastorals of Virgil are most agreeably conducted: they are not set forth in jewels, or arrayed in silks, nor sordidly dressed in rag*. In the 11 pausa majora" of his muse, the poet rarely loses sight of the shepherd; and we may style him the refined Theocritus of an Augustan age.
From this elegant era, when the language of the country and court was purity itself, let us pass over to the days of our excellent Spenser, when the conversation of the latter had just emerged from rusticity.
The genius of Spenser wa? formed for poetry. The rich luxuriance of fancy which (hines through the Faery Queen, surpasses the sublime os antiquity. Such bold conceptions little speak a writer qualified for pastoral. The sire of imagination,
* The praises of Ptolemy, fit Hylas, and the Hicro, are by no means pastoral; but if Theocritus is entitled to j greater jhare of praise for any particular parts of those performances! it is where be deviates into pastoral representations,
f Thefirst and ninth eclogues defers' attention on this ccccunt. To these nie may alsojoin the fourth and fifth.
% See the third, seventh, and eighth ecloguis, •usLere imitation* from Thcsctittis abojind.
which strikes us in more elevated compositions, must in this be suspended; for natnre is most advantageously shown, when she seems to borrow the least from art. #
Our author was too great to rife by imitation. Though he had both Theocritus and Virgil for his models, his Shepherd's Calendar is altogether original. The dialect of his times is as happily adapted to rustic life, as the Doric of the former, and the easy flow of his descriptions, with the natural variety of his landscapes, rivals the poetic excellence of the latter.
Proverbial sayings, not too closely crowded, add to the simplicity of pastoral; Spenser is fortunate in such applications; but I own myself most peculiarly attracted with his short lessons of morality: they add a pleasing innocence to the character of the shepherd, and reflect a lustre on the poet.
Yet amidst this superior merit, it must be observed, that a masterly writer of our own dap has censured the dialogue of Spenser as affectedly barbarous, and the reflections of his peasants as tot exalted.
It is necessary, however, to premise, that the criticism of this author i3 confined to the September of the Shepherd's Calendar ; an eclogue which is indeed conveyed in a dialect singularly rustic; and the subject being the depravity of ecclesiastical manners in popisli countries, the sordid language, under which the satire is couched, gives the greater offence to the critic; who concludes with this exclamation: " Surely at the fame time that a shepherd learns theology, he may gain some acquaintance with his native language 1"
The more ancient dialect seems here to have been selected, as a disguise to the real purport or characters of the piece. The reign of Mary, when England was under the bondage of an arbitrary religion, and oppressed by foreign counsels, may be esteemed the period of the Pastoral. The violence, which had been so barbarously exerted throughout the country at that baleful season, was too recent to have been forgotten; and the • Shepherd is very naturally described as having fled from a persecution, the censure of which was a compliment to the principles of Elizabeth.
A rural metaphor is manifestly sustained through the performance, as if to obviate the inconsistency, which is alleged So far from discussing knotty points of theological learning, the province of the peasant is closely preserved; unless it should be insisted, that nothing relative to religion ought to concern a shepherd.
To descend from the writings of Spenser to the succeeding age, would be to point out the decline of the pastoral muse. Indeed, she has scarcely existed, but in the productions of f Philips and of
* The late Romish brutality \vas at that time so fjftcreflii r a topic, and so fluttering to the croit>n) thai Spenser ha s employed three eclogues on tint fubjcH.
f The pa lorals of Cay seem to have been designed, as burlesque ref restntatiens of scents altogether rust:c, andf.rtkJarty as a ridicule of preceding cutler-, fj Pepc Philip* is so often on the whine, that vre ire apt to overlook his Jesi exceptionable descriptions; he ha* injudiciously blended the polish of VirgiT» language, with the simplicity of Spenser's; ac4 so great is his want of. original matter, that be is at best to be regarded as a graceful copyist*.
ufc—i Kart, // aeu/? be confessed, deservedsuch a treatmeat. J ^itft ojt this account, omitted bit name at a
pajizrei rer'ster, though bit genius sufficiently qualified
htm for the task of eclogue.
• -The fifth faflerat, ■which relates the contest of the
Sreain and Nightingale, is prettily turned on the "whole;
bet the thought, like Philips's other more agreeable
aw, if bormeed. The fame may be remarked of the
f^jizreb if Pope. lEAIl. 11.
Pope has been so assiduous to refine his periods, that his spirit is greatly evaporated; and his pastorals, excepting the Messiah, only merit our attention as the marks of early genius. Sweetness of versification, and purity of expression, may constitute the character of a poet; but courtliness is not the whole that is expected in a writer of eclogues.
That love of the country, which is inherent in the bosum of reflection, has occasionally produced many later attempts on pastoral, but the most successful ones are fainter traces of rural life; the muse has at last varied her form, and united the charms of elegance and nature in the Ballads of Shenstone.
THYRSIS, OR THE HIMERÆN ODE.
This Idyllium contains a dialogue between the shepherd Thyrsis and a goatherd. Thyrfis, at the request of his friend, sings the fate of Daphnis, who died for love; for which he is rewarded with a milch goat, and a noble pastoral cup of most excellent sculpture. This piece it with great propriety considered as the pattern and standard of the old bucolic poems. The scene changes from a riling ground to a lower situation near a fountain, where there is a shepherd's bower facing the statues of Priapus and the Nymphs, and not far distant a grove of oaks.
Sweet are the whispers of yon vocal pine, Whose boughs, projecting o'er the springs, redine;
Sweet is thy warbled reed's melodious lay;
Sweeter thy song, O shepherd, than the rill
Wilt thou on this declivity repose,
I dare not, dare not, shepherd, grant your boon,
You the great master of the rural muse;
Small tendrils with close-clasping arms uphold
With fruitless strife communicate their pains:
Begin, ye nine, that sweetly wont to play,
* Tnyrfis my natnt, to Ætna I belong,
* Sicilian (Vain, and this is Thyrsis' song:"
Where were ye, nymphs, in what scquester'd prove?
Where were yc, nymphs, when Daphnis pin'd with love? 80
Did ye on Pindus' sleepy top reside?
Or where through Tempe Peneus rolls his tide?
For where the waters of Anapus flow,
Fam'd Sreams! ye play'd not, nor on Ætna's brow;
Nor where chaste Acis laves Sicilian plains—
Begin, ye muses, sweet bucolic strains. Km savage panthers in wild woods bemoan'd For him fierce wolve«in hideous howlingsgroan'd His site fell lions mourn'd the live-long dayBegin,ye nine, the sweet bucolic lay. 90 Meek be.ftr», patient cows, and gentle steers, Mcm'd at his feet, and melted into tears; £r'n baUt loud bellowing wail'd the shepherdswain—
Begin, ye nine, the sweet bncolic strain. First from the mountain winged Hermes came; *' Ab : whence, he cried, proceeds this fatal flame?
* What nymph, O Daphnis, steals thine heart
"away?" Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic lay. Geatherds and hinds approach'd; the youth they
hail'd, 99 Ar,d shepherds kindly afle'd hint what he ail'd. Ptoots came, soft pity in his eye, 'Ariwhy this grief, he said, ah! Daphnis, why?' Murnrhile the nymph disconsolately roves, With naked feet through fountains, woods, and
And thus of faithless Daphnis (he complains;
* Ah youth! defective both in head and heart, 'A cowherd flyl'd, a goatherd sure thou art,
■ Who when askance with leering eye he notes
* The amorous gambols of his frifleing goats, J10 'He longs to emulate their wanton play:'
Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic lay.
* So when you see the virgin train advance
'With nimble feet, light bounding in the dance; 'Or when they softly speak,or sweetly smile, 'You pine with grief, and envy all the while.'
Unmov'd he sat, and no reply return'd, But still With unavailing passion burn'd; To death he nouriuVd love's consuming pain—
Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic strain. 110 Venus insulting came, the youth address'd, Forc'd a faint smile, with torture at her breast; "Daphnis, you boasted yon could love subdue,
* But tell me has not love defeated you?
■ Abu! you sink beneath his mighty sway." Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic lay.
'Ah, cruel Venus! Daphnis thus began,
* Abhorr'd and curs'd by all the race of man,
* My daj'i decline, my setting sun I know,
'I pats a victim to the shades below, 136 'Where riots love with insolent disdain'— Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic strain.
* To Ida, Venus, fly, expose your charms,
'Rush to AnchtfcV, your old cowherd's arms';;
'There bnwering oaki will compass you around, 'Here low cyperus scarcely shades the ground, 'Here bees wirh hollow hums disturb the day.'
Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic lay. 'Adonis feeds hi* flocks, though pasting fair, 'With his keen darts he wounds the flying hare, 'And hunts the beasts of prey along the plain."
Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic strain. 142 'Say, if again arm'd Diomed you see, "I cor.quer'd Daphnis, and will challenge thee; "Dar'st thou, bold chief, with me renew the "fray }"
Begin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic lay. 'Farewell, ye wolves, and bears and lynxes dire; 'My steps no more the tedious chafe (hall tire:
* The herdsman, Diphnis, now no longer roves,
'Through flowery lhrubs, thick wooJs, or stiady 'groves. 150 'Fair Arethul'a, and ye streams that swell 'In gentle tides near Thymbrian towets, fare'well,
1 Your cooling waves' slow-winding o'er the 'plains.'
Begin, ye muses, sweet bucolic strains. 'I Daphnis here my lowing oxen fed, 'And here my heifers to their watering led, ■ With bulls and steers no longer now I stray,'
B.gin, ye nine, the sweet bucolic lay. 'Pan, whether now on Mænaiu< you rove, 'Or loiter careless in Ly'casus' grove, 160
'Leave yon aercsl promontory's height 'Of Helicc projecting to the sight, 1 Where fam'd Lycaon's stately tomb is rear'J, 'Lost in the skies, and by the gods rever'd; 1 Haste and revisit fair Sicilia's plains.'
Cease, muses, cease the sweet bucolic strains.
* Pan, take this pipe, to me for ever mute,
'Sweet ton'd, and bent your rosy lip to suit, 'Compacted close with wax, and join'd with' "art,
'For love, alas! commands me to depart; 170' 'Dread love and death have summun'd me *-' ■ way'—
Cease, muses, cease the sweet bucolic lay. 'Let violets deck the bramble-bulb and thotn, 'And fair Narcissus junipers adorn. 'Let all things nature's contradiction wear,
* And lofty pines produce the luscious pear;
'Since Daphnis dies, let all things change around, 'Let timorous deer pursue the flying hound; 'Let screech-owls soft as nightingales complain'—
Cease,cease, ye nine, the sweet bucolic ltrain. He died—and Venus strove to raise his head, 181 But fate had cut the last remaining thread— The lake he past, the whelming wave he prov'd, Friend to the muses, by the nymphs belov'd. Cease, sacred nine, that sweetly wont to play, Cease, cease, ye muses, the bucolic lay. N >w, friend,the cup aud goat arc fuirly mine-, Her milk's a sweet libation to the nine: Ye muses,'hail I all praise to you belongs, And future days fliall furnish better son^s. 191 . GtatberS
O, be tby mouth with figs Ægilean sill'd, Aud drops of honey on thy lips distill'd '.
Thine is the cup (for sweeter far thy voice Than when in spring the grashoppers rejoice) Sweet ia the smell, and scented as the bowers Wash'd by the fountains of the blissful hours.
I Come, Ciss! let ThyrGs milk thee—kidi, for. I bear
Your gambols, lo! the wanton goat is near.
NOTES ON IDYLLIUM I.
Ver. I. Potts frequently speak of the whispering or murmuring of trees: the word >rfvoiguot, which Theocritus uses, is very expressive of the thing he describes, and properly signifies to whisper softly in the ear. Thus our author say« the two lovers, Idyl. 17. aXX.tX.eif and Idyl,
a. ver. I4X. t^i/yttfiofus «Su. Virgil has " argutum nemu%pinosque loquentes,"Eel. 8. 22. and" Sæpe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro," Eel I. 56. Mr. Pope seems to have had this passage in view, and even improved it, in his Eloisa to Abelard:
The darksome pities that o'er yon rocks reclin'd Wave high, and murmur to the hollow wind.
He ba« also finely imitated this passage, and the beginning of the goatherd's speech, " Sweeter thy song," &c.
Thyrsis, the music of that murmuring spring
Ver. 4. Virgil comparing a shepherd with PaD, says,
Tu nunc eris alter at> illo. Eel. j. 49
Ver. 9. The Greek is n To xarx^'i Tnt Uto <ras rtTtus xetTaXsiptrm v^frft* tivi.
These ten words flow with most melodious sweetness: every one of them contributes to heighten the image they are to represent.
Homer has the lame image in neatly the fame words,
■ Karat S( $u%stOt gttv
t^oiu « irirjdf, &c. Odyff. B. 17.
Where, from the rock, with liquid lapse distills
Virgil has imitated this passage,
Tale tuum carmen nobi«, divine pocta.
Eel. s- 4J
Nam neque me tantum venientis fibilus anstri, Nec percussa juvant ffuctu tarn lttora, nec qua; Saxosas inter decurrunt flumina vallcs. Eel. 5. 82.
Ver. 15. The Greek is. fit Ts unmj rvrt 7 - • t+ v. an /.: ., -(. The fame verse occurs, Idyl. 5. ver. u 1. ia the Greek , in the translation no.
Pascentes scrvabit Tityrus hœdos Ed. 5. II,
Ver. 10. Goats and their keepers were under the protection of Pan; it is with good reason, therefore, that the goatherd is afraid of offending that deity.
Horace, describing the middle of a hot day, sap, "carctque Ripa vagis taciturna ventis." Ode 19, B. 3. On which Dacier observes, 'the ancients be lieved that at mid-day every thing was calm and serene, because at that season the Sylvan deities reposed themselves,' and quotes this passage of Theocritus in confirmation of it.
Ver. a- Horace describes Faunus as » very choleric god, Ode 18. B. 3. and begs he would pass through his grounds in good temper. The Greek is remarkable, Kau a au ogifttia y^Ka. <tcti giw » 6r,Tu.t—" And bitter choler always remains on his nostrils." Casaubon observes, that all violent passions cause a sensation in thse nostrils, arising from the ebullition of the spirits, which mount towards the brain, and endeavouring to free them selves from restraint, find a vent by the nostril and crowding through it, dilate it in their passage This is evident from animals, and the nobler kind of them, as the bull, the horse, the lion, whns nostrils always diiate when moved to angel Homer has a similar expression in his Odysic; B. 24 otvx pita; 3i ■. nan f*iroe T Kt . -I <—" •
sharp sensation struck h'S nostrils:" though thi is so express another passion, viz. that of sorroi arising from filial tenderness; and is a delcriptio of Ulysses and his interview with Laertes. Pctsii in the fame manner fays—
Ira cadat nafo, rugdfaque fauna. Sat. 5. 9
Eel. S. I
Motitibus in nostris solus tibi certet Amyntas.
Si quid cessare potes, requiesce sub umbra
Bis venit ad mulctram, binos alic ubere sœtus.
Ver. 33. Heinsius observes, that we have hi a description of that art which the ancients cal1 Kr.tvy^xf'm, or in laying with wax, which in I days of Theocritus was very much practised