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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 out-done the Epic Poets of his country. But as this piece seems to have been the original of a new sort of poem, the pastoral 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 complete 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; tho', notwithstanding 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 simplicity 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 Criticks 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 observ'd, the rural employments in each season 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.

1 Dedication to Virg. Ecl. P.







IRST in these fields I try the sylvan strains, Nor blush to sport on Windsor's blissful plains: Fair Thames, flow gently from thy sacred spring, While on thy banks Sicilian Muses sing; Let vernal airs thro' trembling osiers play, And Albion's cliffs resound the rural lay.

You, that too wise for pride, too good for pow'r, Enjoy the glory to be great no more,

1 These Pastorals were written at the age of sixteen, and then passed through the hands of Mr Walsh, Mr Wycherley, G. Granville afterwards Lord Landsdown, Sir William Trumbal, Dr Garth, Lord Hallifax, Lord Somers, Mr Mainwaring, and others. All these gave our author the greatest encouragement, and particularly Mr Walsh (whom Mr Dryden, in his postscript to Virgil, calls the best critic of his age). "The author (says he) seems 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 so good at his age. His preface is very judicious and learned." Letter to Mr Wycherley, Ap. 1705. The Lord Lansdown about the same time, mentioning the youth of our poet, says (in a printed letter of the character of Mr Wycherley) "that if he goes on as he has begun in the pastoral way, as Virgil first tried his strength, we may hope to see English poetry vie with the Roman," etc. Notwithstanding the early time of their production, the author esteemed these as the most correct in the versification, and musical in the numbers, of all his works. The reason for his labouring them into so much softness, was, doubtless, that this sort of poetry derives almost its whole beauty


from a natural ease of thought and smoothness of verse; whereas that of most other kinds consists in the strength and fulness of both. In a letter of his to Mr Walsh about this time we find an enumeration of several niceties in versification, which perhaps have never been strictly observed in any English poem, except in these Pastorals. They were not printed till 1709. P.

2 Sir William Trumbal] Our author's friendship with this gentleman commenced at very unequal years; he was under sixteen, but Sir William above sixty, and had lately resigned his employment of Secretary of State to King William. P. [Sir William Trumball, whom Macaulay (chap. xxi) characterises as 'a learned civilian and an experienced diplomatist, of moderate opinions and of temper cautious to timidity,' was appointed Secretary of State in 1691 and resigned in 1697 to make way for a more zealous partisan. He died at his native place of East Hamstead near Binfield, and Pope honoured his memory by an epitaph (II). Trumball was the first to recognise the merits of the Essay on Criticism, and to induce its author to publish it; he also eulogised the Rape of the Lock and encouraged the translation of the Iliad. Of Trumball it is related that being in 1687 appointed ambassador to the Ottoman Porte, he performed the journey on foot, thus outdoing by anticipation the German poet's Promenade to Syracuse.]

And carrying with you all the world can boast,
To all the world illustriously are lost!
O let my Muse her slender reed inspire,
Till in your native shades1 you tune the lyre:
So when the Nightingale to rest removes,
The Thrush may chant to the forsaken groves,
But, charm'd to silence, listens while she sings,
And all th' aërial audience clap their wings.

Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews,
Two Swains, whom Love kept wakeful, and the Muse,
Pour'd o'er the whitening vale their fleecy care,
Fresh as the morn, and as the season fair:
The dawn now blushing on the mountain's side,
Thus Daphnis spoke, and Strephon thus reply'd.


Hear how the birds, on ev'ry bloomy spray,
With joyous musick wake the dawning day!
Why sit we mute when early linnets sing,
When warbling Philomel salutes the spring?
Why sit we sad when Phosphor shines so clear,
And lavish nature paints the purple Year??


Sing then, and Damon shall attend the strain,
While yon' slow oxen turn the furrow'd Plain.
Here the bright crocus and blue vi'let glow;
Here western winds on breathing roses blow.






I'll stake yon' lamb, that near the fountain plays,
And from the brink his dancing shade surveys.


And I this bowl, where wanton Ivy twines,
And swelling clusters bend the curling vines:
Four figures rising from the work appear,
The various seasons of the rolling year;
And what is that, which binds the radiant sky,
Where twelve fair Signs in beauteous order lie?


Then sing by turns, by turns the Muses sing,
Now hawthorns blossom, now the daisies spring,
Now leaves the trees, and flow'rs adorn the ground,
Begin, the vales shall ev'ry note rebound.

In your native shades.] Sir W. Trumbal was born in Windsor-Forest, to which he retreated, after he had resigned the post of Secretary of State to King William III. P.



2 purple year?] Purple here used in the Latin sense, of the brightest, most vivid colouring in general, not of that peculiar tint so called. War burton. [Ver purpureum. Verg. Ecl. ix. 40.]


Inspire me, Phoebus, in my Delia's praise
With Waller's strains, or Granville's moving lays!
A milk-white bull shall at your altars stand,
That threats a fight, and spurns the rising sand.


O Love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize,
And make my tongue victorious as her eyes;
No lambs or sheep for victims I'll impart,
Thy victim, Love, shall be the shepherd's heart.

Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain,
Then hid in shades, eludes her eager swain;
But feigns a laugh, to see me search around,
And by that laugh the willing fair is found.


The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green,
She runs, but hopes she does not run unseen;
While a kind glance at her pursuer flies,




How much at variance are her feet and eyes!



O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow,
And trees weep amber on the banks of Po3;

Blest Thames's shores the brightest beauties yield,
Feed here my lambs, I'll seek no distant field.


Celestial Venus haunts Idalia's groves;
Diana Cynthus, Ceres Hybla loves;

If Windsor-shades delight the matchless maid,
Cynthus and Hybla yield to Windsor-shade.


All nature mourns, the Skies relent in show'rs,
Hush'd are the birds, and clos'd the drooping flow'rs;
If Delia smile, the flow'rs begin to spring,
The skies to brighten, and the birds to sing.

1 [Edmund Waller born 1605, died, 1687.]

2 Granville-] George Granville, afterwards Lord Landsdown, known for his poems, most of which he composed very young, and proposed Waller as his model. P.

[Born about 1667 and connected by descent with the Stuart cause, George Granville remained in retirement during the reign of William III.; but entered Parliament in the reign of Queen Aune, and on the accession to power of the Tories in 1710 took office as secretary at war. In 1711 he was created lord Lansdowne of Bideford; and



after undergoing temporary imprisonment for supposed connection with the Scottish insurrection of 1715, died in 1735. His poems, of which he says that they seem to begin where Mr Waller left off, though far unequal and short of so unimitable an original,' contain little or nothing deserving to be read; but though his Myra is forgotten, his own modest estimate of his poetic merits deserves to be remembered by the side of Pope's praises in the Dedication to Windsor Forest.]

3[See Ov. Metam. 11. 364-6.]


All nature laughs, the groves are fresh and fair,
The Sun's mild lustre warms the vital air;
If Sylvia smiles, new glories gild the shore,
And vanquish'd nature seems to charm no more.



In spring the fields, in autumn hills I love, At morn the plains, at noon the shady grove, But Delia always; absent from her sight,

Nor plains at morn, nor groves at noon delight.



Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May,
More bright than noon, yet fresh as early day;
Ev'n spring displeases, when she shines not here;
But blest with her, 'tis spring throughout the year.


Say, Daphnis, say, in what glad soil appears, A wond'rous Tree that sacred Monarchs bears1: Tell me but this, and I'll disclaim the prize, And give the conquest to thy Sylvia's eyes.



Nay tell me first, in what more happy fields
The Thistle springs, to which the Lily yields 2:
And then a nobler prize I will resign;
For Sylvia, charming Sylvia, shall be thine.



Cease to contend, for, Daphnis, I decree,

The bowl to Strephon, and the lamb to thee:

Blest Swains, whose Nymphs in ev'ry grace excel;


Blest Nymphs, whose Swains those graces sing so well!

Now rise, and haste to yonder woodbine bow'rs,

A soft retreat from sudden vernal show'rs,
The turf with rural dainties shall be crown'd,
While op'ning blooms diffuse their sweets around.
For see! the gath'ring flocks to shelter tend,
And from the Pleiads fruitful show'rs descend.


1 A wondrous Tree that sacred Monarchs bears.] An allusion to the Royal Oak, in which Charles II. had been hid from the pursuit after the battle of Worcester. P.

2 The Thistle springs, to which the Lily yields,] alludes to the device of the Scots monarchs, the thistle worn by Queen Anne; and to the arms of France, the fleur de lys. P. [In the early part of Queen Anne's reign the royal arms were the same as those of her father. The union

with Scotland occasioned a change of armorial bearings; and they then appeared, England and Scotland impaled in the first and fourth quarter; France in the second; and Ireland in the third. On the great seal prepared in the year of the union (1706) we have England and Scotland only, and a new badge, the rose and thistle conjoined. The Scottish order of the Thistle was reestablished Dec. 31, 1703. Annals of England, III. 173-4, and 182.]

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