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elegant turns on the words, which render the numbers extremely sweet and pleafing. As for the numbers themselves, though they are properly of the heroic measure, they fhould be the fmootheft, the moft eafy and flowing imaginable.

It is by rules like thefe that we ought to judge of Paftoral. And fince the inftructions given for any art are to be delivered as that art is in perfection, they muft of neceffity be derived from thofe in whom it is acknowledged fo to be. It is therefore from the practice of Theocritus and Virgil (the only undifputed authors of Paftoral) that the Critics have drawn the foregoing notions concerning it.

Theocritus excels all others in nature and fimplicity. The fubjects of his Idyllia are purely paftoral; but he is not fo exact in his perfons, having introduced reapers* and fishermen as well as fhepherds. He is apt to be too long in his defcriptions, of which that of the Cup in the firft paftoral is a remarkable inftance. In the manners he feems a little defective, for his fwains are fometimes abufive and immodeft, and perhaps too much inclining to rufticity; for inftance, in his fourth and fifth Idyllia. But 'tis enough that all others learnt their excellen-. cies from him, and that his Dialect alone has a fecret charm in it, which no other could ever attain.

Virgil, who copies Theocritus, refines upon his original: and in all points where judgment is principally concerned, he is much fuperior to his master. Though fome of his fubjects are not paftoral in themselves, but only feem to be fuch; they have a wonderful variety in them, which the Greek was a ftranger tot. He exceeds him in regularity and brevity, and falls short of him in nothing but fimplicity

*

P.

OEPIETAI Idyl. x. and AAIEIE Idyl. xxi. ' + Rapin Ref. on Arift. part is, refl. xxvii.—Pref. to the Ecl. in Dryden's Virg.

P.

and

and propriety of ftyle; the firft of which perhaps was the fault of his age, and the laft of his language.

Among the moderns, their fuccefs has been greateft who have most endeavour'd to make thefe ancients their pattern. The most confiderable Genius appears in the famous Taffo, and our Spenfer. Taflo in his Aminta has as far excelled all the Paftoral writers, as in his Gierufalemme he has out-done the Epic poets of his country. But as this piece feems to have been the original of a new fort of poem, the Paftoral Comedy, in Italy, it cannot fo well bé confidered as a copy of the ancients. Spenfer's Calendar, in Mr. Dryden's opinion, is the most complete work of this kind which any nation has produced ever fince the time of Virgil *. Not but that he may be thought imperfect in fome few points. His Eclogues are fomewhat too long, if we compare them with the ancients. He is fometimes too allegorical, and treats of matters of religion in a paftoral ftyle, as Mantuan had done before him. He has employ'd the Lyric measure, which is contrary to the practice of the old Poets. His Stanza is not still the fame, nor always well chofen. This laft may be the reason his expreffion is fometimes not concife enough for the Tetraftic has obliged him to extend his fenfe 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', notwithftanding 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 perfons: whereas the old Eng lifh and country phrases of Spenfer were either en

* Dedication to Virg. Ecl. P.

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tirely obfolete, or fpoken only by people of the loweft condition. As there is a difference betwixt fimplicity and rufticity, fo the expreffion of fimple thoughts fhould be plain, but not clownish. The addition he has made of a Calendar to his Eclogues, is very beautiful; fince by this, befides the general moral of innocence and fimplicity, which is common to other authors of Paftoral, he has one peculiar to himself; he compares human Life to the feveral Sea- fons, and at once exposes to his readers a view of the great and little worlds, in their various changes and afpects. Yet the fcrupulous divifion of his Paftorals into Months, has obliged him either to repeat the fame description, in other words, for three months together; or, when it was exhausted before, entirely to omit it: whence it comes to pafs that fome of his Eclogues (as the fixth, eighth, and tenth for example) have nothing but their Titles to diftinguish them. The reafon 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 fhall only fay, that these four comprehend all the fubjects which the Critics upon Theocritus and Virgil will allow to be fit for paftoral: That they have as much variety of description, in refpect of the feveral feafons, as Spenfer's: that in order to add to this variety, the feveral times of the day are observ'd, the rural employments in each season or time of day, and the rural fcenes or places proper to fuch employments; not without fome regard to the feveral ages of man, and the different paffions 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 ftudy, fo I hope I have not want ed care to imitate.

SPRING.

SPRING.

THE

FIRST PASTORAL,

O R,

DAM O N.

To Sir WILLIAM TRUMBal.

FIR

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 Mufes fing;

Let

These Paftorals were written at the age of fixteen, and then past thro' 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 these 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 judg66 ment 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

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And Albion's cliffs refound the rural lay.
You, that too wife for pride, too good for pow'r
Enjoy the glory to be great no more,

And

"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 has begun in the Pastoral way, as "Virgil first tried his ftrength, we may hope to fee Eng"lish Poetry vie with the Roman," etc. Notwithstanding the early time of their production, the Author efteemed these as the most correct in the verfification, and mufical 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 almost its whole beauty from a natural ease of thought and smoothness of verse 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 several Niceties in Verfification, which perhaps have never been strictly. obferved in any English poem, except in these Paftorals. They were not printed till 1709. P.

;

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

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IMITATIONS.

VER. 1. Prima Syracofio dignata eft ludere verfu, Noftra nec erubuit fylvas habitare Thalia. This is the general exordium and opening of the Paftorals, in imitation of the fixth of Virgil, which fome have therefore not improbably thought to have been the first originally. In the beginnings of the other three Paftorals, he imitates exprefly thofe which now stand firft of the three chief Poets in this kind, Spencer, Virgil, Theocritus.

A Shep

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