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tremely fweet and pleafing. As for the numbers themfelves, tho' they are properly of the heroic measure, they should be the fmootheft, the most easy and flowing imaginable.

It is by rules like these 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 deriv'd from those in whom it is acknowledg'd fo to be. 'Tis therefore from the practice of Theocritus and Virgil, (the only undisputed authors of Paftoral) that the Criticks have drawn the foregoing notions concerning it.

Theocritus excels all others in nature and fimplicity. The subjects of his Idyllia are purely pastoral; 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 descriptions, of which that of the Cup in the first paftoral is a remarkable instance. In the manners he seems a little defective, for his swains are fometimes abufive and immodest, and perhaps too much inclining to rufticity; for inftance, in his fourth and fifth Idyllia. But 'tis enough that all others learn'd their excellencies 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 has the principal part, is much fuperior to his maiter. 'Tho' fome of his fubjects are not pastoral in themselves, but only feem to be fuch; they have a wonderful variety in them, which the Greek was a stranger to. He exceeds him in regularity

regularity and brevity, and falls fhort of him in nothing but fimplicity and propriety of style; the firft of which perhaps was the fault of his age, and the last of his language.

Among the moderns, their fuccefs has been greatest who have most endeavour'd to make these ancients their pattern. The most confiderable Genius appears in the famous Taffo, and our Spenfer. Tasso in his Aminta has as far excell'd all the Pastoral writers, as in his Gierufalemme he has outdone the Epic Poets of his country. But as this piece seems to have been the original of a new fort of poem, the Paftoral Comedy, in Italy, it cannot fo well be confider'd 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 produc'd ever fince the time of Virgil. Not but 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 pastoral style, 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 last may be the reafon his expreffion is fometimes not concise enough for the Tetraftic has obliged him to extend his fense to the length of four lines, which would have been more closely confin'd in the Couplet.

In the manners, thoughts, and characters, he comes near Theocritus himself; tho' notwithstanding all the

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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 English and country phrases of Spenfer were either entirely obfolete, or spoken only by people of the lowest condition. As there is a difference be twixt fimplicity and rufticity, fo the expreffion of fim ple thoughts fhould be plain, but not clownish. The addition he has made of a Calendar to his Eclogues, is very beautiful; fince by this, besides that general moral of innocence and fimplicity, which is common to other authors of Paftoral, he has one peculiar to him. felf; he compares human Life to the feveral Seasons, 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 oblig'd 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 pass that fome of his Eclogues (as the fixth, 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 defcription, as it may every. feason.

Of the following Eclogues I shall only fay, that thefe 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 refpect


der to add are oblerv'd time of day, fuch employm veral ages of ma each age.

But after all, wibuted to fome had leisure to st to imitate.

respect of the several seasons, as Spenfer'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 fuch employments; not without some regard to the several 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 fome good old Authors, whose works as I had leisure to study, so I hope I have not wanted care to imitate.



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