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Say, Daphnis, fay in what glad foil appears
With what propriety could the tree, whose shade protected the king, be faid to be prolific of princes?
THAT POPE has not equalled Theocritus, will indeed appear lefs furprifing, if we reflect, that no original writer ever remained so unrivalled by fucceeding copyifts, as this Sicilian mafter.
If it should be objected, that the barrenness of invention imputed to POPE from a view of his PASTORALS, is equally imputable to the Bucolics of Virgil, it may be answered, that whatever may be determined of the rest, yet the first and last Eclogues of Virgil are indisputable proofs of true genius, and power of fancy. The influence of war on the tranquillity of rural life †, rendered the subject
+ I have been lately highly entertained with the accidental perufal of FIVE PASTORALS, written on this plan, defcriptive
of the firft new, and interefting: its compofition is truly dramatic; and the characters of it's two shepherds are well fupported, and happily contrasted: and the last has expreffively painted the changeful resolutions, the wild wishes, the paffionate and abrupt exclamations, of a disappointed and despairing lover.
UPON the whole, the principal merit of the PASTORALS of POPE confifts, in their correct and mufical verfification; mufical, to a degree of which rhyme could hardly be thought capable: and in giving the first specimen of that harmony in English verfe, which is now become indifpenfably neceffary; and which has fo forcibly and univerfally influenced the publick ear, as to have rendered every moderate rhymer melodious. POPE lengthened the abruptness of Waller, and at the fame time contracted the exuberance of Dryden.
of the calamities fuppofed to have been felt by the shepherds of Germany during the last war: They abound in many new circumstances of pafloral diftrefs, and many tender images. I cannot learn the name of the author.
I REMEMBER to have been informed, by an intimate friend of POPE, that he had once laid a defign of writing AMERICAN ECLOGUES: The fubject would have been fruitful of the most poetical imagery; and, if properly executed, would have rescued the author from the accufation here urged, of having written Eclogues without invention.
OUR author, who had received an early tincture of religion, a reverence for which he preserved to the last, was with justice convinced, that the fcriptures of God contained not only the pureft precepts of morality, but the most elevated and fublime ftrokes of genuine poefy; strokes as much fuperior to any thing Heathenifm can produce, as is Jehovah to Jupiter. This is the cafe more particularly in the exalted prophefy of Isaiah, which POPE has fo fuccessfully verfified in an Eclogue, that inconteftably furpaffes the Pollio of Virgil: although perhaps the dignity, the energy, and the fimplicity of the original are
in a few paffages weakened and diminished by florid epithets, and useless circumlocutions.
See nature haftes her earliest wreaths to bring, With all the incenfe of the breathing fpring. * are lines which have too much prettiness, and too modern an air. The judicious addition of circumstances and adjuncts is what renders poefy a more lively imitation of nature than profe. POPE has been happy in introducing the following circumftance: the prophet says, "The parched ground "fhall become a pool;" Our author expreffes this idea by saying, that the shepherd,
fhall START amid the thirsty wild to hear New falls of water murmuring in his ear. †
A ftriking example of a fimilar beauty may be added from Thompfon. Melifander, in the Tragedy of AGAMEMNON, after telling us he was conveyed in a veffel, at mid-night, to the wildest of the Cyclades, adds, when the pitiless mariners had left him in that dreadful folitude,
*MESS. v. 23.
+ v. 70.
I never heard
A found fo difmal as their parting oars.
On the other hand, the prophet has been sometimes particular, when POPE has been
"Lift up thine eyes round
about, and fee; all they gather themselves together, they come to thee:"multitude of CAMELS fhall cover thee: "the DROMEDARIES of Median and Ephah : "all they from Sheba fhall come: they "fhall bring gold and incenfe, and they "fhall fhew forth the praises of the Lord. "All the FLOCKS of Kedar fhall be gathered
together unto thee; the RAMS of Ne"baioth fhall minifter unto thee." * In imitating this paffage, POPE has omitted the different beafts that in fo picturesque a manner characterize the different countries which were to be gathered together on this important event, and says only in undistinguishing terms,
* Ifaiah, c. lx. v. 4, 6, 7.