Page images

in nature. The figs and the honey which

he affigns as a reward to a victorious fhepherd were in themselves exquifite, and are therefore affigned with great propriety* : and the beauties of that luxurious landschape fo richly and circumftantially delineated in the clofe of the feventh idyllium, where all things smelt of summer and smelt of autumn,

Παν' 'ως δεν θέριος μαλα ππιον, ως δε δ' όπωςης,

were prefent and real. Succeeding writers fuppofing these beauties too great and abundant to be real, referred them to the fictitious and imaginary fcenes of a golden age.

A MIXTURE of British and Grecian ideas

may justly be deemed a blemish in the PASTORALS of POPE: and propriety is certainly violated, when he couples Pactolus with Thames, and Windfor with Hybla. Complaints of IMMODERATE heat, and wishes to be conveyed to cooling.caverns, when uttered

* Idyll. i. ver. 146.

+ Ver. 133.


by the inhabitants of Greece, have a decorum and confiftency, which they totally lose in the character of a British shepherd: and Theocritus, during the ardors of Sirius, must have heard the murmurings of a brook, and the whispers of a pine, * with more homefelt pleasure, than Pope + could poffibly experience upon the fame occafion. We can never completely relish, or adequately understand any author, efpecially any Ancient, except we conftantly keep in our eye his climate, his country, and his age. POPE himself informs us, in a note, that he judiciously omitted the following verse,

And lift'ning wolves grow milder as they hear t

on account of the abfurdity, which Spenfer overlooked, of introducing wolves into England. But on this principle, which is certainly a just one, may it not be asked, why he should speak, the scene lying in Windsor

* Idyll. i. ver. 1. + Paft. iv. ver. 1.

+ Past. ii.


Foreft, of the SULTRY SIRIUS, * of the GRATEFUL CLUSTERS of grapes, † of a pipe of reeds, the antique fiftula, of thanking Ceres for a plentiful harvest, § of the facrifice of lambs, with many other instances that might be adduced to this purpose. That POPE however was fenfible of the importance of adapting images to the fcene of action, is obvious from the following example of his judgment; for in tranflating,

Audiit EUROTAS, juffitque edifcere LAUROS

he has dextrously dropt the laurels appropriated to Eurotas, as he is fpeaking of the river Thames, and has rendered it,

THAMES heard the numbers, as he flow'd along,
And bade his willows learn the moving fong. §§

IN the paffages which POPE has imitated from Theocritus, and from his Latin tranflator Virgil, he has merited but little applaufe. It may not be unentertaining to fee

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how coldly and unpoetically POPE has copied the fubfequent appeal to the nymphs on the death of Daphnis, in comparison of Milton on LYCIDAS, one of his juvenile pieces.


Πα που αρ ησθ' οκα Δαφνις εακείο; πα ποκα Νυμφαι;

Η καλα Πηνειω καλα τέμπεα, η καλα Πίνδω;
Ου γαρ δη πολεμοιο μεγαν ρουν ειχε Αναπω,
Ουδ' Αίνας σκοπιαν, εδ ̓ ̓Ακκιδα ἱερον ύδως.


Where ftray, ye muses, in what lawn or grove,
While your Alexis pines in hopeless love?
In those fair fields where facred Ifis glides,
Or else where Cam his winding vales divides. †

Where were ye, nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep
Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie;
Nor on the fhaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva fpreads her wizard stream. ‡

THE mention of places remarkably romantic, the fuppofed habitation of Druids, bards, and wizards, is far more pleafing to the imagination, than the obvious introduction of Cam and Ifis, as feats of the Muses.

THEOCRITUS, Idyll. i. 66. † POPE, Past. ii. 24. ‡ MILTON, A SHEP

A SHEPHERD in Theocritus wishes with much tenderness and elegance, both which muft fuffer in a literal tranflation, "Would "I could become a murmuring bee, fly into

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your grotto, and be permitted to creep among the leaves of ivy and fern that compofe the chaplet which adorns your head."*

POPE has thus altered this image,

Oh! were I made by fome transforming pow'r,
The captive bird that fings within thy bow'r!
Then might my voice thy lift'ning ears employ;
And I, thofe kiffes he receives, enjoy. †

On three accounts the former image is preferable to the latter: for the paftoral wildnefs, the delicacy, and the uncommonness of the thought. I cannot forbear adding, that the riddle of the Royal Oak, in the first Pastoral, invented in imitation of the Virgilian ænigmas in the third eclogue, favours of pun, and puerile conceit.


Αίθε γενοίμαν

Α βομβευσα μέλισσα, κι ες τον άνθρὸν ἴκοιμαν,

Τον κισσον διαδυς, και ταν λεςιν α τυ πυκασθη. Idyll. iii. 12.

† Past. ii. 45.


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