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criticifm will be ufelefs, but, if it is good, it may enable me to render it fill better.'
Upon this difcourfe we have not much to remark; the prin ciples it contains are in general fo manifeftly just, that they need neither illuftration nor proof. Something, however, may be objected to this Author's account of the rife of pastoral or rural poetry.
He fays, that among happy people whofe employments were embittered neither by toil nor anxiety, men who were born with a genius for poetry, celebrated the quiet felicity which they enjoyed. They contemplated all the circumstances of their condition with pleafure, and there were none which they thought unworthy of their fong.'-To confirm this obfervation he remarks, that the inhabitants of a fertile and temperate climate were the first who cultivated rural poetry, and that Daphnis and Theocritus were Sicilians.'
This theory, however fpecious, does not appear to be con. firmed by fact. It does not appear either that the first poetry was paftoral, or that paftoral poetry was ever written by paftoral characters. The great original objects of human paffion were three: felf, a miftrefs, and an enemy; thefe naturally produced the first poetry, the fubjects of which were religion, love, and war. Men never celebrated their labour: when it was of one fpecies it flood oppofed to pleafure, however eafy. It was neceffary, and therefore fometimes performed, when it was not chofen; which alone was fufficient to bring it into difgrace. Labour first began to be confidered as pleafing, when it was compared with other labour which had more inconvenience and fewer advantages; and it was confidered in this light, not by thofe who performed it, but by those who faw it performed. Of Daphnis we are told nothing that can be true except that he invented paitoral, and was a Sicilian; particulars which ftand upon no better teftimony than we have of his being the son of the god Mercury, and miraculously punished with blindness, in confequence of an imprecation, for being falfe to his miftrefs. Of Theocritus we know more; he is faid to have lived in the court of Egypt in the time of Ptolomy Philadelphus, and to have been born in Syracufe, one of the greateft cities then in the world. He was not therefore one of those whom this Author fuppofes to have celebrated rural life in confequence of deriving happiness from its employments. Paftoral life itfelf perhaps did not exift till after the aggregation of finall nations into great: where civil fociety was not familiar with artificial wants and the pleasures which arife from fupplying them, the wants of nature were not fupplied by tilling the ground, and keeping cattle and fheep: mankind in thofe ages lived by hunting, or by fuch vegetables as the earth produced without culture: they
lived then as we know they do now in countries where what we call the improvements of life have not taken place, as the ne groes live in Africa, and the Savages, as we call them, to whom we have not yet taught all our miseries and our vices, in North America.
If Sicilian fhepherds or hufbandmen had ever written poetry, it would have been upon fuch fubjects as ftruck them in common with men in other fituations: they were lefs likely to celebrate husbandry, or any other rural employment, than any other people, for the reafons that have been affigned already. Every man naturally thinks better of any labour than that which he is obliged to perform; and thofe who follow the flock or the plough for fubfiftence, look round upon the beauties of nature with as much indifference as a smith does upon the tools of his fhop. They would probably have celebrated their mistress, and their fongs of love would of neceffity have exhibited pastoral images, but they would not therefore have been paftoral poems. Befides, it is not likely that husbandmen and shepherds had more understanding or literature in former ages than in this; and if, as this Author fays, peafants cannot now underftand verfe, it is not to be fuppofed that they could then write it. There is, perhaps, poetry where there is no writing, but, wherever it is true that poetry cannot be underflood, it is certainly true that it cannot be made.
Paftoral poetry feems to have been firft written when the pleafures and employments of fhepherds and hufbandmen derived value from a comparifon with others; and the first paftoral poets were, probably, those who were weary of the pleafures and purfuits of a city. Such perfons fee the country occafionally, in intervals of leifure which they devote to the enjoyment of tranquillity and reft; it then naturally touches them. with pleasure, and they fondly imagine that this pleasure is always enjoyed by those who always behold the fame objects.
There is one obfervation of this ingenious Author which is ftrongly in favour of the mixed drama, and perfectly coincides with the opinion of Dr. Johnfon, in the excellent preface to his edition of Shakespeare. After the reader, fays the Author of The Seafons, has been impreffed with fear, aftonishment, or any painful paffion, his fenfibility will be more quick, and agreeable impreffions will be more ftrongly felt.' This remark is certainly juft; and perhaps it will be found equally true, that the agreeable fenfation keeping that fenfibility alive, which might languish by a long contemplation of objects of the fame kind, the mind will be more touched by diftrefs after the tranfition than before.
Among other beautiful paffages in the work before us, is a defcription of the effect produced by a fine morning in the
fpring, upon a perfon juft recovering from a long and dangerous difeafe; this we have extracted, as it may be detached without injury and, that we may not give our English Readers wholly fuch an entertainment as the fable fays the crane gave to the › fox, when the put the victuals into a glass veffel with a long neck, we have added a tranflation in verse.
Oui, le Printems, Doris, fes feux, fa force active
Il fembloit qu'à la mort j'arrachois ces objets
Je ne pouvois rien voir avec indifférence;
Mes yeux étoient frappés d'un papillon nouveau:
Et l'aftre lumineux s'élançant des montagnes,
Qui couvrent les vallons fous leurs flots paffagers,
Et remplir de fplendeur un ciel pur & paisible:
Et parcourt d'un coup d'oeil ces campagnes profondes,
The vernal fun with genial influence burns,
Who feems for me to lead the circling Spring
Thefe objects, fading in eternal night,