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appears in the famous Tasso, and our Spenser.--Tasso, in his Aminta, has as far excelled all the pastoral writers, as, in his Gierusalemme, he has outdone the epic poets of his country. But as this piece seems to have been the original of a new sort of poem, the Pastoral Comedy, in Italy, it cannot so well be considered as a copy of the Ancients.--Spenser's Calendar, in Mr. Dryden's opinion, is the most complete work of this kind which any nation has produced ever since the time of Virgil*.--Not but that he may be thought imperfect in some few points. His eclogues are somewhat too long, if we compare them with the Ancients; he is sometimes too allegorical, and treats of matters of religion in a pastoral style, as the Mantuan had done before him. He has employed the Lyric measure, which is contrary to the practice of the old poets. His stanza is not still the same, nor always well chosen. This last may be the reason his expression is sometimes not concise enough: for the Tetrastic has obliged him to extend his sense 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; though, notwithstanding all the care he has taken, he is certainly inferior in his di lect: for the Doric had its beauty and propriety in the time of Theocritus; it was used in part of Greece, and frequent in the

* Dedication to Virg. Ecl. P.

mouths of many of the greatest persons; whereas the old English and country phrases of Spenser were either entirely obsolete, or spoken only by people of the lowest condition. As there is a difference betwixt simplicity and rusticity, so the expression of simple thoughts should be plain, but not clownish. The addition he has made of a Calen dar to his Eclogues is very beautiful: since by this, besides the general moral of innocence and simplicity, which is common to other authors of Pastoral, - he has one peculiar to himself; he compares human life to the several seasons, and at once exposes to his readers a view of the great and little worlds, in their various changes and aspects. Yet the scrupulous division of his Pastorals into months, has obliged him either to repeat the same description in other words, for three months together, or, when it was exhausted before, entirely to omit it: whence it comes to pass, that some of his Eclogues (as the Sixth, 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 description, as it may every season.

Of the following Eclogues I shall only say, that these four comprehend all the subjects which the critics upon Theocritus and Virgil will allow to be fit for Pastoral; that they have as much variety of description, in respect of the several seasons, as Spenser's: that, in order to add to this variety, the

several times of the day are observed, the rural employments in each season or time of day, and the rural scenes or places proper to such employments; not without some regard to the several ages of man, and the different passions 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 study, so, I hope, I have not wanted care to imitate.

1

Unhappy Italy! whose alter'd state

Has felt the worst severity of Fate:

Not that barbarian hands her fasces broke,

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And bow'd her haughty neck beneath their yoke;

Nor that her palaces to earth are thrown,

Her cities desert, and her fields unsown;
But that her ancient spirit is decay'd,

That sacred wisdom from her bounds is fled,
That there the source of science flows no more,

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Whence its rich streams supply'd the world before.
Illustrious names! that once in Latium shin'd,
Born to instruct, and to command mankind;
Chiefs, by whose virtue mighty Rome was rais'd, 35
And poets, who those chiefs sublimely prais'd!
Oft I the traces you have left explore,

Your ashes visit, and your urns adore;

Oft kiss, with lips devout, some mould'ring stone,
With ivy's venerable shade o'ergrown;

Those hallow'd ruins better pleas'd to see
Than all the pomp of modern luxury.

As late on Virgil's tomb fresh flow'rs I strow'd,
While with th' inspiring muse my bosom glow'd,
Crown'd with eternal bays my ravish'd eyes
Beheld the poet's awful form arise:

Stranger, he said, whose pious hand has paid
These grateful rites to my attentive shade,
When thou shalt breathe thy happy native air,
To Pope this message from his master bear:
"Great Bard, whose-numbers I myself inspire,
To whom I gave my own harmonious lyre,

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If high exalted on the throne of Wit;
Near me and Homer thou aspire to sit.
No more let meaner satire dim the rays
That flow majestic from thy nobler bays;
In all the flow'ry paths of Pindus stray,
But shun that thorny, that unpleasing way;
Nor, when each soft engaging muse is thine,
Address the least attractive of the Nine.

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"Of thee more worthy were the task to raise A lasting column to thy country's praise;

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To sing the land which yet alone can boast
That liberty corrupted Rome has lost;
Where Science in the arms of Peace is laid,
And plants her palm beneath the olive's shade.
Such was the theme for which my lyre I strung,
Such was the people whose exploits I sung;
Brave, yet refin'd, for arms and arts renown'd,
With diff'rent bays by Mars and Phoebus crown'd, 70
Dauntless opposers of tyrannic sway,

But pleas'd a mild Augustus to obey.

"If these commands submissive thou receive,
Immortal and unblam'd thy name shall live;
Envy to black Cocytus shall retire,
And howl with furies in tormenting fire;
Approving Time shall consecrate thy lays,
And join the patriot's to the poet's praise."

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GEORGE LYTTLETON,

Volume I.

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