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An Elegy on tbfsupposed death of Mr. Parthidge, the
Well; 'ci» as Bickerstaff has guess'd,
Some Wits have wonder'd, what analogy,
A list the coblers temples ties
Besides, that flow-pac'd sign Bootes,
The horned moon, which heretofore,
* Partridge was a Cobler,
f See his Almanack.
Shews how the art of cabling bears
A scrap os parchment hung by geometry
Thus Partridge, by his wit and parts, At once did practice both these arts: And as the boading Owl (or rather The Bat, because her wings are leather,) Steals from her private cell by night, And flies about at candle-light; So learned Partridge could as well Creep in the dark from leathern cell, And, in his fancy, fly as far To peep upon a twinkling star.
Besides, he could confound the Spheres,
Great scholars have in Lucian read,
Thus Partridge still shines in each art,
Triumphant star 1 some pity shew
Thou, high exalted in thy sphere,
To thee the Bull will lend his hide,
r ftyfc •ii; pfo?fec'foffe j^j^ty^fec^feÆtfe?fe
THIS poem takes its name from the. Latin- word Pastor, a Shepherd; the subject of it being something in the Pastoral or rural lise; and the persons, or interlocutors, introduced in it, either shepherds or. otherrusticks.
These poem-$ are frequently called Eclogues, whichisignisies felecl or choice pieces; tho''some account for this name after a disserent manner. They are alfo caJle&.Bucolicks from BuxoM&>, a Herq^man.
•' The original of poetry, fays Mr. Pose, is ascribed ton "that age which succeeded the creation of the world: *" and as the keeping of flocks seems to have been the sirst. "employment of mankind, the most ancient fort of poe«• try was probably Pastoral. It- is natural to imagine,. ■' that the leisure of those ancient shepherds admitting and "inviting some diversion, none was sb proper to that soli-> «• tary and sedentary lise as singings; and that in their "songs they took occasion to celebrate their own selicity.
From hence a poem was invented, and afterwards im"proved to a persect image of that happy time; which '• by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former age,
* Tibia braehia centralist ingrns
** might recommend them to the present. AncL since - the •* lise of shepherds was attended with more tranquility "than any other rural employment, the poets chose to — introduce their persons, from whom it received the name "of Paseral."
Scaliger, and FonteneUe are of Mr. Pope's opinion, and suppose that Pastorals were the sirst poems; but this con* elusion seems not to be drawn from nature and reason. At man in the infant state'of the world, was undoubtedly struck with an awsul idea of God, arising from a consideration of his works of creation, so must he- be very- early led to supplicate and adore that divine Being on whom he perceived his existence depended; it is more natural, and more rational, therefore, to suppose that the sirst poems where hymns or odes made in praise of the. Deity. Wo may allow shepherds indeed to have been the sirst poets, but we cannot suppose that Pastorals were the sirst poems since it is more reasonable to conclude that the ancients would preser the praise of the-Creator to that - of his creatures. But controversies of this fort are beside our purpose.
This kind of poem, when happily- executed, gives great delight; nor is it a wonder, since innocence and simplicity generally please: To which let me add, that the scenes of Pastorals are always laid in the country, where both poet and painter have abundant matter for the exercise of genius, such as inchanting prospects, purling streams, shady groves, enamelled mtads, flowery lawns, rural amuse* ments, the bleating of flocks, and the musick of birds-; which is of all melody the most sweet and pleasing, and calls to my. mind the wisdom and taste of Alexander, who on being importuned to hear a man'that imitated the notes of the Nightingale, and was thought ;a great curiosity, replied, that he had had the happiness of hearing the Nightingale herself.
The character of the Pastoral consists in simplicity, brevity, and delicacy; the two sirst render an eclogue natural, and the last delightful. With respect to nature, indeed, we are to consider, that as a pastoral is an image of the ancient times of innocence and undesigning plainness, we are not to describe shepherds as they really are at this day, but as they may be conceiv'd then to have been, when the best of men, and even princes, followed the employment. For this reason an air of piety should run through the whole poem, which is visible in the writings of antiquity.
To make it natural with respect to the present age, some knowledge in rural affairs should be discovered, and that in such a manner, as if it Was done by chance rather than by design ; lest by too much pains to seem natural that simplicity be destroyed from whence arises the delight; for what is so engaging in this kind of poesy proceeds not so much from the idea of a country lise itself, as in exposing only the best part of a shepherd's lise, and concealing the misfortunes and miseries which sometimes attend it. Besides, the subject must contain some particular beauty in itself, and each eclogue present a scene or prospect to our view enriched with variety: which variety is in a great measure obtained by frequent comparisons drawn from the most agreeable objects of the country; by interrogations to things inanimate; by short and beautisul digressions; and by elegant turns on the words, which render the numbers more sweet and pleasing. To this let me add, that the connections must be negligent, the narrations and descriptions short, and the periods concise.
Riddles, parables, proverbs, antique phrases, and superstitious fables are sit materials to be intermixed with this kind of poem. They are here, when properly applied, very ornamental; and the more so, as they give our modern compositions the air of the ancient manner of writing.
The style of the Pastoral pught to be humble, yet pure; neat, but not florid; easy, and yet lively: and the numbers should be smooth and flowing.
This poem in general should be short, and ought never much to exceed an hundred lines; for we are to consider that the ancients made these sort of compositions their amusement, and not their business: but however short they are, every eclogue must contain a plot or fable, which must be simple and one; but yet so managed as to admit
of short digressions. Virgil has always observed this 1
shall give you the plot or argument of his sirst Pastoral as an example.
Melibœus, an unfortunate Jhepherd, is introduced with Tityrus, one in more fortunate circumstances; the former addreJJ'es the complaint of his su fferings and banijhment to the latter, rjoho enjoys his fecks and folds in the midst of the public calamity, and therefore expresses his gratitude to the benefaBor