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To thee the Bull will lend his bide,
Of the. P A S T. O R. A L.
thing in the Pastoral or rural life; and the persons, or interlocutors, introduced in it, either. Thepherds or other. rusticks.
These poems are frequently called Eclogues, which figni. fies Select or choice pieces; tho' some account for this name after a different manner. They are also called.Bucolicks from. Byxon, a Herd/man.
“ The original of poetry, says Mr. Pope, is ascribed to " that age which succeeded the creation of the world : " and as the keeping of Aocks seems to have been the first
employment of mankind, the most ancient sort 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 so proper to that foli. “ tary and fedentary life as singing; and that in their
songs they took occasion to celebrate their own felicity. " From hence a poem was invented, and afterwards im“ proved to a perfect image of that happy time; which by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former age,
* Tibia braebia contrahet ingens
* might recommend them to the present. And fince the « life of shepherds was attended with more tranquility « than any other rural employment, the poets chose to w introduce their persons, from whom it received the name 6 of Paftoral."
Scaliger, and Fontenelle are of Mr. Pope's opinion, and fuppose that Pallorals were the firft poems; but this conclufion seems not to be drawn from nature and reason. As man in the infant state of the world, was undoubtedly ftruck with an awful 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 first poems where hymns or odes made in praise of the Deity. We may allow shepherds indeed to have been the first poets, but we cannot suppose that Pakorals were the first poems; since it is more reasonable to conclude that the ancients would prefer the praise of the Creator to that. of his crea. tures. But controversies of this sort are beside our purpose.
This kind of poem, when happily executed, gives great delight; nor is it a wonder, since innocence and implicity 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 exercife of genius, such as inchanting prospects, purling streams, Thady, groves, enamelled meads, Aowery.lawns, rural aniuse. ments, the bleating of focks, and the mufick 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 curiofity, replied, that he had had the happiness of hearing the Nightingale berself.
The character of the Pastoral confifts in fimplicity, bre. vity, and delicacy; the two firit 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 Thould be discovered, and that in such a manner, as if it was done by chance rather than by design ; left by too much pains to seem natural that fimplicity be destroyed from whence arises the delight; for what is so engaging in this kind of poefy proceeds not fo much from the idea of a country life itself, as in exposing only the best part of a thepherd's life, and concealing the misfortunes and miseries which sometimes attend it. Be. sides, 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 beautiful 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 superftitious fables are fit 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 ought to be humble, yet pure ; ncat, but not forid ; easy, and yet lively: and the numbers Mould be smooth and Aowing.
This poem in general Mould 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 fimple and one; but yet so managed as to admit of short digressions. Virgil has always observed this Mall give you the plot or argument of his first Pastoral as an example.
Melibæus, an unfortunate fhepherd, is introduced with Tityrus, one in inore fortunate circumstances; the former addresses the complaint of his sufferings and banishment to the lat. ter, who enjoys his ficcks and folds in the midst of the public calamity, and therefore expresses his gratitude to the benefactor
from whom this favour flow'd: but Melibæus accuses fortune, civil wars, and bids adieu to his native country. This is therefore a dialogue.
But we are to observe, that the poet is not always obliged to make his eclogue allegorical, and to have real perfons represented by the fictitious characters introduced, but is in this respect entirely at his own liberty.
Nor does the nature of the poem require it to be always carried on by way of dialogue; for a shepherd may with propriety fing the praises of his love, complain of her inconstancy, lament her absence, her death, &c. and address himself to groves, hills, rivers, and such like rural objects, even when alone.
We shall now give examples from each of those authors who have eminently distinguish'd themselves by this manner of writing, and introduce them in the order of time in which they were written.
Theocritus, who was the father or inventor of this kind of poetry, has been deservedly esteemed by the best critics and by fome, whose judgement we cannot dispute, prefer'd to all other Pastoral writers. We shall insert his third Idyl. lium, not because it is the best, but because it is within our compass, and we are favoured with an elegant version of it by Mr. FAWKES ; who will soon oblige the public with an entire translation of this favourite author.
AMARYLLIS: Or the third Idyllium of THEOCRITUS.
To Amaryllis, lovely Nymph, I speed,
Love so late, 10
I whom you
Accept this boon, 'tis all my present fore ;.