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If high exalted on the Throne of Wit,
, With diff'rent bays by Mars and Phæbus crown'd, 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,
75 And howl with Furies in tormenting fire ; Approving Time shall consecrate thy Lays, And join the Patriot's to the Poet's Praise.
Discourse on PASTOR A L.
Written in the Year M DCC IV.
Rura mihi et rigui placeant in vallibus amnes,
amem, fylvasque, inglorius ! VIRG.
HERE are not, I believe, a greater num
ber of any sort of verses than of those which
are called Pastorals ; nor a smaller, than of those which are truly so. It therefore seems necessary to give some account of this kind of Poem, and it is my design to comprize in this short paper the substance of those numerous dissertations the Critics have made on the subject, without omitting any of their rules in my own favour. You will also find some points reconciled, about which they seem to differ, and a few remarks, which, I think, have escaped their observation.
The original of Poetry is ascribed to that Age which succeeded the creation of the world: and as the keeping of flocks seems to have been the first employment of mankind, the most ancient sort of poetry was probably pastoral t. It is natural to ima. gine, that the leisure of those ancient shepherds admitting and inviting fome diversion, none was fo proper to that solitary and sedentary life as singing; and that in their songs they took occafion to celebrate sheir own felicity. From hence a Poem was in
vented, and afterwards improved to a perfect image of that happy time ; which by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former age, might recommend them to the present. And since the life of shepherds was attended with more tranquillity than any other rural employment, the Poets chose to introduce their Persons, from whom it received the name of Pa. ftoral.
A Pastoral is an imitation of the action of a shepherd, or one considered under that character. The form of this imitation is dramatic, or narrative, or mixed of both *; the fable simple, the manners not too polite nor too rustic: the thoughts are plain, yet admit a little quickness and passion, but that short and Aowing: the expression humble, yet as pure as the language will afford; neat, but not florid; easy, and yet lively. In short, the fable, manners, thoughts, and expressions are full of the greatest simplicity in nature,
The complete character of this poem consists in fimplicity t, brevity, and delicacy; the two first of which render an eclogue natural, and the last des lightful.
If we would copy Nature, it may be useful to take this Idea along with us, that Pastoral is an image of what they call the golden age. So that we are not to describe our shepherds as fhepherds at this day really are, but as they may be conceived then to have been; when the best of men followed the em.
this resemblance yet farther, it would not be amiss to give these shepherds some skill in astronomy, as far as it may be useful to that sort of life. And an air of piety to the Gods should fine through the Poem, which so visibly appears in all the works of antiquity : and it ought to preserve
* H. infus in Theocr.