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These Pastorals were written at the age of sixteen, and then passed through the hands of Mr. Walsh, Mr. Wycherley, G. Granville afterwards Lord Lansdown, Sir William Trumbal, Dr. Garth, Lord Halifax, Lord Somers, Mr. Mainwaring, and others. All these gave our author the greatest encouragement, and particularly Mr. Walsh, whom Mr. Dryden, in. his postscript to Virgil, calls the best critic of his age. "The author (says he) seems to have a particular genius for this kind of poetry, and a judgment that much exceeds his years. He has taken very freely from the ancients. But what he has mixed of his own with theirs is no way inferior to what he has taken from them. It is not flattery at all to say, that Virgil had written nothing so good at his age. His preface is very judicious and learned."
THE FIRST PASTORAL, OR
TO SIR WILLIAM TRUMBAL.
FIRST in these fields I try the silvan strains,
You, that too wise for pride, too good for power,
O let my muse her slender reed inspire,
Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dows,
The dawn now blushing on the mountain's side,
Hear how the birds, on every blooming spray,
Sing then, and Damon shall attend the strain,
And I this bowl, where wanton ivy twines,
Then sing by turns, by turns the Muses sing; Now hawthorns blossom, now the daisies spring, Now leaves the trees, and flowers adorn the ground; Begin, the vales shall every note rebound.
Inspire me, Phoebus, in my Delia's praise, With Waller's strains, or Granville's moving lays! A milk-white bull shall at your altars stand, That threats a fight, and spurns the rising sand.
O Love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize,
Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain, Then hid in shades, eludes her eager swain; But feigns a laugh, to see me search around, And by that laugh the willing fair is found.
The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green, She runs, but hopes she does not run unseen; While a kind glance at her pursuer flies, How much at variance are her feet and eyes!
O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow, And trees weep amber on the banks of Po; The Thames bright shores the brightest beauties yield, Feed here my lambs, I'll seek no distant field.
Celestial Venus haunts Idalia's groves;
All nature mourns, the skies relent in showers, Hush'd are the birds, and closed the drooping flowers; If Delia smile, the flowers begin to spring, The skies to brighten, and the birds to sing.
All nature laughs, the groves are fresh and fair,
In spring the fields, in autumn hills I love,
Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May, More bright thai noon, yet fresh as early day;
Even spring displeases, when she shines not here; But blest with her, 'tis spring throughout the year:
Say, Daphnis, say, in what glad soil appears A wondrous tree that sacred monarchs bears; Tell me but this, and I'll disclaim the prize, And give the conquest to thy Sylvia's eyes.
Nay tell me first, in what more happy fields
Cease to contend, for, Daphnis, I decree, The bowl to Strephon, and the lamb to thee: Blest swains, whose nymphs in every grace excel; Blest nymphs, whose swains those graces sing so well! Now rise, and haste to yonder woodbine bowers, A soft retreat from sudden vernal showers; The turf with rural dainties shall be crown'd, While opening blooms diffuse their sweets around. For see! the gathering flocks to shelter tend, And from the Pleiads fruitful showers descend.
THE SECOND PASTORAL, OR
The scene of this pastoral by the river side, suitable to the heat of the season; the time, noon.
TO DR. GARTH,
AUTHOR OF "THE DISPENSARY."
A SHEPHERD's boy (he seeks no better name)
The Naiads wept in every watery bower,
Accept, O GARTH! the Muse's early lays, That adds this wreath of ivy to thy bays; Hear what from Love unpractised hearts endure, From Love, the sole disease thou canst not cure.
Ye shady beeches, and ye cooling streams, Defence from Phoebus', not from Cupid's beams, To you I mourn, nor to the deaf I sing, The woods shall answer, and their echo ring. The hills and rocks attend my doleful lay, Why art thou prouder and more hard than they? The bleating sheep with my complaints agree, They parch'd with heat, and I inflamed by thee. The sultry Sirius burns the thirsty plains, While in thy heart eternal winter reigns.
Where stray ye, Muses, in what lawn or grove, While your Alexis pines in hopeless love? In those fair fields where sacred Isis glides, Or else where Cam his winding vales divides? As in the crystal spring I view my face, Fresh-rising blushes paint the watery glass; But since those graces please thy eyes no more, I shun the fountains which I sought before. Once I was skill'd in every herb that grew, And every plant that drinks the morning dew; Ah, wretched shepherd, what avails thy art, To cure thy lambs, but not to heal thy heart! Let other swains attend the rural care, Feed fairer flocks, or richer fleeces shear: But nigh yon mountain let me tune my lays, Embrace my love, and bind my brows with bays. That flute is mine which Colin's tuneful breath Inspired when living, and bequeath'd in death: He said; Alexis, take this pipe, the same That taught the groves my Rosalinda's name: But now the reeds shall hang on yonder tree, For ever silent, since despised by thee. Oh! were I made by some transforming power The captive bird that sings within thy bower! Then might my voice thy listening ears employ, And I those kisses. he receives enjoy.
And yet my numbers please the rural throng, Rough satyrs dance, and Pan applauds the song: