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voured to make these ancients their pattern. The most considerable genius 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 dialect: for the Doric had its beauty and propriety in the time of Theocritus; it was used in part of Greece, and frequent in the 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 Calendar 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
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.
THE FIRST PASTORAL, OR DAMON.
TO SIR WILLIAM TRUMBULL.1
FIRST in these fields I try the sylvan strains,
You that, too wise for pride, too good for power.
And, carrying with you all the world can boast,
Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews,
Hear how the birds, on every bloomy spray, With joyous music wake the dawning day! Why sit we mute when early linnets sing, When warbling Philomel salutes the spring?
1 Trumbull:' see Life. He was born in Windsor Forest.
Why sit we sad, when Phosphor1 shines so clear,
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,
O Love! for Sylvia let me gain the prize,
Me gentle Delia beckons from the plain,
The sprightly Sylvia trips along the green,
O'er golden sands let rich Pactolus flow,
VER. 49-52. Originally thus in the MS.-
Compared to thine how bright her beauties
Then die; and dying teach the lovely maid
Go, tuneful bird, that pleased the woods 30 long,
Of Amaryllis learn a sweeter song;
To Heaven arising then her notes convey,
VER. 61-68. Originally thus in the MS.Go, flowery wreath, and let my Sylvia know,
Celestial Venus haunts Idalia's groves;
If Windsor-shades delight the matchless maid,
All nature mourns, the skies relent in showers, Hush'd are the birds, and closed the drooping flowers; 70 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,
If Sylvia smiles, new glories gild the shore,
In spring the fields, in autumn hills I love,
Sylvia's like autumn ripe, yet mild as May, More bright than noon, yet fresh as early day; E'en spring displeases, when she shines not here; But, blest with her, 'tis spring throughout the year.
VER. 69-73. These verses were thus at firstAll nature mourns, the birds their songs deny, Nor wasted brooks the thirsty flowers supply;
If Delia smile, the flowers begin to spring,