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CHA P. XI
Of the PAS TO R、 A L.
HIS poem takes its name from the Latin word Paftor, a Shepherd; the fubject of it being fomething in the Paftoral or rural life; and the perfons, or interlocutors, introduced in it, either. fhepherds or other. rufticks.
To thee the Bull will lend his bide,
These poems are frequently called Eclogues, which fignifies felect or choice pieces; tho' fome account for this name after a different manner. They are also called Bucolicks from Buxo, a Herdman.
"The original of poetry, fays Mr. Pope, is afcribed to "that age which fucceeded the creation of the world: "and as the keeping of flocks feems to have been the first employment of mankind, the moft ancient fort of poe"try was probably Paftoral. It is natural to imagine,
that the leifure of thofe ancient shepherds admitting and "inviting fome diverfion, none was fo proper to that foli"tary and fedentary life as finging; and that in their
fongs they took occasion to celebrate their own felicity. From hence a poem was invented, and afterwards improved to a perfect image of that happy time; which by giving us an esteem for the virtues of a former age,
* Tibia brachia contrahet ingens
might recommend them to the prefent. And fince the life of fhepherds was attended with more tranquility "than any other rural employment, the poets chose to introduce their perfons, from whom it received the name " of Paftoral."
Scaliger, and Fontenelle are of Mr. Pope's opinion, and suppose that Pastorals were the firft poems; but this con clufion feems not to be drawn from nature and reason. As man in the infant ftate of the world, was undoubtedly ftruck with an awful idea of God, arifing from a confideration of his works of creation, fo must he be very early led to fupplicate and adore that divine Being on whom he perceived his existence depended; it is more natural, and more rational, therefore, to fuppofe that the first poems where hymns or odes made in praise of the Deity. We may allow fhepherds indeed to have been the first poets, but we cannot fuppofe that Paftorals were the firft poems; fince it is more reasonable to conclude that the ancients would prefer the praise of the Creator to that of his creatures. But controverfies of this fort are befide our purpose.
This kind of poem, when happily executed, gives great delight; nor is it a wonder, fince innocence and fimplicity generally pleafe: To which let me add, that the scenes of Paftorals are always laid in the country, where both poet and painter have abundant matter for the exercife of genius, fuch as inchanting prospects, purling streams, fhady groves, enamelled meads, flowery lawns, rural amufe. ments, the bleating of flocks, and the mufick of birds; which is of all melody the most sweet and pleafing, 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 berfelf.
The character of the Paftoral confifts in fimplicity, brevity, and delicacy; the two firft render an eclogue natural, and the last delightful. With refpect to nature, indeed, we are to confider, that as a paftoral is an image of the ancient times of innocence and undefigning plainness, we are not to defcribe fhepherds 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 reafon an air of piety fhould run through the whole poem, which is visible in the writings of antiquity.
To make it natural with respect to the prefent age, fome knowledge in rural affairs fhould be discovered, and that in such a manner, as if it was done by chance rather than by defign; left by too much pains to seem natural that fimplicity be deftroyed from whence arifes the delight; for what is fo 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 fhepherd's life, and concealing the misfortunes and miferies which fometimes attend it. Befides, the fubject muft contain fome particular beauty in itself, and each eclogue prefent a scene or profpect to our view enriched with variety: which variety is in a great measure obtained by frequent comparisons drawn from the moft agreeable objects of the country; by interrogations to things inanimate; by fhort and beautiful digreffions; 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 defcriptions short, and the periods concise.
Riddles, parables, proverbs, antique phrafes, 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 fo, as they give our modern compofitions the air of the ancient manner of writing.
The ftyle of the Paftoral ought to be humble, yet pure; neat, but not florid; eafy, and yet lively: and the numbers fhould be fmooth and flowing.
This poem in general fhould be short, and ought never much to exceed an hundred lines; for we are to confider that the ancients made these fort of compofitions their amufement, and not their bufinefs: but however fhort they are, every eclogue must contain a plot or fable, which must be fimple and one; but yet fo managed as to admit of fhort digreffions. Virgil has always obferved this-I fhall give you the plot or argument of his first Pastoral as an example.
Melibous, an unfortunate Shepherd, is introduced with Tityrus, one in more fortunate circumstances; the former addreffes the complaint of his fufferings and banishment to the latter, 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 Melibœus accuses fortune, civil wars, and bids adieu to his native country. This is therefore a dialogue.
But we are to obferve, that the poet is not always obliged to make his eclogue allegorical, and to have real perfons reprefented by the fictitious characters introduced; but is in this refpect 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 fhepherd may with propriety fing the praises of his love, complain of her inconftancy, lament her absence, her death, &c. and address himself to groves, hills, rivers, and fuch like rural objects, even when alone.
We shall now give examples from each of those authors who have eminently diftinguish'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 beft critics and by fome, whofe judgement we cannot difpute, prefer'd to all other Paftoral writers. We shall infert his third Idyllium, not because it is the best, but because it is within our compass, and we are favoured with an elegant verfion of it by Mr. FAWKES; who will foon oblige the public with an entire tranflation of this favourite author.
AMARYLLIS: Or the third Idyllium of THEOCRITUS.
To Amaryllis, lovely Nymph, I speed,
Accept this boon, 'tis all my present store ;
And with his brothers nurft him in the wild