Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

formed that I am taxed of Partiality, in not mentioning an Author whose Eclogues are published in the fame Volume with Mr. Philips's; I shall employ this Paper in Observations upon him, written in the free Spirit of Criticism, and without Apprehension of offending that Gentleman, whosg Character it is that he takes the greatest Care of his Works before they are published, and has the least Concern for them afterwards.

2. I have laid it down as the first Rule of Pastoral, that its Ideas should be taken from the Manners of the Golden Age, and the Moral form'd upon the Representation of Innocence; 'tis therefore plain that any Deviations from that Design degrade a Poem from being true Pastoral. In this View it will appear that Virgil can only have two of his Eclogues allow'd to be such: His first and ninth must be rejected, because they describe the Ravages of Armies, and Oppressions of the Innocent; Corydon's criminal Passion for Alexis throws out the second; the Calumny and Railing in the third are not proper to that State of Concord; the eighth represents unlawful Ways of procuring Love by Inchantments, and introduces a Shepherd whom an inviting Precipice tempts to Self-Murder. As to the fourth, sixth, and tenth, they are given up by ( * ) Heinsius, Salmafius, Rapin, and the Criticks in general. They likewise observe, that but eleven of all the Idyllia of Theocritus are to be admitted as Pastorals; and even out of that Number the greater Part will be excluded for one or other of the Reasons abovemention'd. So that when I remark'd in a former Paper, that Virgil's Eclogues taken all together are rather select Poems than Pastorals; I might have faid the fame Thing

with

(*) See Rapin de Carm. Past. far. 5.

with no less Truth of Theocritus. The Reason of this I take to be yet unobserved by the Criticks, viz. They never meant them all for Pastorals.

Now it is plain Philips hath done this, and in that Particular excelled both Theocritus and Virgil.

3. As Simplicity is the distinguishing Characteristick of Pastoral, Virgil hath been thought guilty of too courtly a Style; his Language is persectly pure, and he often forgets he is among Peafants. I have frequently wondered, that since he was so converfant in the Writings of Ennius, he had not imitated the Rusticity of the Doric, as well by the Help of the old obsolete Roman Language, as Philips hath by the antiquated Englijh: For Example, might he not have said %$uoi instead of Cui; quicijum for cujum; volt for vult, &c. as well as our Modern hath Welladay for Alas, whilome for of old, make mock for deride, and witless Younglings for innocent Lambs, &c. by which Means he had attained as much of the Air of Theocritus, as Philips hath of Spencer f

4. Mr. Pope hath fallen into the fame Error with Virgil. His Clowns do not converse in all the Simplicity proper to the Country: His Names are borrow'd from Theocritus and Virgil, which are improper to the Scene of his Pastorals. He introduces Daphnis, Alexis, and Thyrjis on Britijh Plains, as Virgil hath done before him on the Mantuan: Whereas Philips, who hath the strictest Regard to Propriety, makes choice of Names peculiar to the Country, and more agreeable to a Reader of Delicacy; such as Hobbinol, Lobbin, Cuddy, and Colin Clout.

5. So easy as Pastoral Writings may seem, (in the Simplicity we have described it) yet it requires great Reading, both of the Antients and Moderns, to be a Master of it. Philips hath given us manisest Proofs

of of his Knowledge of Books: It must be confessed his Competitor hath imitated some single Thoughts of the Antients well enough, if we consider he had not the Happiness of an University Education, but he hath dispersed them, here and there, without that Order and Method which Mr. Philips observes, whoso whole third Pastoral is an Instance how well he hath studied the fifth of Virgil, and how judiciously reduced Virgil's Thoughts to the Standard of Pastoral; as his Contention of Colin Clout and the Nightingale (hows with what Exactness he hath imitated every Line in Strada.

6. When I remarked it as a principal Fault, to introduce Fruits and Flowers of a Foreign Growth, in Descriptions where the Scene lies in our own Country, I did not design that Observation should extend also to Animals, or the sensitive Life; for Philips hath with great Judgment described Wolves in England in his first Pastoral. Nor would I have a Poet slavishly confine himself (as Mr. Pope hath done) to one particular Season of the Year, one certain Time of the Day, and one unbroken Scene in each Eclogue: 'Tis plain Spencer neglected this Pedantry, who in his Pastoral of November mentions the mournful Song of the Nightingale:

Sad Philomel her Song in Tears doth steep.

And Mr. Philips, by a poetical Creation, hath raised up finer Beds of Flowers than the most industrious Gardener; his Roses, Endives, Lillies, Kingcups, and Daffadils blow all in the same Season.

7. But the better to discover the Merits of our two contemporary Pastoral Writers, I shall endeavour to draw a Parallel of them, by setting several of their particular Thoughts in the same Light, whereby it will be obvious how much Philips hath the Advantage. With what Simplicity he introduces two Shepherds singing alternately?

Hobb. Come Rosalind, O come, for without thee What Pleasure can the Country have for me: Come Rosalind, O come; my brinded Kine, My showy Sheep, my Farm, and all, is thine.

Lang. Come Rosalind, O come; here shady Bowers
Here are cool Fountains, and here springing

Flow'rs.
Come Rosalind; here ever let us stay,
And sweetly waste our live-long Time away.

Our other Pastoral Writer, in expressing the same
Thought, deviates into downright Poetry.

Streph. In Spring the Fields, in Autumn Hills I love, At Morn the Plains, at Noon the shady Grove, But Delia always; forc'd from Delia's Sight, Nor Plains at Morn, nor Groves at Noon delight.

Dapb. Sylvia's like Autumn ripe, yet mild as May, More bright than Noon, yet fresh as early Day; Ev'n Spring displeases, when she shines not here, But blest with her'tis Spring throughout the Year.

In the first of these Authors, two Shepherds thus innocently describe the Behaviour of their Mistresses.

Hobb. As Marian bath'd, by chance I passed by,
She blush'd, and at me cast a side-long Eye:
Then swift beneath the chrystal Wave she try'd
Her beauteous Form, but all in vain to hide.

Lanq.

Lang. As I to cool me bath'd one sultry Day,
Fond Lydia lurking in the Sedges lay.
The Wanton laugh'd, and scem'd in haste to fly i
Yet often stopp'd, and often turn'd her Eye.

The other Modern (who it must be confess'd hath a Knack of Versifying) hath it as follows:

Streph. Me gentle Delia beckons from the Plain,
Then, hid in Shades, eludes her eager Swain;
But feigns a Laugh, to fee me search around,
And by that Laugh the willing Fair is found.

Daph. 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!

There is nothing the Writers of this Kind of Poetry are fonder of, than Descriptions of Pastoral Presents. Philips says thus of a Sheep-hook.

Of season'd Elm; where Studs of Brass appear,
To speak the Giver's Name,theMonth and Year.
The Hook of polisli'd Steel, the Handle turn'd,
And richly by the Graver's Skill adorn'd.

The other of a Bowl emboss'd with Figures.

—— where wanton Ivy twines,
And swelling Clusters bend the curling Vines;
Four Figures rising from the Work appear,
The various Seasons of the rolling Year;
And What is that which binds the radiant Sky,
Where twelve brightSigns in beauteousOrder lie.

The

« ZurückWeiter »