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be found in nature. The figs and the honey, which he assigns* as a reward to a victorious shepherd, were in themselves exquisite, and are therefore assigned with great propriety: and the beauties of that luxurious landscape, so richly and circumstantially delineated in the close of the seventh idyllium, where all things smelt of summer, and smelt of autumn,
• n*>7 utrSet Siptos Ctioh©-, «<t5s S' ovupns,f
were present and real. Succeeding writers, supposing these beauties too great and abundant to be real, referred them to the fictitious and imaginary scenes of a golden age.
A mixture of British and Grecian ideas may justly be deemed a blemish in the Pastorals of Pope: and propriety is certainly violated, when he couples Pactolus with Thames, and Windsor with Hybla. Complaints of immoderate heat, and wishes to be conveyed to cooling caverns, when uttered by the inhabitants of Greece, have a decorum and consistency, which they totally
* * Idyll, i. ver. 146. f Ver. 133.
lose in the character of a British shepherd: and Theocritus, during the ardors of Sirius, must have heard the murmurings of a brook, and the whispers of a pine,* with more home-felt pleasure, than Pope f could possibly experience upon the same occasion. We can never completely \ relish, or adequately understand, any author, especially any Ancient, except we constantly keep in our eye, his climate, his country, and his age. Pope himself informs us, in a note, that he judiciously omitted the following verse,
And list'ning wolves grow milder as they hear,}
on account of the absurdity, which Spenser overlooked, of introducing wolves into England. But on this principle, which is certainly a just one, may it not be asked, why he should speak, the scene lying in Windsor-Forest, of the Sultiiy Sikius,§ of the Grateful Clustebs ofgrapes^ of a pipe of reeds,% the antique fistula, of thanking Ceres for a plentiful harvest** of the sacrifice B 3 of
* Idyll, i. ver. K■ f Past. iv. ver. I. % Past. ii. • § Past. ii. ver. 21. || Past. iii. ver. 74. Past. ii. ver. 41. ** Ibid. ver. 66.
of lambs,* with many other instances that might be adduced to this purpose. That Pope, how> /ever, was sensible of the importance of adapting \J images to the scene of action, is obvious from the following example of his judgment; for, m translating,
Audiit Eurotas, jussitque ediscere Lmjros,
he has dexterously dropt the laurels appropriated v to Eurotas, as he is speaking of the river Thames, and has rendered it,
Thames heard the numbers, as he flow'd along,
In the passages which Pope has imitated from Theocritus, and from his Latin translator, Virgil, he has merited but little applause. It may not be unentertaining to see, how coldly and unpoetically Pope has copied the subsequent appeal to the nymphs on the death of Daphnis, in comparison of Milton on Lycidas, one of his juvenile, but one of his most exquisite pieces.
TUt irox* uf iorSf ox<* AtUfnis traxtlo; w«t «ox«, Uvi/.pai;
Where stray ye, Muses, in what lawn or grove,
Where were ye, nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Clos'd o'er the head of yourlov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep
Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie;
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream.!
The mention of places remarkably romantic, the supposed habitation of Druids, bards, and wizards, is far more pleasing to the imagination, than the obvious introduction of Cam and Isis, as seats of the Muses,
A shepherd in Theocritus wishes, with much tenderness and elegance, both which must suffer.in a literal translation, "Would I could become a murmuring bee, fly into your grotto, and be B 4 permitted
* Theocritus, Idyll, i. 66. f PePE> Past- >»• *3-
permitted to creep among the leaves of ivy and fern that compose the chaplet which adorns your head."* Pope has thus altered this image:
Oh! were I made, by some transforming pow'r,
On three accounts the former image is preferable to the latter: for the pastoral wildness, the delicacy, and the uncommonness of the thought. I cannot forbear adding, that the riddle of the Royal Oak, in the first Pastoral, invented in imitation of the Virgilian enigmas in the third eclogue, savours of pun, and puerile conceit.
Say, Daphnis, say, in what glad soil appears
With what propriety could the tree, whose shade protected the king, be said to be prolific of princes?