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of mind. The abundance they were possessed of secured them from avarice, ambition, or envy; they could scarce have any anxieties or contentions, where every one had more than he could tell what to do with. Love, indeed, might occasion some rivalships amongst them, because many lovers fix upon one object, for the loss of which they will be satisfied with no compensation. Otherwise it was a state of ease, innocence, and contentment; where plenty begot pleasure, and pleasure begot singing, and singing begot poetry, and poetry begot pleasure again. Thus happy was the first race of men, but rude withal, and uncultivated: for, before they could make any considerable progress in arts and sciences, the tranquillity of the rural life was destroyed by turbulent and ambitious spirits; who, having built cities, raised armies, and studied policies of state, made vassals of the defenceless shepherds, and rendered that which was before easy and unrestrained, a mean, laborious, and miserable condition. Hence, if we consider the pastoral period before learning, we shall find it unpolished; if after, we shall find it unpleasant. The use that I would make of this short review of the country life shall be this. An author that would amuse himself by writing pastorals, should form in his fancy a rural scene of perfect ease and tranquillity, where innocence, simplicity, and joy abound. It is not enough that he writes about the country; he must give us what is agreeable in that scene, and hide what is wretched. It is, indeed, commonly affirmed, that truth well painted will certainly please the imagination; but it is sometimes convenient not to discover the whole truth, but that part only which is delightful. We must sometimes show only half an image to the fancy; which if we display in a lively manner, the mind is so dexterously deluded, that it doth not readily perceive that the other half is concealed. Thus in writing pastorals, let the tranquillity of that life appear full and plain, but hide the meanness of it; represent its simplicity as clear as you please, but cover its misery. I would not hereby be so understood, as if I thought nothing that is irksome or unpleasant should have a place in these writings; WOL. II. U
I only mean that this state of life in general should be supposed agreeable. But as there is no condition exempt from anxiety, I will allow shepherds to be afflicted with such misfortunes as the loss of a favourite lamb or a faithless mistress. He may, if you please, pick a thorn out of his foot; or vent his grief for losing the prize in dancing. But these being small torments, they recommend that state which only produces such trifling evils. Again, I would not seem so strict in my notions of innocence and simplicity, as to deny the use of a little railing, or the liberty of stealing a kid or a sheephook. For these are likewise such petty enormities, that we must think the country happy where these are the greatest transgressions. When a reader is placed in such a scene as I have described, and introduced into such company as I have chosen, he gives himself up to the pleasing delusion; and since every one doth not know how it comes to pass, I will venture to tell him why he is pleased. The first reason is, because all mankind love ease. Though ambition and avarice employ most men's thoughts, they are such uneasy habits, that we do not indulge them out of choice, but from some necessity, real or imaginary. We seek happiness in which ease is the principal ingredient, and the end proposed in our most restless pursuits is tranquillity. We are therefore soothed and delighted with the representation of it, and fancy we partake of the pleasure. A second reason is our secret approbation of innocence and simplicity. Human nature is not so much depraved, as to hinder us from respecting goodness in others, though we ourselves want it. This is the reason why we are so much charmed with the pretty prattle of children, and even the expressions of pleasure or uneasiness in some part of the brute creation. They are without artifice or malice; and we love truth too well to resist the charms of sincerity. A third reason is our love of the country. Health, tranquillity, and pleasing objects, are the growth of the country; and though men, for the general good of the world, are made to love populous cities, the country hath the greatest share in an uncorrupted heart. When we paint, describe, or any way indulge our fancy, the country is the scene which supplies us with the most lovely images. This state was that wherein God placed Adam when in Paradise; nor could all the fanciful wits of antiquity imagine anything that could administer more exquisite delight in their Elysium.
ON PASTORAL POETRY. Paper II. (No. 23).
HAVING already conveyed my reader into the Fairy or Pastoral Land, and informed him what manner of life the inhabitants of that region lead, I shall, in this day's paper, give him some marks, whereby he may discover whether he is imposed upon by those who pretend to be of that country; or, in other words, what are the characteristics of a true Arcadian.
From the foregoing account of the pastoral life, we may discover that simplicity is necessary in the character of shepherds. Their minds must be supposed so rude and uncultivated, that nothing but what is plain and unaffected can come from them. Nevertheless, we are not obliged to represent them dull and stupid, since fine spirits were undoubtedly in the world before arts were invented to polish and adorn them. We may, therefore, introduce shepherds with good sense, and even with wit, provided their manner of thinking be not too gallant or refined. For all men, both the rude and polite, think and conceive things the same way (truth being eternally the same to all), though they express them very differently. For here lies the difference. Men, who by long study and experience have reduced their ideas to certain classes, and consider the general nature of things abstracted from particulars, express their thoughts after a more concise, lively, surprising manner. Those who have little experience, or cannot abstract, deliver their sentiments in plain descriptions, by circumstances, and those observations which either strike upon the senses, or are the first motions of the mind. And though the former raises our admiration more, the latter gives more pleasure, and soothes us more naturally. Thus a courtly lover might say to his mistress:
“With thee for ever I in woods could rest,
A shepherd will content himself to say the same thing more simply.
“Come, Rosalind, Oh! come ; for without thee
Again, since shepherds are not allowed to make deep reflections, the address required is so to relate an action, that the circumstances put together shall cause the reader to reflect. Thus by one delicate circumstance Corydon tells Alexis that he is the finest songster of the country:
“Of seven smooth joints a mellow pipe I have,
As in another pastoral writer, after the same manner a shepherd informs us how much his mistress likes him :
“As I to cool me bathed one sultry day,
If ever a reflection be pardonable in pastorals, it is where the thought is so obvious, that it seems to come easily to the mind; as in the following admirable improvement of Virgil and Theocritus:
“Fair is my flock, nor yet uncomely I,
A second characteristic of a true shepherd is simplicity
of manners, or innocence. This is so obvious from what I have before advanced, that it would be but repetition to
insist long upon it. I shall only remind the reader, that as the pastoral life is supposed to be where nature is not much depraved, sincerity and truth will generally run through it. Some slight transgressions, for the sake of variety, may be admitted, which in effect will only serve to set off the simplicity of it in general. I cannot better illustrate this rule than by the following example of a swain who found his mistress asleep:
“Once Delia slept, on easy moss reclined,
A third sign of a swain is, that something of religion, and even superstition, is part of his character. For we find that those who have lived easy lives in the country, and contemplate the works of nature, live in the greatest awe of their Author. Nor doth this humour prevail less now than of old. Our peasants as sincerely believe the tales of goblins and fairies, as the heathens those of fauns, nymphs, and satyrs. Hence we find the works of Virgil and Theocritus sprinkled with left-handed ravens, blasted oaks, witchcrafts, evil eyes, and the like. And I observe with great pleasure, that our English authors of the pastorals I have quoted have practised this secret with admirable judgment.
I will yet add another mark, which may be observed very often in the above-named poets, which is agreeable to the character of shepherds, and nearly allied to superstition; I mean the use of proverbial sayings. I take the common similitudes in pastoral to be of the proverbial order, which are so frequent, that it is needless and would be tiresome to quote them. I shall only take notice upon this head, that it is a nice piece of art to raise a proverb above the vulgar style, and still keep it easy and unaffected. Thus the old wish, “God rest his soul,” is finely turned:
“Then gentle Sydney lived, the Shepherd's friend,