Imágenes de páginas

Myself will lavish all my little store,
And deal about the goblet flowing o'er:
Old Moulin there shall harp, young Mico sing,
And Cuddy dance the round amidst the ring,
And Hobbinol his antic gambols play.”

The reason why such changes from the ancients should be introduced is very obvious; namely, that poetry being imitation, and that imitation being the best which deceives the most easy, it follows that we must take up the customs which are most familiar, or universally known, since no man can be deceived or delighted with the imitation of what he is ignorant of.

It is easy to be observed, that these rules are drawn from what our countrymen Spenser and Philips have performed in this way. I shall not presume to say any more of them, than that both have copied and improved the beauties of the ancients, whose manner of thinking I would above all things recommend. As far as our language would allow them, they have formed a pastoral style according to the Doric of Theocritus, in which I dare not say they have excelled Virgil; but I may be allowed, for the honour of our language, to suppose it more capable of that pretty rusticity than the Latin. To their works I refer my reader to make observations upon the pastoral style; where he will sooner find that secret than from a folio of criticisms. STEELE.


HAVING delivered my thoughts upon Pastoral Poetry, after a didactic manner, in some foregoing papers, wherein I have taken such hints from the critics as I thought rational, and departed from them according to the best of my judgment, and substituted others in their place, I shall close the whole with the following fable or allegory. - In ancient times there dwelt in a pleasant vale of Arcadia a man of very ample possessions, named Menalcas; who, deriving his pedigree from the god Pan, kept very strictly up to the rules of the pastoral life, as it was in the Golden Age. He had a daughter, his only child, called Amaryllis. She was a virgin of a most enchanting beauty, of a most easy and unaffected air; but, having been bred up wholly in the country, was bashful to the last degree. She had a voice that was exceeding sweet, yet had a rusticity in its tone, which, however, to most who heard her seemed an additional charm. Though in her conversation in general she was very engaging, yet to her lovers, who were numerous, she was so coy, that many left her in disgust after a tedious courtship, and matched themselves where they were better received; for Menalcas had not only resolved to take a son-in-law who should inviolably maintain the customs of his family, but had received one evening, as he walked in the fields, a pipe of an antique form from a faun, or, as some say, from Oberon the fairy, with a particular charge not to bestow his daughter upon any one who could not play the same tune upon it as at that time he entertained him with. When the time that he had designed to give her in marriage was near at hand, he published a decree, whereby he invited the neighbouring youths to make trial of this musical instrument, with promise that the victor should possess his daughter, on condition that the vanquished should submit to what punishment he thought fit to inflict. Those who were not yet discouraged, and had high conceits of their own worth, appeared on the appointed day, in a dress and equipage suitable to their respective fancies. The place of meeting was a flowery meadow, through which a clear stream murmured in many irregular meanders. The shepherds made a spacious ring for the contending lovers; and in one part of it there sat upon a little throne of turf, under an arch of eglantine and woodbines, the father of the maid, and at his right hand the damsel crowned with roses and lilies. She wore a flying robe of a light green stuff; she had her sheep-hook in one hand, and the fatal pipe in the other. The first who approached her was a youth of a graceful presence and courtly air, but drest in a richer habit than had ever been seen in Arcadia. He wore a crimson west, cut, indeed, after the shepherd's fashion, but so enriched with embroidery, and sparkling with jewels, that the eyes of the spectators were diverted from considering the mode of the garment by the dazzling of the ornaments. His head was covered with a plume of feathers, and his sheephook glittered with gold and enamel. He accosted the damsel after a very gallant manner, and told her, “Madam, you need not to consult your glass to adorn yourself to-day: you may see the greatness of your beauty in the number of your conquests.” She, having never heard any compliment so polite, could give him no answer, but presented the pipe. He applied it to his lips, and began a tune, which he set off with so many graces and quavers, that the shepherds and shepherdesses (who had paired themselves in order to dance) could not follow it; as indeed it required great skill and regularity of steps, which they had never been bred to. Menalcas ordered him to be stripped of his costly robes, and to be clad in a plain russet weed, and confined him to tend the flocks in the valleys for a year and a day. The second that appeared was in a very different garb. He was clothed in a garment of rough goat-skins, his hair was matted, his beard neglected; in his person uncouth, and awkward in his gait. He came up fleering to the nymph, and told her, “He had hugged his lambs, and kissed his young kids, but he hoped to kiss one that was sweeter.” The fair one blushed with modesty and anger, and prayed secretly against him as she gave him the pipe. He snatched it from her, but with some difficulty made it sound, which was in such harsh and jarring notes, that the shepherds cried, one and all, that he understood no music. He was immediately ordered to the most craggy parts of Arcadia to keep the goats, and commanded never to touch a pipe any more. The third that advanced appeared in clothes that were so straight and uneasy to him, that he seemed to move with pain. He marched up to the maiden with a thoughtful look and stately pace, and said, “Divine Amaryllis, you wear not those roses to improve your beauty, but to make them ashamed.” As she did not comprehend his meaning, she presented the instrument without reply. The tune that he played was so intricate and perplexing,

that the shepherds stood stock still, like people astonished
and confounded. In vain did he plead that it was the
perfection of music, and composed by the most skilful
master in Hesperia. Menalcas, finding that he was a
stranger, hospitably took compassion on him, and delivered
him to an old shepherd, who was ordered to get him clothes
that would fit him, and teach him to speak plain.
The fourth that stepped forwards was young Amyntas,
the most beautiful of all the Arcadian swains, and secretly
beloved by Amaryllis. He wore that day the same colours
as the maid for whom he sighed. He moved towards her
with an easy but unassured air. She blushed as he came
near her, and when she gave him the fatal present, they
both trembled, but neither could speak. Having secretly
breathed his vows to the gods, he poured forth such
melodious notes, that though they were a little wild and
irregular, they filled every heart with delight. The swains
immediately mingled in the dance, and the old shepherds
affirmed, that they had often heard such music by night,
which they imagined to be played by some of the rural
deities. The good old man leaped from his throne, and,
after he had embraced him, presented him to his daughter,
which caused a general acclamation.
While they were in the midst of their joy, they were
surprised with a very odd appearance. A person in a blue
mantle, crowned with sedges and rushes, stepped into the
middle of the ring. He had an angling-rod in his hand, a
pannier upon his back, and a poor meagre wretch in wet
clothes carried some oysters before him. Being asked
whence he came, and what he was 2 He told them he was
come to invite Amaryllis from the plains to the sea-shore,
that his substance consisted in sea-calves, and that he was
acquainted with the nereids and the naiads. “Art thou
acquainted with the naiads 2 ” said Menalcas; “to them
then shalt thou return.” The shepherds immediately
hoisted him up as an enemy to Arcadia, and plunged him in
the river, where he sunk, and was never heard of since.
Amyntas and Amaryllis lived a long and happy life, and
governed the vales of Arcadia. Their generation was very

[ocr errors]

long-lived, there having been but four descents in above two thousand years. His heir was called Theocritus, who left his dominions to Virgil. Virgil left his to his son Spenser, and Spenser was succeeded by his eldest-born Philips. STEELE.


I DESIGNED to have troubled the reader with no further discourses of Pastorals; but being informed that I am taxed of partiality in not mentioning an author whose Eclogues are published in the same 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, whose character it is, that he takes the greatest care of his works before they are published, and has the least concern for them afterwards.

I have laid it down as the first rule of pastoral, that its idea should be taken from the manners of the Golden Age, and the moral formed upon the representation of innocence; it is 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 allowed 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 for that state of concord; the eighth represents unlawful ways of procuring love by enchantments, 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, Salmasius, Rapin, and the critics 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 above-mentioned. So that when I remarked in a former paper, that Virgil's

« AnteriorContinuar »