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Nay tell me first, in what more happy fields
D A MON.
Cease to contend, for, Daphnis, I decree, The bowl to Strephon, and the lamb to thee : Blest swains, whose Nymphs in ev'ry grace excel ; Blest Nymphs, whose Swains those graces sing so well!
96 Now rise, and haste to yonder woodbine bow'rs, A soft retreat from sudden vernal show'rs; The turf with rural dainties shall be crown'd, While op’ning blooms diffuse their sweets around. For see! the gath’ring flocks to shelter tend, 101 And from the Pleiads fruitful show'rs descend.
The turf with country dainties shall be spread,
Ver. 93. Cease to contend,] An author of strong sense, but not of equal taste and feeling, and who preferred the dungeons of the Strand to the valleys of Arcadia, says, “ That every intelligent reader sickens at the mention of the crook and the pipe, the sheep and the kids." This appears to be an unjust and harsh condemnation of all Pastoral Poetry. And the same author depreciates and despises the Amynta of Tasso, and the Pastor Fido of Guarini, two pieces of exquisite poetry, and which have gained a lasting applause.
Ver. 90. The Thistle springs, to which the Lily yields :] Alludes to the device of the Scots Monarchs, the Thistle worn by Queen
Anne; and to the arms of France, the Fleur-de-lis.
Dic, quibus in terris inscripti nomina Regum
A mixture of British and Grecian ideas may justly be deemed a blemish in these Pastorals: 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 lose in the character of a British shepherd: and Theocritus, during the ardours of Sirius, must have heard the murmurings of a brook, and the whispers of a pine, with more home-felt pleasure, than Pope could possibly experience upon the same occasion. We can never completely relish, or adequately understand, any author, especially any ancient, except we 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 sultry Sirius, of the grateful clusters of grapes, of a pipe of reeds, the antique fistula, of thanking Ceres for a plentiful harvest, of the sacrifice of lambs, with many
other instances that might be adduced to this purpose. That Pope however was sensible of the importance of adapting images to the scene of action, is obvious from the following example of his judgment; for in translating
Audiit Eurotas, jussitque ediscere Lauros, he has dexterously dropt the laurels appropriated to Eurotas, as he is speaking of the river Thames, and has rendered it,
Thames heard the numbers, as he flow'd along,
And bade his Willows learn the moving song. 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.
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
LYCIDAS. The mention of places remarkably romantic, the supposed habitations 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.
THE SECOND PASTORAL.
A L E X I S.
TO DR. GARTH.
A SHEPHERD's Boy (he seeks no better name) Led forth his flocks along the silver Thame, Where dancing sun-beams on the waters play'd, And verdant alders form'd a quiv'ring shade. Soft as he mourn'd, the streams forgot to flow, The flocks around a dumb compassion shew,
A faithful swain, whom love had taught to sing,
Thro' verdant forests, and thro' flow'ry meads.
There to the winds he plain'd his hapless love,
It is unfortunate that this second pastoral, the worst of the four, should be inscribed to the best judge of all his four other friends to whom they were addressed.
Ver. 2. Thame,] An inaccurate word, instead of Thames.
Ver. 3. The Scene of this Pastoral by the river-side, suitable to the heat of the season; the Time, noon. P.
The Naïads wept in ev'ry wat’ry bow'r,
Accept, O GARTH, the Muse's early lays,
10 Hear what from Love unpractis'd hearts endure, From Love, the sole disease thou canst not cure.
Ye shady beeches, and ye cooling streams, Defence from Phæbus', not from Cupid's beams, To you I mourn, nor to the deaf I sing,
15 The woods shall answer, and their echo ring, The hills and rocks attend my doleful lay, Why art thou prouder and more hard than they?
Ver. 9. Dr. Samuel Garth, Author of the Dispensary, was one of the first friends of our Poet, whose acquaintance with him began at fourteen or fifteen. Their friendship continued from the
year 1703 to 1718, which was that of his death. P. He was a man of the sweetest disposition, amiable manners, and universal benevolence. All parties, at a time when party violence was at a great height, joined in praising and loving him. I hope I may be pardoned from speaking of his character con amore, from my near connexion with one of his descendants ; and yet I trust I shall not be accused of an improper partiality. One of the most exquisite pieces of wit ever written by Addison, is a defence of Garth against the Examiner, 1710.
Ver. 16. The woods shall answer, and their echo ring,] Is a line out of Spenser's Epithalamion. P.
Ver. 18. Why art thou prouder and more hard than they?] A line unworthy our Author, containing a false and trivial thought ; as is also the 22d line.
Ver. 8. And Jove consented]
Jupiter et læto descendet plurimus imbri.” Virg. P. Ver. 15. nor to the deaf I sing, ]
“Non canimus surdis : respondent omnia sylvæ.” Virg. P.