« AnteriorContinuar »
To make it natural with refpect to the prefent age, fome knowledge in rural affairs fhould be discovered, and that in fuch a manner, as if it was done by chance rather than by defign; left by too much pains to feem natural that fimplicity be deftroyed from whence arifes the delight; for what is fo engaging in this kind of poefy proceeds not fo much from the idea of a country life itself, as in expofing only the best part of a fhepherd's life, and concealing the misfortunes and miferies which fometimes attend it. Be. fides, the fubject must contain fome particular beauty in itself, and each eclogue prefent a fcene or profpect to our view enriched with variety: which variety is in a great measure obtained by frequent comparisons drawn from the moft agreeable objects of the country; by interrogations to things inanimate; by fhort and beautiful digreffions ; and by elegant turns on the words, which render the numbers more sweet and pleasing. To this let me add, that the connections must be negligent, the narrations and deferiptions fhort, and the periods concise.
Riddles, parables, proverbs, antique phrafes, and superftitious fables are fit materials to be intermixed with this kind of poem. They are here, when properly applied, very ornamental; and the more fo, as they give our modern compofitions the air of the ancient manner of writing.
The ftyle of the Pafloral ought to be humble, yet pure; neat, but not florid; eafy, and yet lively: and the numbers fhould be fmooth and flowing.
This poem in general fhould be short, and ought never much to exceed an hundred lines; for we are to confider that the ancients made these fort of compofitions their amufement, and not their bufinefs: but however short they are, every eclogue must contain a plot or fable, which must be fimple and one; but yet fo managed as to admit of fhort digreffions. Virgil has always obferved this-I fhall give you the plot or argument of his first Pastoral as an example.
Melibacus, an unfortunate Shepherd, is introduced with Tityrus, one in more fortunate circumstances; the former addreffes the complaint of his fufferings and banishment to the latter, who enjoys his flocks and folds in the midst of the public calamity, and therefore expresses his gratitude to the benefactor
from whom this favour flow'd: but Melibus accufes fortune, civil wars, and bids adieu to his native country. This is therefore a dialogue.
But we are to obferve, that the poet is not always obliged to make his eclogue allegorical, and to have real perfons reprefented by the fictitious characters introduced; but is in this refpect entirely at his own liberty.
Nor does the nature of the poem require it to be always carried on by way of dialogue; for a fhepherd may with propriety fing the praises of his love, complain of her inconftancy, lament her abfence, her death, &c. and addrefs himself to groves, hills, rivers, and fuch like rural objects, even when alone.
We shall now give examples from each of thofe authors who have eminently distinguish'd themselves by this manner of writing, and introduce them in the order of time in which they were written.
Theocritus, who was the father or inventor of this kind of poetry, has been defervedly efteemed by the best critics and by fome, whofe judgement we cannot difpute, prefer'd to all other Paftoral writers. We shall infert his third Idyllium, not because it is the best, but because it is within our compass, and we are favoured with an elegant verfion of it by Mr. FAWKES; who will foon oblige the public with an entire tranflation of this favourite author.
AMARYLLIS: Or the third Idyllium of THEOCRITUS.
To Amaryllis, lovely Nymph, I fpeed,
Mean while my goats upon the mountains feed:
Accept this boon, 'tis all my present store;
And with his brothers nurft him in the wild;
My right eye itches; may it lucky prove,
Hippomenes, provok'd by noble ftrife,
To Pyle from Othry's fage Melampus came,
And fea-born Venus lov'd the rural fwain;
My head grows giddy, love affects me fore;
MELI BOE US.
Beneath the shade which beechen boughs diffufe,
Virgil fucceeds Theocritus, from whom he has in fome places copied, and always imitated with fuccefs. As a fpecimen of his manner we shall introduce his first Pastoral, which is generally allowed to be the most perfect; and our readers will fee that we are obliged to Mr. Dryden for the tranflation.
Round the wide world in banishment we roam,
Thefe bleffings, friend, a Deity beftow'd;
MELIB OE US.
I envy not your fortune, but admire,
That while the raging fword and wasteful fire
Preferv'd your fortunes in that fatal hour?
TITY RU S.
Fool that I was, I thought imperial Rome
Like Mantua, where on market-days we come :
So kids and whelps their fires and dams exprefs;
And fo the great I measur'd by the lefs:
But country-towns, compar'd with her, appear
Like fhrubs when lofty cypreffes are near.
MELI BOE US.
What great occasion call'd you hence to Rome?
Freedom, which came at length, tho' flow to come: