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obliged him either to repeat the same description, in other words, for three months together; or, when it was exhausted before, entirely to omit it : whence it comes to pass that some of his Eclogues (as the fixth, eighth, and tenth for example) have nothing but their Titles to distinguish them. The reason is evident, because the year has not that variety in it to furnish every month with a particular description, as it may every season.
Of the following Eclogues I shall only say, that these four comprehend all the subjects which the Critics upon Theocritus and Virgil will allow to be fit for pastoral : That they have as much variety of description, in respect of the several seasons, as Spenser's: that in order to add to this variety, the several times of the day are observ'd, the rural employments in cach season or time of day, and the rural scenes or places proper to such employments ; not without some regard to the several ages
man, and the diferent passions proper to each age.
But after all, if they have any merit, it is to be attributed to fome good old Authors, whose works as I had leisure to study, so, I hope, I have not wanted care
IRST in these fields I try the fylvan strains,
Fair Thames, flow gently from thy facred spring,
NOTES. These Pastorals were written at the age of fixteen, and then past thro' the hands of Mr. Waljh, Mt. Wyckerley, G. Granville afterwards Lord Lansdorun, Sir William Trumbai, Dr. Garib, Lord Hallifax, Lord Somers, Mr. Mainwaring, and others. All these gave our Author the greatest enccuragement, and para ticularly Mr. Walsh, whom Mr. Dryden, in his Postscript to Virgil, calls the best Critic of his age. “ The Author says he) " seems to have a particular genius for this kind of Poetry, and a judgment that much exceeds his years. He has taken very
Let vernal airs thro' trembling ofiers play,
NOTES. « freely from the Ancients. But what he has mixed of his
own with theirs is no way inferior to what he has taken from “ them. It is not flattery at all to say that Virgil had writtin “ nothing so good at his Age. His Preface is very judicious “ and learned.” Letter to Mr. Wycherley, Ap. 1705. The Lord Lansdown about the same time, mentioning the youth of cur Poet, says (in a printed Letter of the Character of Mr. Wychericy) “ that if he goes on as he has begun in his Pastoral
way, as Virgil first tried his strength, we may hope to see
English Poetry vie with the Roman," &c. Notwithstanding the carly time of their production, the Author esteemed these as the most correct in the versification, and musical in the numbers, of all his works. The reason for his labouring them into fo much softness, was, doubtless, that this sort of poetry derives almost its whole beauty from a natural case of thoughi and smoothness of verse ; whereas that of most other kinds confits in the strength and fulness of both. In a letter of his to Mr. Walsh about this time we find an enumeration of several niceties in Versification, which perhaps have never been strictly observed in any English poem, except in these Pastorals. They were not printed till 1709.
Sir William Trumbal.] Our Author's friendship with this gentleman commenced at very unequal years; he was under fixteen, but Sir William above fixty, and had lately resigor'd his employment of Secretary of State to King William.
Noftra nec erubuit sylvas habitare Thalia.
You, that too wise for pride, too good for pow'r, Enjoy the glory to be great no more, And carrying with you all the world can boast, To all the world illustriously are lost ! O let my Muse her slender reed inspire, Till in your native shades you tune the lyre : So when the Nightingale to rest removes, The Thrush may chant to the forsaken groves, But charm’d to filence, listens while fhe sings, 15 And all th' aërial audience clap their wings.
Soon as the flocks shook off the nightly dews, Two Swains, whom Love kept wakeful, and the Muse,
NOT E S. VER. 12. in your native shades] Sir W. Trumbal was born in Windsor-forest, to which he retired, after he had resigned the post of Secretary of State to King William III.
Ver. 17, etc. The Scene of this Pastoral a Valley, the Time the Morning. It stood originally thus,
Daphnis and Strephon to the shades retir'd,
IMITATIONS, imitation of the fixth of Virgil, which some have therefore not improbably thought to have been the first originally. In the beginnings of the other three Pastorals, he imitates exprefly those which now stand first of the three chief Poets in this kind, Spencer, l'irgil, Theocritus.
Pour'd o'er the whitening vale their fleecy care,
STRE PHON. Sing then, and Damon shall attend the strain, While yon' now oxen turn the furrow'd plain. 30 Here the bright crocus and blue vi'let glow; Here western winds on breathing roses blow. I'll stake yon' lamb, that near the fountain plays, And from the brink his dancing shade surveys.
Thyrsis, the Music of that murm’ring Spring, are manifestly imitations of
A lepherd's Boy (no better do him call)
And his own image from the bank surveys,