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Let vernal airs through trembling osiers play, 5 And Albion's cliffs resound the rural lay.
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!
Roman,” &c. Notwithstanding the early 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 so much softness, was, doubtless, that this sort of poetry derives almost its whole beauty from a natural ease of thought and smoothness of verse; whereas that of most other kinds consists 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. P.
Sir William Trumbal.] Our Author's friendship with this gentleman commenced at very unequal years; he was under sixteen, but Sir William above sixty, and had lately resigned his employ. ment of Secretary of State to King William. P.
Ver. 7. You, that too wise.] This amiable old man, who had been a fellow of All Souls' College, Oxford, and Doctor of Civil Law, was sent, by Charles II., Judge-Advocate to Tangier, and afterward in a public character to Florence, to Turin, to Paris ; and by James II., Ambassador to Constantinople; to which city he went through the continent on foot. He was afterward a Lord of the Treasury, and Secretary of State with the Duke of Shrewsbury, which office he resigned 1697, and retiring to East Hampstead, died there in December 1716, aged seventy-seven. Nothing of his writing remains but an elegant character of Archbishop Dolben.
Ver. 1. “ Prima Syracosio dignata est ludere versu
Nostra, nec erubuit sylvas habitare, Thalia.” This is the general exordium and opening of the Pastorals, in imitation of the sixth 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 expressly
O let my Muse her slender reed inspire,
Ver. 12. In your native shades] Sir W. Trumbal was born in Windsor-Forest, to which he retreated, after he had resigned the post of Secretary of State of King William III. P.
Ver. 13. So when the Nightingale] This is surely a mistake, for the nightingale does not sing till other birds are at rest.
those which now stand first * of the three chief Poets in this kind, Spenser, Virgil, Theocritus.
A Shepherd's Boy (he seeks no better name)-
Thyrsis, the Music of that murm'ring Spring, are manifestly imitations of
-A Shepherd's Boy (no better do him call)"
« –Αδύ τι το ψιθύρισμα και α πίτυς, αιπόλε, τήνα.” Ρ. Ver. 9. And carrying, &c.]
Happy is he that from the world retires,
Waller. Maid's Tragedy altered.
* The learned and accurate Heyne, after much investigation, is of opinion, that the following is the order in which the Eclogues of Virgil were written : what is now usually called the second was first ; the third, second; the fifth, third; the first, fourth; the ninth, fifth; the sixth, as it was called, to be the sixth still; the fourth, seventh; the eighth still the eighth; the seventh the ninth; the tenth and last, as it was called, still the tenth. Vol. 1. 205.
The collection of passages imitated from the Classics, marked in the margin with the letter P, was made by the accurate and learned Mr. Bowyer the Printer, and given to Pope at his desire, as appears from MSS. notes of Bowyer now before me. VOL. I.
But charm’d to silence, listens while she 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, Pour'd o'er the whitning vale their fleecy care, Fresh as the morn, and as the season fair: 20 The dawn now blushing on the mountain's side, Thus Daphnis spoke, and Strephon thus reply'd.
Ver. 17, &c.] The Scene of this Pastoral a Valley, the time the Morning. It stood originally thus,
Daphnis and Strephon to the shades retir’d,
Thus Daphnis spoke, and Strephon thus reply'd.
Purple year?] Gray has adopted the expression of the purple year, in the first stanza of his exquisite Ode on Spring.
I'll stake yon' lamb, that near the fountain plays,
And I this bowl, where wanton ivy twines,
W. Ver. 36. And clusters lurk beneath the curling vines. P.
Ver. 38. The various seasons) The subject of these Pastorals engraven on the bowl is not without its propriety. W.
My friend Mr. William Collins, Author of the Persian Eclogues and Odes, assured me that Thomson informed him, that he took the first hint and idea of writing his Seasons, from the titles of Pope's four Pastorals. So that these Pastorals have not had only the merit of setting a pattern for correct and musical Versification, but have given rise to some of the truest poetry in our language. Mr. Collins wrote his Eclogues when he was about seventeen years old, at Winchester school, and, as I well remember, had been just reading that volume of Salmon's Modern History, which described Persia; which determined him to lay the scene of these pieces, as being productive of new images and sentiments. In his maturer years he was accustomed to speak very contemptuously of them, calling them his Irish
Ver. 35, 36.
Diffusos edera vestit pallente corymbos." Virg. P. The Shepherd's hesitation at the name of the Zodiac imitates that in Virgil,
“ Et quis fuit alter, Descripsit radio totum qui gentibus orbem ?” P.
Then sing by turns, by turns the Muses sing, Now hawthorns blossom, now the daisies spring, Now leaves the trees, and flow'rs adorn the ground; Begin, the vales shall ev'ry note rebound.
Inspire me, Phæbus, in
Eclogues, and saying they had not in them one spark of Orientalism; and desiring me to erase a motto he had prefixed to them in a copy he gave me;
--quos primus equis oriens afflavit anhelis. Virg. He was greatly mortified that they found more readers and admirers than his Odes.
Ver. 41. sing by turns,] Amabæan Verses, and the custom of vying in extempore verses, by turns, was a custom derived from the old Sicilian shepherds, and spread over all Italy; and is, as Mr. Spence observes, exactly like the practice of the Improvisatori at present in Italy. They are surprisingly ready in their answers, and go on octave for octave, and speech for speech alternately, for a considerable time. At Florence they have even had Improviso Comedies. It is remarkable, that the celebrated Trissino, Leonardi du Vinci, Bramante, and the charming dramatic poet Metastasio, were all Improvisatori.
Ver. 46. Granville—] George Granville, afterward Lord Lansdown, known for his Poems, most of which he composed very young, and proposed Waller as his model. P.
Ver. 41. Then sing by turns,] Literally from Virgil, “ Alternis dicetis, amant alterna Camænæ.
Et nunc omnis ager, nunc omnis parturit arbos,
Nunc frondent sylvae, nunc formosissimus annus." P. Ver. 47. A milk-white Bull] Virg.—“ Pascite taurum,
Jam cornu petat, et pedibus qui spargat arenam.” P.