1767 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Gay

Oliver Goldsmith, in Beauties of English Poesy (1767) 1:133.



They [Gay's pastorals] were originally intended, I suppose, as a burlesque on those of Mr. Philips; but, perhaps, without designing it, he has hit the true spirit of pastoral poetry. In fact, he more resembles Theocritus than any other English pastoral writer whatsoever. There runs through the whole a strain of rustic pleasantry which should ever distinguish this species of composition; but how far the antiquated expressions used here may contribute to the humour, I will not determine; for my own part, I could wish the simplicity were preserved, without recurring to such obsolete antiquity for the manner of expressing it.