A Spenserian eclogue in which two gentlemen bemoan the decline of country revels at hands of the Puritan reformers; the gentleman propose to reinstate the old ways by means of Robert Dover's Cotswold Games. Thomas Randolphs's references to the return to a Golden Age neatly link the pastoral poetry of Virgil and Spenser to Stuart politics. The poem concludes: "Swaines keepe his Holy-day; and each man sweare, | To Saint him in the Shepheards Kalendar" sig Dv. A triumph of courtly nostalgia, the volume marks something of a last hurrah for English pastoral, which went into a steep decline during the reign of Charles II.
Anthony Wood: "The said games were begun, and continued at a certain time in the year for 40 years by one Rob. Dover an attorney of Barton on the Heath in Warwickshire, son of Joh. Dover of Norfolk, who being full of activity, and of a generous, free, and public spirit, did, with leave from king Jam. I. select a place on Cotswold Hills in Gloucestershire, whereon those games should be acted. Endimion Porter, esq; a native of that country, and a servant to that king, a person also of a most generous spirit, did, to encourage Dover, give him some of the king's old cloaths, with a hat and a feather and ruff, purposely to grace him and consequently the solemnity. Dover was constantly there in person well mounted and accoutered, and was the chief director and manager of those games frequented by the nobility and gentry (some of whom came 60 miles to see them) even till the rascally rebellion was began by the presbyterians, which gave a stop to their proceedings, and spoiled all that was generous or ingenious elsewhere. The verses in the said book called Annalia Dubrensia were composed by several poets, some of which were then the chiefest of the nation, as Mich. Drayton, esq; Tho. Randolph of Cambridge, Ben. Johnson, Owen Feltham, gent. capt. John Mennes, Shakerley Marmion, gent. Tho. Heywood, gent. &c. Others of lesser note were Joh. Trussel, gent. who continued Sam. Daniel's History of England, Joh. Monson, esq; Feryman Rutter of Oriel coll. Will. Basse of Moreton near Thame in Oxfordshire, sometime a retainer to the lord Wenman of Thame Parke, Will. Denny, esq; &c. Before the said book of Annalia Dubrensia is a cut representing the games and sports, as men playing at cudgels, wrestling, leaping, pitching the bar, throwing the iron hammer, handling the pyke, leaping over the heads of men kneeling, standing upon their hands, &c. Also the dancing of women, men hunting and coursing the hare with hounds and grey-hounds, &c. with a castle built of boards on a hillock, with guns therin firing, and the picture of the great director capt. Dover on horseback, riding from place to place" Athenae Oxonienses (1690-91, 1721) ed. Bliss (1815) 4:222-23.
William Beloe: "This is one of the most rare of our English Poetical Tracts. The writers were all persons of greater or less consideration in their day" Anecdotes of Literature 2 (1807) 106.
Thomas Corser: "It was in commemoration of these yearly games thus celebrated (which were broken up and put an end to by the Puritans in the time of the civil war) that this volume was published in 1636, consisting entirely of complimentary verses by Drayton, Ben Jonson, Randolph, Basse, Owen Feltham, and other well known writers of the time" Collectanea Anglo-Poetica 1 (1860) 45.
Edmund Gosse: "The Cotswold Eclogue, which originally appeared in a very curious book entitled Annalia Dubrensia, 1636, is one of the best pastorals which we possess in English. But in reviewing the fragments of the work of Randolph, the critic is ever confronted by the imperfection of his growing talent, the insufficiency of what exists to account for the personal weight that Randolph carried in his lifetime, and for the intense regret felt at his early death. Had he lived he might have bridged over, with a strong popular poetry, the abyss between the old romantic and the new didactic school, for he had a little of the spirit of each. As it is, he holds a better place in English literature than Dryden, or Gray, or Massinger would have held had they died before they were thirty" The English Poets, ed. Thomas Humphry Ward (1880) 2:220.
Herbert E. Cory: "The pastoral might have been honored by Thomas Randolph had he lived to fulfill the promise of his youth. Though, in general, a devoted son of Ben, he contributed a Spenserian eclogue between Collen and Thenot to the Annalia Dubrensia" "Spenserian Pastoral" PMLA 25 (1910) 262.
Edmund Gosse: "By far the most admirable poem in the collection, from a literary point of view, is Randolph's contribution.... His Eclogue on the Pallia and noble Assemblies revived on Cotswold Hills is charming. Two shepherds, Collen and Thenot, converse about the degeneracy of the English swains. Collen is exceedingly afflicted to find his compeers so boorish, and Thenot replies that it cannot be for want of ability, since nowhere in the world can you find men so vast in stature, so sinewy and so supple, as the swains of England. Collen explains that the Puritans are to blame for this boorishness. In early times there were joyous games, in which the English athletes contended and grew skilful and graceful.... Thenot, crying out against these deluded bigots, longs for the time to come when such innocent pleasures may thrive again. Collen, at this, can no longer refrain from telling him that his prayer is heard, and that 'Pan hath approved dancing shall be this year holy as the motion of a sphere.' Thenot cannot believe this good news, and begs for an explanation. His told that Collen has just met a handsome fellow spurring a spirited steed over the plain towards Cotswold; and begging him to explain whither he went so blythe and so gaily decked, he told him to the Hill, where horses, fleet as sons of the wind, competed for prizes, and where hounds went coursing with such musical, full cries, that Orion leaned out of heaven and wished his dog might be there to join in the races. Thenot rejoices again, and desires to know at whose bidding these noble games have recommenced. He is told that it is jovial Dover's deed, and Collen closes by calling the nymphs around, and bidding them do honour to that great man.... It is a most ingenious, pretty poem, one of the best eclogues we possess in English" "Captain Dover's Cotswold Games" in Seventeenth Century Studies (1914) 117-20.
William D. Ellis sees an allusion to this work in the Soames-Dryden translation of Boileau: "You'd swear that Randal [Randolph], in his Rustick Strains, | Again was quav'ring to the Country Swains, | And changing, without care of Sound or Dress, | Strephon and Phyllis into Tom and Bess" "Thomas D'Urfey" PMLA 74 (June 1959) 205-06.
What Clod-pates Thenot are our Brittish swaines?
How lubber-like they loll upon the Plaines,
No life, no spirit in um! Every Clowne,
Soone as hee layes his Hooke and Tarbox downe,
That ought to take his Reed, and chant his Layes,
Or nimblie run the windings of the Maze,
Now gets a Bush to roame himselfe, and sheepe:
And yet me-thinks our English pastures, bee
As flowery as the Lawnes of Arcadye,
Our Virgins blithe, as theirs, nor can proud Greece
Boast purer Aire, nor sheare a finer fleece.
Yet view their out-side Collen, you would say,
They have as much brawne in their necks, as they;
Faire Tempe braggs of lustie Armes, that swell
With able sinews, and might hurle as well
The weightie Sledge; their Leggs, and Thighs of bone,
Great as Colossus, yet their strengths are gone;
They looke like yonder man of wood that stands
To bound the limits of the Parish lands:
Dost thou ken Collen, what the cause might bee
Of such a dull, and generall Lethargie?
Swaine! with their sports, their soules were tane away,
Till then they all were active; every day
They were exercis'd to weild their limbes, that now
Are numb'd to every thing, but flaile, and Plowe.
Early in May up got the Jolly route,
Cal'd by the Larke, and spread the fields aboute
One, for to breathe himselfe, would coursing bee
From this same Beech, to yonder Mulberie;
A second leapt, his supple nerves to trie,
A third, was practicing his Melodie;
This, a new Jigg was footing; Others, were
Busied at wrastling, or to throw the Barre;
Ambitious which should beare the bell away,
And kisse the Nut-browne-Lady of the Maie:
This stirr'd 'um up, a Jolly Swaine was hee,
Whom Pegg and Susan, after victory,
Crow'nd with a Garland they had made, beset
With Dazies, Pincks, and many a Violet,
Cow-slipp, and Gilliflowre; Rewards, though small,
Encourage vertue: But if none at all
Meete her, shee languisheth, and dies, as now,
Where worth's denied the honour of a bough;
And, Thenot, This the cause I read to bee,
Of such a dull, and generall Lethargie:
Ill thrive the Lowt, that did their mirth gaine-say,
Wolves haunt his flocks, that tooke those sports away.
Some melancholly Swaines, about have gone,
To teach all Zeale, their owne Complection,
Choler, they will admit, sometimes, I see;
But Pleagme, and Sanguine, to Religions bee;
These teach that Dauncing is a Jezabell,
And Barley-breake, the ready way to Hell,
The Morrice, Idolls; Whitson-ales can bee
But profane Reliques, of a Jubilee:
These in a Zeale, t' expresse how much they doe
The Organs hate, have silenc'd Bagg-pipes too,
And harmlesse May-poles, all are rail'd upon,
As if they were the Towers of Babilon:
Some think not fit, there should be any sport
I' the Citie, Tis a dish proper to the Court;
Mirth not becomes 'um, let the sawcie swaine
Eate Beefe, and Bacon, and goe sweate againe,
Besides, what sport, can in their pastimes bee
When all, is but rediculous fopperie.
Collen! I once the famous Spaine did see,
A Nation glorious for her Gravitie,
Yet there an hundred Knights, on warlike Steedes
Did skirmish out a fight, arm'd but with Reeds,
At which a Thousand Ladies Eies did gaze:
Yet was no better, then our Prison base.
What is the Barriers, but a Courtly way
Of our more downe right sport, the Cudgell-play?
Foote-ball with us, may bee with them, Baloone;
As they at Tilt, so wee att Quintain runne,
And those old-pastimes relish best with mee,
That have least Art, and most Simplicitye.
Collen! They say, at Court there is an Art,
To dance a Ladies honor from her hart;
Such wiles, poore Sheephards know not, all their sence
Is dull to any thing, but Innocence:
The Country Lasse, although her Dance bee good,
Stirs not an others Galliard in the Blood;
And yet their sports by some contrould have bin,
Who thinke there is no mirth, but what is Sin,
O might I but their harmlesse Gambolls see!
Restor'd unto an ancient Libertye,
Where spottlesse daliance traces ore the Playnes,
And harmlesse Nimphes, jet it with harmlesse Swaynes.
To see an age againe of Innocent Loves,
Twine close as Vines, yet kisse, as chast as Doves.
Me thinkes I could the Thracian Lyre have strung,
Or tun'd my Whistle, to the Mantuan song.
Then tune thy Whistle Boy, and string thy Lyre,
That age is come againe, thy brave desire
Pan hath approv'd; Dauncing shall bee this yeare
Holy, as is the motion of a Spheare.
Collen! With sweeter breath Fame never blewe
Her sacred Trump, if this good newes bee true?
Know'st thou not Cotswold-hils.
Through all the land,
No finer wooll runnes through the Spinsters hand.
But silly Collen, ill thou do'st devine,
Can'st thou mistake a Bramble, for a Pine?
Or thinke this Bush a Cedar? or suppose
Yon Hamlet where to sleepe; each Shepheard goes?
In circuit, buildings, people, power, and name
Equalls the Bow-string'd by the silver Thame?
Aswell thou maiest, their Sports, with ours compare,
As the soft wooll of Lambes, with the Goats haire.
Last Evening Lad, I met a noble Swayne,
That spurr'd his spright-full Palfrey ore the playne:
His head with Ribbands crown'd, and deck'd as gay,
As any Lasse, upon her Bridall day.
I thought (what easie faiths we Sheepheards prove?)
This, not the Bull, had beene Europaes love.
I ask't the cause, they tould mee this was hee,
Whom this dayes Tryumph, crown'd with victory.
Many brave Steeds there were, some you should finde
So fleete, as they had bin sonnes of the winde.
Others with hoofes so swifte, beat ore the race,
As if some Engine shot 'um to the place.
So many, and so well wing'd Steeds there were,
As all the broode of Pegasus had bin there,
Rider and horse could not distinguish'd bee,
Both seem'd conjoyn'd, a Centaures Progeny.
A numerous troupe they were, yet all so light,
Earth never groon'd, nor felt 'um in their flight.
Such Royall pastimes Cotswold mountaines fill,
When Gentle-swaines visit her glorious Hill:
Where with such packs of Hounds, they hunting go,
As Cyrus never woo'nd his Bugle too;
Whose noise is musicall, and with full cries,
Beat's ore the Field's, and ecchoes through the skies.
Orion hearing, wish'd to leave his Spheare;
And call his Dogge from heaven, to sport it there.
Watt though he fled for life, yet joy'd withall,
So brave a Dirge, sung forth his Funerall.
Not Syrens sweetlier rill, Hares, as they flie
Looke backe, as glad to listen, loth to die.
No doubt, but from this brave Heroicke fire,
In the more noble hearts, sparkes of desire
May warme the colder Boores, and emulous strife,
Give the old mirth, and Innocence a new life;
When thoughts of Fame, their quickned soules shall fill,
At ev'ry glaunce that shewes um Cotswold Hill.
There Shepheard, there the solem-games be plaide,
Such as great Theseus or Alcides made.
Such as Apollo wishes hee had seene,
And Jove desires, had his inventions beene.
The Nemaean and the Isthmian pastimes still,
Though dead in Greece, survive on Cotswold Hill.
Happy oh hill! The gentle graces nowe
Shall tripp ore Thine, and leave Citherons browe,
Pernassus Clift, shall sinke below his spring,
And every Muse, shall on thy front'let sing;
The Goddesses againe, in strife shall bee,
And from mount Ida, make appeale to thee:
Olympus pay the homage; and in dread,
The aged Alpes, shall bow his snowie head:
Flora with all her store, thy Temples Crowne,
Whose height shall reach the starres; gods looking downe,
Shall blesse the Incence, that thy flowers exhale,
And make thee both a Mountaine, and a Vale.
How many Ladies on thy Topp shall meete,
And presse thy Tresses with their Od'rous feete,
Whose Eyes, when wondering men see from afarre,
They'le thinke the heaven and earth of them a starre.
But gentle Collen say, what god or man
Fame wee for this great worke, Daphnis or Pan?
Daphnis is dead, and Pan hath broke his Reed,
Tell all your Flocks 'tis Joviall DOVER'S deede.
Behold the Shepheards in their Ribbands goe;
And shortly, all the Nimphes shall weare 'um too;
Amaz'd to see such Glorie met together,
Blesse DOVER'S Pipe, whose musicke call'd 'um hether.
Sport you, my Rams, at sound of DOVERS name;
For DOVERS fould; Goe maides, and Lillies get,
To make him up a glorious Coronet.
Swaines keepe his Holy-day; and each man sweare
To Saint him in the Shepheards Kalender.