A musical contest between Colin Clout and a nightingale, first published in Tonson's Miscellany (1709). This is one of a series of seventeenth and eighteenth-century translations and adaptations of Strada's poem on the nightingale.
Alexander Pope to Henry Cromwell: "The fable of the Nightingale in Philips's Pastoral is taken from Famianas Strada's Latin poem on the same subject, in his Prolusiones Academicae; only the tomb he erects at the end is added from Virgil's conclusion of the Culex. I cannot forbear giving a passage out of the Latin poem I mention, by which you will find the English poet is indebted to it 'Alternat mira fides: dum torquet acutas, | Inciditque graves operoso verbere pulsat [....]' This poem was many years since imitated by Crawshaw, out of whose verses the following are very remarkable: 'From this to that, from that to this he flies, | Feels music's pulse in all its arteries; | Caught in a net which there Apollo spreads, | His fingers struggle with the vocal threads'" 11 November 1710; Correspondence, ed. Whitwell Elwin (1871) 1:109.
H. B.: "The fifth pastoral is called Cuddy, which begins with a pretty eulogy on the duke of Dorset, who afterwards so far honoured our poet as to indulge him with an epistolary correspondence. Cuddy is introduced as singing a tale to the listening shepherds, wherein he relates how Colin Clout, or Spenser, was playing on his pipe, and his notes imitated by a jealous nightingale. It is difficult to select any particular beauties from this pastoral, as the whole is extremely beautiful and elegant; the trial of skill between the shepherd and the nightingale being most charmingly described.... The perplexity of the nightingale is finely related, and her dropping down breathless on the harp is prettily conceived. This beautiful pastoral, which is the best of all, occasioned Mr. Pope to write this line, 'The bard whom pilfer'd pastorals renown.' Wherein, as Mr. Phillips frequently said, Mr. Pope shewed more ill-nature than good sense: for the former always acknowledged it was no more than an imitation of Strada" "Remarks on Philips's Pastorals" in Universal Visitor (1756) 307-08.
Edward Burnaby Greene: "The fifth Pastoral, which relates the contest of the Swain and Nightingale, is prettily turned on the whole; but the thought, like Philips's other more agreeable ones, is borrowed. The same may be remarked of the Pastorals of Pope" Essay on Pastoral Poetry in Idylliums of Theocritus (1767) p. lv n.
Herbert E. Cory: "In the fifth Pastoral, 'Cuddy,' many shepherds sing. 'Then Cuddy last (who Cuddy can excel | In neat device?) his tale began to tell.' Cuddy's pipes are outsung by the nightingale. He takes a harp and wins. The nightingale falls dead, Cuddy bewails her, and breaks the cruel strings.... The general qualities of Philips's style may be best seen in his version of Strada's famous 'Nightingale,' already mentioned, in 'Cuddy.' Strada's poem was very popular. It had been translated with rare fineness by John Ford. Crashaw's unpruned and exquisite fancy had twined it in a maze of true-lover's-knots. It is instructive to compare with these the liquid passionless cadences of Philips, a clear brook which has flowed out of its wonderful forest haunts to a flat land adorned with trim parterres" "Critics of Edmund Spenser" UCPMP (1911) 137-38.
Richard Foster Jones: "The fifth pastoral, which is probably the best, is allegorical of the division in theory described above. Cuddy tells Colin Clout how he was at first overcome in a musical contest by a nightingale, but later, with an old harp newly strung, so outplayed the bird that it died with chagrin. The old harp is, of course, the eclogue form, and the new strings represent the native element Philips was attempting to introduce, while the nightingale suggests the conventional eclogists. In short, the native eclogue was an attempt to pour native metal in the Virgilian mould, to describe actual country scenes and life in formal eclogues" "Eclogue Types in English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century" JEGP 24 (1925) 48.
Mary G. Segar: "It is based on no. VI in the Prolusiones of the Italian rhetorician, Strada. (Famiani Stradae Romani ... Prolusiones Academicae. Oxon: MDCXXI, lib. II; p. 240.) Philips follows his model closely, introducing only such changes as his main theme, eulogy of Spenser, demanded, or the pastoral form necessitated. In Philips' pastoral Colin Clout is Spenser" Poems (1937) 174.
Moses Browne in the seventh of his Piscatory Eclogues (1729) imitates this poem.
In Rural Strains we first our Musick try,
And bashful into Woods and Thickets fly,
Mistrusting then our Skill. Yet, if thro' Time
Our Voice improving gains a Pitch sublime;
Thy growing Virtues, Sackvil, shall engage
My riper Verse, and more settled Age.
The Sun, now mounted to the Noon of Day,
Began to shoot direct his burning Ray,
When, with the Flocks, their Feeders sought the Shade,
A venerable Oak, wide-spreading made.
What should they do to pass the loit'ring Time?
As Fancy led, each form'd his Tale in Rhyme:
And some the Joys, and some the Pains of Love,
And some to set out strange Adventures strove;
The Trade of Wizards some, and Merlin's skill,
And whence to Charms such Empire o'er the Will.
Then Cuddy last (who Cuddy can excell
In neat Device?) his Tale began to tell.
When Shepherds flourish'd in Eliza's Reign,
There liv'd in great Esteem a jolly Swain,
Young Colin Clout; who well could pipe and sing,
And by his Notes invite the lagging Spring.
He, as his Custom was, at Leisure laid
In silent Shade, without a Rival plaid.
Drawn by the Magick of th' inticing Sound,
What Crouds of mute Admirers flock'd around!
The Steerlings left their Food; and Creatures, wild
By Nature form'd, insensibly grew mild.
He makes the Birds in Troops about him throng,
And loads the neighb'ring Branches with his Song.
Among the rest, a Nightingale of Fame,
Jealous, and fond of Praise, to listen came.
She turn'd her Ear, and emulous, with Pride,
Like Echo to the Shepherd's Pipe reply'd.
The Shepherd heard with Wonder; and again,
To try her more, renew'd his various Strain.
To all the various Strain she shapes her Throat,
And adds peculiar Grace to ev'ry Note.
If Colin, in complaining Accent grieves,
Or brisker Motion to his Measure gives,
If gentle Sounds he modulates, or strong,
She, not a little vain, repeats the Song:
But so repeats, that Colin half despis'd
His Pipe and Skill, so much by others priz'd.
And, sweetest Songster of the winged Kind,
What Thanks, said he, what Praises can I find
To equal thy melodious Voice? In thee
The Rudeness of my rural Fife I see;
From thee I learn no more to vaunt my skill.
Aloft in Air she sate, provoking still
The vanquish'd Swain. Provok'd at last, he strove
To shew the little Minstrel of the Grove
His utmost Art; if so some small Esteem
He might obtain, and Credit lost, redeem.
He draws in Breath, his rising Breast to fill;
Thro' all the Wood his Pipe is hear'd to shrill.
From Note to Note in haste his Fingers fly;
Still more and more his Numbers multiply;
And now they trill, and now they fall and rise,
And swift and slow they change, with sweet Surprize.
Attentive she doth scarce the Sounds retain,
But to herself first conns the puzzling Strain;
And tracing careful, Note by Note, repays
The Shepherd, in his own harmonious Lays;
Thro' ev'ry changing Cadence runs at length,
And adds in Sweetness, what she wants in Strength.
Then Colin threw his Fife disgrac'd aside;
While she loud Triumph sings, proclaiming wide
Her mighty Conquest. What could Colin more?
A little Harp, of Maple Ware, he bore:
The Harp it self was old, but newly strung,
Which usual he a-cross his Shoulders hung.
Now take, delightful Bird, my last Farewel,
He said; and learn from hence, thou dost excel
No trivial Artist. And at last he wound
The murm'ring Strings, and order'd ev'ry Sound.
Then earnest to his Instrument he bends,
And both his Hands upon the Strings extends.
The strings obey his Touch, and various move,
The lower, answ'ring still to those above.
His restless Fingers traverse to and fro,
And in Pursuit of Harmony they go;
Now, lightly skimming, o'er the Strings they pass,
Like Winds, that gently brush the plying Grass,
And melting Airs arise at their Command:
And now, laborious, with a weighty Hand
He sinks into the Cords with solemn Pace,
And gives the swelling Tones a bolder Grace:
Then, intricate he blends agreeing Sounds,
While Musick thro' the trembling Harp adounds.
The double Sounds the Nightingale perplex,
And pos'd, she does her troubled Spirit vex.
She warbles diffident, 'twixt Hope and Fear,
And hits imperfect Accents here and there.
Then Colin play'd again, and playing Sung.
She, with the fatal Love of Glory stung,
Hears all in Pain: Her Heart begins to swell;
In piteous Notes she sighs, in Notes which tell
Her bitter Anguish. He, still singing, plies
His limber Joints: her Sorrows higher rise.
How shall she bear a Conqu'ror, who before
No equal, thro' the Grove, in Musick bore?
She droops, she hangs her flagging Wings, she moans,
And fetches from her Breast melodious Groans.
Oppress'd with Grief at last, too great to quell,
Down breathless on the guilty Harp she fell.
Then Colin loud lamented o'er the Dead,
And unavailing Tears profusely shed,
And broke his wicked Strings, and curs'd his Skill;
And, best to make Atonement for the Ill,
(If for such Ill Atonement might be made)
He builds her Tomb beneath a Laurel Shade:
Then adds a Verse, and sets with Flow'rs the Ground,
And makes a Fence of winding Osiers round:
A Verse and Tomb is all I now can give,
And here thy Name at least, he said, shall live.
Thus ended Cuddy with the setting Sun,
And by his Tale unenvy'd Praises won.