1709
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Summer. The Second Pastoral, or Alexis.

Poetical Miscellanies: the Sixth Part. Containing a Collection of original Poems, with several new Translations. By the most eminent Hands.

Alexander Pope


Alexander Pope's second pastoral begins (in 1736 and later editions) by imitating the opening of Shepheardes Calender: "A Shepherd's Boy (he seeks no better name) | Led forth his flocks along the silver Thame." The second pastoral artfully echoes Spenser's Epithalamion: "The woods shall answer and their echoes ring," and Pope rather boldly claims Colin Clout as his master: "That Flute is mine which Colin's tuneful Breath | Inspir'd when living, and bequeath'd in Death" p. 734.

Joseph Warton: "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 had not only the merit of setting a pattern for correct and musical Versification, but gave rise to some of the truest poetry in our language" Works of Pope (1797) 1:61n.

Hugh Blair: "Neither Mr. Pope's, nor Mr. Philip's Pastorals, do any great honour to the English Poetry. Mr. Pope's were composed in his youth; which may be an apology for other faults, but cannot well excuse the barrenness that appears in them. They are written in remarkably smooth and flowing numbers: and this is their chief merit; for there is scarcely any description, or any image of nature, which has the marks of being original, or copied from nature herself; but a repetition of the common images that are to be found in Virgil, and in all Poets who write of rural themes. Philips attempted to be more simple and natural than Pope, but he wanted genius to support his attempt, or to write agreeably" Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1783) 2:349.

Richard Polwhele: "It was at an elegant aera, that the graces of THEOCRITUS shone forth [in Virgil's Eclogues] in a Roman dress. But had his more predominating qualities been exhibited, and his original discriminations of character been faithfully preserved, it is probable that such simplicity and precision would have received their due tribute of applause at the court of AUGUSTUS. It was not till the Augustan age of our own country, that there appeared another imitator of the polished pastoral. But he has lost sight of Sicily and her piping train! He was unacquainted with shepherds or shepherdesses! He could string the silver lyre, but disdained to frame the oaten reed! In his general uncharacteristic pieces — 'Pure description holds the place of sense'" Idyllia of Theocritus (1786, 1792) 2:25.

Joseph Warton: "It is unfortunate that this second pastoral, the worst of the four, should be inscribed to the best judge of all his four other friends to whom they were addressed" Works of Pope (1797) 1:69n.

Notes from Works of Pope, ed. William Roscoe (1824):

Ver. 3. The Scene of this Pastoral by the river side, suitable to the heat of the season; the Time, noon. P.

Ver 9. Dr. Samuel Garth, Author of the Dispensary, was one of the first friends of our Poet, whose acquaintance with him began at fourteen or fifteen. Their friendship continued from the year 1703 to 1718, which was that of his death. P.

He was a man of the sweetest disposition, amiable manners, and universal benevolence. All parties, at a time when party violence was at a great height, joined in praising and loving him. One of the most exquisite pieces of wit ever written by Addison, is a defence of Garth against the Examiner, 1710. Warton.

Ver. 16. The Woods shall answer, and their echo ring.] Is a line out of Spenser's Epithalamion. P.

Ver. 27. As in the crystal spring] This is one of those passages in which Virgil, by too closely copying Theocritus, has violated propriety; and not attended to the different characters of Cyclops and Corydon. The sea, which is a proper looking-glass for the gigantic son of Neptune, who also constantly dwelt on the shore, was certainly not equally adapted to the face of the little Land-shepherd. The same may be said of the cheese and milk, and numerous herds of Polypheme, exactly suited to his Sicilian situation, and the rude and savage state of the speaker, whose character is admirably supported through the whole eleventh Idyllium of Theocritus. Warton.

Ver. 35, 36. Care,] The only faulty rhymes, care and sheer, perhaps in these poems, where versification is in general so exact and correct. Warton.

Ver. 39. Colin] The name taken by Spenser in his Eclogues, where his mistress is celebrated under that of Rosalinda. P.

Ver. 49. Rosalinda's] This is the Lady with whom Spenser fell violently in love, as soon as he left Cambridge and went into the North; it is uncertain into what family, and in what capacity. Her name is an Anagram, and the letters of which it is composed will make out her true name; for Spenser (says the learned and ingenious Mr. Upton, his best Editor) is an Anagrammatist in many of his names: thus Algrind transposed, is Archbishop Grindal; and Morel is Bishop Elmer. He is supposed to hint at the cruelty and coquetry of his Rosalind in B. 6. of the Fairy Queen, in the character of Mirabella. Warton.

Ver. 73. Where'er you walk, &c.] Very much like some lines in Hudibras, but certainly no resemblance was intended: 'Where'er you tread, your feet shall set | The primrose and the violet; | Nature her charter shall renew, | And take all lives of things from you!' Bowles.

Ver. 84. And headlong, &c.] Pope has carried the idea into extravagance, when he makes the stream not only "listening," but "hang listening in its headlong fall." Mr. Stevens in his MS. notes, quotes Lucan, in a passage where the image is precisely the same, though possibly Pope never saw it: — "de rupe pependit | Abscissa fixus torrens!" But as it is here used, it is too hyperbolical, and only allowable in a very young writer. An idea of this sort will only bear just touching, if I may say so; the mind then does not perceive its violence: if it be brought before the eyes too minutely, it becomes almost ridiculous. This is often the fault of Cowley. Oldham has a passage of the same stamp: "For which the listning streams forgot to run, | And trees lean'd their attentive branches down." How much more judiciously and poetically has Milton given the same idea? "Thirsis, whose artful strains have oft delay'd | The huddling brook to hear his madrigal, | And sweeten'd, &c." Bowles.

IMITATIONS AND VARIATIONS.

Ver. 1. Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar, January: 'A shepherd's boy (no better do him call,) | When Winter's wasteful spight was almost spent, | All in a sun-shine day, as did befall, | Led forth his flock, that had been long ypent.' Bowles.

Ver. 1, 2, 3, 4, were thus printed in the first edition: 'A faithful swain, whom Love had taught to sing, | Bewail'd his fate beside a silver spring; | Where gentle Thames his winding waters leads | Thro' verdant forests, and thro' flow'ry meads'. P.

Ver. 3. Originally thus in the MS. "There to the winds he plain'd his hapless love, | And Amaryllis fill'd the vocal grove." Warburton.

Ver. 8. And Jove consented] "Jupiter et laeto descendet plurimus imbri." Virg. P.

Ver. 15. Nor to the deaf I sing,] "Non canimus surdis, respondent omnia sylvae." Virg. P.

Ver. 23. Where stray ye, Muses, &c.] "Quae nemora, aut qui vos saltus habuere, puellae | Naiades, indigno cum Gallus amore periret? | Nam neque Parnassi vobis juga, nam neque Pindi | Ulla moram fecere, neque Aonia Aganippe." Virg. out of Theocr. P.

Ver. 27. 'Oft in the crystal spring I cast a view, | And equal'd Hylas, if the glass be true; | But since those graces meet my eyes no more, | I shun,' &c. P

Ver. 27. Virgil again, from the Cyclops of Theocritus, "nuper me in littore vidi, | Cum placidum ventis staret mare; non ego Daphnim, | Judice te, metuam, si nunquam fallat imago." P.

Ver. 40. Bequeath'd in death, &c.] Virg. Ecl. ii. "Est mihi disparibus septem compacta cicutis | Fistula, Damoetas dono mihi quam dedit olim, | Et dixit moriens, Te nunc habet ista secundum." P.

Ver. 60. Descending Gods have found Elysium here.] "Habitarunt Di quoque sylvas" — Virg. "Et formosus oves ad flumina pavit Adonis." Idem. P.

Ver. 79, 80. "Your praise the tuneful birds to heav'n shall bear, | And list'ning wolves grow milder as they hear." So the verses were originally written. But the author, young as he was, soon found the absurdity which Spenser himself overlooked, of introducing wolves into England. P.

Ver. 80. And winds shall waft, &c.] "Partem aliquam, venti, divum referatis ad aures?" Virg. P.

Ver. 91. "Me love inflames, nor will his fires allay." P.

Ver. 88. Ye Gods, &c.] "Me tamen urit amor, quis enim modus adsit amori?" Virg. P.

[2:83-89]



A Faithful Swain, whom Love had taught to sing,
Bewail'd his Fate beside a silver Spring;
Where gentle Thames his winding Waters leads
Thro' verdant Forests, and thro' flow'ry Meads.
There while he mourn'd, the Streams forgot to flow,
The Flocks around a dumb Compassion show,
The Naiads wept in ev'ry Wat'ry Bow'r,
And Jove consented in a silent Show'r.

Accept, O Garth, the Muse's early Lays,
That adds this Wreath of Ivy to thy Bays;
Hear what from Love unpractis'd Hearts endure,
From Love, the sole Disease thou canst not cure!

Ye shady Beeches, and ye cooling Streams,
Defence from Phoebus', not from Cupid's Beams;
To you I mourn; nor to the Deaf I sing,
The Woods shall answer, and their Echo ring.
The Hills and Rocks attend my doleful Lay,
Why art thou prouder and more hard than they?
The bleating Sheep with my Complaints agree,
They parch'd with Heat, and I inflam'd by thee.
The sultry Sirius burns the thirsty Plains,
While in thy Heart eternal Winter reigns.

Where stray ye, Muses, in what Lawn or Grove,
While your Alexis pines in hopeless Love?
In those fair Fields where Sacred Isis glides,
Or else where Cam his winding Vales divides?
As in the Crystal Spring I view my Face,
Fresh rising Blushes paint the watry Glass,
But since those Graces please thy Sight no more,
I'll shun the Fountains which I sought before.
Once I was skill'd in ev'ry Herb that grew,
And ev'ry Plant that drinks the Morning Dew;
Ah wretched Shepherd, what avails thy Art,
To cure thy Lambs, but not to heal thy Heart!

Let other Swains attend the rural Care,
Feed fairer Flocks, or richer Fleeces share;
But nigh that Mountain let me tune my Lays,
Embrace my Love, and bind my Brows with Bays.
That Flute is mine which Colin's tuneful Breath
Inspir'd when living, and bequeath'd in Death:
He said; Alexis, take this Pipe, the same
That taught the Groves my Rosalinda's Name:—
Yet soon the Reeds shall hang on yonder Tree,
For ever silent, since despis'd by thee.
O were I made by some transforming Pow'r,
The Captive Bird that sings within thy Bow'r!
Then might my Voice thy list'ning Ears employ,
And I those Kisses he receives, enjoy.

And yet my Numbers please the rural Throng,
Rough Satyrs dance, and Pan applauds the Song:
The Nymphs forsaking ev'ry Cave and Spring,
Their early Fruit, and milk-white Turtles bring;
Each am'rous Nymph prefers her Gifts in vain,
On you their Gifts are all bestow'd again!
For you the Swains their fairest Flow'rs design,
And in one Garland all their Beauties join;
Accept the Wreath which You deserve alone,
In whom all Beauties are compriz'd in One.

See what Delights in Sylvan Scenes appear!
Descending Gods have found Elysium here.
In Woods bright Venus with Adonis stray'd;
And chast Diana haunts the Forest Shade.
Come lovely Nymph, and bless the silent Hours,
When Swains from Sheering seek their nightly Bow'rs;
When weary Reapers quit the sultry Field,
And crown'd with Corn, their Thanks to Ceres yield.
This harmless Grove no lurking Viper hides,
But in my Breast the Serpent Love abides.
Here Bees from Blossoms sip the rosy Dew,
But your Alexis knows no Sweet but you.
Some God conduct you to these blissful Seats,
The mossie Fountains, and the Green Retreats!
Where-e'er you walk, cool Gales shall fan the Glade,
Trees, where you sit, shall crowd into a Shade,
Where-e'er you tread, the blushing Flow'rs shall rise,
And all things flourish where you turn your Eyes.
Oh! how I long with you to pass my Days,
Invoke the Muses, and resound your Praise;
Your Praise the Birds shall chant in ev'ry Grove,
And Winds shall waft it to the Pow'rs above.
But would you sing, and rival Orpheus' Strain,
The wond'ring Forests soon shou'd dance again,
The moving Mountains hear the pow'rful Call,
And headlong Streams hang list'ning in their Fall!

But see, the Shepherds shun the Noon-day Heat,
The lowing Herds to murm'ring Brooks retreat,
To closer Shades the panting Flocks remove,
Ye Gods! and is there no Relief for Love?
But soon the Sun with milder Rays descends
To the cool Ocean, where his Journey ends;
On me Love's fiercer Flames for ever prey,
By Night he scorches, as he burns by Day.

[pp. 731-37]