1709
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Autumn. The Third Pastoral, or Hylas and Aegon.

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 third, comic, pastoral is addressed to the aging Restoration wit William Wycherley and treats themes of absence and mutability. Pope later excised the male love by altering "Thyrsis" to "Delia."

William Wycherley to Alexander Pope: "Your pastoral Muse outshines in her modest and natural dress all Apollo's court-ladies, in their more artful, laboured, and costly finery. Therefore I am glad to find by your letter you design your country-beauty of a Muse shall appear at court and in public to outshine the farded, lewd, confident, affected town-dowdies, who aim at being honoured only to their shame: but her artful innocence, on the contrary, will gain more honour as she becomes public, and, in spite of custom, will bring modesty again into fashion, or at least make her sister-rivals of this age blush for spite, if not for shame" 13 May 1708; Correspondence, ed. Whitwell Elwin (1871) 1:36.

Alexander Pope to William Wycherley: "You, like a true godfather, engage on my part for much more than I can perform. My pastoral Muse, like other country girls, is but put out of countenance, by what you courtiers say to her. Yet I hope you would not deceive me too far, as knowing that a young scribbler's vanity needs no recruits from abroad: for nature, like an indulgent mother, kindly takes care to supply her sons with as much of their own, as is necessary for their satisfaction. If my verses should meet with a few flying commendations, Virgil has taught me that a young author has not too much reason to be pleased with them, when he considers that the natural consequence of praise is envy and calumny: 'Si ultra placitum lauderit, baccare frontem | Cingite, ne vait mala lingua futuro'" 20 May 1709; Correspondence, ed. Whitwell Elwin (1871) 1:39.

Samuel Johnson: "To charge these Pastorals with want of invention is to require what never was intended. The imitations are so ambitiously frequent that the writer evidently means rather to shew his literature than his wit. It is surely sufficient for an author of sixteen not only to be able to copy the poems of antiquity with judicious selection, but to have obtained sufficient power of language and skill in metre to exhibit a series of versification, which had in English poetry no precedent, nor has since had an imitation" "Life of Pope" in Lives of the English Poets (1779-81); ed. Hill (1905) 3:224-25.

Joseph Warton: "It has been my fortune, from my way of life, to have seen many compositions of youths of sixteen years old, far beyond these Pastorals in point of genius and imagination, though not perhaps of correctness. Their excellence, indeed, might be owing to having had such a precedent as Pope" Life of Pope in Works (1797) 1:xv.

Charles Burton: "Of the precocity of his talents, his pastorals, written at the age of sixteen, leave no doubt. In point of polished versification it appears to us that he never exceeded his third pastoral, in all his subsequent performances. His genius possessed rather the subtility of discrimination, and the playfulness of delicacy, than the loftiness and majesty of conception. He has left specimens of high excellence in various kinds. The pastorals are the best of that class, strictly considered, since the time of Virgil; perhaps, the Calendar of Spenser may demand exception" in The Bardiad; a Poem (1823) 178-79n.

Edinburgh Magazine: "Though written by the author at sixteen, they are, I really think, equal in point of execution to those of Virgil. The delicacy and propriety of sentiment and imagery, the felicitous economy of expression to the harmony of numbers which they exhibit, are certainly unsurpassed. When the age of the poet is taken into account, they are altogether surprising" "Marginal Notes" NS 17 (July 1825) 37.

Richard Foster Jones: "The poems also reveal an even closer conformity to the structure of the neo-classical pastoral than Walsh's. Taking the idea of a time cycle from Spenser's Shepheardes Calender, Pope conceived the plan of naming each poem after a season and of introducing descriptive details appropriate to the season. This plan necessitated the emphasizing of the setting as opposed to the soliloquy or dialogue put in the mouth of the shepherds. Not only was the season definitely determined by the description but even the time of day was suggested, and the poems so arranged that as the seasons came in proper order, the time of day moved from morning to noon, evening, and night. Even though the scene and time are obvious enough in the poems themselves, in the edition of his poems that appeared in 1736, Pope thought it necessary to call attention in footnotes to this important element in the same manner employed to designate scenes in a drama" "Eclogue Types in English Poetry of the Eighteenth Century" JEGP 24 (1925) 39.

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

This Pastoral consists of two parts, like the viiith of Virgil: The Scene, a Hill; the Time at Sun-set. P

His [Wycherley's] intrigues with the Duchess of Cleveland, his marriage with the Countess of Drogheda, Charles the Second's displeasure on this marriage, his debts and distresses, and other particulars of his life, are well related by Dennis in a Letter to Major Pack, 1720. In Dennis's collection of Letters, published in two volumes, 1721, to which Mr. Pope subscribed, Lord Lansdown has drawn his character, as a Writer, in an elegant manner; chiefly with a view of shewing the impropriety of an epithet given to him by Lord Rochester, who called him Slow Wycherley; for that, notwithstanding his pointed wit, and forcible expression, he composed with facility and haste. Warton.

Ver. 7. Thou, whom the Nine,] Mr. Wycherley, a famous author of Comedies; of which the most celebrated were the Plain-Dealer and Country-Wife. He was a writer of infinite spirit, satire, and wit. The only objection made to him was, that he had too much. However, he was followed in the same way by Mr. Congreve, tho' with a little more correctness. P.

Surely with much more correctness, taste, and judgment. Warton.

Ver. 8. The art of Terence, and Menander's fire,] This line alludes to that famous character given of Terence, by Caesar: "Tu quoque, tu in summis, O dimidiate Menander, / Poneris, et merito, puri sermonis amator: | Lenibus atque utinam scriptis adjuncta foret ttis Comica." So that the judicious critic sees he should have said — with Menander's fire. For what the Poet meant, was, that his friend had joined to Terence's art, what Caesar thought wanting in Terence, namely, the vis comica of Menander. Besides, — "and Menander's fire", is making that the Characteristic of Menander which was not. He was distinguished for having art and comic spirit in conjunction, and Terence having only the first part, is called the "half of Menander." Warburton.

Ver. 9. Whose sense instructs us,] He was always very careful in his encomiums not to fall into ridicule, the deserved fate of weak and prostitute flatterers, and which they rarely escape. For sense, he would willingly have said moral; propriety required it. But this dramatic Poet's moral was remarkably faulty. His plays are all shamefully profligate both in the Dialogue and Action. Warburton.

Ver. 25.] This rich assemblage of very pleasing pastoral images, is yet excelled by Shenstone's beautiful Pastoral Ballad in four parts. Warton.

Ver. 43. Not bubbling] The turn of these four lines is evidently borrowed from Drummond of Hawthornden, a charming but neglected Poet. He was born 1585, and died 1649. His verses are as smooth as Waller's, whom he preceded many years, having written a poem to King James, 1617; whereas Waller's first composition was to Charles I, 1625. His Sonnets are exquisitely beautiful and correct. He was one of our first, and best imitators of the Italian Poets, and Milton had certainly read and admired him, as appears by many passages that might be quoted for that purpose. The four lines mentioned above follow: "To virgins flow'rs, to sun-burnt earth the rain, | To mariners fair winds amid the main, | Cool shades to pilgrims, whom hot glances burn, | Are not so pleasing as thy blest return."

And afterwards again our author borrows in Abelard; "The grief was common, common were the cries." I will just add, that Drayton's Pastorals, and his Nymphidia, do not seem to be attended to so much as they deserve. Warton.

Ver. 68. While she with garlands hung she bending bows:] This line forcibly recalls the beautiful description of the "Poor Ophelia." "There with fantastic garlands did she come, | Of crow-flow'rs, nettles, daisies, and long-purples; | There on the pendant weeds, her coronet weeds, | Clamb'ring to hang, an envious sliver broke." Steevens.

Ver. 97. Thus sung.] Among the multitude of English Poets who wrote Pastorals, Fairfax, to whom our Versification is thought to be so much indebted, ought to be mentioned. He wrote ten or twelve Eclogues after the accession of James I. They were like those of the Mantuan and Spenser, allegorical, and alluded to the manners and characters of the times, and contained many satyrical strokes against the King and his Court. They were lost in the fire that consumed the Banquetting House at Whitehall: but it is said that Mr. W. Fairfax, his son, recovered them from his father's papers; the fourth of them was published by Mrs. Cooper in the Muses Library, 1737. Warton.

I wonder Dr. Warton should have omitted Browne's Britannia's Pastorals, an almost forgotten work, but containing some images of rural beauty which Milton did not disdain sometimes to copy. See T. Warton's edition of Milton's smaller poems, page 53. Bowles.

Ver. 98, 100.] There is a little inaccuracy here; the first line makes the time after sun-set; the second, before. Warburton.

IMITATIONS AND VARIATIONS.

Ver. 37. "Aurea durae | Mala ferant quercus; narcisso floreat alnus, | Pinguia corticibus sudent electra myricae." Virg. Ecl. viii. P.

Ver. 43, &c. "Quale sopor fessis in gramine, quale per aestum | Dulcis aquae saliente sitim restinguere rivo." Ecl. v. P.

Ver. 48. Originally thus in the MS. "With him through Lybia's burning plains I'll go, | On Alpine mountains tread th' eternal snow: | Yet feel no heat but what our loves impart, | And dread no coldness but in Thyrsis' heart." Warburton.

Ver. 52. "An qui amant, ipsi sibi somnia fingunt?" Id. viii. P.

Ver. 82. Or what ill eyes] "Nescio quis teneros oculus mihi fascinat agnos." P.

Ver. 89. "Nunc scio quid sit Amor: duris in cotibus illum," &c. P.

This from Virgil is much inferior to the passage in Theocritus, from whence it is taken. Warton.

[2:90-96]



Beneath the Shade a spreading Beech displays,
Hylas and Aegon sung their rural Lays;
To whose Complaints the list'ning Forests bend,
While one his Mistress mourns, and one his Friend:
Ye Mantuan Nymphs, your sacred Succour bring;
Hylas and Aegon's rural Lays I sing.

Thou, whom the Nine with Plautus' Wit inspire,
The Art of Terence, and Menander's Fire;
Whose Sense instructs us, and whose Humour charms,
Whose Judgment sways us, and whose Rapture warms!
Attend the Muse, tho' low her Numbers be,
She sings of Friendship, and she sings to thee.

The setting Sun now shone serenely bright,
And fleecy Clouds were streak'd with Purple Light;
When tuneful Hylas with melodious Moan
Taught Rocks to weep, and made the Mountains groan.

Go gentle Gales, and bear my Sighs away!
To Thyrsis Ear the tender Notes convey!
As some sad Turtle his lost Love deplores,
And with deep Murmurs fills the sounding Shores;
Thus, far from Thyrsis, to the Winds I mourn,
Alike unheard, unpity'd, and forlorn.

Go gentle Gales, and bear my Sighs along!
For her, the feather'd Quires neglect their Song;
For her, the Lymes their pleasing Shades deny,
For her, the Lillies hang their heads and dye.
Ye Flow'rs that droop, forsaken by the Spring,
Ye Birds, that left by Summer, cease to sing,
Ye Trees that fade when Autumn-Heats remove,
Say, is not Absence Death to those who love?

Go gentle Gales, and bear my sighs away!
Curs'd be the Fields that cause my Thyrsis's Stay;
Fade ev'ry Blossom, wither ev'ry Tree,
Dye ev'ry Flow'r, and perish All, but He.
What have I said? — where-e'er my Thyrsis flies,
Let Spring attend, and sudden Flow'rs arise;
Let opening Roses knotted Oaks adorn,
And liquid Amber drop from ev'ry Thorn.

Go gentle Gales, and bear my Sighs along!
The Birds shall cease to tune their Ev'ning Song,
The Winds to breathe, the waving Woods to move,
And Streams to murmur, ere I cease to love.
Not bubling Fountains to the thirsty Swain,
Not balmy Sleep to Lab'rers faint with Pain,
Not Show'rs to Larks, nor Sunshine to the Bee,
Are half so charming as thy Sight to me.

Go gentle Gales, and bear my Sighs away!
Come Thyrsis, come, ah why this long Delay?
Thro' Rocks and Caves the Name of Thyrsis sounds,
Thyrsis, each Cave and echoing Rock rebounds.
Ye Pow'rs, what pleasing Frensie sooths my Mind!
Do Lovers dream, or is my Shepherd kind?
He comes, my Thyrsis comes! — Now cease my Lay,
And cease ye Gales to bear my Sighs away!

Next Aegon sung, while Windsor Groves admir'd;
Rehearse, ye Muses, what your selves inspir'd.

Resound ye Hills, resound my mournful Strain!
Of perjur'd Doris, dying I'll complain:
Here where the Mountains less'ning as they rise,
Lose the low Vales, and steal into the Skies:
While lab'ring Oxen, spent with Toil and Heat,
In their loose Traces from the Field retreat;
While curling Smokes from Village-Tops are seen,
And the fleet Shades glide o'er the dusky Green.

Resound ye Hills, resound my mournful Lay!
Beneath yon Poplar oft we past the Day:
Oft on the Rind I carv'd her Am'rous Vows,
While She with Garlands hung the bending Boughs:
The Garlands fade, the Vows are worn away;
So dies her Love, and so my Hopes decay.

Resound ye Hills, resound my mournful Strain!
Now bright Arcturus glads the teeming Grain,
Now Golden Fruits on loaded Branches shine,
And grateful Clusters swell with floods of Wine;
Now blushing Berries paint the fertile Grove;
Just Gods! shall all things yield returns but Love?

Resound ye Hills, resound my mournful Lay!
The Shepherds cry, "Thy Flocks are left a Prey"—
Ah! what avails it me, the Flocks to keep,
Who lost my Heart while I preserv'd my Sheep.
Pan came, and ask'd, what Magick caus'd my Smart,
Or what Ill Eyes malignant Glances dart?
What Eyes but hers, alas, have Pow'r on me!
Oh mighty Love, what Magick is like thee!

Resound ye Hills, resound my mournful Strains!
I'll fly from Shepherds, Flocks, and flow'ry Plains,—
From Shepherds, Flocks; and Plains, I may remove,
Forsake Mankind, and all the World — but Love!
I know thee Love! wild as the raging Main,
More fell than Tygers on the Lybian Plain;
Thou wert from Aetna's burning Entrails torn,
Got by fierce Whirlwinds, and in Thunder born!

Resound ye Hills, resound my mournful Lay!
Farewell ye Woods! adieu the Light of Day!
One Leap from yonder Cliff shall end my Pains.
No more ye Hills, no more resound my Strains!

Thus sung the Shepherds till th' Approach of Night,
The Skies yet blushing with departing Light,
When falling Dews with Spangles deck'd the Glade,
And the low Sun had lengthen'd ev'ry Shade.

[pp. 738-44]