1713
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Guardian 32 [Allegorical History of Pastoral.]

The Guardian No. 32 (17 April 1713).

Thomas Tickell


In a charming allegory Thomas Tickell, writing anonymously, concludes his series on pastoral by casting Fontenelle, Theocritus, Tasso, and "Amintas" as pastoral figures competing for the hand of Amaryllis. The prize is rewarded to Amintas, who is not, like the others, identified by a note — one would expect him to be identified as Virgil, though perhaps Virgil is suppressed since there is no proper precedent for "British Pastoral."

In the conclusion Ambrose Philips is named the true heir of Amintas and the pastoral tradition, in accordance with Addison's views expressed in Spectator No. 523: "His Heir was called Theocritus, who left his Dominions to Virgil, Virgil left his to his Son Spencer, and Spencer was succeeded by his eldest-born Philips."

Samuel Johnson: "Philips was now favoured by Addison, and by Addison's companions, who were very willing to push him into reputation. The Guardian gave an account of Pastoral, partly critical and partly historical, in which, when the merit of the moderns is compared, Tasso and Guarini are censured for remote thoughts and unnatural refinements; and, upon the whole, the Italians and French are all excluded from rural poetry, and the pipe of the Pastoral Muse is transmitted by lawful inheritance from Theocritus to Virgil, from Virgil to Spenser, and from Spenser to Philips" "Life of Philips" in Lives of the English Poets (1779-81); ed. Hill (1905) 3:319.

It is possible that the allegory aims not only at foreign exemplars, but at recent English pastoralists who emulated them: William Walsh (too French), John Oldham (too rustic), Alexander Pope (too formal), John Oldmixon (translator of Tasso's Aminta), Ambrose Philips (just right), and William Diaper (who wrote piscatories). Alexander Pope extracted his witty revenge for being slighted in these essays by anonymously submitting one of his own, Guardian No. 40. Thomas Tickell's allegory was later versified by Sir William Jones in "Arcadia, a Pastoral Poem" (written 1762, published 1772). The allegory was engraved as the frontispiece for the Massachusetts Magazine 3 (July 1791).




Having delivered my Thoughts upon Pastoral Poetry, after a Didactic manner, in some foregoing Papers, wherein I have taken such Hints from the Criticks as I thought rational, and departed from them according to the best of my Judgment, and substituted others in their Place, I shall close the whole with the following Fable or Allegory.

In ancient Times there dwelt in a pleasant Vale of Arcadia a Man of very ample Possessions, named Menalcas; who, deriving his Pedigree from the God Pan, kept very strictly up to the Rules of the Pastoral Life, as it was in the Golden Age. He had a Daughter, his only Child, called Amaryllis. She was a Virgin of a most enchanting Beauty, of a most easie and unaffected Air; but having been bred up wholly in the Country, was bashful to the last Degree. She had a Voice that was exceeding sweet, yet had a Rusticity in its Tone, which however to most who heard her seemed an additional Charm. Though in her Conversation in general she was very engaging, yet to her Lovers, who were numerous, she was so coy, that many left her in Disgust after a tedious Courtship, and matched themselves where they were better received. For Menalcus had not only resolved to take a Son in Law, who should inviolably maintain the Customs of his Family; but had received one Evening, as he walked in the Fields, a Pipe of an Antique Form from a Faun, or, as some say, from Oberon the Fairy, with a particular Charge not to bestow his Daughter upon any one, who could not play the same Tune upon it as at that time he entertained him with.

When the Time that he had designed to give her in Marriage was near at hand, he published a Decree, whereby he invited the neighbouring Youths to make Trial of this Musical Instrument, with Promise that the Victor should possess his Daughter, on Condition that the Vanquished should submit to what Punishment he thought fit to inflict. Those who were not yet discouraged, and had high Conceits of their own Worth, appeared on the appointed Day, in a Dress and Equipage suitable to their respective Fancies.

The Place of Meeting was a flowery Meadow, through which a clear Stream murmured in many irregular Meanders. The Shepherds made a spacious Ring for the contending Lovers; and in one Part of it there sate upon a little Throne of Turf; under an Arch of Eglantine and Wood-bines, the Father of the Maid, and at his Right Hand the Damsel crowned with Roses and Lillies. She wore a flying Robert of a slight green Stuff; she had her Sheep-hook in one Hand, and the fatal Pipe in the other.

The First who approached her was a Youth of a graceful Presence and courtly Air, but drest in a richer Habit than had ever been seen in Arcadia. He wore a Crimson Vest, cut indeed after the Shepherd's Fashion, but so enriched with Embroidery, and sparkling with Jewels, that the Eyes of the Spectators were diverted from considering the Mode of the Garment by the dazling of the Ornaments. His Head was covered with a Plume of Feathers and his Sheep-hook glittered with Gold and Enamel. He accosted the Damsel after a very gallant manner, and told her, [vid. Fontenelle] "Madam, you needed not to consult your Glass, to adorn your self to Day; you may see the Greatness of your Beauty in the Number of your Conquests." She having never heard any Compliment so polite, could give him no Answer, but presented the Pipe. He applied it to his Lips, and began a Tune which he set off with so many Graces and Quavers, that the Shepherds and Shepherdesses (who had paired themselves in order to dance) could not follow it; as indeed it required great Skill and Regularity of Steps, which they had never been bred to. Menalcas ordered him to be stript of his costly Robes, and to be clad in a plain Russet Weed, and confined him to tend the Flocks in the Vallies for a Year and a Day.

The Second that appeared was in a very different Garb. He was cloathed in a Garment of rough Goat-skins, his Hair was matted, his Beard neglected; in his Person uncouth, and awkward in his Gait. He came up fleering to the Nymph, and told her, [vid. Theocritus] "He had hugg'd his Lambs, and kist his young kids, but he hoped to kiss one that was sweeter." The Fair One blushed with Modesty and Anger, and prayed secretly against him as she gave him the Pipe. He snatched it from her, but with some Difficulty made it sound; which was in such harsh and jarring Notes, that the Shepherds cried one and all, that he understood no Musick. He was immediately ordered to the most craggy Parts of Arcadia, to keep the Goats, and commanded never to touch a Pipe any more.

The Third that advanced, appeared in Cloaths that were so strait and uneasie to him, that he seemed to move with Pain. He marched up to the Maiden with a thoughtful Look and stately Pace, and said, [vid. Tasso] "Divine Amaryllis, you wear not those Roses to improve your Beauty, but to make them ashamed." As she did not comprehend his Meaning, she presented the Instrument without Reply. The Tune that he played was so intricate and perplexing, that the Shepherds stood stock still, like People astonished and confounded. In vain did he plead that it was the Perfection of Musick, and composed by the most skilful Master in Hesperia. Menalcas finding that he was a Stranger, hospitably took Compassion on him, and delivered him to an old Shepherd, who was ordered to get him Cloaths that would fit him, and teach him to speak plain.

The Fourth that step'd forwards was young Amintas, the most beautiful of all the Arcadian Swains, and secretly beloved by Amaryllis. He wore that Day the same Colours as the Maid for whom he sighed. He moved towards her with an easie but unassured Air; she blushed as he came near her, and when she gave him the Fatal Present, they both trembled, but neither could speak. Having secretly breathed his Vows to the Gods, he poured forth such melodious Notes, that though they were a little wild and irregular, they filled every Heart with Delight. The Swains immediately mingled in the Dance, and the old Shepherds affirmed, that they had often heard such Musick by Night, which they imagined to be played by some of the Rural Deities. The good old Man leaped from his Throne, and after he had embraced him, presented him to his Daughter, which caused a general Acclamation.

While they were in the midst of their Joy, they were surprized with a very odd Appearance. A Person in a blue Mantle, crown'd with Sedges and Rushes, step'd into the middle of the Ring. He had an Angling-Rod in his Hand, a Pannier upon his Back, and a poor meagre Wretch in wet Cloaths carried some Oysters before him. Being asked whence he came, and what he was? He told them he was come to invite Amaryllis from the Plains to the Sea-Shore, that his Substance consisted in Sea-calves, and that he was acquainted with the Nereids and the Naiads. Art thou acquainted with the Naiads? said Menalcas; To them then shalt thou return. The Shepherds immediately hoisted him up as an Enemy to Arcadia, and plunged him in the River, where he sunk, and was never heard of since.

Amyntas and Amaryllis lived a long and happy Life, and governed the Vales of Arcadia. Their Generation was very long-lived, there having been but four Descents in above two thousand Years. His Heir was called Theocritus, who left his Dominions to Virgil, Virgil left his to his Son Spencer, and Spencer was succeeded by his eldest-born Philips.


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