1714
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Shepherd's Week III. Wednesday; or, the Dumps.

The Shepherd's Week. In Six Pastorals. By Mr. Gay.

John Gay


A soliloquy: crossed in love, Sparabella deliberates suicide in phrases beyond the bounds of pastoral decorum: "Farewell ye Woods, ye Meads, ye Streams that flow; | A sudden Death shall rid me of my Woe. | This Penknife keen my Windpipe shall divide.— | What, shall I fall as squeaking Pigs have dy'd! | No — To some Tree this Carcass I'll suspend.— | But worrying Curs find such untimely End!" The most prominent source is Virgil's Eclogue VIII.

Thomas Purney: "I would e'en observe the Manner of the Fellows and Wenches in the Country, and put down every thing that I observ'd them act; as Mr. GAY has very well done; and then we shall have at least this Pleasure, of seeing how exactly the Copy and the Original agree; which in the same that we receive from such a Picture as show's us the Face of a Man we know" Full Enquiry into the True Nature of Pastoral" (1717) 35.

E. K. Chambers: "The satirical design is evident enough enough in the affected use of obsolete words, in the absurd bumpkin nomenclature, Buxoma and Blouzelind, Clumsilis and Hobnelia. But Gay's poetic insight was too much for him. He had a true insight into the picturesque elements of rural life, a wide knowledge of country customs and country superstitions. And so, though only half intending it, he produced no mere parody, but a genuine work of pastoral art, the nearest approach to a realistic pastoral which our literature had yet seen" English Pastorals (1906) xlvii.

The titles mentioned in the notes are by Thomas D'Urfey (1653-1723); William D. Ellis, "Thomas D'Urfey, The Pope-Philips Quarrel, and The Shepherd's Week" (1959) argues that throughout the burlesque is aimed as much at D'Urfey as at Philips. "Ray" is the naturalist John Ray, author of A Collection of English Words not generally used (1674, 1691).

John Gay's Notes:

"Dumps," or "Dumbs," made use of to express a fit of the Sullens. Some have pretended that it is derived from Dumops a King of Egypt, that built a Pyramid and dy'd of Melancholy. So Mopes after the same Manner is thought to have come from Merops, another Egyptian King who dy'd of the same Distemper; but our English Antiquaries have conjectured that Dumps, which is, a grievous Heaviness of Spirits, comes from the Word Dumplin, the heaviest kind of Pudding that is eaten in this Country, much used in Norfolk, and other Counties of England.

5. Immemor Herbarum quos ert mirata juvenca | Certantes fuorum stupefactae carmine Lynces; | Et mutata suos requierunt flumina cursus. Virg. [Ec. VIII].

9. Tu mihi seu magni superas jam saxa timavi, | Sive oram Illyrici legis aquoris—

11. An Opera written by this Author, called the World in the Sun, or the Kingdom of Birds; he is also famous for his Song on the New-market Horse Race, and several others that are sung by the British Swains.

17. Meed, an old word for Fame or Renown.

18. — Hanc sine tempora circum | Inter victrices ederam tibi serpere lauros.

25. Incumbens tereti Damon sic coepit Olivae.

33. "Shent," an old word signifying Hurt or harmed.

37. Mopsa Nisa datur. quid non speremus Amantes? Virg.

49. Nec sum adeo informis, nuper me in Littore vidi. Virg.

53. Alba ligurtra cadunt, vaccinia nigra leguntur. Virg.

59. Jungentur jam Grypha equis; aevoque sequenti | Cum canibus timidi venient ad pocula Damae. Virg.

67. Ante leves ergo pascentur in aethere Cervie | Et freta destiuent nudos in littore Pisces — Virg.

89. "To ken." Scire. Chaucero, to Ken; and Kende notus. A.S. cunnan. Goth. Kunnan. Germanis Keunen. Danis Kiende. Islandis Kunna. Belgis Kennen. This Word is of general use, but not very common, though not unknown to the Vulgar. Ken for prospicere is well known and used to discover by the Eye. Ray, F.R.S.

Nunc scio quid sit Amor &c. | Crudelis mater magnis an puer improbus ille? | Improbus ille puer, crudelis tu quoque mater. Virg.

99. — vivite Sylvae | Praeceps aerii specula de montis in undas | Deferar. Virg.



SPARABELLA
The Wailings of a Maiden I recite,
A Maiden fair, that Sparabella hight.
Such Strains ne'er warble in the Linnet's Throat,
Nor the gay Goldfinch chaunts so sweet a Note.
No Mag-pye chatter'd, nor the painted Jay,
No Ox was heard to low, nor Ass to bray.
No rusling Breezes play'd the Leaves among,
While thus her Madrigal the Damsel sung.

A while, O D—y, lend an Ear or twain,
Nor, though in homely Guise, my Verse disdain;
Whether thou seek'st new Kingdoms in the Sun,
Whether thy Muse does at New-Market run,
Or does with Gossips at a Feast regale,
And heighten her Conceits with Sack and Ale,
Or else at Wakes with Joan and Hodge rejoice,
Where D—y's Lyricks swell in every Voice;
Yet suffer me, thou Bard of wond'rous Meed,
Amid thy Bays to weave this rural Weed.

Now the Sun drove adown the western Road,
And Oxen laid at rest forget the Goad,
The Clown fatigu'd trudg'd homeward with his Spade,
Across the Meadows stretch'd the lengthen'd Shade:
When Sparabella pensive and forlorn,
Alike with yearning Love and Labour worn,
Lean'd on her Rake, and strait with doleful Guise
Did this sad Plaint in moanful Notes devise.

Come Night as dark as Pitch, surround my Head,
From Sparabella Bumkinet is fled;
The Ribbon that his val'rous Cudgel won,
Last Sunday happier Clumsilis put on.
Sure, if he'd Eyes (but Love, they say, has none)
I whilome by that Ribbon had been known.
Ah, Well-a-day! I'm shent with baneful Smart,
For with the Ribbon he bestow'd his Heart.
My plaint, ye Lasses, with this Burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a Damsel dies a Maid.

Shall heavy Clumsilis with me compare?
View this, ye Lovers, and like me despair.
Her blubber'd Lip by smutty Pipes is worn,
And in her Breath tobacco Whiffs are born;
The cleanly Cheese-press she could never turn,
Her aukward Fist did ne'er employ the Churn;
If e'er she brew'd, the Drink would strait go sour,
Before it ever felt the Thunder's Pow'r:
No Huswifry the dowdy Creature knew;
My plaint, ye Lasses, with this Burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a Damsel dies a Maid.

I've often seen my Visage in yon Lake,
Nor are my Features of the homeliest Make.
Though Clumsilis may boast a whiter Dye,
Yet the black Sloe turns in my rolling Eye;
And fairest Blossoms drop with ev'ry Blast,
But the brown Beauty will like Hollies last.
Her wan Complexion's like the wither'd Leek,
While Katherine Pears adorn my ruddy Cheek.
Yet she, alas! the witless Lout hath won,
And by her Gain, poor Sparabell's undone!
Let Hares and Hounds in coupling Straps unite,
The clocking Hen make Friendship with the Kite,
Let the Fox simply wear the Nuptial Noose,
And join in Wedlock with the wadling Goose;
For Love hath brought a stranger thing to pass,
My plaint, ye Lasses, with this Burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a Damsel dies a Maid.

Sooner shall Cats disport in Waters clear,
And speckled Mackrels graze the Meadows fair,
Sooner shall Scriech Owls bask in Sunny Day,
And the slow Ass on Trees, like Squirrels, play,
Sooner shall Snails on insect Pinions rove,
Than I forget my Shepherd's wonted Love!
My plaint, ye Lasses, with this Burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a Damsel dies a Maid.

Ah! didst thou know what Proffers I withstood,
When late I met the Squire in yonder Wood!
To me he sped, regardless of his Game,
While all my Cheek was glowing red with Shame;
My Lip he kiss'd, and prais'd my healthful Look,
Then from his Purse of Silk a Guinea took,
Into my Hand he forc'd the tempting Gold,
While I with modest struggling broke his Hold.
He swore that Dick in Liv'ry strip'd with lace,
Should wed me soon, to keep me from Disgrace;
But I nor Footman priz'd nor golden Fee,
For what is Lace or Gold compar'd to thee?
My plaint, ye Lasses, with this Burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a Damsel dies a Maid.

Now plain I ken whence Love his Rise begun.
Sure he was born some bloody Butcher's Son,
Bred up in Shambles, where our Younglings slain,
Erst taught him Mischief and to sport with Pain.
The Father only silly Sheep annoys,
The Son the sillier Shepherdess destroys.
Does Son or Father greater Mischief do?
The Sire is cruel, so the Son is too.
My plaint, ye Lasses, with this Burthen aid,
'Tis hard so true a Damsel dies a Maid.

Farewell ye Woods, ye Meads, ye Streams that flow;
A sudden Death shall rid me of my Woe.
This Penknife keen my Windpipe shall divide.—
What, shall I fall as squeaking Pigs have dy'd!
No — To some Tree this Carcass I'll suspend.—
But worrying Curs find such untimely End!
I'll speed me to the Pond, where the high Stool
On the long Plank hangs o'er the muddy Pool,
That Stool, the dread of ev'ry scolding Quean.—
Yet, sure a Lover should not dye so mean!
There plac'd aloft, I'll rave and rail by Fits,
Though all the Parish say I've lost my Wits;
And thence, if Courage holds, myself I'll throw,
And quench my Passion in the Lake below.
Ye Lasses, cease your Burthen, cease to moan,
And, by my Case forewarn'd, go mind your own.

The Sun was set; the Night came on a-pace,
And falling Dews bewet around the Place,
The Bat takes airy Rounds on leathern Wings,
And the hoarse Owl his woful Dirges sings;
The prudent Maiden deems it now too late,
And 'till to Morrow comes, defers her Fate.

[pp. 21-28]