Alexander Chalmers: "Soon after his return to England, he published his edition of Virgil in English and Latin, the Aeneid translated by Pitt, and the Eclogues and Georgics by himself, who also contributed the notes on the whole. Into this publication, he introduced Warburton's Dissertation on the sixth Aeneid: a commentary on the character of Iapis by Atterbury, and on the shield of Aeneas by Whitehead, the laureat, originally published in Dodsley's Museum; and three Essays on Pastoral, Didactic and Epic Poetry written by himself. Much of this valuable work, begun in 1748-9, was printed when he was abroad, and the whole completed in 1753. It is unnecessary to add that his share in the translation, his notes, and especially his Essays, raised him to a very high reputation among the scholars and critics of his age. The second edition, which appeared a few years after, was much improved" Works of the English Poets (1810) 18: 147.
Argument: "To reward the veteran soldiers that conquered Brutus and Cassius at the battle of Philippi, Augustus distributed amongst them the lands of Cremona and Mantua: Virgil's estate was seized among the rest, but he recovered it by the interest of Pollio, who warmly recommended him to the emperor. This eclogue was written on this occasion out of gratitude to Augustus. Some commentators, fond of allegorical interpretations, imagine that by the names of the two mistresses Amaryllis and Galatea, are meant Rome and Mantua; but this interpretation cannot justly be supported. Dr. Trapp very ingeniously conjectures, that Virgil insinuates his old mistress Galatea was of Brutus's party; and his new one Amaryllis of Octavius's; and would suppose, that by changing mistresses he hints at his changing parties; and in consequence of that, at his leaving Mantua, and going to Rome. Let the reader consider the following verses, in which he gives the reason of that conduct. 'Namque, fatebor enim, dum me Galatea tenebat, | Nec spes libertatis erat, nec cura peculi. | Quamvis multa meis exiret victima septis, | Pinguis et ingratae premeretur caseus urbi, | Non unquam gravis aere domum mihi dextra redibat" 1:51.
John Dryden: "After all, I must confess that the Boorish Dialect of Theocritus has a secret charm in it, which the Roman Language cannot imitate, though Virgil has drawn it down as low as possibly he cou'd; as in the 'Cujum pecus,' and some other words, for which he was so unjustly blam'd by the bad Criticks of his Age, who cou'd not see the Beauties of that 'merum Rus,' which the Poet describ'd in those Expressions. But Theocritus may justly be preferr'd as the Original, without injury to Virgil, who modesty contents himself with the second place, and glories only in being the first who transplanted Pastoral into his own Country; and brought it there to bear as happily as the Cherry-trees which Lucullus brought from Pontus" Works of Virgil (1697) 3.
In beechen shades, you Tit'rus, stretcht along,
Tune to the slender reed your sylvan song;
We leave our country's bounds, our much-lov'd plains,
We from our country fly, unhappy swains!
You, Tit'rus, in the groves at leisure laid,
Teach Amaryllis' name to every shade.
O 'twas a god these blessings, swain, bestow'd,
For still by me he shall be deem'd a god!
For him the tend'rest of my fleecy breed
Shall oft in solemn sacrifices bleed.
He gave my oxen, as thou see'st, to stray,
And me at ease my fav'rite strains to play.
Nay, mine's not envy, swain, but glad surprize,
O'er all our fields such scenes of rapine rise!
And lo! sad part'ner of the general care,
Weary and faint I drive my goats afar,
While scarcely this my leading hand sustains,
Tir'd with the way, and recent from her pains;
For mid' yon tangled hazles as we past,
On the bare flints her hapless twins she cast,
The hopes and promise of my ruin'd fold!
These ills prophetic signs have oft foretold;
Oft from yon hollow tree th' hoarse raven's croak,
And heav'n's quick lightning on my blasted oak:
O I was blind these warnings not to see!—
But tell me, Tit'rus, who this god may be?
The city men call Rome, unskilful clown,
I thought resembled this our humble town;
Where, Meliboeus, with our fleecy care,
We shepherds to the markets oft repair.
So like their dams I kidlings wont to call,
So dogs with whelps compar'd, so great with small:
But she o'er other cities lifts her head,
As lofty cypresses low shrubs exceed.
And what to Rome could Tit'rus' steps persuade?
'Twas Freedom call'd; and I, tho' slow, obey'd.
She came at last, tho' late she blest my sight,
When age had silver'd o'er my beard with white;
But ne'er approach'd till my revolting breast
Had for a new exchang'd its wonted guest:
There Amaryllis reigns; yet sure 'tis true,
While Galatea did my soul subdue,
Careless I liv'd of freedom and of gain,
And frequent victims thinn'd my folds in vain;
Tho' to th' ungrateful town my cheese I sold,
Yet still I bore not back th' expected gold.
Oft, Amaryllis, I with wonder heard
Thy vows to heav'n in soft distress preferr'd.
With wonder oft thy lingering fruits survey'd;
Nor knew for whom the bending branches stay'd:
'Twas Tit'rus was away — for thee detain'd
The pines, the shrubs, the bubbling springs complain'd.
What could I do? where else expect to find
One glimpse of freedom, or a god so kind?
There I that youth beheld, for whom shall rise
Each year my votive incense to the skies.
'Twas there this gracious answer bless'd mine ears,
Swains feed again your herds, and yoke your steers.
Happy old man! then still thy farms restor'd,
Enough for thee, shall bless thy frugal board.
What tho' rough stones the naked soil o'erspread,
Or marshy bulrush rear its watry head,
No foreign food thy teeming ewes shall fear,
No touch contagious spread its influence here.
Happy old man! here mid' the custom'd streams
And sacred springs, you'll shun the scorching beams,
While from yon willow-fence, thy pastures' bound,
The bees that suck their flowery stores around,
Shall sweetly mingle, with the whispering boughs,
Their lulling murmurs, and invite repose:
While from steep rocks the pruner's song is heard;
Nor the soft-cooing dove, thy fav'rite bird,
Mean while shall cease to breathe her melting strain,
Nor turtles from th' aerial elm to plain.
Sooner the stag in fields of air shall feed,
Seas leave on naked shores the scaly breed,
The Parthian and the German climates change,
This Arar drink, and that near Tigris range,
Than e'er, by stealing time effac'd, shall part
My patron's image, from my grateful heart.
But we far hence to distant climes shall go,
O'er Afric's burning sands, or Scythia's snow,
Where roars Oaxis, or where seas embrace,
Dividing from the world, the British race.
Ah! shall I never once again behold,
When many a year in tedious round has roll'd,
My native seats? — Ah! ne'er with ravisht thought
Gaze on my little realm, and turf-built cot?
What! must these rising crops barbarians share?
These well-till'd fields become the spoils of war?
See, to what mis'ry discord drives the swain!
See, for what lords we spread the teeming grain!
Now, Meliboeus, now, renew your cares,
Go, rank again your vines, and graft your pears:
Away, my goats, once happy flocks! away!
No more shall I resume the rural lay:
No more, as in my verdant cave I lie,
Shall I behold ye hang from rocks on high:
No more shall tend ye, while ye round me browze
The trefoil flow'rs, or willow's harsher boughs.
Yet here, this night, at least, with me reclin'd
On the green leaves, an humble welcome find;
Ripe apples, chesnuts soft, my fields afford,
And cheese in plenty loads my rural board.
And see! from village-tops the smoak ascend,
And falling shades from western hills extend.