1753
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Eclogue the Ninth. Moeris.

The Works of Virgil, in Latin and English. The original Text correctly printed from the most authentic Editions, collated for this Purpose. The Aeneid translated by the Rev. Mr. Christopher Pitt, the Eclogues and Georgics, with Notes on the Whole, by the Rev. Mr. Joseph Warton. 4 Vols.

Virgil, trans. Joseph Warton


Argument: "We are told by Servius that Moeris is the person who had the care of Virgil's farm, was his procurator, or bailiff, as we speak at present; and that when Virgil had from Augustus received a grant of his lands, one Arrius a centurion refused to admit him into possession, and would certainly have killed him if Virgil had not saved his life by swimming over the Mincius" 1:147.

John Dryden: "In the Ninth Pastoral he Collects some beautiful passages which were scatter'd in Theocritus, which he cou'd not insert into any of his former Eclogues, and yet was unwilling they shou'd be lost" Works of Virgil (1697) 3.



LYCIDAS. MOERIS.

LYCIDAS.
Say, Moeris, to the city dost thou haste?

MOERIS.
O Lycidas, the day's arriv'd at last,
When the fierce stranger, breathing rage shall say,
These fields are mine, ye veteran hinds, away!
To whom, by fortune crush'd, o'ercome by fear,
These kids (a curse attend them!) must I bear.

LYCIDAS.
Sure I had heard, that were yon' hills descend,
And to the vale their sloping summits bend,
Down to the stream and ancient broken beech,
Far as the confines of his pastures reach,
Menalcas sav'd his all by skilful strains:

MOERIS.
Such was the tale among the Mantuan swains;
But verse 'mid dreadful war's mad tumults, proves
As weak and powerless, as Dodona's doves,
When the fierce, hungry eagle first they spy,
Full on their heads impetuous dart from high.
The boding raven from an hollow tree,
Warn'd us to cease the strife, and quick agree;
Else of our liberty, nay life, depriv'd,
Nor Moeris nor Menalcas had surviv'd.

LYCIDAS.
What rage the ruthless soldier could induce
To hurt the sweetest favourite of the muse?
O direful thought! hadst thou, Menalcas, bled,
With thee had all our choicest pleasures fled!
Who then could strew sweet flow'rs, the nymphs could sing
Who shade with verdant boughs the crystal spring?
Or chant those lays which privately I read,
When late we visited my fav'rite maid:
"Watch, Tityrus, watch, and see my goats receive
At morn fresh pasture, and cool streams at eve;
Soon I'll return; but as the flock you lead,
Beware the wanton ridg'ling's butting head."

MOERIS.
Or those to Varus, tho' unfinish'd strains—
"Varus, should we preserve our Mantuan plains,
(Obnoxious by Cremona's neighbouring crime)
The swans thy name shall bear to heav'n sublime."

LYCIDAS.
Begin, if verse thou hast, my tuneful friend;
On trefoil fed so may thy cows distend
Their copious udders; so thy bees refuse
The baneful juices of Cyrnaean yews.
Me too the muses love, and give me lays,
Swains call me bard, but I deny their praise;
I reach not Varus' voice, nor Cinna's song,
But scream like gabbling geese sweet swans among.

MOERIS.
Those strains am I revolving in my mind,
Nor are they verses of a vulgar kind.
"O lovely Galatea! hither haste!
For what delight affords the wat'ry waste?
Here purple spring her gifts profusely pours,
And paints the river-banks with balmy flow'rs;
Here, o'er the grotto the pale poplar weaves
With blushing vines a canopy of leaves;
Then quit the seas! against the sounding shore
Let the vext ocean's billows idly roar!"

LYCIDAS.
What's that you sung alone, one cloudless night?
Its air I know, could I the words recite.

MOERIS.
Why still consult, for ancient signs, the skies?
"Daphnis! behold the Julian star arise!
Whose power the fields with copious corn shall fill,
And cloath with richer grapes each sunny hill;
Now, Daphnis, for thy grandsons plant thy pears,
Who luscious fruits shall crop in distant years."—
Alas! by stealing time how things decay!
Once could I sing whole summer-suns away;
But ah! my mem'ry fails — some wolf accurs'd
Hath stopt my voice and look'd on Moeris first:
But oft Menalcas will repeat these lays.

LYCIDAS.
My strong desires such slight excuses raise;
Behold no whisp'ring winds the branches shake;
Smooth is the surface of the neighb'ring lake;
Besides, to our mid-journey are we come,
I see the top of old Bianor's tomb;
Here, Moeris, where the swains thick branches prune,
And strew their leaves, our voices let us tune;
Here rest awhile, and lay your kidlings down,
Remains full time to reach the destin'd town;
But if you tempests fear and gathering rain,
Still let us sooth our travel with a strain;
The ways seem shorter by a warbled song,
I'll ease your burden as we pass along.

MOERIS.
Cease your request; proceed we o'er the plain;
When he returns we'll sing a sweeter strain.

[1:147-56]