1775
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Lobbin and Dolly, a Pastoral Dialogue, in imitation of Mr. Pope.

Poems on Several Occasions, chiefly miscellaneous; calculated to please the Admirers of Taste, and the Lovers of Polite Literature. Designed both for the Entertainment of the Scholar and the Man of Letters. To which are added some Pastorals. Written by Robert Hill.

Robert Hill


One of a group of six pastorals by Robert Hill, an obscure Greenwich poet attempting to model his artless verses on Pope and Dryden. Dolly loses some of her lambkins to a wild beast, and is comforted by Lobbin. While Hill elsewhere expresses a preference for the pastorals of Alexander Pope to those of Ambrose Philips, his poem promiscuously imitates what might be regarded as the least attractive components of both. Hill seems not to have read or understood the ridicule of Philips in Guardian 40, so that one is somewhat taken aback to discover Lobbin and Dolly sharing a landscape with lions and tigers. If the reference to a dead "Alexis" points to Pope, would then "Collin Clout," here a rival swain, be Philips? No irony seems intended as Hill echoes the famous opening line of the Shepheardes Calender: "A Shepherd's Boy, (I now forget his Name) | That chanc'd to hear, to my Assistance came" p. 249.

Introduction: "These Pastorals were first written on reading some of Mr. Pope's; they are neither too allegorical, nor are they too much inclined to Rusticity: The Author has avoided making his Swains wanton and immodest, a Fault which is generally charged upon Theocritus. In the following Eclogues, he has endeavoured to excell in Simplicity and Propriety of Style. He has not introduced any Fishermen among his Shepherds as some Pastoral Poets have done before him, but has been uniform in his Persons in Imitation of Virgil. His Descriptions are after the Manner of Mr. Pope, tho' much inferior to those penned by that judicious Writer; three of these Pastorals were produced at eighteen, at a Time when the Genius is supposed to be budding, but not arrived at it's full Perfection. If there is any Thing pleasing in these Eclogues, it will add much to their Merit by rendering Kind of Poetry delightful; as for the Numbers, they are as smooth as the Nature of the Subjects will admit of: These Pastorals are natural but not florid, and are compiled more to entertain the Reader than to please the Critick" pp. 239-40.



LOBBIN.
Hark! how the Breezes whisper thro' the Trees,
The gentle Zephyr's Breath begins to please;
The vernal Landscape round delights the Eye,
And, more than this, the gentle Dolly's nigh.
Yon murmuring Spring at distance charms the Ear,
See, Dolly, see, the Spring how smooth and clear;
Mark how the Buds in deep Arrangement stand,
The Hawthorns fair their native Sweets expand.
Now Sol is up and Shepherds fill the Plain,
What's that I hear, that soft melodious Strain?
But tell me, Fair One, prithee tell me true,
Why thus your Eyes are wet with dropping Dew?
Is it because Alexis is no more,
Say, beauteous Maid, do you his Death deplore?

DOLLY.
Ah! Lobbin, tender Swain, 'tis endless Night,
Nor Buds, nor Hawthorns can my Soul delight.
Talk not of Pleasure for to sooth my Woe,
Griefs, such as mine, were never heard below.
'Tis not Alexis' Death that makes me mourn,
With other Thoughts your Dolly's Mind is torne.
I'll get me to some silent lonely Shade,
Where weeping Willows always stand display'd.

LOBBIN.
Why falls the Tear, now starting down your Cheek?
Do pray inform me, lovely Fair One speak;
Has any Lambkin left the fleecy Throng?
Has Collin Clout, that simple rustic Swain,
Disturb'd your Rest, and caus'd your cruel Pain?
Weep you, bright Maid, for such a Clown as he,
Can you of Lobbin so forgetful be?
Rid me of Doubt, be candid and sincere,
Pour out your Soul while I attend you here.

DOLLY.
Not I, believe me, for this Collin vex,
Such Love as this would ill become my Sex.
I'll tell thee all, 'twas what I first design'd,
Do you but listen to my dismal Moan,
And for the present let the rest alone.
As yesterday, near yon tall Mountain's Side,
I sought a Lamb which at a Distance cry'd.
As I advanc'd amid the bleating Sheep,
There rush'd a Tyger downwards from the Steep;
Fierce as a Lion look'd the savage Beast,
And in his Mien his Fury reign'd confess'd.
At once the Monster darted on his Prey,
Then tore a Sheep, and bore a Lamb away.
A Terror seiz'd my Frame, I trembling stood,
And, as it were, the Fright congeal'd my Blood.
I know not how, my Legs I scarce could move,
I cried for Aid, and call'd the Powers above.
A Shepherd's Boy, (I now forget his Name)
That chanc'd to hear, to my Assistance came.
I mean the Lad that often tends the Kine,
That looks so neat, so bonny, spruce and fine;
He ran to save me, and the Beast repell,
But ere he could the Lambs a Victim fell.
Oh! sad Mischance, that Dolly should behold
A savage Tyger tear the fleecy Fold.
Oh! sad Mischance, that Lobbin was not nigh,
There heaves within my Breast a cruel Sigh.
Ye Winds convey my Griefs to all around,
Arise ye Storms and catch the mournful Sound
Ye Trees, ye Poplars tall my Woes proclaim,
Resound, ye Mountains, quick resound the same,
Ye Birds that chatter now go tell my Pain,
Ye Hills, I charge ye, spread the dismal Strain;
Tell how the Lambs was by a Tyger torne,
How chearless I am, and how much I mourn.

LOBBIN.
Cease, cease to grieve, and be disturb'd no more,
Fain would I now your Peace of Mind restore.
What tho' the Savage did the Lambs destroy,
There's Room for Hope, there yet is Room for Joy.
I'll give thee back those Lambkins that are mine,
The best I have — the noblest shall be thine.

DOLLY.
I thank thee, Lobbin, for thy generous Care,
But, oh! to part the Fold, what Pity 'twere.
For why should you those pretty Things divide,
That skip and play, and in the Fields abide.
Alas! luckless Day, that Dolly lost her Sheep,
Ye Groves, why do you blushing Honours wear,
Since so much Sorrow rends the weeping Fair?
How can ye flourish while I thus complain?
Ye Flowers perish, nor your Sweets retain.
Be still, ye Songsters — ye that fill the Spray;
Let Night descend, and Darkness cloud the Day.

LOBBIN.
It is too much, your Griefs too mighty grow,
I think it wrong, and would dispell your Woe.
Disclaim your Tears, be to your Lobbin kind,
And give your Cares and Sorrows to the Wind.
My bleating Lambs you now may call your own,
Go watch them Fair one, see how smooth they're grown.
No more shall Beasts by Day disturb the Fold,
Nor Lions fierce, nor furious Panthers bold,
No more shall Tygers rend the panting Prey,
For by his Flock each Shepherd now shall stay.

[pp. 247-51]