1747
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

The Accident; a Pastoral Essay.

Gentleman's Magazine 17 (October 1747) 489-90.

John Hawkesworth


A moral pastoral composed in the sentimental-burlesque mode, not signed. Damon, who has soundly cudgelled Colin at the fair, is distressed that the maid he wooed would ignore the victor and fly to the vanquished: "What giddy caprice rules a woman's mind, | As fate relentless, as fortune blind! | On vanquish'd Colin Phillis shed her smiles, | And all his sorrows, and his pain beguiles." Damon pronounces a curse on his rival, at which point Colin, from a neighboring mountain, tumbles into a brook and nearly drowns. Damon fishes him out, and the two exchange vows of friendship, making the ritual exchange of ewe and kid. Phillis, who has witnessed all of this, then pronounces their doom. One might compare this early "essay" in moral pastoral to William Dodd's Moral Pastorals (1767) and Scott of Amwell's Moral Eclogues (1779). The attribution to Hawkesworth was first made in Alexander Chalmers's British Essayists (1802-03).

Isaac Reed: "Dr. John Hawkesworth was born about the year 1719, and was bred to the law; a profession which he soon relinquished. At the latter part of his life he was one of the Directors of the East India Company, and died Nov. 17, 1773" Dodsley, Collection of Poems (1782) 5:150n.

Annie Raine Ellis: "If by no means 'a great author,' Dr. John Hawkesworth was a pleasant and fluent writer, who could turn his pen to anything, and was agreeable to readers, and popular with publishers. He condensed the Parliamentary Debates for 'Sylvanus Urban.' For two years he brought out 'The Adventurer,' writing half the papers himseIf. Like Dr. Johnson, too, he wrote an Eastern tale. He edited 'Swift,' he translated 'Telemachus,' he even found words for the music of a fairy piece, nay, of an oratorio, or more. Like Dr. Johnson, too, he had the ill-will of Sir John Hawkins, who wrote of him mainly to run him down. Hawkesworth and Hawkins had begun life in the same manner, that is, as Presbyterians and lawyer's clerks, and seen much of each other as neighbours, if not friends. Kind Sir John tells us that Hawkesworth had but 'a small stock of learning,' that he was 'ostensibly the governor of a school for the Education of young females,' and became so unduly elevated by receiving a Lambeth degree of D.C.L., that he neglected his early friends, etc." The Early Diary of Frances Burney (1889) 1:43-44n.



From rosy fingers, Morning shook the dew;
From Nature's charms the veil of Night she drew;
Reviving colour glow'd with broken light;
The varied landscape dawn'd upon the sight;
The lark's first song melodious floats on air;
And Damon rises, wak'd by Love and Care,
Unpens the fold, and o'er the glitt'ring mead,
With thoughtful steps, conducts his fleecy breed.

Near, in rude majesty, a mountain stood,
Projecting far, and brow'd with pendant wood;
The foliage, trembling as the breezes blow,
Inverted, trembled in a brook below.

The mountain echoed ev'ry plaintive strain,
The sighing breeze return'd his sighs again,
The gliding brook re-murmur'd to his grief,
As thus from song the shepherd sought relief:

"When late in rural sports I took my share,
Blithe as the blithest in the crowded fair,
What tho' from ten, contending in the race,
I snatch'd the prize, with yet unrivall'd pace?
What tho', in wrestling, arduous to excel,
I stood the victor, when each rival fell?
What tho', when Colin, oft in combat crown'd,
The cudgel seiz'd, and aw'd the circle round,
I boldly dar'd the champion of the green,
And from his head the trick'ling blood was seen?
What tho', in softer strife, my rural song
Won the loud plaudit of the list'ning throng?
Tho' ev'ry prize, by ev'ry voice, was mine,
And rival hands for me the chaplet twine,
On Robin's shoulders tho' the croud convey'd
Of maids that blush'd, and shepherds that huzza'd;
Vain all my strength, activity and speed,
Vain all my skill to tune the vocal reed,
No joy the chaplet, or the prize cou'd give,
For Phillis frown'd, the nymph for whom I live;
Phillis! whose charms alone my wishes fir'd,
Whose charms, ambition not my own inspir'd;
Who made my feet more swift, my arm more strong,
My heart more dauntless, and more sweet my song.
Love gave me conquest, but deny'd my bliss,
When from her lips she wip'd the ravish'd kiss;
Cruel and coy she blasted all my pride,
And 'midst the transports of my friends I sigh'd;
Deny'd her love, I'm poor with all the rest,
Indulg'd with that, of more than all possess'd.

"What giddy caprice rules a woman's mind,
As fate relentless, as fortune blind!
On vanquish'd Colin Phillis shed her smiles,
And all his sorrows, and his pains beguiles;
She, from the wound I gave, with lenient care
Wash'd the stiff gore, and clipp'd the clotted hair;
The healing simples with soft touch applied,
Own'd and carress'd him spite of female pride,
Mourn'd his disgrace, and now from future harms,
Perhaps, she hides him in her circling arms.

"O! had kind heav'n to me transferr'd his blow,
O! had I own'd him a superior foe,
Fled from the gen'ral hiss, with shame deprest,
To hide my blushes in her downy breast!
To him, with rapture, ev'ry prize I'd yield,
And all the tasteless honours of the field,
For each gay trifle with her love o'erpaid,
Blest, tho' forgotten, in the secret shade:
Vain wish! to Colin is that bliss decreed—
Distracting thoughts distracting thoughts succeed—
May swift destruction seize the hated pair,
Or, worse than swift destruction, my despair!
No — may the fruitless curse leave Phillis free,
But doubled, Colin! be fufill'd in thee."

High on the neighb'ring mountain's airy head
His browzing goats as happy Colin fed,
Pronounc'd with hasty rage, he heard his name,
And near the brow with still attention came;
Too near, the treach'rous brink gives way, and lo!
He shrieks, and plunges in the brook below;
The sounding waters, whitening as they rose,
Now with subsiding murmurs round him close.

Damon, alarm'd, his falling rival knew,
And, swift as lightning, to his aid he flew;
Prevailing virtue triumph'd in his breast,
And pity love and enmity supprest;
He saw him gasp emerging from the brook,
And reach'd, with gen'rous haste, his saving crook,
Caught by the drowning wretch with both his hands,
And grateful, trembling, on the bank he stands.
Short recollection serv'd him, thus to show
How much a friend he rose, who fell a foe;
"Born to subdue me, and subdu'd to save,
Thine from this moment is the life you gave;
Here, by the gods who sent thee to my aid,
I swear no more to see thy fav'rite maid,
By partial favour, not by merit mine,
To thee, more worthy, Phillis I resign;
Go, and my falsehood to thy mistress plead,
Go, and may heav'n and love thy suit succeed."

Thus soon with ardent looks, with honest pride,
And just disdain, the kindling Swain replied:
"What Damon's faithful love essay'd in vain,
He scorns by Colin's broken vows to gain;
Be thine the maid, since fate ordains it so,
And time and absence shall allay my woe;
Friends, from this hour forever, let us live,
My friendship's pledge, this spotless ewe I give;"
"And I, yon kid than falling snow more white,"
Glad Collin cried, and mutual faith they plight.

Thus busied, Phillis, unperceiv'd, drew near,
Foredoom'd, her love twice renounc'd, to hear;
"Take, Damon," thus the blushing maid begins,
The hand, the heart, thy gen'rous virtue wins;
Not Colin's broken vows, but Damon's truth,
Now blends my fate with thine, deserving youth!
To try thee, O! forgive if try'd too far,
Was all I meant, whate'er my actions were."
Her hand, with sudden rapture, Damon prest,
The joyful pair consenting Colin blest;
To Damon's cot they take the flow'ry way,
With guiltless mirth to crown the happy day.

[pp. 489-90]