1776
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Colin: a Pastoral, on the Death, and in imitation of Mr. John Cunningham.

Morning Chronicle and London Advertiser (21 May 1776).

William Hawkins


Four double-quatrain stanzas imitating John Cunningham's "Corydon, a Pastoral to the Memory of William Shenstone" (1763). William Hawkins enlists himself among the many admirers of Cunningham, after Shenstone the foremost pastoral writer of the sentimental era. Asking the "warblers" and "lambkins" to admire the poet's abilities at natural description is a nice touch: "For a tender good shepherd was he, | So true and so kind to his trust, | With mildness he e'er painted thee, | No swain sure was ever so just." A different version of this much-reprinted pastoral was published in the Morning Chronicle 12 September 1778.

Author's note: "Mr. Cunningham would frequently lie about in the fields, under a hedge or tree, in which situation he wrote many of his pastorals."

London Magazine: "though Mr. Cunningham's miscellaneous pieces are possessed of no small merit, yet he never put any value upon them himself. It is for his singular talent at description, therefore, that the laurel is chiefly due to him. It may not be improper in this place to observe, that the great similarity to be found in the stile and manner of Shenstone and Cunningham is entirely to be imputed to a congeniality of sentiment and taste, the latter having written many of his most admired pastorals before he had read a line by the poet of the Leasowes" "Memoirs of the late Mr. Cunningham" 42 (October 1773) 495n.



Give ear, oh ye swains, to my lay,
Since Colin, alas! is no more;
Let's languish and pine all the day,
In sorrow his loss to deplore:
For he was the pride of the plain,
The garden, the grove and the field;
But "lost is the pastoral strain,"
Since he no more beauties can yield.

Ye warblers, that bill on each spray,
Ye lambkins, that wantonly roam,
Come round, and attend to the lay—
Then "bleat and your master bemoan;"
For a tender good shepherd was he,
So true and so kind to his trust,
With mildness he e'er painted thee,
No swain sure was ever so just.

His manner how soft and serene!
How pleasing his shape and his air!
No mortal like him e'er was seen,
No mortal with him could compare:
For he was so gentle and kind,
That bird's cluster'd round in a throng,
And all in full harmony join'd,
Whenever he echo'd his song.

But, ah! the dear Colin is gone!
No longer he sings thro' the grove;
No longer beneath the gay thorn
He pours forth his accents of love:
Then farewell! oh favourite bard!
Adieu! my dear Colin! adieu!
Thy worth I shall ever regard,
To thy fame I will ever be true.

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