A Pastoral Ballad. In the Manner of Shenstone.

A Collection of Original Poems. By the Rev. Mr. Blacklock, and other Scotch Gentlemen.

Andrew Erskine

Seven double-quatrain stanzas, after William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. This is one of a group of poems in Donaldson's Collection signed "A. E.," for Andrew Erskine. His Pastoral Ballad, the complaint of a jilted lover, has an edge to it more common in Erskine's poetry than in the series of poems imitating Shenstone: "Now I see that Unfaithfulness reigns, | That a fond constant nymph is a dream; | Deceit is found roving the plains, | And winding along ev'ry stream." The "Song" that follows next in the volume is in the same anapestic measure.

James Boswell to Andrew Erskine: "Donaldson is undoubtedly a gentleman perfectly skilled in the art of insinuation. His dinners are the most eloquent addresses imaginable. For my own part, I am never a sharer in one of his copious repasts, but I feel my heart warm to the landlord, and spontaneously conceive this expressive soliloquy, — Upon my word I must give him another hundred lines" 2 December 1761; in Letters between the Honourable Andrew Erskine, and James Boswell, Esq. (1763) 29.

How could you deceive me, my fair?
How tell me you openness lov'd?
How persuade me my sad pensive air
Was by you not disdain'd, but approv'd?
And yet the delusion had pow'r
For to charm my whole senses away;
I gaz'd on you hour after hour,
And to please fram'd the rude rural lay.

While my soul as all melted in love,
While each nerve and each pulse wildly beat,
You a passion as strong seem'd to move;
Who e'er could have dream'd 'twas deceit?
When I fault'ring attempted to speak,
My confusion was cur'd with a smile,
You strove my fond silence to break;
Yet this was all meant to beguile.

How oft have we carelessly stray'd,
While the moon feebly lighted the vale,
And under the soft amorous shade,
Prolong'd the soft amorous tale?
Then the wind could not shake the light leaf,
Nor the river roll loudly along,
Nor the nightingale breathe out her grief,
But you fearfully clasp'd me more strong.

Those days are still fresh in my view,
When I search'd where the violet blows,
And tore from the spot where it grew,
The briar, or wild-spreading rose:
You was pleas'd with the trifles I cull'd,
And urg'd to repeat the fond task,
And still, though I frequently pull'd,
You, frequent delighted, would ask.

Now far other transports are mine,
Far other employments I find;
No more I your garland entwine,
You oft have refus'd it, unkind:
Each moment I pour forth my fears,
Tales of wo to the woods I impart,
Which, though oft interrupted by tears,
Ye mournfully sooth my sad heart.

Now I see that Unfaithfulness reigns,
That a fond constant nymph is a dream;
Deceit is found roving the plains,
And winding along ev'ry stream:
Of the change, ah, ye shepherds, beware,
Nor trust the allurements of art;
Believe not the false smiling air,
Since the tongue's not allied to the heart!

Farewell to the flocks I have fed!
Farewell to the flow'rs I have rear'd!
Farewell to the sweet-breathing mead,
Where so often with you I've appear'd!
I fly, yet I love you, my fair;
Perhaps you'll repent when I'm gone;
My bosom shall nourish despair,
And I'll sigh that all pleasure is flown.

[pp. 92-94]