1760
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Ballad.

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. One of the group of poems signed "A. E.," this appears to be a counterpart to Erskine's Pastoral Ballad earlier in the volume. Here we have another jealous shepherd, though one seemingly who leaves little to chance; moreover the lady, possessing taste, seems to be the right sort: "She admires the increase of my fields, | She admires the still gloom of the woods, | The sweetness the healthful air yields, | And she likes the wild fall of the floods." In this Shenstone series the pastorals, while often highly sentimental and decorative, are seldom purely Arcadian — one is meant to appreciate the pastoral costume for what it is.

Andrew Erskine to James Boswell: "I have been busy furbishing up some old pieces for Donaldson's second volume: I exceed in quantity, twenty Eustace Budgels, according to your epistle. Pray what is become of the Cub? Is Dodsley to sell you for a shilling, or not? I have written one or two new things, an Ode to Pity, and an Epistle to the great Donaldson, which is to be printed: The subject was promising, but I made nothing of it. I must give over poetry, and copy epistles out of that eloquent treatise the Compleat Letter-Writer" 1 November 1761; in Letters between the Honourable Andrew Erskine, and James Boswell, Esq. (1763) 16.

Harold W. Thompson: "Andrew Erskine (d. 1793), younger brother of the musical Earl of Kellie. Contributed to Donaldson's Collection of Original Poems by Scottish Gentlemen; published his Correspondence with James Boswell in 1763; wrote Town Eclogues and farces. Like his brother he was an accomplished musician. Committed suicide in the Forth" in Mackenzie, Anecdotes and Egotisms (1927) 261.



How vain are the efforts of art?
How vain are the smooth study'd lays?
Ev'ry language but that of the heart,
Must fail in my Phyllida's praise.
How modest, yet free, is her air?
Her words with what softness they flow?
She has fill'd ev'ry heart with despair;
She has made ev'ry shepherd my foe.

For since she appear'd on our plains,
On me she has lavish'd her smiles;
I'm the envy of all the young swains,
To supplant me they're fruitful in wiles.
But let me their passions despise,
Their proceedings I never will mind,
If my Phyllis approve with her eyes,
If my Phillis continue but kind.

I watch ev'ry glance of her eyes,
Ev'ry blush that but dawns on her cheeks;
How I tremble if every she sighs!
How I'm raptur'd if ever she speaks!
If she talks, it is heav'n to hear;
If she smiles, it is heav'n to see;
How soft, how engaging, how dear,
How all over heaven to me!

My fields, and my orchards are small,
Yet planted, and cultur'd with care;
My groves they are lofty and tall,
And a sweetness is found in the air.
She admires the increase of my fields,
She admires the still gloom of the woods,
The sweetness the healthful air yields,
And she likes the wild fall of the floods.

We have wander'd along the green hills,
Thro' the plains ever vernal with flow'rs,
Thro' the lawns ever gleaming with rills,
By the banks ever shady with bow'rs;
There my charmer still rais'd such wild strains,
As wantonly melt in the throat,
Resounding thro' woods, and thro' plains,
Sweet echoes prolong'd each breath'd note.

We stray at the dew of the dawn,
Thro' fields where the west wind has flown,
Collecting the flow'rs on the lawn,
By the warmth of the gale newly blown.
What beauty is found in their dyes,
While attended by health thus we rove,
And I see in my Phyllida's eyes,
Content, soft associate of Love?

Already our flocks jointly feed,
They never are separate seen,
Together they sport on the mead,
And crop the soft herbs of the green:
And hence all the shepherds foresee,
That Phyllis will quickly be mine;
Oh! thought full of transport to me,
For the day how I eagerly pine.

[pp. 177-79]