1784
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral, in Four Parts, Absence, Hope, Jealousy, Despair.

A Pastoral, in Four Parts, Absence, Hope, Jealousy, Despair, written in imitation of Shenstone, by a half-pay Officer; on his retiring to a Cottage, in the Vale of Glamorgan, in Wales.

M.


Thirty-nine double-quatrain stanzas, signed "M." The despairing shepherd complains of the faithlessness of his Peggy: "But would she believe, were it told, | That Willy deserted his crook! | Neglected the care of his fold, | Both his pipe and his grotto forsook!" p. 5. The false maiden bestows a kiss on the handsome, witty, tasteful, wealthy Colin, leaving Willy to wander forlorn. This anonymous Pastoral follows Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad so closely that in places it seems more of a paraphrase than an imitation; Colin is the same figure as the Paridel of Shenstone's origin. A Pastoral suffers from diffusiveness and repetition, being nearly half again as long as its original. The writer's identification on the titlepage underscores a connection with the bard of the Leasowes: he is poor (a "half-pay officer") and provincial (a cottager "of Glamorgan, in Wales").

Critical Review: "Never was the manner of any poet more wretchedly imitated than that of Shenstone in this production. In the title page, the author is said to be a half-pay officer. It is possible, that in a military capacity he may deserve esteem; but let him never expect to gather laurels, or even the humble ivy, within the bounds of Parnassus; for he is none of those illustrious geniuses, 'whom both Minervas crown'" 59 (January 1785) 71.

English Review: "A very humble imitation indeed, where we meet with nothing but those thread-bare ideas and expressions, which have been a thousand and a thousand times repeated.... The print of dancing shepherdesses which is prefixed to this performance is, both in drawing and execution, below every thing we have seen" 4 (December 1784) 461-62.



Haste, shepherds, from every vale,
And listen around while I sing;
Be silent ye birds of the dale,
For Peggy is sweeter than spring.
All you, who my fair one have seen,
Must own to the truth of my song,
That none is so fair on the green,
Or dances the meadows along.

But why did she give me her hand,
And chuse me from every swain;
To lead forth the villagers band,
Before ev'ry lad of the plain!
Not a shepherd that saw her advance,
And chuse me from every swain,
To lead forth the villagers dance,
But saw it with envy and pain.

Then who could have thought when she smil'd,
That anguish from smiling would flow;
Or pain should await on the mild,
Yet certain I am it is so.
The garden I labour'd to rear,
The tendrils I carefully twin'd
Stray wildly for want of my care,
Since Peggy, my fair one was kind.

But why do I fly from my charge,
My lambkins, ah! where do they stray?
They roam now the meadows at large,
Nor find their protector all day.
No longer my pipe do they hear,
No longer my call they obey;
Alas! they now bleat to the air,
Whilst I am far distant away.

Yet why do I this way pursue,
And why from my flock do I range?
I must ask it, my Peggy, of you,
For you are the cause of the change.
But would she believe, were it told,
That Willy deserted his crook!
Neglected the care of his fold,
Both his pipe and his grotto forsook!

"He's faithless," no doubt she would say,
"His lambkins at distance to leave,
His sheep unattended, a prey,
With innocence only to save.
Then what could I hope or expect,
From a shepherd so fickle as he?
For one that his lambkins neglect,
Would never prove constant to me."

Then let me haste backward with speed,
And lead my flock over the lawn,
That sportingly, skip to my reed,
Which I tune at the coming of dawn.
Ah! Peggy, delightfully fair,
Believe my fond vows to be true,
My flock shall alone be my care,
My love shall be constant to you.

HOPE.
No longer my sighs shall be heard,
No longer my accent's despair;
My love by fond HOPE is endear'd,
For HOPE is the treasure I bear.
The bird from confinement that 'scapes,
Rejoices aloud thro' the air;
Such rapture, my sonnet elates,
Since HOPE is the gift of my fair.

Tho' lowly I sing, yet my lays
Shall ever be raised to my love;
My reed shall be tun'd in her praise,
Her name shall resound thro' the grove.
Not a nymph in our village so fair,
So pleasingly-distant — yet free—
For modesty none can compare;
She's every way pleasing to me.

At the foot of the sycamore-tree,
The favourite shade of the green;
Where sporting in holy-day glee,
Sweet Peggy the fairest is seen.
So gentle, so soft is each look,
And her manner's so mild too withal;
Ev'ry maid but herself is forsook,
If blushing, a word she lets fall.

At eve, when she plays on her lute,
Or sings thro' the woodlands along,
Not a thrush in the hedge-row but's mute
To gather fresh notes from her tongue.
The linnet and birds of the spray,
Wait silently 'till she has done;
Then warble, and chirp it away,
And tune it, as Peggy has sung.

The lark that sings high in the air,
And warbles so sweetly above,
Drops down in a moment to hear
So soft is the voice of my love.
The Philomel too at each eve,
Whose song is so pensively sweet,
If a note from my Peggy receive,
That note in each song will repeat.

A gift for my fair one I'll bring,
The rose-bud I yesterday found;
The first and the sweetest of spring,
With tendrils of woodbine around.
So blooming and gay to the sight,
The meadows can't boast of it's peer;
Yet fades and grows pale with despite,
When Peggy, more blooming, is near.

The jessamine sweet from my bower,
Bestudded with violets blue,
And sweet-briar after a shower,
My fair one, I'll gather for you.
The lily that's tenderly fair,
The snow-drop that vies with the rest;
Is sadden'd and droops with despair,
When near to her much fairer breast.

The cowslip so simply around,
That glitters with dew-drops at dawn;
A favour with Peggy has found,
She calls it the pride of the lawn.
The primrose that modestly blows,
At the foot of the haw-thorn tree,
"Is sweeter" she says, "than what grows,
By art, or by labour for me."

Nor will I the sweet minionette,
The pride of my garden forego;
Nor let me the hare-bell forget,
She likes it, I've heard her say so.
In the shades of the hedge-row 'tis found,
So humbly it hides itself there;
Whilst others are gaudy around,
Its modesty pleases my fair.

The tulip at distance may please,
It's show may perhaps gain the sight;
Its colours too merit some praise,
Yet boasts of no scent to delight.
Of Colin, then Peggy beware,
He's ev'ry way pleasing to view;
In ringlets he dresses his hair,
But his love is not constant to you.

'Tis his with feign'd passion to glow,
And Peggy, beware how you hear!
He's ev'ry way fashion'd for show,
To please both the eye and the ear.
His sonnet, and soft melting lay,
His person that's pleasing to see;
Ev'ry charm was form'd to betray,
Not faithfully loving like me.

JEALOUSY.
No more will I mix with the gay,
No more at the green will appear;
No more can I sing the whole day,
Or ever the village go near.
For Peggy that once was so kind,
That lov'd me alone, I believ'd;
Is fickle, and false as the wind;
The vows that she made, but deceiv'd.

Ah me! that I cannot forget,
How Colin at yesterday's eve,
With Peggy so tenderly met,
As now I can hardly believe.
From the valley, the lily he brought,
With hyacinths sweet from the grove;
In the meadows, the cowslip he sought,
And wood-flowers wild, interwove.

Then he artfully shew'd to my fair,
The worth, and the value of all,
How none of them, e'er could compare
With her that was sweeter than all.
I saw them array'd at her breast,
I saw her look fairer than May;
I saw her, — but here let my rest,—
Give Colin, — a kiss in repay.

O you, that have heard me relate
The love, and the truth of my fair;
Say is there another, by fate
Reduc'd to this state of despair:
She was all my fond heart could desire,
Then do not my folly reprove;
She's faithless, — and yet I admire,
She's false, — yet I cannot but love.

Perhaps, she but meant to repay,
What she thought he deserv'd for his pain;
Yet the kiss, that she trifled away,
Was worth ev'ry flock on the plain.
She might not be pleas'd in her mind,
She might not have wish'd what she's done;
And yet, tho' to Colin so kind,
She could not see Willy undone.

But sure 'tis a folly to brook,
Or to think that I now am her choice;
What I saw from her manner and look,
From her eyes, and her accent and voice.
Her hand she so sweetly bestow'd,
Which I fondly believ'd was my right;
And her cheek too, with pleasure so glow'd,
That I found my heart faint with the sight.

Yet how often at close of the eve,
When our flocks we together drove home;
How oft did I fondly believe,
That she lov'd but her Willy alone?
Ev'ry day seem'd our loves to renew,
Each moment, seem'd happy and blest;
And I ne'er could have thought her untrue,
Had I never seen Colin caress'd.

Then shepherds beware how you love,
And doubt the fond smiles of the fair;
Since Peggy inconstant can prove,
You'll hardly find one that's sincere.
How oft did the village lads chide,
And the girls ask the cause of delay;
That hinder'd the knot being tide,
And woo'd me to tell them the day.

At the close of each long summer's day,
When the villager's work was all o'er;
How oft they've assembled to play,
And to think of their troubles no more.
The hobbling old men of the throng,
Took Peggy away from the rest,
To sing them their favourite song;
And said 'twas her Willy's request.

Ah me! when they hear of the change,
When they find how inconstant she's been;
They will not sure, blame if I range,
Nor in sports of the village be seen.
Then Peggy, false fair one, adieu!
And farewell each sweet-painted mead;
I will stray away distant from you,
And the cooling retreats of the glade.

Perhaps, when she walks thro' the grove,
Some flow'ret or shrub she may see,
That will put her in mind of my love,
When she finds it was planted by me,
Her flocks too that knew me so well,
Must bleat o'er the meadows and green;
And the mournful ton'd stock dove will tell
How inconstant, and false she has been.

DESPAIR.
Ye shepherds, I once was as gay,
As joyous and happy, as you;
But now I'm forsook, and I stray,
For the vows of my fair are untrue.
I once saw my flocks spread around,
I saw them with pleasure at feed;
I saw them all whiten the ground;
Whilst nothing was heard but my reed.

Yet I ne'er could have thought she was false,
Or the vows that she made could deceive;
So I always declar'd her my choice,
Which she ever seem'd glad to receive.
How oft have I seen her entwine
The tendrils that stray'd in my grove;
And I thought, 'twas because they were mine,
She entwin'd them as emblems of love.

What pleasure I found once to rove,
On the banks of my favourite rill,
That murmurs along thro' the grove,
And steals round the foot of the hill.
'Twas there my low cottage I rear'd,
That's cover'd with ivy around;
Ev'ry shrub that my fair one admir'd,
Was seen to enamel my ground.

In the morning, if Peggy a flow'r
Or shrub of the valley requir'd,
At evening, 'twas seen in my bow'r;
So much ev'ry word I admir'd.
My eglantine always so green,
My lilac, so richly perfum'd,
Bloom'd fresher when Peggy was seen:
And a thousand new beauties assum'd.

But now, she is false, and I stray
From the scenes that once gave me delight;
In solitude spend the long day,
And sigh o'er my passion at night.
No longer the coming of morn,
Or flow'rets all dropping with dew,
Have pleasures for me, that's forlorn;
Since Peggy is false, and untrue.

Her crook that I wove with such art,
In ornaments, rurally gay;
Which she told me she never would part,
Is now thrown neglected away.
But Colin a crook may replace,
His riches can render it fine;
His wealth ev'ry charm may increase,
But his love is not equal to mine.

If my trees were depriv'd of their bloom,
If I'd lost by a blight all my corn;
If my flocks had all died before noon,
And my flowrets were cropt before morn;
Such losses with patience I'd bear,
Such woes could not give me that pain,
As Peggy to prove insincere;
And leave me to weep o'er the plain.

The willow that hangs o'er the brook,
And the stream that runs mournfully by,
Must tell her, — that Willy's forsook;
And cause a remembering sigh.
The shrubs, that together we've rais'd,
The tendrils we've shaded at noon,
The flowers so oft we have prais'd,
Will tell her that Willy's undone.

When she's seen at the villager's dance,
And the nymphs are all met on the green;
They must fly from a maiden so false,
As I know they'll declare she has been.
They'll tell her — how faithless she's prov'd;
They'll tell her — how I wander from home;
They'll tell her — of Willy that lov'd,
And that sighs in the valley alone.

Ye grottos, that knew how I lov'd,
Ye woods where so often I've stray'd,
Say Peggy inconstant has prov'd;
And tell all the vows that she made.
Let the riv'let that winds thro' the vale,
And wanders so close to my cot,
With murmurs, repeat the sad tale;
And Echo, — say Willy's forgot.

[pp. 3-24]