1768
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral.

Flights to Helicon: or Petites Pieces, in Verse. By G. P. Tousey.

George Philip Toosey


Twelve double-quatrains stanzas, one of three poems in this volume written in the manner of William Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad. The narrative in A Pastoral is similar to that of the original, and indeed many others in the series. The poet is jilted by Laura, who after breaking her vows weds the wealth Dorus: "But alas! I have found to my cost, | That he who a fair one does trust; | Will find they deceive us the most, | When we least suspect them unjust." In his Poems, mostly Pastoral (1766) John Cunningham had adapted Shenstone's manner to several pastoral modes, and G. P. Toosey, after this literal imitation, attempts a singing contest in dialogue, and a pastoral elegy.

Monthly Review: "From the humble motto in the title-page of this book, we had, before we turned over the leaf, conceived a favourable opinion of the Writer's modesty, but we were soon undeceived when we came to read some of his 'petites pieces,' and found him railing at Reviewers, speaking evil of DIGNITIES, and defying all censure: and when we saw, after all this parade, when an unlettered muse had presented herself before us, we really could not but admire at the vanity of a writer, who could expect such compositions to be CRITICISED. The truth, indeed, is not that this Mr. G. P. Tousey (which sounds like a fictitious name) is a bad poet, but that he is not poet at all: as will fully appear from the following specimens of what he hath here provided for the entertainment of the subscribers to this two-and-sixpenny volume.... A pretty welladay kind of pastoral affords another passage which may bid equal defiance to the critics: 'I whisper'd a tale in her ear, | Expressing how much I did love; | She told me I need not despair, | She did not my passion disprove.' Now what did madam (what's her name?) mean by not 'disproving' the man's passion? was it that she did not deny but that he really did lover her, or that she did not disapprove his addresses? — She certainly had a mind to leave herself an opening to quibble off, on occasion: what an artful ambiguous jade it was! no wonder she jilted the poor fellow at last" 39 (December 1768) 486-87.



Each Shepherd do pity a swain,
Oppress'd with sad sorrow and care;
I'll tell you what makes me complain,
I'll tell you what makes me despair;
'Tis Love that occasions my grief,
False Laura my heart has deceiv'd;
I'll tell you 'twill give me relief,
Tho' I'm sure it will scarce be believ'd.

Ye nymphs too who trip the gay Plains,
With them here your footsteps direct;
Tho' jocund I once tun'd my strains,
Such lays you must now not expect.
No, pensive I all the day long,
Lay reclin'd underneath the cool shade;
And this is my sad plaintive song,
How I was by Laura betray'd.

You knew her, how sweetly she shone,
'Mong all the fair nymphs of the Green,
I vow I don't think there was one,
Of so lovely, engaging a mien.
Her eyes like the stars were as bright,
Her lips like the soft damask Rose;
When I gaz'd, I was lost in delight,
But alas! hence I date all my woes.

'Twas first at our sheep-shearing feast,
I chanc'd the dear charmer to meet;
Each Shepherdess blithely I kist,
But thought none as my Laura so sweet,
She sung! What a ravishing Voice!
No Lark with her notes cou'd compare;
She smil'd, O how did I rejoice,
To find her so kind and so fair.

I whisper'd a tale in her ear,
Expressing how much I did love;
She told me I need not despair,
She did not my passion disprove.
Tho' few were my flocks on the mead,
She Riches not valu'd a rush;
For Constancy, Wealth did exceed,
And she own'd a like flame with a blush.

I cull'd ev'ry flow'ret so fair,
The Lilly, the Pink, and the Rose;
I ransack'd my garden with care,
A garland to form for her brows.
With smiles she my gift did receive,
Then begg'd I some present would take;
From her breast she a nosegay did give,
Which she bid me to wear for her sake.

Then, then I was happy indeed,
I scarce cou'd my transports contain;
I chear'd with my pipe the gay mead,
And we danc'd ev'ry night on the plain.
Of Hymen I ventur'd to speak,
And begg'd he might join both our hands;
She promis'd in less than a week,
She wou'd willingly wear his soft bands.

I thought! What a simple fond youth,
I thought all my troubles then past;
Since Laura considered my truth,
And consented to crown it at last.
For who cou'd imagine that breast,
Cou'd harbour such cruel deceit;
Or think her of falsehood possest,
Who seem'd with each virtue replete.

But alas! I have found to my cost,
That he who a fair one does trust;
Will find they deceive us the most,
When we least suspect them unjust.
Young Dorus, a wealthy young Swain,
The fickle one chanced to see;
He courted, — she did not disdain
His passion, — but quite forgot me.

When I thought the wish'd minute so near,
When ev'ry fond wish wou'd be crown'd;
Ah me! what a tale did I hear,
So sad, yet too true, I soon found.
Yes, Dorus and Laura were wed,
And I was forever forgot;
O how did I wish myself dead,
O how did I curse my hard lot.

For Wealth she my passion did slight,
For Dorus of Wealth was possest;
I thought, but I did not think right,
That av'rice ne'er dwelt in her breast.
His Flocks were more num'rous than mine,
His Harvest did mine far exceed;
In nought else, he me cou'd outshine,
In the Dance, or the Pipe, or the Reed.

But let me forget the false Fair,
She does not deserve my fond love;
She will not be long free form care,
But soon this sad truth surely prove.
For ever a stranger to peace,
Her Riches her torment will be;
Her troubles still daily increase,
For her falsehood, her treach'ry to me.

[pp. 58-62]