1804
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Elegy, on the Death of Jackson, the Musical Composer.

The Beauties of English Poetry, selected from the most esteemed Authors. By Dr. Wolcot. Containing several original Pieces, never before printed.

Dr. John Wolcot


A pastoral elegy for William Jackson of Exeter (1730-1803) in six anapestic quatrains, not signed. The poem is modeled on John Cunningham's notable elegy "Corydon, a Pastoral to the Memory of William Shenstone" (1763). While Jackson was a man of many talents, he was particularly admired for his settings of eighteenth-century lyric poetry: "Lo! his reed that lies mute on the ground,— | For with him its sweet sorrows depart! | For like him, none can give it a sound, | That tell's a fond tale of the HEART!" 1.31.

The poem is possibly by the editor of the collection, Dr. John Wolcot ("Peter Pindar"), who was part of the literary circle at Exeter. Other poems known to be by him are printed here without his signature. The Beauties of English Poetry consists of two pretty little volumes of largely lyric poetry illustrated by engravings.

Advertisement: "To add peculiar value to the Collection which he should form, the Publisher, with difficulty, has prevailed with him to intersperse in it, a few of his own original compositions. He was well persuaded, that, whatever his modesty might suggest to the contrary, that there are none among the Poets of former times, whose works have given immorality to the English language, but, if now alive, would be proud of any disposal of the flowers of his writings which should exhibit them in mingled assemblage with those of PETER PINDAR — a name on which its sportive use by Dr. WOLCOT has conferred a celebrity far higher and more extensive than was given to it by the ancient BARD of THEBES" 1:v.



O Shepherds! 'tis CORYDON'S knell,
That, sounding, now saddens the wind:
When he bade us for ever farewell,
He left not an equal behind.

How often ye dwelt on his strain,
That fill'd with sweet echoes the grove!
How happy the nymphs of the plain,
When he soften'd the bosom to love!

Our garlands his tomb shall adorn;
His shade shall our praises receive;
The lark shall salute him at morn,
And Philomel soothe him at eve.

Near his ashes the myrtle shall bloom,
Which PITY will plant with a sigh,
And, oft as she visits his tomb,
Lament that such merit should die.

He sought not false fame to obtain:
To the SHEPHERD no art did belong;
SIMPLICITY taught him her strain;
SIMPLICITY govern'd his song.

Lo! his reed that lies mute on the ground,—
For with him its sweet sorrows depart!
For like him, none can give it a sound,
That tell's a fond tale of the HEART!

[1:30-31]