1777
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Morning: the first Pastoral: or Colinet and Damon.

Universal Magazine 60 (April 1777) 204-06.

J. Riddell


A pastoral singing contest, signed "J. R." In this, the first of four times-of-day eclogues published in the Westminster Magazine over four successive months, Colinet and Damon sing the praises of a country life in alternate song, beginning with the dawn: "No more our eyes are seal'd in balmy sleep, | Our cots we leave, and straight unfold our sheep; | And whistling on our way, the bleaters lead | To crop the grass along the verdant mead." Colinet observes how the bee and the ant improve the time, to which Damon replies with an account of Hodge with his plow, and Doris with her milk-pail. In the end, Daphnis refuses to praise one shepherd at the expense of the other. A note identifies "Glotta" as the River Clyde. The concluding poem of the cycle is signed "J. Riddell, Glasgow," not identified.

Riddell describes himself as a "stripling," and his eclogues, like those of several other young poets are modeled on Pope's Pastorals in their disposition of topics and use of the times-of-day motif. Riddell was plainly not striving for originality, which perhaps lends some significance to his introduction of diction and imagery more rustic than was generally the case in pastorals modeled on Virgil rather than Theocritus. There is, however, no striving after locality or specificity of description.



Descend, ye muses! tune the oaten reed,
And deftly sing on Glotta's fertile mead;
Whose happy swains blest liberty enjoy,
And crown'd with plenty, rural toil employ.
And thou, O R-ch-d-n! unrivall'd bard,
On whom Apollo smiles with fond regard,
Our lays accept, pride of the tuneful throng!
And smile propitious on a stripling's song.

The early sun was scarcely yet in view,
The rising plants were wet with crystal dew,
The winds were still, the azure welkin clear,
And tuneful larks suspended in the air;
When fleecy flocks two blithsome shepherd swains
Led forth, to feed on Glotta's blissful plains:
They lean'd the while, and tun'd the mellow reed,
Beneath yon hawthorn's venerable shade;
On either side the hills responsive rung,
As thus with glee the swains alternate sung.

COLINET.
Now Phoebus' beams yon eastern hills adorn,
And feather'd warblers wake the purple morn;
With music wild the vocal groves resound,
And dappled flowers their odours shed around;
And see our lambkins o'er the dewy mead,
Within our ken, secure from danger feed;
While thus reclin'd the daisy'd grass among,
Attune your pipe, and cheer us with a song!

DAMON.
I'll gladly join — but do you take the lead,
You, Colinet, can best attune the reed.
Come, let us sing our ever-blooming fields,
And blest content the happy cottage yields.
Lo! Daphnis hither leads his fleecy care;
Who sweetest sings, his judgment shall declare.

COLINET.
Agreed — remote from clamour and debate,
From towns remote, how blest the shepherd's state!
No fears alarm, no cares disturb our peace,
Our lives we spend in happiness and ease.

DAMON.
Free from ambition, and contentious strife,
From folly far, how blest a country life!
To vice unknown, and heart-corrupting care,
We view the beauties of the rising year;
And while our younglings crop the flowery fields,
Enjoy the pleasure sweet retirement yields.

COLINET.
Soon as the cock proclaims the approaching day,
And eastern hills are clad in gold array;
No more our eyes are seal'd in balmy sleep,
Our cots we leave, and straight unfold our sheep;
And whistling on our way, the bleaters lead
To crop the grass along the verdant mead.
'Tis pleasing then to see our lambkins play,
To hear the warblers chant on every spray!
'Tis pleasing then to breathe the morning air,
And pipe and sing, devoid of anxious care!

DAMON.
Behold, around what pleasing prospects rise!
What goodly scenes attract our wond'ring eyes!
On nodding stalks, o'er all the enamell'd mead,
The blooming flowers their painted foliage spread;
The limpid rills our list'ning ears assail
With gentle murmurs, winding thro' the vale;
The reverend oak a grateful shade displays,
A cool retreat from sol's incessant rays.
All nature strives, with every bliss replete,
To enhance the pleasures of our happy state.

COLINET.
While thus reclin'd, how pleasing 'tis to see
The unwearied labouring of the busy bee!
From plant to plant, from flower to flower he flies,
And with the sweets he loads his little thighs.
How pleasing 'tis to see the thrifty ants,
With care providing for their future wants!
By such examples happy swains are taught,
That honest industry's with blessings fraught.

DAMON.
Our bliss increases, Colinet, to see
The peasants round us all as happy's we.
See Hodge with pleasure o'er the ridges plods!
And with his plough divides the yielding clods:
See Doris tripping down the wat'ry glade!
In homely russet, yet with neatness, clad;
Her flowing gown tuck'd careful round her waist,
And yellow hair with ribbons waving drest;
Her gaudy necklace glaring light reflects,
And rosy health adorns her glowing cheeks.
How pleasing 'tis to hear her simple song!
As o'er the field she smiling trips along;
While cows impatient with full udders stand,
And wait the stroking of her snowy hand.

COLINET.
And when at noon, their glowing sides to cool,
The panting herds stand lowing in the pool;
And bleating lambkins to the fresh retreat
In clusters throng, to shun the parching heat;
How blithe are we with maidens in the grove!
Repeating all our simple tales of love:
With sweetest flowers while we their crooks adorn,
They for our favours dimpled smiles return;
Our faltering tongues our wounded hearts proclaim,
Their glowing cheeks confess the mutual flame.

DAMON.
How blithe at eve, when Phoebus shines askance
O'er western hills, we join the mazy dance!
The ruddy maidens, by their sweethearts led,
With pleasure flaunt it o'er the dew mead;
Old Hodge with glee, while others pipe and sing,
Directs his bow athwart each tuneful string.
We round him dance with joy and fond delight,
Till silent nature's wrapt in shadowy night.

DAPHNIS.
Ye blithsome shepherds, fav'rites of the plain!
Your songs more sweet than Philomela's strain,
With wit replete, so much your Daphnis please,
I cannot say whose are the softest lays.
Long may ye both, dear to the nymphs and swains,
On Glotta's banks delight us with your strains.

Here stop'd the shepherds, and with curds and cream
Refresh'd themselves, and drunk the crystal stream;
Pleas'd with their fare, again they join'd the lay,
And laugh'd and sung the sprightly hours away.

[pp. 204-06]