Noon. The Second Pastoral: or Corydon and Thyrsis.

Universal Magazine 60 (May 1777) 260-62.

J. Riddell

The second of J. Riddell's four times-of-day eclogues takes the form of a moral pastoral somewhat in the manner of William Dodd (1767) or the yet-unpublished Moral Eclogues of Scott of Amwell (1778). Thyrsis sings a mournful song of Damon's in which Amanda recalls to Daphne who she was seduced by the seemingly innocent Strephon, and the terrible consequences that followed. The material for this poem owes more to ballad than pastoral tradition. Daphne draws the appropriate moral: "Severe, said she, is hapless woman's fate, | If fair, men ruin us, if homely, hate; | We're sure betray'd, if we through love pursue; | And if we fly, they flatter and undo."

The mid-day sun now darts his vertic ray,
And neighbouring swains to cool recesses stray;
Let us, secluded from the heat, recline
Beneath the shadow of this towering pine;
And while in view our lambs disporting play,
Attune your reed, and pipe some sprightly lay.
Oft have I heard of Damon's wondrous skill
In rural ditties, and the tuneful quill;
'Twas he instructed you the piping art,
To chear the swains, and win your Flora's heart:
Give, then, a sample of his blithesome strains,
This varnish'd whistle shall reward your pains.

Small praise, I ween, is due my skill in song;
'Twas ne'er design'd to soothe the jocund throng;
But, now and then, a leisure hour to spend,
And chear myself in absence of a friend:
Yet to my lips I'll now my reed apply,
And with my Corydon's request comply.
I'll sing you one with sorrow deeply fraught,
The last sweet ditty peerless Damon taught.

Begin — I'll with attention watch our sheep,
And eye the goats on yonder craggy steep.

Far in a wild, beneath a beechen shade,
Where silver Clyde winds down his oozy bed;
The fair Amanda, erst so blithe and gay,
At Daphne's side reclin'd, desponding lay;
Her bursting bosom heav'd with swelling sighs,
While tears unfeign'd ran streaming from her eyes;
Her sheep, unheeded, wander'd to and fro,
And vocal hills re-echoed all her woe.
Young Daphne, griev'd to see the nymph distress'd,
In friendly strains her sympathy express'd:

"Lo, genial Spring, in rosy garb array'd,
Smiles on the hills, and paints the enamell'd mead!
Prolific Sol now chears the gladsome plain,
And swells the fruit, and fills the bladed grain;
On every spray the feather'd warblers sing,
And all the groves with rural music ring;
Our fleecy nibblers crop the clover field;
Clyde's winding banks a goodly prospect yield;
The joyous May in all her pomp appears:
Then why these sighs, Amanda? why these tears?
Why all this grief? — all this ill season'd pain?
Come, dear Amanda, to a friend explain."

Silent and sad, she Daphne wistful eyed,
And thus, anon, with heaving sighs reply'd:

"O lead me, Daphne, to some desart shore,
Where to the rocks I may my fate deplore!
The gentle Spring no more affords delight,
The dappling flowers are hateful to my sight:
Nor Glotta's banks, (where once, devoid of care,
I deffly sung throughout the varied year,)
Nor blissful dales, where he meandring flows,
Can tears suppress, or soothe my endless woes!
My lambs (would I were innocent as they!)
Where'er they list may for Amanda stray;
Nor hills, nor dales, nor frisking flocks can please—
A long farewell to happiness and ease!"

"You wont, said Daphne, to be blithe and free,
You wont to chear us with your mirth and glee;
The jocund swains, charm'd with your pleasing song,
With joyful hearts around you us'd to throng,
And on their pipes to join your chorus play.
Wherefore this change, my dear Amanda, say?
What lies so heavy at your throbbing heart,
Amanda, tell? — to me your woes impart."

"Cease — cease, my Daphne, your unwelcome strains!
These gay reflections but increase my pains.
While pure, untainted innocence remain'd,
Ere Strephon base my witless heart obtain'd,
Like you I sported, and was blithe like you,
My days were chearful, and my cares were few;
But perjur'd Strephon my affections won,
In him I trusted, was by him undone!—
Ah now farewell my wonted happy days!
Farewell my wonted innocence and ease!
Farewell, ye groves, and every smiling dell!
Ye wand'ring ewes, and slighted lambs, farewell!—

"My artless Daphne, take a friend's advice,
With caution listen to your wooer's voice,
And through Love's mazes ever wary tread;
Or — like Amanda — you may be betray'd.
The while fond Strephon deck'd with wreathes my breast,
And taper crook with fragrant garlands drest;
When vows of constancy in yonder grove
He plighted oft, say, could I doubt his love?
The while he faltering first reveal'd his flame,
I little knew (poor simple, thoughtless dame)
His youthful breast a wicked heart contain'd;
That by his guile my virtue would be stain'd;
And soon's my artless virgin heart he won,
He'd leave me thus — abandon'd, and undone!"

With pity mov'd, young Daphne dropp'd a tear;
And curs'd the swain, so false, and insincere.

"Severe, said she, is hapless woman's fate,
If fair, men ruin us, if homely, hate;
We're sure betray'd, if we through love pursue;
And if we fly, they flatter and undo."

"From hence, resum'd Amanda, learn with care,
While yet a maid, to shun each tempting snare.
For Strephon's sake what anguish I endure,
And deep remorse, which baffles every cure!
At dead of night, when Nature's sunk in sleep,
With sorrows wrung, I'm left alone to weep!
And when the Sun in eastern sky appears,
Still I'm dejected, still bedew'd with tears!—
For him I bear the village' taunting scorn,
By foes insulted, and by friends forlorn.
The cruel swain, deaf to my piteous moan,
Has Doris wed, and left me thus, undone.—
But cease, Amanda — now 'tis vain to mourn;
Be hush, ye groves, no more my plaint return;
Farewell, ye glades, and every smiling vale!
Ye wand'ring ewes, and slighted lambs, farewell!
And thou, O Daphne, virtue still pursue,
Be innocent, be blest! — farewel! adieu!"—

Thus having spoke, she frantic reach'd the shore,
Plung'd headlong in, and sunk to rise no more.

Here stopt the gentle swain — the listening crowd,
Mov'd with his strains, were all in tears bedew'd:
Such was our Damon's skill, and peerless meed;
And such his cunning of the mellow reed.

His art in piping he has left with you:
Accept your promis'd gift, 'tis justly due;
And now, till thine be brought, you'll welcome share
My rural sweets, and wholesome country-fare.

[pp. 260-62]