A Pastoral.

Universal Magazine 23 (October 1758) 201.


A pastoral ballad in eight double-quatrain stanzas, not signed. Rosabell complains of Florio's absence: "My lambs are no longer my care, | Nor with pleasure their pastimes I see; | Ye wolves, the sweet innocents spare, | As they wander unheeded by me." While most of the components of this early imitation of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad are or would shortly become conventional, the lady's address to her former lovers is not at all common.

Ye nymphs and ye shepherds so gay,
Oh! ask not the cause of my woe,
Nor wonder, while Florio's away,
My eyes thus incessantly flow.
He was surely the pride of the plain,
He was all that on earth I desir'd;
The envy of ev'ry young swain,
And by ev'ry young damsel admir'd.

When the dearest of shepherds was here,
How lovely the sweet rural scene!
How gay did the flow'rets appear,
And the meads how delightfully green!
But verdant no more is the mead,
The flow'rets no longer are gay;
It seems all a waste as I tread,
For, alas! my dear Florio's away.

The birds, how melodious their notes,
And their plumage how beauteous and gay!
What harmony pour'd from their throats,
When they hail'd the approach of the May!
But their music to Rosabell's vain,
Their beauty no longer she sees;
For, alas! when the heart is in pain,
Nor music nor beauty can please.

How happy, when tending my sheep,
Have I sat at the foot of the hill;
While my lute a just measure would keep
To the murmuring sound of the rill!
My lambs are no longer my care,
Nor with pleasure their pastimes I see;
Ye wolves, the sweet innocents spare,
As they wander unheeded by me.

Oh! tell me, ye sweet rural maids
(Whose friendship I gratefully prove)
If, amidst all the groves and the shades,
You've beheld such a youth as my love?
Did you e'er see a form so complete,
Such beauty unaided by art?
Or did so many virtues e'er meet
As at once are combin'd in his heart?

Ye youths, who have woo'd me in vain,
No more at my rigour repine;
You are amply reveng'd by my pain,
If your flame was as fervent as mine.
To nymphs more deserving than me
Let now your chaste vows be address'd;
And, how wretched soever I be,
May you in your wishes be bless'd.

Now my leave of the plain I will take,
To desarts and woods will I fly;
But, ah! can my Florio forsake
The maid, who without him must die!
Alas! 'tis in vain to depart,
No change can alleviate my woe;
Since the image I bear in my heart
Pursues me wherever I go!

Cease, Rosabell, cease to pursue
A subject that breaks all thy rest;
Alas! thy fond bosom's too true
To be wretched, if Florio is blest.
If another his heart shall obtain,
And thou all thy hopes must resign,
May the passion she feels for the swain
Be as chaste and as constant as thine.

[p. 201]