1758
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Ballad.

New American Magazine 1 (January 1758) 16.

Anonymous


An early imitation of Shenstone's Pastoral Ballad, not signed, appearing in a New Jersey periodical. The poem takes its epigraph from Shenstone's "Disappointment": "Yet do not my folly reprove; | She was fair — and my passion begun; | She smil'd — and I could not but love; | She is faithless — and I am undone." Colin, offended that Daphne's name had appeared in a late song, proceeds to sing her praises. But he is soon undeceived: "When behold! by a fortunate chance, | He discover'd the nymph cou'd deceive | With a smile." He resolves to give her up while petitioning the fair nymphs of the plain to take pity on their lovers.

A sequel to this poem was published in the New American Magazine for June, and both were reprinted in the London Magazine the following year as "wrote in North America. In the Manner of Mr. Shenston." While not quite the first imitations of Shenstone's poem (which was published in 1755) these American poems come early enough in the series to have been influencial, not least because they were the first to be acknowledged as imitations.

The New American Magazine, published in Woodbridge, New Jersey, was edited by Samuel Nevill. It was continued from January 1758 to March 1760.



Ye swains, who your wit to display,
Keep teazing one all the day long;
That Daphne, the lovely, and gay,
Was meant in a late simple song.
She ne'er was the subject before,
Of Colin's love-pastoral strains;
But now, by the muses he swore,
Thus her name should resound thro' the plains.

"Daphne's name like a magical line,
Shall draw down the musical quire,
And Phoebus himself with the nine,
For Daphne will deign to inspire.
Yet the graces must join in the train,
Else half Daphne's charms will escape;
For the graces alone can explain,
And picture her air and her shape.

"Can paint her majestical mein,
How graceful she dances or walks;
She moves, and she looks like a Queen,
And like Pallas the goddess she talks:
Her words when firm friendship's the theme,
Flow warm from her generous heart;
But O! if sweet love you once name,
Her words a soft poison impart.

"For the languishing glance of her eyes,
With love's poison these accents prepare,
And the man who dares look, surely dies,
Then ah Colin! poor Colin beware."
Scarce thus had the gentle swain sung,
In such strains as were void of all art;
(For he ne'er had accustom'd his tongue,
To speak aught but the tho'ts of his heart)

When behold! by a fortunate chance,
He discover'd the nymph cou'd deceive
With a smile, — Or affect a kind glance,
Which a plain honest swain wou'd believe:
Then pleas'd with a triumph so mean,
So unworthy a generous fair,
She strove it might plainly be seen
That Colin was caught in her snare.

At an insult so open and bold,
The shepherd soon summon'd his pride;
Which, like blossoms nipt by the cold,
Made love's growing passion subside.
Tho' her breath be as sweet as the rose,
And enchantingly soft are her eyes,
Yet with noble resentment he glows;
And her name he wou'd learn to despise.

He wou'd learn, — tho' the task be severe,
To despise what he fain would approve;
Yet the breach one kind look may repair,
Such a look as first led him to love.
He wou'd say then — "perhaps I mistook;
For true love is both jealous and blind:
No falshood sure dwells with that look!
And my Daphne's all truth — and still kind."

To be blind is love's weakness, I ween,
For its fondness oft doats on false charms;
And too oft' when there's nought to be seen,
By its jealousies sounds false alarms.
Then, O ye fair nymphs of the plain,
Take pity on those you subdue,
Nor like Daphne delight to give pain,
To a Colin that's constant and true.

[p. 16]