A Pastoral.

Poetical Miscellanies, consisting of original Poems and Translations. By the best Hands. Publish'd by Mr. Steele.

George Jeffreys

A pastoral singing contest "By the Author of the Anonymous Verses before Cato." It is notable to find a member of Addison's coterie imitating Pope rather than Philips in pastoral eclogue, though it must be said that, Greek names aside, George Jeffreys goes out of his way to make his descriptions graphic and local: "The tuneful Lark has hardly stretch'd her Wing, | And warbling Linnets just begun to sing; | Nor yet industrious Bees their Hives forsake, | Nor skim the Fish the Surface of the Lake" p. 29. The poem turns on the contrasting characters of the two speakers. Phillis represents nature: "Unpractis'd in the Turns of Female Art, | My Looks declare the Meaning of my Heart" while the Aminta represents art: "No boasting Swain such Truths from me shall hear, | Such Words shall never reach Silvander's Ear" p. 30. In alternating verses the singers relate the history of their loves (Aminta being quite the tease); while there is no third party to grant a prize, Phillis does get the last word.

Whitwell Elwin: "George Jeffreys, nephew of James, eighth Lord Chandos, was called to the bar, but did not practise. He died in 1755, at the age of 77. He wrote a couple of tragedies, and Miscellanies in verse and prose, which had so little reputation, that Dr. Johnson, after mentioning that the best poetical tribute to Addison's Cato was by an unknown hand, adds, 'that it will perhaps lose somewhat of its praise when the author is known to be Jeffreys'" Works of Pope, ed. Elwin and Courthope (1871-1889) 8:112n.

In vain my Muse would imitate the Strains,
Which charm'd the Nymphs on Windsor's verdant Plains,
Where Pope with wond'rous Art in tuneful Lays
Won from Apollo's Hand Immortal Bays.

The Morning scarce appear'd, when Phillis rose,
And call'd Aminta from a short Repose;
With cautious Steps they left the Peaceful Bow'r,
Both by Appointment chose the silent Hour,
To tell in rural Strains their mutual Care,
And the soft Secret of their Breasts to share.
Securely seated near a purling Stream,
By Turns they sung, while Love supply'd the Theme.

The starry Lights above are scarce expir'd,
And scarce the Shades from open Plains retir'd:
The tuneful Lark has hardly stretch'd her Wing,
And warbling Linnets just begun to sing;
Nor yet industrious Bees their Hives forsake,
Nor skim the Fish the Surface of the Lake.

Nor yet the Flowers disclose their various Hue,
But fold their Leaves oppress'd with hoary Dew,
Blue Mists around conceal the neighbouring Hills,
And dusky Fogs hang o'er the murmuring Rills;
While Zephir faintly sighs among the Trees,
And moves the Branches with a lazy Breeze.
No jovial Pipe resounds along the Plains,
Safe in their Hamlets sleep the drowsie Swains.

For me Mirtillo sighs, the charming Youth
Perswades with so much Eloquence and Truth;
Whene'er he talks, my Flocks unheeded stray,
To hear him I could linger out the Day,
Untir'd 'till Night, 'till all the Stars were gone,
Till o'er the Eastern Hills the Moon came on.

For me Silvander pines, as full of Truth;
In secret too perhaps I Love the Youth,
Yet treat him ill, whie with dissembled Pride
I mock his Vows, his soft Complaints deride;
And fly him swifter, than a sportive Fawn
Skips thro' the Woods, and dances o'er the Lawn.

Unpractis'd in the Turns of Female Art,
My Looks declare the Meaning of my Heart;
To own so just and innocent a Flame,
Can fix no Blemish on a Virgin's Name:
When first my Lips the tender Truth confess'd,
A thousand Joys Mirtillo's Eyes express'd.

No boasting Swain such Truths from me shall hear,
Such Words shall never reach Silvander's Ear.
With Thisbe once his favour'd Dog I play'd,
Which from his Master thro' the Woods had stray'd;
Still on the Path my watchful Eyes I kept,
When from the Thickets the pleas'd Owner slept,
His smiling Looks in inward Joy confess'd,
To find me the darling Dog confess'd:
Surpriz'd from off my Lap his Dog I threw,
And swift as Lightning thro' the Forrest flew.

When e'er Mirtillo's sportive Kid I find,
With wreathing Flow'rs his twisted Horns I bind,
And fondly stroke him in his Master's Sight,
Nor e'er abuse the harmless Thing in spight,
Or think the guiltless Favour worth my Flight.

The Nymphs and Swains Apollo's Revels grac'd,
In sprightly Dances the smooth Green they trac'd;
Silvander begg'd, I would his Partner stand,
I turn'd, and gave to Corilas my Hand.

I to Mirtillo did my Hand refuse,
But after that no other Swain would chuse;
At Cinthia's Revels Hylas strove in vain,
And Lycidas the Favour to obtain.

A Basket of the finest Rushes wrought,
With Jess'min, Pinks, and purple Violets fraught,
With modest Zeal to me Silvander brought.
His Present I rejected with Disdain,
And threw the fragrant Treasures on the Plain;
Soon as the Youth retir'd, with wond'rous Care
I search'd them round, nor wou'd one Blossom spare.
With some in Wreaths my curling Locks I grac'd,
And others nicely in my Bosom plac'd.

Fresh sprigs of Mirtle oft my Breast adorn,
And Roses gather'd in a dewy Morn;
Of all the Gardens flow'ry Riches these
Mirtillo loves, and I his Fancy please.

Silvander told a Secret in my Ear,
Which twice I made Pretences not to hear;
He nearer drew, invited to the Bliss,
And in the am'rous Whisper stole a Kiss;
My rising Blushes the bold Thief reveal'd,
Dorinda scarce from laughing out with-held;
I left the Shepherd, feign'd my self enrag'd,
And with his Rival in Discourse engag'd.

In yonder Bow'r I sat, when tow'rds the Place
Mirtillo hasten'd with a Lover's Pace;
I feign'd my self to careless Sleep resign'd,
My Head against a mossie Bank reclin'd;
Approaching near — Sweet may thy Slumbers be,
He softly cry'd, and all thy Dreams of me;
I laught, nor longer could conceal the Cheat,
But told the Am'rous Youth the fond Deceit.

When in the ecchoing Vale Silvander plays,
And on his Reed performs the Rural Lays,
Behind the shading Trees I oft retire,
And undiscover'd the sweet Notes admire;
But when in publick I his Numbers heard,
To his unskilful Egon's I preferr'd,
Tho' with the Swan's expiring Melody
The Cuckow's tiresom Notes as well may vye.

Whate'er Mirtillo dictates meets Applause,
His Voice Attention, still as Midnight, draws;
His Voice more gentle than the Summer's Breeze,
That mildly whispers thro' the waving Trees;
Soft as the Nightingale's complaining Song,
Or murmuring Currents as they roll along:
Without Disguise the skilful Youth I praise,
Admire his Numbers, and repeat his Lays.

[pp. 28-34]