1768
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

A Pastoral Elegy.

Flights to Helicon: or Petites Pieces, in Verse. By G. P. Tousey.

George Philip Toosey


A lover's complain in twelve elegiac quatrains. Stung by the perfidious Daphne, Philander despairs and leaps headlong into a river. This attempt at elegy goes badly wrong, demonstrating what a misbegotten concept "artless" pastoral could be. But perhaps "A Pastoral Elegy" is not intentionally artless, since the first quatrain mimics Gray's Elegy and the last Gray's The Bard. Toosey's volume contains several attempts pastoral verse in a variety of forms.

Critical Review: "This volume contains a variety of little pieces on different occasions; some of which are puerile and incorrect, and others tolerable. The bard mounts his Pegasus in Bentinck-street, Soho; and from thence takes his flights to Helicon. But as he may probably be disappointed of the honours he expects at the court of the Muses, we would advise him to postpone his aerial journeys to Greece, and stop at Marybone" 26 (November 1768) 380.



Now Evening clad in robes of dusky grey,
O'er half the world its sable Empire holds;
The Lab'rer homewards bends his weary way,
And flocks recumbent rest within their folds.

When young Philander long by Love opprest,
Beneath the shade of yon wide spreading Oak;
While sad Despair alarm'd his grief-stung breast,
In plaintive voice, and broken sighs thus spoke.

O Daphne, charming, but ah! faithless Maid,
Oh hither turn your lovely eyes, and see
A hapless Youth, by thy fond arts betray'd,
And plung'd in endless scenes of misery.

Inconstant! say, what had Philander done?
That thus relentless, you his vows disdain;
Despise the conquest which your charms have won,
And hear unmov'd a once-lov'd Youth complain.

Can my blest Rival happy Damon boast,
A passion more sincere, more firm than mine;
By what offence have I your favour lost,
That now unheeded, I neglected pine.

Urg'd by my wrongs, I've often strove to prove,
If absence wou'd my hapless flame controul;
Alas! I found 'twas hard to conquer Love,
Whose seat like mine was planted in the soul.

E'er you, false Fair, my breast with hope inspir'd,
Serene and happy in my calm retreat;
Free from all care, content, I liv'd retir'd,
Nor ever felt the adverse stroke of fate.

Each vernal Grove my tuneful lays have heard,
Each Grot resounded with my vocal strains;
My oaten Reed, the village Band oft chear'd,
My Pipe melodious eccho'd thro' the Plains.

But now how chang'd! how different is the scene,
Since other thoughts my troubled mind employ;
Then what avails, how blest I once have been,
Now my sad heart is robb'd of every joy.

Who knows? perhaps e'en now the faithless Maid,
Of me forgetful in her Damon's arms;
Repeats the vows that once to me were paid,
And unto him resigns her blooming charms.

With Phrenzy fir'd, and maddening at the thought,
Philander rose, and by the Moon's pale gleam;
With mind resolv'd, and eager haste he sought,
To gain the margin of a neighb'ring stream.

Fill'd with despair he reach'd the roaring flood,
For O! too well did fate his footsteps guide;
Thrice call'd on Daphne as he weeping stood,
Then headlong plung'd into the rapid tide.

[pp. 149-52]