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sometimes by four lions ; then by four tigers ; now by four elephants ; then by four mastiffs ; not unfrequently by four. camels ; and once-by four naked women! At one time, he caused to be collected a thousand rats ; at another time a thousand weasels ; and at another ten thousand mice ;-all of which he exhibited to the Roman people, and, for the purpose of estimating the magnitude of the city, he commanded a collection of spiders a !
Many are the descriptions of pastoral life in the Scriptures ; particularly in the histories of Abraham, of Jacob, of Joseph, of Ruth, and of David: and many are the allusions in Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah. David was a shepherd, Amos a herdsman, and several of the apostles fishermen.
The first Greek pastoral poet was Daphnis', who invented the Idyllion; but as none of his works remain, Theocritus is generally esteemed the father of pastoral poetry. Blest with a lively genius, and born in a country enjoying serene skies, this poet is as much superior to Virgil in beauty, simplicity, and originality, as Virgil is superior to Ausonius, and the whole host of his literal imitators o. · The Aminta of Tasso is, with the exception of Milton's Comus, the most elegant pastoral drama in any language : and, with Guarini’s Pastor Fido, and Bonarelli's Filli-di-Sciro",
• Gibbon has passed over these and many other curious circumstances ; fearful, we may suppose, that they might encumber and degrade the dignity of history.
b Vid. Ælian. Var. Hist. x. c. 18. c Virgil's chief loss, in point of interest, arises out of his not having introduced some females, in the rural dramatis personæ. . .
. This pastoral was translated, in 1655, by J. T. Gent, under the title of " Filli-di-Sciro,” or Phillis of Scyros. Du Bos calls Fontenelle's “ Plurality of Worlds" an eclogue. "The descriptions," says he, “and images, drawn by the personages, are very suitable to the character of pastoral poetry; and
was frequently represented by the Italian nobility in gardens and groves, having no other scenery, than what the places, in which they were represented, naturally afforded a.
Among the British, pastoral attained little of excellence from the days of Spenser, Drayton, and Browne, to the time, in which Bloomfield wrote his Richard and Kate, the Poor Blacksmith, and the Miller's Maid. Affectation had long been substituted for passion; and delicacy and elegance for that exquisite simplicity of language and sentiment, which constitutes the charm of this delightful species of poetry. Phillips is but an awkward appropriator of Virgil's imagery; and an unsuccessful imitator of Spenser's phraseology. As a pastoral, Milton's Lyeidas, too, notwithstanding the applause, that has been heaped upon it, is frigid and pedantic ; while his Epitaphium Damonis, boasting many agreeable passages, merely denotes the elegance of an accomplished scholar. Pope is too: refined ; his versification too measured; and his ideas little more than derivations from the more polished and courtly passages of his Sicilian and Mantuan masters. He addresses the genius of the Thames, rather than of the Avon : and adapts his sentiments, more to the meridians of Hagley and Stowe, than to the meadows of Gloucestershire, or the vales of Devon. • The “Gentle Shepherd” of Fletcher, however, may be placed in competition with its prototype by Guarini: the pastoral songs of Burns, and other Scottish poets, are equal to those of any other age or nation : and the four pastorals of Shenstone are even superior to any in Pope, Virgil, or
among those images there are several which Virgil himself would willingly have adopted.” Vid. Crit. Reflex. i. c. 22. That, astronomy is a subject well adapted to pastoral is certain, since the first astronomers were shepherds.
a We are assured by Rosinus, that plays were acted under the shades of trees, long before they were performed in theatres. It is certain that shep.. herds used to sing and recite their pastorals in those situations; and hence Cassiodorus derives the word Scena. In Greece, they were frequently performed in the open air, and in the day-time.
Theocritus. But none equal the mild and captivating Gessner; whose simplicity and tenderness have power to animate the bosom of age, and to refine the passions of the young. Superior to the rural poets of France and Spain, of England, Scotland, and Italy, he united the elegance of Virgil to the simplicity of Theocritus ; and decorated Nature, by adopting the manners of the golden age. His “ Death of Abel” is almost worthy the pen of Moses ; his “ First Navigator" combines all the fancy of the poet, with the primeval simplicity of the patriarch; and his “ Idyls” are captivating to all, but the pedant and the sensualist. 4. It was his family, which rendered the geniusof Gessner so irresistibly engaging. His wife and his children animated his heart; and he dipped his pen, as it were, in their bosoms. While we are reading, we seem to be gazing on the pictures of his imagination; but we are, in reality, witnessing passages in his life. One of his daughters chances to visit a poor woman out of charity. Gessner is impressed with her intention, and immediately. writes an idyl, in which one Zephyr says to another,
Why flutterest thou here, so idly among the rose-bushes ?” “A maiden will soon pass along the path: she is as lovely as the youngest of the Graces. At peep of dawn, she repairs with a well-filled basket to the cot, which stands on yonder hill. See ! That is the cot; the mossy roof of which is now gilded by the rays of the sun. In that cot dwells a female, afflicted with sickness and poverty. She has two infants, both of whom would weep with hunger. by the side of her bed, did not Daphne afford them relief and consolation, every day. She will return by this very path; her cheeks glowing with pleasure, and tears of sympathy gemming her eyes. In this rose-bush I wait till I perceive her coming. When she issues from the cottage, I fly to meet her, laden with perfumes. I fan her cheeks, and kiss the dewy pearls from her eyes. This is my employment."
In this manner, Gessner rendered all the more agree
able incidents of domestic life subservient to his genius. Upon recovering from a fit of illness, he composed his idyl of “ Daphnis and Chloe;" in which, depicting the anxiety of children, at the dread of losing their father, they indicate their affection, by offering a sacrifice of all they possess ; accompanying their offers with language the most innocent and engaging. Something analogous occurring in the canton of Zurich, Gessner wrote that history of the wooden leg, which he calls a Swiss Idyl; but which is infinitely superior to any idyl in Theocritus, or any bucolic in Virgil.
What was Gessner's wish? All that a delicate imagination might desire to possess ! A cottage overhung by walnut trees; doves flying among the boughs; a bee-garden, hedged with hazels ; and, at each corner, a bower formed of vines. Behind the garden a meadow; and before it a grove of fruit-trees ; in the midst of which a small lake, in the centre of which an island, containing an arbour. On the south side of the orchard a vineyard; and on the north a field waving with corn. “With such an habitation,” says the poet, "the richest of monarchs, when compared with myself, would be comparatively poor.”
The first pastoral poem, exhibited on the stage, was the “ Arethusa," by Lollio; the second, the “Sacrificio," by Beccari; the third, “ Lo Sfortunato,” by Arienti; the fourth, the “ Aminta ;” the fifth, “Il Pastor Fido.” So much was the "Aminta” admired, that, within a few years after its first appearance, Italy had no less than eighty dramatic pastorals; few of which, however, possessed merit; except Bonarelli's “ Filli-di-Sciro,” and Ongaro's “ Alceo.” The first pastoral comedy is said by some to have been written by Tansillo; by others the honour is given to Politian. Fontenelle considered. pastoral the oldest species of poetry; because the occu-. pation of a shepherd was the oldest employment. Hence Boileau personified it, as a nymph at a feast of shepherds, adorned with ornaments, gathered from the fields and mea
dows. Much more plausible is the idea of Fontenelle, than that of Rapin; who fancifully endeavours to trace the origin of the pastoral drama to the “ Cyclops” of Euripides !
0-6 Nothing,” says a celebrated traveller, “delights me so much as the inside of a Swiss cottage. All those I have visited convey the liveliest images of cleanliness, ease, and simplicity; and cannot but strongly impress on the observer a most pleasing conviction of the peasant's happiness.” With such models constantly before him, it is no subject for astonishment, that Gessner should be capable of painting such exquisite companion pieces. But for a man, bred in the school of dulness, as a country town invariably is; associating with players, and residing, for the principal part of his life, in all the dust and poison of a city, how much are our wonder and admiration excited, when we read the delineations of pastoral manners, drawn in several dramas of that fine delineator of passion,--Shakspeare! That a master, so skilled in the minute anatomy of the heart, should be capable of divesting himself of all that fatal knowledge to sound “wild wood-notes,” worthy of the reed of Tasso, is, of itself, a singular phenomenon; and proves our English bard to be superior to Euripides. .: · As Colonna was walking, one day, in Mecklenburgh-square, he met the poet Bloomfield. They had not seen each other for two or three years ; and Colonna engaged him to breakfast the next day. As they were talking over their coffee, Colonna inquired of his guest, whether he had been engaged lately in any literary pursuit ? "No," returned Bloomfield, "my health has been declining; and my anxieties have prevented me from attending to literary labour of any sort. To write,” continued he, “we must be tranquil.”—“Ah !" returned Colonna, “to write, with any degree of effect, we · must, indeed, be tranquil. And yet, after all, it is misfortune, which gives that solemn tone to the feelings, which impresses the mind so deeply.”—“ To paint the manners and