Sidor som bilder
PDF

In glittering arms the little horsemen shine;

Last, on a milk-white steed, with targe of gold,
A fay of might appears, whose arms entwine

The lost-lamented child! the Shepherds bold
The unconscious infant tear from his unhallowed

hold..

For an account of the Fairy superstition, see the Introduction 1o the “ Tale of Tamlane," in that ele. gant work called Minstresly of the Scottish Border, vol. ii. p. 174. Second Edition.

[blocks in formation]

The last Brownie, known in Ettrick forest, resided in Bodsbeck, a wild and solitary spot, where he cx. ercised his functions undisturbed, till the scrupulous devotion of an old lady induced her to hire him away, as it was termed, by placing in his haunt. porringer of milk and a piece of money. After receiving this hint to depart, he was heard the whole night to howl and cry, “ Farewell to bonny Bods. beck!" which he was compelled to abandon for ever.'

It seems no improbable conjecture, that the Broumie is a legitimate descendant of the Lar ya. miliaris of the ancients,

Nin

fo

OBSERVATIONS

ON THE

ORIENTAL ECLOGUES.

The genius of the pastoral, as well as of every other

respectable species of poetry, had its origin in the East, and from thence was transplanted by the Muses of Greece; but whether from the continent of the lesser Asia, or from Egypt, which, about the ara of the Grecian pastoral, was the hospital nurse of letters, it is not easy to determine. From the subjects, and the manner of Theocritus, one would incline to the latter opinion, while the history of Bion is in favour of the former,

However, though it should still remain' a doubt through what channel the pastoral travelled westward, there is not the least shadow of uncertainty concerning its oriental origin,

In those ages, which, guided by Sacred chronology, from a comparative view of time, we call the Early Ages, it appears from the most authentic historians, that the chief's of the people employed themselves in rural exercises, and that astronomers and legislators were at the same time shepherds. Thus Strabo in. forms us, that the history of the creation was com. municated to the Egyptians by a Chaldean shepherd.

From these circumstances, it is evident not only that such shepherds were capable of all the dignity and elegance peculiar to poetry, but that whatever poetry they attempted would be of the pastoral kind; would take its subjects from those scenes of rural simplicity in which they were conversant, and, as it was the offspring of Harmony and Nature, would employ the powers it derived from the former to celebrate the beauty and benevolence of the latter.

Accordingly we find that the most ancient poems treat of agriculture, astronomy, and other objects within the rural and natural systems.

What constitutes the difference between the Georgic and the Pastoral is love, and the colloquial or dramatic form of composition peculiar to the latter: this form of composition is sometimes dispensed with, and love and rural imagery alone are thought sufficient to distinguish the pastoral, The tender passion, however, seems to be essential to this species of poetry, and is hardly ever excluded from those pieces that were intended to come under this denomination: everr in those eclogues of the Amcebian kind, whose only purport is a trial of skill between contending sleplerds, love has its usual share, and the praises of their respective mistresses are the general subjects of the competitors.

It is to be lamented that scarce any oriental com. positions of this kind have survived the ravages of ignorance, tyranny, and time; we cannot doubt that many such have been extant, possibly as far down as that fatal period never to be mentioned in the world of letters without horror, when the glorious monuments of human ingenuity perished in tlie ashes of the Alexandrian library,

Those ingenious Groeks, whom we call the parents of pastoral poetry were, probably, no more than imi. tators, that derived their harniony from higher and remoter sources, and kindled their poctical 'fires at those then unextinguished lamps which burned withiu the tombs of oriental genius. 's

. It is evident that Homer has availed himself of

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

those magnificent images and descriptions so fre. quently to be met with in the books of the Old Tes. tament. **

And as the Septuagint translation of the Old Testa ment was performed at the request, and under the patronage, of Ptolemy Philadelphus, it were not to be wondered if Ineocritus, who was entertained, at that prince's court, had borrowed some part of his pastoral imagery from the poetical passages of those books.

In consequence of the peculiarities of the eastern style so ill adapted to the frigid genius of the north, Mr. Collins could make but little use of it as a prece, dent for his Oriental Eclogues; and even in his third Eclogue, where the subject is of a similar nature, he has chosen rather to follow the mode of the Doric and the Latin Pastoral," :* . H e

is The scenery and subjects, then, of the following Eclogues alone are oriental; the style and colouring are purely European; and for this reason the author's preface, in which he intiinates that he had the origi. nals from a merchant who trades to the east, is omitted, as being now altogether superfluous.

With regard to the merit of these Eclogues, it may justly be asserted, that in simplicity of description and expression, in delicacy and soitness of numbers, and in natural and unaffected tenderness, they are not to be equalled by any thing of the Pastoral kind in the English language, . .

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]
[ocr errors]

canimi der and

THIJS eclogue, which is entitled Selim, or the Shop, herd's Moral, as there is nothing dramatic in the subject, may be thought the least entertaining of the four; but it is by no means the least valuable. Tho moral precepts which the intelligent shepherd deli. vers to his fellow-swains and the virgins, their com,

[ocr errors]

panions, are such as would infallibly promote the happiness of the pastoral life.

In impersonating the private virtues, the poet has observed great propriety, and has formed their ge. nealogy with the most perfect judgment, when he represents them as the daughters of Truth and Wis: dom,'

The characteristics of Modesty and Chastity are extremely happy and peinturesque : " Come thou, whose thoughts as limpid springs are To lead the train, sweet Modesty appear; (clear, With thee be Chastity, of all afraid, Distrusting all, a wise, suspicious maid; Cold is her breast, like flowers that drink the dew, A silken veil conceals her from the view." The two similies borrowed from rural objects are not only much in character, but perfectly natural and expressive. There is, notwithstanding, this defect in the former, that it wants a peculiar propriety; for purity of thought may as well be applied to Chastity as to Modesty; and from this instance, as well as from a thousand more, we may see the necessity of distinguishing, in characteristic poetry, every objevt by marks and attributes peculiarly its own. .

It cannot be objected to this eclogue, that it wants both those essential criteria of the pastoral, love and the drama; for though it partakes not of the latter, the former still retains an interest in it, and that too very material, as it professedly consults the virtue and happiness of the lover, while it informs what are the qualities , - that must lead to love.

ECLOGUE II. ALL the advantages that any species of poetry can derive from the novelty of the subject and scenery, this eclogue possesses, The rout of a capel-driver is

« FöregåendeFortsätt »