« ZurückWeiter »
The merit of these papers, whoever was their author, is considerable. They give a very pleasing and rational account of the origin and progress of pastoral poetry; and N° 32, which closes the series, is a well-imagined allegory illustrative of the critical opinions laid down in the preceding Numbers. On this fable Sir William Jones has constructed, with some additions and variations, a very elegant pastoral poem, which he has entitled Arcadia; and in the advertisement to which he says, that he took the hint of it from an allegory of Mr. Addison; supposing, most probably, from the style and manner, which are in this paper peculiarly sweet and polished, that it must have flowed from the pen of that accomplished writer.
The poem deviates from the essay in the following particulars: in the essay, Menalcas, an inhabitant of Arcadia, and descended from the god Pan, offers his daughter Amaryllis in marriage to the youth who can best perform upon a rural pipe, the gift of a Faun; and the different styles of pastoral composition are indicated by the mode of playing of the different candidates.
Amyntas, the victor in the contest, lives long and happy with his fair prize; they had, however, but "four descents in above two thousand years. His heir was called Theocritus, who left
his dominions to Virgil; Virgil left his to his son Spenser; and Spenser was succeeded by his eldest-born Philips."
In the poem, "Menalcas, king of the shepherds, means Theocritus, the most ancient, and, perhaps, the best, writer of pastorals: and by his two daughters, Daphne and Hyla, must be understood the two sorts of pastoral poetry; the one elegant and polished, the other simple and unadorned; in both of which he excelled. Virgil, whom Pope chiefly followed, seems to have borne away the palm in the higher sort; and Spenser, whom Gay imitated with success, had equal merit in the more rustic style: these two poets, therefore, may justly be supposed in this allegory to have inherited his kingdom of Arcadia *."
This poem, like every other poetical production from the pen of Sir William Jones, is remarkable for its sweetness of versification; its imagery too, is, in an eminent degree, beautiful and appropriate. The two chief classes of pastoral poetry, as derived from Theocritus and Virgil, are thus allegorized in the description of the daughters of Menalcas:
Two lovely daughters were his dearest care;
* Sir William Jones's Poems, 8vo. second edit. 1777, p. 37.
Love, where they mov'd, each youthful breast inflam'd;
A small portion of the imagery of these lines is taken from the Guardian: but, to show in what manner Sir William has availed himself of the fancy and colouring of Tickell, or, if the reader please, of Addison, we shall transcribe the description of the person and performance of the
* Poems, p. 100.
successful lover, as given in the essay and the poem.
"The fourth that stepped forward was young Amyntas, the most beautiful of the Arcadian swains, and secretly beloved by Amaryllis. He wore that day the same colours as the maid for whom he sighed. He moved towards her with an easy, but unassumed air; she blushed as he came near her; and when she gave him the fatal present, they both trembled, but neither could speak. Having secretly breathed his vows to the gods, he poured forth such melodious notes, that, though they were a little wild and irregular, they filled every heart with delight. The swains immediately mingled in the dance; and the old shepherds affirmed, that they had often heard such music by night, which they imagined to be played by some of the rural deities."
Soon to the bower a modest stripling came,
And o'er his beauteous limbs a decent mantle flow'd:
His mien applauded, and his neat attire ;
And Daphne, yet untaught in amorous lore,
He now begins; the dancing hills attend,
* The name, supposed to be taken by Virgil, in his first pastoral.
He sings of swains below the beechen shade,
6. JONATHAN SWIFT. Of the life of this eccentric character, so numerous and so copious have been the details, and by men of the first respectability in the republic of letters, that even had we room to enter at full length into the consideration of his biography, the attempt might be justly thought unnecessary, and altogether a work of supererogation. We shall, therefore, limit ourselves to a few observations on the chief productions of his pen, and on the principal events
* Formosam resonare doces Amaryllida sylvas. Virg. Poems, p. 114.