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PAGE 3

Adventurer 092 [No. 92: Criticism on the Pastorals of Virgil]
by [?]

He then turns his thoughts on every side, in quest of something that may solace or amuse him: he proposes happiness to himself, first in one scene and then in another: and at last finds that nothing will satisfy:

Jam neque Hamadryades rursum, nec carmina nobis
Ipsa placent: ipsae rursum concedite sylvae.
Non illum nostri possunt mutare labores;
Nec si frigoribus mediis Hebrumque bibamus,
Sithoniasque nives hyemis subeamus aquosae:
Nec si, cum moriens alta liber aret in ulmo
Aethiopum versemus oves sub sidere Cancri.
Omnia vincit amor; et nos cedamns amori.

Ec. x. 62.

But now again no more the woodland maids,
Nor pastoral songs delight–Farewell, ye shades–
No toils of ours the cruel god can change,
Tho’ lost in frozen deserts we should range;
Tho’ we should drink where chilling Hebrus flows,
Endure bleak winter blasts, and Thracian snows:
Or on hot India’s plains our flocks should feed,
Where the parch’d elm declines his sickening head,
Beneath fierce-glowing Cancer’s fiery beams,
Far from cool breezes and refreshing streams.
Love over all maintains resistless sway,
And let us love’s all-conquering power obey.
WARTON.

But notwithstanding the excellence of the tenth pastoral, I cannot forbear to give the preference to the first, which is equally natural and more diversified. The complaint of the shepherd, who saw his old companion at ease in the shade, while himself was driving his little flock he knew not whither, is such as, with variation of circumstances, misery always utters at the sight of prosperity:

Nos patriae fines, et dulcia linquimus arra;
Nos patrium fugimus: Tu, Tityre, lentus in umbra
Formosam resonare doces Amaryllida sylvas.

Ec. i. 3.

We leave our country’s bounds, our much-lov’d plains;
We from our country fly, unhappy swains!
You, Tit’rus, in the groves at leisure laid,
Teach Amaryllis’ name to every shade.
WARTON.

His account of the difficulties of his journey, gives a very tender image of pastoral distress:


En ipse capellas
Protenus aeger ago: hanc etiam vix, Tityre, duco:
Hic inter densas corylos modo namque gemellos,
Spem gregis, ah! silice in nuda connixa reliquit.

Ec. i. 12.

And lo! sad partner of the general care,
Weary and faint I drive my goats afar!
While scarcely this my leading hand sustains,
Tired with the way, and recent from her pains;
For ‘mid yon tangled hazels as we past,
On the bare flints her hapless twin she cast,
The hopes and promise of my ruin’d fold!
WARTON.

The description of Virgil’s happiness in his little farm, combines almost all the images of rural pleasure; and he, therefore, that can read it with indifference, has no sense of pastoral poetry:

Fortunate senex! ergo tua rura manebunt,
Et tibi magna satis; quamvis lapis omnia nudus,
Limosoque palus obducat pascua junco:
Non insueta graves tentabunt pabula foetas,
Nec mala vicini pecoris contagia laedent.
Fortunate senex! hic inter flumina nota,
Et fontes sacros, frigus captabis opacum.
Hinc tibi, quae semper vicino ab limite sepes,
Hyblaeis apibus florem depasta salicti,
Saepe levi somnum suadebit inire susurro.
Hinc alta sub rupe canet frondator ad auras.

Nec tamen interea raucae, tua cura, palumbes,
Nec gemere aeria cessabit turtur ab ulmo.

Ec. i. 47

Happy old man! then still thy farms restored,
Enough for thee, shall bless thy frugal board.
What tho’ rough stones the naked soil o’erspread,
Or marshy bulrush rear its wat’ry head,
No foreign food thy teeming ewes shall fear,
No touch contagious spread its influence here.
Happy old man! here ‘mid th’ accustom’d streams
And sacred springs, you’ll shun the scorching beams;
While from yon willow-fence, thy picture’s bound,
The bees that suck their flow’ry stores around,
Shall sweetly mingle with the whispering boughs
Their lulling murmurs, and invite repose:
While from steep rocks the pruner’s song is heard;
Nor the soft-cooing dove, thy fav’rite bird,
Meanwhile shall cease to breathe her melting strain,
Nor turtles from th’ aerial elm to ‘plain.
WARTON.

It may be observed, that these two poems were produced by events that really happened; and may, therefore, be of use to prove, that we can always feel more than we can imagine, and that the most artful fiction must give way to truth.

I am, Sir,
Your humble servant,

DUBIUS.