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character ; though there is no neceflity for his being dull and insipid. He may have good sense, and even vivacity; tender and delicate feelings. But he must never deal in general reflections, or abstract reasonings; nor in conceits of gallantry ; for these are consequences of refinement. When Aminta in Talso is disentangling his mistress's hair from the tree, to which a favage had bound it ;: he is made to say, “Cruel tree, how “ couldst thou injure that lovely hair, which did thee 6.fo much honor? Thy rugged trunk was not wor“ thy of so lovely knots. What advantage have the “ servants of love, if those precious chains are common " to them and to trees..?" Strained sentiments, like these, suit not the woods. The language of rural perefonages is that of plain sense and natural feeling ; as. in the following beautiful lines of Virgil ;
Sepibus in noftris parvam te roseida mala
The next inquiry is, what are the proper subjects of pastorals? For it is not enough, that the poet give us shepherds discoursing together. Every good poem has a subject, that in some way interests us. In this lies the difficulty of pastoral writing. The active scenes of country life are too barren of incidents. The condition of a shepherd has few things in it, that excite clima
riofity or surprise. Hence of all poems the pastoral is most meagre in subject, and least diversified in ftrain. Yet this defect is not to be ascribed folely to barrenness of subjects. It is in a great measure the fault of the poet. For human nature and human passions are much the same in every situation and rank of life.. What a variety of objects within the rural sphere do the passions present! The struggles and ambition of fhepherds; their adventures; their disquiet and felicity; the rivalship of lovers ; unexpected successes and disas. ters; are all proper subjects for the pastoral muse.
Theocritus and Virgil are the two great fathers of pastoral writing. For fimplicity of sentiment, harmo. ny of numbers, and richness of scenery, the former is highly distinguished. But he fometimes descends toideas, that are grofs and mean, and makes his shepherds abusive and immodest. Virgil on the contrary preserves the pastoral fimplicity without any offensive rusticity.
Modern writers of pastorals have in general imitated the antient poets.. Sannazarius however, a Latin poet, in the age of Leo X. attempted a bold innovation by composing piscatory eclogues, and changing the scene from the woods to the fea, and the character from shepherds to fishermen. But the attempt was so unhappy, that he has no followers. The toilfome life of fisher-men has nothing agreeable, to present to the imagina.. tion. Fishes and marine productions have nothing poetica, al in them. Of all the moderns Gesner, a poet of Swit. zerland, has been the most happy in pastoral compo. fition. Many new ideas are introduced in his Idyls. His scenery is striking, and his descriptions lively. He is pathetic, and writes to the heart. Neither the pasto. rals of Pope, nor of Philips, do much honor to Eng. lish poetry. The pastorals of Pope are barren; their chief merit is the smoothness of the numbers. Philips attempted to be more simple and natural, than Pope; but wanted genius to support the attempt. His topics, like those of Pope, are beaten ; and instead of being natural or simple he is flat and insipid. Shenstone's pastoral ballad is one of the most elegant poems of the kind in the English language.
In latter times paftoral writing has been extended into regular drama; and this is the chief improvement, the moderns have made in it. Two pieces of this kind are highly celebrated, Guarini's Pastor Fido, and Taffo's Aminta. Both possess great beauties; but the latter is the preferable poem, because less intricate, and less affected; though not wholly free from Italian refinement. As a poem however, it has great merit. The poetry is pleasing and gentle, and the Italian language .confers on it much of that softness, which is fuited to the pastoral.
The Gentle Shepherd of Allan Ramsay is a pastotal drama, which will bear comparison with any composition of the kind in any language. To this admira
ble poem it is a disadvantage, that it is written in the old rustic dialect of Scotland, which must foon be obso: lete ; and it is a farther disadvantage, that it is formed fo entirely on the rural manners of Scotland, that none, but a native of that country, can thoroughly understand and relish it. It is full of natural description, and excels in tenderness of sentiment. The characters are well drawn, the incidents affecting, the scenery and manners lively and just.
I HE Ode is a species of poetry, which has much dignity, and in which many writers in every age have distinguished themselves. Ode in Greek is the same with song or hymn“; and lyric poetry implies that the verses are accompanied with a lyre, or musical instrument. In the ode poetry retains its first form, and its original union with music. Sentiments commonly confitute its subject. It recites not actions. Its spirit and the manner of its execution mark its character. It adimits a bolder and more.pallionate strain, than is allowed in simple recital. Hence the enthusiasm, that belongs to it. Hence that neglect of regularity, those digressions, and that disorder, it is supposed to admit.
All odes may be classed under four denominations. 1. Hymns addressed to God, or composed on religious subjects. 2. Heroic odes, which concern the celebration of heroes, and great actions. 3. Moral and philofophical odes, which refer chiefly to virtue, friendship, and humanity. 4. Festive and amorous odes, which are calculated merely for amusement and pleasure.
Enthusiasm being considered, as the characteristic of the ode, it has often degenerated into licentiousness. This species of writing has above all others been infected by want of order, method, and connexion. The poet is out of tight in a moment. He is so abrupt and eccentric, so irregular and obscure, that we cannot follow him. It is not indeed necessary, that the structure of the ode be so perfectly regular, as an epic poem. But in every compofition there ought to be a whole ; and this whole should consist of connected parts. The transition from thought to thought may be light and delicate, but the connexion of ideas should be preserved; the author fhould think, and not rave.
Pindar, the father of lyric poetry, has led his initiators into enthusiastic wildness. They imitate his diforder without catching his fpirit. In Horace's odes eve. ry thing is correct, harmonious, and happy. His ele. vation is moderate, not rapturous. Grace and elegance are his characteristics. He supports a moral sentiment with dignity, touches a gay one with felicity, and has the art of trifling most agreeably. His language too is most fortunate.